The St. Louis Blues power play is next to goaltending when it comes to second guessing. Their most recent decision is odd, but within reason.
The St. Louis Blues power play has been something we’ve all complained about for years. It has gotten to the point where we just expect it to be bad and we have to be reminded when it isn’t.
There have been several years where the Blues power play was in the top half of the league and sometimes even the top 10. It just never feels like it.
Perhaps it has something to do with the averages. Some of the best power plays are only scoring 20% of the time, so if you only get 20 goals out of 100 power plays, it just doesn’t feel like they’ve done enough, unless the goals come in clusters.
Nevertheless, the Blues had decent power play success in 2019-20. Believe it or not, the Blues were third in the NHL on the man advantage. Their power play percentage was 24.26%.
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That’s over four percentage points higher than the league average. The Blues 49 power play goals was seven goals better than the league average.
Just about 22% of the Blues goals scored were on the power play. So, whatever they were doing was working and Craig Berube‘s staff is not quite ready to change things.
That leaves the team’s best scorer, Vladimir Tarasenko on the outside looking in as far as being on the top power play unit.
“The first unit had great success this year,” Berube said, as reported by Jim Thomas. “The power play overall had really good success. Third in the National Hockey League. So I just want to keep it the same for now and see how it looks. It’s just the start. Who knows how things go and things change.”
On the surface, without context, it seems almost blasphemous to not have your best scorer on the top power play unit. The reality is this makes sense.
Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo were all on the top unit for most of the season, with the odd tweak here or there. They were a very solid unit that seemed to move the puck well and know where the other was going to be.
While Tarasenko is supremely talented, he’s been hot or cold on special teams. He’s had 12 PP goals twice in his career, but his totals have jumped up and down outside of that.
Additionally, even though everyone is starting from page one, there is no need to alter the chemistry right now. That top unit was clicking, so see if they can carry any of that over into this playoff tournament.
Those players all compliment Tarasenko and might actually be better for his style. Thomas and Bozak have great vision and passing, so they can thread the needle to find Tarasenko for goals. Blais is a good stick handler and also a feisty player with pace, so he can take some of the puck handling pressure off Tarasenko, allowing him to find more space.
Then you have Parayko. The threat of that booming shot will take a defender’s eye off the prize for just a brief moment and that’s all it takes.
As Berube said, this is just to start too. If things don’t click right away, he can slide Tarasenko into that top line.
Really, as long as Tarasenko is not playing the point, he will be fine no matter what line he is on. I never understood the idea of taking a sniper that does not possess much of a slapshot on the blue line, but it is what it is.
Hopefully that top line works as is. Having a great scorer like Tarasenko on your second unit just speaks to the depth of this team.