Medicine Hat, AB — The Medicine Hat Tigers power play developed into one of the better units over the course of the 72 game season. Normally special teams are the key to winning a hockey game, spending less time in the penalty box can mean the edge between a one or three goal game. In this feature we take a look at the Tigers power play from 2015-16.
Of the Tigers 30 victories this season. 24 of those games, the Tabbies were successful and scored at least one goal on the power play.
Conversely, only 19 of Medicine Hat’s 37 losses did not feature a power play goal.
When it clicks, a power play can provide a major boost, but when it flounders, a power play can become a sore subject and a momentum killer. For the Tigers however, scoring a goal with the man advantage came more often than not, with 22 of the 37 losses coming despite a power play goal.
The Tigers saw a bit of both in the 2015-16 season, though, overall, showed improvement over the course of the year, beginning the season just 16 for their first 103 opportunities (23 games), running at a 15.5% clip. Towards the end of the season, Medicine Hat continued to climb, eventually ending the season over 20% efficiency.
Medicine Hat had multiple streaks with their power play, with the longest streak spanning 7 consecutive games from December 4th to December 15th, scoring 8 goals. Other streaks included multiple 4 game spans and 3 consecutive game spans scoring with the power play.
In those moments, a three game sweep over the Edmonton Oil Kings showed how vital a power play can be. In those victories, the Tigers scratched and clawed to generate offense at even-strength, but getting the support from the power play was a key contributor, going 4 for 15 in those victories.
The season saw multiple games with 3 or more power play markers in the same game, in those games the Tigers went 2-2-0-1 in those games.
With special teams, adjustments are always made and the Tigers made one to generate more power play success by applying a focus on volume shooting.
It’s a strategy that has been adopted by other teams around the NHL, a chaos theory that flinging pucks toward the goal with more frequency will create scoring chances, through either rebounds, blocked shots that land on the attacking team’s sticks, opening up lanes, or producing lucky bounces. The Tabbies averaged over 28 shots per game and most was attributed by the power play.
With the first unit boasting the heavy shot from David Quenneville, ready at the helm, it was necessary to have exquisite puck movement leading to the volume chances, one timers, back door passing plays and high slot shots from Zach Fischer, proved too much for some opponents.
But when it was most successful, the Tigers carried a simplistic approach into its power play, getting pucks to net, traffic near the crease, and working off that foundation to build more.
The stretch run to a post season berth saw the power play score a goal in 8 of their last 10 games, running at a 31.7% efficiency (13/41). In those games the Tigers went 7-3-0-0 to force the tiebreaker game.