Pick your powerplay


The man advantage was one of the Flames weaknesses last year. Calgary's 17% success rate was good for 21st in the league. A median rate of 19% would have gotten the club 7 more goals for, probably one more win in the standings and a date with the St. Louis Blues instead of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.

The club was lackluster on the PP for a number of reasons: one, Dion Phaneuf was poor relative to his previous performances. He still generated a lot of shots, but rarely were they of the cannon-type he became known for through his first couple of seasons. He also had problems making plays at the blueline for whatever reason, resulting in more than a few SHG against. His step back was reflected in his 2.62 PPP/60 - a steep drop from his the 4+ average production he'd managed till this past season. To give that number context, Mike Green, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski all averaged more than 5 pts per 60 minutes of PP ice. Dennis Wideman, Brent Burns, Paul Martin and JM Liles were all above 4.

Secondly, the team reportedly didn't practice the PP until late in the season during that dreadful dry spell. I'm not one who prescribes to Keenan's "skilled players will figure it out" mentality, especially given how well coached PK units are these days. As such, I can't imagine ignoring the man advantage until it was pertinent was much help. 

Of course, the lone elite level PP player the club had was signed by MTL for 6 large this off-season. The club also lost Bertuzzi's averge-ish production and didn't really replace it. As such, the PP may actually poised to get worse rather than better. 

On the other hand, Phaneuf (assuming his issues were injury related) should bounce back up to previous levels, Brent Sutter WILL practice the PP (NJD PP = 18.9%) and Bouwmeester is capable (3.53 PPP/60 on the 24th ranked Panthers) on the back-end. Also, David Moss put up a good rate (4.50), largely on the 2nd unit and he should get more ice with the Cammalleri and Bertuzzi departures. Guys like Dawes and Boyd are, of course, wildcards who could very hit it out of the park (or dribble one to the pitcher) depending on if they take the next step. The departure of Adrian "shinpad" Aucoin well actually help the man advantage as well (1.64 PPP/60).

So, without further ado, let's do what comes naturally to fans during the off-season: make up meaningless line combinations!

Jokinen - Langkow - Iginla

Giordano - Phaneuf

My first unit mixes puck distributors (Giordano, Langkow) with 3 lethal shooters (Iginla, Jokinen, Phaneuf). Langkow's outstanding tipping skills should help as well.

Dawes/Bourque/Glencross - Boyd - Moss

Bouwmeester - Pardy (Stralman, Kronwall)

The LW is a toss up and will probably depend on how Bourque is deployed and who is "hot". Bouwmeester will likely be on the first unit with Gio relegated to this one, but I like the idea of having a bona fide quarterback on each unit. In addition, the second unit won't be as vulnerable those times when the penalty ends and the opposing coach throws on a couple of stars to take advantage of tired lesser lights.

Who knows how this will shake out, but this is how I envision things right now. Feel free to add your combos in the comments though.

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