An “outrageous” way for the Montreal Canadiens to tweak the power play

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JULY 28: Shea Weber Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JULY 28: Shea Weber Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens still can’t get their power play going, and perhaps taking Shea Weber off the man advantage could fix its biggest problem.

This headline sounds outrageous, I know. Taking Shea Weber off a power play with a shot of his stature is almost like taking Alexander Ovechkin off Washington’s man-advantage. Oh Weber’s 218 NHL goals, 102 of them came on the power play while 22 of those goals were scored during his four years as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

But here’s the thing, and this is no surprise to anyone who has watched the Habs for the last few years, the power play doesn’t work.

Regardless of the fact that it was an exhibition game, the Montreal Canadiens were 0/6 on the man advantage. A lot of it came from overthinking and bland tendencies, but it also came down to the exact same issue: predictability.

The Habs continued to make use of a drop pass to enter the zone, so much so that the Leafs were picking up on it and acting before it was even done. At the same time, these led to shorthanded opportunities for the opposition, and Montreal didn’t react fast enough for support.

And when they do end up in the zone, it’s the ‘Look for Shea Weber’ complex. Constant cycles of the puck, trying to keep the penalty killers moving, but they always have their weight on a leg to push off to wherever Weber is to block his lane. There’s too much thinking on the power play and not enough acting, and at the same time, they’re allowing the penalty killers to think too much instead of acting.

Must Read. Observations from the Pittsburgh Penguins. light

Exploring a reality where Weber isn’t on the power play could be a way to save the Montreal Canadiens from themselves. It doesn’t need to be permanent, just a short divorce to see how things change.

Nick Suzuki should the quarterback on the first unit while the other four spots are filled with players who can and have more of a tendency to shoot. Tomas Tatar stays in his spot as he’s successful there as well as his chemistry with the Habs rookie. Brendan Gallagher should also remain on the first unit, given his willingness to head to the front of the net for second and third opportunities.

I would take Jonathan Drouin off in favour of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and put him in Weber’s spot. He is a playmaker but also has a heavy shot (both wrist and one-timer) that can be made use of. Max Domi, who is a player that generates a lot of shots, third on the Montreal Canadiens this season with 179, but also knows the importance of shooting low for rebounds.

Kotkaniemi – Tatar – Suzuki

An all-forward power play has been talked about in the NHL amongst stat analysts, but it’s rarely been used. In recent memory, the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Flordia Panthers have used it.

Not only will it catch teams off guard, but it eliminates the transparency of where the puck is going. Tic-tac-toe goals can be formed starting at the point. Deflection plays are a possibility as well, but most importantly, everyone on the ice would be a shooting threat. Especially with a player like Suzuki dictating play as it’s hard to tell whether he’s going to pass or shoot.

Next. The Habs should break up the top line. dark

I doubt this would happen. Taking Weber off the man advantage would be a massive story in Montreal as that’s where he’s created his scoring edge over the years. However, things aren’t working, and the Canadiens can’t continue to do the same thing and expect different results.