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HYPE TRAAAAAIN: A Competent Power Play

The Arizona Coyotes have gone a while since they last had a formidable powerplay. This season may change that tune.

NHL: Preseason-Arizona Coyotes at San Jose Sharks Andrew Villa-USA TODAY Sports

The Coyotes are back for the 2017-18 season and featuring a roster and coaching staff completely renovated from the dark days of rebuilding.

This is the HYPE TRAIN, a 7-day series focused on giving you 7 reasons to get F*****G JACKED for this season’s road hopefully leading back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Go ahead and fire this nice little hype song up for me before I get started.

When you look at the NHL right now, what teams have power plays that you legimately don’t want to face because you know they will destroy you every time you see them? Chicago still has an amazing first power play group. Toronto is scary on even strength, let alone on the man advantage. Tampa strikes fear into the heart of every defense.

So why do I bring up powerplays? Because the Coyotes will actually have a good one this season. They have the talent in front and on the blue line to actually project competence. And that excites me.

Obviously, we haven’t seen the powerplay as a completely manufactured group. We don’t know how they play together and we certainly don’t know how Rick Tocchet will have them set up the situation.

But what we do know, and it’s more than enough to get wound up over, is the talent.

The Arizona Coyotes have talent now.

They are not a team of scrubs, of wash-ups and grinders. This team has the skill to put quality shots on net, not just shots with a dash of effort.

When you trot out Derek Stepan, Clayton Keller, Max Domi, Brendan Perlini and a variety of other speedy snipers in the Western Conference, you’re gonna have a good time.

I mean, consider the comparables. Clayton Keller has been compared to Patrick Kane (I will cede that this is a lofty comparison). Christian Dvorak has some hints of Patrice Bergeron in him. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Max Domi don’t need any special introduction and Brendan Perlini is as pure of a young sniper as you could ask for.

Beyond the names, this team brings the potential to draw more penalties than they ever have before. This group is fast, both in back and out front. They will skate circles around slower, older defensemen and force them to use their sticks far more than they would like. The NHL is cracking down on slashing, and that’s good news for the good guys.

There are no widely accepted elements that contribute to a good power play, but it would be generally agreed upon that player rotation, puck circulation, and lane obscurement are the cornerstones of setting up PP opportunities. Obviously, the conversion is about the individual shot, but the setup comes before the goal.

I bring this up because these are the factors that limited Arizona’s effectiveness under Dave Tippett.

I don’t necessarily blame Tippett for this, however. The talent he had to work with was often minimal. He didn’t have the skill players to recognize space creation or rotate effectively. He did have the net-front presence in Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal among others, but it’s hard to score when you don’t have the right people circling those lane-blockers.

What’s changed now is the level of skill circulating around the net. Let me paint a picture: Christian Fischer or Christian Dvorak working the net front, Lawson Crouse and Tobias Rieder crossing into lanes in the mid-zone and Max Domi or Clayton Keller helping circulate up and down the half boards. On the points, you mix in offensive defensemen like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski with snipers like Brendan Perlini and Anthony Duclair.

Sounds like a pretty nice painting, am I right? Best part? I didn’t even create power play lines. I just named some decent players. Not all of the players, just SOME of them.

Be HYPED UP for the change in tone of this team.

Be JACKED for the talent that it brings.

But be OUT OF YOUR MIND for when these two things come together and produce man-advantage goals. Because a few more powerplay goals a month is a few more wins, and a few more wins is a half dozen more points. Those points add up.

And we all know what more points gets teams.

<screams like Steve Dangle>...PLAYOFFS!