Red Wings work on PK
You could call the two-man advantage a hidden statistic because all power plays are dumped into the same grouping, be they a 5-on-4 or 5-on-3. But the difference between the two is significant.
Teams have a much greater rate of scoring on a 5-on-3 than a 5-on-4, scoring more than four times more often with a two-man advantage than a one-man advantage -- a league average of 25.1 goals per 60 minutes compared to 5.9 goals per 60 minutes.
"Everybody's expecting a goal when it's 5-on-3," said Detroit's Valtteri Filppula. "That's why every time you kill a 5-on-3, it gives you an extra boost."
The Red Wings are ranked 11th in the NHL in penalty killing. But if you break that down into types of PK situations, the Red Wings' efficiency becomes polarized.
Down one man, the Red Wings are seventh in the league in terms of goals allowed per 60 minutes (4.1). Down two men, however, the Red Wings rank 29th in the league in goals allowed per 60 minutes (47.9), are 27th in time on ice (7.5 minutes) and 30th in goals allowed (six).
Six goals against -- two more than the next worst total -- might not sound like much, but that's 12 percent of the total goals allowed by Detroit this season.
So yesterday, the Red Wings worked on positioning while defending 5-on-3s and rotation.
"You have to try to be in shooting lanes," said Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom. "When there's a shot, you have to have all three players come down and help out with the rebound. When you're two men down, someone's going to be open all the time. It takes a lot from your goalie and your guys on the ice to be willing to block shots and fill shooting lanes."
Lidstrom, Chris Chelios are the two defensemen that coach Mike Babcock wants on the ice when down two men with Andreas Lilja also seeing significant ice time. Kris Draper or Henrik Zetterberg usually mans the one forward spot.
With the many whistles that have formed a soundtrack for the post-lockout NHL, 5-on-3 hockey has become a more prominent part of the game than it was five years ago.
"Post-lockout, I think the referees aren't afraid to call it whenever it's a penalty," said Lidstrom. "Even if it might be a stick coming up with a little bit of a hook, they're going to call it. I think they've been pretty consistent about it. They've been told by the league to call everything. You know even if you're down a player, you can't take any liberties. I think it's good that they're being consistent."