The Art Gallery – Let’s Talk About Laine On The Powerplay

Last Friday morning after the debacle against the Kings and before the slightly less debacle-ish loss against the Ducks, Paul Maurice held court and explained just what the heck he was doing with the power play.

If nothing else, it proved that the Jets and coach Paul Maurice really do pay attention to the press and to the fan backlash. But this really was astonishing on multiple levels, so I am going to break down my three biggest “takeaways” from this clip.

1 – He’s letting Patrik Laine dictate how Patrik Laine is used on the PP?

Laine likely feels more comfortable on the strong side because it does take away from his one timer opportunity and in turn opposing teams will not cheat towards covering Laine as much as they would if that one-timer threat was there on the weak/left side. Playing on that right side as so many people have noted also means Laine will have a bit more time with the puck to be creative and as we’ve seen he’s as strong a passer and playmaker as he is with the shot.

And while I get wanting to have players be comfortable with the role they are in (although if that was truly the case then it does make wonder why PoMo waited until he had absolutely had zero options to move Buff back to his preferred position on defense back in 2014) Maurice isn’t putting Laine on a weak side power play simply because that’s what he’s comfortable with at the moment.. Are they?

Is Laine not comfortable on the left side? As a coach, isn’t it your job to get him comfortable there? Keeping Laine on the right side is like having a loaded gun and taking out half the bullets. Sure it’s still lethal, but not as much as it could be.

Not to mention you take out a few more bullets when you play him on the second unit, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

2 – It didn’t “succeed” .. Only it kind of did?

He mentions that they did run Laine on the left side earlier in the season and it “didn’t work”

I was interested in this comment because as of November 8th of 2016, 5 of Laine’s first 10 goals were power play goals.

Up until he scored with the man advantage the night before against the Kings, he went almost a full two months without a power play goal having last scored January 26 (although to be fair Laine missed a handful of time due to his injury.)

That goal came after going another two months without a power play goal that he scored back on December 1st. In all he went from scoring five within his first month of action to two in the next four months afterwards.

But going back to those first five power play goals, I was interested in where Laine actually scored them from and wondered if it was just my imagination that he scored all of them on the weak side power play.

Take a look to see what I saw:

Four of the five were scored on his off wing – on the left side, or as Paul called it the right – and on that fifth goal you’ll note that Laine entered the zone on the off wing before cutting to the net. All but one were a one-timer, but this still seems like strong evidence that playing on the weak side was working for at least a while, doesn’t it?

We can go into Paul Maurice’s penchant for juggling lines the moment even something goes a bit sideways another day, but at some point teams started to figure this out and started shutting down Laine at least a little bit and that’s when Paul felt he had to change things up and hasn’t even really looked at going back to what did work.

His usage, as well as the fact he has consistently seen a full minute or more less power play ice time than the Jets other top players (and Adam Lowry) has been even more of a head scratcher.

Paul says the limited ice time is because the other unit – the one he claims Laine doesn’t want to play on – is “rolling” but that brings us to point three…

3 – He’s pretty smug for a power play that at the moment ranks 19th in the league

And let’s keep in mind that it only ranks at 19 now because as of late it has been pretty darn good scoring in seven straight games. At times this season has been hanging around the 24th and 25th positions and hasn’t looked good at all.

The little talk seemed a bit tone-deaf considering where this team is at with a handful of games to go in another lost season. Fans aren’t happy and being dismissive like this isn’t going to sell well when it comes time to renew season seats.

Not that I expect him to come out and say something along the lines of “the fans are right and I’m gonna do what they suggest starting tonight” of course, but a little bit of humility instead of acting like everything is a-ok when it clearly isn’t would go a long ways.

Oh, No Olympics?!

I simply don’t get the NHL on this one.

They are going to skip out on the 2018 PyeongChang games because of various reasons mostly related to shutting the league down for two weeks (understandable) the risk of injuries players face in the tournament (has there been that many over the last four they’ve gone to?) and financial concerns (typical Gary Bettman).

During those two weeks, typically the NFL is done for the season, MLB camps haven’t opened up and the NBA is in the middle of it’s regular season. It’s prime time for hockey to be showcased and has a chance to do so with it’s top players in an international setting with major media outlets from around the world covering it..

The NHL is going to take that and say “nope, we’re good just giving teams odd timed week long breaks”

Even more puzzling is that a day after Gary says “don’t hold your breath” when waiting for the NHL in the Olympics, the league announces international games in Sweden and China.

China by the way has the very next Olympics in 2022, so it’s very likely the NHL is setting up shop there to get fans to buy in by the time 2022 rolls around.

Does anyone know what the NHL’s long term plan is to grow the game? Does anyone in the NHL know?