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The Man Advantage: This Duck Still Flies

Mark McLarney

Mark McLarney writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

After just four games the Minnesota Wild are 1-2-1, but don’t blame that on their power play, which is currently ranked first in the league with a 38.1% efficiency rating (eight goals in 21 opportunities). Among the league leaders in PP goals scored so far this season are Mikko Koivu, Matt Cullen, and Brent Burns, each with two apiece. Cullen is also tied for the league lead with three PP assists while Koivu has two helpers of his own. If your league awards extra points for PPGs and PPAs, guys like Cullen, along with Antii Miettinen (1G, 2A) and Andrew Brunette (1G, 2A), could prove to be nice pick-ups.

Another team struggling in the overall standings but excelling on the power play is the Anaheim Ducks, currently last in the Western Conference with a 1-3-1 record, but second overall in PP efficiency with a 30.0% success rate (six goals in 20 chances). There are no surprises in terms of which players are seeing top minutes – as was the case last season, the #1 line still consists of Teemu Selanne (2G, 1A), Corey Perry (1G, 2A), and Bobby Ryan (1A) up front, with Lubomir Visnovsky (2A) and Ryan Getzlaf (2G, 2A) manning the points. Selanne in particular is still ultra-dangerous, particularly down low on the left side where he gets most of his PP goals. 40 years old or not – if you are in a medium-depth league and this guy is still somehow available on your waiver wire, go out and grab him now, like I did just the other day.

In St. Louis, the rebuilding Blues are currently finding out what life is like without the likes of aged veterans Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya. So far, the consensus seems to be, ‘not too badly, thank you very much’. The team is off to a respectable 2-1-1 start, thanks mostly to newly acquired franchise goaltender Jaroslav Halak. However, the power play isn’t doing that badly either, currently sitting 12th in the league with a 17.2% success rate. The PP scoring has been spread pretty evenly over the top two lines so far, with Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes, Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie, and Matt D’Agostini all getting in on the action. Also note that sitting atop the league in average PP minutes is none other than Alexander Steen; and while is playing a whopping 9:01 per game a man up, don’t get too excited about it. Steen’s minutes were drastically inflated following the Blues’ October 11 tilt with the Ducks. In that game, the Blues went on the man advantage an astounding 21 times with Steen seeing over 14 minutes of action. Just don’t look at that average thinking he’s seeing nine minutes per game on a regular basis.

A few other guys seeing a ton of PP minutes these days are names you might not have expected. First up would be Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski, currently fifth in the league with 6:52 per game. Anyone who picked him up in their draft anticipating he would be filling in for the injured Mark Streit is looking like a genius today, especially since he has picked up one PP goal and three helpers along the way. Another surprise is Wisniewski’s teammate Doug Weight, who at 39 years old is suddenly seeing great gobs of ice time – 19:46 per game with 6:26 coming on the power play. For someone who is supposed to be an over-the-hill veteran, Weight is currently proving to be a very valuable member of the Isles’ PP attack, with one goal and three helpers in five games. For the record, the Isles are currently running with a first line of Weight and Wisniewski on the points, with Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, and Pierre Parenteau down low. Surprisingly, John Tavares is currently centering the second line with Matt Moulson and Trent Hunter.

In Montreal, the Canadiens are at the polar opposite of the PP spectrum compared to where they were last season. After five games, the Habs sit second-to-last in the overall PP rankings with a 5.9% hit ratio – a single goal in 17 chances. Hmm…do you think this might have anything to do with the absence of one of the league’s best PP quarterbacks in Andrei Markov? For now, rookie P.K. Subban and Jarolsav Spacek are handling things on the back end, but Markov’s absence has been sorely missed. In addition, the first line of Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta haven’t hit their stride yet, either. However, methinks it’s just a matter of time before they come around.

A few other players receiving surprisingly high PP minutes so far:

Matt Hunwick, D, Boston – 3:38 per game

Tomas Kopecky, RW, Chicago – 3:30 per game

Cal O’Reilly, C, Nashville – 4:15 per game

Mike Comrie, C, Pittsburgh – 6:08 per game