After the Washington Capitals‘ first scrimmage of training camp on Thursday, the team finally moved towards practicing the power-play. First-year head coach Peter Laviolette opted to take center Lars Eller, who has been a fixture on the second unit for the past three seasons, off.
Laviolette put forward Richard Panik on the unit in Eller’s place. The second unit does not have a natural center with Panik, forward Jakub Vrana, forward Tom Wilson, defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and defenseman Justin Schultz on it.
He also opted to put center Evgeny Kuznetsov back on the first unit after Vrana replaced him there midway through last season.
Despite having an arguably loaded power-play on paper, the Capitals finished last season with a 19.4% power-play efficiency, 17th in the NHL. After December 8, that rate dropped to 15.6%, the fourth-worst. They improved a bit in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, going 17.9% on the man advantage (12th).
Eller’s six power-play points last season ranked eighth on the Capitals. Panik, who averaged 13 seconds per game on the power-play last season, has only gotten more than four power-play points in a season once in his career (nine with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016-17).
Eller averaged 1:44 worth of ice-time on the man advantage a season ago.
Here are the full power-play units:
Capitals are working on their PP units.
First unit: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Oshie and Carlson
Second unit: Vrana, Wilson, Schultz, Panik and Orlov
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 7, 2021
By Harrison Brown