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Special teams playing a role in Blues recent success

Marc Savard has helped turn Blues power play around

St. Louis Blues v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

At times last season, the Blues power play struggled to find consistency. While they were 10th in the league at 21.1 percent, there were too often stretches of time where the unit failed to click. And it was even worse in the playoffs, finding success just 16.3 percent of the time, which was 12th out of 16 playoff teams. Winning the Stanley Cup can make you forget about that, however.

The Blues made a change to their coaching staff in the offseason, bringing in Marc Savard as an assistant coach. His most important assignment was coaching the team’s power play. Savard finished his 13-year career with 292 points on the man advantage. That came out to 41 percent of his 706 total points and almost 39 percent of his 207 total goals.

Savard was coming into a team that had players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn manning the power play units. So why was this unit unable to find consistency?

A Look At The Numbers

The Blues finished last season with 398:01 minutes on the man advantage. They had a total of 237 opportunities. They scored 50 goals, while only giving up five shorthanded goals. O’Reilly and Tarasenko both lead the team with 22 power play points. Tarasenko lead the team with 12 of his points being goals. 14 players finished the regular season with at least one power play point.

It was a struggle in the playoffs to get the man advantage going. Tarasenko once again led the team with his five goals and seven total points on the power play. Jaden Schwartz and David Perron were the only other players to have more than one goal on the man advantage.

The results have been good early on this season. O’Reilly, Schenn and Perron have the team lead with seven points on the power play. Schenn has the early goals with four of his 10 goals on the season coming with the extra man. Nine players have at least one point. Considering there are five players on each unit, that is a good percentage of players contributing.

Overall, the unit is tied with the Washington Capitals for fourth best in the league at 25.9 percent. The Boston Bruins hold the best power-play percentage at 31.4 percent while the Philadelphia Flyers are right behind them at 24.1 percent. The PP unit has played a major role in the Blues recent success and their ranking among the league serves to prove that.

The Blues have had a total of 19 opportunities during the last six games. They are averaging a little other three chances a game in this recent stretch. They’ve scored two goals on the power play in three out of the six games. While the other three games saw no power play goals, the unit is still working at a 31.5 percent mark. That’s six goals in 19 opportunities.

That percentage is the second best in the league during the winning streak, behind the Florida Panthers. The Blues six goals are the most in that span of time. And the team has been without Tarasenko during this entire stretch.

Now only one of those games came against a top penalty kill unit, that being the third-ranked Vancouver Canucks. They have killed off 88.7 percent of their penalties. The Blues went 0/2 in that game. The other four teams they faced were 13th, 14th, 24th and 31st on the penalty kill. They went 6/17 against those teams.

Right now the Blues sit tied with the Capitals atop the league with 25 points. It’s no surprise that both teams are in the top five in power play percentage. It isn’t a huge sample size, but the early numbers have to be promising to the Blues newest assistant coach. His new system has certainly been paying off thus far.