St. Louis’ power play has been dynamite this year — clicking at a league-best 26.4 percent — and much credit for the unit’s success has been given to new assistant coach Kirk Muller, who’s been working with the man advantage.
After the PP impressed again last night with two goals against the Sharks, Muller cautiously admitted things were going well.
“I’d have to say it’s a pretty good run,” Muller told the Post-Dispatch. “But you know, we’ve had some breaks. We have to make sure we balance it properly in terms of giving them the freedom to try things, but not get a little too outside the box.”
Should the Blues continue along at this clip, they’d become just one of two teams in the last 17 years to finish over 26 percent (the other was the ’13 Washington Capitals; NHL.com stats only go back to the ’97-98 campaign.) Much of their success has come recently, however — in addition to scoring a whopping 20 goals over the last three games, the Blues’ power play has been firing on all cylinders, going 8-for-18 over its last four.
A big catalyst for that production? Paul Statsny.
The club’s ballyhooed free agent signing is really rounding into form lately after a rough start to the year. Stastny has 10 points in his last seven games and three power play points in his last three.
The other big factor comes from the blueline. St. Louis has benefited greatly from the play of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who leads all NHL defensemen in power play points, with 23.
Success with the man advantage is a big deal in St. Louis, especially come playoff time. The group struggled mightily in last year’s opening-round loss to Chicago, going a woeful 2-for-29 to finish dead last (6.9 percent) among all postseason participants. For a team that’s looking to make a deep run this year, scoring on the power play is vital — and Muller knows the unit needs to have continued success.
“So far, they’ve been good,” he explained. “We’ve just got to keep ticking away.”