Power Play

The Power Play and Underlying Principles of Power Play Tactics

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fitzpatrick, Jamie. "Power Play." ThoughtCo, Sep. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-is-a-power-play-2778813. Fitzpatrick, Jamie. (2016, September 29). Power Play. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-power-play-2778813 Fitzpatrick, Jamie. "Power Play." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-power-play-2778813 (accessed October 24, 2017).
SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 9: Dmitry Kulikov #7 of the Florida Panthers defends against Reilly Smith #18 of the Boston Bruins during a first period power play at the BB&T Center on March 9, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida.
Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

The Power Play Defined

The power play in hockey is always a source of some confusion for spectators new to the sport. The situation that creates the power occurs whenever one or two players on one team are sent to the penalty box -- that is, obliged to leave the ice for some period of time, thus giving the other team a one or two man advantage. 

The power play situation exists for either two minutes--the result of a minor penalty -- or for five minutes -- the result of major penalty.

 

Clearing Up One Source of Confusion

The name "power play" itself causes newcomers some confusion. To be literal about it for a moment, consider that a "play" in hockey has the same meaning generally that it has in most sports -- the moves a team makes either to advance its position and, when possible, to score over the other team. But in hockey, "power play" doesn't mean exactly that. Rather, it's the situation itself -- a team with a one or two man advantage -- that's called "power play," not the moves that the team with the player advantage makes during the period when the advantage exists.

In a world of logic and grammar, "power play" would logically be called "the power play situation," or "the power play advantage," or something like that. But, no: in hockey "power play," as fans and sports announcers use the term, means the advantage itself, not the strategic moves the team with the advantage makes during two or five minute time period when the advantage exists.

 

What Ends the Power Play

A power play ends only when the penalty time-period has ended or when the game itself ends. Scoring does not end the power play; a team with a power play advantage scores as many goals as it can during the penalty period.

Power Play Tactics

Many books, articles, blogs and coaches strategy sessions have been devoted to the intricacies of power play tactics, each with its own colorful (and for newcomers, inscrutable) name: The Umbrella, 1-2-2, 11-3-3, The Spread, and so on.

Summarizing these, much less getting into the detail that hockey coaches devote to the subject,  is far beyond the scope of this short article. What can be said, however, is that underlying common power play tactics are

  • getting the puck into scoring position
  • creating player placement dynamics that pick apart defense strategies 
  • setting up tactical moves that play on the defense's lack of one or more players
  • creating tactics that give either quality shot opportunities or as many shot opportunities as possible (strategists differ on which of these approaches is best; fans, however, can get impatient with a team that spends so much time setting up a really great shot that some major portion of the time the power play advantage exists is being used up without a scoring result.
  • creating tactics that create follow-up scoring opportunities after missed shots. 
Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fitzpatrick, Jamie. "Power Play." ThoughtCo, Sep. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-is-a-power-play-2778813. Fitzpatrick, Jamie. (2016, September 29). Power Play. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-power-play-2778813 Fitzpatrick, Jamie. "Power Play." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-power-play-2778813 (accessed October 24, 2017).