The Athletic’s Max Bultman discusses Lucas Raymond’s new-found role as a “bumper” on the Red Wings’ power play as the team attempts to break a lengthy slump that’s found the PP unit drop to 31st in the NHL:
Detroit’s power play is once again in dire straits this season, converting at 14.4 percent — which, as of Monday, was 31st in the league. That number is a marginal improvement on last season’s man-advantage misery for the Red Wings, but it’s still noticeably behind the league median (currently around 19 percent). For that reason, it certainly makes sense for Detroit to try some new alignments. But putting one of the team’s most creative playmakers right in the middle of the opposing penalty kill (where time and space can be hard to come by) was nonetheless a significant shake-up — and one that merits a closer look.
First, it’s important to know what the Red Wings feel their recipe for success is on the power play. In Detroit coach Jeff Blashill’s mind, those key pillars are quick puck movement and having bodies around the net.
That’s all simple enough: Passing the puck around quickly can force defenses to scramble, and also potentially force goalies to move within the crease, as opposed to squaring up a shot the whole way. Meanwhile, having players around the net means a better chance at getting to the puck in the most dangerous area of the ice, especially on rebounds.
From that standpoint, the player in the bumper plays a prime role in both of those objectives. It’s a key, nearby outlet for every other spot on the power play, and Raymond is smart enough to handle that responsibility, whether it means moving the puck quickly to one of the other four spots, or shooting from his dangerous station in the slot.