Before we got in to strategy and the minutiae of the power play, Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Larsen made one thing clear. It’s the players driving the success. Or, as another coach put it, you bake the cake with the ingredients you have.
It’s Zach Werenski's incredible poise running the show. It’s Sam Gagner's skill and ability that thwarted initial plans to have him run the Blue Jackets' second unit. Alexander Wennberg has been great along the half wall, a big reason the Blue Jackets hardly miss Ryan Johansen. Nick Foligno is dangerous by the goal line, and Cam Atkinson's league-best nine power-play goals highlight his ability to finish.
Ultimately, when talking power-play strategy, Larsen believes it comes down to personnel more than anything.
“It’s all about personnel,” he said when we chatted on Tuesday. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here. I’m fortunate to work with really skilled and smart players.”
But the Blue Jackets' success highlights a trend among NHL power plays: The days of having two big-shot defensemen manning the points and firing bombs are going away.