The power play is a very important part of the game. It gives your team an opportunity to take advantage of being full strength while the opposing team plays a man short. There are many different variations of how to run a powerplay, and here is a rundown on a few of them.
The Umbrella power play is commonly used. The idea of an umbrella power play is to get shots from the point or the tops of the circles. In the figure on the right, you can see how a typical umbrella power play is setup. This type of power play is generally used when a team has a player who has a big shot from the blueline, who they will try to get their power play shots from in hopes to score or create a rebound or deflection for a scoring chance. The Minnesota Gophers utilized this power play pretty well, usually having defenceman Nate Schmidt at the top of the point, with another defenceman and Bjugstad or Haula playing off to the side on the tops of the circles, and usually Kyle Rau and another forward down low by the goal crease. The good thing about this type of power play is the versatility it has. Although the idea is to get the shots from the point, scoring opportunities can be generated down low by moving the puck around up top and to the side boards, leaving the defenders to ignore the players down low. The Umbrella power play also allows for a give-and-go opportunity for either the defenceman up top if he passes of to the player on the side and crashes into the slot area for a return pass, or if the player on the side passes off to the defenceman and creeps closer to the net before receiving a return pass. Overall, it is not my favorite power play, but it is a commonly used one and can be effective.
The Overload power play isn't a power play I see too often anymore, but can be effective. The idea is to "overload" players on one side of the ice and work the puck around on that side, whether is be from cycling the puck down low or looking for a give-and-go. I will say that I like this power play in instances where the defensive team plays a loose "box" in an attempt to cover more space. In a situation like that, a give-and-go down low with an overload on one side. One thing I don't like about this particular power play, is that generally there is only one offensive player near the net, making scoring opportunities dependent mostly on direct shots. A play I do like on the overload is the player on the sideboards passing to the player down low, skating towards the net and receiving a give-and-go pass, usually creating a 2-on-1 situation in front of the net.