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Author Topic: Pens Power Play (or lack there of)  (Read 496 times)
Captain Chaos
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« on: Jan 06, 2009 at 10:44 »

A Look at the Slumping Penguins Power Play: Can They Decline Penalties?
Posted Jan 5th 2009 10:25PM by Adam Gretz -

The Penguins lost again on Monday night -- fifth in a row -- and continued their struggles with the power play. Entering play against the Rangers, the Penguins had been mired in an 0-for-24 slump with the man advantage. After an 0-for-8 showing at the Garden, you can extend that slump to 0-for-32. Not exactly an advantage.

Granted, the absence of Sergei Gonchar has been huge for the Penguins, which is no doubt leading to some (all?) of these struggles. Still, it's difficult comprehend how a unit that consists of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Petr Sykora can struggle to put the puck in the net on a semi-regular basis.

In the first period of Monday's game, the Penguins were awarded a four-minute power play after a high-sticking call on Petr Prucha, which was quickly followed by a questionable holding call on Dmitri Kalinin. It was going to be a full two-minute, two-man advantage. And they failed to score. Sure, Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in net, but he wasn't in goal for the 24 previous attempts.

So, what's the problem? Being too predictable comes to mind.

Let's take a look at a typical Penguins two-minute power play over the past month.

2:00 ... With the faceoff to the right of the goaltender, Sidney Crosby steps into the circle with Petr Sykora and Jordan Staal on his wings, and Evgeni Malkin and Alex Goligoski manning the points. The Penguins lose the initial draw in one of two ways: 1) A clean loss, or 2) Getting outworked for the loose puck. Once the opposing defenseman gains possession, he's allowed an easy clear, forcing Marc-Andre Fleury to play the puck, leaving it for Malkin.

1:50 ... Malkin leads the rush through the neutral zone and dumps the puck into the zone. As it comes around the boards to Crosby, he attempts a spin-o-rama pass to the slot which is intercepted by a penalty killer and cleared down the center of the ice, forcing Fleury to play the puck, leaving it for Malkin.

1:35 ... Malkin leads the rush through the neutral zone and dumps the puck into the zone. At this point, Sykora chases it down and gets knocked off the puck by a forward who attempts to clear the zone. Goligoski manages to hold it in and slides it along to Crosby. Crosby looks the play over and holds it ... holds it ... holds it ... and then starts to skate towards the middle of the ice, lifting his stick as if he's going to shoot, and then attempts a fake-slap pass to Goligoski trying to sneak in the back door. This play used to work with great regularity for the Penguins, and then the rest of the NHL realized it's the only set play Pittsburgh attempts with the man advantage. Two penalty killers are in the passing lane, easily clearing it, forcing Fleury to play the puck, leaving it for Malkin.

1:00 ... If it's a home game, fans boo.

:58 ... Malkin leads the rush through the neutral zone and dumps the puck into the zone. The Penguins make a switch sending Tyler Kennedy out in place of Sykora. Staal gains possession behind the net and works it around the boards to Crosby. Crosby passes it to Malkin at the point, who quickly passes it back to Crosby, who instantly slides it down low to Kennedy. Kennedy works it to a wide open Staal in the slot who promptly shoots it over the net resulting in an odd bounce off the glass, leading to a two-on-one rush the other way, with Malkin as the only man back.

:34 ... If it's a home game, fans boo.

:20 ... Assuming a shorthanded goal isn't scored on the odd-man break, Malkin leads one final rush for the power play, still looking for its first shot. Instead of dumping the puck in, Malkin dekes a man at the blue line, circles in behind the net, centers it to Staal, who fires it right at the logo on the goalie's sweater. There is no rebound.

Power play ends.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Good news, however, as Gonchar has returned to the ice. Bad news? He's not close to being ready.

Just one man's opinion.

"It's a big game because it's the next game." - Mike Tomlin
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 06, 2009 at 11:39 »

I know we couldn't/shouldn't have resigned Gary Roberts and Malone at their price tags, but I have to wonder how much of a difference a couple of big bodies would make in front of the net on the PP. Malone had a knack for scoring in front of rebounds, etc. last season.

I know Staal is a big dude, but he can't finish worth a shit and definitely is not as physical as those guys were.

As hard as I find it to believe that their wasn't a better backup plan for losing Hossa than signing Satan, I find it harder to believe Shero thought Fedontenko was a adequate replacement for Malone. Fedontenko has been pretty good, better than I thought actually, he's just not the physical presence this team so deperately needs.
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 06, 2009 at 14:25 »

All it takes is a little bit of hockey knowledge to figure out why this team's PP is looking like hell and I put the majority of the blame on Mike Yeo.

First, let's start with Malkin at the point.  He's predictable.  Teams know when he's going to fire one off.  They put two bodies in front of his shot.  It either get's blocked or at times it tends to go the other way on a odd man break.  I hated Malkin on the point before Whitney came back from his injury and I hate it now.  Put two defensemen at the point and let them handle the duties at the point.  Whitney/Gogo...Whitney/Tanger.  Put Malkin down low where he scored time and time again last season.  Malkin scored more goals from that left hash while on the PP than Satan has scored all season long.

Unlike last season, teams are also giving Crosby all the time in the world to pass because they know he won't shoot.  They cut off his passing lanes, he attempts to pass through two players and it get's intercepted.  It also doesn't help that Sykora is waiting in the slot for that perfect pass and teams are now starting to shut him down and cut him off from Crosby.  Between the backdoor pass to Whitney and the slot pass to Sykora, Crosby doesn't have a chance.  He's better off simply throwing it on net and finding a rebound.

The main problem in my opinion is that we don't have a body on this team willing to take a beating in front of the net.  If you have a body in front making hell, that opens up the lanes for Sykora, Whitney, Crosby, Malkin, etc.  Instead we have Jordan Staal who works the front when he feels like it.  That's it.  Staal is the only one and he doesn't do it nearly enough.

If there is going to be a coaching change made after this season is over, I wouldn't shed a tear if it's Mike Yeo.  The Bruce Arians of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Give Savard the job and see what he can do with that PP.  There is absolutely no excuse for this PP to look this bad.  When we play 5 on 5, that's a different story and I can't fault the coaching staff for our pathetic 5 on 5 play.
« Last Edit: Jan 06, 2009 at 14:29 by PghSteel-43 » Logged
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