I would like to preface this by saying that there isn’t a serious problem that would warrant fans to freak out about the state of the Penguins. They clearly have had no problems putting up at least 3-5 goals a game in mainly 5 on 5 hockey, so scoring many goals isn’t a flawed component of the team. This is merely an observation that the Power Play unit has hit the skids a little in the month of February. All squads go through a slump at 1 point or another so there is no alarming concern, it’s just when you see the players on this specific man advantage that you start to expect a little more.
Beginning from late January to the current date of this month in a total of 10 games, our favorite hockey team has gone 5 for 32 on the power play, for a percentage of 15.6%. That sample size number right there would put them at 26th overall for power play completion, tying them with the team they just lost to the other night, the Arizona Coyotes. Now as just stated this is only a sample size of a few recent weeks, overall the Pens % is 5th overall in the league at 21.9%, this is just a minor hiccup. These numbers are a bit skewed too from an 0/6 and 1/5 performance.
The Penguins actually lead the league in goals per game and the number of goals scored total, so I’m not worried and neither should you, it’s all gonna work out fine. Enough about stats though, there’s more to it than just that. From the eye test it’s not for a lack of trying, it’s a little too much of overdoing if that makes any sense. Sometimes before getting into the zone they pass it like 4 times around the neutral zone and center ice before they actually enter, it’s made the opposition able to put on pressure and break up those attempts, but that depends on who they’re facing.
When the Penguins are in the offensive zone they definitely get their chances, I mean they’re a great team, of course they do. This is just 1 man’s opinion, but I feel as if they almost try to be too perfect with the puck, they make that extra pass sometimes when it’s not necesarrily needed because they want a literal wide open net to shoot at. That doesn’t always have to be the case, sometimes it’s just better to get a shot off. Then though you see the mastery like what they did to Arizona the other night and you think “damn, maybe they should go for those opportunties”.
Power Play chances have stalled at times because they are waiting, waiting, and waiting some more, and then there’s only a very tight window to get that pass (most likely a saucer) to a teammate. If doesn’t get through than it breaks up the opportunity and flow. I feel that the Penguins best form of power play is when they get a high volume of shots off, that way they can pounce on any rebounds and score that off it or get moving parts. Certainly it’s a numbers games but the Pens take great advantage of shooting, claiming the puck back, and doing it all again. By getting off a number of shots, it will enclose the defense to move in more to either block a shot or cover in front of the net. This will open up those passing lanes.
It would be easy to point out that the absence of Evgeni Malkin could lead to less production as Geno is a 1 of a kind talent. The Pens have enough other bodies to keep up similar success, and give guys the moment they wouldn’t normally get. Yes you would rather have Malkin there, but they have many capable players. Maybe not all the chemistry gelled together? There’s a few different ways they replaced Malkin, sometimes it was Jake Guentzel or Nick Bonino, they would even added a 2nd defenseman like Justin Schultz into the mix. Either way, Geno is back now and I’m sure the team will wake out of this lull. There’s some, but not much of their game that needs to be fixed besides the offensive side of special teams, that is soon to positively change.