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Penguins Practice: No. 1 Power Play Gets New Look

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Pittsburgh Penguins Practice, Power play 2 Nov. 22

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ power play got a bit of an overhaul during practice Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.

Mike Sullivan tweaked the makeup of both units, notably going with two defensemen on the points of the No. 1 group.

He moved Jeff Petry to the No. 1 power play, where he joined Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel. Bryan Rust shifted to the No. 2 unit, which included Jason Zucker, Jeff Carter, Rickard Rakell and P.O Joseph.

“We’re just trying to find combinations that are going to help us have success,” Sullivan said. “We’ve been running the same guys here for quite a while and trying to work through the process. We’re exploring some different options for us to see what might work, and we’ll continue to try that.

“But we have the versatility of other guys that we can utilize. We’re trying to put players in positions where they thrive and put players in positions to be successful. That’s part of the thought process. Sometimes, just tweaking things a little bit can be helpful when groups struggle, whether it’s a power play or a line or a defense pairing or whatever.

“Just make little tweaks that might jar the mindset or change the psychology of the group. Sometimes, that breeds some success.”

Despite possessing some elite offensive talents, particularly on the top unit, the Penguins’ power play is tied for 24th place in the league rankings, with a conversion rate of just 18.8 percent. It has scored 12 goals and allowed opposing penalty-killers to score two.

Although Sullivan did not go into detail about the specific reasons for the moves, at least two factors might have influenced the decision: Letang, a fixture on the left point, often passes up shot opportunities in favor of feeding the puck to a teammate, which allows penalty-killers to cheat on their coverage responsibilities, and the Penguins have given up a troubling number of shorthanded chances.

Petry has no qualms about sending pucks toward the net and, as a defenseman, should have more defensive awareness than the forward, usually Malkin, who had been operating on the point opposite him.

Petry, who had been a fixture on the second unit, said he does not expect the switch to have a significant impact on how he approaches his role.

“I want to distribute the puck to the flanks, when it’s there,” he said. “But at the same time, try to establish a shot early and see if that won’t bring their two (penalty-killing forwards) in a little bit, create some more space on the flanks.”

Similarly, Guentzel said that having Petry on the right point won’t compel him to make any meaningful changes to his power-play strategy.

“From my end, not much (is different),” he said. “(Petry) shoots the puck a little more. I just try to be in front of the net.”

Adjustments to the power play aside, during the practice, the Pittsburgh Penguins stuck with the personnel combinations they have been using of late:

Guentzel — Crosby — Rakell

Zucker — Malkin — Rust

McGinn — Carter — Heinen

Poehling — Blueger — Archibald

Pettersson — Letang

Joseph — Petry

Dumoulin — Rutta

(Ruhwedel — Kapanen)

The only player who didn’t participate in the workout was backup goalie Casey DeSmith, who Sullivan said is being evaluated for an unspecified upper-body injury. His absence, Sullivan said, was mostly “precautionary.”

Mike Chiasson, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ emergency backup goalie, filled in for DeSmith.

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Dave
Dave
8 days ago

Good idea. As long and as hard as letang has worked at getting better, he’s just not cut out to be a pp qb

Steve Hamula
Steve Hamula
8 days ago

I like the change. Two D should hopefully cut down on the turnovers and short handed breaks, and Letang can use his one timer from the left circle, which should create some new scoring opportunites on the PP, provided Letang can manage to find the net consistently. In addition, Petry has a good shot as well, isn’t afraid to use it, and can get pucks through to the net. Anxious to see this deployment tomorrow night.

Zach
Zach
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve Hamula

I agree, I think Petry can settle things down at the point. I notice when he is out there on the 2nd unit, he has a calming presence and like you said, has a nice shot.

I am also not a fan of the four forwards, because it leaves you vulnerable to short handed opportunities and with Petry possibly being on the point with Letang, that can place Malkin in his office to tee up that one-timer from that right wing circle.

JICS
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve Hamula

I think the top line should be the top PP, and the 2nd Line should be the 2nd PP, the way they’re changing it, except switch Malkin and Rakell.

Rob
Rob
8 days ago

How about trying Rakell on the first power play unit and dropping Guentzel to second with Rust.

Zach
Zach
8 days ago
Reply to  Rob

I actually would love to see Rakell on the first unit. Rakell is a very crafty player, and is great down low in front of the net, but also has a nice quick release and can work the half boards also.

I would rather have two units, as opposed to putting all your eggs in one basket.

You could have these two PP units

Malkin-Crosby-Rakell-Letang-Petry
Guentzel-Carter-Rust-Zucker-Joseph

Rob
Rob
5 days ago
Reply to  Zach

Couldn’t believe Rakell wasn’t even in on the power play in the overtime period in Calgary. What’s up with that? Rust Guentzel out there the entire time?

Rob
Rob
5 days ago

Better watch Philly tonight with their physical nasty play with a couple players on that team and Torts behind the bench. Keep your heads up boys.