Connect with us

PHN+ FREE PREVIEW

Penguins Relying on the Power Play; the Good…and Bad

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Kasperi Kapanen

The Pittsburgh Penguins have 15 even-strength five-on-five goals in the last 10 games. Somewhat remarkably, those same Penguins are 6-3-1 in those 10 games and have feasted on power play opportunities.

Evgeni Malkin buried the game’s only goal and game-winner last Saturday in the Penguins’ 1-0 win over the New York Rangers. On Sunday, Malkin scored the game-tying goal on the advantage in the 3-2 Penguins win.

Malkin scored the Penguins’ only goal in the 6-1 drubbing by the New Jersey Devils–you guessed it–on the power play. On the power play, Evan Rodrigues scored the third goal in the Penguins’ 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes (assisted by Malkin).

That’s four of the Penguins’ last eight goals in total.

Is that bad?

This is a free preview of PHN+. View the rest of the story by clicking on the read more. Please consider subscribing for a full year, just $19.99. That’s $10 off. Click here.

“I don’t think so. Obviously, we rely on it because we have elite players that play on it, and it’s a great situation for a team to either give momentum or grab the lead,” Letang countered. “So, of course, we rely on it, and we take pride in being really good on it. But I don’t think it should affect our play five on five, that’s for sure.”

This was the debate you and I had when Phil Kessel was “transforming” the Penguins after their Stanley Cup wins. I said it’s bad. Many of you said–Shut up, leave Britney Kessel alone!

Letang’s response made sense in real-time, but it reads differently than I initially interpreted it. Letang did, a matter of factly, say the Penguins rely on the power play–because it is so good.

Many of you also said it’s a goal, and it doesn’t matter how it’s scored. It must be noted before I go “Leroy Jenkins” on the argument teams don’t get power-play chances in the playoffs. Did you see the slog that was the 2021 playoffs? The Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders could have performed in the Sea World water-skiing show.

Where’s the secondary scoring? Jeff Carter has one goal in 14 games and just four in 2022. Kasperi Kapanen has had such a rough go that we made a specific point to praise his strong performance against Columbus. He hasn’t scored a goal since Jan. 23 and has just two goals in 2022.

“It’s not a case of a lack of opportunities. And we track that stuff in detail. So if it were (lack of detail), this would be a very different conversation. So we’re confident that if we continue to get the looks that we’re getting, the opportunities, we will score goals,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “And so really, at the end of the day, all you can control is the process.”

Continuing the dry spells, Evan Rodrigues has one goal in his last 22 games. Brock McGinn, who has also been thrust into a top-nine role, has one goal in 20 games. Danton Heinen has two goals (both scored in one game) in his last 19 games.

From the Penguins’ current middle-six, excluding Evgeni Malkin, that’s a total of 10 goals in the last 22 games.

But the bigger picture isn’t the lack of scoring in the middle-six. For several years, dependence on the power play has permeated the healthy Pittsburgh Penguins roster. The battered and bruised lineup had a terrible power play and won 10 games in a row. The healthy lineup decidedly has not.

Letang gave a slight smirk–how could scoring be a bad thing? Sullivan gave a more nuanced rebuttal that makes sense.

“I don’t think so. I think, if anything, the power-play success fuels confidence in all those guys. Usually, when the power play has success, it bleeds into the five on 5v5. That’s been my experience,” Sullivan said.

How can a goal be a poison pill? When the power play takes the place of all of the other things teams must do to score goals, control games, and win.

Sullivan and Letang rejected the idea and made a good case.

It’s a good thing the Pittsburgh Penguins scoffed, but at some point, the secondary scoring has to kick in because the power play won’t click at 28% in the NHL playoffs.

Subscribe to PHN+

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

8 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
8 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Orslene
Michael Orslene
2 months ago

The story lacks context. How does their 5 on 5 percentage of goals compare to other teams? To league average?

Rick
Rick
2 months ago

Since January 11th, Malkin’s first game back, (roughly the time this team started playing playoff bound teams, the team’s Goals For per 60 minutes 5 on 5 is 2.10, placing them at 26th in league. That is horrible, bottom 3rd in the league. What is worse is the teams Goals Against per 60 minutes (5 on 5) is 2.34 over that same time frame. Thanks to Jarry mainly and a little bump back up in DeSmith, that number of itself isn’t bad; 9th in the league. However, since 2.34 is greater than 2.10, the team is losing the battle 5… Read more »

morslene
morslene
2 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Thank you.

Rick
Rick
2 months ago

While we are talking about 5 on 5 scoring, I just want to throw this interesting stat out there. Since, January 11th, Malkin’s 1st game back, in terms of Team Goals For per 60 minutes (TGF/60) and Team Goals Against per 60 (TGA/60) the line of Guentzel-Crosby-Rust TGF/60 (5 on 5): 2.26 TGA/60 (5 on 5): 2.01 the line of Heinen-Malkin-Kapanen TGF/60 (5 on 5): 2.47 TGA/60 (5 on 5): 0.00 (look on natural stat trick) The only real important stat in hockey is the difference in GF and GA. Looking at these numbers, Heinen-Malkin-Kapanen are out performing Guentzel-Crosby-Rust by… Read more »

trackback

[…] The Pittsburgh Penguins have 15 even-strength five-on-five goals in the last 10 games. Somewhat remarkably, those same Penguins are 6-3-1 in those 10 games and have feasted on power play opportunities. Evgeni Malkin buried the game’s only goal and game-winner last Saturday in the Penguins’ 1-0 win over the New York Rangers. On Sunday, Malkin scored the game-tying goal on the advantage in the 3-2 Penguins win. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

Rick
Rick
2 months ago

Sorry,as I digest your article here, I am left wondering if any one asked Sullivan, “if as you say, Mr Sullivan, when the power play has success, it bleeds into the five on 5v5″, then why has the 5 on 5 scoring been wallowing for almost 2 months now? How long do we have to wait for that success to translate?”

D1VE is Dumb
D1VE is Dumb
2 months ago

If relying on the power play is such a bad thing, how can Ovechkin be looked at as one of the greatest goal scorers ever???

morslene
morslene
2 months ago
Reply to  D1VE is Dumb

I believe both can be true. Greatest goal scorer ever, but limited (for his talent) post success when power plays dry up.

Join PHN Extra!

Join PHN+ today for exclusive content from Dan, Dave and Shelly plus a completely Google ad-free experience.

PHN+

Or enter your email below to sign-up for our mailing list.

Thank you!

Something went wrong.

No thanks. I don't want.