by Tony on 11/24/08 at 02:15 PM ET
If you’re a regular reader of this incredibly amateur-ish column, first of all thanks, but you also know my numero uno Pet Peeve when it comes to your Pittsburgh Penguins, and that’s their powerplay.
And so it’s in that regard that I was pleasantly surprised to read HCMT’s scathing comments towards the Pens’ powerplay units following yet another PP gooseegg after their 3-1 loss to the Canucks at the Igloo on Saturday afternoon.
Therrien pretty much said all the things I was looking for; Not getting loose pucks and not working hard.
“We don’t have the right attitude out there,” Therrien said. “It can’t be tic-tac-toe all the time. There are times when you have to battle. ... Anytime there’s a battle, most of the time we lose those battles. The penalty killers on other teams outwork our power play. It’s pretty simple. That’s the reason we struggle. Until they change that attitude, until they change their work ethic, it’s not going to work. We might do a tic-tac-toe play every once in a while but, other than that, we’re getting outworked by every penalty-killing [unit] in the league now, whatever team we play. If we’re not working, it’s not going to work.”
And so the consensus now is that there will be significant changes to the powerplay units before the Pens travel to Long Island on Wednesday night vs. the Islanders. But just how many changes do you imagine they’ll make ??
Well, first of all, as I’ve repeatedly said, one of those changes should be to start pounding into their heads to start moving with and without the puck. Simply “tic-tac-toe”, as HCMT calls it, does very little in terms of creating scoring lanes from the PK units. The Penguins have some of the best puckhandlers in the NHL, they need to take advantage of that skill to keep the PK units off-balance.
Secondly, we’re FINALLY starting to hear some rumblings that HCMT and powerplay coach Mike Yeo are considering putting their offensive D-men on the off-point, meaning putting righties Kris Letang and Philippe Boucher on the left point, as well as Alex Goligoski among other on the right point to generate more one-timers and thereby generating more pucks on net.
However, Decision #1 may very well be whether HCMT will separate Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the #1 PP unit. That decision, obviously, affects the entire scope of the powerplay. Yes, it dilutes the #1 PP unit, but let’s be realistic, that unit isn’t exactly running on all cylinders. They’ve fallen down the NHL rankings quite a bit lately. So while the #1 wouldn’t be as strong, it would certainly strengthen the #2 unit, as well as force the opposition to make some tough decisions in terms of what penalty killing unit is going to defend what Pens’ PP unit.
So any further PP assignments would have to be made after the Crosby/Malkin decision is made. But for shits and giggles, let’s say for the sake of argument that they were split up and then we’ll make the rest of the PP unit lineups.
DISCLAIMER: Obviously, there aren’t any right or wrong answers here, so take that into consideration before you flame away. Also, naturally, these lines will all be thrown out when Whitney then Gonchar come back.
#1 PP unit:
Satan - Staal - Crosby
Letang - Goligoski
#2 PP unit:
Fedotenko - Sykora - Malkin
Boucher - Orpik/Gill
NOTES: No, I didn’t place Zigomanis, Kennedy, Talbot, Dupuis, Cooke or Godard out there. With the exception of Ziggy winning the occasional faceoff in the opponent’s zone, those two units are how I’d do it, for whatever that’s worth. Also, I made a point to place Jordan Staal on the #1 unit in front of the net, a place that the Penguins could use some more muscle. I also made sure that Malkin and Sykora stayed together, they’ve got that certain chemistry together. Fedotenko is still iffy in my book, so that might be where Kennedy as a righty would be beneficial. In terms of the Orpik/Gill assignment, that spot is strictly for getting pucks on net, which those guys can at least do.
It’s gonna be interesting to see just how many changes HCMT makes, or whether it’s simply lip service. One thing’s for sure; Teams have adapted to what the Penguins are willing to do and what they won’t do on the powerplay. If they don’t start making some adjustments, both in personnel and in their powerplay philosophy, their PP success rate will continue to languish in the average range, rather than the elite range.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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