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Thread: Pens Will Need The Power Play To Improve For The Playoffs

      
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    Default Pens Will Need The Power Play To Improve For The Playoffs

    Penguins need power-play turnaround

    By Josh Yohe, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Tuesday, April 12, 2011


    The Penguins' power play usually comes around when the playoffs come around. This season's struggling power play unit hopes to capture the success of past postseasons.


    Season -- Playoff power play -- Regular season

    2011 -- -- 15.8 percent (25th in NHL)

    2010 -- 15/58, 25.8 percent -- 17.2 percent (20th in NHL)

    2009 -- 20/97, 20.6 percent -- 17.2 percent (20th in NHL)

    2008 -- 21/92, 22.8 percent -- 20. 4 percent (4th in NHL)


    The Penguins won't go far in the Stanley Cup playoffs if their puzzlingly inept power play doesn't produce.

    A power-play goal in each of the past three games has them believing history might repeat itself.

    The Penguins typically are better on the power play once the postseason arrives and will attempt to use the current bolt of momentum against Tampa Bay starting in Game 1 Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.

    "Our power play really hasn't been that great during the regular season the last few years," point man Kris Letang said. "But in the playoffs, it's usually there when we need it."

    Horrific most of the season -- even when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were healthy -- the Penguins' power play finished 25th out of 30 NHL teams with a percentage of just 15.8.

    However, the recent addition of Zbynek Michalek and the subsequent simplification of the unit's approach has triggered success.

    "We made a substantial structure change five games ago," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We've seen a lot of good things."

    Most of the season saw the Penguins in motion on the power play, stagnation simply not an option. In theory, the Penguins' fast-moving, attack-from-anywhere approach to the power play sounded lethal. In practice, it simply didn't work.

    Bylsma moved Letang to the right point and Alex Kovalev to the right-wing half boards at the beginning of April. They have excelled at finding Michalek, who might possess the team's hardest shot, for open looks from the left point. Michalek firing shots and the other members of the power play -- be it Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz, James Neal or Tyler Kennedy -- crashing the net is a formula that has displayed promise.

    "Just to get the zone time, the action and goals in three straight games," Bylsma said, "we've seen it be dangerous."

    Much of the power play's success ultimately depends on Letang's production. Although Letang has enjoyed a marvelous season, excelling at the both ends of the ice in elite fashion, he has never been a power-play magician. With Sergei Gonchar gone last summer to Ottawa and Alex Goligoski traded to Dallas in February, Letang must run the show on this power play. He is stuck in a goal-scoring drought, going scoreless in 25 games. Letang has only three goals in his past 50 games.

    "My production is down right now, but I'm not too worried about it," Letang said. "There are some games when I'm getting 14, 15 shots. It's not like I'm not getting opportunities."

    Given how seamlessly Michalek has fit into the power play, maybe Letang doesn't need to worry about scoring goals. To put things in perspective, Michalek has five goals in his past 15 games. Tampa Bay's goal-scorer extraordinaire Steven Stamkos has four goals in his past 22 games.

    "I feel very confident shooting the puck right now," Michalek said. "That's what they want me to do out there, and it's what I'm doing."

    Whether it be Michalek, Letang or Kovalev -- whose work on the power play is probably the primary reason for his acquisition -- the Penguins know they must score with the man advantage come playoff time.

    Without Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins won't score goals in bunches during five-on-five play. The power play, an Achilles' Heel all season, must rise up during the postseason.

    "You can feel it getting better," Kennedy said. "We just need shots and traffic. What we're doing now feels like it's working, and we need it to work."



    Read more: Penguins need power-play turnaround - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...#ixzz1JL3FYSwQ
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    Default Re: Pens Will Need The Power Play To Improve For The Playoffs

    The funny thing is that while out PP improved drastically last year in the playoffs, our PK which was actually much improved last year over the season before absolutely stunk.

    We were ranked #9 on the PK in 20-09-10 with a 84.1% kill rate. In the Playoffs last year by Game 7 against the Canadiens we had a kill rate of just 74.4%

    With our PK improving even more this year and with a healthy roster of defensemen and defensive forwards, there's really no good reason why the Penalty Kill should be anythying but dominant,.

    I don't know why the PP improved last year in the playoffs, but I'm not holding out any hope for an improvement this year. Not without Sid and Geno
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    Default Re: Pens Will Need The Power Play To Improve For The Playoffs

    IMO, shot's from the point are pretty much useless without traffic in front of the goalie. Plus teams will really focus on blocking point shots in the playoffs. I'd like to see the Pens use Mike Rupp in front of the net. He's a big screen and has fairly decent hands for his size. I'd also like to see them shoot more pucks deliberately wide for tip in's. But the Pens PP is what it is and will probably be that until Sid and Geno come back.

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