Penguins' power outage returns
By Josh Yohe, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, October 29, 2010
There was a lengthy stint during the first period at Tampa Bay on Wednesday night when the Penguins' power play orchestrated a fair impersonation of the Harlem Globetrotters — their puck movement nothing short of brilliant.
The only problem was that the puck didn't end up in the net.
For all of the Penguins' elite talent, their power play entered Thursday ranked 18th in the NHL. More alarmingly, the unit has failed in big situations countless times in the young season.
"We've definitely done some really good things at times," captain Sidney Crosby said. "But it's all about results."
Lately, the results haven't been good when the Penguins have the man advantage. The Penguins last scored a power-play goal Oct. 18 against Ottawa, a three-game drought.
Still, there is a feeling of confidence among the Penguins that the power play will soon erupt. One of the players who battles against the power play in practice every day is filled with optimism.
"I feel like our power play is better than (the numbers indicate)," forward Craig Adams said. "I think our power play is going to be great. It's just a matter of sticking with it."
Coach Dan Bylsma has taken a more active role in overseeing the power play this season, and player movement has been his primary objective. Gone are the days when Sergei Gonchar, Evgeni Malkin and Crosby would all be on the right side of the ice — often in stationary positions.
Any given power play is now likely to include Crosby and Malkin on the left side, with defensemen Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang often abandoning the point to attack the net. With two talented, young defensemen on board with Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins figure it's only a matter of time until they climb the league rankings.
"It was so good at times against Tampa," Adams said. "But you're not going to score on every good power play."
The power play not only failed to score, it also allowed the Lightning to enjoy a number of quality short-handed opportunities. The Penguins' new philosophy, while a welcome change from occasional stagnation that plagued the unit in previous seasons, is risky. With forwards sometimes positioned at the blue line, an aggressive penalty-killing unit can produce scoring opportunities.
Bylsma, who knocked on wood when the subject was broached, acknowledged permitting the occasional short-handed opportunity could be a necessary evil.
"It's something that we're aware of," he said. "We're aware of situations where when you're a forward and you're back at the blue line, understanding that when there's a shot at the net or a rebound that goes to the weak side, you're responsible for being back."
Adams said he believes all of the team's hard work on the power play will pay off.
"It's a lot harder to defend," he said. "They just move the puck so quickly. It will come."