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Insider Only DIARY OF A POWER PLAY

12-15-09 – Philadelphia at Penguins
PP#1 – The Penguins’ brand-new power-play alignment showed more precision and organization in its first minute than the prior model showed in the previous 10 games…until Evgeni Malkin passed the puck out of the zone before the Pens got a shot off, that is.
But before the man-advantage expired, the Penguins scored: Sidney Crosby netting the rebound of a fluky bounce that had zilch to do with precision and organization. The new PP was 1-for-1.
Don’t minimize that goal. If the new PP has luck and nothing else going for it, that’s one more positive quality than the preceding version.
PP#2 – The Penguins got their second power play of the evening at 9:59 of the second period, killing three of their own penalties in the interim. The Flyers came to play hockey, but the Pens kept gooning it up.
The Penguins got four shots on goal this time, the only good chance coming off the rush. Press-box enthusiasm for the PP dims noticeably. Matt Cooke is on the second power-play unit, not the first as practiced, but seems surprised even by THAT. As does the press box.
PP#3 – Sideshow Bob yields a third opportunity, but it’s the worst so far. Very little zone time, no chances of real note. This power play served as a reminder that it doesn’t matter where the participants stand in the offensive zone if control can’t be established and maintained, Jordan Staal plays with the top unit this time, perhaps in an attempt to finish his hat trick.

PP#4 – The Pens’ final power play of the evening goes back to the old alignment, with Malkin and Crosby jammed together on the right side. This is clearly a work in progress. This man-advantage attempt could be subtitled “Suicide by Power Play,” with Staal drilled in the midsection by a teammate’s shot and Bill Guerin limping to the bench after taking a Flyers’ clearing attempt off the ankle. Neither seemed severely injured.
Overall, the new power play did OK. Things were tentative, but that beats lacking confidence. Chris Kunitz needs to get in the goalie’s vision more consistently, but he’s a good puck retriever. Malkin and Crosby made decent use of their separation and the space it provided.
The reviews are in!
“I think [the power play] went pretty well,” said Crosby. “We got some good chances and hopefully we’re spreading teams out a bit more. Force them to make some choices and hopefully catch them on some mistakes. I thought for the first game since we changed, we did a pretty good job.”
It was amusing that the short-handed unit outscored the power-play unit. It was even more amusing that the Mellon Arena PA blared Motorhead’s “No Class” after one round of Flyers shenanigans. You can’t beat the Flyers often enough, or by enough. I wish hockey had a two-point conversion.
The Flyers responded to the Pens’ first goal by fighting three times in 16 seconds. The Penguins scored again. And so it goes. This has got to be the dumbest hockey team in the world. They can’t intimidate the Penguins, yet lose game after game in the effort.
Crosby had a goal and two assists to continue his personal demolition of the Flyers. Including playoffs, Crosby now has 27 goals and 37 assists in 39 career games against Philadelphia. There is much to like about Sid, but his best attribute may be that he hates the Flyers as much as we do.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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Mark Madden

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