Since the Penguins 6 game winning streak in the month of November ended at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 (2-1 SO loss), the Penguins are 15-20-3 after begining the season 11-4-2.
It can be argued that inconsistent goaltending, lack of toughness, wrong personnel are all legitimate reasons for the Penguins struggles this season. One major area of concern has been the Penguins power play (16.7%) and the Penguins struggling power play comes in as one of the main reasons the Penguins are out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference right now
In the Penguins 20 regulation losses since they began the season 11-4-2, the Penguins power play is a woeful 8-88.
Inside Look at the Numbers
The Penguins Last 20 regulation losses. Penguins power play numbers are in ( )
2/08/09 Detroit (0-4)
2/3/09 Montreal (1-5)
1/31/09 Toronto (0-4)
1/20/09 Carolina (1-6)
1/14/09 Washington (1-6)
1/10/09 Colorado (1-1)
1/8/09 Nashville (0-3)
1/5/09 New York Rangers ( 0-8)
1/3/09 Florida Panthers (0-3)
1/1/09 Boston Bruins ( 0-5)
Power Play Numbers in regulation losses from 1-1-09 to 2-8-09
4 ‚Äì 45
12/30/08 Boston Bruins (0-3)
12/27/08 Montreal ( 0-5)
12/22/08 Tampa Bay (0-3)
12/20/08 Toronto ( 1-4)
12/13/08 Philadelphia (1-4)
12/10/08 New Jersey ( 0-3)
12/8/08 Buffalo (1-8)
12/6/08 Ottawa (1-2)
11/28/08 Buffalo ( 0-7)
11/22/08 Vancouver (0-4)
Total Numbers: 8-88 on the power play in their last 20 regulation losses
Penguins Top Power Play Performers
1. Evgeni Malkin (8 goals ‚Äì 19 assists ‚Äì 27 points)
2. Sidney Crosby ( 3 goals ‚Äì 23 assists ‚Äì 26 points)
3. Petr Sykora ( 13 goals ‚Äì 4 assists ‚Äì 17 points)
4. Miroslav Satan ( 6 goals ‚Äì 4 assists ‚Äì 10 points)
5. Jordan Staal ( 2 goals ‚Äì 4 assists ‚Äì 6 points)
* 1. Alex Goligoski ( 4 goals ‚Äì 4 assists ‚Äì 8 points)
2. Kris Letang ( 2 goals ‚Äì 3 assists ‚Äì 5 points)
3. Ryan Whitney ( 0 goals ‚Äì 5 assists ‚Äì 5 points)
Current 1st team Power Play
Malkin – Crosby ‚Äì Sykora
Whitney ‚Äì Letang
Whose to blame: With top tier talent like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and a power play specialist like Petr Sykora, the Penguins should be clicking at the worst around 21%. It is a known fact that the team misses Sergei Gonchar but that is no excuse for the teams struggles.
The lack of a presence in front of the net and the inability to win battles along the boards for possession of the puck has been the Penguins demise this season on the power play. Is Sergei Gonchar going to fix that?
Despite some inefficiencies when it comes to personnel, a lot of the blame falls on the coaching staff. Mike Yeo’s primary job is the power play. Therrien and Savard are defensive minded coaches and the pressure has been on Yeo to show improvement. The Penguins have tried a bunch of combinations and they seem to come up empty. The formation of the power play lately is concerning. Evgeni Malkin has been working primarily on the left boards which gets him out of contention for a one timer on the right side. If anyone should be on their non one-timer side, it is Sidney Crosby who is the Penguins top playmaker.
Kris Letang has been showing some promise lately and hasn’t been scared to shoot the puck. Ryan Whitney has been a complete bust since returning from off-season foot surgery. It wasn’t expected that Whitney was going to be very effective when returning after missing three months but the power play was one area the team was counting on him for.
For the Penguins to make the playoffs and become a threat again, the power play must reach it’s potential to make up for other areas of the team that are lacking.
As the power play struggles continue, the pressure mounts on Mike Yeo but it appears the teams argument is Yeo isn’t telling players not to shoot the puck.