Penguins – Caps Fallout: X’s & O’s Breaking down the Power Play’s big night

photo (7)

PENGUINS – CAPS FALLOUT

The Penguins rolled to a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals Thursday night and the Penguins are flying high and playing with a swagger that makes them hard to be beat.
What we’ve seen over the past five games is the Penguins be able to deflate teams, showing quick strike ability and scoring momentum changing goals.
“The big thing was the couple games at home here early where we didn’t play well,” winger James Neal said. “It was kind of an eye opener early in the season and I think we’re glad that happened early. We got that out of the way, and we’ve had a different mindset ever since. We’ve been playing some good hockey, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
“I think right now, we’re just confident in the way we’re playing,” Sidney Crosby said. “We believe in the way we’re playing and we know that at the end of the game we’ll hopefully get the result we want.”
The Penguins transition game was excellent and a deflated Capitals team had now answers.
“There’s not a whole lot of confidence in our abilities right now,” Capitals forward Troy Brouwer told reporters afterwards. “We did look deflated because we were.”

X’S & O’s: BREAKING DOWN THE POWER PLAY

The biggest development for the Penguins Thursday night was the power play getting three goals and the puck movement was sensational.
“The power play was great tonight,” Neal said. As long as everybody is working and we’re shooting the puck, good things will happen. We got some great goals off it tonight.”
“The power play probably our best couple power plays of the year in that period {second},” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Moved the puck really well, won faceoffs right from the start, and moved the puck crisply. We were dangerous.”
6:59 2nd Period PPG Evgeni Malkin, Assists Crosby, Martin:
How the play Developed: The only three people to touch the puck on this goal was Sidney Crosby, Paul Martin and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby won the draw back to Paul Martin and what the Penguins had was quick movement. As Crosby won the draw back to Martin, the puck would go back to Crosby, back to Martin and then back to Crosby where Crosby makes a quick seam pass to Malkin who walked in with space and beat Michal Neuvirth glove side for a beautiful goal. “The seam pass from Crosby to Malkin that first goal was as good of shot as you’re going to see. Impressive shot,” Bylsma said.
Key Breakdown: A common issue for the Penguins with Kris Letang running the top of the point has been the Penguins getting stationary. On this particular goal, that wasn’t the case. On Martin’s quick back and fourth passing to Crosby on the right side, it got the Capitals running out of position as Joey Crabb was too aggressive in the box trying to pressure to Martin at the top of the point, which gave Crosby an open passing lane through the middle of the box, leading to his seam pass over to Malkin for the goal.

Meanwhile, the Penguins puck movement and transition game were on display on the Neal power play goal at 16:33 of the period and Crosby’s with 22 seconds left in the second period.
Neal’s power play marker was just the Penguins exploiting the Capitals in transition as Malkin went back to get the puck in his end, makes a long pass to Kunitz who is stationed on the left boards at the Capitals blueline and Neal doing what he does so well, “getting to the right areas”, gets behind Tomas Kundratek  and Kunitz makes a nice feed to Neal as he beats Holtby with a backhand goal for his seventh of the season.
The Crosby goal was just great movement and zone time as the Capitals got caught running around once again. As great as the Penguins movement was, the Capitals were constantly running around and out of position.
“We got two other goals 5-on-5 was quick transition in second period, trying to go quick and get a good goal by Dupuis,” Bylsma said. But, two other power play goals, quick transition Geno makes great play up the ice on James Neal’s goal and the other {goal}, good movement and zone time right from the draw and we get a pretty outstanding goal, James Neal finds Geno and gets a shot and Sid gets a single up the middle for the goal, an outstanding goal,” Bylsma said.
IS MARTIN A BETTER OPTION AT RUNNING THE POWER PLAY?

Kris Letang is a very good NHL defenseman whose regarded by some rival GM’s as a top-10 defensemen in the game, but he’s not a great power play quarterback yet in his career. That’s been evident this season and Paul Martin was tremendous at running the point vs the Capitals. The issue with Martin is that he’s not a real shot option, but he possessed quick movement and showed great poise at the point.
Martin deserves another look and he might get it as Kris Letang is day to day with a lower body injury, but when Letang’s healthy, expect him to be back at running the power play.
“It’s not the first time we’ve used Paul on the first unit,” Bylsma said. “Before Tonight we were 3 of 6 in our last two games with Tanger {running the point}. We’re doing some good things, Paul was really good there tonight, great at getting the middle, Geno and Sid on each side of him and distributed the puck really well and that was a big factor. Paul was outstanding on it tonight and it was difference in the game.”
As I wrote last week, the best scenario for the Penguins would be someone internally or an outside option coming in and running the top of the point and moving Letang over to the left side.

CAPS WOES

The Capitals are a mess and in need of a major shakeup and last night’s beating was just a superior team beating up on an inferior team.
On a list of about 30 things that are wrong, Alexander Ovechkin is No. 30. Hate to throw Adam Oates under the bus but he reminds me of John MacLean in New Jersey during the 2010-2011 season where he just wasn’t ready to be an NHL coach and the Devils were forced to fire him in December 2010. Doubt it happens here but he’s among the issues with this team.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

Comments Disabled

Comments have been disabled for this post.