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Insider Only Penguins ending season on the power play was fitting

The Penguins season ended Wednesday night on the power play. It was the type of ending that was fitting due to their immense struggles for several months.
The glaring questions that centered around the Penguins going into Round 1 was their power play and whether they could score enough to win a series. In the end those two issues became their eventual downfall.
Aside from their struggles offensively, the team also didn’t defend well enough, an area they had no excuses for. They gave up 3.14 goals per game, which ranked 10th among the 16 playoff teams.
We could talk all day about the issues with the power play but the main issue was the lack of a true pointman once the Penguins lost their big guns.
Due to Kris Letang suddenly becoming overwhelmed with the role of the Penguins No. 1 pointman, the team desperately missed Alex Goligoski.
However, Penguin officials would make that trade all over again if they could, as they sought Neal as a long-term player in the trade. Although they would do the trade again, I bet some members of the organization are regretting taking the contract of Matt Niskanen who carries a cap hit of $1.5 million next season.

Neal though was among the Penguins disappointments down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Two goals in 27 games is inexcusable and the game 4 OT winner was a gaffe by Roloson.
If people are going to crucify Kovalev for his struggles, Neal has to take some heat for his lack of scoring punch.
Yes, his all around game was good but he’s a player the team and fans should have expected more from in the scoring department.
He finished the season with 0 power play goals in his last 38 games. The disappointment for the Penguins had to be that Neal and Kovalev not being able to give the power play anything. If anything the unit took steps backwards once they arrived.
Meanwhile, Kovalev had 0 power play goals as a Penguin and 0 power play goals in his final 30 games.
Back to the glaring issue of lacking a true pointman. To become better in that area, they are going to bank on Kris Letang developing in that spot.
None of their core defensemen {Prospects} in the system are fixes in that particular area and the Penguins focus in free agency will be on the forward market.
Even with a hopefully healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who will be fully recovered, there will more questions than answers for the Penguins power play unit.
With the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Letang, Kunitz, the coaching staff has no excuses for not developing a top-10 unit. But, for the Penguins that’s easier said than done.

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

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