By Mark Madden
Alex Goligoski is now the “rover” on the Penguins’ power play. What, he’s Alexander Ovechkin all of a sudden?
I’m not besmirching Gogo. He’s been one of the brighter spots during the Pens’ dismal start. But should Goligoski’s sense of anticipation on the attack be ground zero for the Penguins’ power play? Should a third-year defenseman with 16 career NHL goals be mimicking Ovechkin’s role on the Washington PP when Crosby and Malkin are available?
I recognize that it’s an adjustment without Sergei Gonchar. I recognize that it’s tough to put in a brand-new power-play system. I also recognize that right now, the Penguins’ power play ISN’T EVEN CLOSE. Is a lengthy transition worth it if it’s December and you’re last in the Atlantic when the power play finally starts clicking? And what if it doesn’t click even then? The Pens have two of the three best offensive talents in hockey. But that doesn’t mean Picasso has to coach the power play.
Maybe it’s time to stop reinventing the wheel and just SHOOT. Three high, two low, weak-side high player goes to the net poaching when the shot comes from the opposite side. SHOOT, then SHOOT again. It’s simple. Lots of teams do it. It’s got to be better than THIS.
Here’s my alignment: Martin at the Gonchar spot. Malkin on the right half-board. Letang on the left half-board. Tangradi planted in front. Crosby roaming down low. Ready…aim…FIRE!
I don’t consider myself a power-play expert. But I fancy myself pretty good at brandishing logic. The ideas presented here seem pretty logical, especially when the Penguins’ PP is currently 3/20 and getting precious little zone dominance.
So, what’s wrong with Sid?
Crosby has been able to get very little going. Few points, few moments of unbridled electricity. Is he hurt? Is the hip flexor bothering him?
Lack of top-notch linemates is something Crosby should be used to by now. Pascal Dupuis missed a gimme when Sid fed him on the doorstep against Toronto.
Really, it doesn’t matter why Crosby is slumping. When you’re the best hockey player on the planet, production is the name of the game. Sid would agree wholeheartedly. So would Evgeni Malkin. Geno looks a bit crisper than Sid, though his penalty shot vs. Toronto was DISGUSTING. He swung so far wide, I thought he was going to the concourse for nachos. Missing is one thing. Missing like that is a TRAVESTY.
But you’ve got to give Sid and Geno the benefit of every doubt. Time, patience, support…they deserve all of it, especially Sid. No one tries harder. No one cares more.
But how often can the Penguins win with limited production from Crosby? Once every four games, it looks like.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).