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Insider Only Penguins Game 4 Analysis: After 1st period, Bylsma got back to instituting “blueprint” that works on the power play

By Dave Fryer, Contributor to

Just as when it looked as though the Ottawa Senators had flipped the fate of the series by taking control of the special-teams game, the Pittsburgh Penguins once again showed their depth and resiliency by finding another gear. Their renewed hunger spread to all aspects of their game, allowing the team to regain the upper hand in the special-teams battle.

Power Play Goals = 2
Power Play Opportunities = 5
Power Play Percentage = 40%
Power Play Shots = 6
5-on-3 Situations = 0 opportunities, 0 goals, 0 shots
Shorthanded Chances = 1 shots allowed, 1 goal against
Minutes of Power Play Time = 5:48
Power Play Faceoffs = 6 of 8, 75.0%
Power Play Goal Scorers = Neal, Iginla
  • The power play was obviously out-of-sync early in the game, which led directly to another shorthanded goal by the Senators. But the change from the first period to the third period should put to rest much of the mainstream belief that Dan Bylsma is not making in-game adjustments. Reality is that it appeared Bylsma was instituting too many adjustments over the last two games when it came to the power play, but that eventually led him back to a formula that worked. And that blueprint is getting players into a set position, then using great puck movement to free up a shooter in a high-percentage location.
  • Paul Martin has been used on the top unit in the playoffs mainly in situations that call for somewhat more of a defensive posture. But as the Penguins get deeper into the postseason, Martin is providing the coaching staff several reasons to have him out there more often. Martin has been a calm, steady hand with the puck, and he has made very good decisions on where to move the puck, including taking quality shot attempts.
  • Conversely, Kris Letang had a very erratic game. On the positive end, he accumulated four assists, two of which came on the power play. On the negative side, his efforts on the first power play helped create the shorthanded chance that Milan Michalek converted into the game’s first goal. Letang was a Norris Trophy candidate last season until he became very inconsistent after about the 50th game of the season. He has crossed that same threshold at this point of the lockout-shortened season, so closing out this series early may benefit him more than any other player on the roster.
  • The Penguins have gotten the first power play in each of the four games this series and hold a 23-14 edge in overall chances with the man advantage. Bylsma noted after the game that the Penguins have been using their speed to get pucks behind the Ottawa defense, and their subsequent forecheck has drawn penalties. That is the bread-and-butter of Bylsma’s system, and if the power play can stay on track to back it up, Ottawa has no chance of a comeback.
  • Getting power play goals from James Neal and Jarome Iginla is just as much of a boost to the Penguins as anything else that happened in Game 4. Both of those players had been relatively silent through the opening three games, and their contributions with the extra man were desperately needed. Iginla was still not used with the top unit, though, even after Chris Kunitz’s availability was limited due to injury.
  • Pittsburgh again struggled on face-offs in the game, but also like Game 3, they were exceptionally good in draws on the power play. Sidney Crosby was again the reason for this, but a key face-off win by Jussi Jokinen quickly led to Iginla’s power play tally.

Power Play Goals Allowed = 1
Power Play Opportunities = 4
Penalty Kill Percentage = 75%
Power Play Shots Allowed = 6
5-on-3 Situations = 0 opportunities, 0 goals, 0 shots
Total Time Shorthanded: 5:36
Shorthanded Chances = 1 shot, 1 goal
Shorthanded Faceoffs = 2 of 7, 28.6%
  • The unpredictable officiating that has plagued the NHL postseason, as evidenced by the weak slashing calls on Matt Cooke and Jokinen, could have easily rattled the Penguins several times in these playoffs, but instead, the penalty kill comes over the board with a determination to kill off their two minutes of shorthanded time. At no point in the playoffs has that group waivered in effort and execution, an aspect of the Pittsburgh juggernaut that is still being understated.
  • The PK was rewarded for their continued efforts with another shorthanded goal from Pascal Dupuis. The play started with another blocked shot, something that the Penguins failed to do well over the past few years in the playoffs. They out-blocked the Senators again in Game 4, 16-11. As usual, this charge was led by Brooks Orpik (4 blocks) and Douglas Murray (3).
  • The penalty-killing units, to a man, have been quite disciplined in their body positioning, keeping the play to the outside while still putting a body on anyone in front of the net. Ottawa’s lack of movement only enhances this further, as the Senators are generally only able to control the puck on the perimeter and often can work in only half of the zone.
  • Because of the offensive onslaught in the third period, it will surely be overlooked that the Penguins did not take their first penalty in this game until very late in the second period. In every game Pittsburgh has dominated in the playoffs, that trait has been a common theme in all of them.

  • Even when the Penguins were up 7-2 and had to go on another penalty kill, the players on the ice put forth a very strong effort to begin the kill. However, after a sharp-angle shot by Kyle Turris hit the side of the net, a poor clearing attempt by Letang allowed a clean shot from the point to be deflected in by Daniel Alfredsson. All part of the aforementioned inconsistent game by Letang, but a rare misstep by the Pittsburgh penalty kill.

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Dave Fryer

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