Even though the powerplay was 0-5 against Buffalo, I like the new setup. The puck movement is much better. I’ve really felt all along that Crosby and Malkin had to be on opposite sides of the ice. Now that is the case. When Gonchar has the puck at center point, he will have three great options, and the penalty killers can only take two of them away. He can pass to Malkin on his left, he can pass to Crosby on his right, or he can shoot a slapshot toward the goal. After Gonchar chooses the best of these options, which he will often do because he has a great ability to read plays, good things will continue to happen. If Gonchar passes to Malkin, Malkin can either shoot, give it back. or make a cross-ice pass to Crosby. A pass to Crosby gives the option for him to shoot, give it back or cr0ss-ice pass to Malkin. A Gonchar shot on goal will be taken with the goalie screened by Guerin, or the puck will be deflected by Guerin, or a rebound will be pounced on by Guerin or the fifth member of the powerplay. This fifth player is the final piece of the puzzle. There are some options.
These options include Kennedy, Kunitz, Fedetenko, or Staal. I like Staal. He would be another big body in front of the net and a guy who would win some corner battles to retrieve the puck.
I feel sorry for the coaches that have to decide which of those original two Gonchar options to leave open. The opponents’ penalty killers’ heads will be spinning. At last a good design for the players to execute. As they practice more with this powerplay configuration, the numbers will steadily rise. Here’s hoping it starts with the Devils. That’s the Sunday view from E-11.
Note – A favorite ‘Steigy-ism’ — “The Penguins would really like to score a goal right now.” Does this mean there are actually times in the game when they don’t want to score?
Note – The Pens are 6-0 in shootouts and Fleury has stopped 12 of the 13 shootout attempts he has faced.