The play of the Penguins over the next four games should give us a very good idea of how they might fare in the playoffs. Rangers and Devils at home, Red Wings and Flyers on the road. Three playoff-bound teams and maybe four as the Devils are the hottest team in the NHL. To date the Penguins have not played well against the upper echelon teams. The Rangers have gotten points in four of the five games so far this season, including 2-0 at CEC. The Penguins are 1-3 versus the Flyers, and 2-1-1 versus the Devils. The two wins came before the Devils turned things around.
The best way for the Penguins to have success against these teams is to be productive on the powerplay. I’m not sure that they are capable. The powerplay to date, and really as far back as I can remember, has been anemic. Not only do they not score, they do not even generate chances. There is no flow, the puck movement doesn’t seem to have a purpose. When they do get an open shot, they don’t take it. Where is Mike Yeo when you need someone to blame? Can the powerplay be fixed? The coaching staff is trying. Is the design of the coaches flawed? Are the players not executing properly? Is it some of both? Without Crosby and Malkin, some alterations need to be made. To start, what five players should be the number one unit? 11-14-18-58-and 72. This line-up puts Kovalev on the point to make plays, Letang to shoot, and three guys that can go to the net. I think Kovalev is more effective on the right halfwall. Then who sits and who plays the point? I would remove Staal and put Martin on the other point. Who mans the powerplay will not matter if they don’t shoot the puck and crash the net at every opportunity. That’s the view from 207.
Note — Letang has not been up to par for about a month. He is playing too many minutes.
Note — Neal and Kovalev appear to be playing well. They have to do more than that. They have to score goals.
Note — Steigy is getting worse. His inane story-telling while the clock is running adds NOTHING to the broadcast. Paul, I implore you, please just call the action of the game. You might even learn to put the correct players’ names and numbers together.
Note — Everyone has an opinion on Crosby. It’s quite simple. When he is cleared by the doctors, and gets in game shape, he should play.