FF Telestrator: Penguins Sweep Capitals
I want to spend a lot of time here looking at the penalty-kill.
Last week we talked a lot about the differences between the Penguins penalty kill earlier this year, and the penalty that dropped them into the twenties among NHL percentages.
Last night, the Penguins took a page out of the book of the Boston Bruins and provided a lot of key pressure both at the defensive blue line and in front of their own net.
Mike Ribeiro carries the puck in on the Capitals power-play. But take a look at who is on top of the circle waiting for him. Brooks Orpik isn’t going to hang back and allow Ribeiro space to walk this puck into the zone and set up shop.
More importantly, Paul Martin is staring this play down from the slot and is going to get back to prevent any cross-crease play that Ribeiro can make here. Craig Adams also has his head on a swivel and is going to skate in to prevent the Capitals from dumping this puck up to the point and establishing possession.
The key here is that the penalty kill has an internal clock. They’ll pressure and pressure for so many seconds before they shell up and take the lanes away if a team is able to establish offensive possession.
Now, the Penguins are body to body with all the Capitals stationed in the high zone. There’s no way this puck can get all the way over to Alex Ovechkin, who is stationary on the far side of the ice. Paul Martin is playing center field in case the Capitals can work the puck down low, which is exactly what happened.
This positioning on the PK is such a stark difference to what the Penguins were doing throughout their futile stretch down a man. They are taking away time and space, and Craig Adams did a really nice job here taking away the pass to the point and reading the play.
Paul Martin’s chance to shine comes here. Adams loses Backstrom in a scrum, and Martin extends himself to prevent the obvious pass that is intended for Alex Ovechkin.
Let’s move on to the double-minor in the third period. The Penguins did a great job of pressing the play and anticipating what the Capitals were trying to do on the breakout.
The Capitals are trying to rush the puck up ice here. An outlet pass to the left side of the ice isn’t a possibility here because the Penguins defense is playing deep to prevent a rush with speed and Craig Adams is in the lane to the left side. Sutter is literally staring this pass down the entire way. The Penguins two high forwards haven’t really left Washington with a lot of space and they force a bad decision as a result.
Think about this scenario for a second. Your team is tied and battling for a playoff spot. You’re trying to score on a golden opportunity and there’s a turnover at the red line. We’re going to follow this play for a second and watch both Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin.
Ribeiro leaves Adams to follow up on Sutter, and why not? You have a chance to strip the puck here and have an odd man rush the other way.
But Alex Ovechkin literally does nothing on this play. He’s gliding through the defensive zone as a spectator. Craig Adams is going to get an excellent feed from Brandon Sutter and have an uncontested path to the net because Alex Ovechkin didn’t get back in time.
Ribeiro peels off expecting Sutter to play the puck behind the net and regroup. Instead, because Ovechkin is out to lunch, Sutter makes a brilliant pass to Adams, who now has a clear path to the net with minimal pressure. Ovechkin should have been here already, instead, he’s just arriving when the pass comes.
That’s Ovechkin’s attempt at stopping a short handed chance in the third period of a tied game when your team is out of the playoffs. A simple stick tap to the elbow.
With Malkin expected to return to the lineup on Friday against the Islanders, the Penguins goal scoring will get an additional boost. If the Penguins can continue to kill penalties with aggression and confidence, they’ll continue to rack up wins on this current streak.