FF Telestrator: Round Two - Game 1
The Penguins power-play is operating on all cylinders right now and the Senators found themselves drowning on the penalty-kill last night as a result.
Let’s take a look at what makes this unit so deadly as we revisit the power play.
Remember that the Penguins want to work the puck cross ice here. They have a standard net front presence, a rover in the slot, a commander at the point, and two one timers on either side of the ice.
Last night, this system was flat out clicking.
Malkin works the puck off the point to Crosby.
Here’s why having a rover in the middle of the ice is such a killer for a penalty killing unit.
Kunitz is the man that is going to follow the red line and streak to the front of the net. Because Crosby is also in a shooting position, the low penalty killer is obligated to follow Kunitz so that any potential rebound opportunity is quelled.
However, all this does is open up a giant lane for Crosby to feed the puck to Letang along the far wall. Crosby will have a large area to work with and Letang is already waiting for the pass in this still.
Letang, Crosby, and Kunitz are one step ahead of the Senators.
Look at the space that’s opening up between Kunitz and the high forward on the PK for Ottawa.
Letang is looking around this play waiting for the Crosby pass. Crosby will maintain a shooting posture to ensure that the penalty kill of the Senators remains one step behind him.
Letang’s posture is key here. Crosby’s pass is successful, but Letang isn’t winding up with a giant golf swing on this. This is a very controlled shot that is heading directly at the net as a result. Letang has grown quite a bit in making sure his shots on goal are accurate as opposed to just high-powered.
So the answer for the Senators PK becomes what?
Well, the typical answer is pressure the puck carriers at the top of the ice.
The main issue is that the puck carrier at the top of the ice is either Malkin, Letang, or Crosby. These are guys that can embarass you when you step up on them.
Here’s an example.
In this instance, two Sens players will force Crosby up the wall with Iginla making a run through the middle like we saw Kunitz do in the previous sequence.
But this is Sidney Crosby. He always seems to find a way out of a jam. He’s going to throw a beauty of a pass over to Letang, who is wide open because of the top ice pressure by the Senators.
What was a supposed to be a numbers advantage for Ottawa has turned into a complete meltdown.
Now Letang has several options. Kunitz is down low for a screen and Iginla is streaking to the net which has created a 2 on 1 opportunity in the slot.
Now, because of the run up high on Crosby, the Penguins get to the net on a Letang pass to Iginla and have numbers for enough time to lead to a goal by Kunitz.
This is a group of guys that know the gameplan and know where they’re supposed to be on the power-play.
The deadliest part about this is that even though Ottawa knows what Pittsburgh is going to do, the creativity and one-step-ahead approach of the Penguins is setting them apart from the competition.
Almost reminds you of these guys: