Key Observations Heading Into Game 3 Between the Penguins and Blue Jackets

The Pens Nation Gameday Report

By: Casey Johnston (@PensNationCasey)

The Penguins’ PK unit killed of 85% of their penalties during the regular season.  This was good enough to finish the year ranked fifth in the league.  However, the unit has not been without its problems.  All year long it has had a problem with clearing out the crease.  It is something that Meesh pointed out back in the preseason here, here, and here.  Since the Olympic break, the man in the crease has been exposing the flaws in the PK design so much they they have allowed 15 power play goals since February 27th.  That is a kill rate of only 80.5%.  Over the course of a season, that would put the Penguins 20th in the NHL.

Two games into the playoffs, the team has only killed 70% of the Blue Jackets’ penalties.  Let us look at some of the reasons why.

PK 2

 

This is moments before the Blue Jackets’ first power place goal.  The man in crease is occupying his space uncontested.  Kris Letang has his man tied up in slot while Craig Adams and Tanner Glass are covering the left circle and point.  Rob Scuderi is covering the right shooting lane.  This is not an ideal set up, but if all men cover their lanes Columbus won’t get any easy shots.

PK 1

 

Just seconds later Columbus gets off a shot.  Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save.  Rob Scuderi has drifted back to the crease but is still letting his man stay there uncontested.  In fact, Scuderi is being cleared from his own crease.  Adams and Glass are now covering a one foot space in the middle of the ice, leaving the right shooting lane wide open.  Just before the shot is taken, Scuderi is shoved out of the way.

PK 3

 

 

This is right before Columbus tied the game on a power play goal.  Again, there is a Blue Jacket in the slot, but Scuderi and Brooks Orpik are there to clear him out.  However…

PK 4

 

Orpik leaves the crease and Scuderi is, again, giving the man in the crease space to screen Fleury.  A shot gets taken from the slot and Jack Johnson drives the net for the rebound.

The Penguins’ PK unit is allowing this series to become more interesting than it needs to be.  The setup is so focused on shooting lanes that if a man is not quick to the puck or a shot does not get blocked then it falls apart.  If it is not fixed then this will be a surprising short series.

Here’s a random stat to leave you with.  During the regular season the Penguins had seven games where their opponent scored only one goal and that goal came on the power play.  In other words, if it were not for the penalty kill unit, Marc-Andre Fleury could have had as many as seven more shutouts.

Enjoy the game.