Pittsburgh Penguins Power Play Is Slumping: Is Sidney Crosby's Return to Blame?

Ryan TactacContributor IIIMarch 29, 2012

Sidney Crosby is arguably the best hockey player in the world, but is he hindering the Penguins power play?
Sidney Crosby is arguably the best hockey player in the world, but is he hindering the Penguins power play?Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A power play is one of the best gifts a team can receive in the NHL—two minutes with a distinct advantage over the opponent.  

Two weeks before the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, the Pittsburgh Penguins are struggling on the power play.  In their past 10 games, they are 4-of-30 on the power play.  That's good for a measly 13.3 percent.  

With all the star power on the Penguins, it's puzzling as to why this team hasn't been automatic on the power play.  While that may be unrealistic, this team, on paper, seems like it should easily be converting at around 20 percent on the power play.  

I believe this team is struggling on the power play due to the return of Sidney Crosby.  With Crosby in the lineup this season, the Penguins are only scoring at 14.9 percent on the power play.  Without Crosby, they convert at a solid rate of 19.9 percent. 

In my opinion, Crosby is the greatest player in the game today—however, the numbers indicate that the Penguin's power-play success decreases significantly when he is in the lineup.  

If he is such a great hockey player, then why is the Penguins power play less successful with him in the lineup?  

I believe the decrease in success is simply due to the seemingly decrease in shots attempted by the Penguins power play.  

With Crosby being such a good playmaker, his insertion on the power play causes the team to shoot less and pass more.  I realize that good passing is critical to a successful power play; however, you need to shoot the puck to score.  

Generally, a shot on a power play should be taken after two or three passes; however, the Penguins with Crosby seem to make four to six passes before a shot is attempted.  

The Penguins, without Crosby, were firing the puck after the generally prescribed two-or-three pass limit and, not surprisingly, they were statistically better.  

More passes lead to a greater chance of a turnover and less time to take shots before the power play expires.  

While the power play that is full of nifty and quick passes may look better, it is not more effective than the power play that generates a plethora of shots during each opportunity.  

The Penguins had better get their power play going again before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, where success in special teams is crucial to a team's deep playoff run.  

One must look no further than the Penguins' first-round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning in last year's playoffs to see what happens to a team with a dismal power play.