The Pittsburgh Penguins are 0-15 on the power play so far in the 2011 NHL Playoffs. This stat is simply a carry over from a dismal 25th-ranked power play for the season.
Even when the Penguins had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they struggled to convert on the one-man advantage.
To make matters worse, the Penguins do not seem to be trying anything different to change these struggling numbers.
I think Dan Bylsma is the NHL Coach of the Year. However, I am critical of how he has handled the power-play situation.
Assistant Coach Todd Reirden has been mostly responsible for handling the power play all year, but Bylsma is the head coach and should have made adjustments a long time ago.
How can the Pens fix the struggling power play?
Insert Mike Rupp
While James Neal has been a big body to add to the power play, he just simply has not done enough.
Rupp would be fantastic planted in front of the net. He is 6'5" and very difficult to move. He has offensive skills to put the puck in the net, so it is not like the Pens would be putting a completely useless enforcer out there.
In fact, Rupp's fourth line has been the most productive for the Pens in this postseason.
Kris Letang Needs to Just Dump the Puck
Letang is a dynamic player, and I love watching him skate (he is one of the smoothest skaters I have ever seen). However, I do not want to see it on the power play.
He turns the puck over at the blue line more than any player in power-play history. Trying to deke and weave his way through the defense is not working.
He needs to get to the blue line, send it in and let the forwards get to work. The Pens are very successful with this method on even strength, so why not do it on the power play?
Weak Side Needs To Dive To the Net
The penalty killers facing the Penguins constantly cheat up high. They take away Letang's shooting and passing lanes, and try to force turnovers.
The penalty kill is just not afraid of the Penguins' power play.
When the penalty killers cheat up high, there is a huge void behind them. Not once have I seen a Pens player exploit this void.
As soon as the defenders cheat up, either the weak side defenseman (usually Michalek) or the weak side winger (usually Kovalev) has to make the backdoor cut into the empty space, and could have a wide open look at the net from the slot.
With Chris Kunitz being suspended for Game 4, the Penguins may just put Rupp on the power play to take Kunitz's place. As for the other two options, I just hope the coaches see what I see.
However, in Bylsma I trust. Go Pens.