The special teams are always an integral part of any team in the NHL. First off, a team’s penalty-killing unit has to be nearly stellar as it’s incredibly difficult for a team to go a game without getting penalized. The special team that gets most of the recognition, on the other hand, is the powerplay unit. In the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, that unit is finally improving.
The Track Record of the Powerplay
The Penguins field some of the highest regarded talent in the NHL. First off, they have a generational talent in Sidney Crosby. Then, they have Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang supporting him. Going further than that, they have two wings, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, who have become elite goal scorers with the organization. Despite this, the power play has struggled immensely for most of this season.
Granted, both Crosby and Malkin have missed many games this season, whether it be due to injury, injury recovery or COVID-19. Once they both came back, it was expected that the powerplay was going to return to its former glory. That simply didn’t happen as the unit continued to struggle. Now, it looks like unit’s troubles are slowly being rectified.
Lately, they’ve been firing on all cylinders. As of right now, they are No. 16 in the league, but that’s after they’ve clawed their way from the bottom. Just in Pittsburgh’s game Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres, the powerplay struck twice, one of which was within the last five minutes of the game. It finally looks like things are coming together for the unit.
What Does This Mean?
What this could finally mean is that there are no more clear weaknesses with the team. In complete review, the powerplay is showing signs of great improvement as they are putting in many more goals than they have in recent history. When reviewing nearly every other aspect of the team as a whole, it looks like they’re going to be doing alright.
The scoring depth was just improved with the acquisition of Rickard Rakell. Then, the penalty-killing unit has been doing as solid as ever. With an 86.42 percent success rate, they sit at No. 2 in the league’s most successful penalty-killing units. Finally, although the goaltending hasn’t been performing as well as they have been, they’re still incredibly competent in net and they should have the utmost confidence.
Although it is early to speculate, this team does have all of the makings of one that could go far in the playoffs. The main things that make or breaks teams in the postseason is depth and special teams, and the Pittsburgh Penguins now have both. Because of their improving powerplay unit, they now have the very real opportunity of going for it all this year.
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