The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from eliminating the Washington Capitals and making it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Things are good in Pittsburgh, but they’re not perfect. Coach Mike Sullivan’s team still hasn’t been able to get their power play in order in the second round. The Pens enter Game 5 having gone 0-for-14 with the man-advantage in round 2
Sullivan has an easy solution for his team’s power play woes, but it’s easier said than done when playing against Washington’s tough penalty kill.
“I think it’s important against a high-pressure penalty kill like Washington brings that we have to make the puck work,” Sullivan said, per the Tribune. “The puck can move faster than any player can skate. I think if we can take what they give us and use the perimeter of the rink a little bit, I think opportunities may open up for us.”
Pittsburgh’s power play wasn’t an issue in the opening round of the playoffs. They managed to score at least one power play goal in each game against the Rangers.
Here’s a deeper look into the numbers via the Tribune:
Yet they turned fairly low shot totals into gaudy conversion rates: one goal and five shots during 8 minutes, 11 seconds with the man advantage in Game 1 against the Rangers; two goals and five shots in 6:21 in Game 2; three shots and one goal in 3:46 in Game 3; seven shots and three goals in 6:35 in Game 4; and two shots and one goal in 2:57 in Game 5.
Against the Capitals, the Penguins’ shot rates are comparable — 18 shots on goal in 22:16 of power-play time. But they still are waiting to get a puck past goaltender Braden Holtby and the Capitals’ shot blockers, who helped Washington finish the regular season with the league’s second-best penalty kill percentage (85.16).
If the Penguins get their power play struggles sorted out in Game 5, it could spell the end of Washington’s 2016 postseason run.