Pens' penalty kill rises to occasion
Maybe it was an aberration after all.
The Penguins' penalty killing, so solid under coach Dan Bylsma with the exception of those six games against Philadelphia last spring, threw a shutout against the Flyers during Saturday's 3-1 win in Wells Fargo Center.
Despite giving the Flyers five power plays, including two in the final six minutes, the Penguins silenced one of the league's most lethal units. They also impressed their biggest rival.
“It's not like they did anything different than last year,” said Flyers point man Kimmo Timonen. “They just made good plays.”
The Flyers' power play and Penguins' penalty killing units look considerably different than last season. Gone are Jaromir Jagr (free agency) and Danny Briere (broken wrist) from the Flyers' attack, while the Penguins traded two of their best penalty killers, center Jordan Staal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
Still, even though some faces are different, the sting remains from the Flyers' 12 power-play goals in 23 opportunities against the Penguins in the playoffs.
The penalty killing unit couldn't have asked for a better start.
“It was a good feeling,” right wing Craig Adams said. “No one on the PK feels good about what happened last spring. We still have a lot of things to work on. But this feels good.”
The Flyers held the puck for long stretches in the Penguins' zone but rarely threatened with the man advantage. Only a late opportunity for Wayne Simmonds — he missed a wide open cage — qualified as the Penguins dodging a bullet. Officially, the Flyers were charged with 11 turnovers, many of them taking place on the power play.
One of the newest Penguins believes the penalty killing unit's mindset was paramount to its success.
“You have to stay calm,” said center Brandon Sutter. “You can't panic. They had some in the crease that could have gone either way. We stayed calm. We didn't worry about the emotions of it. We made good defensive plays all game.”
Bylsma was impressed with his defensemen's work around the net despite playing against rugged forwards like Simmonds and Scott Hartnell.
“We battled hard around the cage,” Bylsma said.
The Penguins killed Philadelphia's first two power plays with relative ease. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stepped up big with a couple of left pad saves during the third.
Then came the moment of truth, as penalties to defenseman Deryk Engelland and center Evgeni Malkin in the final six minutes put the game in jeopardy.
Once again, the much-maligned unit came through, with right wing Pascal Dupuis and Sutter producing big defensive plays before a Claude Giroux penalty all but ended the game.
“We felt like we moved the puck well,” Hartnell said. “Just couldn't finish anything off.”
Until last year's postseason, the Penguins' penalty killing had never been questioned under Bylsma. During his first three full seasons as head coach, the Penguins finished ninth (84.1 percent), first (86.1 percent) and third (87.7 percent), respectively, in penalty killing.
“Refs are obviously being told to crack down on things,” left wing Matt Cooke said. “We know that, but it's tough to retrain yourself.”
This game was all about retraining for the Penguins.
“They did the job,” Hartnell said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Young defensemen make case for future with Penguins
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Fleury valiant in defeat
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers
- Rangers’ defensive plan against Penguins was unwavering
- Penguins notebook: Lovejoy says individual play is problematic
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Starkey: Tracing the Penguins’ demise