Penguins' current power play plan isn't working
The Penguins score power-play goals about as often as coach Dan Bylsma tips his hand regarding lineup changes.
Bylsma did, however, suggest that a lineup change was possible following Game 6. Does this mean that Eric Tangradi, who has been influential in the team's past two power-play goals, will play in Game 7 tonight against the Lightning?
"That's a maybe," Bylsma said.
Tangradi played in Game 4 because of left wing Chris Kunitz's one-game suspension. Tyler Kennedy's power-play goal happened largely because of Tangradi's ability to screen Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
In the regular season finale, another Tangradi screen helped Kennedy score a power-play goal at Atlanta.
The Penguins' current power-play plan simply isn't working, going 1 for 30 against Tampa Bay. Since Sidney Crosby left the lineup with a concussion Jan. 5, the Penguins have produced multiple power play goals in a game just twice.
"Obviously, we're not scoring," left wing James Neal said. "But we got good looks. We'll bang one in, hopefully, at the right time."
While the Penguins' on-ice body language suggests they aren't particularly confident on the man advantage — there were plenty of slumped shoulders and shaking heads during almost 8 minutes of uneventful power-play time during the second period in Game 6 — they continue to say the right things.
"We've had 26 or 27 scoring chances the last six games," defenseman Kris Letang said. "We just aren't getting any lucky bounces."
Since 1990, only one NHL team (the 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, which included player Dan Bylsma) has won a playoff series without scoring a power-play goal, and only four others have won a series by scoring on the man-advantage once.
"I just think we need more puck movement," defenseman Paul Martin said. "It would be nice to score some goals."
It might be necessary, too.
"We need the power play to be a factor," Bylsma said.
On the Penguins' power play going 1 for 30 in this series:
"It's almost like Tampa gets a penalty and it's like, 'Oh my God, we've got a power play.' Everybody is cringing when they get a power play, and it was really evident in Game 6. It's really bad. You've got to have some energy. I just don't think the Penguins use the slot enough for an outlet pass; as an offensive chance, a space eater. To make Tampa's box collapse, you have to have that guy in the slot. I think they've got to change that part of it."
On what to expect from Penguins and Lightning in Game 7:
"I think it's a close game. I don't think it'll be a blowout. You look at goalies. Give Dwayne Roloson credit. After allowing that bad goal to James Neal in Game 4, he's bounced back with two really good games. In Game 7s, it's almost always a rebound. You very rarely see beautiful goals. Tic-tac-toe and miracle plays don't win Game 7s. A solid blueprint wins and, obviously, you need a hero. They're not going to be spectacular goals. They're going to be grit goals."
On which Penguins player can be the hero:
"I guess people are thinking Alex Kovalev can be the difference. You hope he can put it on the line and give it total effort. He doesn't go to the net a lot, but you're hoping he just busts through. In Game 7s, you're looking for guys to go a little out of character. I think he's a guy who everybody is looking for. Maybe he's too old, past his prime. But for one game, he can kick the can and be the difference."
Around the Penguins
• Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury did not skate during the team's optional practice Tuesday at Consol Energy Center. Well, not in a conventional sense, anyway. Fleury hit the ice in a pair of shorts about 20 minutes before the practice, skating laps and firing pucks into vacant nets with a regular hockey stick. "That was fun," he said while exiting the ice after a five-minute skate.
• The NHL made the decision early yesterday to play Game 7 at 8 p.m. Games at Consol Energy Center nearly have exclusively started at 7 p.m. this season, with a few starting at 7:30 p.m. Versus will televise the game nationally while local viewers can watch the game on ROOT Sports.
• Many of the Penguins regulars decided against participating in the team's optional skate. The highest profile players to take the ice were defenseman Paul Martin and winger Tyler Kennedy. Sidney Crosby was present at practice but did not skate, which has become a trend during this series. Crosby has not skated since the morning skate before Game 4 in Tampa on April 20.
• Jeff Jimerson, the long-time national anthem vocalist at Penguins home games, will return for his first playoff performance prior to tonight's Game 7.
LIGHTNING BY THE NUMBERS
Tampa Bay's playoff history is more about quality than quantity.
• The Lightning are 2-0 in Game 7s, including a memorable 2-1 victory in the clincher of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final against the Calgary Flames. That victory gave Tampa Bay its only championship and was highlighted by two goals from former Penguins winger Ruslan Fedotenko.Additional Information:
The Penguins' power play hasn't been clicking, but when they do manage to score, good things usually happen. Dating to Feb. 16, the Penguins are 8-0 when scoring a power-play goal:
Feb. 16 at Colorado: 1-5 (scored by Tyler Kennedy) • Penguins won 3-2, OT
Feb. 26 at Toronto: 1-2 (Mark Letestu) ? 6-5, SO
March 13 Edmonton: 1-6 (Chris Kunitz) • 5-1
March 24 at Philadelphia: 1-2 (Kennedy) ? 2-1, SO
April 5 New Jersey: 1-3 (Jordan Staal) ? 4-2
April 8 at N.Y. Islanders: 1-5 (Zbynek Michalek) ? 4-3, SO
April 10 at Atlanta: 1-3 (Kennedy) ? 5-2
April 20* at Tampa Bay: 1-3 (Kennedy) ? 3-2, OT
* • playoffsAdditional Information:
The Penguins are 1 for 30 on the power play in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and they have had other long droughts in the second half of the season without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin:
Feb. 20-March 13: 2 for 38 (11 games)
March 15-April 5: 2 for 31 (10 games)
Since Feb. 6 • the first game after Evgeni Malkin's knee injuries • the Penguins are 10-14 in games they didn't score on the power play. A breakdown of those games:
• Record in regulation: 6-10
• Record in OT games: 1-3
• Record in shootout games: 3-1
Since Jan. 12, the Penguins have one multiple power-play goal game in 43 contests (37 regular season, six postseason): Feb. 11 at the New York Islanders.