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Penguins

Referees keeping whistles in pockets when Penguins play

Jonathan Bombulie
| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, 12:45 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, talk with referee Wes McCauley (4) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. The Capitals won 2-1.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, talk with referee Wes McCauley (4) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. The Capitals won 2-1.

Over the past few games, the Pittsburgh Penguins power play hasn’t made as big a positive impact on games as the team has grown accustomed to over the past few seasons.

There’s one big reason for that.

It hasn’t had many chances to get to work.

The Penguins still have one of the most effective power plays in the league, ranking eighth with a 24.6 percent success rate, but over the past six games, they’ve only had 12 opportunities, scoring on three of them. They were averaging a little over three power plays per game in the first quarter of the season.

They’ve also only gone on the penalty kill 10 times over the same stretch, so it’s worth wondering if referees have put their whistles away early this season.

If that’s not the case, though, defenseman Jack Johnson thinks it’s up to the Penguins to make sure those numbers turn around.

“I think the onus would be on us to create more power plays, and really how you do that is hang onto the puck in the offensive zone,” Johnson said. “Get them checking with their stick instead of their legs. That’s when you get hooking and holding penalties and things of that nature. I think it’s great that we’ve only had that many penalty kills. It would be great if we could get more power plays.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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