Pens Trying To Find Footing 5-on-5

The Pittsburgh Penguins can’t score at even strength. Who’d have predicted that? How does this keep happening with the roster they have? It can’t always be an issue of running into a hot goalie. Not every night.

You could just say they’ve gone cold, but that doesn’t explain how the power play is in the league top five, holding them in most games when needed.

You could ask them to shoot the puck more, but the Penguins are in the top 3 in shots on goal per game to date so shooting more in general isn’t an automatic fix.

The penalty kill is enhancing the problem operating at a bottom five rate, meaning a single well timed 5 on 5 goal could make or break a game for this team. That might make you think they should just take less penalties, but historically they’ve been in the bottom half of the league in penalty kills per game and it hasn’t been an issue.

Pittsburgh was 26th in the NHL in 2014-15 in this category. They bumped up to 16th the following year, then repeated as Cup Champions despite being 20th in kills per game in 2016-17.

There’s no deep analysis that explains the lack of even strength scoring. There’s no statistical evidence suggesting a trend or giving us hope they just need to do “x” and this will all go away. The Penguins just have to be better. Period.

Scoring slumps are frustrating, but usually nothing more than that. The only time they get terrifying is when the scoring chances aren’t there. As long as chances are being created, I believe they’ll eventually go in.

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