Momentum is a funny thing. It can be found in different ways and carried even further. A four game winning streak has brought the Pens that needed momentum. There’s been several components to getting the team back on their feet, with one of them certainly being how they killed the penalties.
Special teams in general has attributed to the Pens getting their “swagger back”. During a time where the scoring was a little more difficult to find, they have relied on the power play. Of course their power play is ranked first in in the league, so obviously it’s doing it’s job.
It’s the penalty kill though is what has separated them from the pack. Saturday’s game against Detroit was a perfect example. The Pens committed six, that’s correct six penalties! And killed off five of them!
Then Sunday, Pittsburgh killed off a crucial Rangers Power Play in a game they were down by 1 at the time before going onto win 5-2.
Killing these has given the team important momentum. It’s because they’re dominating the penalty kill. It’s not like their just surviving and getting lucky that the puck didn’t find the back of the net, they are putting the game into their own hands. I’m talking only letting up one or two shots in over two minutes of a penalty.
The way they are stopping the offensive flow of the other team is the reason for success. The Penguins are doing it by a couple different strategies.
One is by cutting off the opening pass into offensive blue line by playing strong neutral zone defense. They aggressively race at the puck holder causing him to make a rushed pass, or have to dump into the zone, never letting the offense set up their power play and letting the Pens clear the puck quickly.
The second use of play is when the other team finally does get into the zone. The Pens have done a fantastic job of creating difficult angles and passing lanes for the offense upon approaching the player who is carrying the puck, it’s the angle of pursuit that makes it difficult to set up that bang-bang play to score on an open net.
Of course the third way Pittsburgh has been by pinpoint goaltending. The saying is old and cliche but it is true, the best defender on the penalty kill has to be the goaltender. Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry have done a great job of that.
Tons of credit has to go around to all 6 defenseman along with Carl Hagelin and TomKuhnhackl. These two wingers might not be scoring a bunch of goals but they are holding down the fort on the an important part of the Penguins winning ways. There’s nothing else to say but keep up the great work!