Well, this is flattering. It has been reported that the United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team is using the Penguins’ set up and strategy when running their own team’s power play. The USA team has gone so far as to request tape from the Pens’ coaching staff in order for them to watch and replicate on the ice.
If you’re going to take the playbook from anyone, it might as well be the best power play in the league, statistically. Team USA might only be 4 of about 14 or 15 for the tournament, but when you consider that they have just 9 goals in all their combined games, their power play output is responsible for pretty much half of their production.
In fact, before their playoff elimination game against Slovakia in which they scored 5 goals, the United States had only 4 goals in 3 games, with 2 of those goals being on the power play. It’s critical to their success if they want to play further in the tournament.
Before you say, “Well, if the Penguins’ power play system is so great then why aren’t they scoring more?” Remember that this team is comprised of collegiate amateur prospects, guys from other hockey leagues, and former NHL players. I mean no disrespect to these people because I’m heavily cheering for this team USA squad, but there’s a clear drop off in talent without the NHL players there. That goes for all the countries in this hockey tournament.
They still are making the games exciting, and USA’s 5-1 win on Monday was awesome to watch. The skill level just isn’t the same no matter which team is out there. Team USA is doing their best with what they have, which includes some future NHL players, but they don’t have players like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, or Phil Kessel out there. Come to think of it, most NHL teams can’t get that type of eliteness on the ice together.
Saying all this, it’s great to see success for Team USA come with a link to the Penguins. If they have the schematics to win consecutive Stanley Cups, that same coaching system should be helpful in getting our country deep into the tournament, hopefully even on that podium with a medal. I’m thinking a gold one.