Well, well, well…it is past US Thanksgiving. History says that if you aren’t at least four points out of a playoff spot by this time, you won’t likely make the playoffs. The good news for the Pens is that they are four points out exactly. The bad news is that they are 9-9-0 through their first 18 games of the season. It could be a lot worse for the Pens, but it could, and should, be better. How did the Penguins get in this spot? Let’s take a look:
The powerplay has been, at times, a low point and, at times, a hot point for the Pens this season, but Wednesday against the Rangers, the Power Play reached its newest low of the season so far. The power play went 0-for-5 in their 1-0 loss, with only five shots on goal and no real scary chances. The power play currently ranks 24th (25th technically) in the league at the time of writing this article. The team has only capitalized on 13.7% of their chances this season so far, and for a power play with four future hall-of-famers and a one-time 40-goal scorer, it is not what you want to see.
At this point, the power play woes no longer surprise me. They’ve gone on too long, and it’s the same issue, no net-front presence.
Crosby, Malkin, and the rest of the players need to be held accountable for this in my opinion. As much as the players on the power play have all looked really good on five-on-five, they’ve all struggled when put together on the power play. That has cost the Pens several games this season.
In fact, the Pens only have seven powerplay goals so far this season, the second lowest through 18 games since they had six to start the 2021-22 season.
Tristan Jarry has had his bad games but has looked pretty good for the most part. It’s not just Jarry either, as Hellberg and Nedeljkovic have both come in when needed and looked solid so far as well.
Jarry currently has a .916 save percentage, which is very solid. The Pens as a team also have the sixth-highest save percentage at five-on-five this season as well, as well as the fifth-highest save percentage overall.
The goaltending that the Pens have received so far has been good enough for the Pens to be a top team in the Metro, but they aren’t.
Either the goaltending will regress down to the level of how consistent this team currently is, or the power play will fix itself to get the Pens to become the very good team that they are capable of.
Injuries are something that can REALLY hurt this team, especially if one of the top stars gets hurt. They have barely any depth.
Currently, the Penguins have both Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell injured. That is huge, and not in a good way. Rakell is a top-six forward who can make an impact, and Rust has been one of the most productive players on this team so far.
To support these changes, Drew O’Connor was moved up to the first line, as Alex Nylander was slotted in on the second line. The third line of Eller, Zohorna, and DOC started to get going and started to look like a good line for the Pens, but the line has to be broken up unfortunately. The offense will likely become a struggle here for this team for a bit. Powerplay production is going to become more and more important going forward.
Again…No Patrick Kane
I’m saying it again. We are not getting Patrick Kane. Yes, the power play is not producing, and yes, the top six now have two right-wingers out with injury, but no.
Last season with the Rangers, he clearly wasn’t himself. His defensive numbers are horrible, he is not good at five-on-five, and he is coming back from a hip surgery that has ended the careers of several players. The Pens only have limited cap space, and I don’t want them to waste it on Patrick Kane.