netwolf wrote:I agree about the lack of a RH shot being a problem, but to me the biggest issue is the breakout. How ofter do they gain the zone with control of the puck? A majority of the time, here's what happens:
Gonchar goes back and gets the puck. As he begins to bring it up, two forwards will be at the offensive blueline, one on each side of the boards standing still. The third forward circles in the neutral zone, waiting on Gonchar. The other point main will usually be waiting at the defensive blueline, watching Gonchar skate. Once Gonchar crosses his blueline, the other defenseman follows a step or two behind him and 5-10' to Gonchar's right or left. The forward that had been circling the neutral zone will slide to one side or the other and when Gonchar hits the offensive blue line, he's the only one with any forward momentum, because the three forwards are essentially standing still. Since no one is moving, Gonchar has no passing options, so he dumps it in. And again, since no one is moving, the dump-in is easily picked up by the penalty killers or the goaltender and they get a good look at a clear.
If they're going to continue with that mess of a breakout, they'd almost be better off letting Orpik bring the puck up. At least he's got a chance of retrieving his own dump-ins. I've seen him do it at even strength.
Even with Crosby and Malkin out, there's no excuse for this team's power play to have this much trouble setting up. If they want to go dump and chase, then the dump in has to occur right after they cross center red and the forwards have to be hitting the blueline with speed instead of standing still.
Well stated, netwolf. For all of my complaints about the Pens PP, my focus has been on the Pens work inside the offensive zone. Your point completes the idea that the Pens PP is completely devoid of significant player movement and speed.
The breakout isn't there (a) because there's no speed through the neutral zone and (b) because it's either Gonch skating in and dishing back, Gonch dumping the puck off wing (with a slow guy like Ouellet going after it), or Gonch giving the puck to Recchi to carry through the neutral zone so he can be stood up at the blueline because he has no support (since the other forwards are standing still) for a pass or to help get a dump in.
But, that only tells why the Pens waste half of the PP. The other half is because the PP is completely predicated upon feeding Gonch for a shot from the point. There is no in zone player movement. You get guys like Ouellet and LeClair on the PP when a guy like Ekman or even Moore would help a lot more in terms of crisp passing and more rapid player movement.
When you add it all together, the fact is that the hardest working players on a Pens PP are the Pens defensemen going back to their zone to retrieve cleared pucks.
Especially with Sid and Malkin (but even with one of them), I wonder why nobody has tried predicating the PP on those two. Why not let them be the focus of the breakout? Why not let them be the focus of the Pens work in zone? I am tired of seeing a PP that is so predictable and so easily defended in its breakout. And, I am sick and tired of seeing Sid and Malkin play stationary games when the Pens finally manage to control the puck in the offensive zone.