Pittsburgh Penguins: Top 5 Ways the Pens Can Fix Their Powerplay

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Jan 25, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; A closeup view of the hockey sticks of Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) and center Sidney Crosby (87)  before the game between the Dallas Stars and the Penguins at the American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Penguins 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ powerplay has been a significant point of struggle for the team as of late.

After starting the season with historic numbers as their powerplay seemed to tally every time they took the ice, the Pens now find themselves mired in a stretch that has seen their powerplay drop from first in the league to eighth – currently sitting at only 20.7%.

In the months of December and January, the Pens powerplay managed an abysmal 4-for-53 – a truly terrible conversion rate for any club, let alone one that boasts two former league MVP’s.

Head coach Mike Johnston has been attempting to adjust and re-work the the team’s man-advantage strategy. Now that his club boasts a healthy forward corps, his options are aplenty – yet the team continues to struggle.

Johnston and Rick Tocchet (the Pens’ assistant coach primarily responsible for the man-advantage) enacted a new attempt to cure the ailing powerplay by splitting up Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The separated units were on full display in the team’s game against Chicago, as Crosby led the first unit with Chris Kunitz, David Perron, Kris Letang and Derrick Pouliot.

Malkin then came out with the second unit with regular linemates Blake Comeau and Patric Hornqvist, alongside Simon Despres and Paul Martin.

While the reasoning was somewhat sound – the coaching staff attempted to use the solid chemistry shown by the top two lines during 5-on-5 play to spur some strong powerplay chemistry – the results remained the same: zero powerplay goals.

With the powerplay unit in dire need of an overhaul, what are the Pens’ options?

Here are 5 ways they could improve their man-advantage success: