Pittsburgh Penguins: Top 5 Issues Facing the Team Before Playoffs

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Mar 9, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates with right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) after a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

4. Late-game scoring

While the Pens are no slouches when it comes to scoring, they do most of their work in the early parts of games.

In terms of goals scored in the 3rd period, Pittsburgh ranks 22nd in the league with 56.

While this seems like a number of little consequence, its implications are significant.

Come playoff time, the Pens need to establish an identity as a team that plays a full 60-minute game, that will keep pressuring if they’re leading in the 3rd or will mount a strong comeback if they’re trailing.

A look at some of the teams near the top shows how effective this can be. Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 86 3rd-period goals. They also rank 2nd in their division and remain one of the East’s strongest clubs.

The Calgary Flames come in second with 85 3rd-period markers. For a team without any veteran stars on the level of Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos, the Flames have still made themselves a tough, competitive, difficult team to face off against due entirely to the fact that they come on strong at the end of games.

If the Pens hope to avoid more close losses in the playoffs, they’ll need to improve their 3rd period play.