Pittsburgh Penguins Offence Needs To Be Better in the First Period

Apr 18, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (2) looks to shoot against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (2) looks to shoot against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Pittsburgh Penguins head into game five of their first round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been playing well this series, gaining a 3-1 series advantage over the Blue Jackets. But there is still a problem evident with their play. They are not playing well in the first period.

Numbers

Taking a look at each of the four games so far in this series, it’s easy to see that the Penguins aren’t the best first period team.

In each game, the Penguins have failed to score more than one goal in the first period. Game two and game three saw them score one, but they also let the Blue Jackets score three in game three. Game one and game four just had the Penguins shut out in the first.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins /

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Problem

Now many of you may not see this as a real problem. As long as the Penguins get the win in the end it is all all right, right?

Wrong. The most intense hockey is usually played in the first period. The first period often sets the game and shifts the dominance to a certain team right away.

Columbus is a big, fast team that will take control of the game if you let them. How can we stop this? By taking control of the game first!

We have great offence, one of the best in the league, but we fail to capitalize in the first period, and end up trailing at period’s end both on the scoreboard and in our minds.

Now the Penguins certainly do a good job in not letting these slow first periods get to them. They seem fine coming back too. But if there was one thing I realized from our game four loss, was that we might as well try to fix this before it’s too late.

The Answer

We really have to try coming out and playing a full first period. Right off the bat we should be looking to spark some offence rather than leave it until the end.

Some key offensive players in this series have been players like Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel. Along with others of course, these players have stepped up and generated offence in desperate times. We need to get the puck up to them more in the first and hope to take a lead.

More from Pens Labyrinth

Also, our defence could generate some more offence. Our defensive unit has been playing very strongly, and I don’t want to faulter that any more. But adding a hint of offensive flair to the likes of Justin Schultz and Trevor Daley for example could go a long way.

Essentially, starting the game off in our favour will only help the Penguins throughout the game. We need to take a hold of the dominance right from the get go, and this will only lead to good things.