The Pittsburgh Penguins started off 2022 right, by pumping 8 Goals against the San Jose Sharks on January 02.2022, for the W. The Penguins actually held a 6-1 lead after the first period, before letting down in the third period and making the game more interesting that it needed to be.
Watching this amazing first period, actually got me thinking about the Penguins Offense in general and how it came to be. Let’s Dissect it.
Chalk Talk – Offense
As you know, Offense begins with having the puck. So, it stands to reason that winning the Faceoff will allow you to start with puck possession and therefore allow you to set up an offensive attack immediately.
The Penguins are 10th overall in the NHL, in Faceoffs Won, with 51.4%. Out of the18 games the Penguins have won to date, they have won more Faceoffs than their opposition in 10 of those Wins.
Good things happen when pucks are shot towards the net. Shots might go straight in. Shots can be deflected by a teammate standing in front of the net. Shots can ricochet off of the opposition.
The Penguins are 4th overall in the NHL, in Shots on Goal per Game with 35.2. Out of the 18 games the Penguins have won to date, they have outshot their opponent in 15 of those wins.
Simplify the Offensive Game Plan
Forward-1, takes the body. Forward-2, gets the puck. Forward-3, is the trailer, who gets open and is ready for the pass or to shoot, when they get the puck from forward-2. We all know that three-consecutive passes will equal a scoring chance, so making tape to tape passes, while on the fly, is crucial to the success of any offense. The Penguins are masters at this.
The Magic Triangle
The Penguins are applying the Magic Triangle to perfection. The Magic Triangle is when the puck carrier has two pass options, (in essence forming a triangle). The Penguins are applying this technique all over the ice and in all zones. This extreme puck support, by the Penguins, is off the charts. I know it is still early, but I’m excited for the Penguins near future (can you say run for the Cup).
Win the 50 / 50 Battles
Both the Forwards and Defensemen must win the 50/50 battles along the boards and they are. The Penguins continuously put a body into their opposition night in, night out. We have talked about this before. Hitting opponents causes mental errors over time.
Maintaining Puck Possession is key to the Penguins Offense and Body Positioning is a key component of this. Penguin players are constantly using their body to protect and shelter the puck from oncoming defenders. They are taking the ice, the defense is giving them, looking for open players and putting the puck in the right spots especially in the O-Zone, along the boards and with puck support.
Forecheck / Backcheck / Paycheck
They Penguins have a tenacious forecheck. They show a lot of grit and sandpaper, along the boards and bring a high level of compete night in, night out. The penguins have been playing this, type of “Playoff Style Hockey” since November and it’s getting them results.
The Penguins rank 22nd overall in the NHL in O-Zone Giveaways. Meaning, the Penguins hold on to the puck quite well in the Offensive Zone. The Penguins maintain possession or cause their Opposition to Turnover the puck, then they capitalize on these turnovers.
The Penguins rank 9th overall in the NHL, causing their opposition to ice the puck. I love this stat. It means your team has possession of the puck and is creating so much sustained Offensive Zone pressure, the opposition must ice the puck, to get relief. This will eventually lead to scoring opportunities and it has.
The Best Players Must be the Best Players
Scoring depth is needed on any team and helps relieve the pressure for sure, however the best players on a team must be the best players on the ice. The Penguins are getting this from Crosby, Guentzel and Letang every night.
Whether it’s “Set Plays”, from the Offensive Zone Faceoff circle or passing plays off the rush, these three are playing great hockey right now.
You need the perfect mixture of smart, strong, and sound Defensemen to go far in the NHL.
Strong D, who can pinch in the O-Zone and keep the play going down low on the half wall, along the boards. Even better, is the forward who swaps positions, when the D continues with the play, in the O-Zone.
Fast D, who can pinch when the play calls for it.
Accurate D, who can pass tape to tape or shoot and hit the net. Remember, if the goalie can see the puck, they will stop it more times than not. With traffic in front, an accurate shot can be a goal in a heartbeat.
D who can score. The weak side D is always open, especially in the Low to High play, because the opposition pinches down low, in the slot, to help out defensively.
The Penguins D corps have all these qualities.
The Penguins don’t take many penalties. It disrupts the offense and messes up the lines.
18-8-5 = 41pts
4th in the Metropolitan Division (Up from 7th Place in Oct)
7th in the Eastern conference (Up from 13th Place in Oct)
11th in the NHL overall (Up from 22nd overall in Oct)
Pittsburgh Penguins are holding the Wild Card #1 Playoff Spot.
My View from the Cheap Seats
The Penguins are tied for 14th overall in the NHL in Goals For. However, it really comes down to Winning. Since Nov18.2021 the Penguins have won 13 out of 16 games played. They have been averaging 3.5 goals per game in that stretch and giving up only 1.8 goals per game. Jarry has played some of the best goaltending of his career and the Team D has been just spectacular. With players on the IR getting healthy, and other players simply well rested from the Holiday / Covid Break, I expect more good things to come in 2022.
Quote of the Day:
“Offense sells tickets. Defense wins games, Rebounding wins Championships.”
Pat Summitt – Head Coach U of Tennessee