What works? - 1-27-09

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins' power play has been a pretty big problem this season. That's no secret. At a success rate of 16.7 percent, they're tied for 21st place in the league with that noted Tampa Bay Lightning dynasty. Seemingly, any team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should be clicking at above 20 percent and be in the league's top ten.

So what's the deal?

Well, first and foremost, Sergei Gonchar's shoulder is the deal. It's a really big deal. He scored 46 points on the power play last season. Only Montreal's Alex Kovalev scored more (47) and he's a forward. The Penguins scored a total of 77 power-play goals last season and Gonchar managed to get a point out of nearly 60 percent of them.

But he's not available right now. And neither is Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa or Paul Coffey.

So with apologies to The Pensblog, let's invoke the spirit of Ed Harris' character from "Apollo 13," Gene Kranz, and figure out what is available and what does work:

"What do we got on the (power play) that's good?"

Let's first take a look at which individual units which have been the most successful. The Penguins have scored 36 power play goals this season and five separate units have have scored at least twice:

Players Power-Play
Crosby-Goligoski-Malkin-Satan-Sykora 5
Crosby-Goligoski-Malkin-Satan-Staal 4
Crosby-Goligoski-Malkin-Staal-Sykora 4
Crosby-Letang-Malkin-Staal-Sykora 3
Crosby-Boucher-Malkin-Sykora-Whitney 2

The other 18 goals have come from 18 other individual different power-play units including a odd grouping of Philippe Boucher, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brooks Orpik, Petr Sykora and Jeff Taffe.

Considering Goligoski has been on the three-most successful units this season, his recent scratches from the lineup seem a little bit more baffling.

Let's also take a look at each individual player. Which players have been on the ice for the most power play goals?

On Ice for A
Power-Play Goal
Evgeni Malkin 32
Sidney Crosby 31
Petr Sykora 26
Alex Goligoski 19
Miroslav Satan 17
Jordan Staal 16
Philippe Boucher 8
Kris Letang 8
Ruslan Fedotenko 6
Tyler Kennedy 4
Ryan Whitney 4
Brooks Orpik 3
Matt Cooke 2
Jeff Taffe 2
Darryl Sydor 1
Maxime Talbot 1
Mike Zigomanis 1

The only Penguins who have been part of a successful power play more often this season than Goligoski are two Hart Trophy candidates and a perrenial 30-goal threat.

We understand Goligoski has gotten far more opportunities this season than Ryan Whitney and others due to injuries so his his numbers in this case will be higher. And to blindly look at these figures and not take into account the amount of failures or even short-handed goals that have been scored when each player is on is a little short-sighted. But it's clear Goligoski has been a significant part of what little success they have enjoyed this season.

We're not saying these numbers absolutely prove Alex Goligoski is currently their best solution on defense in regards to the power play. They simply point out the bulk of their power-play scoring has involved him. He still has some developing to do. If it weren't for injuries, he would still be in the AHL learning. But despite being thrown into the fire a bit early, he's done more than keep his head above water. At the very least, he appears to have offered them more with a man advantage than Philippe Boucher, Ryan Whitney or even Kris Letang who has been the Penguins' best overall blue liner this season.

Why scratch him?

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