I figured this massive downtime between games was as good a time as any to do a little check up on special teams.
Last time I went around doing this, it was probably best I didn't. Right around the holidays the Pens were checking in on the power play at 30th overall; the league's worst. I made a joke at the time that a few AHL teams may have had a better PP at the time, but hindsight I really don't think I was joking. The PK on the other hand ranked 11th overall and has at least been the one dimly lit bulb for the special teams as a whole.
Overall it's nice to see improvement. Not like you can get much worse than worst, but 26th is at least going in the right direction. What amazes me right now is that Ottawa, currently riding a franchise best 10 game win streak, is dead last at 30th overall (14.9%). Impressive in a way. Even scarier if they can find a way to make it click.
We've all seen the importance of the PP when it comes to playoff time, but a top-tier PK unit may be just as crucial. At 12th overall, the Pens have some sanctity in knowing they are at least better than half the league. And really the teams in the 7th to 18th range are so close in percentage that one bad outing (or good for your optimists out there) can change things pretty significantly. To clear that up a bit more, Ottawa's PK is 7th overall at 83.6%. Drop down a few spots to the Pens at 12th (82.8%) or the Red Wings at 16th (81.4%) and you can kinda see what I'm talking about.
Overall I really think the PP just looks better. Sure, in the end you want to see a goal to prove they are better than previously ranked, but I'm seeing some crisp passes, nice set ups and even some goals out of the top PP unit. For the few times we've seen the second line out there, even that has shown some promise. I can honestly say that I think the Pens' power play, if it keeps playing the way it has lately, will land in the top 20 by playoff time.
Or is that too overzealous of me?