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Looking at the Penguins power-play setup and why it was successful tonight

The Penguins scored two power-play goals tonight and their current setup seems to be working well. Let’s take a look at why that might be.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins have a successful power play unit! What is this sorcery? The Penguins went 2-for-5 with the man-advantage in a 4-2 win against their Metropolitan division rival New York Islanders.

This is not surprising when you remember that the Penguins are now scoring PPG’s at PPG Paints Arena heyooooooo.

ANYWAYS; THIS IS A GOOD DEVELOPMENT. For how long have we seen a talented Penguins special-teams unit that had trouble when it came to scoring goals with the man advantage? .

The most staggering part of this development is that the Penguins are without Kris Letang at the time being. Without Letang, the Penguins #1 PP setup looks as follows:

  • Justin Schultz and Evgeni Malkin at the points
  • Patric Hornqvist in his office in front of the net.
  • Sidney Crosby on the right half-wall, moving down low and behind the net
  • Phil Kessel on the left half-wall

I personally am a big fan of this setup, whether it’s Schultz or Letang. With this setup, you have potential for two players with strong shots at the point. You have Crosby doing what he does from the half-wall and when he moves behind the net. Phil Kessel on the left half-wall gives an element that really can cause problems. We saw this early this season when teams gave Kessel space because of other challengers on the other side of the ice. Patric Hornqvist in front of the net is the catalyst for defenders and goaltenders. Every player involved in the unit can cause problems for the defense, and when it works well, it works well. The passing and skills and talents that these players possess is remarkable.

Now, let’s take a look at the first PPG that the Penguins scored tonight very early in the game. The Penguins rolled out that same unit we just mentioned, and some crisp passing led to a fast goal.

On the faceoff, Sidney Crosby was taking the draw, and instead of trying to win it back to the point, he went forward with the puck.

As Crosby won the draw, Patric Hornqvist tied up the Islanders player that was attempting to gain control of the puck. His attempt to gain control essentially played the puck right back to the dead space to the right of Sidney Crosby.

Crosby simply decides to chip the puck back to Evgeni Malkin who is setting himself up at the point.

Malkin doesn’t waste any time, and looks to his two options to the left. He has Justin Schultz as the point option, and Phil Kessel on the half-wall. He chooses Kessel. (I would choose Kessel too, and it doesn't matter what we’re choosing.)

Kessel, who is afforded a lot of time and space, doesn’t act with the puck right away, but moves closer to the net.

As defenders start to close in on him, he makes a move to pass the puck through traffic to Crosby. Of course it gets through, because Phil Kessel is a remarkably underrated passer.

Crosby probably could’ve scored from here if he had decided to shoot, but instead he does a quick one-time pass to Patric Hornqvist in front of the net. Because of course Hornqvist is in front of the net.

Hornqvist almost managed not to score here. His shot went a little to the right and clipped a piece of Jaroslav Halak’s pad, but it came back out to the scoring area where Hornqvist was able to poke it over the line.

You can’t really blame Halak for giving Hornqvist that much space though. He was kind of caught in the middle. You need to cover Crosby’s shot, but you don’t want to overcommit either way.

What a ridiculous pass by Crosby, literally putting it right on Hornqvist’s tape.

Hot take here: if you can pass the puck to a player in front of the net with no one else in front of him, that’s probably a good thing more often than not.

Let’s hope that this success with the power-play keeps on keeping on, and perhaps even gets better once Kris Letang is back in the mix.

The second PPG was just as nice, with some quick passing between Evgeni Malkin, Trevor Daley, and Phil Kessel, who didn’t hesitate to put it past Halak.

The only concern at this point for the Penguins is whether or not they’ll have the 5-on-4 advantage any more, because they can’t stay out of the damn penalty box themselves.