Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



The Penguins’ power play is horribly flawed, but not because of coaching. 

The PP operates the same under assistant coach Todd Reirden this season as it did under assistant Mark Recchi last season. It passes endlessly and aimlessly around the perimeter looking for a back-door tap-in that rarely comes. 

It won’t simplify. It won’t shoot and crash. It won’t generate momentum when it doesn’t score. It barely generates momentum when it does score. A power play is supposed to often be cumulative, and the Penguins’ never is. 

The PP flat-out stinks. That’s insane and inexcusable given the talent on hand. 

Rest assured, Reirden isn’t telling the power play to not shoot. Recchi didn’t, either. 

This is 100 percent on the players, and in particular Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They want what they want, and that’s fine if it works. 

But it isn't. 

The power play was primarily responsible for the Penguins’ 2-1 loss to the host New York Rangers last night. The Penguins were 0-for-6 on the man-advantage, mustering just seven shots. The combination of ineptitude and stubbornness made for a shocking display. The PP had trouble even merely setting up in possession.

The Penguins’ players are interchangeable on the power play. John Marino is taking the place of the injured Kris Letang on the first unit, and he fits right in: Marino pointedly passed up a fistful of shots last night. 

This isn’t half-wits in the upper deck at PPG Paints Arena yelling “SHOOT!”…and if it was, they’d be right. The PP doesn’t give itself a chance to get lucky. It doesn’t give itself a second bite of the cherry. To quote the late Herb Brooks, it looks like a monkey trying to hump a football. Before you know it, two minutes have been wasted. 

It won’t ever simplify. It won’t ever shoot and crash. It won’t ever be cumulative. 

These guys know better. They can’t be told different. Nothing will change. 

It’s another example of too many Penguins seeing themselves as they were, not as they are. 

The Penguins’ PP ranks 23rd in the NHL with a conversion rate of 13.9 percent (five-for-36). It’s miraculous that it scored five times. 

The Penguins’ scored a wonderful power-play goal Jan. 19 in a 5-4 overtime win vs. visiting Washington. Malkin netted a one-timer from the top of the right circle after the Penguins artistically made 10 passes in nine seconds. 

That was the worst thing that could have happened. It just emboldened the PP’s folly. 

P.S. – The Penguins’ penalty-kill stinks, too: 25th in the NHL w/a success rate of 74.3 percent. To be fair, the Pens’ PK never gets to kill against the Pens’ PP. That’s a stat-booster. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

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