Here’s an excerpt from my recent column at TribLive.com:
Karlsson’s biggest value would be fixing the Penguins’ power play, which has been an underachieving mess for too long.
Karlsson would provide that unit with a legitimate point man. A terrific distributor and playmaker. He’d help with zone entries.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are great players. They’re not great on the power play, merely good. Karlsson would run that power play. He’d take it over, if they let him.
To read the entire piece, click HERE.
The Penguins’ power play has done poorly in recent campaigns, ranking 14th in the NHL last season with a conversion rate of 21.7 and 19th in 2021-22 at 20.2. That’s not near acceptable given the talent on hand.
There’s no re-set point, very little organization. The Penguins’ power play prefers highlight-reel brilliance to being consistently effective but achieves neither, at least not often enough.
Assistant coach Todd Reirden is in charge of the man-advantage unit, but it’s the players’ arrogance that screws it up. There’s lots of skill but no consistently applied concept.
If the Penguins don’t get Karlsson, the best way to improve the power play is to put Crosby at the right half-wall, using him as the re-set point and distributor.
Phil Kessel used to serve that function on the left half-wall. Mario Lemieux did, too, in legendary fashion. Jaromir Jagr did it on the right half-wall. It doesn’t have to be the guy up top.
But that won’t happen because Malkin prefers to play the right half-wall and can never know an unpleasant moment. Crosby is great down low but largely wasted there. Yet he defers to Malkin, more shooter than playmaker in that spot.
If the aging Penguins are to legitimately improve, a few feathers might have to be ruffled.