The Pittsburgh Penguins have a problem many teams wish they could have: More gifted scorers than available power play spots.
With a combination of sharp shooting forwards as well as defensemen, Michel Therrien will have to carefully place his men amongst the two power play lines.
If I were him, or he were I, or if I knew him and he listened to the advice I gave him, this is the way the power play unit would shape out.
Malkin – Crosby – Satan
Gonchar – Whitney
At some point, both Crosby and Malkin should be on the ice at the same time. The two have the ability to do special things together, and what better time to place them together than the power play?
Malkin will man the half-boards. That way he is able to fire his booming slap shot from a closer distance and at an angle he is familiar with.
Malkin’s time on the point in the playoffs was something many would like to forget. It was also rumored that he didn’t want to be playing there. With this setup, Malkin is where he wants to be and is surrounded by incredible talent.
Add Satan to the other side and you’ve got just as potent a power play as any in the National Hockey League. He is a sharpshooter, but being on the ice at the same time as Crosby and Malkin should provide him with so much open space that even Eric Godard could net a few.
Crosby will be Crosby, and having Malkin and Satan on his unit will allow the Penguins captain to be as creative as he wants.
On the point is Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney. I’m not going to explain why Gonchar is there because it is where he belongs. Enough said.
As for Ryan Whitney, I believe he has that ability to sneak back-door as he did two years ago. He has everyone watching and waiting for him to fail in 2008-2009. Expect that to be motivation enough for him to play his best.
If he can, then there is no weakness on this line. If he can, there is no reason the Penguins power play shouldn’t be first in the NHL.
If he can’t, no worries. One of the following guys will do the trick.
Fedotenko – Staal – Sykora
Letang – Scuderi
It’s hard to express how much the Penguins would benefit from Jordan Staal reverting back to the ways of his rookie season. For this line to be effective, he needs to do just that.
Kris Letang is gifted with the puck, and depending on Whitney’s level of play he may be on the first unit. Regardless though, he will get his chance to quarterback the power play.
With that being said, Staal must step up and lead the line just as Letang does. Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora are no slouches, and with a centerman playing at their level, this line is also scary.
Fedotenko will be in front of the net, and Staal should do the same. I think if these guys can devote themselves to crashing the net the line will do good things.
However it’s tough to predict because we haven’t seen this trio together ever.
Finally, Scuderi is there to just play solid as he has so often in his career thus far.
Darryl Sydor would have normally been in Scuderi’s place, and if he finds his way in to the Penguins lineup he would replace Scuderi.
Once final option would be to just pull Fleury every time and let Sykora on the line. Good things will happen…
All joking aside, whether this is anywhere near being correct or not, I don’t expect Therrien to stick with any line for too long. He has a history of juggling lines, and once the power play goes through a drought expect the carousel to start.