In years past, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been known to boast one of the best penalty killing units in the entire league; but things haven’t been the same this year.
As the more games pass in the 2022-23 season, the Penguins’ penalty kill has taken a beating and grown into one of the worst features of the team.
Early on, some excuses could have been made; there is a new crop of players like Ryan Poehling and Josh Archibald that are filling in roles.
Returning Penguins like Kasperi Kapanen and Marcus Pettersson are starting to see more time with a man down.
Let’s not forget that Teddy Blueger is yet to play a game this year, as well.
The excuses can’t last forever and a switch needs to be flipped if the Penguins want to revive themselves as one of the best all around teams in the NHL.
Heading into the matchup against the Vancouver Canucks, the Penguins had given up seven power play goals and held a penalty kill percentage of 72%.
Those numbers pushed the Penguins all the way to 28th in the league, but the Canucks only exposed the issues even further.
Three of the Canucks five goals came either during or immediately following a power play opportunity.
Every time they were on the ice, the Penguins PK units were hemmed in their zone and completely unable to get clean dumps.
Not being able to dump the puck out of the zone not only gave the Canucks more opportunities to score but kept tired Penguins on the ice.
As good as Blueger is as a defensive forward, his presence alone isn’t enough to fix the poor performance the rest of the unit has put on.
Bringing Blueger back is sure to be a boost in the teams overall defensive play, but there’s only so much he can do himself.
The rest of the players that will be surrounding Blueger will need to turn their game around and find way to eliminate the opportunities they have been giving up.
The Penguins won’t be able to fix their issues on the PK right away, but an immediate change in fortunes needs to happen.
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