The Historical Pittsburgh Penguins Powerplay

Penguins Power Play

The Pittsburgh Penguins powerplay is absolutely amazing this season. And to understand just how amazing it is, let’s look at their results compared to the best teams of this season as well the past.

Putting the Penguins Powerplay Into Context

With all their offensive firepower the Penguins powerplay is almost always good, but this year is truly something special. They currently have 55 goals in 340 minutes, scoring 9.75 goals per 60. To put that number into context here is how the Penguins powerplay stacks against the NHL’s best. (Data From Corsica).

There’s a clear hierarchy in the NHL this season. In third place, there’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fueled by Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos the lethal Lightning powerplay falls just short of the nine-goal per hour mark. Then there is the high flying Winnipeg Jets. The Jets unit revolves around three elite right-handed shots. Lead by Patrick Laine, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele they have redefined the way powerplays use the left side of the ice. As a result, the Jets are second in the league, scoring 9.4 goals per hour. Finally, we have the Penguins powerplay, sitting atop the NHL. Their league-leading numbers are driven by their top unit.

The Top Penguins Powerplay Unit

The Penguins are oozing offensive talent. Up and down the lineup they can score, but on the powerplay, they’re as top heavy as ever. Their first unit is the scariest in the NHL. It consists of Patrick Hornquest, Kris Letang, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Looking at their shot locations, it’s easy to see how they use all their elite talent. (Data From HockeyViz)

Data Visualation courtesy of Micah Blake McCurdy, @ineffectivemath,

The Penguins set up in a 1-3-1 formation. Starting at the blueline, Letang is a great distributor patrolling the point. He is more of a passenger when it comes to shooting, which is where the forwards step up. The primary shot is left-handed Malkin firing from the right circle. He’s wreaking havoc on opposing goalies and is sitting fourth in powerplay points as a result. Sadly for the opposition, they can’t key in on Malkin. This is because Kessel is lights out on the left side too. Sniping all year long, Kessel leads the league in powerplay scoring while dominating the left circle. Even if teams somehow survive the onslaught from the circles, they get torched in tight.

Hornqvist makes a fantastic net-front presence. Taking punishment and banging in rebounds, he helps free up space for everyone else. While Hornqvist is good in front, it’s Crosby who really dominates. His unrivalled ability to grind shines on the powerplay. He is not afraid to drive the dirty areas, so his primary shot locations are right on the doorstep. Opposing goalies can’t handle Crosby up close, so Crosby currently sits third in powerplay points. Altogether these five lead the best powerplay in the NHL this season, so to find comparables we have to look in the past.

The Best Powerplay’s of the Decade

The Penguins powerplay is not just special for this season, it’s special for this decade. Here’s how they compare to the highest scoring full season powerplays of this decade. (Data From Corsica)

This graph is loaded with truly elite powerplay units, especially at the top. The Presidents Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks from 2010-11 kick off the top five. Propelled by the Sedin twins in their prime, the Canucks still fall short. Then there’s this year’s Jets, who finish behind the Penguins one more time. But what’s most impressive is the Washington Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been staples on the Capitals top unit this entire decade. Those two have made the Capitals powerplay the most consistent of this era, cracking the top five two separate times and almost making the list multiple other seasons. They have been so good the left circle is universally regarded as the “Ovi spot”. And yet no matter how good the Capitals powerplay has been, they have still found a new way to fall short of the Penguins.

True greatness is incredibly rare in hockey, so it’s important to appreciate it while it’s happening. That’s exactly what’s going on in Pittsburgh right now. Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel aren’t just leading the best power play of this season, they’re behind the best power play of this decade.



6 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The real story in the NHL this year is not the historically awesome power play of the two time defending champions. It is the awesome power play of the come from nowhere Winnipeg Jets who are just a whisker behind them…and getting better every day. If you have not seen the Jets on power play, they are something special. I watch the Jets on power play and I wonder: how the hell does anybody defend against THAT shorthanded. LOL

    1. Yeah, the Jets are pretty special too, on pace to be third best of the decade ain’t bad at all, although given their wealth of offensive talent we all probably should have seen a big boom from them coming

  2. Yeah, the Jets are pretty special too, on pace to be third best of the decade ain’t bad at all, although given their wealth of offensive talent we all probably should have seen a big boom from them coming

  3. Please on the Jets. All the Jets are are a bunch of overrated jerkoffs who don’t have any Cups; do they? Canadian teams AND, more importantly, their “fans,” make me sick. I am a true blooded Canadian, but I cheer AGAINST CanaDUH. Why? Because they are COCKY. They are RACIST (Ask their “Prime Minister” Don the Con Cherry.) They absolutely HATE Crosby – due to that piece of Irish sewage (Don the Con Cherry) calling him a “whiner, diver and crybaby” – in that order. Sooooooooooooooo, what does everybody else call him? Exactly. How? Just ask Jack Nicholson in The Shining: “See, he saw it on the television.” Exactly the same thing here. The Winnipeg ******* Jets. Of course, come playoff time, as soon as the Leafs get beat out, evvvvvvverybody and their mother will be cheering for Winni*******peg FCS; ruining my hockey pools just because they are………..there. See, it’s easy as pie to win hockey pools when the goddam Canadian teams are goners because everybody hates PIT and everybody acts as if the last ******g Canadian team is gonna send them a $1,000,000 check in the mail if they win or something.
    BUT, what really gets me? Canada’s inability to realize that without PITTSBURGH PENGUINS? They’d have no ******* Gold Medals. From Mario’s Canada Cup (best goal ever) in 87′, to his ghost pass in SLC, to Crosby winning it for them. All I gotta say to all the wops, jew, and the rest of you tards; go to hell ya pieces of urine. Too bad those steel tariffs weren’t 55%. The JU.S.A. is catching your a$$ in hockey, boys and girls. That’s a fact. And, guess what! Even the women are, too!!! Shootouts. Shitty way to win a game, “eh?!?!” lol. Well, see, you always need a QC goaltender to bail your a$$e$ out! Whether it be Roy, Brodeur, etc… That’s like having TWO countries split and playing for one! Kinda like cheating, you know??? Maybe Russia should allow all of the countries that the jew took away from them, play for them, too?! Or the Czechs be allowed to have Czechoslovakia play for them as well? No wonder why you always “win.” BUT, without firstly MARIO LEMIEUX – THE BEST ATHLETE WHO EVER, EVER PUT ON ANY TYPE OF SPORTING APPARATUS, TO SIDNEY CROSBY; THE BEST I COULD SEE YOU CHUMPS FINISHING WOULD BE 4TH; right behind Bela*******rus; another country stolen by the jew through BOLSHEVISM – NOT RUSSIAN COMMUNISM, Canada would barely be better than Kazakhstan. Moral of the non-fictional story? You need PENGUINS to help you win Gold Medals. Once Crosby retires? You’re ******!!!!!! PP%s aside? Who can put the best 5 players out there?! Penguins win this one in a landslide. Lemieux, Coffey, Letang, Malkin, Jagr (or Crosby) – take your pick. Or Larry Murphy for Tanger??? You can have your Teemu Salami. LOL!!!

    1. Margaret, you seem like a really cool dude. I’m going to go ahead and reply to your comment because it seemed more directed at me and perhaps Chace may have been left speechless and wordless by your infinite wisdom.
      Of course, we can all agree that the nation that produces and trains an athlete and raises him to be great (Canada in the case of your idols Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby) should be grateful to the sports club that retains his services once he is fully grown and his talent is more or less fully developed (The Pittsburgh Penguins). What a debt of gratitude Canada owes to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
      I’m not a fan any particular NHL Team. I’m a fan of the game and admire individual players. However, I am a fan of angry diatribes directed against Canada, Canadians, The Irish, Irish-Canadians, The Jews and anybody else you care to take shots at. Where would one go to read more of your comments?

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