PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The trip to Uniondale was not kind to the Penguins in their opening round matchup with the New York Islanders.
The Pens are coming home down 2-0 in the series, but it’s what we saw the Islanders do in the first two games that the Penguins can use to begin a comeback against the Isles.
GET TO THE BLUE PAINT
Through two games Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner is sporting a .948 save percentage, good for second in the playoffs. The Penguins have sent 77 shots Lehner’s way and he’s stopped 73 of those shots.
A quick look at HockeyViz’s shot location map, the Penguins are getting to the front of the net with regularity at 5-on-5, but their power play is keeping it largely to the perimeter.
In order to find success on the power play, getting Patric Hornqvist, Jake Guentzel and a few others right on top of the crease is going to bring a victory.
BREAK THE ISLANDERS FORECHECK
Despite being the NHL’s best defensive team in the regular season, the Islanders’ forecheck in games one and two was absolutely relentless.
Forwards for New York are swarming the Penguins defense and disrupting the Penguins’ breakout attempts. The Penguins tried to mitigate this in game two with little success by trying to send stretch passes to a streaking forward.
What the Penguins can do to fix this is to continue to send a streaking forward, but not look for the stretch pass. Using this forward as a decoy to back off Islanders’ defensemen, the Penguins should be able to open up options in the zone for a more controlled breakout.
LET THE STARS SHINE
Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel scored in game one. Sidney Crosby, despite several chances, has not. Kris Letang has not scored.
The Penguins getting goals from the likes of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang will go a long way toward climbing their way back into this series.