Both power play units were among the league’s best this season. In fact, the Penguins and Capitals were tied for second in the league in power play success rates for the 2016-2017 regular season. In addition, the regular season series was a good indicator of the overall impact of the special teams.
In their four head-to-head games during the regular season, the Capitals went 5-for-18 on the power play. Pittsburgh went 4 for 12 on power plays. In games the Capitals won, the Caps went 4 for 11 on the power play. They were 1 for 7 when they lost. The Penguins were 2 for 3 in games they won and 2 for 9 in losses.
WHEN THE CAPITALS ARE ON THE POWER PLAY
The Capitals finished the regular season tied for 2nd in the league in power plays with a 23.1% conversion rate. The Penguins had the league’s 20th ranked penalty kill with a 79.8% kill rate.
The Capitals’ forward combinations for their last 10 games:
The Capitals power play continued to thrive in the first round of the playoffs, ranking 3rd among the 16 playoff teams with a 29.4% conversion rate against the Maple Leafs. The Penguins penalty kill did relatively well, ranking 6th among the 16 playoff teams, with an 83.3% success rate.
Penguins Penalty Kill – The Penguins penalty kill started the season poorly, but has gained momentum with the acquisition of defenseman Ron Hainsey from the Hurricanes (in exchange for a 2017 2nd-rounder & Danny Kristo) on February 23rd.
The general penalty kill lines for the Penguins this season, courtesy of LeftWingLock:
WHEN THE PENGUINS ARE ON THE POWER PLAY
As noted, the Penguins power play finished the regular season with the league’s third best power play (tied with the Caps) with a 23.1 conversion rate. The Capitals penalty kill finished 7th in the league with an 83.8% success rate for the 2016-2017 regular season.
The Penguins’ forward combinations for their last 10 games:
The Penguins power play was fairly successful as in the first round, ranked second amongst the 16 playoff teams with a 33.3% conversion rate against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Capitals penalty kill did relatively well in round one, finishing tied for 6th amongst the 16 playoff teams with an 83.3% success rate.
Capitals Penalty Kill – The Capitals penalty kill has been among the league’s best all season and could be a difference maker in this series. The Caps penalty kill was without the services of stalwart killer Karl Alzner for a majority of the series with the Maple Leafs, however there are signs he may be ready to return for the Pittsburgh series.
The Capitals penalty kill lines this season:
The Penguins seemed to smartly address a need on the penalty kill that was apparent early in the season. Hainsey has helped stabilize the penalty kill unit since his arrival in late February.
The Capitals fortified their power play with the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline. Shattenkirk has assumed the defensive position on the Capitals top power play unit, which has occasionally shown positive dividends, but has yet to catch fire.
A big factor in the outcome of this series will be the performance of the penalty kill units for both side. The Capitals penalty kill, which was solid all season, versus the Penguins penalty kill, which started the season poorly, but has shown significant improvement this spring.
By Jon Sorensen