“Unbelievable” :Penguins Need to Switch Up Their System…

The Pittsburgh Penguins have faced a challenging season, losing three consecutive games before unexpectedly defeating the favored Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on October 26. Despite significant changes to their roster during the summer, the Penguins struggled to find their form. In the ever-evolving landscape of the league, it’s crucial for teams to adapt their strategies to remain competitive, a move that Pittsburgh had not made until their recent game against Colorado. This victory should serve as a blueprint for the remainder of the season.

In their championship-winning years of 2016 and 2017, the Penguins were known for their speed and aggression. However, with a considerably different roster and an average age of 30.8, making them the oldest team in the league, Head Coach Mike Sullivan has not adjusted his system since 2017. This lack of adaptation has started to catch up with them. To succeed, the Penguins must utilize the talent available to them effectively.

Rather than maintaining an overly aggressive stance, the Penguins should adopt a more patient approach, allowing the game to develop naturally. They achieved this in their game against Colorado by demonstrating patience, maintaining good positioning, and capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes. They excelled at forcing turnovers and defending the blue line while making accurate reads and staying vigilant throughout the match.

For a long time, the Penguins were known for their high-tempo, fast-paced style, but it may be time to shift their identity. Speed alone is no longer sufficient in a league full of fast-paced teams. Their victory against the Avalanche came from a commitment to solid defense, breaking up plays in the defensive and neutral zones, and capitalizing on their opponent’s errors. Embracing a defensive mindset moving forward could significantly enhance the team’s overall performance.

Another vital factor in the Penguins’ victory was their third line. Lars Eller, Radim Zohorna, and Drew O’Connor played a pivotal role, with a high percentage of shot attempts and scoring chances while they were on the ice. Zohorna’s performance in particular highlighted his potential as a permanent fixture on this line.

The critical question now is whether the Penguins will make these strategic changes a permanent part of their game plan. In a subsequent game against the Ottawa Senators on October 28, they reverted to an overly aggressive style, looking disorganized and fatigued. Coach Sullivan must recognize that he has a different team today than in 2016 and 2017 and adapt their playstyle to suit their strengths if he wishes to avoid being in a precarious position.

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