Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fast Starts Have Fueled Recent Run

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fast Starts Have Fueled Recent Run

Article excerpt

The day after Thanksgiving, the Penguins slogged through arguably their worst first period of the season in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Improvements since then have been swift and significant.

The Penguins entered a game Saturday against Buffalo riding a three-game winning streak. Several factors explain that, but one of them has definitely been the Penguins' starts. They've been much, much better.

In the past three games, the Penguins have outscored their opponents, 7-0, in the opening 20 minutes, often jumping into the driver's seat early and establishing themselves from puck drop.

"It's something we've talked about, for obvious reasons," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday before the game. "I've been asked all kinds of questions about it. 'Do you change routines? How do you become proactive?' I've always been a believer that players' individual pregame routines or superstitions are personal. Everyone has to take ownership for their own readiness and preparedness for the drop of the puck.

"That's what we've discussed - making sure that each guy is taking responsibility for himself so that we're ready."

The Penguins have allowed 30 goals in the first period, which is tied for the most in the NHL, but three blowout losses skew the numbers.

They've allowed just eight first-period goals over their past 10, a theoretical pace that would put them at 22 and in the middle of the pack league-wide.

So, they've improved. But there's still room to grow.

"Those first five or six minutes are really important for us from a standpoint of trying to establish the type of game we want to play and getting momentum right off the bat," Sullivan said.

The numbers bear that out. The Penguins entered Saturday with an 8-0-1 record when leading after the first period and 2-8-1 when trailing. They were 12-2-2 when they get the first goal of a game, 2-8-1 when they do not.

Grabbing an early lead Friday in Buffalo allowed the Penguins to roll four lines and get everyone involved. Ryan Reaves, for instance, finished with 7:24 of ice time, his most since Nov. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.