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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Hopeful To Fix Power Play Woes

by on February 22, 2017 2:00 PM

On paper Penn State has the 15th best power play percentage in the nation. At .200, the Nittany Lions have scored 26 goals in 130 attempts spanning over the course of the season. That figure is 28th best nationally, so just about dead center out of a 60 team field.

But since Jan. 1 the story has been a very different one. Penn State's power play has stagnated. Its .143 conversion rate is 47th in the nation with just six goals in 42 attempts.

And if Penn State is going to make a run in the postseason, or even make the tournament in the first place, that will have to change.

“You’re not going to win consistently down the stretch against excellent teams unless your specialty teams are good,” said coach Guy Gadowsky. 

"We haven't had support entering the zone, as well as we have in the past. And we've been outworked with retrievals, we're too quick to look for options instead of retrieving pucks and those are the two biggest differences right now. When we do get control and move around I actually like our chances. But we've had fewer chances for those reasons."

It's a point that was particularly evident this past weekend as Penn State benefited from two Minnesota ejections that resulted in five minute power plays, but failed to scored on either. In fact Penn State hasn't scored on a five minute major the entire season. As the Nittany Lions fell in overtime on Saturday it was something that loomed large over the loss.

“If we get five-minute power plays in the future,”  Penn State captain David Goodwin said, “we’ve got to make sure we capitalize on them.”

The good news for the Nittany Lions is that the rest of the way is a favorable stretch for getting the power play back on track. Michigan State is 57th nationally in penalty kill percentage as the Spartans have struggled to stop teams on the advantage all season.

Then again so has Penn State. Saturday broke an 11-game streak of opponents scoring on the power play, and in fact the Nittany Lions have given up 14 goals since January 1st while down a man or more. Out of 42 attempts it's a .667 kill rate, which ranks dead last in the nation.

If anything helps the cause it's that Penn State has played 8-of-13 games since the start of 2017 against Minnesota and Ohio State, the Nittany Lions going 1-6-1 over that span. Against everyone else Penn State is 17-2-1 with much more successful figures, so the numbers are ever so slightly slated thanks to somewhat repetitive scheduling against two of the nation's best teams. 

All told, Penn State's fairly potent even strength offense might mask the Nittany Lions' issues when it comes to special teams play, but as the stakes continue to rise, its the little details that make the difference between going home and moving on.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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