Q: This year's version of the power play seems eerily similar to the days when Sergei Zubov and Co. were in charge. It seems that there is too much talent on the ice at one time and they are all looking to make the perfect play. Someone should show Michel Therrien video of days gone by and urge him to give Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin their own power-play units. I think it would be harder for other teams to deal with two very good units than how easy its been to shut down one super unit.
Jim Schloder, Jacksonville, Fla.
MOLINARI: The power play actually has been productive during the past two games -- it went 3-for-6 during a 4-3 loss to Washington last Thursday, and 2-for-4 in a 4-1 victory against Toronto two nights later and the idea of putting the puck on goal more often seems to have registered with the players involved.
It's also reasonable to believe that the members of the No. 1 power-play unit are starting to get comfortable in their roles and with one another. Remember, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney aren't playing (although the latter often worked on the second unit) and the top group often has included newcomers like Miroslav Satan and Alex Goligoski, while Evgeni Malkin has been used on the point, instead of up front as he was most of the time in during the past two seasons.
No matter how much skill a power play has, its members need time to learn how to move the puck (and themselves) in sync with the rest of the group. Do that, and it opens shooting and passing lanes, which translates to more high-quality scoring chances. The Penguins' power play isn't as menacing or efficient as it could be with Gonchar and Whitney in the personnel mix, but it does have enough talent to produce goals on a fairly consistent basis.
Q: Why can't Max Talbot play on Crosby's line? He has heart and dedication, and he is a hard worker.
T.J., Budd Lake N.J.
MOLINARI: Talbot probably could fill in effectively there, at least on a short-term basis, although he hasn't consistently shown the finishing skills to be an ideal linemate for Crosby. (Not, obviously, that Crosby's current left winger, Pascal Dupuis, is an elite goal-scorer. Or anything more than, charitably, an average one.) One big problem with promoting Talbot to the top line is the void it would create in the middle of the third unit. He is an excellent third-line center and, if Jordan Staal is going to remain on the second line (whether it's as a center or winger), Talbot clearly is the best choice to handle the third-line duties.
Q: After officials determined that Capitals forward Boyd Gordon's shot was actually a goal (last Thursday), they reset the clock. What would have happened if someone else had scored a goal during those two-plus minutes they played before the video review?
Jerry, Culpepper, Va.
MOLINARI: Gordon's goal would have counted. The one scored after that, but before the video review done during the next stoppage in play, would not have.