The Pittsburgh Penguins have gained seven video games in a row and 14 of 18. Groups with such data and success don’t typically have obvious holes of their lineup or determine to be determined suitors on the NHL commerce market, but the Penguins may need a few delicate spots and a bodily participant sitting within the press field.
Typically, I comply with coach Mike Sullivan’s roster choices. When a participant isn’t getting the ice time we would anticipate or is getting extra, a deep dive and a few questions comply with. Most frequently, by the tip of my “investigation,” it is sensible.
A chief instance is Ty Smith. The Penguins acquired the defenseman from the New Jersey Devils as they traded John Marino to clear cap area for Jeff Petry. Smith got here with loads of promise and a bit of luggage.
We studied him intently within the preseason, possibly just a little an excessive amount of. By the tip of the half-dozen video games, I believed he would battle within the NHL common season as a result of he typically received misplaced in transition and would stay misplaced within the defensive zone. Maybe I received that one proper or waiver necessities prompted GM Ron Hextall to maintain P.O Joseph on the NHL roster.
Regardless, that call no less than made sense to most who adopted alongside.
Nevertheless, one participant’s position, or lack thereof, that continues to make me scratch my head is Mark Friedman’s. Sure, the defenseman is a wild card. He’s been suspended for spearing and has stirred the Flyers’ to the purpose of singular-focused hatred throughout a hockey sport. Nonetheless, he’s additionally proven skating and offensive elements on par with official NHL defensemen.
“(Friedman) is an excellent participant. He’s a extremely cell man. His skating is considered one of his greatest strengths,” mentioned Sullivan. “He defends actually arduous. He’s a very good penalty killer. He brings just a little edge to his sport … He’s an honest puck mover. So I believe his mobility and his defensive capabilities are the energy of his sport.
“And he’s been excellent for us. These aren’t straightforward choices … we’ve received a gaggle of most likely eight or 9 defensemen which might be inside our group that we all know are able to taking part in NHL video games which might be NHL caliber defenseman.”
But, Friedman appears terminally caught as a depth defenseman and bubble NHL participant.
PHN has chronicled the latest struggles of the Brian Dumoulin-Jan Rutta pairing in PHN+ report cards. On house ice, they’ve been higher, however not with out incident. They’ve been vulnerable to hurry rushes and been attacked by opponents’ forechecks, particularly on the street the place house groups can get favorable matchups.
The Buffalo Sabres seemingly zeroed in on the pair, and the Florida Panthers additionally received to them.
Given Petry’s absence from the Penguins lineup for no less than 18 extra days (as of Saturday) and eight video games, the Penguins may use extra mobility and offense on the blue line.
What about Mark Friedman?
After Kapanen returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup, he scored 4 targets within the first two video games and was a noticeable presence. Since then, there have been moments, together with 5 photographs in his third sport again in opposition to the Columbus Blue Jackets, however a scarcity of sustained play.
He has two assists in 4 video games, although a type of was a power-play helper.
His ice time- often a powerful indicator of what Sullivan thinks of a participant on that night- has fluctuated from almost 13 minutes to simply above 10. Energy play duties and alternative play a job, too, however as a part of PP2, that point is often fairly restricted.
After the burst of lightning, it seems Kapanen’s play has receded.
That’s unhealthy information for him and the workforce. If he doesn’t constantly choose up the scoring tempo or grow to be extra constantly harmful within the offensive zone, the lineup spot he gained again might not be there for lengthy. As Dave Molinari famous on Friday, Jason Zucker’s harm is one other alternative for Danton Heinen to earn a spot.
Knocking the Web Off
It’s grow to be a league-wide factor and a little bit of a debate, extra so in Canadian media. Just a few weeks in the past, former Pittsburgh Penguins goalies Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury every knocked the web off the moorings a number of occasions. Followers howled that it should have been intentional.
We’ve seen the present Penguins’ goalies tangle with the iron, too.
PHN requested Casey DeSmith concerning the latest phenomena. I anticipated a brief reply or shrug and dismissal. As a substitute, he took PHN to goalie college, together with demonstrations and a radical rationalization. No joke, DeSmith talked for nearly three minutes on the subject.
When he completed, I understood what the reverse VH was, how goalies have modified their ways of defending in opposition to pucks behind the aim line, and adjustments to the dasher boards which have affected all the things.
For context, the reverse VH means as an alternative of a goalie standing straight up, pads parallel to the publish, the goalie will drop the close to pad to the ice horizontally and lean on the publish. See the photograph beneath.
“My opinion is that it’s a development of the reverse VH — the place on the publish. I’ve knocked the web off twice in my final three video games, and it was the very same play. Puck goes huge and bounces out,” mentioned DeSmith. “That’s one other factor. The boards are actually full of life at many of the rinks. Level photographs on the boards come proper again out right into a scoring space. You’re on the high of the crease, after which everyone’s pushing again contained in the publish, and that reverse VH sort of like this (Desmith demonstrated the reverse VH).
“Everyone is massive, robust. You push as arduous as you may to get again to the publish … and since you’re low to the ice, making an attempt to come back up on the puck, that sends the web off. Clearly, it’s a security difficulty that you could’t make (nets) caught within the ice — they should come off from a player-safety perspective.
“From a goalie perspective, I believe it’s a mixture of the liveliness of the boards and the way prevalent the reverse VH is. The puck goes huge. You’ve received to get again to the publish as quick as attainable, and also you guys are banging into it. Actually not on objective.”
DeSmith famous goalies used to play on their toes and hug the publish. Within the new fashion, with dropping one leg horizontally, skates are getting caught beneath the web and knocking them off, too.
Thanks, Casey. I really feel like all of us simply earned a yellow belt in goaltending.