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Insider Only Ben Lovejoy the king of icing the puck; Injury prone Letang has Pens seeking minutes eater on backend

PRE-GAME BUZZ

The Penguins (20-16-7, 47 pts) meet the Carolina Hurricanes (20-18-8, 48 pts) today for the third time this season and second time this week.

Pittsburgh will be without Kris Letang, while Carl Hagelin makes his Penguin debut.

Hagelin will play with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Marc Andre Fleury gets the start in goal.

The Hurricanes 2-0 vs the Penguins this season are 4-0-1 in their last five games. Eddie Lack will get the start against Pittsburgh today. Lack is 5-1-2 in his last eight starts but comes into today’s game with an .894 save percentage on the season, one of the worst save percentages in the NHL among goaltenders with over 800 minutes of action. In his career vs the Penguins Lack is 1-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA, .930 save percentage and one shutout.

The Penguins have been involved in a lot of one goal games and it’s been the same story with the Hurricanes. Carolina which plays a conservative style of game under Bill Peters, have allowed 25 shots or less in four straight games. Five of six overall.

Over their last 15 games, Carolina has picked up 19 out of a possible 30 points to get back into the wildcard mix.

For the Penguins at home this is a game you have to come out of it with two points.

The Penguins 5-4 overtime loss Friday night to the Tampa Bay Lightning followed a continued theme.

Coming out flat and falling behind 1-0 just a 1:51 in. The 11th time in the Penguins last 15 games the opposition scored the first goal. That’s been a bad trend that continues under Sullivan, but some positive trends also continued in the game, with one negative (5v5 production) being a positive for one night.

The trend of the Penguins having the ability to provide a momentum changing power goal continued after two Lightning power play goals put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and in control of the game mid-way through the second period. The Penguins got back into the game on a power play goal from Patric Hornqvist to get within one goal and the Penguins overall play went up another notch from there.

The Penguins reliance on the power play has been monumental under Sullivan. They have zero wins when not scoring a power play goal.

A good stat from the telecast Friday night.

The power play goal from Hornqvist provided a key momentum shift but three 5 v 5 goals was the biggest positive out of the game. The Penguins are going nowhere this season until they become a more effective team 5 v 5 at putting the puck in the net.

Lovejoy consistently icing the puck came back to haunt Penguins vs Tampa Bay

Despite this narrative that he’s playing a shutdown role, Ben Lovejoy being in the top-4 is a problem for the Penguins. Marc Andre Fleury has a hid a lot and because Lovejoy hasn’t had the type of blooper reel blunders he had last season in the d-zone, his season looks a lot better than it is.

Less minutes for Ben Lovejoy, the better the Penguins will be moving forward.

The issue with Lovejoy is his constant ability in icing the puck. Coaches like him because he’s effective at retrieving pucks with his speed but Lovejoy’s lack of poise with the puck is a major problem. If all he’s going to do is turn and throw the puck off the boards or up the ice with no incentive of making a clean breakout pass, a good ability at retrieving pucks doesn’t do much. Lovejoy doesn’t have Rob Scuderi type limitations in moving the puck up in the transition. That’s where the frustrations are with his game.

Vs the Lightning the Penguins had six icing calls against them. Lovejoy had three of the six icing calls against him.

The last one came back to haunt them. With plenty of time and facing no pressure, Lovejoy iced the puck with 4:56 left Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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