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Insider Only Brassard/Kessel line talk; Sundqvist 5vs5 production & More Buzz

The Penguins come into St. Louis tonight riding a four game win streak and what have we learned from this group during the streak?

The win over Washington featured a lot of puck luck and when you get it, you need to take advantage of it as the Penguins did in gutting out the 2-1 win.

What I’ve liked from the team in the wins that followed over Minnesota, Carolina and now Detroit out of the Christmas break is Pittsburgh overwhelming inferior teams.

The Carolina game was one team having Sidney Crosby, the other didn’t.

Against Detroit, Pittsburgh had a bad first period and then took over the game in the final forty minutes.

And when there was a push by Detroit, Pittsburgh answered.

Six out of the Penguins last eight wins have come against teams currently outside of the playoffs. Beat the teams you should and this team was always going to be fine to get them back in contention to push for a top-2 spot in the division.

That’s starting to play out and five of the Penguins next six games are also against teams currently not in playoff positioning.

—- ‘Great game talk’ from Brassard line a bit overboard? ‘

Phil Kessel and Derick Brassard each had 2 goals in the Penguins 5-2 win over the Red Wings Thursday night.

The 2-goal nights led to easy headlines from the local media to portray the line having a great game together.

Reality is they didn’t.

The Pearson-Brassard-Kessel line had an okay night and nothing more.

Let’s not make more of it than it is.

Both of Kessel’s goals were on the power play. Brassard has an empty net goal off a feed from Malkin and Brassard’s even strength goal banked off his skate and in, though, it was an excellent setup from Kessel.

The good — the line produced one goals for and were on for no goals against.

The bad — The line was just 41% in possession, struggling mightily when matched up against the Nielsen line, were 40% in scoring chances and 33% in high danger chances.

With Brassard on the hot seat in proving he can finally put it together, keep an eye on the skating and his individual 1-on-1 offense when evaluating this line over the next little while.

As mentioned here last week, both are areas scouts have viewed as major weaknesses in his game and against Detroit the 1-and-done plays in the offensive zone didnt suddenly go away.

What we continue to see from the coaching staff is trying to build up Brassard mentally and that followed suit after the Red Wing game.

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— All of the fuss when the Penguins acquired Ryan Reaves at the 2017 entry draft was the Penguins dealing a first round pick and moving 20+ spots back for the Blues second rounder.

In that draft, there was little difference from prospects 30-60.

Oskar Sundqvist included in the deal was always an afterthought as the Penguins soured on him internally and felt his upside was nothing more than a 4th line player and didn’t project well to fit the Penguins speed game.

Sundqvist might not be such an afterthought any more.

At age 24 he’s showing some signs of coming into his own.

Sundqvist has 6 goals and 9 points in 27 games. All 6 goals are 5-on-5 goals which places him third on St. Louis.

That’s more 5-on-5 goals than Evgeni Malkin (5), Derick Brassard (5) and 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

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