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Insider Only Center Mismatch on Friday night, Mark Streit’s sparkling debut, & Justin Schultz future in PIT

The Center Mismatch

Penguins – Lightning last night was a classic case of a major mismatch down the middle.

Pittsburgh sported Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while the Lightning came at the Penguins minus no Steven Stamkos (injured), Brian Boyle (traded) and Valtteri Filppula who was traded to Philadelphia, with Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point as their top-2 centers.

With Victor Hedman getting the Crosby matchup as he often does, personnel wise the door was open for Evgeni Malkin to have favorable matchups and he made the Lightning pay all night.

Malkin was dominant in all facets with 2 goals, 1 assist, and a puck possession machine, on the ice for 16 shot attempts and just 4 against in 5-on-5 play.

Lightning goaltender Petr Budaj called the Penguins scoring surge a “couple lucky bounces”.

“A couple lucky bounces [for Pittsburgh], but when you have possession and you have some odd-man rushes, you have to have bounces,” Budaj said.”

I’d call it the Penguins taking advantage of horrid defense. In a 2-2 game, Pittsburgh gets Malkin and Crosby out together and the Lightning fail to stay in their lanes leading to a Mark Streit goal.

“They’re such great players [Malkin, Crosby] that when they don’t force it and take what the game gives them, they see the plays that are there,” Mike Sullivan said.

— Prior to Mark Streit appearing in his first game with the Penguins last night, there has been a lot of praise from scouts surrounding the addition as a sneaky good move that could pay dividends for the Penguins.

The common thing I heard from multiple scouts on Wednesday is the Penguins system being tailored to Streit’s strengths in how it should be a natural fit very quickly. Dave Hakstol is not regarded as Mike Johnston 2.0 for nothing, a system that hinders offensive talent.

Streit looked like a player Friday night who had already played 80 games in Mike Sullivan’s system.

It was quite the debut with a goal, assist, 62 CF%, and an impressive Scoring Chances For% of 75.

I thought the coaches going right to a Hainsey – Streit pairing was a smart decision. On paper it looks like a really strong pairing in how both bring different things to the table and at least for one game it played out that way.

Justin Schultz with a goal, assist is now up to 41 points. He is going to have a nice arbitration case if it gets to that this summer.

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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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