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Insider Only Game 1 Fallout: We’re Witnessing a Phenomenal Coaching Job from Mike Sullivan

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Game 1 Fallout

During the Eastern Conference finals, in all seven games the deserving team won.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final it was the same story.

“We had some spurts here and there, but they played their game for longer stretches than we did tonight and that’s what happens,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “You don’t deserve to win when you don’t outplay the other team.”

“It looked like we were stuck in mud,” Sharks center Logan Couture said.

Game 1 the Penguins accomplished their goal.

It wasn’t a masterful performance by the Penguins but it was the type of performance you want in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on home-ice when afterwards you have the other team doing the talking of how the opposition dictated the terms for longer stretches.

“We didn’t play our game in the first period,” DeBoer said. “We stood around and watched. They’re a fast team. They dictated play in the first. I thought when we played our game in the second, they had trouble with us….I know we’re going to get better. Our execution has got to get better. Part of it was some of the pressure they put on, but part of it was self inflicted.”

The Penguins are now 9-3 all-time on home-ice in the Stanley Cup Final and have won four straight home games in the Cup final.


Witnessing a Phenomenal Coaching Job from Mike Sullivan

— The Penguins are still three wins away from the ultimate goal but we’re witnessing just a phenomenal coaching job from Mike Sullivan. There are always so many comparisons with this team to the 09 team because of the coaching change, where the Penguins stood in the playoff race, ect, but the one big difference is this team needed coached up much more than the 09 team.

That’s not to take anything away from what Dan Bylsma did, rebounding from the Game 5 debacle vs Detroit in the Cup Final was great work, but that team needed a new voice more than anything. In 09 you had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin just on another level. After Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, Evgeni Malkin already had 12 goals and 29 points racked up in 18 games. Sidney Crosby 12 goals and 28 points.

Malkin is now a shell of his former self, while Crosby is  playing the best two-way hockey of his career, he’s no longer the dominant points producer like he was in his early 20’s.

How fundamentally well coached the Penguins are right now under Mike Sullivan is stunning with this group. The adjustments and buy-in the group had in stifling the Lightning through the neutral zone in games 6 and 7 was remarkable work by this staff.

They study the opposition so well, the Penguins have an ability to set the tone in a series’ by dictating their style, then being able to adjust when the opposition makes their move. It happened in the Tampa series and will likely happen many times in this series.


Bonino, Bonino, Bonino

— Been saying for weeks, Nick Bonino is going to get paid whether it’s in Pittsburgh or elsewhere next summer. This playoff run is going to lock him into a long-term deal with an AAV of at least $4 million per season. Bonino’s been the perfect example of a player who plays Mike Sullivan’s way in nearly every aspect. Six blocked shots in Game 1, Bonino has become sneaky good in getting into shooting lanes in the middle of the ice in the defensive zone.

“I think he’s a terrific player in every aspect of the game,” said Sullivan about Bonino. “We use him in so many key situations, both offensively and defensively. I think he’s a guy that has a real high hockey IQ, sees the ice really well. He has real good hands. His awareness defensively I think, the use of his stick to take passing lanes away, it’s impressive. He’s brave. He blocks shots. He’s one of our better shot-blockers. He’s a good faceoff guy. He’s done so much for this team to help us get to this point. I don’t know what other praise I can shower on him right now. We think he’s a terrific player.”


Win for the Penguins

— How many millions has Bryan Rust lost? Agreeing to a two year, $1.28 million extension ($640,000 AAV) in March, the playoff run Rust is putting together would have likely netted him around $1.5 million per season on a short-term deal at least this summer. Win for the Penguins.


kings_dark_logo_svgzv=7NHL Clubs Monitoring Justin Schultz

— As NHL teams are beginning to lay out their off-season plans, Penguins’ defenseman Justin Schultz is a player gaining buzz among pro scouts as a free agent target 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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