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Insider Only Key Developments continue from high-scoring road trip, Lineup Shuffling & Jack Johnson’s deployment vs CGY

Penguins 9 – Flames 1 (F)

PIT GOAL SCORERS: S Crosby (3), M Cullen (1), J Guentzel (5), P Hornqvist 2 (4), J Johnson (1), P Kessel 2 (6), B Rust (1)

GGY GOAL SCORERS J Neal (2)


GOALTENDING MATCHUP: PIT Matt Murray 38 Saves, .974 SV% | CGY Mike Smith 15 Saves, .714 SV%; David Rittich 12 Saves, .800 SV%


How’s that Canada road trip going for the Penguins?

Pittsburgh is 3-0 so far through the four game trip; are averaging six goals a game despite continued poor possession #’s; Sidney Crosby is starting to light the lamp and doing Sidney Crosby things; Patric Hornqvist after a slow start is finding the back of the net with 4 goals in his last two games; Pittsburgh’s top pairing is playing lights out and most importantly Matt Murray is back to being Matt Murray.

15 Players recorded points Thursday night en route to a 9-1 rout of the Calgary Flames.


Derick Brassard | 3 Assists
Sidney Crosby | Goal, 2 Assists
Matt Cullen | Goal
Jake Guentzel | Goal
Patric Hornqvist | 2 Goals
Phil Kessel | 2 Goals
Evgeni Malkin | 2 Assists
Bryan Rust | Goal, Assist
Riley Sheahan | Assist
Dominik Simon | 2 Assists
Brian Dumoulin | Assist
Jack Johnson | Goal
Kris Letang | 2 Assists
Olli Maatta | Assist
Jamie Oleksiak | Assist


LINEUP SHUFFLE

The plan going into the season as to stick with Daniel Sprong for 8-10 games at the max and see where things stand.

To little surprise, Sprong found himself in the press box vs the Flames as did Juuso Riikola.

It’s much easier to roll out four lines when you lead 4-0 just 22 minutes into a game, but for one night the Penguins were a four line team with all 12 forwards playing over 10 minutes at even strength.

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Grant appearing in his first game of the season, centered Dominik Simon and Bryan Rust. Grant was a +1, had 3 hits, 50% on draws, and drove possession at 55%. The Grant was Pittsburgh’s only line over 50%, clicking at 56% as a unit.

Grant’s inclusion into the lineup saw Derick Brassard move back to the wing with Sidney Crosby. Brassard had 3 assists and 4 shots on goal but Crosby was at 27% possession when on the ice with Brassard.


MORE BUZZ

Despite winning by eight goals, what shouldn’t get overlooked was Matt Murray’s performance. He is locked in right now.

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Sidney Crosby had another highlight reel goal, this time from his backhand, where Crosby is arguably the best player in the game on playing from his backhand.

“He’s one of the best players playing on his backhand,” said Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"


A primary reason for Riikola coming out of the lineup was to get Jack Johnson away from playing the right side and off his backhand.

Johnson scored a power play goal, his first of the season, but mostly telling was how the Penguins deployed Johnson.

Starting with the General Manager, Johnson was brought in here with the Penguins higher-ups strongly believing he could anchor 2nd pairing and even take tough minutes away from Kris Letang.

That was always asinine.

He needs to be used as a third pairing defenseman if this signing has any hope of working out okay.

Against Calgary Johnson saw the least amount of ice time 5-on-5 amongst d-men and there sure looked like an effort to shelter him with the high usage of neutral zone starts.

Johnson was at 37% possession vs the Flames in the 9-1 win.

Mike Sullivan afterwards came to the defense of Johnson last night but Sullivan’s actions of how he deployed Johnson vs Calgary speaks more than his words.

“Jack’s quietly played a sound game for us,” 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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