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Insider Only Latest: Pens Beating up on backup goaltenders, Plotnikov being shopped

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PENGUINS BEAT UP ON POOR GOALTENDING

A positive sign from the Penguins 5-0 win over the Hurricanes Sunday afternoon was the killer instinct they played with. They weathered an early storm from the Hurricanes a few minutes into the first period and from there the Penguins never took their foot off the pedal. The Hurricanes looked like a team that didn’t have their legs and the Penguins capitalized on it. Even when the Hurricanes had a 5-on-3 power play in the second period you just felt they were never a threat to score.

For the Penguins they scored four 5 v 5 goals against Eddie Lack who looked everything of a goaltender who has a save percentage of .891. That’s seven 5 v 5 goals for Pittsburgh in their last two games.

Under Mike Sullivan the Penguins have scored four goals or more in five of 16 games. In those high scoring games they’ve done a good job of feasting on backup netminders. Four of the five games came against the opponents No. 2 or No. 3 goaltender.

*A 5 goal night against Blue Jackets No. 3 netminder Joonas Korpisalo

*5 goals scored vs Islanders No. 2 goaltender Thomas Greiss

*4 Goals scored vs Lightning No. 2 goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy

*5 Goals scored vs Hurricanes No. 2 goaltender Eddie Lack.

While I’m sure many want to see the Penguins prove they can lite up elite goaltenders in the conference, for a team with skilled players like the Penguins have they should be a group that overwhelms inferior goaltenders and they have of late.

PLOTNIKOV BEING SHOPPED

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has quickly showed he’s not a fan of Sergei Plotnikov. While Plotnikov was pushed on former head coach Mike Johnston by Jim Rutherford to play a more prominent role than he should have been at the start of the season, mostly because of this odd infatuation of the Penguins thinking Malkin wanted to play with a russian, the luxury of Sullivan getting a three year contract has him in total control of lineup decisions.

Plotnikov’s lack of role with the club has also been cemented with the emergence of other forwards. When you can’t get in the lineup when two regulars (Bonino, Bennett) are already out, it’s a pretty bad sign.

The speed and north-south game Bryan Rust provides has pegged him to get an extended audition, while the Penguins coaching staff feels Tom Kuhnhackl who has similar size to Plotnikov, brings a more complete game to the table.

Kevin Porter who Sullivan has developed a lot of trust in has also jumped Plotnikov on the depth chart. Others who aren’t even regulars like Conor Sheary have moved ahead of Plotnikov.

With Beau Bennett set to return in the next couple weeks and Bonino next month, the Penguins have been aggressively 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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