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Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Balancing Act, Dumoulin extension talks

Latest Pens Buzz

The Penguins had some note worthy news prior to the drop of the puck in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils.

Almost anytime following a bad loss, we’ve seen Mike Sullivan shake up his lines and go with more balance, hence, what we saw last night in the HBK line being reunited and Matt Cullen moving up to left wing on Sidney Crosby’s line.

“I really believe we’re at our best as a hockey team when we have the balance through the lineup,” Sullivan said. “We like the balance, so when we put Phil with Bones and Haggy, we have some real elite talent on three different lines that presents some challenges for our opponent.”

Pittsburgh went on to outshoot New Jersey 49-30, with a 33-24 edge in 5v5 shots and 53-43 edge in shot attempts at even strength.

While Devils coach John Hynes cited the Penguins having a lot of “B” shots, the line changes accomplished Sullivan’s goal of getting pucks from anywhere on net.

The HBK line was held goal less but Hagelin (4 shots), Bonino (4 shots) and Kessel (3 shots) combined for 11 even strength shots when on the ice together.

When Matt Cullen – Sidney Crosby – Conor Sheary were on the ice together, Pittsburgh drove possession on 65% of their shot attempts (22/12).

The Guentzel – Malkin – Rust line didn’t produce a lot of shots, combining for 3 even strength shots, but the line produced the Penguins first goal of the game, Jake Guentzel with a rebound in the crease from 8 ft out for his third goal of the season and fourth point in four games.

What didn’t change with the line changes was a 4th line bleeding shot attempts. Scott Wilson was on the ice for 4 shot attempts, 10 against, Eric Fehr and Tom Kuhnhackl both with a 31 CF% in the game.

kuhnhackl-goal-vs-devils

The Penguins, though, got a great individual goal from Kuhnhackl to take a 2-1 lead in the second period.

The Kuhnhackl goal came with Kuhnhackl on the ice with Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin.

Also in this one you saw what’s been a key difference between Marc Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.

Murray allowed two softs goal in the win but he continues to be superior in stopping Grade-A chances.

This was especially the case after the Devils went up 3-2.


Dumoulin sits & Latest Extension Talk

Penguin coaches decided on the flight back to Pittsburgh from Minnesota that the team would make Brian Dumoulin a healthy scratch for Saturday night, certainly a newsworthy move when your No. 1 pairing defenseman from last spring’s Cup run and the start of the season is a healthy scratch.

“As far as Brian was concerned, we felt his game has struggled a little bit of late,” Sullivan said. “Sometimes as a young player, it’s not a bad thing to watch a game from up top. I think it offers a really unique learning experience. Brian Dumoulin is a good player. He’s going to be a big part of this team, but we felt as though it was an opportunity for him to maybe take a step back.”

How Dumoulin was viewed in the organization this past summer is that he provided the Penguins Paul Martin type play on the backend for $4 million a year less during the Stanley Cup run and the Penguins have felt they’ve found Kris Letang’s long-term d-partner.

Dumoulin has taken an obvious step back this season but the Penguins view of him being a top-pairing defenseman or second pairing hasn’t changed.

Where things continue to get tricky, though, is what Dumoulin’s next contract should look like.

Dumoulin while a strong puck mover with excellent instincts, doesn’t produce points and is averaging 0.18 points per game in his career.

The difficult part has been finding some comparables to Dumoulin.

From a cap hit standpoint not term, one scout mentioned Arizona’s 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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