Bottom-6 Center Situation was Exposed
Entering tonight’s game, Riley Sheahan has goals in back-to-back games, the first time he’s scored in consecutive games since December 20-22, 2015, a span of 158 games and he’s sprinkled in some assists of late to have 9 points in 22 games with Pittsburgh.
Still, how he struggles against high quality bottom-6 centers has the Penguins alarmed and don’t let the recent production believe the Penguins will look to stand pat at the center position.
A Penguins source indicates Saturday 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs was another “wake up call” in regards to the Penguins third line center situation, hence, it’s an area that must be addressed by the deadline.
In front of a Penguins brass that would love for the Leafs to entertain moving Tyler Bozak before the deadline (highly unlikely), Bozak was a man among boys in going head-to-head with both Riley Sheahan and Carter Rowney.
The Sheahan – Bozak head-to-head matchup saw Pittsburgh bleeding shot attempts and high danger chances against.
At even-strength, Bozak was on the ice for 14 attempts and just 3 against when on the ice with Sheahan and most concerning was the 7-1 edge in high danger chances for the Leafs during this matchup.
Pittsburgh overcame bad goaltending and an awful start to lose by just one goal but even with Auston Matthews clearly playing injured and at 0% (0/18) in shot attempt differential when on the ice against the Sidney Crosby, Toronto came out of that game with a 14-6 edge in high danger chances.
It was a game in head-to-head matchups that really magnified how lopsided the bottom-6 center edge was in Toronto’s favor.
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Jarry under the microscope tonight?
— A Matt Murray – Marc Andre Fleury showdown looms Thursday night in Vegas as Murray is expected return to the lineup as is Fleury who has been hobbled for nearly two months with a concussion.
Tristan Jarry starts tonight and this is an interesting start for him.
Since the great home-and-home series against the Sabres, Jarry has an .845 save percentage during 5 vs 5 play over his last three games and is obviously coming off a game he was pulled in the first period.
The Penguins’ internally are still not staying out of the veteran goaltender market as some believe the best thing for Jarry is more time in the minors. If he struggles tonight, some whispers are don’t be surprised if Jarry goes back down to Wilkes Barre for a stint once Murray returns.
That said he has clearly shown he’s already a capable backup NHL goaltender but how the Penguins believe is the best thing for his development is still a topic of discussion.
League Chatter: Staal was likely headed to trade block…..
— If businessman Chuck Greenberg, a close friend of Mario Lemieux/many in the Penguins organization, had been able to secure the money to buy the Carolina Hurricanes as Greenberg was working to acquire the Hurricanes over the summer, rumblings in the industry is that Pittsburgh strongly believed Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"