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Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Crosby dazzles in McDavid Matchup; Alarming trends continue despite record & Pittsburgh’s Jack Johnson problem

Penguins 6 – Oilers 5 (OT)

Sidney Crosby’s night vs the Edmonton Oilers:

2 Goals, including a dazzling overtime goal, 5 shots on goal, 16 of 20 (80%) on faceoffs, and was the Penguins best possession player 5-on-5 at 62%.

As for the Sidney Crosby vs Connor McDavid matchup:

Crosby was at 66% in possession (19/10) head-to-head against McDavid, +6 (10/4, 71%) in Scoring Chance For Percentage.

It quite interesting how Crosby owned the Austin Matthews matchup and then turned in a similar performance vs McDavid, at least from a numbers standpoint.

Crosby gets up for every game no matter the opponent, but I think there was some extra motivation from his end.

Connor McDavid is the worlds greatest player right now, there’s no question about that, but Crosby is still holding stock in being the league’s most dominant 200 ft player.

He showed that again Tuesday night.


— Was Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal a top-10 goal all-time for him?

It was a beauty but as great as it was, hard to count a 3-on-3 goal as one of his greatest goals.


— Pittsburgh’s record now sits at 4-1-2 through seven games.

A big reason for that record is because Pittsburgh is one of the NHL’s most top heavy teams with two lines that can burn you at any moment. We’re seeing that about every night so far this season.

Sound familiar?

As currently constructed, things are setting up where the Penguins will have to live and die with their top-2 lines, top pairing and goaltender being able to carry them.

What hasn’t changed is inconsistent play from the bottom-6 and a blueline that can be greatly overmatched in a league that is getting faster and faster.


— Alarming trends for the Penguins despite the record? Pittsburgh was outshot again, 46-31, including 39-25 at even strength.

The Oilers were +7 in high danger chances

I’m not a believer the Penguins need to be a great possession team because they have a group of stars who just need one shot, but you’re not getting out of the East with the high danger chances they give up and the only improvement on the backend is going be through a trade.


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— The Penguins have a Jack Johnson problem.

There’s no sugar coating it.

This is a guy who’s a 12 year NHL veteran, he’s not all of a sudden going to start developing great defensive awareness/instincts which has been a career long problem for him.

John Tortorella was on to something last spring that no coaches have been willing to do with Johnson in seeing he’s a borderline No. 6 caliber of a defenseman.

Johnson was on the ice for all 5 goals against vs the Oilers and there were just some brutal shifts.

The Penguins were able get their media friends put positive PR out all summer on the Johnson signing in that doing a 5 year deal got the cap hit lower but as I stated in the past, Pittsburgh negotiated against themselves and this signing is just not going to end well in a league that is becoming so fast.

How much patience will the coaching staff have with Johnson? That will be telling even with the Justin Schultz injury. Sullivan has never been shy about scratching Olli Maatta who’s on a long-term deal.

The Jim Rutherford dynamic, though, looms.

IF Sullivan were to scratch Johnson so early into the season and insert Chad Ruhwedel, it would be an embarrassment look for the GM, which is why Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"


— The going continues to get tough for Daniel Sprong. He had that ‘meme’ moment in the corner against Alex Chiasson that led to an early second period goal and only had one shift after that.

The issue on the goal against wasn’t Sprong getting knocked down, he completely lost Chiasson on the play after getting up, another scenario that highlights why the coaching staff doesn’t trust Sprong to play him at even strength.

Too much East-West play from Sprong when entering the offensive zone and no trust from him away from the puck is just not a good situation for the team and Sprong’s development to be in.

There’s no where else to play Sprong.

Mike Sullivan is not in the game to develop players so the Sprong situation is playing out as a lose-lose for everybody and into the season I felt a trade eventually was the most likely scenario and right now this feels like a Derick Pouliot situation than transforming into a success story.

Sprong played just 3:37 into the game and for the second straight game, Pittsburgh went with 10 forwards down the stretch.

That can’t continue long-term through an 82 game schedule especially when one of the 10 forwards getting regular playing time is a 42 year old.

Pittsburgh’s 4th line could use more of an energy presence of a heavier possession type player.

Dominik Simon’s benching was a bit more surprising. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" He got a primary assist on Hornqvist’s first period goal and then nearly setup Derick Brassard for a tap-in goal late in the second period on what was his last shift of the game.

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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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