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Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Ducks physically impose will on Penguins; Clubs looking into health concerns for Brassard?

Monday’s 4-2 loss for the Penguins was another game that showed maybe this is just who this team is.

They can have a dominant 6-7 minute stretch like they did in the first period, but they the lack the proper territorial game over sixty minutes and Monday’s hockey game showed a hockey club that is extremely susceptible to getting physically man-handled for long stretches when it comes to puck battles in all three zones.

Pittsburgh surrendered a 2-0 lead with one of the worst periods of hockey they’ve had all season in a disastrous stretch.

Things, though, started to slip away from the Penguins immediately after the Rust goal where from the final five minutes of period one though a large portion of the second period Anaheim would go on to out-shoot the Penguins 19-0.

Where this game turned was the Ducks physically imposing their will on Pittsburgh.

The Penguins could not get it out of their end as a relentless Ducks forecheck combined with great pressure along the wall saw the Penguins have no answers in developing a puck possession game.

This has been a growing issue for the Penguins where the opposition is taking the middle of the ice away from the Penguins and outside of the defensive zone, with Pittsburgh’s speed/puck hunting game no longer at an elite level, it’s forcing the Penguins to try to win too many 1-on-1 pucks battles that is playing a factor in them not sustaining these quick dominant stretches they’ll have in a game.

Overlooked Aspect of Brassard Trade, Clubs looking into health concerns for 19

— Regardless of where things go the rest of the season, long-term the Penguins have lost the Derick Brassard trade.

Filip Gustavsson no longer in the system stings more than it appeared months ago with Matt Murray becoming such a question mark. Pittsburgh also surrendering a first round pick for Brassard that ended up being the 22nd overall pick gets overlooked.

Jim Rutherford doesn’t see the Penguins this way, but NHL executives look at the Penguins in a way that the best chance (after this season) to keep the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin window open for another 3-4 years is going to come down to a small infusion of high draft picks/high-end caliber type young players making an impact.

Unfortunately for the Penguins this scenario doesn’t exist in their system.

Pittsburgh hasn’t had a first round pick since 2014 and 2018 2nd rounder Calen Addison pick is the only player in the Penguins system that other clubs are enamored with, — looked at as a high-end talent that could join the roster in the next two years. —

As the Brassard trade just isn’t panning out to the point anyone expected and little chance Brassard will consider resigning (if he even lasts the season), in addition to the Penguins being a middle of the road team, losing the chance to draft in the early 20’s last June has become troublesome where you might have had a chance to put a first round talent in the lineup by 2020 when you’re going to need young high-end talent around this soon to be older core.

Still, executives don’t feel it’s too late for the Penguins to prioritize holding onto to their high picks this season and a prospect like Calen Addison that is coveted in a lot of trade talks.

However, Jim Rutherford and Penguins ownership are not wired that way. Everything will and is on the table to find a way to get back into the Stanley Cup discussion for this season.

— As the Penguins have begun taking feelers on Derick Brassard more seriously recently than at any point, a few clubs are looking into how healthy Brassard actually is as rumblings have emerged 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

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