KEY OBSERVATIONS FROM PENGUINS – FLYERS
A bright spot for the Penguins vs the Flyers was the penalty kill. Pittsburgh went 2-for-2 on the kill and are now 9-for-9 over their last two games.
A personnel change vs the Islanders was Olli Maatta and Kris Letang emerging as the top penalty kill pair over Rob Scuderi – Paul Martin. That pairing stuck again tonight while shorthanded.
Maatta and Letang were the first players over the boards and each logged a team-high 3:18 shorthanded.
Penguins coaches have wanted to get quicker as a slow rotation from Scuderi, Martin was lacking in the first three games. The Martin – Scuderi pairing on the penalty kill has been phased out for now.
Scuderi saw just 42 seconds of playing time shorthanded and Martin just 27 seconds.
In a second period where the Penguins were badly outplayed 5 v 5, the penalty kill gave the Penguins some momentum (shortlived though) like it did Saturday night. Pittsburgh killed off a Pascal Dupuis holding penalty and forty seconds after the penalty ended, Dupuis was credited with a goal in front to tie the game at 2-2.
— Robert Bortuzzo is a given to return in one of the next two games. Who comes out? The speculation this morning was on Rob Scuderi, as the talk around the rink is with back to back games the Penguins would look at that as an opportunity in a sense but it’s fair to wonder if Simon Despres turnover leading to Matt Read’s goal makes him the scapegoat. Johnston, though, has said he would like Bortuzzo to practice Friday before playing, so maybe Scott Harrington see’s some action vs the Red Wings.
— The Penguins lacked depth scoring through the first four games, got it tonight with goals from Nick Spaling and Marcel Goc. My expectations of Spaling have been very low and he’s impressed some with a well rounded game. Is he worth $2.2 million? No, but he’s been better than expected so far. We’ll see if his 5 v 5 CF% holds up as he’s well above his career mark with a 56.0 CF% through five games.
— Mike Johnston on the Penguins struggles in the neutral zone. “I thought we tried to make some dangerous plays in the neutral zone,” Johnston said.
Craig Berube on the Flyers success tonight. “I liked the way we checked,” Berube said. “I think in the neutral zone we did a real good job. We held the puck and took away their speed for the most part, kept them on the outside.”