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Insider Only Off-Day Report: Will lack of secondary scoring become a long-term problem?

POSITIVES & NEGATIVES THROUGH FIVE GAMES

The Penguins through five games are 3-2-0, 6 pts, and there’s been some positives and negatives with this group.
The bright spots have been the goal scoring of James Neal, the play of Marc Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun, and largely as a whole, the Penguins group of defensemen have played well enough, and the Penguins are getting excellent play from their new shutdown pair of Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, which has been a pleasant surprise.
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The concerns for the Penguins have been poor puck management, 25 giveaways in their last three games, poor defensive zone play from their forwards, inconsistencies from Kris Letang and a lack of secondary scoring.
I think the sloppy play at times and poor defensive zone play from the forwards is never going to go away with this hockey club. After a few bad games, they will make an emphasis on playing their own end well, like they did last night, but it never lasts with this forward group. The mindset from the coaching staff to the forwards is that the best defense is more offense. This is a group that is always thinking offense.
SECONDARY SCORING WOES
For those who have talked themselves into that having a more ideal third line center in Brandon Sutter is an upgrade over Jordan Staal, the one thing that has been overlooked with Jordan Staal no longer around is the Penguins don’t have that player after the “Big three” {Crosby, Neal & Malkin} who can take over a game when the Big 3 is not going well. That could become problematic come playoff time.
The Penguins have scored 14 goals this season, and 13 of the 14 goals have come from their top-6 forwards (Malkin 1, Neal 4, Crosby 3, Kunitz 1, Dupuis 1) or top-4 defensemen (Letang 1, Niskanen 1, Martin).
Tyler Kennedy, now a second line winger, has the other goal and he scored it while on the third line.
We are now 10% through the 48 game season and the lack of secondary scoring is not a huge concern just yet, due to the small sampling, but it could become a significant one as the season progresses.
The Penguins from last season lost Jordan Staal (25 goals), Steve Sullivan (17 goals), Richard Park (7 goals), and Arron Asham (5 goals).
They have no one on the roster to replace the goal scoring lost from Staal and Sullivan and it’s likely you can say that Pascal Dupuis (25 goals in 11-12) and Matt Cooke (19 goals in 11-12) overachieved by 4-to-6 goals last year. Expecting Dupuis to score at a 0.30 goals per game pace and Cooke at a 0.23 pace is a longshot.
LEAGUE RANKS THROUGH 5 GAMES
Evgeni Malkin (1 goal – 5 assists – 6 pts) 34th in the NHL in scoring
Sidney Crosby (3 goals – 2 assists – 5 pts) 43rd in the NHL in scoring
James Neal (4 goals – 0 assists – 4 pts) tied for 3rd in NHL in goals
Kris Letang (1 goal – 3 assists – 4 pts) 8th in the NHL in time on ice per game (26:48).

Brooks Orpik ( 0 goals – 0 assists – 0 pts) 2nd in the NHL in blocked shots (17)
Paul Martin (1 goal – 2 assists – 3 pts) 3rd in the NHL in even strength ice time per game (20:01)

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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