“He’s a guy with so much energy,” Mike Johnston said today about Pascal Dupuis.
In training camp the Penguins plan was to play Dupuis on the third line with Nick Bonino, manage his minutes a bit, and that’s where he’s likely to start tonight vs the Dallas Stars, though, he did practice with Matt Cullen yesterday. “I’m going to manage his minutes, even if he’s having a great game. I’m still going to try to and manage his minutes,” Johnston said.
How much Dupuis has left in the tank offensively remains to be seen but it’s only going to be a matter of time before Dupuis forces his way onto one of the top-2 line left wing spots, pretty much by default with the way David Perron and Chris Kunitz have been playing for a while now dating back to last season and it becoming clear that Sergei Plotnikov is not top-6 winger material and should never have had those expectations placed on him.
“Excitement,” said Dupuis of returning tonight. “Went through training camp, [injury] obviously healed quicker than I thought it would. Good to finally get back out there for a real game.”
The Penguins 3-3 to start the year have beaten teams they should (Ottawa, Toronto, Florida), lost to a Cup contender in the Canadiens, a playoff contender in the Stars and were badly outplayed against a young Coyotes team.
The record represents their play through six games — Up and Down —
These next three contests have the Penguins facing two legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in the Predators and Capitals, and it won’t be a surprise if the Stars off to a 5-1 start evolve into a Cup contender as the season progresses.
A couple areas to watch for the Penguins tonight and next couple games.
High Quality Scoring Chances 5 v 5 – The Penguins had 37 shots vs the Stars in the season opener but they had few prime scoring chances 5 v 5, which has been the case for much of Mike Johnston’s tenure. This is the one area they have to become much improved this season if they’re going to be a serious contender months from now. Majority of the Penguins goals 5 v 5 this season have been perfect shots — Kessel down the right side vs Arizona, Malkin on two occasions down the right side against Ottawa, Toronto respectively, Bennett vs Montreal in beating Price, Sprong with a perfect shot past Anderson in the high slot.
Lindy Ruff’s group was very well prepared on defending the Penguins system on Oct. 8 as once the puck got kicked out to the outside, Dallas collapsed to the middle and were willing all game for a Crosby, Malkin to drop the puck to a Scuderi, Cole or Lovejoy trailing the play for a low percentage shot. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"