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Insider Only Penguins – Canucks Fallout: On Johnson’s Defensive Instincts; Style change needed for pinching issues? Highlighting Crosby Line

Penguins – Canucks Fallout

The Pittsburgh Penguins earned a point Tuesday night as Carl Hagelin forced overtime in scoring with 3:14 left in regulation off a great feed from Phil Kessel. Brock Boeser would sink the Penguins 34 seconds into overtime.

There was some good for the Penguins in this one.

Over the final two periods they owned the territorial edge, possessing the puck at a 59% clip and the Sidney Crosby in particular was very good throughout the game.

However, a 60-minute evaluation of the Penguins performance still showed a lot of the same warts that have plagued them through six games.


— A Rough First-Period Highlighted continued poor positioning in the defensive zone as Pittsburgh were out-shot 11-5 in the period and out-scored 2-1.

The Penguins since July keep talking up Jack Johnson being able to play the right side and it’s just not working out.

Johnson has had continued struggles in staying in his proper lane as evident on the Brandon Sutter goal where Johnson as the right D completely leaves the front of the net uncovered and follows the puck carrier Schaller when Brian DuMoulin the left D has 1-on-1 coverage.

Just unacceptable play in his own end from Johnson.

Johnson was on the ice for 2 goals against during 5-on-5 play and was at 42% in possession.

What I’ve liked more from Johnson has been the offensive instincts when to pinch/join the play, ect. He’s been good in those areas. The issues are his defensive instincts which are very poor and that’s a problem long-term.


— Pinching issues Continue —

Why do the Penguins look like they’re playing so much pond hockey?

Because they are and it starts with the poor reads on pinching along the wall in the offensive zone.

Pittsburgh overwhelmed the opposition with this staple of Mike Sullivan’s system from January 2016 all the way through the Cup Final against San Jose in 16.

Over the last year and a half, though, teams have learned to combat the Penguins aggressive pinching style much more effectively and it’s a problem for the Penguins giving up so many odd-man rushes as it was late last season.

It’s also why the eye test has the Penguins looking slower.

Last spring it was evident a possible change of style was potentially needed in scaling back the pinching a bit and it will continue to be something to watch.


— Not enough jam in the Penguins game? There’s a reason Mike Sullivan wanted the Penguins to pursue Patrick Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"


Crosby line excels for second straight game

Jim Rutherford is said to be absolutely ecstatic the coaching staff has put Derick Brassard on Sidney Crosby’s left wing, something he sought to happen in the summer.

There’s been a lot of to like through two games together but with the third line lacking so much since Brassard was elevated to the top-line, Brassard is likely headed back to the third line by default.

If it happens vs Toronto, quite likely with that center matchup, the Penguins now at least know they can go to Brassard-Crosby-Guentzel in key spots.

The line is reading off each other extremely well in the offensive zone. Quite a few tic-tac-toe plays vs the Canucks.

These are three players with very high hockey IQ’s and it’s led to a smooth transition in all three providing proper puck support in on the cycle and along the wall.

Where the line was also extremely effective vs the Canucks was creating scoring chances off zone-entries.

Example 1:

Guentzel with center drive 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 wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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