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Insider Only Penguins – Devils Fallout: Few options for opposition to slow down Crosby line

Penguins – Devils Fallout

“There’s a time for all four lines to start scoring, it’s March and April and then into the playoffs” — Nick Bonino

After being shutout Wednesday night, the Penguins put up six goals on the New Jersey Devils Friday night and while the team gave up a lot of chances against, Pittsburgh kept pushing and pushing all game in peppering the Devils with 43 shots.

Pittsburgh scored four 5 v 5 goals, getting goals from four different lines:

Kessel – Cullen – Hornqvist |Phil Kessel Goal, 6:37 of 1st period
Guentzel – Crosby – Sheary | Jake Guentzel Goal, 13:30 of 1st period
Kuhnhackl – Bonino – Rowney (makeshift line) | Nick Bonino Goal, 15:47 of 2nd period
Sestito – Rowney – Kuhnhackl | Carter Rowney Goal, 5:17 of 3rd period

The New Jersey Devils are a bottom-feeder team that might be hard to get up for and most impressive from the Penguins last night was the final minute in a half of the game in the determination the team showed to secure the win.

You had Phil Kessel showing some strong drive in clearing the zone with the Devils net empty and then moments later Conor Sheary going out all to pressure the Devils up the boards that led to Sidney Crosby’s game sealing empty net goal.

Phil Kessel has been so good of late in the playmaking department that it’s gotten overlooked he entered last night’s game without a goal in 12 games.

— It was just the New Jersey Devils, but the Guentzel – Crosby – Sheary line again continues to be too quick and too skilled for the opposition.

How smart all three players are with and away from the puck is why this line has such strong sustaining power. Sheary has become excellent at getting the puck to Crosby with speed and on the attack like Chris Kunitz could do so well in the past and aside from the skill set, Guentzel is becoming such a natural fit because of the hockey IQ away from the puck. He continues to show great instincts in being in the right spots.

The key to slowing this line together is going to be a team that can shut them down through the neutral zone.

— Here’s how far the Devils have to go moving forward:

Use the Penguins lineup last night but also take out Sidney Crosby to go with the number of injuries they have, and it’s still not clear cut that the Devils would have a better roster than the Penguins.

— In recent weeks, Derrick Pouliot had begun building up some momentum in his game down in Wilkes Barre that last night’s poor performance shows why the Penguins have wanted to avoid bringing him up to stall any progress he’s been making.

He was really bad in the win.

The concerning areas continue to be the lack of awareness with his reads and his first couple steps when shifting from forwards to backwards to defend an attacking forward has not improved much over the last couple years. Pouliot is a good skater when carrying the puck but the Achilles heel is his backwards skating where players are able to get a step or two wide on him.

The first goal against he made a bad read in the neutral zone and on the Bennett goal, Murray gave up a juicy rebound, but Pouliot had no clue 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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