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Insider Only Penguins – Devils Fallout: Is Boychuk’s leash getting shorter? Engelland – Bortuzzo getting under top players’ skin

*Sidney Crosby said it perfectly on what went wrong Saturday afternoon vs the Devils “We’re pretty aware with what is being called and I think in this case, [Saturday], the way we played is a big reason why we were forced to take some penalties,” Crosby said. “We were caught behind, chasing, having to cover for mistakes, and when you do that you put yourself in a position to take penalties.”
The Penguins are looking for some answers on what is boarding these days but at some point they have to start making the needed adjustments. It’s been clear that the Vitale hit is going to be called boarding most of the time.
*Five games in, Zach Boychuk has no points and was credited with no shots on goal in 11:12 of ice time vs New Jersey, marking the 4th game in a Penguins uniform he’s had 1 or less shots in a game. I had the Malkin line (17-71-18) credited with 2 even strength scoring chances vs the Devils and 11 even strength scoring chances in the last four games, but in five games together, the line has no goals together. Boychuk continues to provide speed, energy, but he’s lacked any ability to finish plays in around the net. He failed to finish a prime goal scoring chance early in today’s game and I’ve been surprised by how patient a lot of people seem to be with him compared to Dustin Jeffrey for example who only had two games to audition on the Malkin line. Because Boychuk is pretty much on a “trial run”, he’s not going to have 12 to 15 games to start producing. His leash is going to be getting shorter and while there’s been discussions internally I’m told of Dustin Jeffrey getting a look on the third line in place of Tyler Kennedy and that might happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Jeffrey replacing Boychuk in the next couple games.

*What’s been very impressive with the pairing of Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo is how their getting under the skin of the oppositions top players. The Devils top guns like David Clarkson were aware of Bortuzzo from the start and Engelland delivered two hard hits on Clarkson in the first period, leading to Krys Barch coming off the bench and dropping the gloves with Engelland. This pairing is making it hard on the opposition and things are going to be very interesting when Matt Niskanen (ankle) returns who is just starting on-ice workouts but getting closer to returning. Niskanen has missed the last seven games.
*Simon Despres has a dangerous shot. It’s not a very hard shot but is tricky and always has movement on it. He continues to look more confident in his ability with the puck. On the defensive end, Despres was tied for a team-high 3 blocked shots.
*The goaltending matchup Sunday night is expected to Johan Hedberg and Tomas Vokoun.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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