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Insider Only Penguins – Flyers What We Learned: Same old defensive woes?

Penguins – Flyers What We Learned:

— Pittsburgh opened the season Wednesday evening with a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a game that got away from them in the third period. Pittsburgh was outscored 4-1 in the final 22 minutes of play and just couldn’t get a big save from Tristan Jarry in the final frame to stop the seismic shift in momentum that went the Flyers way —

Just one game but……………

Goal Prevention? Pittsburgh’s struggles to clear the front of the net is no secret and you look at the personnel on the backend, it’s hard not to see it being a constant issue this season. Philadelphia’s two power play goals highlighted that area to a great extent as the Flyers were able to park themselves in front and remain in Tristan Jarry’s sightlines with ease. Same old Pens? What was more of the same, though, was just the lack of defensive awareness and puck watchers from skaters 1-5 when the Flyers were able to attack through the neutral zone with clean zone entries. You’d have defensemen leaving their lanes, hello Kris Letang, and the back checkers not going to their proper spots. That’s an area the Penguins must tighten up big time this season if they’re going to be a threat. When defending certain areas, like in transition, being a smart team defensively isn’t a talent issue.

Mike Matheson’s Brutal Debut
No one wants to bury Mike Matheson after one game but he wasn’t some rookie making his NHL debut. This was Matheson’s 300th career NHL game. Let’s throw out the bonehead penalty late in the first period where he attempted to stick up for one of the stars. What we saw defensively from Matheson in the season opener is what he is. You’re going to get multiple mental mistakes and a lack of any defensive awareness where he struggles against possession style teams below the dots stuck out against the Flyers. Outside of Pittsburgh, there are serious doubts Matheson can play a No. 2 pairing role. John Marino is good to cover a lot up, but he’s not that good. In this role, the Penguins are going to put Matheson in a lot of unfavorable situations, which happened last night. Matheson has to be sheltered defensively and the Penguins are going to learn the hard way quickly. The team better hope Matheson’s skating ability to exit the zone and drive transition play can somehow outweigh the defensive lapses he’s going to have on a likely game by game basis. Matheson has never topped 27 points in a season and has a career average of 0.30 PPG. The Penguins better tap into some more offense for this to have any chance of being a success. Analytic guru’s in the org helped sell management on Matheson in believing Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

How long will Cody Ceci’s leash be?
Cody Ceci played 15:59 in his Penguins debut. His underlying #’s were really good, on the ice for 18 shot attempts, just 11 against (62 CF%) and the Penguins were +4 in Scoring Chances when Ceci was on the ice. However, this was one of those games where the underlying numbers didn’t meet the eye test for a specific player. There just isn’t much there from Ceci and that’s a common theme from team insiders that watched Ceci closely in camp. Some in the organization believe for how the Penguins want to play this season in their defense being quicker in exiting the zone and more aggressive along the boards in the offensive zone, Chad Ruhwedel Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" Don’t look for it to be an option early on. The Ceci signing was more of a Jim Rutherford signing than others under him Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

— Penguin players remain obsessed that if they outshoot a team, they think they played a “great game”.

— The Penguins have yet to comment on why Evgeni Malkin decided not play in the season opener. Sounds like he wanted to take a Kyrie Irving night off.

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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