PENGUINS – BLUE JACKETS FALLOUT
Prior to the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets projected to be a matchup problem for the Penguins due to their size and the tenacity they play with down low in the offensive zone.
That all played out in the first meeting of the season Friday night, a Blue Jackets 2-1 win.
5 v 5 this was a playoff style type game where the Penguins were out-played, out-worked and even bullied at times.
The inconsistent play at 5 v 5 as a group is going to continue to be a problem for the Penguins moving forward with this personnel. As stated before, these long stretches in periods where the opposition has the ice titled in their favor continues to happen at least once or twice every game.
Pittsburgh had 23 shot attempts through two periods vs the Blue Jackets, while Wednesday night the Penguins had 26 shot attempts through two periods vs the Canadiens.
The Sidney Crosby line was a mess for much of the night vs Columbus.
Crosby who has no even strength goals this season, had zero 5 v 5 shots in the game. Beau Bennett had just one 5 v 5 shot in the first period, Pascal Dupuis had zero shots in the game.
Crosby after forty minutes of play was on the ice for 6 shot attempts and 17 against at even strength. That was with John Tortorella not being shy about putting the Blue Jackets third and fourth lines up against the Crosby unit.
The struggles of the line prompted Bennett to be demoted to the 4th line in the third period as Eric Fehr took some shifts in the final period with Crosby and Dupuis.
Bennett was the fall guy for the Crosby line struggles through two periods but despite Pascal Dupuis scoring Wednesday night, he’s been largely ineffective at even strength. With Patric Hornqvist’s game trending up, only a matter of time before he’s back on Crosby wing.
Dupuis – Crosby – Hornqvist shouldn’t be the next line option, it should be Bennett with Crosby and Hornqvist, go with a third line of Kunitz – Bonino – Dupuis.
POWER PLAY WOES
Marc Andre Fleury once again gave the Penguins a chance to steal one but an 0-6 night on the power play failed the Penguins.
The Penguins power play was as deflating as it was in providing momentum. In over 10 minutes of power play time, Penguins had 5 power play shots. The Blue Jackets on the penalty kill nearly outshot the Penguins with 4 shots.
At the forefront of the Penguins issues again were zone entries. Kris Letang continues to show he’s not an adequate power play point man and taking him off the top unit would be a great opportunity to start limiting his workload, but what’s obvious doesn’t always play out.
The Penguins are also still struggling to use Phil Kessel the right way on the man-advantage. Kessel is being used like he’s Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"