Penguins player reports vs Jets: Poor d-zone play from Neal, other forwards a growing concern

Premium Post-Game Player Reports

Game 4 – Friday, January 25, 2013

Penguins @ Jets

Centers

Sidney Crosby| 2 Goals, even rating, 3 SOG, 2 BS, 4 Hits, 1 GV, 24:07 TOI, 8 FW – 6 FL, 57.1%

Crosby scored two first period goals and led the Penguins offensive attack but his two-goal night wasn’t enough for the Penguins. Crosby opened the scoring at 4:26 of the first period, taking a pass from Kunitz in the slot and with Olli Jokinen on him, snuck a snap shot inside Pavelec’s right post for the goal. On Crosby’s second goal of the night at 14:48 of the first period, he came through the neutral zone with speed after taking a pass off the boards from Matt Niskanen and given time and space as Byfuglien and Stuart backed in, Crosby cut to the middle and beat Pavelec with a backhand goal. Crosby had a great stat line of 2 goals, 4 hits and 2 blocked shots. | Grade: A- |

Evgeni Malkin | 0 Points,  -2 rating, 8 SOG, 2 PIM, 1 GV, 18:07 TOI 8 FW – 9 FL, 47.1%

Malkin created a number of scoring chances in the first two periods and had a team-high eight shots on goal but was unable to finish. Malkin was very strong in offensive zone faceoffs, winning 6 of 9 draws, 67%, and winning 3 of 4 offensive zone draws against Nik Antropov. The negative for Malkin in the second straight game is that he’s developing some bad habits with his puck management game. Malkin is a minus-5 in his last two games.  | Grade: C |

Brandon Sutter | 0 points, even rating, 1 SOG, 15:22 TOI, 3 FW – 10 FL, 23.1%.

Sutter’s play has really dropped off the last two games and the Penguins third line of Glass, Sutter and Cooke never got it going. Sutter failed to put home a Matt Cooke rebound off the rush at 6:15 of the first period as he was unable to handle the puck and Sutter was just 23% in the face off circle. In the offensive and defensive zone draws, Sutter was a combined 1 for 9. Let’s not proclaim him as an upgrade over Jordan Staal just yet. | Grade: D-

Joe Vitale | 0 Points even rating, 4 SOG, 1 Hit, 1 TK, 9:53 TOI, 2 FW – 2 FL, 50%

Joe Vitale got to his game and has played well since entering the lineup against the Rangers. Was third on the team with 4 shots on goal | Grade: C+|

Wingers

James Neal | 0 Points, -2 rating, 3 SOG, 1 Hit, 17:43

Pointless for the second straight game and had just three shots on goal. Neal’s d-zone play was again poor. On Andrew Ladd’s game winning goal, Neal turned the puck over on a puck wrapped around the boards by Ben Lovejoy as he made a bad outlet pass to Malkin in the middle of the ice and then seconds later made a lazy poke check and didn’t take the body on Bryan Little who got the net and made a great feed to Ladd for the goal. The Penguins forwards have to improve their play in the defensive zone and Neal is one of them. Grade: D  |

Eric Tangradi | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 1 BS, 9:00 TOI

Tangradi saw nearly five more minutes of ice time than Wednesday night, and he’s in the role he belongs. However, with Tangradi on the 4th line and Glass on the third line, the Penguins lose the speed they get with Glass and Vitale together and no hits in nine minutes just isn’t good enough from Tangradi. | Grade: D |

Chris Kunitz | 1 Assist, +1 rating, 2 SOG, 1 BS, 3 Hits, 18:42 TOI

Kunitz really got to his game in the offensive zone. Made a great wall play on Crosby’s first goal of the game as he out muscled Byfuglien on the wall and getting the puck to Crosby in space who buried it.| Grade: B |

Pascal Dupuis | 0 Points, +2 rating, 2 BS, 1 Hit, 18:48 TOI

Dupuis was pointless in the game but played a big factor in both Sidney Crosby goals. Early on the shift leading to Crosby’s first goal of the game, Dupuis delivered a crushing hit on Clitsome and then made an excellent center drive drawing Byfuglien and Stuart to him on Crosby’s second goal of the game. The Crosby line had their best game of the season.| Grade: B |

Matt Cooke | 0 Points, -1 rating, 1 SOG, 1 BS, 3 Hits , 1 GV, 12:43 TOI

Cooke had a second straight poor game. Had a bad turnover near the end of the first period that almost cost the Penguins and then turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Byfuglien on Evander Kane’s goal and after turning the puck over, Cooke didn’t identify Kane on the backcheck as Kane drove to the net. | Grade D |

Tyler Kennedy | 0 Points, -2 rating, 5 SOG, 1 BS, 1 Hit, 15:37 TOI

Kennedy helped upgrade the Malkin line over Eric Tangradi as Kennedy, Malkin and Neal combined for 16 shots. | Grade: C+ |

Tanner Glass | 0 Points, even rating, 2 SOG, 2 hits, 10:30 TOI

The Penguins feel Glass brings some attributes to the 3rd line with his physicality, speed and defensive responsibility, but he doesn’t create enough offense to be a good fit there and we saw that tonight.| Grade: C |

Craig Adams | 0 Points, even rating, 1 BS, 3 hits 1 TK, 10:23 TOI

Had 3 hits in the game and the 4th line had a few good shifts in the offensive zone. Grade: C- |

Defensemen

Kris Letang | 1 Assist, -1 rating, 1 BS, 2 hits, 2 GV, 26:01 TOI

You want to see Letang be a more dominant force on a consistent basis and he wasn’t tonight. Letang had no shots on goal and in the third period, had three shot attempts blocked. Defensively, had a team-high 2 giveaways and didn’t have great positioning with his gap on Kane’s goal. Letang was on the ice for three goals in the game.| Grade: D+ |

Ben Lovejoy | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 2 hits, 13:44 TOI

Lovejoy saw his first action of the night and for the most part he played well. Lovejoy was active and really picked his spots well on pinching in the offensive zone. His one gaffe was his positioning of his stick on Ladd’s goal as Lovejoy was defending the 2-on-1 play down low as Little got around Engelland, Neal, and Lovejoy had his stick pointed inside the crease and towards Vokoun instead of in the passing lane where the puck went to Ladd. | Grade: C |

Matt Niskanen | 1 Assist, -1 rating, 1 SOG, 1 GV 22:50 TOI

Niskanen had improved play defensively over his performance against Toronto Wednesday night, which was a nightmare. He was a bit more aggressive in using his body and squaring up on forwards and his play was strong in the transition game. Niskanen created a Blake Wheeler turnover just inside the Penguins blueline and quickly got the puck up to Crosby on Sid’s second goal of the game. | Grade: B- |

Paul Martin | 0 Points, even rating, 1 GV, 22:21 TOI

It wasn’t Martin’s best game of the season but it was his fourth straight solid performance. Martin was on the ice for no goals against.  | Grade: B- |

Brooks Orpik | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 3 hits, 20:21 TOI

Like Martin, it was another sound defensive game for Orpik. Grade: B- |

Deryk Engelland| 0 Points, Even rating, 1 SOG, 2 PIM, 2 hits, 1 GV, 13:41

I have not felt Engelland’s play has been strong to open the season. On Ladd’s goal, Engelland got caught above the right circles and out of position as Little had a couple steps on him and beat him to the net, setting up Ladd for the goal.  | Grade: C- |

Goaltenders

Tomas Vokoun | 1-1-0, 28 Saves on 31 Shots, .903 save percentage |

Vokoun gave the Penguins a very strong performance. He was left out to dry on all three goals due to defensive breakdowns and on Byfuglien’s power play blast from the point, Antropov had a great screen in front. Vokoun had good rebound control and again looked very calm between the pipes. Late in the second period made a great save to keep the Penguins in the game. He was also strong in stopping the puck on hard wrap arounds.| Grade: B- |

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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