BOYCHUK PLACED ON WAIVERS (updated: 12:50 p.m.)
In need of opening up a roster spot, the Penguins have placed winger Zach Boychuk on waivers. After failing to make his mark as a second line winger, the Penguins soured on Boychuk and didn’t view him as being a fit anywhere else in the lineup. Boychuk appeared in seven games with the Penguins, collecting no points, minus-2 rating, and had just six shots on goal.
The Penguins were the only team to put a claim in for Boychuk when the Carolina Hurricanes placed him on waivers in late January, but word is the Penguins fully expect the Hurricanes to reclaim Boychuk. The Penguins tried to trade Boychuk in past couple days but found no takers.
A common phrase going around the locker room today was “we have to do a better job around our own net,” as Kris Letang said after the morning skate
The Penguins enter tonight’s game leading the NHL with 76 goals but have given up 16 goals in their last three games and are 20th in NHL in goals against at 2.91.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik whose play has dipped over the last handful of games, said it doesn’t matter how much fire power the Penguins have and the Penguins learned that the hard way last spring.
“Obviously not the way you want to win in this league,” Orpik said when asked about the Penguins leading the NHL in goals. “Found that out early in the playoffs last year.”
Will we see changes defensively from the Penguins?
“Obviously what were doing wasn’t working for last three games,” Orpik said. “Point to a lot of things. we watched along video session yesterday, it’s not one or two guys, it’s everybody collectively, and everyone has been guilty of mistakes in the defensive zone. I don’t think it’s anything systematically, more of just a mentality of taking care of your own end before taking the offensive zone.”
More Orpik on lack of help from everyone in the defensive zone:
“Think we’ve all been guilty of cheating on the puck offensively coming out of defensive zone. Been on top of puck, instead of supporting it underneath, collectively we’ve all been really bad in our defensive zone and I think we learned the hard way last year in playoffs it doesn’t matter how many goals you score if you can’t keep it out of your own net. We had long video session yesterday to try to identify some areas.”
Orpik again said today that the Penguins have approached this season differently in terms of playing defense from a system standpoint, saying there is a little bit more responsibility for the “centers down low” but the results haven’t been there yet. “We’re trying to do some things different,” Orpik said. “Didn’t have luxury of a normal training camp.”
TRAINING WHEELS STILL ON FOR DESPRES?
Simon Despres will be in the lineup for a second straight game tonight and he is coming off arguably his best game of the season in Montreal. “I think Simon played one of his better games if not his best in Montreal,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Some including myself will argue that Despres is one of the Penguins best four defensemen right now and has played his best this season when paired with Kris Letang. When this group is healthy, pairing Despres with Letang would let the Penguins move Matt Niskanen into a third pairing role where he belongs. That, however, doesn’t sound like something in Bylsma’s plans yet.
In hearing Bylsma talk about Despres today, he had good things to say but you can still tell he is timid about taking the training wheels off and seeing if Despres can run with a top-2 pairing role. Something about Despres’ game still seems to bother Bylsma from time to time. “Consistency in Simon’s game is real key,” Bylsma said.
*I’m interested to see how Dustin Jeffrey fits in tonight as the third line left winger with Brandon Sutter and Tyler Kennedy. Jeffrey doesn’t bring much grit but brings some intangibles and skill to that line.
*GM Ray Shero said a few weeks ago that he likes the “identity” the Penguins fourth line line of Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale and Craig Adams has given the Penguins. That might true but the combined minus-19 rating from the three is hard to overlook despite +/- rating being regarded by some GM’s as an overrated stat. In addition when your throw in their lack of ability to produce any offense.
*The Penguins are back to 13 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goaltenders on their active roster, which is how they started the season. This won’t be the same roster after April 3rd.