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Penguins – Panthers Fallout

A 3-2 overtime loss to the lottery Florida Panthers is nothing to pound your chest about but with the Metropolitan Division so bottled up, Mike Sullivan went the positive route in the Penguins getting a point in Florida.

“It’s a big point and that’s what I told the guys afterward,” Mike Sullivan said of his group.

The daily swing in the Metro has Pittsburgh entering Friday in the final wildcard spot and just three points up on Carolina.

What the coaches will like from the performance vs Florida compared to the Carolina game was the Penguins battling much better in the tough areas. Still, allowing 42 Shots against this Panthers team and being at 45% in possession 5-on-5, were numbers you don’t want to see against an inferior opponent.

Among the head scratchers in this one was the use of Matt Cullen.

Playing Cullen in the role of a second-line center is asinine.

Cullen led all Penguin forwards in even strength ice time and it was really bad. Cullen was at 23% in possession and 21% in Scoring Chance Percentage as the Penguins were out-attempted 30-9 when Cullen was on the ice. The Panthers controlled possession at 80% when Vincent Trocheck was matched up against Cullen in over 10 minutes of ice time. Who on the Penguins staff thought this would be a good idea should have to sit in the press box next game. Putting Cullen in this spot just completely took away the Penguins second best offensive player in Phil Kessel.

Jared McCann does not create plays for his linemates good enough to be an ideal fit with Phil Kessel, and that’s an observation from multiple evaluators, but how Pittsburgh kept throwing Cullen out against Trocheck was quite something when you have young legs in McCann playing 4 minutes less than Cullen at even strength and Teddy Blueger playing 10 minutes less than Cullen is something that’s hard to wrap your head around.

Instead McCann was getting thrown out there against Riley Sheahan.

As poor as Evgeni Malkin’s play has been at 5-on-5 this season for stretches, at least from the standards you expect from Malkin, his lack of presence has left a considerable hole. Until Malkin comes back, playing Blugstad on the wing is stretching things because Pittsburgh basically ran out three-4th line centers last night behind Sidney Crosby.

Jared McCann was a nice pickup. He’s younger than Riley Sheahan, has a quicker first couple steps, and still at the age where you can maybe tap into some more upside. A nice shorthanded goal for him last night but it’s more likely after the season many are saying ‘Jared McCann is a really good 4th line center but he’s not a good enough third line center’.

And that’s a viewpoint from those around the league in that Pittsburgh is over-valuing McCann that he’s going to be able to give them enough Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

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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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