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Insider Only Game 4 Report: Sykora’s struggles continue; update on Kris Letang & more

Winger Petr Sykora who is in the midst of a slump where he has 6 points in his last 29 games, saw his ice-time diminish in game 4 as he recorded 8:21 of ice time.
Special teams played a factor as the Flyers had eight power plays but Interim head coach Dan Bylsma was going away from Sykora in the third period, using Evgeni Malkin for the most part with other combinations.
Sykora struggled in all assets of his game tonight. He was a -1, managed only 1 shot on goal and struggled in the defensive zone from the Flyers aggressive fore-check.
Sykora was not strong on the boards on breakouts, failing to clear the puck out of the zone on a few occassions.
There was a strong vibe this morning

that Bylsma, who has been praising Sykora’s play in the media, would look at other line options tonight and he did.
What the Penguins should be worried about is Sykora doesn’t not appear to be even close to getting out his slump, that has gone on for almost three months now.
With the Penguins up 3-1, they have the advantage of looking the other way regarding Sykora’s struggles but this series could easily be 3-1 Flyers.
Sykora has always been a streaky player but he has never gone into a slump this long and it’s not just the lack of scoring, as he is having no impact on games in other areas outside of scoring.
Letang Injury Status
Word out of the Penguins locker room is Kris Letang suffered a lower leg injury. Right now they are saying nothing is serious. Will update later tonight.
Penguins improving in the face-off circle
Sidney Crosby’s game is evolving when it comes to the face-off circle. Crosby was 63% on draws in game 4 and has been very good on draws for the entire series.
The Penguins won 43 face-offs  on the night and Jordan Staal continues to improve on a game by game basis. Staal was 52% on draws Tuesday night. For the regular season, Staal was a nightmare on draws.
Optional Practice on Wednesday
The Penguins will hold an optional practice tomorrow. Only a handful of players are expected to skate.

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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