On the Penguins
-* After being a healthy scratch for three games, winger Ruslan Fedotenko got his opportunity to get back into the lineup Thursday night.
Fedotenko had 19:25 of ice time with 1 shot on goal and was a minus-2 in the game.
Playing on a line with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke, Fedotenko did some good things early on.
He was aggressive on the fore-check and Fedotenko’s line drew a 1st period penalty at the 17:51 mark with a strong cycle to set up Kris Letang’s 1st period goal.
However, as the game went on, the adrenaline rush went away and Fedotenko just didn’t do enough for a player trying to regain a spot in the lineup.
Defensively Fedotenko remains a major problem. He was a minus-17 during the regular season and is a minus-3 through two games in the playoffs.
-*Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke have to be better when it comes to their play in the defensive zone. Staal was very strong in the offensive zone Thursday night protecting the puck and was tied for a team high 8 shots on goal. His offensive play is starting to pick up.
Defensively though he’s getting out of position in the neutral zone and while stats are sometimes deceiving, it’s inexcusable for two members of Pittsburgh third line to be a combined minus-10 in the series.
Add in Tyler Kennedy (minus-3) and Ruslan Fedotenko (minus-2) from Thursday night, and the Penguins third line is a combined minus-15 through 5 games.
-* Head coach Dan Bylsma has relied heavily on Jay McKee during penalty kill situations. If Jordan Leopold returns for the playoffs, (out for rest of this series) McKee’s ability on the PK still likely won’t be enough to keep a spot in the top-6.
Team sources tell me the coaching staff regards Leopold as a much better player defensively 5-on-5.
McKee is vulnerable down low in 1-on-1 situations as evident on Jarkko’s Ruutu’s goal when Nick Foligno won a battle against McKee with a shifty move out of the corner.
Still, McKee has added a veteran savvy presence that the Penguins lack when he’s not in the lineup.
-* Pittsburgh only had 6 shots on goal in seven power play opportunities. Defenseman Sergei Gonchar was very tentative with the puck.
Ottawa is giving Pittsburgh’s pointmen the opportunity to beat them as the Senators are closing in on the right side where Malkin and Crosby are placed in the Penguins power play scheme.
Pittsburgh has to take advantage of that and get shots on net from the point with traffic.
-* Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby were a combined 36-23 on face-offs in game 5. Crosby is 70-47 in the series (59.8%).
Pittsburgh’s ability on face-offs has led to them being able to dictate the play offensively.
*-Trailing 2-0, a game changer in the 1st period was a Marc Andre Fleury sliding right leg save on Daniel Alfredsson with 7:08 remaining in the period.
On the Senators
*- A bright spot for the Senators going into game 6 is the improved play of Jason Spezza. He’s starting to slowly impact games and for the Senators to force a game 7, he has to be great.
*- What the Senators get out of Daniel Alfredsson the rest of the series remains to be seen. Pittsburgh is taking every opportunity to hit his right shoulder.
He has been very limited and even tentative at times in the series.
*- The Senators as a defensive unit are vulnerable to an aggressive fore-check. They are not very good with the puck. As flashy as Erik Karlsson is —-defensively he’s been prone to a number of costly mistakes in the defensive zone over the past two games.
Pittsburgh appears to have hit on the Senators No. 1 weakness and that is their breakout.
-*Senators head coach Cory Clouston shortened his bench in their game 5 win. He ran 10 forwards for the most part as Shean Donovan and Zach Smith each had under 5 minutes of ice time.
Dan Bylsma went with 11 forwards in overtime, with Michael Rupp getting a few rare shifts.