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Insider Only Scouts Buzz: Penguins game plan for a pace dictating Predators defense

Stanley Cup Final: Can Penguins find a way to expose Preds dynamic blueline?

The Pittsburgh Penguins this postseason have faced some dynamic defensemen.

Zach Werenski, Seth Jones in Round 1, a deep Capitals blueline in Round 2 and of course Erik Karlsson in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Nashville Predators blueline as a whole is a different animal when it comes to the top-2 pairings.

And what the Penguins haven’t faced yet with the Predators top-2 pairings of Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm – PK Subban, is how they can push the pace in activating offensively and not missing a beat defensively.

No group is better.

Roman Josi is one of the best combo defensemen in the NHL in how he’s dominates play in all three zones.

Headlined by Josi, a big part of the Penguins game plan these next two days will be dealing with how the Predators d-men dictate the pace of Nashville’s offense.

Josi is not Erik Karlsson offensively but has great puck moving skills/skating ability and is a far superior defensive player in his own end.

Josi had 12 goals and 49 points during the regular season. He is second on the Predators with 52 shots in the playoffs. Josi’s partner Ryan Ellis is another handful to deal with.

Ellis put up 16 goals and 38 points during the regular season and is sneaky good in activating in the slot when the Predators are working the cycle. He also has a powerful shot from the pairing.

Then there’s the other No. 1 pairing of Mattias Ekholm and PK Subban, that has evolved into Nashville’s shutdown pairing and in some eyes the best shutdown pairing in hockey.

Ekholm is 6-4, 215, Subban the more physical presence at 6-0, 210.

The knock on Subban in Montreal is that he wasn’t a great player in his own end. He’s debunked that reputation this season in Nashville.

“Nasvhille’s best pairing all season,” a scout said of Ekholm-Subban getting overlooked of being the Predators true shutdown pairing this postseason. “They made Getzlaf, Toews and Taresenko all look small and it wasn’t by luck”

Ekholm is the type of play it smart defenseman that allows Subban to do his thing offensively but Subban in playing with a herniated disc is bit less dynamic offensively but has made marked improvement in his own end.

“PK has been unbelievable in denying zone entries and if you dump the puck on him Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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