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THE POULIOT DYNAMIC

Derrick Pouliot being scratched for a second straight game tonight is causing a stir among some.

Here were Mike Sullivan’s comments on going with the same six defensemen tonight, via the Tribune-Review.

“I spoke to him [Derrick Pouliot] today about it. This is just part of the process,” Sullivan said. “I’ve said all along here we have seven healthy defensemen right now that we believe can help us win. He’s one of those guys. We’re going to try to use them as best we can on a game-by-game basis in order for that to happen. He’s a young player. He’s growing. He’s getting better. He’s made a lot of improvements in a lot of areas of his game. He’s got to continue to work, and we talked about some of the areas of his game where we think he can continue to get better. We’ll work with him in those areas, but I don’t want it to affect his confidence or his belief in himself. We’re really pleased with the progress that he’s made here.”

The move, though, is not surprising that Pouliot is the odd-man out for now.

1. With Ben Lovejoy out, Ian Cole has received the second most minutes among defensemen on the penalty kill during that span. He’s kind of entrenched himself back into the top-6 on the blueline temporarily because of the coaching staff’s confidence in him on the PK to go with his shot blocking ability.

2. There’s a need to get Justin Schultz in the lineup against some quality teams. You can’t only throw him out there against a poor offensive team like the Devils and learn much of anything. The other dynamic with Schultz is the Penguins don’t feel they can play Schultz and Pouliot together, meaning they would have to mess with their top two pairs, something the coaching staff doesn’t have the stomach to do at this point.

Pouliot has been a possession machine and through the small sampling so far this season, has shown key improvements from his rookie season and a disastrous training camp this past fall.

The question with Pouliot since his callup has been whether the coaching staff would have enough trust in him down the stretch and into the post-season, especially with Ben Lovejoy projected for a mid-to-late March return.

Once Lovejoy is back, the Penguins will have eight defensemen and if Schultz proves to be capable enough as a depth option and not the train-wreck he was in Edmonton (BIG IF), there’s no question Pouliot could find his way back to Wilkes Barre before the playoffs.

Coaches always seem to trust a Ben Lovejoy over a young inexperienced defenseman like Pouliot who is iffy in his own end and we’ll see if that plays out in a couple weeks. Won’t be a surprise if it does.

It will also be interesting in how Pouliot handles the scratches. There were some attitude problems for Pouliot when he was sent down earlier season that some feel led to him staying in Wilkes Barre longer than maybe he should have.

DOES SESTITO REALLY HAVE SUSTAINING POWER IN LINEUP?

Beau Bennett, Eric Fehr could return to the lineup Friday vs Columbus. That should end the Tom Sestito experiment right?

Not so fast.

Mike Sullivan pushed for the callup of Sestito and has made it known to management 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 wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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