The book on Mike Johnston’s offensive system last season from opposing coaches…..’Easy system to defend’……

The Penguins struggled last season in creating offense from prime scoring areas from the low slot to in around the net as teams were constantly able to keep them to the outside.

Game 1 of the 2015-2016 season was more of the same.

The Penguins put up 37 shots and 66 shot attempts in their 3-0 loss against Dallas but aside from a few flurries late, at even strength it was an offense that struggled to create through the middle of the ice, a primary issue last season.

Lot of the Penguins action vs the Stars was creating zone entries from the outside and hitting a trailing defenseman.

Johnston’s system is great for Kris Letang who was magnificent in the loss but the Penguins only have one Kris Letang and is it a great system for the two centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?

So far the answer is no.

A year and now one game into Johnston’s system, the system continues to be too fixated on the d-men activating on the rush and being primary shooting options when trailing the play.

A Ben Lovejoy should be the fourth or fifth shooting option, not the first or second. Rob Scuderi had the same amount of shot attempts as Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist vs the Stars.

That has the Penguins firing too many shots from the outside and that was the story last night. It wasn’t a difficult 37 save performance for Antti Niemi.

Until the Penguins start creating more offense through the middle of the ice, it’s going to be more of the same against quality teams.


— Some may feel Sidney Crosby’s zero shot attempts are a cause of concern that he’s forcing the puck to Phil Kessel. That’s something not worth evaluating until 10-15 games down the road.

The positive with Kessel was the shot volume. six shots on goal, 13 shot attempts. One of the few Penguins who put himself in position for high quality shot attempts.

— The Olli Maatta – Ben Lovejoy No.2 pairing. Maatta was on the ice for 8 shot attempts at even strength, 19 against. Lovejoy on the ice for 7 shot attempts, 18 against. That pairing isn’t going to last. Have to find a way to maximize Maatta’s ability on the ice. Having Lovejoy with him is just going to be problematic.

— Against a good skating Stars team, Sergei Plotnikov struggled mightily in keeping up with the play and his decision making was a step slow with the puck. Forced the Penguins staff to put David Perron on Malkin’s wing as the game progressed. When facing quick teams, Plotnikov and Hornqvist are going to struggle to keep up with Malkin’s pace and tempo as evident last night.

That’s where Pascal Dupuis as an option was missed last night.

In a game where the Penguins trailed and Malkin needed more speed on his wings, a missed opportunity from the staff To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!