Another overtime and another point that has gotten away. The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped a 3-2 decision to the Vancouver Canucks.
The new look Pittsburgh defense looks like crap. Justin Schultz is going to miss four months. We got a glimpse of what that looks like last night. You have one right handed defenseman in the lineup and a couple of left handed defenseman trying to play their off side when it isn’t their thing.
My favorite matchup of the night was former terrible Penguin Brandon Sutter going up against against the guy likely to take over that label, Jack Johnson. Jack Johnson’s most common opponent last night was Brandon Sutter and he lost the possession battle. Not only that but Brandon Sutter actually scored a goal!
From his poor zone entry defense all the way to fruitlessly chasing somebody else’s mark it was quite a sequence for Mr. Johnson. He probably just needs to learn the system. There’s so many hockey systems that it can be very difficult to keep track of them all.
Is that Derrick Pouliot in the upper right hand corner? He led Vancouver in possession.
It’s tough to watch what is happening with Kasperi Kapanen and not have Daniel Sprong in the back of my mind. Kapanen is on quite the hot streak right now. The biggest factor is he is on the same line as the hottest player in hockey, Auston Matthews. When Kapanen’s quality of teammate went up so did his production. He is a skilled player and when combined with other skilled players he can play to his strengths. Daniel Sprong playing with Matt Cullen is not going to cut it. He isn’t going to get time and space to do what he does best. Patric Hornqvist has one point in five games and was bumped from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He isn’t capable of making controlled plays on a regular basis. He is the road block to Daniel Sprong. Derick Brassard playing wing is the road block to having a third line center that can help players like Hornqvist and Sprong. Nothing about the current setup is maximizing the talents of the roster.
Pittsburgh was able to save a point because of the brilliance of Phil Kessel.
*PHIL KESSEL IS AN UNDERRATED PASSER*
He’s not. Everybody knows he’s great at it and this was a wonderful example. He took his greatest strength and used it as deception. How could the goalie not sell out on Phil shooting when he keeps the puck in a shooting position like that? Phil sold it the whole way and froze everybody. Carl Hagelin won’t score any goals easier than that.
Another great shooter used deception last night and that was Brock Boeser. This guy absolutely kills the Penguins. On the surface it looks like Casey DeSmith allowed a soft goal, but on re-watch from the angle behind the net you can see that Boeser does an excellent job of changing puck angles before the shot. Being able to drag the puck in that way while also combining it with the release and velocity would freeze quite a number of NHL goalies. It was a tremendous play.
The kid can play.
Up next the Penguins will play one of the most entertaining teams in the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Who’s excited to see what Auston Matthews can do to Pittsburgh’s defense?
Thanks for reading!