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Penguins and Oilers a tale of two approaches

December 2, 2021, 9:44 AM ET [75 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-2. One of those games which really highlighted how each team goes about their business. The Oilers are a team leaning heavily into their high-end players taking advantage of teams on the rush and the Penguins trying to do things more methodical. Tonight it worked for the Oilers, but there’s certainly a lot of timelines where the team out-attempting the other team at 5v5 56-28 wins as well.

Pittsburgh’s issue is that they are mimicking the Carolina Hurricanes from about three years ago where the expected goals look fine, but eventually you have to make them real goals and the offensive depth was sacrificed for a more classic approach of trying to have two scoring lines, a third line not quite a scoring line, and then a defensive line. The biggest issue at the moment is of course Evgeni Malkin being out of the lineup and it throws things way off. The Penguins have to work hard for their goals and there just aren’t a lot of finishers. For all that volume the Penguins only had a 7-5 advantage in high-danger chances.

The Oilers are the opposite. They are not built for winning shot volume. They will bide their time and wait for the star players to find some time and space and hope lightning strikes. With McDavid and Draisaitl in their primes this will work often enough. Think back to the 2007-08 Penguins where the team was actually not great (actually pretty bad), but Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury carried the team all the way to the Cup Final. It’s doable, but it is predicated on the health of a couple of players or if the officials stop calling penalties. Things can really fall apart quickly.

Connor McDavid had a great night earning three assists during the core part of the game and added the empty net goal at the end to seal the victory. He’s the best player in the sport and this is what those kinds of players do. He did a great job of executing on the 2v1’s in the game with both Hyman and Bouchard. Penguins definitely needed to be more careful during the 4v4 action with him on the ice

Jake Guentzel did extend his point streak to 11 games on a nice faceoff play. It was his tenth goal of the year and he is close to being on pace for 40 goals again. He is one of the few higher end offensive weapons the team has at the moment.

Sidney Crosby did earn an assist, but it was a faceoff win. He will remain a very good player, but things will look differently than they did. He isn’t a quick strike offensive force lately and perhaps anymore. I have to agree with the following opinion

Whether he can’t or he won’t is up for debate, but he doesn’t attack like he did anymore. It is understandable it isn’t as frequent because he is in his mid-thirties and coming off wrist surgery. Although, you’d like to see some willingness to assert some more pressure moving forward. This plays into the issue of shot attempts being fine, but real goals not as much.

Speaking of Sidney Crosby he did an interview with TNT before the game and you know Paul Bissonnette is good at what he does because Crosby actually showed some personality on camera which is like spotting Bigfoot. Bissonnette did in one interview what NBC couldn't do in 15 years.

Also TV related

Evan Rodrigues had a really nice assist on Teddy Blueger’s goal. I appreciate Rodrigues’ willingness to try and make plays even when they might be above his pay grade at times. It beats watching the same soulless and vanilla plays depth players who are given a promotion usually do. I hope he keeps it up.

Watching Dominik Simon I see a decent player who sees the ice well and can handle the puck. I came to the conclusion it reminds me of when an 8th grader is good enough to play on the varsity team, but doesn’t have the strength to finish plays on their own. Unfortunately, for Simon the eighth grader eventually fills out and gets stronger and he is probably what he is. Which is too bad because there’s a lot of potential with his skillset.

The Flames game was a disaster and a deserved loss. Last night’s loss was a game well played overall, but highlighted the difference between having dynamic players and not. The Penguins have now lost three straight against Canadian teams after taking them to the woodshed earlier in the year. Up next they head west to Vancouver and then to their debut in Seattle.

Thanks for reading!
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