Heading into camp Derrick Pouliot was one of the favorites to land a spot in Pittsburgh's top four on defense. That may no longer be the case after a few mediocre preseason games.
Does Pouliot have something to prove?
“For sure he does,” said Johnston.
Then came this from Johnston: “He’s not a regular NHL player. He’s a guy who has played games.”
“I think there’s a little room for improvement on the defensive side,” he said. “Just sharpening things up. Making some better reads. That kind of thing.”
I think there is certainly a level of criticism that is merited in this case. I do think Pouliot can play better. I also believe he is still Pittsburgh's best option to earn a top four spot if they want to be a legitimate contender this year.
A lot of people were heavily criticizing Derrick Pouliot for the Boone Jenner goal, but I don't have a problem with it as much as other people. He worked back to get inside position, had his stick down, and the puck missed his stick by a centimeter. Unlucky more than inept in my opinion.
Mike Johnston heavily criticizing Derrick Pouliot publicly is also more unique than if he did it to some other players.
Those red rectangles represent Mike Johnston being Derrick Pouliot's head coach. This with be the seventh consecutive season that Mike Johnston will have been Derrick Pouliot's head coach (!) That is unheard of for a 21 year old NHL player. Let's just say that while there is some criticism Pouliot deserves the extremely harsh words in the press conference yesterday are also a product of a Papa Bear being tough on one of the cubs he loves.
That said, Derrick Pouliot does not need waivers in order to be sent down at the start of the season. Adam Clendening (who has played well) and Brian Dumoulin (who has also done OK) do in fact need waivers and would likely be claimed by somebody. This creates an interesting roster dynamic where sending down Pouliot (deserved or not) gives the team time to clear other roster space.
Olli Maatta was hit pretty hard on a delayed offsides yesterday. It was a hit that the team did not like. Pittsburgh also had super tough guy Tom Sestito in the lineup yesterday. You can imagine my confusion when Maatta was hit like that considering that players like Sestito are a deterrent.
*a thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.*
So according to that definition Sestito's presence in the lineup didn't deter anything. His reaction to the hit just caused more violent situations which didn't end up helping the team. In fact he got goaded into a five minute major penalty while Brandon Dubinsky smartly only received a two minute roughing penalty. The result was Columbus scoring three goals during Sestito's five minute penalty (1 during 4v4 and 2 during 5v4).
For all the talk about Columbus pushing the Penguins around yesterday if you took away Sestito's selfish five minute penalty he gifted the Blue Jackets Pittsburgh did just fine. They outscored Columbus 2-1 in the other sections of the game. Once the Penguins started focusing on hockey they outshot Columbus 17-5 in the second period and 17-10 in the third.
Teams love messing with the Penguins because they know they will get a reaction.
Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel hooked up on yet another goal. This trade just might work out.
A fun drinking game for the 2015-16 season would be when somebody in the media or on the broadcast references Phil Kessel's "underrated playmaking ability" you take a drink. I hope your refrigerator is stocked.
Sidney Crosby's first ever experience with 3 on 3 overtime resulted in a game winning goal. Sid will be a handful in that setting as he will know when to crank it up and also when to slow things down.
For the most part faceoff stats are a highly referenced and highly overrated stat, but in the case of three on three overtime hockey I think that there is legit value in winning the draw because of the incredible amount of time and space out there.
Daniel Sprong continues to do a good job with his ice time in the preseason. My suggested fourth line of Plotnikov-Cullen-Sprong actually got some ice time together as the game went on. Sprong was also on the ice during Sidney Crosby's "game winner" in overtime. Some people will scoff at having Sprong in a fourth line role, but there is no rule that says a fourth line has to be a bunch of talentless hacks that just run around and hit people. Matt Cullen and Sergei Plotnikov are more than capable of making good plays with the puck.
Tomorrow Pittsburgh travels to Quebec City to take on the Montreal Canadiens
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