mike: did peter d do something different this weekend? the pens had outclassed the devils in 3 straight games, and then looked lost this weekend...they also looked a little worn out...
Shelly Anderson: There's little question the Penguins were a bit weary, That's going to happen at times this season. A full day off today should help. As for the Devils, they no doubt were motivated by coming out flat and losing, 5-1, to the Penguins in the teams' first meeting. But they also did a great job in taking away the Penguins' strengths by keeping the puck in the Penguins end and getting it out of their end quickly. In other words, the Devils gave the Penguins a dose of what a lot of teams get when they play the Penguins.
Cliff from Iowa: With a quarter of the season gone, it's too late to blame the layoff due to the strike. For all of their talent and experience together, they look so inconsistent. What do you think accounts for the Penguins looking so good ... and then so bad?
Shelly Anderson: That's the magic question, isn't it. For one thing, this is still like October or early November hockey, whether you want to blame the layoff (it was a lockout, actually, not a strike) or not. For another, because of the condensed, shortened season, each game or each winning or losing streak seems magnified. Hang in there. You're right -- although there could be some tweaking, the Penguins are a good team.
mike: time for shero to wheel and deal for a winger for geno? or do they put kunitz back with him and see if tango or boychuck mesh better with crosby?
Shelly Anderson: It seems that if they were going to break up the Sidney Crosby line, they already would have switched Chris Kunitz to the left side of Evgeni Malkin's line. Crosby's line, which also includes Pascal Dupuis, is tried and proven. I once advocated for Matt Cooke to be tried on Malkin's left side, but now I think Cooke and Kennedy work too well on the third line, this season with Brandon Sutter as a replacement for Jordan Staal. So, to cut to the heart of your question, yes, I think the Penguins ought to at least explore a trade for a left winger for Malkin. As for what's out there and what he would cost, that's the great unknown right now. The Penguins still have some depth in terms of young defensemen, though.
New member Chris: Is the defensive scheme designed to leave the point men wide open? I noticed in both games this weekend the Devils always had the easy bounce pass off the wall to a wide open D-man ready to fire on the net. Seems to me they should be on that point a little more.
Shelly Anderson: I'm going to assume you're talking about the Penguins penalty-killers as opposed to five-on-five play. The problem with moving out to cover the points is that you leave open the shooting lanes for other players. That's why most PK units operate out of a sort of box. The idea would be to take away a good shot by anyone, including the point guys, and to gain possession of the puck and clear it to the other end. The biggest problem the Penguins had Saturday was taking enough penalties to give New Jersey 10 power plays. It's awfully hard to kill of that many.
mike: has bortuzzo made engelland expendable? at least once letang and niskanen get healthy....also why bring a talent like morrow up, but not play him...he's surely more talented than reese
Shelly Anderson: There are a couple of points here. Joe Morrow was brought up as insurance. Apparently, at least one other defenseman is dealing with something nagging. Morrow was returned to the AHL today. He is a first-year pro and, while he has some good elements to his game and great potential, he's probably not ready to play regularly in the NHL. Dylan Reese came in with the equivalent of about a full NHL season under his belt. As for Robert Bortuzzo, he has played well since getting into the lineup. I assume your reference to Deryk Engelland has to do with Bortuzzo being willing to fight. Engelland is not a star, but he is still a steady enough defenseman to have in your lineup. However, several of these players could be trade bait for the right winger.
zarley: Why do the penguins lose their composure so easily? The Saturday game against NJ was reminiscent of the playoff series against PHI. Whatever the problem is, they clearly haven't fixed it.
Shelly Anderson: Yes, now that you mention is, Saturday's game did harken the Flyers series. Giving a team 10 power plays, as the Penguins did Saturday, is not acceptable. There was some grumbling about the calls, and it does seem that some things (boarding comes to mind) are being called closer or differently this season. But you'll notice that the Penguins were not guilty of losing their composure Sunday against the Devils. They did not engage after the play or have a parade to the penalty box. I'm not sure this is an ongoing problem as opposed to something that happened in one game.
mike-in-erie: Shelly, it seems like since the first meeting this year between the Pens-Devils, the devils have regained thier defensive mo-jo. I couldn't help but thinking while watching the two games this weekend that the Penguins current system will need some changes against the devils, they are to disciplined in their gap control in their own end. i was also surprised at all the stretch passes from the eleven minute mark on in the third yesterday. It seemed desperate and thats unforunate they strayed into a frustration mode. The Pens played a north-north south game and the devils played the patience game.
Shelly Anderson: The team that has a lead in the third period can afford to be more patient usually. But the Devils did play well over the weekend, and it was really evident Sunday when the game was not so much decided by special teams. As mentioned before, New Jersey managed the puck very well and did not allow the Penguins to get set up on offense for extended periods of time. The Penguins did have a handful of good scoring chances, but former Penguins goaltender Johan Hedberg played like No. 1 Devils goalie Martin Brodeur at times. If this had been the Capitals' goaltending, to use an example, it probably would have been a different game despite the strong play of the Devils' skaters.
New member Chris: Have you talked to Geno lately, is he feeling frustrated? He looks like he may be trying too hard and not letting everything come to him.
Shelly Anderson: I have not. Evgeni Malkin doesn't do interviews every day and has been reluctant to do so except on occasion this season. He could well be frustrated. He's been given a revolving door of left wingers, and he's not scoring at the pace he's become accustomed to in the NHL or, during the lockout, the KHL. He's a pretty strong guy, mentally, though. I'm not real worried.
Pablo: Who is your favorite Penguin to deal with, media-wise. Anyone who sticks out as being good for a great quote or just strikes you as a genuine good guy?
Shelly Anderson: Hard to pick one. There are a lot of good guys for reporters to talk to, both for their answers and for their approachability. We lost a good one when Ben Lovejoy was traded. You can throw in guys such as Brooks Orpik, Sidney Crosby and both goaltenders, but really that's probably shortchanging several others.
Jamie: Do you have any idea what the nature of Kris Letang's lower body injury is? It seemed to come out of nowhere and his absense was apparent during the last 2 games against the Devils.
Shelly Anderson: If I had to guess, I would say something like a groin injury. Frankly, given the short training camp after the lockout, it's surprising there aren't more such injuries around the league right now. You're right that the Penguins need Kris Letang back. He is eligible to come off of IR as soon as Wednesday when Ottawa visits.
Dan: Can you give us 2-3 wingers you think the Pens would make a move for? I know it is speculative, but always fun!
Shelly Anderson: It is fun, but because I have no inside knowledge on what other teams might be offering or expecting in return, it starts to fall into gossip or, goodness forbid, ends up as a rumor on social media with no backing. So how about something really farfetched -- Alex Ovechkin has played both wings at times this season.....
Guest: how long will bylsma stick with boychuck in there on the 2nd line....aside from his skating, nothing sticks out much about his game....at least tangradi gave neal and geno some net front presence...
Shelly Anderson: Good question. Zach Boychuk shows some speed and hockey sense, and if he had finished two or three of his good scoring chances, it might not be a topic of discussion. The the follow-up question -- who would replace him there -- is a tough one. Someone I was talking to last night can't figure out why Dustin Jeffery isn't given a good, long look there. It's possible Boychuk will be there until the Penguins can either bring in a new guinea pig or until Beau Bennett is ready.
Mark: How different does the atmosphere in the Pens locker room vary from after a loss to after a win? Are they as polar as the fan reactions tend to be? Do you sense any extreme frustration from leaders like 87 and 44?
Shelly Anderson: No, the Penguins are a good group of guys who hate losing but do a pretty good job of maintaining an even keel. After a particularly tough or frustrating loss, the locker room is more quiet, but it's almost always back to normal by the next day.
Chris: How is the relationship between Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun?
Shelly Anderson: Seems to be really good. Then again, Fleury has always gotten along well with his backup and been willing to talk strategy or whatever with the guy. That's just his personality. I don't any hint of a problem, and Vokoun seems fine with the arrangement, too.
Shelly Anderson: OK, everyone. Thanks. Nice mix of topics. Please join us next week for the next chat.
|< Prev||Next >|