Kingerski: Oh Just Let it Go, Dominik Simon Deserves His Spot
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Kingerski: Oh Just Let it Go, Dominik Simon Deserves His Spot

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Dominik Simon Pittsburgh Penguins

Be careful, they’ll find you. The social media crowd which for most of the last 12 months has reflexively derided Pittsburgh Penguins winger Dominik Simon is in trouble. The small Czech forward who is in only his second full NHL season is beginning to figure it out. Simon is beginning to score at a greater pace and one which matches his elevated level of play. He fits on the Penguins top line and the evidence is no longer buried in advanced statistics.

But changing opinions is difficult.

For those who have watched Simon this season, there no doubt he is an NHL player and a legitimate contributor to the Penguins top line. After a big night on Tuesday, Simon has nine points (2g, 7a) in 13 games, which is a 54-point pace to open the season. That’s a much better clip than his sometimes inexplicable cold spells last season which produced only 28 points. PHN asked Simon if he feels better with the puck this season. 

“Yeah, definitely. I feel really good. I try to keep working on all aspects of the game, try working on (my) shot,” Simon said. “I have great teammates. It’s just the beginning of the season, but yeah, I feel great.”

Simon who simultaneously excites and depresses fans by not finishing enough of the scoring chances he creates is not the typical Sidney Crosby linemate who relies on Crosby. Instead, Simon is the rare breed who elevates the line. Without diving into 2000 words and advanced analytics charts (because we’ve already done that), Simon makes Crosby more than 10% better. There should be no wonder why Crosby likes to play with Simon.

Simply watch the plays Simon makes with the puck to create scoring chances for his linemates. Watch the hard work on the walls to retrieve pucks, but also the creativity to do more than simply throw the puck to open space or blast low percentage shots.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

Dominik Simon Growth

His goal was the type of play Simon needs to make more often this season. He found open space in the Philadelphia zone and took it.

“Sid made a nice play through two sticks, and I went (over Philadelphia goalie Brian Elliott’s) blocker. And it went in,” Simon succinctly described his goal. “You’ve got to be ready (for those passes) from Sid because he can always find the space or the soft spot.”

Crosby scored a nifty marker Tuesday night, too. He snapped a beauty that fooled Elliott and Simon got the primary assist. Like Crosby, Simon found a passing lane and fed Crosby through multiple sticks. 

Simon’s seven assists in just 13 games could be a by-product of inhabiting the ice with Crosby. It certainly helps when Crosby and 40-goal scorer Jake Guentzel are the players Simon is setting up, but don’t overlook that Simon is setting them up.

One player which is overlooked in the coming contract worries of the Pittsburgh Penguins is Simon. Jared McCann, Matt Murray, Justin Schultz are those who will need a new contract. But what of Dominik Simon, who is 25-years-old, makes Crosby better but only makes $750,000. Perhaps a healthy new contract will add fresh fuel to those who can’t let go.

Maybe it’s just a sign of the times. As we have access to offer our opinions 24-hours per day and have access to find others who agree, no opinion is ever wrong and thus changing them can be a herculean task. So despite the mountains of visual evidence to the contrary, despite glowing praise on and off the record from the Penguins coaches and players, and despite the advanced analytics which has shown Simon to improve every line he plays, there are those who cannot wait for the fall not because Simon is a bad person or player, but because those folks have emotionally invested in the contrary opinion.

That’s not unique to Penguins fans, but maybe it’s time to bury the negative Simon opinions. Actually, no maybe about it.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. HarkeyPuck

    October 30, 2019 at 9:17 am

    I was a Simon hater, but I cannot argue the way that line has been playing this year. If Simon only has 9 goals all year but 87 & 59 push 50 tallies each?? I’ll take it. That’s an exaggeration, but no less true.

  2. Vince Gori

    October 30, 2019 at 11:50 am

    I agree 100% about Simon. Maybe we can do the same for his maligned tag team partner Jack Johnson. He is another player everyone goes out of their way to trash, I don’t think he deserves it.

  3. Edgar

    October 30, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    I really like Simon. I don’t get to watch a much as I’d like, but he always seems to make the little plays that have a big affect.

  4. Cal

    October 30, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Common ground here….In the past I was never a big fan of Simon. But he has been showing that he does really well on this line and there is no reason to move him if he keeps this up. Seems like he has opened up a lot of eyes. Congrats to the Pens.

  5. Josh

    October 31, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Nothing like short term memory, recency bias, a superstar dominating (as he would with anyone on the line) and a goal to overlook the 15 easier chances Simon shanked or the past 3 losses where that line disappeared. But one game rather than the others or the 50 games spent last season in the top 6 next to the 2 greatest centers of this generation where he couldn’t score even 5 goals.
    But yeah…he deserves it based on a single game. Our in depth and comprehensive Pittsburgh sports media who is intelligent, focused, looks at the big picture and never gets easily influenced by something shiny.
    Great job dude

    • Dan Kingerski

      October 31, 2019 at 6:21 am

      Simon has 9 points in 13 games, routinely makes plays to set up Sidney Crosby and a large volume of stats which support that he makes Crosby more productive. THAT is the big picture, but you’re free to angrily ignore and insult.

    • Jord

      November 1, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      I’ve liked him since the start, I don’t know how or why people would be hard on him. He played on the top line barely ever last year, but when he did it seemed he and syd had good chemistry. for the most part was a 3rd and 4th liner, but you could see his skill. Glad he’s getting regular opportunities to play up on top line because he can hang with them.

    • Jordan

      November 1, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      He never got enough time up with syd and Jake to really build off of it. He was mostly on Geno Kessel line, which was bad all around. Also they were shoot first players Simon was mostly being playmaker. He put up great numbers for his rookie season

  6. Jordan

    November 1, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    I’ve liked him since the start, I don’t know how or why people would be hard on him. He played on the top line barely ever last year, but when he did it seemed he and syd had good chemistry. for the most part was a 3rd and 4th liner, but you could see his skill. Glad he’s getting regular opportunities to play up on top line because he can hang with them.

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