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Film Study: Comeback Falls Short, X’s and O’s of the Story



It is often a complicated case to make to the numbers crowd–that a player is not playing well despite good numbers. Jake Guentzel has been that player, since being moved to center. Mike Sullivan and Mark Recchi have limited Guentzel’s exposure in defensive situations, especially in the third period, but couldn’t do so Wednesday. Guentzel was explicitly victimized twice.

Sullivan began double shifting Crosby in the first period, Wednesday. That move, which Sullivan has been doing for a couple of weeks, has paid off. Crosby has thrived (five straight multi-point games), but a significant question to ponder–is it too early to begin playing Crosby more than 22 minutes per night? (He played 22:41, Wednesday).

Conversely, Evgeni Malkin only played 18 minutes. The Penguins third line center position continues to haunt, even has the Penguins win.

You can read our own Jake Rodman Holmes’ postgame & analysis here

#1 Crash-Boom-Bang

The Hagelin-Malkin-Hornqvist line is (currently) a perfect blend of speed, grit, and skill. All three are on display. Watch Hagelin chase the puck like a bloodhound. Hornqvist didn’t have to battle on the wall–sometimes reputation precedes him. And Malkin did what Malkin does…

An aggressive forecheck with skill–the Penguins bread and butter:

#2 Rackell Tip–Alone in front?

Rickard Rackell’s beautiful tip tied the game, 1-1. It was a great moment of hand-eye coordination. Tristan Jarry didn’t have a chance. If Jarry went to the butterfly, the puck could have found the top shelf. So, Jarry went high, but Rackell knocked the puck down.

Here’s where it gets interesting–Brian Dumoulin did an excellent job of bodying up Corey Perry, which forced Perry from the scoring zone. Dumoulin maintained coverage of Perry. However, Phil Kessel pinched to the wall, also to Perry, and Guentzel forgot his center responsibilities are down low.

Guentzel momentarily charged the point, before realizing that was Kessel’s spot. Guentzel wasn’t able to recover, which left Rakell uncovered. In the video still, you’re able to see Guentzel just entering the frame. If Rakell had not tipped the shot, he would have finished a rebound.

#3 Henrique Wrap

Ugly goals are good. Ugly goals against are bad–they mean the other team won the battle, outmuscled, outskated or outworked your team.

Adam Henrique’s wrap-around goal had a bit of everything. Center Jake Guentzel and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak had Ondrej Kase covered in front. Both of them covered Kase. In fact, four Penguins were down low.

Pick your player. Kessel needs to feel Henrique coming. Guentzel needs to win the battle in front, and prevent Kase from moving the puck. Sheary was mindful of his responsibilities, high in the zone. Good coverage turned to no coverage in the blink of an eye. Watch it at full speed:

#4 Wagner Shortie

The Penguins relaxed. The zone entry was a little sloppy, and Wagner got behind Malkin. There were some kicking Kris Letang on social media, but Jakob Silverberg had a moment to play the puck. Malkin didn’t recognize Wager was behind him and coasted towards the play. Oops.

#5 Kessel PPG

Vintage Penguins. A smooth breakout–ahead to Crosby with speed through the neutral zone, which backed the Ducks PK. Kessel joined the rush, and his favorite spot was waiting. This goal is why the Penguins will have a punchers chance against anyone, any night: