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Film Study: Pens Activating D but Give Up Odd-Man Breaks



The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a concerted effort to activate their defense, in recent weeks. However, as Pittsburgh Hockey Now has detailed, the Penguins forwards have not consistently upheld their end of the bargain. The Penguins are giving up a high volume of odd mean breaks and breakaways. In the Penguins film study, you’ll see more of the same against the Sharks. High risk-high reward.

Perhaps the Penguins could use a defensive defenseman? If only they had a grizzly, blood and guts, big red-bearded defensive defenseman…

#1 Conor Sheary Finish

The Penguins are at their best when they create on the rush. Dominik Simon gets the good shot off from the slot and Conor Sheary slid laterally at the blue line to find space. Simon makes the play with extra hustle to follow his shot and get the loose puck behind the net.

Simon’s effort evaded Marc-Edouard Vlasic and put Timo Meier in a no-win situation: defend Simon or defend Sheary.



# 2 Meier Wrister

A three-on-two. The Penguins simply over-committed. Justin Schultz cleared the puck to center, but the forwards jumped forward as if the Penguins had possession. Clearly, they did not have possession. The Sharks were ready for the transition. Brent Burns quick-up pass created the opportunity. While it’s in the middle zone, not the offensive zone, this is another case of the Penguins third forward allowing the other team an odd-man break.

Because it happens so quickly–first, here is a still:








And you can watch in full speed. Hornqvist should have been quicker to transition to defense or slower to transition to offense (glass half full, half empty). Meier made a great shot but DeSmith would probably like it back…


Labanc Breakaway

Even without the trip, Kevin Labanc likely gets a strong scoring chance–he had the jump on Maatta. Pretty easy call missed, but it happens. The Penguins strategy of looking forward was again on display. At best it was going to be a one-on-one battle. Even after the Sharks gained full possession without contest, Schultz was looking forward, not backward. DeSmith made a big save. …The “kid” has played well.

#3 (Former) Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl PPG

Brian Dumoulin took a stride forward (Bottom of the screen at the faceoff). That’s all it took. The Sharks crashed the net and Dumoulin was caught high, so Kris Letang took the more immediate threat (Joe Pavelski). Tomas Hertl was the open receiver and didn’t miss.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Jack McCrory
Jack McCrory
4 years ago

58 is a liability period

4 years ago

I agree Jack. 58 is a liability. If there is a D-man on the team who is less effective getting a shot through from the point, I can’t think of one. I understand at one time in his past career, he was a dynamic D-man. I don’t believe he is dynamic any further. However, the coaches and management love him.
The Pens can’t afford to continue with the losses. The playoffs grow dimmer.
Go Pens!