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Justin Schultz Said the Right Words, But Very Wrong Tone



Justin Schultz Pittsburgh Penguins

Words are easy to say and tougher to live by. The Pittsburgh Penguins said all of the right things last season, and we later learned the negative things reported about the internal workings of the locker room were true. Sunday, Justin Schultz and the rest of the Penguins locker room said the right words, but the tone, especially from Schultz was not encouraging.

There is no internal drama this season. The struggles are entirely external, from injuries to the absolutely mindboggling loss of details over the past few weeks. From the power play to 5v5 play, the Penguins defense has been hit hard by the failures.

Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz’s words on Sunday were the right words, but as you watch the video, the tone denoted the Penguins bewilderment and their struggles, far more than any hope of reversing the trend.

Schultz has especially come under scrutiny. He has just 10 points (2g, 8a) in 44 games this season, which is the final year of his three-year, $5.5 million contract. Despite the significant power-play time, Schultz is on pace to slip under his worst NHL seasons.

“We’ll be fine,” Schultz said meekly.

Things are not going well for Schultz. He slumped in 2017-18 with only 27 points in 63 games, after scoring 51 points to earn his new contract and legions of Penguins fans. Chugging a beer or three on the Penguins second parade walk didn’t hurt his public stock either.

However, his play this season has not met expectations. He’s retreating from the blue line, with partner Jack Johnson, instead of defending it. He’s not leading the charge up the ice, as he’s capable. And, Schultz is not defending well.

Just like the team as a whole (or in a hole?), Schultz is mired in the quicksand of struggle. The Penguins need much more from one of their chief power-play options and offensive defensemen, but they’re not getting it.

Schultz’s tone of voice in the short media scrum spoke much louder than he actually did. As the one who stood there, and even asked Schultz if the season suddenly felt fragile, that was my overriding sense as I stood there. Listening and watching him, the Penguins season felt like it was hanging by a thread.

And maybe it is.

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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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No Quarter
No Quarter
2 years ago

He’s a huge part of the problem
I think Justin by far has been the worst dman during this stretch.
Sully needs Letang on the #1 power play
Schultz is the worst