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Pens Chalkboard 3/23/18: Pens PK, Sloppy Details and OT Loss to Devils



The Pittsburgh Penguins outshot the New Jersey Devils 16-4 in the third period. The Penguins rallied from down 3-1 (the cliche most dangerous lead in hockey), but another defensive mistake was the difference.

Evgeni Malkin left his man–Taylor Hall–when he sniffed a turnover in overtime. Hall was rewarded with a breakaway when Phil Kessel couldn’t complete the takeaway.

Despite Twitter outcry–it wasn’t Kris Letang’s fault. Here’s the game-winner:

Note–Kessel has a man. Letang, because he went deep, has a forward position. Malkin dropped to cover Taylor Hall. In this still, Malkin is BEHIND Hall, which is perfect position. In fact, all three are in position.

Malkin smelled a turnover and a game-winning goal. His nose deceived him when Kessel didn’t complete the turnover. Hall was gone and only Murray could stop him:

As you can see–not a Letang mistake. If you subscribe to PHN, you’re probably not a casual fan who piles on scapegoats. We’ll get back to another supposed Letang mistake on the four-on-four goal against, too.

Devils Power Play Goal (2nd period, 1-1)

The Penguins penalty kill again stumbled. First, here is the sequence before the goal in which the Penguins PK stymied the Devils rush and took away options.

Riley Sheahan is on a good position at the top of the zone. He aggressively fronted the point.

All areas covered. Good penalty killing.

On the following sequence, the Devils gained speed through the neutral zone and broke down the Penguins defense. Sheahan chased despite defensive help, which left the point vulnerable. “X” marks the spot where Sheahan (circled) should be

Once Sheahan was out of position, the Devils had a shooting lane. Sheahan wasn’t in a position to block the shot, nor was Oleksiak. Though Sheahan should have been and Oleksiak could have been

Blake Coleman’s Backhander (2nd Period. 2-1)

The Penguins line changes have been ill-timed. Teams are waiting to take advantage of the Penguins sloppiness. Little things matter. Letang had a clear path to the net (that’s a good thing) with Kessel to the near post. However, notice Guentzel caught in no man’s land. Guentzel was neither in the play or able to quickly change:

The Devils lightning-quick transition game is something to behold. Only a couple heartbeats after Kessel just missed tapping the puck across the goal line, the Devils attacked:

Guentzel still isn’t to the bench and his change mate (Sheary) is removed from the play and unable to cover for the pinching defenseman. The speed of the play trapped Maatta at center ice and…presto. It was a one on one battle. Coleman made a pretty one-handed shovel which had to surprise Matt Murray:

The 4 on 4 goal (2nd period. 3-1)

Letang took fan abuse on this goal, as well. However, you’ll see this is a simple play. Four on four became three on two. Here’s the start of the play–the Penguins smelled offense. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel went low:

As you can see–as the Devis break out, the Penguins are with them. Four players per side of the puck. However, the Devils kept skating, while Crosby and Guentzel debated who would play defense:

Letang wisely covered Hall along the wall (Hall is at the top of the screen). Hall took Letang deep and Letang circled behind the net. Ordinarily, the route would not have cost him. He could have cut hard and jumped to Nico Hischier in front but it may not have mattered.

Hang the broken coverage on the forwards.

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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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