CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa — His confidence dipped as his points waned. In a career twist, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz was happy with his defensive play last season and did not suffer breakdowns, but his offensive production dropped which brought a dip in confidence. Schultz’ offensive production dropped by nearly half last season even though he ran one of the most prolific power plays in the league. Fortunately, the Penguins confidence in Schultz grew.
This season, Schultz looks like he will have a new defensive partner, Jack Johnson. whose defensive acumen could allow Schultz more offensive opportunities. Johnson and Schultz have been paired in drills and scrimmages to begin camp. The early returns on Johnson-Schultz are positive.
Schultz had a statistically stable 2017-18 with 27 points (4g, 23a) and the Penguins generally regarded him as significantly improved in his zone. However, his 27 points were just half of his 2016-17 output when he scored 51 points (12g, 39a) and that weighed on Schultz.
“When you’re not putting pucks in the net and scoring as much as I did the year before, it gets to you a little bit,” said Schultz.