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PHN EXTRA: Penguins Report Card & Analysis vs. Edmonton Oilers



Pittsburgh Penguins trade Matt Murray

In the first half of the Pittsburgh Penguins were the first to loose pucks, created net-front traffic and applied good offensive pressure. Speedy grinders–Bryan Rust and Teddy Blueger–lit the lamp as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame Connor McDavid’s psychic transition game and extraordinary speed to beat the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1 at PPG Paints Arena Wednesday night.

The Penguins have won two in a row. But it wasn’t easy. Edmonton’s speed, especially McDavid’s generational talent and wheels discombobulated the Penguins. The third period statistically belonged to the Penguins but it was Edmonton who pushed. The Penguins defense pushed back.

The same can’t be said of all of the Penguins forwards.

In full disclosure, based on the temperature of the media room, I saw the game very differently than many. I guess I’ll be the judge that scored the fight 113-117. I’m OK with that. I didn’t think the Penguins pressured Edmonton nor did they drive the Oilers deep after the first half of the game.

I re-watched the third period. I still don’t think the Penguins finished Edmonton as much as the defense protected the box and didn’t let Edmonton get the clean kill-shot. The Penguins defense did the job.

I was able to count four golden chances for Edmonton and none for the Penguins in the first 10 minutes of the third, yes the stats only show one chance for Edmonton. That number includes McDavid being left alone in front. Yikes. I’ll cut the highlights if you like!

X’s and O’s

The Penguins forecheck however was at times suffocating, especially in the first and third periods. They were able to get after Edmonton and create a lot of turnovers and disrupt zone exits. If there is one thing on which to hang the Penguins hat, this would be it. Zach Aston-Reese, Teddy Blueger, Bryan Rust, and Matt Cullen were on it.

The Penguins patiently chipped and chased to set up the forecheck, as the Oilers often fronted the on the blue line.

McDavid made the Penguins top line look sing for their supper, Wednesday night. In fact, the Oilers top line had the better chances with several 2-on-1 breaks and McDavid earned a penalty shot late in the second period when Jake Guentzel couldn’t keep up and McDavid slipstreamed behind Kris Letang for a breakaway.

In the first half of the game, the Penguins outworked Edmonton. In the second half of the game, the Penguins were defending. The advanced stats say the Penguins owned the third period.

Watching the game, it would be impossible to believe Edmonton has lost 17 of their last 23.

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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.