There’s a fine line between overanalyzing Daniel Sprong and accurately assessing what he’s doing right or wrong. He’ll never be a textbook player who hits his marks with the precision of a Shakespearean actor. His job is to get results, not look pretty doing it. He and the Penguins hope that will someday arrive, but for now, it’s about establishing an acceptable level of competence and some consistency in all three zones.
And in that endeavor to establish himself, he is currently underwater.
Sprong played eight minutes and 12 shifts, Tuesday, including 41 seconds of power-play time. However, as the Penguins trailed for much of the third period, Sprong played only 83 seconds after the second period. He did not register a shot but was credited with three hits, two on Vancouver defenseman Christopher Tanev.
1st Period (All Times Rounded):
3:00: From his own zone, Sprong parked himself on the wall and without a better play, shoveled the puck to center ice. The Penguins worked the play into the offensive zone, but Sprong did not engage the forecheck despite an obvious and perfect opportunity. The puck moved slowly to the trapezoid. Dominik Simon was on the wall and directed the puck forward, then looked to Sprong 10 feet away, who didn’t commit to the puck pursuit. Sprong had a straight line from the right circle to the defenseman (Gudbranson or Hutton) and the puck. It was at very least a prime opportunity to make it hard on the Canucks defender, and at best it was a chance to play a loose puck deep in the offensive zone. Sprong did neither.
7:30: The Penguins fourth line worked the cycle behind the Canucks net. However, Sprong and Simon had a miscommunication. Sprong charged behind the net, collided with Simon, whose centering pass missed his intended target, Matt Cullen.
Offensive zone time and a scoring chance, but a misread at the end.