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Penguins Standout Stats From Split Squad: Poulin on Top, D-Men Muddle



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sam Poulin, Teddy Blueger

COLUMBUS  — The stat pack from the pair of Pittsburgh Penguins preseason games on Sunday contained a few interesting tidbits. Of course, none will guarantee a player a spot on the NHL roster, nor will the stats be remembered in the following weeks. But the first step in the Penguins’ 2022-23 season contained a few notable performances and maybe a few missed opportunities.

Jason Zucker scored the OT winner in Game 1 nearly two minutes into OT to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2 at PPG Paints Arena. In Game 2, the younger Penguins roster put up a fight against the Columbus NHL roster before things went sideways in the second period and lost 5-1 at Nationwide Arena.

Zucker did not require additional surgery over the summer after twice missing extended periods of last season with a core muscle injury. Zucker required a special seat on the Penguins bench to play in Round One against the New York Rangers.

He played just 41 games last season, and there were fears he required more surgery.

Sunday was Zucker’s chance during game action to show he’s fully healthy. There was some game rust, but Zucker also showed energy and speed.

Zucker played nearly 20 minutes (19:51), had four shots on goal, and delivered two hits.

The standout performances occurred in Game 1 against lesser competition. Sam Poulin and Filip Hallander blitzed the net. Both also showed aggressive forechecks and looked like desperate players fighting for an NHL roster spot.

Game 2 was a bit different as the Penguins’ developmental roster faced a loaded Columbus lineup with nine NHL regulars, including the star players.

Dave Molinari had the Game 1 recap and insights here. Penguins Game 1.

Here is the Penguins Game 2 from Columbus.

And the story of the day — Jamie Devane walloped Ben Harpur in a fight. The fight video here.

I’m a proponent of fighting in hockey. I’m not a proponent of big guys squaring off in a staged exhibition of pugilistic skill. I hope Harpur is OK. Devane showed a few moves I haven’t seen executed as well as he did. He used his engaged left hand to speedbag Harpur before delivering the booming right. Harpur is a heavyweight fighter, but the result was why pointless fights shouldn’t happen.

Also, Pittsburgh Hockey Now was one of only two outlets to cover both games on Sunday. We’re going to cover all 82 games this season and beyond. That’s not an easy proposition, nor is it cheap. Join this band of merry rebels who are upsetting the establishment. Support the newest Pittsburgh sports outlet, which has hired the best sports writers. You’ll also get exclusive Steelers and Pirates coverage, too. Join here.

Pittsburgh Penguins Stat Pack:

Game 1:

*Drew O’Connor played the second most minutes of all Penguins on Sunday (Game 1). He played over 21 minutes (21:42). He played 2:47 on the PP and 1:04 shorthanded.

*Only defenseman Ty Smith (26:42) played more. However, Smith had no points or shots. He had two hits, one giveaway, and one takeaway. Smith did not spend any time on the PK.

*2019 first-round pick Sam Poulin had one assist. He drew one penalty, took one penalty, had three shots on goal, and delivered three hits in 15:04 of ice time.

Poulin’s line with Filip Hallander had the best shot-attempt ratio 61% (11-7), the most scoring chances (9), and the best scoring chance ratio, 81% (9-2).

Poulin was noticeably quicker than in past seasons and appears to be taking the next step in his development.

*Corey Andonovski played only 10 minutes, which is not a good sign, but he delivered seven hits and scored the tying goal late in the third period. He made the most of his limited ice time. His seven hits led all players.

*All four Penguins lines were at least 50% Corsi.

*Filip Lindberg stopped 14 of 15 shots and posted a .933 save percentage.

Game 2

*Smith was quiet in Game 1. Competing defenseman P.O Joseph had his hands full with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine in Game 2. Joseph was underwater on shot attempts (9-12) but somehow managed a positive scoring chance ratio (12-9) and positive high-danger change ratio (5-3).

*Ice times were nearly even, except for Joseph, who played a team-high 23:28.

*Lukas Svejkovsky had the worst advanced stats in Game 2. His Corsi was 28%, and his shot ratio was 3-7, but…his scoring chance ratio wasn’t bad (3-4).

*Jordan Frasca rallied in the third period. On a line with Svejkovsky and Ty Glover, his stats were also well under 50% until the third period when coach Todd Reirden put Danton Heinen on his line in place of Svejkovsky. Frasca got an immediate jolt.

Frasca scored the Penguins’ lone goal. He also raised his shot differential into positive territory (7-6) and got his scoring chance ratio into the black (6-4).

He had a very good third period. A defenseman blocked his shot into a yawning cage in the third period. He had a couple of glorious scoring chances.

Frasca is an undrafted free agent. As an overage junior, he scored 42 goals for Kingston of the OHL last season. The 6-foot-2, 184-pound winger showed plenty of scrappiness in the third period. His goal came moments after being flattened in the slot, but he sprung to his feet as the loose puck glided his way and seemingly whipped it to the net in the same motion as getting up. He isn’t a candidate for the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, but he’s fighting for space with the WBS Penguins.

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2 months ago

You can’t always go by advanced stats. I thought Svejkovsky stood out most among those on the ice. He had an extra gear to his step.