Dominik Simon picked the stick of the Anaheim Ducks defender so Sidney Crosby could connect with Jake Guentzel for the game-winning goal. It was the type of slick, mostly unnoticed play in which Simon specializes. He isn’t a flashy scorer nor is he one of the Pittsburgh Penguins stars. In fact, Dominik Simon is the lowest-paid NHL skater on the Penguins roster.
But he helps create offense. Simon did so again Thursday night as he won a puck battle in the defensive zone, then lunged to poke the puck ahead to Crosby on the game-winner. Simon lept to his feet to join the rush and provided the nifty little stick play.
“Yeah (I lifted a stick), a little bit. There were more people, so (Guentzel) came behind me. I just tried to tie up the stick or…yeah,” Simon acknowledged.
Simon is finding a groove. Since being elevated to the top line in the second game of the season, he has played three straight solid games. It appears now he’ll never score 30 goals or be a point-per-game player, but in his third NHL season and second full campaign, Simon is becoming more visible. Those little plays are becoming bigger plays. Simon also drew two penalties on Thursday night.
He’s still not filling the net, but if he helps Crosby and Guentzel light the lamp, the coach’s faith will be justified. Thursday night, Simon played 16:16 with two shots and was credited with just one hit. The base stats will apparently continue their grudge against Simon, but perhaps the mounting positive results, both individual and team, will boost his perception. Not that the Penguins coaches, or Sidney Crosby needs any more convincing.