Top Six Complaints
by John Toperzer
Robert Bortuzzo fails to move puck behind his own net, allowing the Flyers to strip him of the puck. A Brayden Schenn wrister then beats Marc-Andre Fleury for a game-winning goal. Bortuzzo has to move the puck. He has time, but acts like an elementary schooler crossing the street — looking to his left and to his right and then back to his left again before even thinking of moving the puck.
Kris Letang gets a shot blocked, a play which results in the Pens losing possession of the puck in Philly’s end with Fleury pulled. Letang telegraphs his shot like a bunter squaring around to the pitcher.
Shooting/Rebounding — If the Penguins played in the 1980s, they’d be a great East/West team. That’s the style favored by Evgeni Malkin, anyhow. Unfortunately, we’re in 2013 and opponents rush whomever is carrying the puck. Players have no time do anything with the puck anymore and that hurts skilled players like Malkin.
The game has become all about dump and chase. That’s why Chris Kunitz is so valuable. The Pens need to find another Kunitz, one who’s, say, 27 or 28, without too much mileage on him. Crosby and Malkin aren’t getting any younger and are going to need retrievers more and more as their games mature and they age.
Coaching — Those expecting coach Bylsma to change his strategy or match lines don’t keep close track of his tendencies. With 18 games in the book, there’s still plenty of time to tweak lines. Why not break up the Crosby line? There, I said it. Sometimes, change is good. Sometimes, the comfort level is over-rated. Just ask Scottie Bowman.
CONSOL Ice — The worse the ice, the more the slower, less talented team gains an advantage. It’s similar to a mud track versus Astroturf in the NFL. The puck was bouncing, jumping on and off sticks like a Mexican Jumping Bean on Wednesday. Why can’t the Penguins and/or the league fix the ice at CONSOL, even if it hosts concerts the night before? Isn’t it supposed to be state of the art?
Slumps — The beat goes on. Malkin is scoreless in 11, Pascal Dupuis has two assists in 10 games. Last season favored an older team like the Penguins because there were only 48 games and then the playoffs. Having an 82-game slate is going to make it that much tougher to keep the 30-somethings healthy all year. The Olympic break will help, somewhat, although Crosby and Malkin won’t get much rest then.
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