In part 1 I detail what to look for when we do and don't have the puck. In part 2 we look to dispel myths about the pens defense, starting with the unfounded criticism of Piece and Brooksie.
Ok so now that Orpik showed his value against the Late_8 Piece is the new whipping boy? Piece hasn’t been nearly as bad as people are suggesting. His stick on puck instincts are still there and you cant say he lost a step cuz he never was a burner. Fact is we've had a flawed roster and only now are in position to tilt the ice to give the D a breather. I think those suffering from metric-itis will soon see a swing in numbers corresponding to the ice tilting back the other way. Even with PM and tanger out.
Now that I've said my peace about Piece I can move on to what I was planning on pointing out. It's been brought to my attention that the pens are in trouble due to shot totals not being in their favor. However if you've been paying attention you'll see that the vast majority of the chances we're allowing are from the perimeter. In the few cases teams get chances near the net our goalies have held up. And in flowers case, he can apparently bloom scorpion style as well. Just ask kuznetsov.
And for those who suffer from metric-itis and claim that numbers tell the story I submit the following stats:
GAA: pens are 6th in the league at 2.42 which puts us ahead of Jersey, Anaheim, NYR and that team in chicago.
Shots allowed per game: pens are 9th at 28.5 ahead of the ever stingy boston and NYR who game plan around their goalie perhaps more than any team other than boston.
In regards to our dmen having CF under 50% please visit this link and look for TK-noodles breakdown in the comment section regarding CF and whether or not dmen, and especially defensive dmen should be judged based on possession stats.
As you can see, all things considered, complaints about the pens defense really are unfounded when you factor in injuries and the abysmal bottom 6 production we've witnessed prior to Goc and Stempy's arrival.
Furthermore, not only are the pens dealing with highest amount of man games lost due to injury but they're also keeping quality chances to a minimum by keeping the opposition on the perimeter. If the opposition establishes possession pens have the discipline to stay within their trap or LW lock which allows them to mind the neutral zone and drop their defensive box/triange down in the dzone in an organized manner with 5 man units knowing what their assignments are. Far too often in the playoffs our forwards had to hurry back after getting caught deep on the forecheck only to not know who to pick up or where to go.
To these eyes, those days are in the past.
But from there the work just begins. What's important once you're forced to play in the Dzone is stick on puck instincts, keeping cross ice passes to a minimum, boxing out in front, dmen need to get shoulder to shoulder by the net and along the boards so cycles can be disrupted and sticks must be lifted in front all so flower in the cage has the sunlight necessary to be in full bloom.
So in summary, I ask all those who are critical of Piece, Orpik and defense the following:
If we compare to boston in stinginess and can provide flower more sunlight than NYR can provide lundqvist, what’s not to like? All things considered…job well done.
But playoffs beckon…