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Pittsburgh Penguins: Center Lane Drive

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A look at Mike Johnston's new system from the first night shows a new trait to get bodies to the net

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Elliotte Friedman was on Canadian radio and made this observation:

Even though Friedman singled out Patric Hornqvist, this instantly made me think about the goal that Pascal Dupuis scored.

When thinking about that goal, many might instantly recall the great pass that Olli Maatta made to basically give Dupuis an empty net to shoot at, but it was the work of Brandon Sutter (who didn't earn a point on the play) that made it all possible with a good center drive.

Some crude screenshots, you say? Then crude screenshots you will get.

With the Anaheim Ducks already on their heels down 2-0 in the first, the Pittsburgh Penguins burst into the zone. Evgeni Malkin skated in to the right corner with the puck, drawing back two defenders. Brandon Sutter is in the middle driving towards the net.

Maatta has jumped up to support the play, and there is a huge hole on the left side of the ice, just begging for another player to skate into. Malkin makes the simple pass to Maatta as goalie John Gibson has to hug his left post, since he's got Malkin charging down that side.

dupuisgoalducks

The next shot is a split second after the first, Dupuis has beaten his man into the zone and is in prime shooting position. Gibson, by virtue of having Sutter and his defender pushed into his vision has not picked this up, and is still looking to his left at Maatta and the puck, not realizing the danger that is quickly developing.

dupuisgoal2ducks

Maatta makes a great (but fairly easy) pass and Dupuis is able to shovel the puck into an open cage. And look where Sutter still is.

dupuisgoal3ducks

Still right in front.

This goal illustrates several keys of Johnston's system. Maatta steps up when he sees the chance to do so. Sutter drives to the net. There's space created on the left by Malkin driving in to the right. Then the Pens skill takes over with two quick passes and a nice finish from Dupuis.

Just like they drew it up.