October 27th, Penguins Live
Ian Altenbaugh joined Brian Metzer to talk Pens prospects. Metzer cited Wilkes-Barre beat writer Jonathan Bombulie saying Pouliot "looks more poised as a power play quarterback than Kris Letang did down on the farm, he’s more dynamic than Alex Goligoski, maybe similar to Ryan Whitney, but a different kind of player." Altenbaugh said Pouliot "has NHL talent, NHL offensive ability, his ability to distribute the puck is probably… I don’t know if there’s any defenseman who’s skilled like that on the Penguins." He added Pouliot would probably be up at some point this year in his opinion and full time "in the near future" and that he reminds him a lot of Sergei Gonchar.
I’m still not sure if Pouliot is the next great puck-moving defenseman or if he’ll be another Marc-Andre Bergeron, butI’ve only seen him play in development and training camps and preseason, so what do I know? I'm certainly no Andy Sutton, that's for sure. Initially, my opinion was unfairly influenced by my desire to see the Pens to take Filip Forsberg there. I’ve gradually gotten most of that out of my system, but still have concerns about him defensively. The last world juniors were a big step forward for him.
October 31st, David Todd Show
Todd asked Dejan Kovacevic if the Pens are a better team than last year. "Team is the operative term here, and the answer is absolutely, unequivocally. Forget the results, forget the record, even forget the fact that four of their six wins have come against teams that already have good records. The Penguins are playing together. They’re moving up the ice in a pack. They’re defending in a pack and now this past week between Nashville, New Jersey and LA, three of the most defensively sound and mean teams in the NHL, the Penguins basically bulled right through them." Kovacevic attributed the change to "65% Mike Johnston, 35% Patric Hornqvist rubbing off on everybody else." He also said the current style works in the playoffs.
It’s a small sample size, but bad start against New Jersey notwithstanding, it’s been an impressive one. Will it work in the playoffs? Time will tell. Coaches always find a way to combat a team’s strengths. Sooner or later, this team will have to deal with that.
October 31st, Penguins Hotline
Phil Bourque talked about a lot of subtle, little plays that didn’t show up on the score sheet being big parts of the win. Bob Grove cited a 3-on-2 LA got while down 2-0 where Letang deflected a Jeff Carter shot out of play saying "nobody even thinks twice about it, but to me, that was a very dangerous looking play."
I love when things like this are brought up. I like stats, but they aren’t everything. This is one of the little things Letang does, but rarely gets credit for.
November 1st, Pens Week
Do the Pens need to be a top 5 defensive team, given all of their offensive firepower? Per Paul Steigerwald, the only two Cup winners outside the top 10 defensively were the 09 Penguins and 06 Hurricanes. Metzer didn’t think top 5 was necessary but top 10 probably was, citing recent defensive improvements. Steigerwald pointed out that Johnston recently switched from a 1-3-1 to a 1-2-2 because it’s more conventional, and guys wouldn’t have to think as much.
The Pens average 2.2 goals against per game, 10th best in the NHL. If they can maintain that with their top offense, they’ll win a lot of hockey games.
Finally, I'm going to break format a little and embed a segment Kovacevic did on the October 29th edition of the Mark Madden show. It's almost 19 minutes, but mostly hockey talk, and worth listening to. If nothing else, take a listen to them go back and forth on Madden's tendency to pick on Malkin, which starts around the 2:54 mark.
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