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Penguins need to find defensive answers

The Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t known for defense and you’ll see why

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This might be painful to see, but Mike Kelly from TSN and the NHL Network put together a package of examples of poor defensive plays by the Pittsburgh Penguins lately.

As Kelly notes, the Pens are 28th in allowing passes into the slot and high-danger chances against. They’re losing coverage, guys are stepping up or away from players and it’s resulting in goals against.

Overall this year the Pens are 23rd in the league in allowing shots with 33.2 against per game. They’re giving up the 10th most high-danger scoring chances against in 5v5 as well.

It all adds up to some sloppy play. And looking at the upcoming schedule for the next week, Pittsburgh might have their hands full with the next few opponents.

At first blush, the next game against Arizona should be the best one for the Pittsburgh defense. Arizona at 7-6-1 is off to a pretty decent start, but they aren’t scoring a lot. Then again, the Pens are on a five-game losing streak and though they’re usually good at home, they’re also 0-3-1 at home in the last four games.

After that, though, the Pens will see some top offensive teams. The Devils just beat the Pens 5-1 earlier this past week - then they see two top-5 teams in goals. One of them surprisingly, one not.

The Pens look weak on defense; they’ve split Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin, the best two defenseman on the team and the two playing the best. Letang has gotten some decent play out of Jack Johnson in the last two games, while Dumoulin has had a tougher time with Jamie Oleksiak. Juuso Riikola was a great pre-season story but has metrics that say he doesn’t belong in the NHL. Chad Ruhwedel has floated in and out of the lineup.

Justin Schultz is still out for months on end. He’s missed 10 games and isn’t walking back through that door any time soon. He’s going to miss 40+ more games. The personnel isn’t the best and Pittsburgh likely isn’t going to be a top defense anyways. But if they want success (and want it without the general manager splitting up a sizeable chunk of the core) then they better start finding a way to perform better and avoid having more examples for people like Kelly to pick apart in the above video.