After allowing a fairly crucial power-play goal in Friday's 6-3 road loss to the Lightning, the Penguins made some changes to their penalty kill for Saturday's 3-2 overtime road win against the Panthers.
The biggest change involved center Sidney Crosby (right) a whole bunch on the penalty kill.
Friday, Crosby logged only 15 seconds of short-handed ice time during two Tampa Bay power plays. Saturday, against five Florida power plays, he logged 1:29 of short-handed ice time.
Since being promoted as head coach, Mike Sullivan has been pretty up front about wanting to spare Crosby and center Evgeni Malkin the wear and tear penalty killing can bring. Today, he talked about why he used Crosby more on the penalty kill in Saturday's game:
"I used more people on Saturday than we normally do. Part of it was the back-to-back [games on consecutive days], trying to spread some of the minutes a little bit. Part of it was because we struggled in the faceoff circle and Sid has been our most consistent center iceman as far as winning faceoffs. If you can win that first faceoff and get that puck 200 feet, a lot of times you can disrupt the rest of the [opponent's] power play if we do a good enough job down the ice. Those are probably the main reasons why he saw more time on Saturday than he did on Friday. He's capable. He can play in that circumstance. I've just just chose to use him a little bit more sparingly in that circumstance until this weekend. I think given the circumstance that we're in with some of the players that we have out, you're probably going to see Sid a lot more in that circumstance."
-Center Kevin Porter, who lost the faceoff leading to that crucial goal Friday, has seen a slight increase in penalty killing time with centers Eric Fehr and Nick Bonino sidelined. He talked about what changes for him on the penalty kill with those two absent and what was different with Saturday's penalty kill.
You probably get more ice time with Fehr and Bonino out.
"A little bit. I think more guys have gotten in the fold now on the [penalty kill]. So I think we've got six guys now which helps out. You're not that tired going out there every shift. So I think we can have some more energy. We can pressure a little bit more. We have a little bit more playing time with those guys out. It's good to get some other guys in the fold too."
You'll probably be asked to take more faceoffs.
"Definitely got to be better on faceoffs. Haven't exactly won too many the last few games. It's something you've got to work on. Just keep doing it. I've been taking a lot of faceoffs lately. I've got to be better in that area. That's something that I and a lot of other guys are doing. So if I can get out for a couple draws, that's a good thing."
It seemed like the team took more offensive chances short-handed Saturday.
"I think it was just how their power play was moving the puck. They were trying to make low plays and once we picked it off, we had two-on-ones or half breakaways. Stuff like that. So I think it was just more of the way their power play was moving the puck around. They had one guy high and more guys low than the teams we've seen in the past."
So it wasn't necessarily a focus of your team to take more chances?
"I don't think so. We were getting back to pucks and we were breaking them out. I think we were forcing them to chip pucks in and we were getting back and getting those pucks out. We'd get a lucky bounce and an odd-man rush out of that once in a while. So we had a couple chances."
The topic of discussion the last two days has been the recent trade between the Penguins and Ducks which brought left winger Carl Hagelin to Pittsburgh and sent left winger David Perron to Anaheim. Perron has ripped it up quite a bit with the Ducks while Hagelin has found a home on the wing with Malkin. Neither player was terribly interested in talking about why they struggled with their former team. Each coach had some thoughts on the subject. Sullivan:
"They're both good players in their own right and sometimes a change of scenery for both guys is a good thing. I think it's worked out for both players. They're both very good players. They're different players in what they bring to the table. Certainly I think from Carl's standpoint, what he's brought to our team is that speed factor that I think that helps us keep the puck. He plays predominantly with [Malkin and right winger Phil Kessel] and what he's brought to those guys is through his speed. And he has good enough hockey sense that he can play with those guys and play that give and go game. But I think he's helped them to keep the puck more. He's obviously a threat off the rush because of his speed and I think a guy like [Malkin] or Phil, they're intuitive guys and they know if they can play pucks into space and allow him to chase pucks down, he can be dangerous. So I think both off the rush and in the offensive zone, he's helped those guys in that regard and I think his speed has been a big reason why."
-Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau talked about center Ryan Getzlaf helping Perron:
"We all know he's got good skill and he's finished [scored goals] and he's put himself in the right position. Ryan is pretty adept at getting you the puck. The biggest difference maybe between the two great centers they have here [Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin] and Ryan is he's a right-handed guy. Right-handed guys, you don't have to pass to your left-hand side on your backhand. Maybe it's as little as that that might make him successful. When he played in Edmonton, he was with [center Ryan] Nugent-Hopkins too."
-Defenseman David Warsofsky participated in the morning skate today for the first time since he was tripped up by referee Tim Peel and fell on his head in a 5-0 home win against the Hurricanes Jan. 17:
Warsofsky will miss tonight's game but he is progressing in his recovery. He talked about his ordeal today:
You probably didn't have any sense Peel was behind you when you collided.
"Yeah, I was just looking up taking the rush. As a defenseman, you see everything in front of you so you're not expecting to be taken out from behind like that. When it happened, I think I was kind of in shock. I didn't know what happened."
Where are you in your recovery?
"I can start skating and kind of see how I feel every day. If I continue to feel better, it's a new step every day."
Did Peel contact you afterwards?
"Timmy called me. He obviously apologized. He obliviously didn't mean anything by it. He blew and edge and it's hockey. Things happen."
That was a pretty strange play all around.
"I don't think I've ever seen that in hockey and I don't think we'll ever see it again either. It was an unfortunate incident but hopefully I'm on the road to recovery."
(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)