I hate to quote the 3rd movie of the Mighty Ducks because the it’s probably the worst out of the 3, but “you have to take out the trash”. The coach of Eden Hall was right, and it actually makes sense for the Pittsburgh Penguins too.
Everyone likes a nice Bryan Rust wrist shot from the end of the offensive zone faceoff circle, they’re definitely needed, yet not the exact key of winning success.
Like the arsenal of Batman’s gadget belt, the Pens have weapons to use. Their best weapon of all though is probably the most uncommon of what they’re known for and that’s when they’re successful in front of the net.
Come playoff hockey time, you’re not scoring ordinary goals like you would in the regular season. It comes down to who wants it more, and I think the Pens are most difficult to opponents when they have this net front presence going for them.
Patric Hornqvist is the common answer for that. It’s all about getting to the nitty gritty grinding areas. It’s not just him though. Nick Bonino’s (happy birthday by the way) playoff goals from this years and last all come just inches away from the blue goalie crease.
Take a look at his goal in the 1st game montage here:
Who could forget this 1?
It works on defense as well, you saw in game 4 how the Blue Jackets controlled most of the fight in front. While Sidney Crosby scores many ways, his best is parked on that side of the net, but it was a puck that went off his skates and into the net that got Columbus started. That snowballed into more chances up front.
The Penguins thrive on odd man rush situations to tally many goals. There needs to be another plan when that’s not there. By scoring the “garbage goals”, their offenses’ abilities maximize greatly.
Defense is key to winning another Stanley Cup. It will be of necessary measure to clean house there. The Pens have talent everywhere. Yes, there are times you’ll score on a slap shot or deflection from the point, but gaining rebounds and coming out on top in those battles is where you will continue to win. The Penguins have it, they just need to consistently use it.