Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.
1. Crash Line
The trio of Tom Kuhnhackl-Oskar Sundqvist-Bryan Rust have been a model of consistency. You know exactly what you’re going to get. They’re going to play physical, straightforward and with relentless energy and passion. They are also going to create chaos in the crease. Every shift against the Bruins resulted in them getting pucks to the net and crashing so hard that multiple bodies would end up in a pile on the ice. And they connected for a second-period goal doing exactly what they did all game: getting a puck on net and crashing for a rebound. Sundqvist's shot was stopped by goalie Tuukka Rask and the rebound popped into the crease. Kuhnhackl lost an edge while going at full speed looking for that rebound. He fell to the ice in the crease, but the puck went off his skate and into the goal. Those three are a lot of fun to watch.
2. Defensive Coverage
Four of Boston's five goals were the result of breakdowns by defensemen. On the first goal, Derrick Pouliot wasn’t fast enough on his retreat, which led to a David Pastrnak breakaway (and eventual penalty shot goal). Olli Maatta tried an ill-advised backhand pass against his body from the end boards. The puck was intercepted by Pastrnak, who walked to the goal to score his second of the night. The third Bruins goal occurred when Jimmy Hayes crisscrossed with Ryan Spooner. Kris Letang, instead of maintaining his gap, followed Spooner into Pouliot’s zone -- which left Hayes wide-open for the cross-ice tap in. The final goal came when Maatta tried to bat an airborne puck on his backhand at the blue line. He missed and Landon Ferraro was off on a breakaway for another tally.
3. Decisions, Decisions
The Pens’ bottom-6, which took a while to really find their rhythm, have been the team’s most consistent players through the past few games. With possible return of Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bonino on Saturday, which of the two players currently in the lineup will be sat? The third line of Kuhnhackl-Sundqvist-Rust has been playing incredible together (see above). Does Sundqvist go back to WBS? Or do you keep those three together and move players off the fourth line? It will be a couple of tough decisions for the coaches, but those are good decisions to make.