Assistant coach Rick Tocchet gives his three impressions from the bench of the Pens’ 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.
1. First of all, Fleury played a great game. He kept us in the game just like their goalie did. It was a nice effort from ‘Flower.’
2. I thought our defense played well. They really played well, moved the puck, got up in the play.
3. As a team, a lot of chances. We had a great third period, especially the last four, five minutes. We had the puck in their end the entire time. A lot of point-blank chances. Overall happy with the effort.
Sam Kasan gives his three takeaways from the press box.
1. Derrick and the Dominoes
Derrick Pouliot looks more and more like a top-4 NHL defenseman with each game. His skills are easily demonstrated, whether he’s coolly, calmly collecting a rebound in the defensive zone and stick handling through heavy pressure to get the puck out single-handedly, or weaving the puck smoothly through traffic and defenders while driving to the net in the offensive zone. He’s also reading plays well, knowing when to pinch and when to back off. He confidently called for the puck twice and got it for a couple chances, hitting the post in OT. Pouliot no doubt has a toolbox full of talent, and he’s learning how to use it at the NHL level.
Just like they did in Los Angeles, the Pens found themselves in a low-scoring, tight-checking game. Goals were hard to come by. But Pittsburgh did an outstanding job of sticking with their system. The Pens didn’t try to force any offense and didn’t get frustrated when their many glorious scoring chances weren’t going in the net. As they’ve done all year, they didn’t sacrifice defense for offense. Instead they stuck to their guns, slowly chipped away, and were rewarded in the end.
The Pens’ passing game was really on point. They were connecting fluidly and as a result moved the puck well through the breakout and neutral zone, creating countless scoring opportunities for themselves. Pittsburgh’s possession game is built around puck support, which comes from precision passing and movement. The Pens were putting on a show as far as their passing game goes, but they just couldn’t finish off enough plays to connect for more goals.