Monday, January 21, 2013

Areas for improvement after the opening weekend

As nice as the four points were over the weekend, there are always things to work on.  Here's what jumped out at me as areas for improvement:

  • Geno shooting - through two games, he has just two shots total (and three missed shots - have to hit the net).  He does have four assists through two games, but I think he'd open things up even more for he and James Neal if he forced the opposition to respect his shot first and the pass second.
  • Second line winger - It is still early, but Eric Tangradi is not playing the minutes you'd expect from someone playing on Malkin's wing.  Some of that is due to HCDB's excellent inclination to get Sid out there with Geno and Neal after TV timeouts and penalty kills, but you'd like to see them get someone they're not afraid to put out there regularly.  Maybe it's took early to make that kind of call.  I'm not sure they have a guy in the system who is ready and able to play on that wing.
  • Discipline - Providing 4.5 power plays per game is too many.  You're going to get burned doing that over time.  Players have to keep their heads as the season rolls on, because they're only going to get more fatigued.
  • Thin defense - there are four guys that have played most of the minutes in Martin, Letang, Orpik and Niskanen.  I'm not sure that Niskanen will be up to the task all year long.  I'm worried that he'll be exposed.  Despres and Engelland are playing just over 10 minutes per game - you'd like them to be playing 13-15 to take some heat off of the top 4.  This is another area that will need to be watched closely.  If Martin falters or Niskanen struggles, the Pens will have to look to their bench (Lovejoy or Bortuzzo) or maybe Wilkes-Barre in the form of Joe Morrow.  Either way, I'm missing Michalek.

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