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Return of Justin Schultz could help Penguins strengthen weak point in their game

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A tiny right after 11 a.m. Monday, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz stepped on the ice for his 1st full call observe considering the fact that breaking his leg in Oct.

About a half-hour later, coach Mike Sullivan stopped a drill with a sharp tweet of his whistle and loudly dressed down his team for the way they have been dealing with the puck in the defensive zone.

These two developments could be incredibly substantially relevant.

Sullivan has not been happy with the cleanliness of his team’s breakouts in latest outings, and it just so transpires that Schultz’s specialty is that component of the sport.

“I just want us to execute greater,” Sullivan stated, detailing his drill-stopping harangue. “I have larger anticipations of our guys. They’re great gamers. We really do not want hope to be component of our method, and that is what I informed them.

“If we’ve obtained to hope to hook up on a move, we’re greater off not making a move. From time to time the finest engage in is no engage in and maintaining the puck in the safe component of the ice and not striving to do something that places us in susceptible positions. I considered we did a lot of hoping in that particular drill. That was the concept.”

In a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, Sullivan felt the Penguins have been not able to force back as a two-objective direct started to slip absent in the 2nd period because they have been spending too substantially time in the defensive zone.

The stats suggest it is been an situation all season. The Penguins rank 26th in the league in shot makes an attempt authorized for every sport.

Some of that can be spelled out by seeking at the tempo at which the Penguins engage in it is high. But an ineffective breakout is also partially to blame.

Schultz’s return could assistance ease the problem for two good reasons. Initial, he’s a normally gifted offensive participant. Next, it would make it possible for the team to up its full of correct-handed defensemen from one to two.

“I imagine it is effective to have defensemen on their sturdy sides,” Sullivan stated. “When the puck comes about the wall in the offensive zone, it is a substantially easier engage in to make on the forehand when you’re beneath strain. Similar issue on a neutral-zone counter or a breakout. When you can make the engage in on your forehand, it helps make it a tiny little bit easier, a tiny little bit a lot more productive.

“When you increase a correct-handed shot like Schultzy, now you’re introducing a male that has offensive instincts, that is a actually great puck mover, that can assistance us with our transition sport in so a lot of distinct capacities.”

Schultz described no difficulties right after his 1st full observe Monday, but he added that he won’t quite be all set to return to the lineup Tuesday night in opposition to Carolina.

In addition to the needed clinical clearances, he demands a tiny little bit of time to develop self confidence that his leg will keep up to no matter what rigors a frequent-season sport throws at him.

“If something, I imagine it is just a lot more psychological,” Schultz stated. “When you’re out for that extended with the variety of damage I had, there is a tiny hurdle you have to get more than in your head and be snug out there. I considered I was now. Still not fully there, but it is having there. It’s good.”

Sullivan stated the coaching employees hadn’t made a decision regardless of whether Schultz will basically slot in with Olli Maatta after he returns or if a further reshuffling of the defense pairs will be in get.

If he does stop up with Schultz skating on his correct aspect, Maatta surely won’t complain.

“He’s actually great to engage in with,” Maatta stated. “He’s actually great at being in the correct position and helping you out.”

Abide by the Pittsburgh Penguins all season extended.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review employees author. You can call Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or by means of Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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