Penguins insider: Box-out 'D' a must against Bruins
Brooks Orpik rarely is satisfied.
Even his beloved Manchester United, runaway winners of the English Premier League, did not live up to his expectations.
So his favorable feelings about the Penguins' recent defensive play near the net are something special.
“We've done a much better job,” Orpik said.
That will need to continue against Boston in the Eastern Conference final but not necessarily because the Bruins prefer to play on a straight line toward the crease or possess big-bodied forwards such as Milan Lucic (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and Shawn Thornton (6-foot-2, 217 pounds).
“All their guys play that way,” Orpik said Monday. “Everybody talks about bigger guys, but smaller guys can be even harder because it's tough to get leverage on (them). … Sometimes they get lost, (and) they're more squirmy.”
The New York Islanders — specifically winger Kyle Okposo — had success creating from around the net against the Penguins in Round 1.
The Senators tried that tactic in Round 2, but the Penguins were better at boxing out Ottawa forwards and forcing long-range shots. Those are the kinds of shots goalie Tomas Vokoun is used to facing from his days with Florida.
The Penguins were more synchronized against Ottawa in how they defended the goal crease, Orpik suggested.
“Before, we were falling victim of our low forward and defensemen trying to block shots from the point — where 50 percent of the time that you get it, great; but the other 50 percent of the time (the puck) ends up behind you, and somebody is more than likely open, and you're in a lot of trouble,” Orpik said.
“It's really us trusting (Vokoun). He plays a really challenging style. He stops that long shot and makes sure they don't get a second opportunity.
“It's about (defensemen) anticipating the play. As soon as the puck gets to the point, get on your guy and box him out. That limits his opportunity to get to the net.”
The Penguins mostly denied Ottawa forwards such as Chris Neil and Colin Greening the slot area.
Film study will help identify which Bruins player to mark most often in Round 3 but not as much as Penguins' defensemen trusting their instincts, Orpik said.
Also, teammate Mark Eaton added, not changing what has worked just because the Bruins prefer to score the so-called dirty goals.
“Our focus is just trying to prevent guys from getting to the net in the first place,” Eaton said. “With the rules (limiting obstruction), there's not much you can do when a guy gets there. It's more just trying to get in their way.
“If they do have position, just make sure you get to the puck first.”
Do that enough, and Orpik might find more satisfaction in the form of a Cup Final berth.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS
- Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Penguins coach says team needs to ‘lessen the load’ on Crosby
- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby says aching wrist doing better