Penguins' Bylsma puts Bennett in position to score
Few players will influence whether the Penguins avenge last year's Eastern Conference final trouncing and win a fourth Stanley Cup title more than Beau Bennett. The 22-year-old winger is creating offensive chances for teammates and cashing in himself recently, registering two goals and an assist in his first four games back from a wrist injury that had sidelined him since late November.
If it seems like Bennett, the 20th pick in the 2010 draft, is hovering around the net, that's by design. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has made it a point to get Bennett — coveted for his quick release and passing ability — in position to light the lamp.
Bennett has the highest Offensive Zone Start Percentage (OZSP) among all Penguins who have played at least 10 games. OZSP records how often a player begins his shift at the opponent's end of the ice, and it's a barometer of whether a coach is deploying a player for his offensive or defensive skills. The higher the OZSP, the more a player is being used to take advantage of his scoring touch. Bennett is starting in the offensive zone two-thirds of the time, up from 57.6 percent last season.
Off. zonePlayer start pct.
Beau Bennett 66.2
Brian Gibbons 60.0
Jussi Jokinen 60.0
Jayson Megna 59.7
Evgeni Malkin 59.0
Bylsma also is surrounding Bennett with premium scoring talents. Bennett, who has skated on the Sidney Crosby-Chris Kunitz line at times, has the fifth-highest Quality of Teammates (QoT) ranking among Penguins wingers.
QoT gauges the skill level of a player's line mates. A positive number means he's getting a boost from talented teammates, and a negative number means he's getting dragged down by unproductive players. In 2012-13, by contrast, Bennett had a negative QoT (-.281).
James Neal +.286
Chris Kunitz +.260
Jussi Jokinen +.226
Lee Stempniak +.145
Beau Bennett +.141
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
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