Penguins coach Mike Sullivan backs slumping winger Dominik Simon
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Pittsburgh Penguins winger Dominik Simon has slipped into a slump since the all-star break, recording no goals, three assists and a minus-3 rating in his past 12 games.
He has not lost the faith of his coach.
Before the Penguins faced the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, Mike Sullivan gave a strong defense of the 24-year-old Simon, who had seven goals, 20 points and a plus-8 rating in 40 games before the all-star break.
“For most of the year, he’s been a half-point a game guy, which is pretty respectable,” Sullivan said. “Lately, to Dominik’s defense, I haven’t necessarily put him in the position to post numbers. But it doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective player for us and help us win games. He does a lot of the little things out there that helps lines be successful. For example, he’s pretty good on the wall. He can hold onto pucks in the offensive zone.
“He hits the post in Columbus. With some of the limited opportunity he was given in Columbus, he still had an impact.”
Simon started the Columbus game, a 5-2 Penguins win, on the fourth line. He bumped up to the third line with Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad when Bryan Rust suffered a lower-body injury.
With Rust out “longer term,” Simon is one of the players the Penguins will be looking toward to fill the void.
“He’s a good offensive player. He’s got good offensive instincts,” Sullivan said. “He’s a good two-way player. I think he gets underappreciated in that regard. There’s a lot of subtleties in Dom’s game that help the line he’s on be effective. When you look at his overall production for the first 40-plus games, he was a half-a-point a game. If he does that throughout the course of the rest of the season, then he’s going to help us win hockey games.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .