Penguins’ Mike Sullivan not concerned about lack of right-handed forwards
The Pittsburgh Penguins could enter the season with only three right-handed forwards on their NHL roster.
Nick Bjugstad, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust compose that trio, and through three days of training camp in Cranberry, Bjugstad has been on a line with Hornqvist as well as lefty Jared McCann. Rust has been skating with Teddy Blueger and Adam Johnson.
With the departure of Phil Kessel and the additions of Brandon Tanev and Dominik Kahun, the NHL roster is bloated with southpaws. Of the 32 forwards in camp, only nine are right-handed.
There’s little, if any, concern from management.
“We have guys that are familiar with playing their off sides,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I actually think in today’s game, there’s a benefit at both ends of the rink to playing your off side. It’s always been conventional wisdom in hockey that if you play your strong side on playing the wing, it helps you in the defensive zone as far as receiving passes and coming out. But if you think about how the game is being played today and how aggressively defensemen pinch down the wall and the pressure on the puck, there’s a lot of wrapped pucks, there’s a lot of rims. So your ability to pull the puck off the boards and be able to make that next play is critically important to your team’s ability to break out of their end.
“A lot of times, you’ve got to go back and sideways before you can get out because of how aggressively teams pinch. So when wings play on their off side, they’re taking that puck on their forehand, not their backhand. I’m trying to best understand how the game is being played and some of the evolutions of the game, and I think that’s one of them. So I do think there is an advantage to playing your offside on both ends of the rink.”
Hornqvist led his team to a 4-1 win in Sunday’s scrimmage with two goals, including an empty-netter. His squad also got scores from Oula Palve and Dominik Simon. The losing team’s lone goal was scored by Anthony Angello.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .