Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

January 18, 2013

Penguins hoping a little defense goes a long way

(Continued)

 
A couple of stops here and there could have drastically altered their season. They did little to address the defense with personnel during the offseason outside of trading Zbynek Michalek back to Phoenix. Pittsburgh also traded for goaltender Tomas Vokoun to help take some of the burden off Fleury to carry the team through 99-day sprint through the 48-game regular season.
 
The 36-year-old Vokoun is no stranger to staying busy after spending most of his career with the likes of Nashville and Florida. He watched Fleury and backup Brent Johnson often left to fend for themselves after their teammates were caught out of position trying to make something happen offensively.
 
“I’m sure there’s going to be adjustments after what happened to them last year,” Vokoun said. “They know they’re going to have to play a little bit differently to be successful later.”
 
The way Vokoun sees it, the Penguins don’t need to reinvent the neutral zone trap. They just need to be a little more judicious about jumping into the play.
 
“We do have a lot of offense, we don’t need to take chances,” he said. “I think we can beat teams playing a sound game and being opportunistic when there are chances.”
 
The issue, the Penguins insist, is execution, not a lack of talent. Kris Letang is considered a Norris Trophy candidate and Brooks Orpik provides steady leadership from the blue line. They still believe Paul Martin is worth his hefty $5 million contract. They like what they have in Ben Lovejoy and Mat Niskanen.
 
Of course, more than two guys playing defense is required most of the time. It’s not that Crosby and Malkin are poor defensively, but the players admit there were times last year when they’d let in a soft goal or two and figured it was no big deal, assuming they would get it back quickly.

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