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04-21-2012, 10:48 AM
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You're not going to see a guy like Despres going from playing 5 minutes a night in the playoffs to suddenly be on the top pairing after 1 summer. I like Despres, and have little doubt he'll be a very good top-4 d-men sooner rather than later.. But he might not even start next season on the big club, depending on how Shero feels about Bortuzzo & Strait clearing waivers and what is best for Despres' development.

Orpik is going to stay. He's a veteran with Cup experience, a reasonable cap hit and he's one of only two consistently physical defensemen on the team (other being Engelland). I feel like our blueline should be much, much more physical, and trading Orpik would make it much less so.

I'm OK with backing off his minutes, though. And that might mean dressing 7 d more often during the regular season. That way you can still have Orpik playing with Letang, who complement eachother well, while also giving the odd shift to Strait or Niskanen with Letang. It might also mean asking Brooks to make adjustments to his game.. essentially being a little less seek-and-destroy and a little more positionally sound.

I think a lot of the issue with our blueline is just our breakout in general. The whole "go north" thing is fine, but any team that only has one fixed system is going to be exploited now and again. A lot of our D's issues this season were turnovers, mostly because teams (finally) learned that if you take away the wall and step up on the (usually stationary) wingers, you're going to generate a lot of turnovers that will result in a 3-on-2 counter attack on flatfooted d-men.

The Penguins need to be able to adjust accordingly. Reversing the puck and having a more tightly-packed breakout should be part of their repertoire, and something they should be able to switch on and off at the drop of a hat. All the best teams can play several different styles, both with and without the puck.

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