Imagine that you have spent your entire life working towards a particular goal. You’ve dedicated all of your free time and made personal sacrifices so as to achieve your dream. It’s a common narrative → I’m sure several readers truly feel that way about themselves.
Now, imagine that something has been standing in your way. A road block that is outside of your control has prevented you from achieving that which you wish to claim as your own. It’s stopped you three or four times now → it seems so random and chaotic.
But, now you believe that you can take control of your situation by fundamentally changing the way you approach your quest. Altering the way you go about your business could enable you to stay in that business.
As it turns out, that won’t fly. It was your desire and willingness to take risks that got you where you needed to be in the first place → if you take that away, you’ll be lessened and unable to compete.
#1 Bennett has been plagued by a variety of freak injuries.
#2 Bennett has been healthy since he returned from his latest injury, but he hasn’t played with the same grit and physicality as before. By playing it safe, Bennett may stay healthy.
#3 Playing it safe won’t cut it on Mike Johnston’s team, especially when a recent Jason Mackey piece is taken into consideration. As a result, Bennett has recently been a healthy scratch.
We can never really know how Beau Bennett approaches his current situation. The narrative (or reality) that Bennett lives in will always be different from our own.
However, we can try to empathize and offer support as fans.
In order to stay in the lineup (and save fans from a Sill – Lapierre – Adams fourth line), Bennett needs to step up and play a physical game. He took the necessary first steps on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
What Bennett Can Do
Playing on his right wing with Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling, Beau Bennett really stepped up and played an engaged, physical game against a well-renowned Blackhawks squad. He fired nine shots on net, maintained a cycle, and put his linemates in a position to succeed. Spaling cashed in and buried a rebound past Crawford, earning the Pens a point.
During the broadcast, the NBC analysts lauded Bennett’s play, comparing him (unusually) to Alex Ovechkin because of his nine shots on net. Eddie Olcyzk also criticized Mike Johnston for failing to put Bennett on the power play, echoing so many Pens fans watching the game.
Let’s be real, though: it’ll always be weird to hear Edzo complain about Mike Johnston or any other Penguins head coach.
Regardless, Sunday’s game was certainly a step in the right direction for Bennett, whose performance on the third line could help to determine the trajectory of this team.
I barely noticed Derrick Pouliot’s play in the defensive zone on Sunday. When the former #8 overall pick carried the puck in the offensive zone, Pouliot certainly captured my attention. He is, after all, an offensively-gifted talent.
In the defensive zone, however? It was if Pouliot didn’t even exist. He would touch the puck, send it along to the next player, and start a breakout. It was so workmanlike, perhaps even boring. The decisions he made in the defensive zone were smart and unremarkable.
His stick play seemed solid, if not unspectacular. Pouliot may not be the largest player on the team, but he seemed to be able to make up for that with his positioning.
Then, once he got into the offensive zone, his talents and decision-making really took over. He launched pucks on net, made crisp passes, and maintained the cycle.
I have no doubt that Derrick Pouliot will continue to develop as both an offensive and defensive player, especially as he fills out his frame. Until then, he’s an offensive defenseman who can hold his own, but never make a difference, in the defensive zone. That makes him an above-average third pairing defenseman.