The narrative was different, but the ending was the same. Despite a first period that was filled with what seemed like nervous mistakes, the Penguins were able to best the Blue Jackets 4-3 to win their sixth straight game against Columbus and take a 1-0 series lead.

Crosby vs. Dubinsky takes center stage

Earlier this week we wrote that Dan Bylsma put Crosby head to head against the Johansen line in the regular season. Not the case in Game 1, as Brandon Dubinsky took to the ice to go head-to-head with Crosby in a shutdown role.

Dubinsky spent the majority of his night taking shots at Crosby, including what appeared to be a dangerous slew-foot, but the advanced metrics behind that match-up leave quite a bit to be desired.

Courtesy of The Pensblog we have a nice montage of the Crosby/Dubinsky experience.

Last night’s story has two sides to it. Sure, Dubinsky was able to keep Crosby off the even-strength scoresheet. However, a disturbing trend developed that ought to have the Blue Jackets a little bit concerned heading into the next game.

Dubinsky’s Fenwick-For percentage in Game 1 was 38.1%. Meaning, 38.1% of all shots attempted when Dubinsky was on the ice went on the Pittsburgh net.

When you give a superstar like Sidney Crosby those kinds of odds, bad things are going to happen. Crosby didn’t respond to the dirty work of Dubinsky in the game, and instead he terrorized the Columbus defense and goaltending with high quality scoring chances from behind the Columbus goal.

In addition, James Wisniewski and Ryan Murray felt the Crosby possession plight as well, registering Fenwick-For percentages of 44% and 41% respectively.

Bobrovsky’s Plight

Aside from letting in what could be viewed as a soft goal against Brandon Sutter that sealed the Penguins victory, Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has one other major issue.

His defencemen are allowing the Penguins way too much space behind the net. Crosby and Malkin had a field day possessing the puck from the side of the cage, which kept the Columbus defense and goaltending completely confused throughout the night.

This board work by the Penguins generated several high-quality scoring chances from in and around the slot area, as well as point shots with quality screens in front.

Keep an eye on the work the Penguins do behind their own net on Saturday. If Columbus wants to allow the Penguins space behind the net, it’s going to lead to a few goals against sooner rather than later.


In the not-so-good news department, the Blue Jackets out-hit the Penguins at nearly a 2:1 ratio in Game One. The Jackets registered 48 hits to the Penguins 27 and managed to have eight less giveaways in the process.

However, the best possession players for the Penguins last night?

Fasten your seatbelts for this one.

Craig Adams and Joe Vitale.

If the Penguins fourth line can just simply keep the puck out of their own zone and provide a steady presence on the backend, the Penguins are going to be just fine with their bottom six.

Bylsma off-day

Dan Bylsma referred to Brian Gibbons speed as an asset that allows him to fit in many roles with this team, and unequivocally said he was the “fastest straight line player on the team.”

“He forces other teams with his speed, he forces their decision making with how quickly he can get on the puck. Sid is able to get a read on that, it’s something he’s always wanted on his wing and with the guys he’s playing with.”

On Letang:

“He’s a guy that’s targeted. Going into a series there’s always guys on the opposition that you’re looking to put a dent on. Kris is one of those guys on our team. We talk about it, from the way the Blue Jackets play, we know they’re going to dump a lot of pucks, come physically on the forecheck. That’s not just towards 58, that’s the whole team. I didn’t like the response from Kris on the penalty he took on Jenner, I think he got the message, whether it was a voice, not playing, or a nice talk. He’s got to be better, we have to be better there as a team.”