For a lengthy overview of the Penguins’ problems, read my column at timesonline.com. Meantime, here’s a microcosm:
Pine-Richland High School product Brandon Saad was Chicago’s second-round pick (43rd overall) in the 2011 NHL draft. He is playing on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. That’s what his pedigree dictates. Saad has skills. He’s not racking up big numbers. He has three goals and two assists in 21 games.
But Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville knows that’s where Saad fits. He’s not a checker. He’s in a spot that gives him confidence and helps him develop.
The Blackhawks, by the way, are undefeated in regulation.
Beau Bennett was the Penguins’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2010 draft. He’s on the Pens’ third line. Matt Cooke, an archetypical third-line talent, is on the second line. Cooke’s production (two goals at Montreal Saturday) duly noted, each is mismatched. Saad skates with superstars. Bennett skates mostly with mugs.
Somebody explain how that benefits Bennett, or the Penguins.
Bennett is either ready to fulfill his projected duty as a top-six forward, or he’s not. What can Bennett “prove” on a line with the likes of Tyler Kennedy? Does he have to grind his way to daylight? The usage of Bennett makes absolutely zero sense.
Quenneville gets it. He’s using Saad properly. Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma isn’t helping his team, and he’s not helping Bennett’s development.
It’s time to start getting things right. The obvious seems a good place to start.
UPDATE: BRANDON SAAD WILL BE MY GUEST AT 415PM (6PM REPLAY)!