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Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins Mike Sullivan in a locker room interview
Photo credit: Pittsburgh Hockey Now

Sullivan is why the Pens defensive core is not ready for the playoffs

Published May 13, 2024 at 11:59
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Since being the head coach of the Penguins, Mike Sullivan has been using his defenseman to support his attacking style, with Letang and Karlsson leading the way.

But based on how we have watched the playoffs this season and prior seasons go, defense is key. As an example, you can watch former Penguin and current Panther Dmitry Kulikov bring physical defensive play.

The Penguins have not really had a bruiser on the blue line since Brooks Orpik. And under Mike Sullivan, it probably will not be his priority to get one.

This is one reason why many fans and columnists want to see the Penguins move on from Mike Sullivan unless he can change his outlook on defensive play.



There is one player in particular who fits into the Sullivan scheme but is also a good example of why the Penguins would not fare well in the playoff atmosphere and that is P.O. Joseph.

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P.O. Joseph is the type of defender that fits into the Mike Sullivan way of thinking. But, defensively, he is not the type of guy you want out there in the playoffs.

P.O. is a lanky defenseman, with a long stick that contributes to his losses in puck battles. This is something the Penguins suffer from, not just from Joseph. The Penguins D overall with the exception of Marcus Pettersson, were above 50% when it came to high-danger goals for given up.


This is one reason why it is the way Sullivan's coaching style will not work in the Playoffs today. The playoffs are a different style of game then the regular season. The teams that do well like the Rangers and Panthers, play hard and forceful games in both zones.


Under Sully, the Penguins are built to succeed on their offense. That is not the type of formula that will carry you deep into the playoffs. Either Sullivan will have to change, or the head coach position will need to.

As Read On: Penguin Poop -
Penguins Defense Not Built for Playoffs
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Sullivan is why the Pens defensive core is not ready for the playoffs

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