Zach Sill Has Strong Game Despite Penguins’ Loss


Despite the Penguins‘ last-second loss to the Dallas Stars, Zach Sill‘s physical play was impressive, and enough to convince this talking head that he is deserving of a full-time role in place of Craig Adams.  To be clear, this issue is not yet ripe as Beau Bennett‘s return is still weeks away; Bennett should land a spot on any of the top three lines, provided he can stay healthy.

Anyone who is even a casual consumer of Penguins sports media has become familiar with the refrain that Adams is too old and is simply not effective enough to merit a starting spot.  I have been a late adopter to this viewpoint because of Adams’ consistency, locker room demeanor, and poise. However, it is time for the Penguins to explore their depth at forward, despite Adams’ well-deserved place in the hearts and minds of Penguins fans.


I have never been a believer in player analysis that gives undue weight to statistics.  In fact, with the 2014-2015 season still in its infancy, there is little statistical argument to be made for playing Sill and Scratching Adams (other than Sill’s 5 penalty minutes and + 1 rating compared to Adams’ humble 0 in both columns).

However, game tape doesn’t lie.

Zach Sill can thump.  He can lay hits, take them, and scrap.  He has also proven to be effective on the boards, and has been a significant contributor to the Penguins’ new puck possession scheme. In fact, an underrated part of his game has been his ability to make smart simple passes, which have enabled the fourth line to cycle, get line changes, and set up the first line for prime scoring chances.

Dec 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Corey Tropp (26) and Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Zach Sill (38) fight during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Craig Adams has had a few good shifts.  That’s about it.

Advantage: Sill


In terms of size, it is remarkable how similar the two men are, at least by the numbers, with Adams coming in at 6 feet tall 200 lbs and Sill at 6 feet tall 202 lbs.  What is more remarkable is Sill’s ability to play like a much larger man.  Adams plays a game that fits his size.  Sill plays a game where size is irrelevant; he is going to impose his will on every unlucky soul that he comes across.

Advantage: Sill


One number that doesn’t lie is age.  Craig Adams is no spring chicken. In fact, he more closely resembles a cow that needs to be put out to pasture.  At 37, with a decline in performance that has been closely watched and carefully noted, it is time for a changing of the guard.

Eleven years Adams’ junior, Sill’s career is on the upswing.  He has demonstrated a commitment to the organization, the team, and coach Johnston’s new system.  There really is no argument here.

Oct 12, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone (12) and Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Craig Adams (27) fight four seconds into the game at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Sill


In hockey, the fourth line is known as the “energy line,” not only for the spark they can provide to their teammates, but for the energy they allow the top six to recover while they are on the ice.  Zach Sill embodies each equally significant aspect to a job that fewer and fewer players seek out each year.  The man is the real deal, and the Penguins would do well to start him every game.