Pittsburgh Penguins: Progress in Clearing the Screen

The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped a key game against the New York Islanders Tuesday, in their first visit to Brooklyn.  The way the Islanders scored however, was nothing new to the Penguins.

On the New York Islanders’ first goal, John Tavares sent a shot from near the blue line towards Marc-Andre Fleury.  Camped out, right in front of Fleury’s face was Anders Lee.  See the GIF in the tweet below.

There’s no way that Fleury can see that shot.  He couldn’t have been thrilled about that fact, and it didn’t help that the puck appeared to be tipped.  So, looking at that first goal, there’s much room for improvement in the screens which have become so problematic for the Penguins.

Now, let’s look at the Islanders second goal, which proved to be the game-winner.  Anders Lee was in on this one too, and wound up getting credit for the score.  See the video of the goal here.

Okay, so the difference here, in contrast with what happened in the first goal, is that once Lee set up camp in front of Fleury, he was challenged.  And challenged quickly.

Yes, the end result was a goal, in this instance.  However, if the Pens continue to take action like they did, teams won’t be as quick to park in front of the Penguins’ netminders.  The action which was taken, as you see in the video, was defenseman Kris Letang being very quick to establish his own presence against,  you might even say “attack”, Anders Lee, once Lee stopped right in Fleury’s view.  

Letang was hot, no doubt about it.  He basically cross-checked Lee to move him away from the crease.  Lee wasn’t about to screen Fleury unchecked while Letang was around.

And there’s the difference between the first and second goals.  Same result in this case, a goal.  However, in the second scenario, Letang made a significant effort in trying to clear the crease.  If the Pens continue to make it known that they won’t allow screens to happen without establishing themselves physically, I think you’ll see the amount of goals caused by screens eventually decrease significantly.  If not, expect more of the same.