There are plenty of questions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins as they consider how to retool their roster after a disappointing 2018-19 season.
Here’s a big one: Did the Penguins struggle in transition because their defense corps lacked the speed and skill to get the puck to the forwards effectively or did they struggle because their forwards didn’t provide the support that the defensemen needed to succeed?
A quick survey of social media and the blogosphere shows that many Penguins fans are fully convinced the defensemen are the problem, which is a perfectly reasonable position to hold. Two of the newest additions to the team’s blue line, Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson, don’t exactly fit the puck-moving mold the Penguins used to rekindle their championship era in 2016.
Those dead set on fixing blame on the defense should probably take a look at the curious case of Olli Maatta first, though.
Maatta, by all accounts, had a mediocre season, but his numbers vary wildly based on which center he shared the ice with.
When he played with beleaguered Derick Brassard at five on five, the Penguins were outscored, 8-3.
When he was on the ice with Evgeni Malkin, goal-scoring was pretty much a 50-50 proposition. The Penguins were outscored, 11-10.