PITTSBURGH - Through the Pittsburgh Penguins current stretch of seven losses, the defensive core has had some real struggles.
Brian Dumoulin continues to be on the ice for goals against, Kris Letang has yet to score a goal, and Jeff Petry is leading the Penguins in penalty minutes.
With the “top three” defenders having a rough start, the bottom half has had to step their game up.
Marcus Pettersson has taken what looks like the biggest step forward and shined the brightest among Penguins defenders.
With Dumoulin’s struggles beginning to boil over, Pettersson took on the top pairing with Letang.
Head coach Mike Sullivan had been doing some line shifting mid-game with the defensemen, but a little extra work was put in between the two.
“Marcus has been one of our more consistent defensemen this year,” Sullivan said. “He’s had a steady start to the season. When Marcus is at his best he’s a reliable trustworthy defenseman.”
Through 12 games, Pettersson has been a beacon of stout defense and helping create opportunities offensively.
Pettersson has been on the ice for 11 total goals against, but still holds a +4 rating with four assists.
“I think I’ve been playing well to start the year,” Pettersson said. “Just got to find something in our D core here. Find a spark. Maybe we can contribute offensively.”
It’s not the first time Pettersson and Letang have shared an ice surface, but it might be the start of a more commonly seen duo.
Letang’s offensive ability needs no introduction and Pettersson has grown into a steady defensive backstop.
“It’s a privilege to play with,” Pettersson said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
If the duo sticks into a game situation, it’ll be a good move for the Penguins; Dumoulin needs to have his minutes sheltered and Pettersson has earned this kind of promotion.
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