Phillip Danault wore two hats since the start of this series against the Penguins, that of center of the first line, but also that of center which serves as shade for Sidney Crosby. From the second period of Game 3, Danault can focus even more on his mission to slow down the Penguins captain.
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Claude Julien made an important bet during the last meeting by breaking his most stable trio for two years, that of Danault in the center of Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher.
Julien’s daring paid off. Placed in the center of Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen, Danault lost the weight of an offensive responsibility.
“When I’m on top of my game, I’m strong defensively and the attack comes after,” Danault recalled Thursday before practice. Sometimes by changing the trios, it can change big things. It was a big decision on Claude’s part. It paid off. I was playing a simpler style with Light [Lehkonen] and Pauly [Byron]. It was good for me. “
“It’s sure that it will help him with these two wingers, two good defensive players,” added Julien. Light has been playing great hockey since the start of the playoffs. Paul Byron, we know what he brings. It gave him some excellent wingers which complement him well. “
Nick Suzuki took Danault’s place in the center of Tatar and Gallagher, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi ended up with Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia.
Almost 23 minutes
Danault spoke of a simpler style of explaining his game in Game 3. It was simple, but amazingly effective.
In the third match, he finished the game with a playing time of 22:38. He found himself just seconds away from the team’s three main defenders, Shea Weber (23:55), Ben Chiarot (23:00) and Jeff Petry (22:51).
« Phil is so important to our team, noted Chiarot. He generates attack and plays well defensively. He takes the big faceoffs. He’s a big piece of our puzzle. We will need him again. He always plays against the best players in the world. “
In the dying seconds of Game 3, Danault won some valuable face-offs in defensive territory against Crosby. In this regard, the Quebecer has had success against the captain of the Penguins with an efficiency rate of 63% (29 in 46) in the circle since the start of this series.