Penguins’ Dominik Simon works to create scoring chances |

Penguins’ Dominik Simon works to create scoring chances

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Dominik Simon skates the puck in the offensive zone against the Red Wings in the first period Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

The way Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan sees it, three results can arise from shooting pucks toward the net, and two of them are good for the shooter.

The topic surfaced Friday after practice, when Sullivan was asked about third-line left wing Dominik Simon. The 24-year-old Czech does everything on the ice that a coach can ask of a player, except the one task that decides the outcome of games: He doesn’t score many goals.

“If he is going to finish (score), he has to put more pucks on the net,” Sullivan said. “One of two things will happen. He’ll either score goals himself, or, as we’ve said on a number of occasions, nothing breaks coverage down more than a shot on goal. It creates a next-play opportunity for his linemates or himself.”

Of course, there’s always the possibility of the third thing — he could miss or be turned away by the goaltender.

But there was a time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when Simon was the team’s leading goal scorer. That was the 2015-16 season, when he scored 25 goals, with 23 assists. That continued a trend he brought with him from two Czech teams where he totaled 26 goals, with 17 assists, in 116 games over three seasons.

But in the past two seasons — in Wilkes Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh — Simon has totaled 55 assists with only 23 goals.

Sullivan has encouraged Simon to shoot more often.

“We think he has a sneaky shot. He’s got a sneaky release,” the coach said.

Simon is trying to oblige.

“I have to, for sure, put more pucks on the net,” he said.

Asked if he considers himself a passer or shooter, he said, “It depends how you feel. Once it keeps going in, you shoot more, obviously. You get a lucky bounce, and you keep going.”

Sullivan has moved Simon from Sidney Crosby’s line to one with center Derek Brassard and right wing Bryan Rust. Sullivan liked how the line had performed prior to the Penguins’ final exhibition game Friday in Columbus, and he plans to give it a chance to gain traction.

“We’ve liked the line,” Sullivan said. “We think they’ve had a couple really strong games, and that’s one of the reasons we keep it together: just to give it another look and see what kind of chemistry develops.”

Even if Simon doesn’t start scoring goals immediately, Sullivan likes other parts of his game.

“Dominik has been a big part of their success,” he said. “He makes a lot of real subtle plays. He protects the puck extremely well for a guy who isn’t all that big (5-foot-11, 190 pounds). He’s pretty stiff on the puck.

“He’s really good in traffic and tight spaces. He has very good hands and sees it pretty good offensively. He makes a lot of those subtle plays that create opportunity.”

Simon says he compensates for his lack of his size by trying to excel in other areas.

“I feel good on my skates and in battles. It’s not easy when you’re not the tallest guy,” he said, “but you have to put the speed in and other things to even it out.”

Simon liked skating with Crosby — “It’s really nice to play with him because he makes so much ice for you,” he said — but he said Brassard and Rust also can create opportunities.

“We make chances in a different way, maybe,” Simon said. “We’ve made a lot of them, and that feels great.”

Brassard hopes his line remains intact but knows how situations change over the course of a season.

“We’ve had some good looks, we’re making good decisions, we’ve had some good games, but it’s only preseason,” he said. “We know what kind of players we are. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing and being on the same page.

“In the season, the lines change a million times. There are always ups and down in a season, for the team, for players. If we can find some chemistry and try to keep it as long as we can during the season, that would be a positive thing for our hockey team.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.