Time for Streit? Penguins coach ponders using ‘savvy player’

Even with a staggering array of injuries to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mark Streit hasn’t been able to crack Mike Sullivan’s lineup. Streit might finally get his call in Game 3 against the Ottawa Senators, however.

With the wave of injuries reaching Justin Schultz (added to a mix that includes Trevor Daley and Kris Letang), Sullivan acknowledged the possibility that Streit may get his chance.

The way Sullivan describes him, you almost wonder why Streit hasn’t received a shot sooner.

“Mark’s a guy that has invaluable experience. He’s a really savvy player,” Sullivan said. “I think he could help us on our power play. He could help us get out of our end zone. I think he’s got great puck skills. So that was one of the main reasons why we acquired him when we did … So if Mark’s the guy we go to, we know he can continue to help us win games.”

Fair enough, but the playoffs are an especially useful time to weigh a coach’s words vs. his actions. That gives us an idea of what Sullivan really thinks about a player.

Truth in deployment

In the case of Streit, we don’t have any data there. He’s been a scratch – healthy or unhealthy – throughout this postseason.

Even with the regular season in mind, it doesn’t seem like the 39-year-old’s truly gained Sullivan’s trust.

In 49 games with the Flyers, Streit scored 21 points and averaged 19:23 TOI. In 19 contests with Pittsburgh, he generated six points and averaged just 17:06.

The veteran blueliner’s impact is diminished at this point, yet with Schultz out, it indeed makes sense to bring him in. The Penguins power play clearly struggled in Game 2, with the likes of Olli Maatta seemingly unable to keep up with an elevated role on special teams.

With all the hard minutes going around, Streit can theoretically be protected (if Sullivan doesn’t trust him) while perhaps giving the Penguins a little extra “oomph” on the power play.

Of course, with the way things have been going for the Penguins, Streit could rapidly go from “possibly in the lineup as a specialist” to “suddenly crucial.” It’s been that kind of year, yet the Pens keep plugging along.

Game 3 takes place on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. (Stream online here)

More on how the Penguins are managing injuries here.

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