When Patric Hornqvist was announced as out for Game 4 of the first round playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, head coach Mike Sullivan faced the dilemma of replacing a player with three points in the series, and 29 goals in the regular season. He has made that decision. Rookie forward Dominik Simon will draw into the line-up. This will be the first-ever playoff game for the versatile Czech player.
Jooris, Rowney and Hunwick were the last players on the ice at the end of morning skate, so they’re the expected scratches tonight. Looks like it’s showtime for Dominik Simon.
— Jonathan Bombulie (@BombulieTrib) April 18, 2018
Dominik Simon to Make Stanley Cup Playoffs Debut for the Pittsburgh Penguins
“If you’re not playing, you’re waiting for a chance like this,” Simon told the Pittsburgh Tribune after Wednesday’s morning practice at Wells Fargo Center. “I was just staying with it and practicing. It feels great to be back.”
The 23-year-old Simon was the Penguins fifth-round pick, 137th overall, in the 2015 NHL Draft. He played 33 games this season, scoring four goals and 12 points. He also added 16 minutes in penalties. Simon’s possession numbers are strong at 54.8 percent Corsi, and a relative Corsi of +3.6. Simon also played 21 games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL this year. He scored four goals and 17 points for the Baby Pens.
“Dom’s a very good player. He’s got great offensive instincts, he’s really good in traffic. For a guy that’s not overly big, he’s strong on the puck,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
“We expect him to just play his game and have a whole lot of fun doing it. He’s a real good player. I know he’s excited to help our team win and so he’s another guy that we think we can plug in our lineup in a number of different ways and we think he can help us win games.”
Last summer we looked at Simon’s play in the AHL.
Simon is a good skater. His top end speed is decent, however, he excels when it comes to first step quickness and acceleration. He also has very good agility and edgework. This makes him tough for defenders to handle one-on-one. Simon can work on improving his balance and being stronger on the puck.
Simon is an extremely good stick handler. He has soft hands and a wide variety of moves that he uses to beat defenders one-on-one. He protects the puck well, and uses his shiftiness and moves to open up an opportunity to take the puck to the net; to make a pass to a teammate, or to get off a shot on net. His wrist shot has decent power, but an excellent release. It can fool goaltenders and be on them before they know it. He does not always use it often enough.
He is a better playmaker than scorer though with very good vision and passing skills. Simon is also a smart player, who has a very high hockey IQ and makes smart plays with and without the puck. Despite his smaller stature, Simon is not afraid to fight for the puck down low, and in the corners. He gets to the tough areas of the ice and scores points.
Simon is strong defensively in the AHL. He back checks effectively and supports the defense down low. His hockey IQ translates into his own end as he reads the play well and cuts down passing and shooting lanes. When he creates a turnover, he moves it up the ice quickly, creating offense in transition.
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