There’s a mysterious business hoax floating around that Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall is looking at options… just like every other GM. However, for Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman to bring it up on his 32-Podcast recently, it probably means there’s a bit more heat than your average check-ins. The Penguins’ stars shine, defensemen turn around their seasons, and the six-pack formation is significantly better with the least expensive configuration.
Happy thanks everyone. Get a pile of stuffing (not clothes) for me.
1. Bottom Six Dribble, Kappy Out
It’s no fun to beat a player who’s already down. That’s for Twitter users, who seem to be enjoying the creepiness just to add an extra couple of cents. However, the Penguins have lost their last eight games to Kapanen (0-6-2).
There are no easy answers, or the Penguins would have applied. There’s nothing left to do but make Kapanen and his $3.2 million salary a healthy scratch. Not only are the Penguins 4-1-0 since Kapanen sent the press box nachos, but they were a different team. The Penguins have been a defensive-minded team (Chicago notwithstanding) that gets production from its two bottom lines.
Brock McGinn was Kabanen’s third replacement on Jeff Carter’s line, and the game is dramatically different. How many Grade A chances did the streak have on Wednesday night? five. They didn’t allow anything. ]
The emerging line also benefited from having a better fourth line. Teddy Plowger, Josh Archibald and Ryan Boehling all created an offensive zone to pass to Sidney Crosby and defend the opposition’s top line, providing some wear and tear on Crosby.
J Willickers, Crosby would fill out the stat sheet and was the number one star in the NHL.
“This font has created an identity with our team, as much as we deploy them,” Sullivan said. “We have absolute confidence in that line and their ability to defend. They have a lot of (defensively)-area starts playing against other teams’ top lines if we need it, and they do a really good job for us. They were involved offensively on this last road trip, which was more of reward.”
Looks like Sullivan pulled the plug. Barring injury, Kabanen is a spectator. It’s a baffling turn for a player whose rights have been the subject of a commercial bidding war.
2. The D-Men’s rebound shows very good promise
The defensemen were in disarray during their seven-game winless streak. A train wreck might be more appropriate. Brian Dumoulin was being beaten like a hired mule. Jeff Petrie was often curvy when he should have been curvy. Chris Letang was making more mistakes.
Marcus Peterson is the standout defenseman and he’s in the best pairing. Who saw that coming?
Pettersson’s confident debut, alongside Petry Jelling, and Dumoulin as the third pair work well for Jan Rutta. Sullivan and assistant coach Todd Redden created a strong defensive team.
On Wednesday night, Dumoulin and Rota managed to keep Calgary out of the crease. Tristan Gary See more shots and make more saves.
Just like the bottom six, the Pittsburgh Penguins puzzle pieces were there. Sullivan had to figure out where the pesky corner pieces were going.
He may not be so commendable in a few months. The foundation looks a bit shaky, but for now it’s pretty good.
3. How fun are Crosby and Malkin?
Sidney Crosby’s game isn’t what it was five years ago. Ever the tactician and hockey minded, he’s figured it out. Crosby and Jake Guentzel are even more dynamic than before. They make no-look passes every night, find lanes of traffic that don’t exist and fill up the net.
Evgeny Malkin resurrects again. Yes, there is always a mention of the always vocal minority of fans who don’t get passes anywhere. He does, yes. He also dances between defenders, pounces on loose pucks as he wants them so badly, and presents scoring opportunities to Jason Zucker like truck stops waitress platters of eggs and bacon.
There is a constant stream, and it looks amazing.
Malkin moves better. His confidence in the puck and within the game plan is also high. He plays 200 feet. Go and deduce.
3a: Hi Jason Zucker.
Zucker also—finally—bursts on the scoresheet. He is healthy and producing. His points-per-game total has fallen just below the mark with recent defensive battles, but Zucker is reading Malkin and ripping shots from between the points. He and Brian Rust are demon dogs in the process of retrieving the puck.
If only Zucker’s shot had been harder, eh Jagger?
Dave Molinari asked the question – should the Penguins Zucker re-register Currently?
The Penguins have yet to lose a game in the league (7-0-1), with Rijkaard Rackel playing with Crosby and Rast playing Malkin.
A tip of the hat to the fans that were crazy during the early transition away from those tandems. You were right.
4. Mike Sullivan is fine
There was some chatter from league sources: Mike Sullivan concluded, “His bag of tricks is empty.” He became too confident, too friendly with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ star players, and was unable to punish them effectively.
There have been a string of theories, and the longer that winless streak went on, the more plausible those whispers became.
However, even the PK is back in the 80% range.
Reports of Sullivan’s death seem to have been greatly exaggerated.
The penguins are still missing some ingredients. They could use another spark plug and some jam. A team never seems more than one exhale away from another slipping away, but making a team without a lot of freshness will do. If Hextall is shopping the NHL mall, this is where it starts.
No, we’re not going to paraphrase the informals, not even sign Kapanen, although I suspect some of you are already writing. The penguins’ quarter mark was a wild ride of steep rises and cavernous lows. It is better to get up at this point in the season than to sink.