Everything Else

Mike Darnay is the editor-in-chief of Pensburgh.com. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeDarnay.

 

It’s been a weird start for the Penguins. They sit near the top of the Metro (though some of that is having played the most games), and yet they have a terrible goal-difference even without the 10 they gave up to the Hawks. Their analytic numbers aren’t very impressive either. Are the problems actually structural? Is this just fatigue/boredom? Combination thereof?
Weird doesn’t even start to describe it. They’re in a unique spot where their point totals are pretty much fine, all things considered, but everything else stinks. I guess a 10-1 loss will do that when compounded with a pair of 7-1 losses as well. It’s easy to chalk it up to those second legs of the back-to-back games on the road that Niemi played in, plus an NHL debut from Casey DeSmith in the other. Those three losses are enough to submarine any statistics. But I do think fatigue is a valid issue, given that they’ve played an extra 1/2 season more than some teams in the past two years.
Matt Murray has struggled to start the year for sure. Just a sophomore slump? Any worry about the amount fo games he’s been asked to play?
I don’t think so. I think he’ll be fine and get back to form. Not having a viable backup didn’t help him, as two of the games he was supposed to rest (Chicago and Winnipeg), he ended up having to come in for relief despite playing a full game the night before with travel in between cities. Now that Tristan Jarry has been called up and appears to be able to be a competent backup, it should help Murray get the rest he needs and give the Penguins a backup they can go to.
This sounds stupid, but 15 points in 20 games for Sidney Crosby isn’t up to his usual standards. In addition, his analytic numbers are below what we’ve come to expect. Anything serious going on here?
I don’t think it sounds stupid, because *everyone* has been talking about it. You could even focus on the fact that he scored 0 goals in 11 games and only logged 3 points in those 11 games, before scoring a goal and having an assist on Tuesday night. I think it’s a compounded issue, with the defense not being helped out much by forwards, so goals are going in Pittsburgh’s own net in bunches, and the fact that the whole team is in a spot right now where they aren’t finishing scoring chances and every opponent is.
Conor Sheary, 23 goals in just 61 games last year. Eight already this year. Genuine top line scorer or product of playing with Sid?
Honestly, I don’t know? Seeing as that the Penguins found Sheary out of UMass-Amherst and signed him as an undrafted free agent who spent some time in the AHL before coming up, no one has seen him play at the NHL level outside of the current role he’s in. Perhaps a little bit of both is the correct answer. Players who have a skillset combined with understanding the way Sidney Crosby thinks the game at the speed he thinks the game can set themselves up for success for a long time. I mean, Chris Kunitz was made an Olympian, and Pascal Dupuis extended his shelf life with a team about seven years longer than usual for him before he came to Pittsburgh.
The Metro has kind of come up flat. The Jackets are fine, we guess. The Caps are diluted. The Devils are likely to fade, you’d think. Even if it takes a while, is there any reason to think that the Penguins can’t take this division at a canter?
I don’t think there’s reason to doubt the Penguins right now. The past two years, they’ve shown that it’s not how you start. Once the holidays end and December and January are knocking on your door, that’s when it’s time to start putting together consistent results, and they still have time. Rutherford loves to make trades during December, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he does it yet again. To run through the Metro gauntlet here:
Blue Jackets: Probably will have another good regular season, but can they beat the Penguins in a 7-game series?
Devils: Seem to have rebuilt their team fairly quickly into a much different style but still think they need more time.
NY Islanders: I guess they’re still the Islanders? I haven’t seen much this year other than I know their line of Josh Bailey, John Tavares, and Anders Lee are lighting it up. After that, they don’t have much though, right?
Washington: A shell of their former selves, going through a cap-forced rebuild that usually happens to teams who win the Cup, forcing to let free agents walk and make trades to fit under the cap. Not pretty right now.
NY Rangers: Traded their #1 center this season to be able sign Kevin Shattenkirk?
Philadelphia: They can’t score goals right now.
Carolina: i expected them to be better this year but they did sign Justin Williams, so we can blame him for everything.
Everything Else

Mike Darnay is Editor-in-chief at Pensburgh.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDarnay, where he’ll be bitching about Liverpool FC as much as I am. 

The Penguins have lost Bonino, Cullen, Daley, Cunitz, and Fleury from last year’s champs. Which of these will hurt most?

I feel like this question might need to wait a little bit — at least until we see how Jim Rutherford decides to handle the 3C position. As it appears going into the season, losing Nick Bonino is going to hurt the most. If the Penguins can make a trade for someone like Riley Sheahan and remedy that roster spot, I think the answer might be Matt Cullen. He very quietly played a fantastic veteran role as a 4C (much like Michal Handzus did for Chicago, right?). (Not funny, Mike, -ED)

Everything Else

Mike Darnay is Editor-in-chief at Pensburgh.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDarnay, where he’ll be bitching about Liverpool FC as much as I am. 

The Penguins have lost Bonino, Cullen, Daley, Cunitz, and Fleury from last year’s champs. Which of these will hurt most?

I feel like this question might need to wait a little bit — at least until we see how Jim Rutherford decides to handle the 3C position. As it appears going into the season, losing Nick Bonino is going to hurt the most. If the Penguins can make a trade for someone like Riley Sheahan and remedy that roster spot, I think the answer might be Matt Cullen. He very quietly played a fantastic veteran role as a 4C (much like Michal Handzus did for Chicago, right?). (Not funny, Mike, -ED)

Everything Else

Mike Darnay is Editor-in-chief at Pensburgh.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDarnay, where he’ll be bitching about Liverpool FC as much as I am. 

The Penguins have lost Bonino, Cullen, Daley, Cunitz, and Fleury from last year’s champs. Which of these will hurt most?

I feel like this question might need to wait a little bit — at least until we see how Jim Rutherford decides to handle the 3C position. As it appears going into the season, losing Nick Bonino is going to hurt the most. If the Penguins can make a trade for someone like Riley Sheahan and remedy that roster spot, I think the answer might be Matt Cullen. He very quietly played a fantastic veteran role as a 4C (much like Michal Handzus did for Chicago, right?). (Not funny, Mike, -ED)

Everything Else

For the first time in 19 years, a team will enter this NHL season twice-defending champions. The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to be the first team to win three in a row since some team called the Islanders did it in the 80s. We’ll forgive you if you’ve never heard of them. The Penguins still have the star power at the top of the roster to be a hard out for anyone come April and May. And unlike some previous champs, like one in this area code, they haven’t had to completely erode their depth in a deal with the devil for silverware.

Pittsburgh Penguins

’16-’17 Record: 50-21-11 111 points (2nd in Metro, won it all)

Team 5v5 Stats: 50.1 CF% (16th)  51.3 SF% (6th)  52.6 SCF% (6th)  8.5 SH% (5th)  .926 SV% (8th)

Special Teams: 23.1 PP% (4th)  79.8 PK% (20th)

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If you’re a fan of watching storylines change on a nightly basis and watching teams try and counter one another, this is a series for you. And yet it feels like when each of these teams plays its best, or the best it has in this series, they lose.

The Penguins probably played their best game of the Final last night. They figured out something that the Hawks only figured out far too late, the Blues simply aren’t capable of, and the Ducks are too stupid. They didn’t have any forwards fleeing the zone, coming deeper in the defensive zone on breakouts to try and relieve the pressure, and break up the ice as a five-man unit. It’s really the only way to deal with the Preds’ pressure. You have to be an outlet for the defense under their ridiculous forecheck and then you need options coming through the neutral zone with the Nashville d-men standing up at their line and the forwards closing in from behind.

The Penguins did it, caused the Preds more problems than they’d seen, and got the equalizer from Crosby after forcing the Preds into a shoddy line-change after sustained pressure.

But there’s a problem with that…

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It probably isn’t the best way to watch the NHL playoffs in the context of a larger meaning. Life has no meaning, eat Arby’s. We all know this. But when the Hawks are done for this long you can’t help but let your mind wander.

Before this Penguins-Senators series, while I was wary of my prediction skills in saying that then Pens should win relatively easily, the comparison of the two teams’ rosters wouldn’t lead to any other conclusion. But the thing is this isn’t really the Penguins’ complete roster.

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Noah Didn’t Take No Penguins With Him On The Ark: PensBurgh

Once again the Hawks find themselves a part of NBCSN’s RIVALRY NIGHT with a team they see a sum total of twice a year. The network should just call the event “Wednesday Night Hockey” and play up the rivalry when there actually is one. Though, to much of rockheaded fanbase of this league, there is still somehow a “rivalry” between the captains of these two teams, even though it’s long been established that the one on the Penguins’ side of things is far and away the better player. But a superstar matchup is a superstar matchup, even this late in the season when most of the playoff picture has been settled and teams like this are basically trying to not get hurt.

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You’d think a guy who won a Cup in his first toe-dip into the NHL would get a little more pub than Matt Murray does. But when you play behind the best player on the planet, perhaps the most gifted player in the league, the one who is always connected to hot dogs, and the blinding good looks of Kris Letang, you’re going to be behind the eight-ball when it comes to attention. We’re guessing Matt Murray is probably fine with that.

In some ways that’s a shame, because Murray has been one of the league’s best goalies, even though he’s not played as much as others due to injuries. He’s also had the constant buzz about whether Marc-Andre Fleury would get dealt or not, and you wonder if the Stars or Jets aren’t kicking themselves about that one now. Still, that hasn’t stopped Murray much.

Everything Else

Penguins-Lightning Game 6

Sometimes this hockey thing is silly and simple. Now that this series is going to a seventh game the story out of it will be how evenly it’s been played and how it could have gone either way. And on the surface, that’s true. This series could well be decided tomorrow night on a high-sticking call or another offside review or some goal that goes in off Tyler Johnson’s ass (again). By definition these are all coin-flips.

But in reality, the Penguins have spent a great majority of this series kicking the ever-loving shit out of the Lightning, but Andrei Vasilevskiy has simply held them in.