Benefit of the Doubt for Defending Champions and Key Defensive Issues

 

How Much Concern should there be with the Penguins? How to evaluate the Penguins this season has often been a tricky spot because of them being the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, they rightfully deserve the benefit of doubt. And that still exists until the postseason begins and we’ll find out whether the Penguins always deserving the benefit of the doubt remains the case or not very soon. Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night was about as bad as it could get from a performance standpoint this season, considering the Red Wings have been a team over the last two weeks that has basically quit on the season. The struggles were in all facets for the Penguins, including offensively where the Penguins only generated 13 shots through the first 45 minutes of play. Offensively it was just one of those nights a team like the PenguinsRead More »

PIT – NJD Fallout: Mental Lapses surrounding Penguins’ most important defenseman

 

Devils 4 – Penguins 3 (OT) With a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils Friday night, mental lapses continue to be the theme surrounding the Penguins lately as the playoffs are just 18 days away. The Penguins played a great first and third period but a disastrous stretch early in the second period saw the Devils score three times in a 3:39 span to go from trailing 1-0 to leading 3-1 after forty minutes. “We have mental lapses for short periods of time and it’s costing us and you can’t have that this time of year,” head coach Mike Sullivan said afterwards. The concerning part for the coaching staff is that some of these mental lapses are continuing to come from some of their best players defensively. Some wonder if the Penguins can win a Stanley Cup with Chad Ruhwedel or Matt Hunwick as their No. 6 d-man. LastRead More »

Latest NHL Buzz: Penguins underwhelm in Murray’s return; Impact of rental winger additions in CLB/SJ

 

Islanders 4 – Penguins 1 PIT GAME LEADERS Matt Murray | 33 Saves, .923 SV% Conor Sheary | Goal (15), 2 SOG Phil Kessel | Assist, 3 SOG Derick Brassard | Assist, 2 SOG The Penguins performance in Matt Murray’s return to the lineup was underwhelming to say the least. Pittsburgh fell behind 2-0 in the first 10:33 of the game and although it was a one goal game going into the third period, it just never felt like it was going to be the Penguins night. In three games so far during a four game stretch against teams that are nine points or more out of a playoff spot, the Penguins have taken 3 out of a possible six points and the Penguins have looked like a bored team, especially in the defensive end. Defensively the Penguins did a lot of standing around against the Islanders Tuesday night andRead More »

Coaches eye Rust to spark top line? Murray to see bulk of games this week? Sprong’s learning curve continues

 

Coaches now eye Rust spark to top line? Bryan Rust in two games since returning to the lineup and playing on a line with Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel: 2 Goals and 1 Assist, all at even strength. The third line of Rust-Brassard-Kessel had some dominating moments on the ice in an OT loss to the Rangers Wednesday night and 5-3 win against the Canadiens the following night but getting the Sidney Crosby line going remains a priority for the coaching staff. Tentative Plan is to start Murray 3 out of 4 games this week The primary target date was initially Wednesday vs Montreal but there’s been discussions of going Tuesday – Friday – Sunday for Murray,

PIT – NYR Fallout: Brassard line with Rust shines, Crosby line under 35% in possession

 

Penguins lose out on getting 2 pts, Rust-Brassard-Kessel show early chemistry PIT GAME LEADERS Bryan Rust | Goal (11), 5 SOG, 62 CF% Carl Hagelin | Goal (9), 2 SOG Riley Sheahan | Goal (10), 55 CF% Derrick Brassard | Assist, 3 SOG, 61 CF% The Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers Wednesday night that saw the Rangers outscore Pittsburgh 4-1 over the final 14 minutes of the game, was nothing more than Pittsburgh letting their foot off the gas and playing down to their competition in the third period. Pittsburgh blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period. In the big picture when it comes to which opponents are the best matchups, it doesn’t really matter for the Penguins on where they finish in the Metropolitan Division as there’s no real separation between Philadelphia, Columbus or New Jersey, Pittsburgh’s most likely first roundRead More »

Why Conor Sheary’s play on top-line will likely to be tied to whether Rust-Brassard-Kessel can stay together

 

Penguins to feature ideal third line vs Rangers After Conor Sheary’s breakout game vs the Flyers last Wednesday night, it brought into the question of whether the Penguins best lineup is playing Sheary on the top line to strengthen the lines elsewhere as players like Bryan Rust can have an impact anywhere you play them while Sheary’s play drops considerably when not playing with Sidney Crosby. With Rust set to return tonight vs the New York Rangers, the coaches are at least going to go in that direction in the short-term by still keeping Sheary on the top line. This should benefit Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel starting tonight. The two have been okay together and the Penguins new third line has been lacking an ideal left winger to fit their styles and to add a dimension those two need. Bryan Rust has stood out as a perfect fit toRead More »

Blueprint of a 3-Peat on display for Penguins in win vs Stars

 

Penguins show blueprint vs Stars of why 3-Peat Chances remain high PIT GAME LEADERS Patric Hornqvist | Goal (20), 7 SOG Jamie Oleksiak | Goal (5), 6 Hits Evgeni Malkin | Goal (39, ENG), Assist Sidney Crosby | 2 Assists Casey DeSmith | 17 Saves Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars came to town Sunday night with the Penguins on the second night of a back-to-back and Pittsburgh starting Casey DeSmith in goal. This should have been a night that favored Dallas, except the Penguins went out and played suffocating defense, limiting the Stars to 18 shots in a Penguins 3-1 win. “I thought that’s a team that has some dynamic people offensively. To limit them to the shots they had and number of chances they had is not an easy task. Top to bottom our team defense was as good as we’ve been all year,” Penguins head coach MikeRead More »

Pens – Leafs Fallout; PIT heavy in d-man college free agent market; Hurricanes GM Search Buzz

 

All of the fuss after Penguins 5-2 loss to the Maple Leafs centered around goaltender interference after a Brian Dumoulin second period goal was waved off and resulted in Dumoulin somehow getting a 2-minute minor for interference that went from Pittsburgh being down 3-1 (if the goal stood) to 4-0 moments later as the Maple Leafs scored a power play marker on the Dumoulin penalty. It was insane that the Dumoulin goal was disallowed but the Penguins didn’t lose because the goal didn’t stand. Pittsburgh was already in a 3-0 hole at the time of the Dumoulin controversy. This was just a classic game where a skilled Maple Leafs team finished their chances and Pittsburgh didn’t. The Penguins top-3 lines were all 57% or better in driving possession during the loss. The 4th line of Kuhnhackl – Jooris – Rowney was at 37%. — An opportunistic team, Toronto did aRead More »

Latest Pens Buzz: Sheary’s breakout Night; Upside of Oleksiak-Schultz pairing; Ron Francis PIT Bound?

 

Key Takeaways from the Penguins 5-2 win over the Flyers Entering Wednesday night’s game vs the Philadelphia Flyers, Conor Sheary had 0 goals and 4 assists in his previous 15 games. Sheary’s performance Monday night vs the Flames was about as rock bottom as it could get The 4th line when Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl on the ice together was pretty much unplayable for the Penguins as Pittsburgh was out-attempted 13-0 in the first period when Sheary/Kuhnhackl were on the ice. Conor Sheary vs the Calgary Flames (3/5): 0 Points | 27% possession (7:19 of ice 5-on-5), 30 SCF% | 0 GF – 2 GA | While Tom Kunhackl continued to be dead weight last night vs the Flyers, Sheary finally had a breakthrough game and no surprise, it happened when reunited with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel due to a Bryan Rust upper body injury early in the game.Read More »

OT wins increasing lead in key in tiebreaker for Penguins, Malkin’s MVP Candidacy & More Buzz

 

Overtime Wins Increasing Penguins lead in key tiebreaker The Pittsburgh Penguins dominance in overtime on home-ice continued Monday night as a Justin Schultz OT goal lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames. Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Chad Ruhwedel also scored in the win. Tristan Jarry made 35 saves in a highly entertaining up and down game filled with lots of offense and lots of defensive zone breakdowns. In posting back-to-back overtime wins, Pittsburgh now has nine wins this season in overtime and closing games in overtime could be crucial to tiebreakers in playoff seeding. The Penguins are now two up on the Capitals in Regulation + Overtime wins and four up on the Flyers in ROW. Washington (65 GP – 81 points – ROW 34) Pittsburgh (67 GP – 80 Pts – ROW 36) Philadelphia (66 GP – 79 Pts – ROW 32) PittsburghRead More »