Round 1 Lookahead: On X-Factor Matt Murray, Penguins ability to counter Flyers Strength’s by 2 & More Buzz

 

Penguins – Flyers to Meet in Round 1 The Pittsburgh Penguins accomplished their primary goal over the final two games of the regular season in claiming home-ice in round 1 with a 5-4 OT win vs the Columbus Blue Jackets and then following up the win vs CBJ with a 4-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in the season finale. Now the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers meet in round 1. As vulnerable as the Penguins have looked defensively and at the goaltender position since Matt Murray returned from a concussion, the Penguins having home-ice in round 1 is a major hurdle the Flyers will have to overcome. Pittsburgh is just the 4th team to win 30 or more home games in consecutive seasons and they’re just a different team on home-ice. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia meet for the first time since the 2012 playoffs, a series that Penguin fans willRead More »

Pens – Caps Fallout: Capitals win the momentum swings, clinch Metropolitan Division

 

Capitals 3 – Penguins 1 The Washington Capitals are Metropolitan Division Champions for the third straight season in defeating the Penguins 3-1 on Sunday night at the PPG Paints Arena. As the Capitals are locked into the playing the first wildcard in Round 1, Pittsburgh with two games remaining can mathematically still finish anywhere from 2nd-3rd place in the Metropolitan Division to the top wildcard spot or the second wildcard spot. Off great goaltending from Philipp Grubauer, the Capitals won the momentum swings tonight as they were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and very opportunistic offensively. Tom Wilson scored a beautiful goal off a deflection 23 seconds into the third that iced this one to put the Capitals ahead 3-0. For the Capitals, this was just one of those complete game type performances where they rose to the occasion in a number of areas to come out of Pittsburgh withRead More »

A Greater Appreciation of how Making the Playoffs has become automatic during the Sidney Crosby Era

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night, officially clinched a playoff berth for the 12th straight season. The last several years whenever the Penguins clinch a playoff spot, it has rarely been seen as a major celebration during the Sidney Crosby era because it’s just always assumed the Penguins get in and expectations since about year three of the Crosby era has been Stanley Cup or bust. However, in looking at other situations around the league, maybe there should be more appreciation for what the Penguins have done in the Cap era in now going to 12 straight postseasons. Mike Sullivan for one saw clinching a playoff berth last night as special, especially with how this group looked in early January when the Penguins were 20-19-3 at one point. “It’s special because I think it’s hard to make the playoffs in this league,” saidRead More »

Crosby’s Walk-Off & PIT-NJD Key Takaways

 

On MLB Opening Day, Sidney Crosby did it again in delivering a walk-off winner for the Penguins in a 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. Crosby with goals in 5 straight games is now up to 28 goals and 85 points on the season. With 7 goals in March, this is the first month since November Crosby has scored at least 5 goals in a month. As Evgeni Malkin’s game has taken a step back of late, over the last week Crosby has found that special level again where he’s dominating games in all facets. It’s been a weird season for him in putting pucks in the net but he’s in one of those stretches right now where you’re not surprised at the type of goals he’s scoring. PIT – NJD TAKEAWAYS — Patric Hornqvist declared before the game the Penguins would rise to occasionRead More »

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 »