Sunday’s Penguins Buzz
— Pittsburgh’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres saw Pittsburgh pepper the Sabres with 47 shots and put up a 67-31 advantage in shot attempts and 39-18 edge in 5 v 5 shots. Pittsburgh didn’t get the result they deserved.
The Penguins have come back from their embarrassing loss to the Capitals with two strong showings defensively, though, against the lowest scoring team in the NHL in Sabres (1.78 GF/G) and an Islanders team starving to score goals.
Pittsburgh held New York to 15 shots at 5 v 5 Friday night and Buffalo to 19 the following night. Poor competition or not, there was a stronger commitment from the forwards defensively the last two nights.
Now comes a matchup Monday night vs the high scoring New York Rangers who are putting the puck in the net at a 4.11 per game clip that will be a much better barometer.
— Sidney Crosby has 12 goals in 12 games and just 4 assists on the season.
How special is this early run of goals from Crosby?
He didn’t score his 12th goal until his 38th game (1/5/16 vs Chicago) of the season last year. In 2014-2015, Crosby’s 12th goal of the season also came in game No. 38 (1/10/15 vs Montreal).
There’s a reason an argument can be made that Mike Johnston was the worst coach in Penguins’ history in that he handcuffed the worlds greatest player.
2013-2014 Crosby scored his 12th goal in game No. 22. The 2013 lockout shortened season, Crosby netted No. 12 in his 25th game.
When Crosby was putting on an assault on the NHL in 2010-2011 when he had 32 goals and 66 points in 41 games, he didn’t even get his 12 goal of the season until his 18th game. He would go on to score 20 goals in his final 23 games that year before his season ended in January.
— What’s an interesting development with Crosby’s start is just three assists at 5 v 5. Patric Hornqvist is locked in as Crosby’s right winger when healthy, Hornqvist may return Monday night, but who emerges as the best fit on the left side looks to continue to be a revolving door.
The Penguins have a good problem to have in that two primary options bring different attributes to the table.
Conor Sheary gives the Penguins a better presence of being able to create scoring opportunities for Crosby in that he’s a more creative and better passer than Carl Hagelin.
Hagelin, though, has showed an ability get more pucks on net when playing with Crosby and gives the line more north-south speed and a third forechecking presence to create chaos below the dots where Crosby and Hornqvist are so dangerous.
Hagelin had 8 shots total vs the Sabres, 7 shots in 5 v 5 situations.
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