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Insider Only DePaoli’s Latest: Thoughts on the Pens’ heading into final weekend

Thoughts & Observations
*As the calendar hits October 1st, the Penguins have yet to put a lot of work in on the power play. That’s been surprising to some as the team has lost one of the league’s top power play quarterbacks in Sergei Gonchar. Billy Guerin is also gone who scored 10 power play goals in 2009-2010.
However, the lack of on-ice work hasn’t been a concern to some of the regulars on the power play I’ve spoken with this week. Was told by one player they’ve been going through more film and meeting sessions but it’s still been interesting not to see the power play be a major focus yet. At least not in on-ice sessions.
*The HBO 24/7 program is going to be tremendous. It’s going to resemble Hard Knocks and will be a four episode all-access behind the scenes series leading up to the New Year’s day showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. This is going to be a great thing for the league and the league will get to market two of the league’s marquee teams.
The Penguins also deserve a lot of credit for wanting to do this, some teams likely would have declined. As an organization what they have is the right people in place from ownership to their communications team.
It was also clear yesterday that the players are very excited.
*What caught my attention out of Jordan Staal’s media session on Thursday is that you never heard the word “optimistic” or “hopeful” from him when asked about a specific timetable for a return.
Tim Benz asked Staal if it is more accurate to say that he will be out past Thanksgiving than the initial 5-6 week recovery time that was announced a few weeks back.
“Canadian Thanksgiving or American Thanksgiving ” Staal said with a laugh. “I don’t really know, again it’s tough to say when I’m going to be back. I’d love to be back for Canadian Thanksgiving but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Again, it’s a long process and obviously I’ve got a long ways to go considering I didn’t really work out a whole lot this summer, and I have to get myself in shape and get ready to play NHL hockey.”
His body language during the entire session told the story not the quotes.
*Scouts around the league will have their eye on Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy this weekend.

If the Penguins decide Kennedy is no longer in their plans, they will first actively look to move Kennedy who has value around the league. The consensus is that if the Penguins let him go, he will get picked up and it would be a mistake on the Penguins part from those I spoke with.
“Ray and Jason will be working the phones, ” league source said. “They {Pittsburgh} may have their deepest team in the Crosby era.”
As of early this week, word around the league is that the Penguins were not actively shopping Kennedy. That could change soon if they decide to take a risk with some of their key young players. I still think he stays and the Penguins carry 14 forwards to start the season and put Staal on LTIR.
*The Penguins not being happy with their defensemen for the No. 6 and No. 7 spot does not surprise me. Felt coming into camp it could be a concern.
If there were some options out there, I believe they would be actively exploring the free agent market for a cheap fit.
Last year they signed Martin Skoula just days before the regular season opener but Pittsburgh reached out to Skoula’s camp several weeks before he signed. It wasn’t something that happened quickly.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy needs to have a big weekend.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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