Penguins hit the road
The Pittsburgh Penguins departed for Toronto this afternoon as the team embarks on a ten day – five game road trip that also includes a Western Canada swing.
Loses in 7 of 9 games, Pittsburgh (55 pts) could come back from this road trip with the New York Rangers (48 pts) and even Philadelphia closing in on second place in the Atlantic Division.
First up for Pittsburgh will be the last place Toronto Maple Leafs (15-20-9). Less than two weeks ago, Toronto came into the Igloo and handed Pittsburgh a 4-3 loss, which would be the first loss of a five game losing streak.
An intriguing matchup in Saturday’s contest will be special teams.
The Penguins boast the league’s worst power play unit (14.7%), while the Toronto Maple Leafs have the league’s worst penalty kill unit (69.7%).
In fact, there has not been a team to finish the season under 69% on the penalty kill since the Los Angeles Kings in 1983.
How the Penguins perform on the power play is going to dictate whether they come back from this trip 3-2 or 1-4.
Columbus eyeing Tony Granato?
The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost 21 of 25 games, and it’s believed head coach Ken Hitchcock could be let go when the Blue Jackets return home from their road trip.
There continues to be speculation that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has an interest in Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato.
Granato signed a two year contract with Pittsburgh this past summer and there is an out clause if receives a head coaching offer.
Due to Scott Howson’s and Ray Shero’s close relationship, the Blue Jackets won’t target Granato until the summer I’m told.
They are likely to go with an interim coach until the end of the season once Hitchcock is let go.