On the Penguins
Jim Rutherford is always in trade discussions and will be until the deadline clock expires. That’s just how he operates. Pittsburgh also continues to monitor one swing for the fences trade target as the deadline is eight days away. More on that tomorrow.
Despite the Penguins entering Sunday one point out of a playoff spot, multiple NHL sources contend Rutherford continues to tell others around the league he believes he has built a legitimate Stanley Cup contender as the roster is currently constructed and that will play out as this group gets healthy.
But, is that reality?
An observation of the Penguins almost sixty games in and a clear observation from the past three games is how the Penguins are going to sink or swim depending on whether they get great goaltending or not.
Matt Murray saved the Penguins this week with how well he played vs Philadelphia and Edmonton from their being a major panic in Pittsburgh right now. As Murray’s level of play dropped significantly vs Calgary, Pittsburgh’s lack of defensive commitment to limit odd-man rushes or defend the net-front with any effort saw pucks get behind Murray that also easily could have in the previous two games.
Something that is getting overlooked with the Penguins third period rally is Pittsburgh was out-scored 4-1 during 5-on-5 play vs the Flames and you could pretty much chalk it up as 4-0 since the Guentzel goal came seconds after the power play expired.
The Penguins 5 vs 5 play in all three zones just isn’t good enough where they’re a team that now has to rely heavily on great goaltending and a great power play.
That’s not a great recipe for a long playoff run.
The wins vs Edmonton and Philadelphia also covered up the fact that the lines are a bit of a mess right now with Phil Kessel playing the left wing, Sidney Crosby Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
Those close to the situation in Pittsburgh and others around the league sense Rutherford is being truthful that he doesn’t want to make another move and feels the heavy lifting has already done.
But, more and more with this club, it becomes clear that Rutherford still needs to fix some of his mistakes ahead of the deadline and there will be more heavy lifting in the summer to do where the Penguins have $80 million tied up to 16 players for next season, with dead weight on the roster in the likes of Tanner Pearson and Jack Johnson eating up over $7 million against the cap when they are replacement level players.
Those are decisions that will eventually catch up to you and they now are.
— Trailing by one goal, Jake Guentzel the Penguins best goal scorer this season who is also one of the Penguins best players at deflecting pucks, didn’t see the ice for the final 2:58 of Saturday’s game vs Flames. Just inexcusable.
Penguins Going d-Man Hunting?
— There has not been a panic Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"