LATEST PENGUINS BUZZ
1. We won’t know for a while whether Mike Johnston is the right guy for the job but change had to happen for the Penguins and it’s not hard to see that Johnston is a good hockey coach. Johnston ran a very effective camp, got the team to buy into his message, which isn’t hard when the team couldn’t stand the former coach, and some of the system changes for the Penguins will be good for them.
Two primary changes that have to happen with the new staff is being tougher on the star players when they play like immature teenagers, and most importantly, this coaching staff has to get the Penguins playing the “right way”. This is a group that has been built and wired to win in the regular season not the post-season. How does that change this season? Getting them to play the right way has to start immediately and that has to be pushed on the players at all times.
2. With a rookie head coach, a hot topic has been the importance of a fast start. One sure wouldn’t hurt but the most pressure this season should be on the General Manager. This is not a Stanley Cup team as constructed right now and the Penguins didn’t upgrade enough in the off-season, but in a winnable Eastern Conference, a few tweaks can make all the difference.
3. Mike Johnston is not the first coach who has been intrigued about Evgeni Malkin playing right wing and he won’t be last. Malkin’s far from a 200 ft type player but centerman Brandon Sutter just isn’t the answer to maximize Malkin’s goal scoring ability from the right side. A story line early in the season is going to be how long can Johnston truly play Patric Hornqvist with Sidney Crosby and have Evgeni Malkin playing with the likes of Sutter, Pascal Dupuis.
4. Pascal Dupuis, 35, is such a key player for the Penguins. Dupuis has the speed, hockey smarts where he plays a style that will make him productive for the next couple years but those expecting to see the type of goal scorer from a couple years ago, don’t count on it. Dupuis scored at just a 15 goal pace last season and those expecting Dupuis to produce at his 0.41 goals per game pace from 2012-2013 lockout season, just isn’t realistic. Further shows the top-6 problem the Penguins are going to have.
5. There’s not a lot of trade talk out there but Jim Rutherford looking to move a veteran defenseman to open a spot for Scott Harrington won’t go away and don’t expect it to. A Rob Scuderi for Michael Ryder type deal has been out there for a few weeks now.
Paul Martin’s future is certainly a hot topic but league executives believe his trade value could be limited because teams feel he’s only going to be interested in a few select cities next summer.