Penguins Big Weekend

A week ago Mike Sullivan was disgusted with his clubs’ level of inconsistent play following a shutout loss to the New York Islanders.

Fast forward seven days and after winning three of four in taking six out of possible eight points in wins against the Flyers and Rangers, the mood has certainly changed.

Sunday’s 5-1 win Sunday night over the New York Rangers that included five different goal scorers and 12 different players recording points, saw Sullivan signing a much different tune.

“I like the traction our team is getting here of late,” said Sullivan after the Penguins produced one of their most convincing wins of the season despite another poor start.

President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke was on-record this week saying the Penguins have to change their ways of giving up the first goal and that your not going to win games that way. Maybe this season, though, will be an outlier where not scoring the first goal doesn’t come back to haunt you in the long-run like it almost always does.

The Penguins have certainly shown an uncanny ability to be getting outplayed and counter that by scoring in bunches. It’s saved their season to this point to overachieve for the most part against the toughest part of the schedule.

Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 come from behind win vs the Flyers could end up becoming the turning point of the season. What the Penguins have avoided for much of the season is bad starts to games not turning into disaster starts that bury them for good.

Sunday’s game was like that again where the Rangers just didn’t get that critical second goal when the Penguins were flat and disinterested to open, but Saturday’s game really stands out when you factor in the game the Penguins were coming off and the opponent.

And they didn’t start well at all. You had an Evgeni Malkin offensive zone penalty 56 seconds in that was soon followed up by allowing a 2-on-0 goal during 5 vs 5 play. The Penguins again, though, did not break when the Flyers had some golden opportunities to get an early multi-goal lead.

The biggest winner of the 3-1-0 week was Special Teams in the facet of providing momentum changing situations in games.

From Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Flyers to both weekend wins, the penalty kill early on in games answered the bell in providing a number of game changing kills. A major lost opportunity for the Rangers Sunday night was losing momentum in the game off the Sidney Crosby tripping penalty at 9:15 of the first period. The Rangers had the 1-0 lead, were in complete control the game and much faster on pucks in all three zones, but the game totally flipped after Pittsburgh held the Rangers to just one shot on goal during the two minute power play. It gave Pittsburgh life and the game as a whole would soon shift totally in Pittsburgh’s favor.

For a team that struggles to play a 60 minute complete type game, one thing the Penguins have had a great ability this season is that games often don’t get away from them. Playing with fire? Probably in the big picture, but they hang around and it’s becoming a staple of their season.


Brian Dumoulin would net the Penguins a first round pick and + this summer but…………..

What a welcomed addition Brian Dumoulin was for the Penguins in their weekend wins and getting your best defenseman back will do that. Prior to Dumoulin’s return, his future had been a topic of discussion. If the Penguins wanted to start retooling the system, Pittsburgh would easily get a late first round pick and prospect from a contender for Dumoulin who has two seasons remaining on his contract and just a $4 million hit. If this season truly shows the Penguins window is shut, he’s an ideal player you would look at.

However, as long as Sidney Crosby is sticking around and you want to keep him happy that the Penguins are going to try to continue to compete for championships, Brian Dumoulin is off the table for that type of trade scenario. You can’t do it unless there’s some player for player trade that would make you immediately better in one area. And one to that extent is unlikely to be out there.

And the same goes for Bryan Rust this summer who like Dumoulin is one of the Penguins biggest assets from age/cap hit/impact, to help restock the system (if this season again fails to produce much of a long playoff run)……..

But, As long as Sidney Crosby is sticking around and you want to keep him happy, Bryan Rust is a near lock to extend this summer, multiple sources [hide] close to the situation say. Two-way top-6 players who bring everything to the table that Rust brings are hard to find and if you find one out there in free agency, he’s going to cost you around $6 million per season. Pittsburgh is going to be in a tough spot to try to do both, put the best team around Sidney Crosby and retool for the future at the same time. And that makes the likes of Rust, Dumoulin more valuable to the team on the ice, even if there might be pause in some corners of paying Rust $5+ million into his 30’s when Pittsburgh might only still be competing for another year or two. [/hide]

— Evgeni Malkin had a big weekend and was doing offensively what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s 34, not 44. Let’s see where the next couple weeks go for him but some encouraging signs that Kasperi Kapanen’s speed down the wing is starting to back off defensemen and opening up time and space for Malkin through the neutral zone with the puck and on zone entries that has had a positive impact in Malkin being able to drive play.To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!