Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: On Sidney Crosby, Mike Vellucci’s Future, Kasperi Kapanen & More Buzz

No Crosby, No Problem?

Geno has fans in the building tonight!!!……..And there’s No Sidney Crosby……

Who knows, maybe Malkin has one night where he turns back the clock vs the Philadelphia Flyers.

On a serious note, the Penguins have shown in the past to galvanize for a stretch around an injury or absence to a big star, so we’ll see whether history repeats itself.

As the Penguins today placed Sidney Crosby on the covid-19 list, the team is mum whether Crosby has Covid or it’s a close contact situation. At the minimum he’s out tonight.

“We can do all the right things and this could happen,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “There are protocols put in place for a reason.”

Mark Jankowski remains out and day-to-day, while Tristan Jarry will start in goal.


20 GAMES IN…………

20 Games into the season for the Penguins and the East Division is playing out as expected:

A 5 team battle for the four playoff spots.

The Penguins enter March, 5th in the division in Pts (23) and Pts percentage (.575). I’ve been saying this since the fifth or sixth game of the season, the Penguins are fortunate to be where they are in the standings.

There are so many different angles to take on the Penguins through 20 games.

I get the one point of view from some pundits, fans, ect, who remain somewhat optimistic about the club big picture when you consider the Penguins are sitting where they are in the standings despite a number of critical issues that have plagued them from how bad the goaltending was early in the season, to how bad Evgeni Malkin has played all season, injuries on the backend, inconsistent special teams, playing some nights with only 10 true NHL caliber forwards to even smaller picture things like Sidney Crosby being under a point per game player this season.

If you want to hold onto something as having optimism that there still might be something here in the long-run for this Penguins’ team, I get it.

But, at the end of the day, the Penguins continue to look everything of a middle of the road average team and the proof so far is how much of a monumental challenge it is for the group to put a string of complete games together along with the lack of convincing wins. It’s why Mike Sullivan after all these years is finally going John Tortorella like with his frustration publicly in the level of play on a game by game basis.

More likely than not, whether Pittsburgh continues their streak of making the playoffs is going to come down to Tristan Jarry. If his play falls somewhere between where he is now and was early in the season, the Penguins are in trouble.


— A talking point has been that there’s no Tampa Bay, Vegas type elite teams in the East division, which is true, and the schedule favors the Penguins late in the season where they see a ton of Buffalo and New Jersey.

Okay, but there’s one thing with inconsistent hockey teams, they often find ways to lose games to inferior teams. It’s hard to assume the Penguins are a lock to just feast the rest of the way against the bottom tier teams of the division.

Four regulation wins through 20 games doesn’t scream confidence that will be the case.


HOT BUTTON ISSUES

— Despite some close personal relationships to all involved, former GM Jim Rutherford and Penguins’ ownership were pretty much on board that new eyes and voices among the assistant coaches was a needed move behind the bench after the quick exit in the bubble that led to the ousters of Jacques Martin and Mark Recchi. Where there seems to be some bad info going around since Rutherford was fired is that the new hires were pushed on Rutherford by ownership. That is not accurate at all.

Rutherford drove the bus on the hires. Despite his contract security and salary of around $4 million per season, Sullivan was not permitted to handpick his new assistants. He was in the loop but Sullivan was never asked to provide names he wanted.

Mike Sullivan and Mike Vellucci are said to get along well personally, but let’s not kid ourselves, Vellucci would have never been hired if Mike Sullivan was permitted to have input on who he wanted to hire. It’s a high pressured season for all involved to get a playoff berth. Vellucci is in charge of the penalty kill, an area that’s greatly underachieved and is just out of sorts on what type of PK style they want to play, you have to wonder if there’s any shakeup in the coming weeks it will be there.


— Mike Sullivan loves North-South speed players so what’s the issue with Kasperi Kapanen? There’s certainly whispers in the organization already Sullivan doesn’t believe Kapanen thinks the game well enough to be a true top-6 level player and doesn’t believe Kapanen passes the puck well enough to be a long-term fit with Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"


— What’s best for Pierre Olivier-Joseph’s development and what’s best for the Penguins? It will soon be coming to a head Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" one thing the new regime is said to be looking at is the Penguins have too much money tied up into their left D group when you factor in the lack of offense the group as a whole produces. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

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

Comments Disabled

Comments have been disabled for this post.