MORNING PENS BUZZ
The Pittsburgh Penguins are on pace for 119 points and the Penguins hot start as we near the 40 game mark clearly makes head coach Dan Bylsma an early front runner for coach of the year. Any coach could get this team to the post-season with the type of top tier talent the Penguins have but this might be Bylsma’s best coaching job from getting his team to buy into a more defensive structure by installing the left wing lock. The hope is that things stay on the current path defensively in April and May.
It’s no secret that the Penguins organization over value the regular season and a reason I believe Bylsma is going to have a Lindy Ruff type run in Pittsburgh from a tenure standpoint is because he always has his teams ready to play in the regular season. The Penguins succeeding with so many regulars out will hold a ton of value with voters at the seasons end.
But at the end of the day, all the fan base cares about is how the Penguins perform in the playoffs. The Penguins always go on these type of runs in the regular season and it’s understandable that some aren’t ready to truly buy in that this year will be different. However, it not fair to write off some key developments with this team so far that could have a lot of weight come playoff time, such as a better defensive structure and more depth on the blueline.
— This shouldn’t take anything away from the coaching job Bylsma has done but there’s no question it’s a lot easier to coach the type of fringe NHLer’s Bylsma has in the lineup right now than when the Penguins are at full strength. AHLer’s are going to buy into what you’re preaching at all times because they have to. That’s not the case with star players as we’ve seen in the past.
— There continues to be talk in the organization that the Penguins view Brian Dumoulin as a better long-term player than Simon Despres. That said, Despres has made great strides in his development and is a clear NHL player right now.
— The upside isn’t as high as it is with Dumoulin or Despres, but two scouts in the past week had very positive things to say about Philip Samuelsson with both strongly believing he will be an NHL regular. The best asset for Samuelsson is that he knows what he does well and doesn’t. He plays a simple game.
— Is the honeymoon over for Chris Conner? A minus-3 vs the Flames Saturday night and played just 8:43. His play on the boards is atrocious in his own end.
— Sidney Crosby has points in 10 straight games (7G-11A-18Pts)and has 23 points in his last 13 games. With 54 points in 38 games, he’s over the 1.40 points per game mark for the first time since October.
— Tanner Glass is expected to be a game time decision tonight in Ottawa, while on the blueline the returns for Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi are close. Orpik is on track to return Friday night vs the Carolina Hurricanes and Scuderi could receive clearance to also return on Friday.
Orpik said Sunday it has been great to watch the Penguins young defensemen in the lineup “It’s been really fun to watch,” Orpik said. “These guys all work really hard and it’s been fun to watch. I don’t think anybody expected all of them to be here at the same time, but that’s the way it played out and they’ve all done a really good job.”
All these young defensemen could lead to Orpik playing elsewhere next season, though, the Penguins will make an attempt to resign Orpik, team sources continue to contend.