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Insider Only On next 4 game stretch being key evaluation tool; Murray/DeSmith Dynamic; GM/Coach differ on Riikola?

Next Four Game Stretch an important one for PEnguins

With a 4-3 OT win Saturday night vs the Los Angeles Kings off a Phil Kessel game winner, the Penguins capped off the week (12/10-12/16) 3-1-0 that once again ignited talk of have the Penguins started turning the corner?

In the present, this team just needs to start racking up points, but big picture I wouldn’t go crazy just yet on the Penguins putting together a 3-1 stretch.

Yes, Casey DeSmith is playing at a No. 1 caliber level and Pittsburgh got a ton of secondary scoring during the four game stretch but the quality of opponents still puts an asterisk on things.

A shootout win against the Islanders and an overtime win against the Kings is nothing to write home about and Pittsburgh’s one win last week against an actual quality opponent (likely playoff team) came on the backs of a 48 save performance from DeSmith against the Boston Bruins who were missing Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara in a game Pittsburgh was 33% in possession.

From a quality of opponent standpoint, Pittsburgh’s next four game stretch is a much better evaluation tool of where this club might be headed with the team also getting healthier with Kris Letang a good bet to play tonight and Patric Hornqvist having a shot to return later this week and the same for Dominik who could also get a game or two in before the break.

Pittsburgh faces Anaheim (18-11-5, 41 pts) tonight at home, are on the road vs Washington (20-9-3, 43 pts) Wednesday night, back home vs the Minnesota Wild (17-13-2, 36 pts) on Thursday night and then are at Carolina (14-13-5, 33 pts) Saturday night before a four day Christmas break.


— Interesting goalie decision for Mike Sullivan as he goes with Casey DeSmith tonight.

Until DeSmith plays his way out of playing time, this coaching staff in the short-term views DeSmith as their No. 1 right now and how can you blame them.

That’s why DeSmith coming off a 48-save night against the Bruins, will be back in goal tonight.

Word is the barring a rough game for DeSmith vs Ducks, the tentative plan internally is for Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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