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Insider Only Penguins Impressive Showing; Ray Shero’s Future in NJ; Bill Peters was Pens’ top choice in 14′ search & More Buzz

Most Impressive Win of the Season?

The Penguins’ man-games lost are right on par with the 2013-2014 season when they had over 500 man-games lost. One thing that always stood out with that season in how it started and ended was the Penguins being harder to play against when they had a depleted lineup.

The same thing is playing out this season. Time will tell if come spring time a lot are saying ‘hey the Pittsburgh Penguins were a lot harder to play against when the minor league guys were out there playing like it was going to be the last NHL game of their career’.

With the back-to-back losses over the weekend to Columbus and St. Louis, you had to wonder if an extended losing streak was coming and the lack of talent in the lineup was finally going to catch up.

Over the Penguins’ last 17 games, they have 9 wins and 8 losses.

During that stretch, the Penguins have had four sets of consecutive losses.

What they have avoided during this span is losing three straight and that’s been quite impressive with the hand that the coaching staff has been given over the last three to four weeks.

It all starts with coaching and a buy-in. In the NHL you can get away with keeping your head above water when your devastated with injuries if you simplify your game and have a group excited to come to the rink every day. That’s playing out right now. There’s a commitment to playing all three zones.

“Everybody is buying in to the team concept. When we do that, we can win on any given night,” said Mike Sullivan after Wednesday’s 3-0 win.

The 20-second sequence leading up to the Noesen goal late in the second period was a great illustration of just the little things this group is doing to stay competitive. Pittsburgh had over 20 seconds of zone time along the wall without clear possession. It was all puck pressure and positional play as the Blues were thwarted at every opportunity to clear the zone.

The positioning of Kahun, McCann and Noesen was textbook situational play. Here Kahun takes a great angle, McCann is in perfect position with back pressure and Noesen has great support in intercepting the puck as he dumps the puck around the boards.

Then as Kahun wins a foot race and the puck comes back to the right side, Jared McCann pick-pockets Justin Faulk leading to possession, a quick cycle and a Stefan Noesen goal goal.


MORE BUZZ

Devils ownership all in on Ray Shero

Ray Shero has been a General Manager for 12 seasons and the firing of John Hynes on Tuesday was just the second coaching change Shero has made in his career as General Manager. This is a General Manager who will be very loyal, no matter the situation, Stanley Cup contender in Pittsburgh, rebuilding situation in New Jersey. Shero is a General Manager who becomes personally invested into his head coach so the firing of Hynes had to be a difficult one for him.

Just as a willingness to go down with Dan Bylsma after the Bruins swept Pittsburgh in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Shero is sometimes too loyal to a coach by fault. With David Morehouse gaining more and more clout with ownership at the time, Shero was well aware that the following season (13-14) was going to be reach the Stanley Cup Final or bust (fired). Instead he went all-in with Bylsma by extending him. Shero would never have the opportunity to make another coaching change in Pittsburgh.

Diving down memory lane, close associates to Shero indicated in the past that had Shero not have become so disgusted by Michel Therrien as the person, Therrien likely would have actually been given the whole 2008-2009 season to right the ship. That was the ultimate plan, get healthy, add at the deadline, but the tipping point that really sunk Therrien was in early February 2009 when Miroslav Satan had flown family and friends in for his 1,000th game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb 4th 2009. Therrien just minutes before the morning skate informed Satan he would be a healthy scratch vs the Lightning just because to he was in the mood to show up a veteran. Shero eventually stepped in once word got down to him and overruled the decision but those in the know say Shero never looked at Therrien the same and some still believe to this day it played a huge factor in Therrien not getting the opportunity to have a healthy Sergei Gonchar in the lineup, ect. He would be fired a week later.


— One thing the Devils organization tried to do over the last year was show stability at the top.

They extended John Hynes last season, followed by Shero.

All of this was done to appease Taylor Hall who loved playing for John Hynes and to show Hall this was an organization that was going to be stable moving forward.

Now Hynes is out and Taylor Hall has one foot out the door.

That said, this will be an attractive job to coaches, executives say. Ray Shero is good to work for, he’s very loyal……. he lets coaches have significant input in personnel decisions, probably too much….. It’s a team with young talent, a solid prospect base and the No. 1 pick in Jack Hughes to build around. Ownership also won’t be afraid to throw big bucks at a coach.

And Devils ownership is already sending messages they’re all-in on Ray Shero moving forward despite this being year five and the Devils will only have one playoff win to show.


— The Penguins wacky 2014 GM/Coach Search has some connections to coaches in the news right now.

Why is that?

Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" And people don’t realize how close the Penguins were to hiring Randy Carlyle instead of Sullivan in December 2015 when organizational discussions began about firing Johnston.

The 2014 summer will always be a summer to remember in covering the Penguins with all twists and turns, juicy rumors that were going around. It was a GM and coaching search all over the map and wild that in little time somehow the Penguins came out of it unscathed in the big picture.

From Sidney Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson being pursued to replace Ray Shero the minute Shero was fired (the job was his if he wanted it), to NBC analyst Pierre McGuire eventually being offered a three year contract and countering to then COO Travis Williams in demanding a F Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" which left the organization shocked and stunned, Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" as Crawford recommended to the Penguins to consider hiring Mike Johnston and as one source notes Crawford told R 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

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