DePaoli’s Post-Game Buzz
Through 41 games, defenseman Alex Goligoski is 5th on the team with 22 points, ranks 3rd with a +20 rating and is 1st on the team with four game winning goals.
Statisically, a good start through the 1st half of the season but one area of Goligoski’s game that has been lacking is becoming a consistent factor on the power play.
Goligoski lost his spot on the first power play unit for several weeks ago but with the Penguins power play struggling, Bylsma has entrenched Goligoski back on the top-unit.
Pittsburgh went 2-for-4 on the power play and Goligoski collected two power play assists in the win. Pittsburgh is clicking at 17.3% on the season and came into the game 1 for their last 22.
Bylsma said in his post-game comments that Goligoski’s first shot presence over a pass first Paul Martin was the main decision in the switch.
At least for one night, Goligoski looked like a more confident player at the point and was getting pucks to the net quickly.
NO TIMETABLE YET FOR LETESTU EXTENSION TALKS
As i reported last month, Penguins GM Ray Shero reached out to agent Allain Roy in December expressing interest in discussing a new contract for 25 year old center Mark Letestu.
According to contacts from both sides this week, no timetable has been established from the Penguins yet but Letestu’s camp remains hopeful to begin talks at the end of the month, which was the thought process last month.
Letestu is a restricted free agent at seasons end and observers believe he’s going to develop into a consistent 15-18 goal scorer with ability to pop in close to 20 goals.
The Penguins view Letestu as a potential long-term third line center and he remains a candidate to get a deal done before spring.
BACK TO NORMALCY
The sense from the players over the past couple days is that they’re pleased to be back to normalcy with the Winter Classic no longer hovering around them and the HBO camera’s not around.
“I indicated to my players I won’t be miked for any of these upcoming games or practices, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think there’s a little bit of a sigh of relief. There’s no camera around the corner and you can act a little bit at ease.”
LIGHTNING NOT READY TO COMPETE WITH ELITE TEAMS
The Tampa Bay Lightning have the second most points in the Eastern Conference with 53 points but they won’t become a serious threat in the East until they bolster their blueline.
In a seven game series, they don’t have the type of shutdown defenseman or pairing that’s going to be able to match up with the likes of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
When I look at the East, I still see Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Washington as the top-4 Cup contenders.
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