There are many reasons the Penguins have jumped out to a 22-10-1 start through 33 games. Marc Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby to name a few but what has really fueled the Penguins hot start is the play of their role players.
A stunning stat is projected 3rd and 4th liners Michael Rupp and Pascal Dupuis are tied for second on the team with 9 goals each.
In fact, Rupp and Dupuis have combined for more goals than top-6 forwards Ruslan Fedotenko (5), Bill Guerin (7) and Chris Kunitz (3) have combined for.
In evaluating this team through 30+ games, Pittsburgh has a much stronger core of secondary wingers (Cooke, Dupuis, Kennedy, Rupp, Talbot) than actual top line wingers.
Pittsburgh has found ways to keep winning with a subpar power play after ranking 20th in 2008-2009 and currently 29th. They will continue to do so, at least until the playoffs.
However, what concerns some talent evaluators is that there needs to be more production from the Penguins top wingers. The chances of players like Pascal Dupuis and Michael Rupp scoring at their current pace is very unlikely. The thought of adding another scoring winger is always being discussed and that’s why many evaluators expect Penguins General Manager Ray Shero to tweak his roster a bit after the new year.
Granato in position for another head coaching job?
A hot name surfacing around the league is Penguins assistant head coach Tony Granato. Granato’s name is even surfacing in Columbus according to a league source, where Ken Hitchcock is on the hot seat.
Granato has no interest in leaving Pittsburgh this season for any other opportunities but he’s in position to get a strong look this off-season from teams.
Granato has drawn rave reviews around the league for his work with the Penguins penalty kill unit and he’s begun to adapt a Dan Bylsma type of offensive system, which many teams are looking to move to.
Joining Dan Bylsma’s staff is going to end up being a great career move for Granato.
Penguins expect a desperate Flyers team
The Philadelphia Flyers expected to contend for a Stanley Cup title this season. Things haven’t panned out thus far.
The Flyers are 2-8 in their last 10 games, sitting in last place in the division and have also made a coaching change that has yet to spark their club.
Pittsburgh though expects the kind of Flyers team they played last year in the playoffs to show up Tuesday night. The players talked today how the Flyers are going to be a hungry team and it’s going to be a battle like it always is.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh gets Philadelphia coming into town playing back-to-back games.
A number of players are taking a lot of heat in Philadelphia for their slow start, including captain Mike Richards.
Defenseman Chris Pronger has been a workhorse on the backend, averaging over 26 minutes of ice time per game along with a team best plus/minus rating of plus 9.
However, the Flyers are struggling on the penalty kill, which has been surprising with the addition of Pronger.
This a big week for them with two games against Pittsburgh and one against Boston.
Trade rumors have also been circulating in Philadelphia with the Flyers willing to make a major play for Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco