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Not An Overreaction
Entering the season undermanned and coming out of Florida with three of four points was a testament of how the coaching staff almost always has this team ready to play. Time will tell but the ship Sullivan runs has the Penguins primed to be a regular season team again in how they’ll often be a tough out no matter who’s in the lineup and they just know how to get points.
Built for the regular season but not the playoffs? Long way to go but I’d take that bet again.
The opener Tampa Bay treated the game like game 1 of the preseason and Lightning coach Jon Cooper wax right in his assessment that Pittsburgh’s “farm” team probably would have beaten the Lightning that much.
Few should read a ton into that game except that one team was ready to play and the more talented team wasn’t. That’s a credit to Sullivan as Pittsburgh’s systematic game just gave Tampa Bay fits.
Thursday’s game, a 5-4 overtime loss to the Panthers was a different style of game. It was much more open and blowing a two-goal third period lead to a very good hockey team is moot this early in the season. The encouraging sign was similar to how the Penguins racked up points last season in how the systematic game they play just rarely has teams able to put them away.
Fleury vs Jarry
It’s Tristan Jarry vs Marc Andre Fleury tonight in what could very well be Fleury’s final game ever in Pittsburgh. If Chicago gets No. 1 level goaltending from Fleury this season, they will have a chance to contend for a final playoff spot. Two games in for the Blackhawks, though, you can already see what a different situation Fleury is going to be in the amount of high quality chances the Blackhawks give up. Not everybody’s Colorado but even without some of their big guns, Fleury got a taste Tuesday night of how things are going to be in Chicago. It’s going to be Grade-A Chance City.
What’s Next for Fleury after this season?
“His heart is still in Vegas, not P[hide]ittsburgh,” a former teammate of Fleury’s tell me if MAF has the opportunity to go back to either spot next off-season.
One thing that has become clear since the hiring of Ron Hextall/Brian Burke is the obsession in the Penguins organization to try to re-acquire Fleury has ended. As reported here previously, it’s something Hextall just had no interest in doing last summer. Pittsburgh in fact was never really in the goaltending market at all last summer.
As the sell out streak is in jeopardy and the Penguins are selling $200.00+ tickets for $50 on Student rush promos to try to fill the building, team officials have been stunned with Fleury in town at the struggles to sell tickets for this game and there’s obvious worries through the winter months that the team is going to struggle to fill the building without having to go the student rush route.
Even the Pirates get some enthusiasm for a home opener.
While Crosby and Malkin are obviously injured, things are just bland around the team. Yes the team is coming off a first place finish and are and will be competitive this season, but one feeling around the team is this season will show to the organization Malkin and even Crosby are no longer significant drawing cards at this stage of their careers like the team’s higherups above Hextall and Burke think they will be. It’s a stretch that fans will be coming out in droves to watch an aging Evgeni Malkin in the coming years and as great as Crosby remains, his greatness at this stage of his career is more in the 200ft game than being a must-see player.
In & Out Tonight vs the Blackhawks
In: Zach Aston-Reese
Out: Sam Lafferty (healthy)
Out: Bryan Rust (injured)
*PO Joseph recalled this week due to the Mike Matheson injury skated with the extra’s.
Guentzel – Carter – Heinen
Zucker – Rodrigues – Kapanen
ZAR – Blueger – McGinn
O’Connor – Boyle – Simon
Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Marino
Friedman – Ruhwedel