Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Sheary’s breakout Night; Upside of Oleksiak-Schultz pairing; Ron Francis PIT Bound?

Key Takeaways from the Penguins 5-2 win over the Flyers

Entering Wednesday night’s game vs the Philadelphia Flyers, Conor Sheary had 0 goals and 4 assists in his previous 15 games.

Sheary’s performance Monday night vs the Flames was about as rock bottom as it could get The 4th line when Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl on the ice together was pretty much unplayable for the Penguins as Pittsburgh was out-attempted 13-0 in the first period when Sheary/Kuhnhackl were on the ice.

Conor Sheary vs the Calgary Flames (3/5): 0 Points | 27% possession (7:19 of ice 5-on-5), 30 SCF% | 0 GF – 2 GA |

While Tom Kunhackl continued to be dead weight last night vs the Flyers, Sheary finally had a breakthrough game and no surprise, it happened when reunited with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel due to a Bryan Rust upper body injury early in the game.

Conor Sheary last night vs the Flyers (3/7): 2 Goals | 54% Possession | 2 GF – 0 GA |

Sheary’s 2 goals in a 4:55 span late in the second period fueled a Penguins 5-2 win against the Flyers. It wasn’t just the 2 goals from Sheary.

Out of nowhere Sheary found some magic in his game when back up with Crosby and Guentzel. Sheary was suddenly playing that slippery game when he was at his best last season, creating separation, making quick crisp passes off the wall and getting the puck to Crosby with speed through the neutral zone.

Sheary was even a factor with his play away from the puck, he had some great back checks into the d-zone in the third with the Penguins preserving a multi-goal lead.

It was just two periods and the Penguins always know Sheary can fit on the top line, preferably in short doses, but Sheary being competent on the top line compared to dead weight everywhere else has the Penguins in a situation where you just start rolling with Sheary on the top line as Bryan Rust if he avoided a long-term injury, can make the Penguins 4th line so much more impactful than Sheary can who is a major non-factor at times when away from Crosby.

Flyers not ready for primetime?

— Wednesday’s game kind of how a first round series would probably go between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s high-end talent would have the Penguins on their heels for small stretches as the Flyers did in the first 20 minutes or so of the game but there were a lot of signs of who the much better hockey club is.

The way the Penguins locked down defensive in the third period was something else. They were smothering the Flyers with their puck pursuit.

The Flyers could certainly take a game or two from the Penguins in a playoff series, but they’re still a year away from being a major factor.

Philadelphia has lost four straight, allowing 20 goals against during that span. The Flyers next four games are against Boston, Winnipeg, Vegas and Columbus. The Flyers are 3 points of our first and six points up on the second wildcard spot but will be interesting where they trend these next four games.

Oleksiak – Schultz pairing showing upside

— Penguin coaches had been adamant that Jamie Oleksiak was better on the right side than the left side, but the switch to playing left D has benefited Oleksiak who is getting his shot off much quicker to the net on pucks up the wall.

The pairing of Oleksiak – Justin Schultz is also showing much more upside than Maatta – Schultz did.

A great night for the pairing who were on the ice for 3 Goals For and 0 Against.

Oleksiak shined with a goal, assist, +3, 57% possession (5-on-5). Schultz had an assist and was a +3.

Three points in his last three games for Schultz.

Guentzel another contract situation coming up

Jake Guentzel picked up 2 assists in the win over the Flyers, giving him 20 goals and 40 points on the season. Through 108 career regular season games, Guentzel has 73 points, a career average of 0.68 points per game. In 25 playoff games, he has 13 goals and 21 points.

If Guentzel played a full season as the top line left winger, there’s no question he’d around a 30 goal, 60 point player.

And that view of Guentzel isn’t just in Pittsburgh.

When Pittsburgh was still in the Ryan McDonagh trade discussions on Monday morning of deadline day, the Rangers highly sought Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

Guentzel is a player loved by the coaching staff because they can play him in any situation and he’s going to be another contract situation to watch in the not too distant future.

Guentzel is eligible for an extension on July 1, though, the Penguins haven’t made any internal discussions Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

Vancouver’s Bo Horvat, while a center, got a 6 year, $33 million deal last September coming off his third NHL season. Horvat has averaged 0.54 points per game in his career. Horvat was at 0.51 points per game Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

Ron Francis a contender to join Penguins organization?

The Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday night ousted Ron Francis as General Manager in what is basically seen by other executives as a firing, though, Francis will now hold a title as the “President of Hockey Operations”.

The Hurricanes have began a search for a new General Manager who will report directly to the owner.

[Ron Francis will transition into a new role with the team as president of hockey operations. The Hurricanes will conduct a full search for a new general manager, who will report directly to Dundon, the Hurricanes announced. “Since I took control of the team, I’ve had a good chance to be around and assess the operations,” said Dundon. “There are a lot of good people working in the organization, but I feel that a change in direction is needed when it comes to hockey personnel decisions. Ron is a smart and talented hockey man. I am glad that he will continue to be a part of the team, serving in this new role.”]

Dundon, a Dallas businessman, is going to be a Mark Cuban type owner that deals directly with the coaches/players, and for Francis who is all about being conservative and take little risks, this was never going to work out.

Dundon is said to have wanted to make a splash at the deadline, pushing to pursue players like Derick Brassard, and that’s where the relationship quickly went sideways.

It’s anticipated Francis is holding the President of Hockey Operations title just as a PR move instead of it being an actual firing and that he has permission to seek jobs elsewhere.

Francis is under contract through the 2018-2019 season.

Some already around the league are wondering if Francis eventually ends up in Pittsburgh if Bill Guerin lands a General Manager job this summer.

Guerin who rightfully so has emerged as one of the top/fastest rising GM candidates, due to a great reputation of developing/eyeing talent, is going to be connected to any opening this summer and other openings beyond this year.

It wouldn’t shock anybody if his name surfaces in Carolina, though, whether Guerin views that job as the right fit remains to be seen. His stock is said to be so high he has an opportunity to be patient if he desires.

Many around the league have felt for months that Guerin would be a leading candidate in 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

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