*Trending up, out of a playoff spot*
*Should DeSmith start vs Carolina?*
*Private Trade Demand impacting Cole’s role?*
*Specific Asking price for Pacioretty coming into focus*

Flyers move into playoff spot

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 2 of 3 on their West Coast trip, but the defending Stanley Cup champions continue to trend up in how the way they’re playing is starting to look like the Penguins of the past two seasons.

Saturday’s loss to the Sharks was another fast paced game by the Penguins in how they out-skated the Sharks for long stretches, something that was missing the first three months of the season.

Over the Penguins last eight games they are +49 in scoring chances during 5-on-5 play and +20 in high danger chances. There continues to be positive trends to feel pretty good about this club as they enter a home-stand before the all-star break.

The standings, though, are still the standings, and the Penguins will enter Monday currently out of a playoff spot with the surging Flyers moving into a wildcard spot today with a 2-1 overtime win against the Capitals.

1. Washington Capitals | 48 GP – 61 Pts
2. New Jersey Devils | 45 GP – 56 Pts
3. Columbus Blue Jackets | 47 GP – 55 Pts

4. *Philadelphia Flyers | 47 GP – 54 Pts
5. *New York Rangers | 47 GP – 53 Pts
6. Pittsburgh Penguins | 49 GP – 53 pts
7. New York Islanders | 48 GP – 52 Pts
8. Carolina Hurricanes | 46 GP – 50 Pts

*= Currently in Wildcard Spot*

DeSmith to get the call vs Hurricanes?

Mike Sullivan caught a lot by surprise when he decided to start Casey DeSmith in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. The move didn’t backfire despite the Penguins coming up short.

DeSmith was great against LA and was just as good vs the Sharks in stopping 34 of 36 shots. Sets up an interesting decision on who to start Tuesday night at home against Carolina with DeSmith the hot hand right now.

Cole’s private trade demand impacting lack of role?

Ian Cole wanting out of Pittsburgh (his agent asked for permission to seek a trade in late November) hasn’t been as public as Jack Johnson in Columbus demanding a trade, but it’s been interesting how John Tortorella has handled the Johnson situation that is very public and Sullivan who is right out of the Tortorella coaching tree has handled the Ian Cole situation.

No one is talking and yes the Penguins coaching staff likes Matt Hunwick’s skating ability to retrieve pucks better, but as one source close to the situation told me, ‘Mike Sullivan doesn’t believe players who demand a trade deserve to be playing’ and while Cole has dressed for 16 games since his private trade demand was made, (the Penguins had a lot of injuries in December) the trade demand is certainly a factor in why he’s not playing.

“He [Mike Sullivan] made that clear (demand a trade – you won’t play) to management with the Plotnikov kid and there’s a little bit of that here [with Ian Cole],” the source said of Cole.”

Even Mike Sullivan’s biggest supporters in the organization don’t believe Cole’s demise as a regular in the lineup is strictly because of his play To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

When the Penguins weighed opening up contract negotiations with Cole before the regular season started, Cole’s camp based on their evaluations of a potential market next summer, believed Cole was in line to command a To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Scouts Buzz on Max Pacioretty

An Eastern Conference scout on Max Pacioretty: “He’s getting traded [by the summer] To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Industry chatter is the Canadiens talked a Pacioretty trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets in seeking Pierre-Luc Dubois [hide] as a key piece and were turned down. That’s the type of young asset they’ve been coveting in Pacioretty talks — a long-term two-line center + another impact roster player and a first round pick.

The New York Rangers have been chasing Pacioretty for over a year and when you factor in the Penguins who had looked into Pacioretty pretty hard at one point over the last month, the Canadiens have their share of suitors inside the Metropolitan Division. [/hide]

Some around the league would hate for the Penguins to get their hands on Pacioretty.

“Boy….. if Pittsburgh [hide] could put a good enough package together he [Max Pacioretty] would be magic next to Crosby,” the scout said of Pacioretty. “People don’t realize how good this player is and would be in a spot where he doesn’t have to be the guy.”[/hide]