Penguins – Islanders

The Penguins take on the last place New York Islanders tonight in Brooklyn.

The Islanders are 21st in goals per game (2.4), 23rd in Goals Against (3.0), 24th in shots per game (29.0) 27th on the Power Play (12.9), 23rd on the PK (80.0).

The Islanders not only look like a last place team from the eye test, just about every stat backs up where they currently sit in the standings.

They are 29th in the NHL in SAT% and 22nd in the NHL in 5-on-5 save percentage.

In a deeper Metropolitan Division than last season, the Islanders look cooked as the calendar hits December 1 tomorrow.

The goaltending matchup tonight, Thomas Griess goes for Islanders while in the first game of a back-to-back situation, the Penguins will start Matt Murray in goal.

Word is despite Fleury’s best performance of the season coming against the Islanders this season on Oct 27 and the Penguins facing a better opponent tomorrow night in the Dallas Stars, the coaches would like to get Fleury some home starts in trying to boost his confidence,

Fleury has a 2.61 GAA and .925 save percentage at home. On the road he’s 1-3-2 with a 4.33 GAA and .872 save percentage.

Scott Wilson soon to be Wilkes Barre Bound or Trade Bait?

img_3636Jake Guentzel’s emergence this season will have a significant trickle down effect on the Penguins’ roster in the coming weeks. The Penguins have seen enough since the start of the AHL season from Guentzel where they don’t see a scenario where he plays his way back down to Wilkes Barre. The organization feels he’s here for good and will be an integral part to the team the rest of the way.

Guentzel’s arrival is bad news for three players in particular.


Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Wilson, and veteran Eric Fehr.

In the short-term as in tonight, Patric Hornqvist’s return to the lineup tonight will force the Penguins to make one lineup decision and that will be Scott Wilson coming out.

With Chris Kunitz likely to return in a week- two weeks, that’s where things get interesting from who falls out of the picture.

“Which guys are doing the best job to help us win games, that’s what it boils down to, Sullivan said of pending lineup decision.” I think performance, at this level, is always the dictator.”

A good argument could be made that Eric Fehr should be the odd-man out tonight based on performance over the last couple games. He’s play has been really poor over the last week.

Expected Line Combinations:

Hornqvist will play tonight with Conor Sheary and Sidney Crosby.

Malkin will remain with Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, while the HBK line is expected to stay together.

Cullen will center Tom Kuhnhackl and Eric Fehr.

As mentioned a few weeks ago prior to Guentzel’s callup, the Penguins had begun kicking around scenarios with the roster where Guentzel comes up and earns a full-time role.

That had rival executives already indicating that Kuhnhackl and Wilson were names out there that the Penguins could move.

Kuhnhackl is eligible for waivers, while Wilson can be sent down to Wilkes Barre without having to clear waivers. On Wilson there would be no urgency to move him, unless it addresses a need.

When it comes to Fehr, who continues to struggle with the Penguins ‘play with pace’ style, the best thing he has going for him is that his leadership (and friendship to Sidney Crosby) continues to be valued greatly by the management group.

Despite some push back from team sources that he’s not being shopped, his fit especially when this group is fully healthy, continues to be questioned.

Source: Penguins have kicked tires on Murphy trade

Carolina Hurricanes puck-moving defenseman Ryan Murphy was a first round pick of Jim Rutherford’s in 2011 and while Murphy’s not the type of top-4 defenseman the Penguins need, Pittsburgh has expressed some level of interest in trading for Murphy to boost their defensive depth, NHL sources say.

With the Hurricanes actively shopping Murphy and seeking a young NHL forward in return, the Penguins have checked in to see if there’s a trade match, per sources.

A Penguins’ source described interest in Murphy as being similar to Justin Schultz last season. A player whose offensive skill would be an ideal fit for their system and who could be coached up the right way under Jacques Martin.

If the Penguins were to decide to move a forward like a Scott Wilson or Kuhnhackl for example, this is type of deal they would love to make and have checked into.