Category Archives: Penguins

Erik Gudbranson and You: A Look At The Newest Penguin

Category : Penguins

Does the NHL have a return policy?
Because right at the end of Monday’s Trade Deadline, GMJR pulled the trigger on getting two defensemen after Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin left Saturday’s Stadium Series game in Philadelphia with neck and brain injuries, respectively.
Admittedly, we all knew he had to make some trades.  Every other contending team in the league got better prior and up to the deadline, while GMJR had only added the likes of Jack Johnson in free agency, traded for Marcus Pettersson and Tanner Pearson during the season, and shipped out Jamie Oleksiak to that point.
Pettersson has been fine.  You could say the same for Pearson, whose 8 5v5 goals as a Penguin ranked him 4th on the team since he debuted on November 15th.  That’s not insignificant.  Jack Johnson has been…well…Jack Johnson.
But, aside from maybe a fully acclimated Tanner Pearson and his goal-scoring ability, you could say that none of those players listed are players that will put your team over the top.
All this is to say that GM Jim Rutherford had to do something on Monday, particularly because of his depleted blue line, but when 3 PM came and went and Central Registry finally burned through the last minute filings, you could say that GMJR would’ve been better off doing nothing rather than acquiring Erik Gudbranson for Tanner Person (and Chris Wideman for JS Dea).
We won’t look too much at the 29 year old Wideman here, only that GMJR said that he’s “a smaller guy, a puck moving guy” that has played 181 NHL games.  Despite possessing that puck moving ability, something the Penguins desperately need, Wideman is going to start his Penguins career in the AHL (emphasis in the above quote is my own).
Which leads us back to Erik Gudbranson, who, for all intents and purposes, is not an NHL quality defenseman.  The data attached to this post will show that.
However, by GMJR’s own admission, Erik Gudbranson:

is heart and soul guy
puts the Penguins in a “stronger position to push back when [they] get into more physical games by being able to “protect” his teammates
is a character guy
is team guy
is going to help the room
is going to make guys feel more comfortable
is a player that’s played NHL games.

If you, too, were wondering why nothing he said resembles any on-ice qualities, it’s because Erik Gudbranson is really only good at doing a few things on the ice like:

Being 6’5″
Being physical and doing things like throwing hits and fists
Living in his defensive zone
Killing his teams’ ability to be good offensively.

Now, the horse has been beaten to a pulp about how poor his advanced metrics are on the surface, but let’s go on and really dive down into the data to see if we can find some glimmer of hope upon which defensive strategists like Jacques Martin and Sergei Gonchar may be able to build to turn this guy into a useful player.
All statistics herein come via Natural Stat Trick and are at 5-on-5 unless otherwise noted.

First, let’s take a look at Bill Comeau’s SKATR comparison tool one last time before he retires it to see, from a bird’s eye level, where Gudbranson stacks up across 21 categories this year (left) versus his past 3 years (right).

What stands out here is just how bad of a season Gudbranson has had so far.  His last three years were bad, but this year has somehow been worse.  That makes the price of Tanner Pearson even more mind-boggling.
What’s more, and Jesse Marshall of The Athletic touched on it briefly in his piece, is that Gudbranson is actually performing at a lower level than that of Jack Johnson.

 
As you can see, from a defensive perspective, Jack Johnson finds himself in a higher percentile of 5-on-5 shot attempt share, shot attempt share relative to his teammates, shot attempt suppression relative to his teammates, expected goals for share, and expected goals against relative to his teammates.  As far as being on the ice for a larger amount of expected goals relative to their team, both are pretty much on par in the “bad” realm.
What this means is that both Johnson and Gudbranson are bad at helping their teammates generate in the offensive zone and are generally worse at limiting the opposition from creating shot attempts and quality looks in the form of expected goals.  Thinking back to when we took a look at Johnson’s underlying numbers a month ago, seeing a player that’s actually worse than Johnson is, in a word, terrifying.
While it’s a useful exercise to examine Gudbranson’s numbers here in this capacity, it’s important to look at how he impacts the teams he plays for while he’s on the ice.
On-ice – Rates
With the Penguins possessing one of the more potent attacking forces in the league and three forwards that are producing at greater than a point per game, it stands to reason that you don’t want a defender that is going to stifle that potency.
On the flip side, with defense being perhaps the weakest point of this current Penguins team, you’d reasonably want a “defensive specialist” to come in and help steady the ship.
Unfortunately, Erik Gudbranson does nothing to stimulate offenses and does even less at being strong defensively.  This is a trend that exists beyond this season and shows up across the board throughout his 8 year, 448 game career.
There’s a lot of information here, but it can easily be summed up like this: Erik Gudbranson is having himself a terrible year (as we saw above, even by his 3 year average standard).  In nearly every single data bucket captured below, Gudbranson is worse off this season than he has been over his career and is among the worst in the league in nearly every single data point that we track.
[Click to enlarge all images]

[Note: Expected Goals below come via Evolving Hockey.  Career xG numbers are unavailable.]
In fact, in every “For” category, except for High Danger Scoring Chances For per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time and actual Goals Scored For per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time, Gudbranson is on the ice for fewer in each compared to his career average.
In other words, when Gudbranson is on the ice this season, his team is generating fewer shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shots on goal, and scoring chances per hour of ice time compared to his career average.  That’s not to say that his career numbers are good (they’re not), but the fact that he’s seen such a drop off is frightening.
That’s especially concerning for a team like the Penguins that is so reliant on their defensemen contributing offensively.
What’s more, when you look at each suppression-based metric (i.e. the “Against” date buckets above), you see that this season, he’s drowning in his own end of the ice.  It cannot be stressed enough just how bad these numbers are.

After seeing such a disparity between his For and Against numbers, it should come as no surprise to see that his share of each category is well below 50%.  This season alone sees him down 4 percentage points across the board compared to that of his career average, too.
It’s worth noting here that he’s seen his share of shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shots on goal, and high danger scoring chances pass the 50% share threshold just once in his career (2013-14).  Furthermore, 2015-16 was the sole year he was on the ice for more goals for than against (36-35) at 5v5.  It shouldn’t surprise you to find out that in 2015-16, Roberto Luongo went 35-19-6 with a .922 SV% and 4 shutouts.
But, bearing the rates and shares above in mind, it’s worth checking out just exactly where he ranks in terms of the 217 defenseman that have played 300+ minutes if 5-on-5 ice time.
You’ll see that he is in the bottom 11 out of 217 defensemen in all 7 suppression-based categories.  Aside from ice time and share of goals, he finds himself in the bottom 44 in every category.

Gudbranson 2018-19 Rank

Time On Ice per Game
146th

Shot Attempts For Per Hour
196th

Shot Attempts Against Per Hour
9th most

Shot Attempts Share
210th

Unblocked Shot Attempts For Per Hour
179th

Unblocked Shot Attempts Against Per Hour
7th most

Unblocked Shot Attempts Share
210th

Shots on Goal For Per Hour
173rd

Shots On Goal Against Per Hour
5th most

Shots On Goal Share
210th

Goals For Per Hour
156th

Goals Against Per Hour
2nd most

Goals Share
213th

Scoring Chances For Per Hour
208th

Scoring Chances Against Per Hour
1st most

Scoring Chances Share
217th

High Danger Scoring Chances For Per Hour
178th

High Danger Scoring Chances Against Per Hour
10th most

High Danger Scoring Chance Share
210th

Expected Goals For Per Hour
201st

Expected Goals Against Per Hour
11th most

Expected Goals Differential Per Hour
4th worst

To drive just how bad these numbers are, we need to look no further than Corsica Hockey’s Player Rating Tool.  Out of the 246 total defensemen rated within this tool, Erik Gudbranson ranks 245th.
So, based on this model, Erik Gudbranson is the 2nd worst defenseman in the league.
On-ice – Relative to Teammates
Understandably, there is a cause for concern with Gudbranson having played on some pretty poor Panthers and Canucks teams over his career.  To that end, he’s played in just 13 career playoff games (2011-12, 2015-16).  So the thought is that his rates above are skewed because he’s played on such bad teams.  Admittedly, there’s some truth to that.
However, despite playing on bad teams, if there were areas where he showed up and made his team better, we’d see them in the Relative data buckets.
Put another way, if Gudbranson’s teams are better while he’s on the ice than when he’s off of it, we’ll know by looking at the statistics relative to his teammates.
So first, let’s take a look at what he does at 5v5 relative to his teammates with respect to moving the puck in a positive direction on a season-by-season basis.

You can see here that 2013-14 was probably his best year relative to his teammates (while 2017-18 was his worst) in terms of helping move the puck away from his own goal.  What this shows us here is that, in 2013-14, his team was generating more shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shots on goal, goals, and high danger chances when he was on the ice than when he was off of it.
However, when you see so many negatives, it’s concerning.  Take this season as an example.  When Gudbranson is off the ice, his team is generating 4.56 more shot attempts than when he’s on it (per hour of 5v5 ice time).  They were also generating 2.80 more unblocked attempts, 0.56 more shots on goal, 0.3 more goals, 4.07 more scoring chances, and 0.77 more high danger chances per 60 minutes when he’s not on the ice.
Think of it this way: His teams generate more offensively when he’s not on the ice. 
That’s bad news, but something you can maybe stomach if he’s a solid contributor defensively.
Next, we want to take a look at how he’s performed defensively at suppressing shot attempts, unblocked attempts, shots, goals, and scoring chances.

With respect to the “Against” numbers, you want to see more negative signs than positive signs.  Seeing a negative sign means that when he’s on the ice, his team is having fewer shots, goals, and chances directed at his goal than when he’s off of it.
Here, you can probably make the case that 2016-17 was perhaps his best season defensively.
But this season?  Ho boy, this season is not good.  Relative to his teammates, Gudbranson finds himself on the ice for over 11 more shot attempts against per hour, nearly 10 more unblocked shot attempts against, over 8 more shots on goal against, about 2 more goals against, 7.12 more scoring chances against, and 3.01 more high danger chances against compared to when he’s off of it.
Put another way: his teams are better defensively when he’s not on the ice.
Finally, let’s see what the net result looks like as a relative share of these data buckets.

When we look at his share of these data buckets relative to his teammates, it does not paint a pretty picture.  Aside from 2013-14’s share of goals for and high danger chances for, his teams have been better with him off the ice than on the ice in terms of controlling the puck in every other data bucket in every single season of his career.
If his poor on-ice stats were just a product of his environment, we’d see it in the relative stats just as we did with Pettersson and his time in Anaheim.  But we simply don’t here and that’s a big concern.

To summarize: Erik Gudbranson is one of the worst defensemen in the league, which we largely already knew.  Checking out Micah McCurdy‘s Hockey Viz, we can really see this impact.

His teams benefit offensively and defensively when he is off the ice and are negatively impacted when he’s on it.  The data shows this conclusively.  The video that Jesse broke down does, too.

Erik Gudbranson: A Tribute pic.twitter.com/t91vCBuHBQ
— Mr Booth (@MrBooth_7) February 26, 2019

The way Phil! just waits for Gudbranson to commit, then de-commit before making the pass to Hagelin is a thing of beauty. Gudbranson gets back up right as he buys into Phil! shooting the puck, pic.twitter.com/AQANq8taSi
— geoff stat boy (@G_Off817) October 17, 2018

Question: “What is he supposed to do there?”
Answer:

your job as a defenseman is to take away the pass on a 2v1. So, i guess preventing the pass is a good start.
— geoff stat boy (@G_Off817) February 25, 2019

Now, it should be said that the Penguins have done well with a few “reclamation” projects over the years (though, it should be said that Schultz and Daley were a lot better than Gudbranson).
Is Gudbranson one of those or is he a lost cause?  Time will tell.  But they’re going to be paying him $4M through the next 2+ seasons, so they’re going to need to do their absolute best to try to make this work.
Otherwise, one-third of the Penguins defense will get caved in regularly and will be a $7.25M liability in the final years of the Crosby/Malkin/Letang window.
That’s one hell of a gamble no matter which way you cut it.  Let’s hope it works out despite all of the red flags.


NwPP: Net weighted Power Play: A preliminary blended descriptive statistic

Through four months of the schedule this season, the Penguins find themselves in familiar territory, among the top one-quarter of teams in power play percentage. However, the Penguins are the league leaders in shorthanded goals allowed. Head coach Mike Sullivan has repeatedly emphasized that the power play must operate with more of a defensive conscience.

#Pens HC Sullivan said the team is "probably there" on doing something drastic with the PP to prevent shorthanded goals. "We have to take more responsibility for having a defensive conscience when guys are in trouble. It doesn't seem like we're recognizing the danger." -SK
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 29, 2019

Sullivan on why SHGs have been a problem: Because we don't have a conscience defensively when we're on the ice on the power play, and it's inexcusable. And we've talked about it and talked about it. It's hard to win when you give up a goal like that.
— Angie (@acarducci) December 2, 2018

Two months ago, shortly after Pittsburgh yielded its seventh SHG, Pensblog brother Geoff presented advanced statistics and a detailed video analysis of each shorthanded goal that showed the four forward – one defenseman power play setup is still largely the best combination of players that can be assembled for the current Penguins.
Hockey-Graphs has also delved into various other predictive measurements of power play success.
Is there a composite descriptive statistic that could quantify a team’s total power play performance: goals scored and shorthanded goals allowed while simultaneously accounting for different power play strengths (5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-3)?
In January 2017, Nathan Gabay created Overall Power Play (OPP) to describe combined power play and penalty kill performance, with an excellent discussion of his statistic including historic leaders and historic bottom-feeders.
We intuitively know the limitations of simple power play percentage (PP%). Since it is merely power play goals divided by power play opportunities, it cannot differentiate between power plays that failed to score in the full two minutes or the ones that ended after three seconds because of a penalty immediately committed by the power play unit. Both situations go in the books as 0-for-1.
Here is a table of teams ranked by Power play percentage.

All statistics in this article were recorded after games of January 31, 2019.
Calgary ranks just behind the Penguins in PP% but the Flames have allowed seven fewer shorthanded goals (SHGA). Can we somehow blend the two columns into a single statistic to evaluate overall power play performance?
The following is a preliminary attempt to do so.
Net weighted Power Play (NwPP)
First, NwPP is not “New pee-pee“, but rather, “N-w-P-P“.
And please, no one tell Chris Rock about this N-w-P-P … We wouldn’t want to anger him and suffer through another uncomfortable rant like that time he blistered Jay and Silent Bob…

NET: because we make a straight deduction for shorthanded goals allowed from a team’s total power play goals
WEIGHTED: because we give a weighting factor to each power play strength situation.

The resultant single number is not a percentage but a power play “score” for more comprehensive and accurate team-to-team comparison.
Calculating PPG per 2 minutes (rather than opportunities)
We will measure power plays per unit of time, specifically per two minutes, instead of per opportunities. This is because greater than 97% of power play time this season results from a single two-minute minor penalty.
Net PPG = PPG – SHGA
For every power play strength (5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-3), we calculate net power play goals from power play goals scored minus shorthanded goals allowed.
Weighting factors for goals at 5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-3
Note: Skip this section if you hate math.
Logically, the degree of difficulty of scoring while on a 5-on-3 power play is less than trying to score while playing 5-on-4. Therefore, a 5-on-3 goal should have a lower value based on some weighting factor.

Can we come up with a simple model for hockey players’ goal-scoring output analogous to assembly-line robots? If we describe both 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 power plays relative to the common 5-on-4 in terms of the ratio of penalty killing workers to power play workers, we derive these degree of difficulty weights for each type of power play goal scored.

PK
PP

WEIGHT
OUTPUT

5-on-4
4
5
(4/5) / (4/5) =
1.0000
1.0000

5-on-3
3
5
(3/5) / (4/5) =
0.7500
1.3333

4-on-3
3
4
(3/4) / (4/5) =
0.9375
1.0667

Borrowing from ancient factory skills vs. productivity theory, output is simply the flip side (reciprocal) of the degree of difficulty weight. That is, if it’s only 75% as difficult to score when playing 5-on-3 relative to playing 5-on-4, then we would expect 33% (1 / 0.75) more goal-scoring at 5-on-3 relative to 5-on-4.
Below, the Expected column is simply the output numbers from above. The Actual column represents real 5-on-3 or 4-on-3 PP% relative to 5-on-4 PP%.

5-on-3 EXPECTED
5-on-3 ACTUAL
4-on-3 EXPECTED
4-on-3 ACTUAL

2018-19
1.3333
1.2991
1.0667
1.3250

2017-18
1.3333
1.3823
1.0667
0.8440

2013-18
1.3333
1.3851
1.0667
0.9829

So do real hockey players follow the robot model? In a word, no, obviously. There is lots of fluctuation in actual 4-on-3 scoring due to its small sample size – approximately 1% of all power play time. The results for actual 5-on-3 scoring is closer to our model but still about 2 to 4% different.
Therefore, for our weighting factors, we will choose the five-season actual data from 2013-18 because it is our largest appropriate, recent sample. Again, weights are the reciprocal of the output. So for 5-on-3: (1 / 1.3851) = 0.7220 and for 5-on-4: (1 / 0.9829) = 1.0174.
NwPP Formula
NwPP
= [(Net PPG 5-on-4) + 0.722(Net PPG 5-on-3) + 1.0174(Net PPG 4-on-3)] divided by [Total power play time] x 2 minutes
Comparing PP% vs. NwPP

Green – higher NwPP rank than PP% rank
Red – lower NwPP rank than PP% rank
White – no change
Not surprisingly, the Penguins fall nine spots, from seventh place in raw PP% to becoming the median team in the NHL – 16th place – when ranked by NwPP, partly damaged by their 11 shorthanded goals allowed. Indeed, the large majority of teams that fell have given up a larger than average number of shorthanded goals. Yet Boston, with 10 shorties allowed seems an anomaly, remaining in the top one-fifth of teams. Looking at their splits, Boston is near the top in power play goals scored, but middle of the pack in total power play minutes. This could be interpreted as a club that scores quickly with the man-advantage, thus keeping them high in the NwPP standings since this is a per-units of time statistic.
ROAST ME
Readers with a much more advanced background in math, stats and logic are most welcome to correct, criticize and rebuke NwPP in the manner of Reddit’s r/RoastMe.
As the title indicates, NwPP is preliminary work, but certainly a start at evaluating and describing overall power play performance better than what we currently have in the public domain.


RECAP 51: Break the Law. Pens Break Senators For A 5-3 Win

Category : Penguins

Well, the Penguins can finally say they beat the last place team in the NHL more than once.
Seems weird that this team struggles with beating the teams they’re supposed to beat, but no matter how many times they need reminded by virtue of taking Ls, it’s just too hard to care about games against the Senators.
It’s like when you go see your dentist and he/she reminds you for the 13th consecutive visit that you need to floss every day.  You say, “yeah, okay doc I will don’t worry” and leave, only to come back six months later to be reminded of your transgressions once again.  You know damn well that your teeth will probably rot out of your skull if you don’t, but you still don’t floss because it’s stupid as hell.
Games against the Sens are just that: stupid as hell.  Yet we have to continually go through this 5 times a year because of some law.

CHANGE THE LAWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018

Anyway, aside from a little blip late on when they let the Sens back into the game, the Pens played a pretty good game.  They looked fast, they controlled the puck, and they scored goals.  At 5-on-5, they owned 56.9% of the shot attempts registered (66-50), 58.62% of the scoring chances generated (34-24), and put up 11 high danger chances, outscoring the Sens 5-1 at even strength (all stats via Natural Stat Trick).
With that, they move to within 2 points of the Islanders, who still have a game in hand and picked up a point at home last night in a shootout loss to the Bolts.  Washington’s win at home against Calgary gives them the same record as the Pens, while Columbus sits 2 points back of those two with a game in hand.

LINEUP

Welcome to the lineup, @NBjugstad72 and @jaredmccann19! pic.twitter.com/bKjIrUdIk6
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 2, 2019

Following their trade to the Pens, Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann had to rush to get to Pittsburgh, missed the warmup, but still got into the lineup because they basically had to.  Between no emergency call up and a Malkin upper body injury, they were left with no other choice.  With the Pens having won against Tampa to snap the losing skid, DeSmith got the start in the less critical game of the back-to-back, opposite Anders Nilsson.

Penguins in warmup:Guentzel-Crosby-SimonRust-Cullen-KesselPearson-Blueger-HornqvistWilson-Ruhwedel
Dumoulin-LetangMaatta-RiikolaPettersson-Johnson
Murray
** Not official, as I believe Bjugstad and McCann are in the building.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) February 1, 2019

On the big screen, Sam Kasan of @PensInsideScoop says Bjugstad and McCann are each in the lineup BUT might not be ready for the start of the game. They will play when available.
— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) February 1, 2019

They just emerged from the tunnel for the national anthems. https://t.co/xv1uaXytm0
— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) February 2, 2019

What a ride.
First Period
Pens all over the Sens to open the game, out-shooting them 8-2 through the first 10+ minutes, but the ball really got rolling with the 4th line kicking it down the mountain on one of those 8 shots.
PIT – 3:19 – Blueger; A: Cullen – 1-0
And in his second NHL game, the Ted got his first NHL goal to go along with his first NHL assist from Wednesday.  Following a Sens zone exit pass, the puck was shoved right back down their throats and Hornqvist got his ass in on the forecheck.  His pressure forced a bad pass that bounced around and was held in by Blueger at the blue line.  He shipped it back in, another bad bounce ensued, and he launched back in on the scrum along the wall to pin the puck low.
This kid just hounds the damn puck and that’s precisely what he did when it kicked out: hounded it down and broke everything up, held it in again at the blue line and sent it to the opposite corner.
Here’s where Cullen went to work as he had a lane in behind Chabot and DeMelo.  DeMelo engaged, got nut megged on a no-lock backhand feed for Blueger to just step into a full on howitzer.

What a fucking shot.

But that pass was something else.  Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!!!! *high steps into a ravine*

The happiest Ted pic.twitter.com/mVdq4v2rkV
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) February 2, 2019

At the 9:44 mark, Ryan Dzingel got called for closing his hand on the puck to give the Pens their first powerplay of the night, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net.
With the kill, the Sens started to get back into the game and controlling the play, nearly leveling the score through Matt Duchene coming off a faceoff at center ice, catching Crosby sleeping and getting in behind for a breakaway, only to put his chance right into DeSmith’s pad.  Should of scored.

In typical Pens fashion, though, they doubled their lead against the run of play, just as it looked like the Sens were clawing back into it and taking a hold of it.
PIT – 17:55 – Guentzel; A: Crosby, Letang – 2-0
Stemming from an offensive zone draw, Letang’s quick shot missed the net, only to be held in by Guentzel covering at the point.  He combined with Simon to flip it to the far side for Letang to go down low to 87.
No matter how good a player like Matt Duchene is, he doesn’t stand a chance here with Crosby walking out of the corner protecting the puck.  One quick stride mixed with his edge work and Crosby generates so much speed and power coming out of the corner, torching Duchene and feeding Money Bag on the far stick to bury his 25th of the year.

For real.  Crosby just isn’t human with this shit.  That’s one of the 25 or so best centers on planet earth and 87 made look like a slaughtered pig in a minefield.

Guentzel do the Maybach on Monday, Ferrari Friday. pic.twitter.com/fbgPSpvXvP
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) February 2, 2019

To round out the period, Garrett Wilson buried Jaros behind the Sens goal, then had to answer for it from Mark Borowiecki because of The Code and also because Boro is a goddamn lunatic that eats screws.  Totally normal behavior.

Really gotta appreciate this guy's level of awareness pic.twitter.com/SKhqY7RHz5
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) February 2, 2019

Second Period
All Pens again to open the 2nd, outshooting the Sens 6-1 in the early going until Zack Smith went off for elbowing Pettersson at the 6:46 mark.  Again, the killed penalty gave the Sens life, only to be turned away by another unconscious Casey DeSmith save.

PIT – 11:36 – Rust; A: Phil!, Bjugstad – 3-0
That opened the door for the Pens once again to score during a stretch of dominant Senators play.
It was Nick Bjugstad getting this shit started with some great board work behind Casey DeSmith’s net, getting some assistance from Pettersson to force the turnover.  MP28 moved it up to a freed up Rust to airmail out of the zone.
Watch Bjugstad here.  He starts behind his own net, reads the Send It, and probably wins the race to the loose puck had it not been for some late 2000s Red Wings interference.  Still, the mutant that he is got in and buried Boro to let Phil! seal off the wall in behind him.
Phil! didn’t totally get a handle on it, but it didn’t matter because the Pens had numbers down low with Rust joining in.  BFR’s efforts were met with assistance from Phil! to trap Tierney all by his lonesome.  The Sens desperate attempts at clearing the puck were met by resistance in the form of Pettersson holding it in at the point and ended with Phil! nearly scoring all alone in front of Nilsson.

here come the sens pic.twitter.com/qFxNNAEXwe
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) February 2, 2019

Under 3 minutes later, Jared McCann didn’t want to let Bjugstad have all of the box score glory, taking his first penalty as a Penguin with a slash on Mark Stone.
OTT – 15:00 – Ryan; A: Dzingel, Tierney – 3-1
Early on, the Pens got themselves a clearance to send the Sens down to reset.  They did, getting a clean zone entry and eventually a shot from Bobby Ryan from Malkin Street.  Ryan is not Malkin, missing the net and forcing Duchene to try to hold it in on the far side.  Duchene did exactly that, though it was uglier than that slaughtered in a minefield.  They call this a call back.
You can see here that both Cullen and Rust pushed up thinking the puck was leaving the zone, only it didn’t and it gave the Sens a 2v1 down low that Ryan cashed in on.

Fifth straight game that the Pens PK gave up a goal, but it would be the last one scored in the second, leaving the Pens to take their 22-0-1 record when leading after 2 into the 3rd.
Third Period
With the Pens running the damn show in the early stages of the 3rd looking for that 4th, they nearly got it from Crosby on a highlight reel chance, only for Nilsson to turn it away to keep Crosby from ending his career for a second time.

PIT – 8:05 – Rust; A: Phil!, Johnson – 4-1
But off the following draw, it was Bryan Rust popping back up to try to finish the job himself.  Big faceoff win from Bjugstad for Phil! and JJ73 to play catch, allowing Rust to again find himself in acres of space with the focus being totally and wholly on Phil! on the half wall.

Rust’s 14th of the year means he is now one goal away from his career high after scoring just 1 in his first 29 games.  That’s a stat.  That’s a goal, too.

Just keep sniping
Rust with his second goal of the game pic.twitter.com/pXUjmlvDDh
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) February 2, 2019

But with 7:42 left, Bjugstad one upped McCann by heading to the box himself for hooking up Colin White, opening the door for the Sens to get back into it.
OTT – 13:46 – PPG – Boedkker; A: Stone – 4-2
And kick the door down is what the Sens did.  Again, this one came from a clean zone entry, allowing the Sens to get set up.  A comedy of errors down low stemming from Johnson trying to eat the puck along the end boards turned the puck back over to the Sens, only for Maatta to latch on to another rebound and give it up to 73 behind DeSmith’s net.
Johnson has a chance here to clear it.  He’s on his forehand, Stone is far enough away that he has really reach to even have a chance on it.  Johnson tries to clear it through him/along the ice instead of high off the glass, giving Stone a real chance to make a play on it.  That’s exactly what Stone does, stealing it and getting around Johnson.  Instead of Johnson trying to actually make a play on the puck, he cross-checks Stone for some reason, giving Stone even more separation from the Pens defender, allowing him to set up Boedkker for the free shot to beat DeSmith.

Seriously, if Johnson gets his stick goal side on Stone, he has a chance at maybe breaking up the pass or maybe getting stick-on-stick. It also probably gives Wilson a chance at making a play.  At least then you could say JJ73 tried to make a hockey play.  But when you push a player in the direction they’re already skating, it makes that player skate further away from you.  That’s literally physics.

OTT – 15:08 – Duchene; A: Lajoie, Nilsson – 4-3
If the Pens kill that penalty, they kill the game and this recap ends.  Instead, they gave up a goal and gave these Senators more life than a certain group of other senators gain life by drinking the blood of the innocent.  And of course, it was Matt Duchene pulling Ottawa within one.
Off a dump in, Nilsson was able to freely handle the Pettersson rimmer over to Lajoie, who still nearly shit all over it by trying to reverse it back into Simon forechecking.  Lajoie wriggled free, hit Duchene streaking out of his own zone and he was off to the races.
With Simon engaged with Lajoie, Guentzel cheats a bit to try to steal the puck.  Crosby is stuck down low and as soon as Guentzel pinches, Duchene is free.  Johnson pinned himself to the wall expecting the clearing attempt to come his direction, but in doing so, he pulls himself too far away to defend Duchene.  He’s damned no matter what he does here.  If he cheats to Duchene, Lajoie finds Dzingel along the wall for the exit.  If he stays, where he is, he doesn’t have a chance at any stage of his career of catching Duchene.  Here, it was the latter.

Johnson gets smoked.  Pettersson is caught on the wrong side of Duchene expecting a pass and gets smoked.  And the smoker could not have asked for a better shot location to beat DeSmith.

PIT – 17:08 – Guentzel; A: Crosby, Dumoulin – 5-3
It was all clenched butthole city for two minutes as the Sens were buzzing, but an elite play by Dumoulin as Dzingel hit the line with speed turned it all around.
Dumo’s gap here is everything.  With Letang to his right and two Penguins jumping off the bench, he recognizes he can drop back a little bit to match Dzingel’s speed.  Letang and Simon slow Dzingel up enough for Dumo to get his stick in and disrupt Dzingel and force him to chip it in deep.

This is where Dumo works all of his magic.  Rather than cross-checking Dzingel in the back to moving him close to the puck, he gets his stick between Dzingel and the puck to prevent him from levying a shot on goal.  With that subtle little play, Dzingel’s only option is to try to circle the wagons, but Dumo keeps up with him and keeps his stick in a position to prohibit Dzingel from making a centering feed, eventually forcing him to the corner.  Dzingel completes a pass to Duchene storming the gates, but by that point, Duchene was toast.  Dumo’s efforts allowed he and Crosby to steal it off Duchene, get it to safety, and set Dumoulin up for an exit pass.
Watch Dumo when he takes control along the wall too.  He slows everything up, fakes going up the wall to Guentzel and gets Dzingel to bite, opening up the lane to feed Crosby on the exit.  Crosby explodes through the neutral zone, is unmatched by DeMelo, and slips a backhand feed to Money Bag for him to pot his 26th.
Just a perfectly completed play, but Dumo’s everything here made it happen.  Crosby and Guentzel had the easy parts.

And that’d be that to get the Pens their 2nd win against a last place team in the league on the year to bump it all the way to Toronto.

Game.
NOTES

Unreal game from the Electric Boogaloo line at 5v5.  Guentzel-Crosby-Simon owned 23 of the 35 shot attempts they were on the ice for, doubled the Sens up 12-6 in scoring chances, and owned 6 of the 11 high danger scoring chances together in 15:16 together at 5v5.  Simon’s 6 shots (on 6 attempts) and Crosby’s 5 shots (on 7 attempts) led the team at 5v5.  Crosby joint led the team with 6 scoring chances and led the team with 3 high danger chances.
Rust-Bjugstad-Phil!, which may be your 3rd line come next week when Geno comes back, was also a very good line at 5v5.  In 12:40 of 5v5 time, they scored twice, gave up 0 goals, owned 51.72% of shot attempts, and 8 of 13 scoring chances.  Rust’s 4 shots on goal put him right behind Simon and Sid, but his 9 shot attempts were a team high.  He also kept pace with 87 with 6 scoring chances.  Bjugstad ended the night with an assist, 2 shots, and 3 hits in 16:13 of total ice time.  At 5v5, he owned a 55.88% share of shot attempts while on the ice and a 10-5 edge in scoring chances.
PK needs some work.
DeSmith with 37 saves on 40 shots.  Not a big deal or anything.  Admittedly, he looked shaky early on, but really settled in.  Faced 34 shots at 5v5, stopping 33 of them.  Of the 34, 10 were high danger and 16 were low danger, but he also had to face 6 rebound shots.  Keep an eye on the Pens clearing the puck out of the net front.
Maatta-Riikola had a solid game, too.  They played 14:19 together at 5v5, controlling 19 of the 29 (65.52%) shot attempts and 61.54% of the scoring chances, despite starting just a quarter of their shifts in the offensive zone.

Pens are back at it in like 10 minutes as they travel to Toronto to play the #2 team in the Atlantic.  Do it.


How I Saw It: The Win It Wednesday Challenge

Category : Penguins

On Wednesday January 30, 2018, two of our own took to Franktuary in Lawrenceville to tackle the #WinItWednesday Challenge. Three hot dogs in two minutes or less. Here are their stories:
Peep
The thrill of victory.
What #WinningItWednesday feels like:
Well, considering my brain is somewhere in between the euphoric state of that old NHL commercial where hockey players are at a loss for words directly after winning the Stanley Cup and that I literally can’t say anything coherently state (i.e Dave Amber asking Pierre Dorion what makes him optimistic about the 2018-2019 Ottawa Senators) because I’m running off of four hours of sleep, I’m gonna do my best to describe the moment.
Some people are gonna say it was an easy challenge (fuck off Around The 412 crew minus Herb). Some people are gonna say it was no 3-on-3 challenge (it wasn’t). And some people are gonna say it was all luck (or “PDO”* as the stats dorks say). But I’ll say this – it was when preparation meets opportunity.
*I still don’t know what the hell PDO means even after Pat tried explaining it to me for like five minutes. (Pat Note: I literally said, “it’s luck. Shooting percentage meets save percentage.” How aren’t you getting this?)
But before I go any further, let’s state the obvious here – I’ve been on an absolute HEATER of late. Saturday, I was finally awarded with my hard earned fantasy football hardware (fake Lombardi trophy, somewhat real WWE-style belt, and a definitely fake Giants jersey signed by 2008 Super Bowl champ Kevin Boss) for winning the ship this year. On Monday, I hit a back squat PR (“Personal Record” for those of you who don’t do crossfit). And just yesterday, I blew the absolute wheels off of the #WinItWednesday challenge at Franktuary.
So how did I do it?
Simple – I watched one YouTube video from a competitive eater demonstrating how to correctly eat hot dogs fast and I executed. Absolutely no practice whatsoever. Just a man who knows how to use his eyeballs appropriately and conquer the task at hand. In fact, I’m kind of like the blogger version of Flyers defensive assistant coach Rick Wilson.

New #Flyers D coach Rick Wilson is a riot. Says his analytics is here — he points to his eyes.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) December 5, 2018

Except the only difference is, unlike the Flyers (and much like the Penguins), I win.

…to learn how to win. #WinItWednesday pic.twitter.com/MIL96d7w0H
— Pat (@SynonymForWet) January 30, 2019

Huge congrats to @PeepsBurgh who conquered the @Franktuary challenge tonight! #WinitWednesday pic.twitter.com/6xxvtIJP6z
— Pittsburgh Clothing Co. (@PGHClothingCo) January 31, 2019

They don’t give you these belts for nothing. Fantasy football/win it Wednesday champ. #WinItWednesday @Franktuary pic.twitter.com/HKVuFv9zcF
— Peep (@PeepsBurgh) January 31, 2019

We’re on to the next crack at the 3-on-3 challenge (and the belt will be on the line).
Pat
The agony of defeat.
So here we are a mere 15 or so hours removed from what can only be described as abject failure. Despite my total hubris on Dying Alive this week that I would take down the #WinItWednesday Challenge the way Kris Letang has been systemically taking down the haters and losers (of which there are somehow still many).
What have I learned?
I learned that some nights, much like this Penguins team, you just don’t have it. Some nights you see three all-beef franks put in front of you and think, “Once again, my 5’2″ inferiority complex has gotten the better of me.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Pat, how didn’t you see this coming? You’re your size and require the diet of a gerbil, this was pretty obviously the only outcome.”
I suppose you people thinking that would of wanted Mike Sullivan to just give up after the Bruins fired him, or the 2008 Penguins to just accept they would never be better than the Red Wings or Evgeni Malkin to just stay in Russia with Magnitogorsk. Sometimes, you have to do the hard thing and fail before you pick yourself up and try it again.
Alright, fine, you’re all here to see me get roasted. Click this link and let it play while you read through.

live look at @PeepsBurgh dominating @SynonymForWet https://t.co/KpEFN0N1Qx
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) January 30, 2019

Losers don’t get these @SynonymForWet pic.twitter.com/9iFnQQrQNM
— Peep (@PeepsBurgh) January 30, 2019

Wow looks like two days of prep wasn’t enough after all huh @MikeDarnay https://t.co/jqx2Wgeis3
— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) January 31, 2019

Wuss.
— Old School Pittsburgh Fan (@pghfan99) January 31, 2019

Pat got as far into the 3 hot dog challenge at Franktuary as the Challenger got into orbit in 1986 @SynonymForWet
— Mike Darnay (@MikeDarnay) January 30, 2019

Half a dog and then silence
— Tim Bowers (@TimBowers62) January 30, 2019

i thought this video was in slo mo
— big huge rams fan (@devinnnc) January 31, 2019

Reading about how abysmal is performance was @SynonymForWet pic.twitter.com/Ees73scLak
— Peep (@PeepsBurgh) January 31, 2019

If there was a baseline test to enter this event, Pat would’ve failed. He literally wouldn’t even be allowed to attempt it.
— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) January 31, 2019

ENHANCE pic.twitter.com/lgkMRauF3s
— 𝗝𝗮𝘀 (@j_a155) January 31, 2019

Congrats to Peep. The rest of you can go right to hell.


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RECAP 50: Storm Born. Electric First Period Powers Pens to 4-2 Win over Lightning

Category : Penguins

It may not have been the prettiest and it may not have answered any questions about this Penguins team, but last night, the Penguins passed a huge test in taking down the league’s best Tampa Bay Lightning.
And, heading into last night’s affair, we got a glimpse of what may be come April: Tampa, as the #1 seed, taking on the #2 Wild Card Penguins.  You could tell, too, that this game had all the makings of a playoff feel to it.
But when the dust settled and Party On Fifth Ave. should’ve been playing, the Pens found themselves on the right side of a 4-2 decision and leapfrogging up to 2nd place in the Metro, just 3 points off the Islanders pace  (who have a game in hand).
With that, the Penguins close the book on January and head into February, where their mettle will be tested between traveling to Toronto, Florida, Tampa, Philly twice, and Columbus, while also having to play host to Carolina, Calgary, and San Jose on top of making it through the trade deadline.
If they make it through this hellscape of a month unscathed, look the fuck out.

LINEUP

Welcome to the show, Teddy Blueger!
Derick Brassard will miss tonight's matchup due to an upper-body injury (day-to-day). pic.twitter.com/UtaskrGGqw
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 31, 2019

The Teodors got his NHL debut, centering the 4th line as Cullen was elevated to the 3C role with Brassers out with some mystery ailment that is definitely not Trade Bait Flu.  No changes to anything on the back end, despite JJ73 leaving the loss to the Devils in the third period.  Murr vs. Vasilevskiy between the pipes.

Lines from warmups:
Palat-Stamkos-GourdeJohnson-Point-KucherovKillorn-Cirelli-MillerErne-Paquette-Joseph
Hedman-Girardi McDonagh-Cernak Sergachev-Stralman
— Caley Chelios (@CaleyChelios) January 31, 2019

First Period
Right from the opening draw, no one would’ve faulted you for getting a feeling of dread as Tampa came out guns blazing, forcing the Pens to live in a cage in their own zone like they were trying to cross the border for asylum.  But, against the flow of play, they took advantage of the first change they generated on the night, opening the floodgates and breaking their chains.
PIT – 3:25 – Sheahan; A: Wilson, Letang – 1-0
And it came on the first shift between the two fourth lines.  Tampa looked poised to do something after Riikola’s backhand Murphy Dump only made it as far as the back side of the center circle.  Immediately, it was moved forward to Paquette to chip in behind Riikola sliding across to take away the boards.  This instance is exactly where the goal was created.
Watch Teddy Blueger as he jumps off the bench.  No mental lapse, no bullshit.  He immediately jumps into the play, sees Riikola pinching, and drops in behind to offer support.  In doing so, he takes away Adam Erne’s path to Paquette’s chip and wins the race to the loose puck just by being in the right position.  Then, watch as he slows up just enough for Erne to try to check him.  This makes sure Erne is going to engage with him instead of chasing after Letang.  As soon as Blueger feels Erne committing to him, he slips a pass over to Letang for the breakout.  Letang does the rest here with an elite transition pass up to Sheahan to lay an area chip to Garrett Wilson streaming in.  Wilson still has a lot to do to make sure he gets the puck away from and around Girardi to get his shot, rebound, and wraparound chance.

Again, don’t sleep on Blueger’s role in the goal in the offensive zone either.  As Wilson’s shot hits Vasilevskiy, Blueger is bombing in.  His center drive forces McDonut to try to take him away, but in the end, Blueger forces McDonagh into path of his own teammates, rendering them useless from pursuing Wilson.  That opens up the area for Sheahan to bury the rebound.

PIT – 8:05 – Phil!; A: Rust, Malkin – 2-0
Over the next couple of minutes, the Pens had to hold onto their butts because the Bolts were coming.  Murray stood tall while the Rust-Malkin-Phil! line played some decent defense to keep the Lightning to the outside.  Following Hedman’s point shot that Murr kicked out to Gene, 71 got the transition going with a short little pass to Rust, who had his feet moving more so than Geno did.  From there, 17 stormed up ice, only to be caught and turning the puck over in the process just inside the blue line.  But as Tampa tried to switch it to the weak side, Letang read the shit out of it, jumped in and knocked the puck away for 71 to collect and slip a pass to Rust coming across the blue line.  Phil! and Rust combined, Rust drove the net, and Phil! banged home the loose puck to double the lead and give Malkin his 600th career assist.

PIT – 8:21 – Crosby; A: Simon, Point – 3-0
Then, just 16 seconds later, it was 3 through Electric Boogaloo.  No bullshit from these three as Crosby won the restart draw for Guentzel to dump in deep.  Riikola makes a nice read on the rimmer to pinch down the wall and keep it deep here, which almost entirely sets up the goal.

Almost being the operative word because it was also Guentzel’s tenacious forechecking on Brayden Point that forced Point to give it right to Simon at the side of the cage after Cernak gave the Bolts forward next to no option.  Good on Simon for getting body position on Cernak and sucking him in before feeding the beast on the back stick.

From there, the penalties started flowing.  McDonut got hit with a high-sticking penalty on Hornqvist 9 minutes in, then 26 seconds into the Pens man-advantage, Paquette ran Letang deep in the Pens zone with a pretty predatory hit.

And that Paquette his is even worse at full speed pic.twitter.com/PL967c7ryq
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) January 31, 2019

Bolts fans whomst definitely exist handled it well.

Bolts killed off the 5v3 and it kinda actually settled the game down in the sense that the Penguins didn’t get any more than 5 total shots on goal in the period, including 0 on the powerplay, compared to that of the 16 Tampa put on goal.  In fact, in 14:09 of 5v5 time, the Pens registered exactly 6 shot attempts, scoring on half of them.  Tampa levied 26, 22 of which went unblocked.  All that being said, despite Tampa controlling the puck almost entirely, none of those 16 shots came from the high danger areas of the ice.  This sport makes no fucking sense.
via naturalstattrick.com
second Period
As the 2nd frame opened, the Pens had to go to the PK 1:56 into the period as Malkin went off for hooking.  Pens with a heroic kill, including a little luck as Stamkos rung one off the iron.  Tempers flared back up after Johnson and Gourde got into it on the 5v4 before Dumo and Killorn got matching roughing penalties to give us some 4v4 action.

"The good things Jack Johnson does won't show up on the stat sheet" pic.twitter.com/cRgcD6PMYl
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) January 31, 2019

PIT – 6:02 – Letang; A: Phil!, Malkin – 4-0
Prob not two other teams you’d ever rather see play 4v4 hockey than these two and it was the Pens not disappointing this time around.  Watch here as Phil! just takes the game by the balls here.  Dude was just motoring trying to wind it up before combining with Malkin just inside their own zone to free Phil! up the left wing wall.
Here’s where you can see just how good Letang is at picking his spots.  With Malkin acting as the defenseman breaking the puck out, Letang sees that he can stay up ice and take off with 81 as soon as the pass is completed.  Malkin’s pass takes 2 Lightning players out of the play and Sergachev’s gap on Phil! was nothing short of abysmal, giving Kessel the chance to cut to the middle of the ice and turn the rush into a modified 2v1.  When he beats Sergachev, it forces Hedman to pinch over to try to take away Phil! ripping one from the high slot, which in turn opens up the passing lane for 58 streaking in.

He’s not missing from there, fam.

"And the wind cries 'Norris.'"
Letang's goal ties him with Paul Coffey for most goals for a Penguins defenseman. Ever heard of him? pic.twitter.com/3kOYq6Tunp
— geoff bozo (@G_Off817) January 31, 2019

That goal in turn kinda sucked the life out of the Bolts, as you might expect.  Pens went on to outshoot them in the period 10-6 and controlling the play at evens.  In the 18 minutes of even strength play, the Pens controlled 60% of the shot attempts (18-12) and doubled up the Lightning 12-6 in unblocked attempts.
Third Period
But when the 3rd period opened, the tempers started back up with Malkin and Stamkos engaging in some fisticuffs just 1:40 in.

Then we got a bunch of penalties 5 minutes after that because Paquette went full dicktroll and went after Blueger, getting called for cross-checking, which started a skirmish that ended with Blueger and Erne getting matching roughing minors, putting the Pens back on the powerplay to run down 2 more minutes, but not enough to preserve Murray’s shutout.
TBL – 15:50 – Miller; A: Killorn, McDonagh – 4-1
Even down 4-0 with about 4 minutes left, you cannot ever count out this Lightning team.  They can put 7 by you and still have 2 minutes to spare and that fear presented itself here.
After a dump in that Dumoulin did well to win in the corner for Letang to airmail out to the neutral zone, Sheahan did a decent enough job to keep whacking at the bouncing puck and get it into the Bolts zone, but only as far as McDonut.  Sheahan gets caught here going to the bench and you can see Cullen peel way away from where the puck is, looking as if he too was going for a change.  By going towards the bench instead of towards the puck and with Letang and Dumo changing behind the play, Tampa had 4 guys on the strong side moving the puck up ice.  The Penguins had 0.
Because of this, Cullen and Riikola are forced to sell out in attacking Killorn as he enters the zone.  Maatta’s focus is also on Killorn and Cirelli here, giving JT Miller the freedom to loop in behind the 3 Pens defenders and burn a one timer by Murr from up high.

To further complicate things, Cullen found himself in the box for hooking with 2:19 left.
TBL – 17:56 – PPG – Stamkos; A: Kucherov, Hedman – 4-2
It took the Bolts and their league-best powerplay just 15 seconds to make short work of the opportunity and turn this into piss your pants time.
Again, it was another mental lapse that cost the Pens.  Tampa wins the draw, they get set up, but so too does the Pens PK.  No harm, no foul despite Tampa loading up on shots.  But when a Kucherov shot ended up on the far wall for Point to collect and move it back to Hedman to reload, the wheels fell off for the Pens penalty kill.
Hedman actually fans on his pass to Kucherov here and with Rust playing the chaser role, he follows that soft pass and looks like he’s trying to pin Kucherov in on that side of the ice.  Rust takes away Hedman as an option and with Stamkos surrounded in the slot and Palat tied up in front, Kucherov really has no other option.

However, Kucherov makes a subtle little fake with his stick here to make it seem like he’s going to dish it down low to Palat.  Sheahan bit and shifted that way, which opened up just enough of a passing lane for Kucherov to hit Stamkos on the far side of the ice to load up a wrister that both Sheahan and Johnson were slow to get in the way of, beating Murr 6-hole.

Vasi pulled right after, but the Pens clenched their asses and survived to see it off.  Spin ittttt.

Game.
NOTES

After the first period, the game was a lot more even.  Pens actually controlled 5v5 shot attempts at 30-28 in the 2nd and 3rd, while the scoring chance split was 12-12.  Tampa took a 7-4 edge in high danger scoring chances in the final two periods, but it they were 7-7 for the game (all via naturalstattrick.com).  Via Corsica, at all strengths, Tampa had a slight 2.34-2.28 edge in expected goals and a 1.94-1.52 edge at 5v5 for the game.  None of us may survive a 7 game series between these two teams.
This sport is weird as hell, but if this Pens team can keep up consistently with the league’s best, then games against the Senators and Red Wings and Blackhawks and Kings can eat shit.  Whatever.

The @penguins play up to their opponents. #NHLTonight pic.twitter.com/TQ2JHI5A8F
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) January 31, 2019

Probably no better player on the ice last night than Kris Letang.  End of story.
Willing to bet Murr would’ve liked to A. get the shutout and B. have that second goal back, but facing one of the best shooters of this generation, he’s going to find a hole to get the puck through.  Still, 33 saves on 35 shots (.943) is a solid bounce back after the team let him down against Jersey.  The team was much better in front of him last night, limiting Tampa to just 5 high danger shots at 5v5, 7 mid-danger, and a cool 16 low danger shots.  Tampa did get 4 rebound shots against, though, if we want to nitpick, but Murr was up to the task.
Tough game for the Pearson-Cullen-Hornqvist line.  Together at 5v5, they generated just 4 shot attempts for and 11 against (26.67%), got exactly 0 shots on goal (7 against), generated 2 scoring chances (0 high danger) and 4 against (2 HD).
On the flip side, Guentzel-Crosby-Simon controlled shot attmepts 13-12, scoring chances 7-4, and high danger chances 4-3.  Rust-Malkin-Kessel went 9-9, 4-3, and 2-1 respectively, while Sheahan-Blueger-Wilson went 4-2, 2-2, and 1-0 repectively.  All 3 lines scored at 5v5, too, while on the ice for 0 goals against.

The Pens wrap up this 3 game homestand on Friday night as the league-worst Senators come to town before heading up to Toronto Saturday night for another big showdown.  Do it.


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#TBT: Hockey Night in Canada co-host, Don Cherry, gets butthurt and calls 16-year old Sidney Crosby a "hot dog" for scoring a lacrosse-style goal while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Category : Penguins

LA Times – In the same sense that Gretzky had a bad day or two, not everything Crosby does is golden and revered.
In a home game last December against the Quebec Ramparts, Crosby skated out from behind the net, flipped the puck onto the blade of his stick and threw it into the net lacrosse-style, a legal move that counted as a goal.
It didn’t do much for opinionated Canadian commentator Don Cherry, who called it a hot-dog maneuver and predicted the Ramparts would seek retribution: “They’re going to grab the mustard and put it all over him.”
The Globe and Mail – Sidney Crosby, the 16-year-old centre considered to be the hottest prospect since Mario Lemieux, was scolded by Don Cherry on Saturday. On his Coach’s Cornersegment during the Hockey Night in Canada telecast of the National Hockey League game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, Cherry called Crosby a hot dog. “I like the kid,” Cherry began. “. . . “But I’ve seen him now after goals. He slides on the ice on his knees.” Crosby’s Rimouski Oceanic defeated the Quebec Remparts 7-1 in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game last Friday. Hockey Night showed a video of Crosby scoring a goal. He turned his stick and tipped the puck onto the blade, raised it to waist level and, in a tricky move from behind the goal line, reached forward to drop the puck into the net. “You talk about a hot dog,” Cherry said.

The goal in question:

Don Cherry’s initial reaction:

I realize this whole thing went down 15+ years ago, but there aren’t many things more predictable in life than old hockey guys like Don Cherry getting way too upset whenever a hockey player flashes a little bit of pizzazz. In fact, it goes something like this:

Death
Taxes
Old, angry hockey men vomiting all over themselves whenever a player does something that violates the Canadian unwritten rulebook of hockey.

God forbid a hockey player does something unique and exciting every one in a while that could, perhaps, get someone outside of the hockey world interested in hockey. Better yet – imagine if that new fan happened to be a *GASP* basketball fan because he/she saw the play go viral on social media. It might just grow the sport! Wild, I know.
(On second thought, the world might literally end if that happened.)
So I think we can all agree (and by all, I mean anyone who regularly uses the internet since that means you probably aren’t an old bat who has trouble getting their dick hard) that players ought to flash a little more skill every now and then. But if you think just because they can make sweet plays and score nice goals that they can slide on their knees to celebrate, then you aren’t a TRUE HOCKEY FAN.
Which brings us to our next important subject currently threatening the game of hockey. It’s turning into flag football out there!

Brian Burke retired from hockey after 72 pro games to attend Harvard Law School
While attending Providence, he played for the Friars Division-I hockey team
The team was coached by Lou Lamoriello
Do different types of dinosaurs hang out in the same pack?#FridayThoughts pic.twitter.com/9Sx2LO3WxD
— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) December 14, 2018

And don’t you even dare think about tweeting, emailing, or messaging Brian Burke at work if you disagree with his correct opinions.

Brian Burke with a subtle message for his opinion haters:
#TimandSid pic.twitter.com/7pNsARf8cD
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) December 4, 2018

After all, your twitters and tweets are garbage!

[email protected], Brian Burke: hates fun… lol pic.twitter.com/wDAqAvtfsg
— David Nestico (@davidnestico200) January 13, 2019

Go Pens.
@PeepsBurgh


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RECAP 45: Mortal After All. Pens Bend The Knee, Fall 5-2 in LA

Category : Penguins

Hello and welcome to another episode of The West Coast Is Fine, But Its Time Zone Sucks Ass.  Today, we will be taking a look at the Penguins 5-2 loss to the Kings, a game in which no one in a real time zone watched or, frankly, probably cared about.
It was the first road loss the Pens have suffered in exactly a month when they lost to a team that was and still is in the basement of the Western Conference.  Losses to these bad teams would be a little bit more concerning if 1) they weren’t sitting in 2nd in the Metro and B) they’ve lost consecutive games recently.  But, 1) they are in 2nd in the Metro and B) haven’t lost consecutive games since that 6-3 barnburner in Colorado and the 4-2 loss at home against the Flyers on 11/28 and 12/1 respectively.
So really, when your team is 12-3-0 in its last 15, a loss to the 2nd worst team in the league actually doesn’t matter, whether you watched it or not.

LINEUP

Ready to take on LA. pic.twitter.com/Jq6tAZ7Qzr
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 13, 2019

With ZAR and Hornqvist out injured still, the only change to the lineup that topped the Ducks the night before was DeSmith getting the start in the second of a back-to-back.  On the other side of the ice…

CARL! GOOD TO SEE YOU! pic.twitter.com/B1yPwHcQKM
— Winter G (@G_Off817) January 13, 2019

GOALS
PIT – 1st Pd./5:30 – SHG – Guentzel; A: Crosby, Johnson – 1-0
Just 5.5 minutes into this game, the Pens put themselves in a position to really overthrow the Kings after putting themselves in a position to do the exact opposite of that thing with Malkin in the box for slashing.  Instead, halfway through the penalty, HCMS threw Crosby and Money Bag out there to kill the penalty and maybe score a goal.
They did the latter.
Crosby ended up losing the draw, but his tireless work along the wall with Guentzel in support ended up turning the puck over seconds after losing the draw.  Crosby took off as soon as it spit out to JJ73, taking the lead pass and giving and going and giving and going with Bake.  Just as it looked like they had gave and went one too many times, Guentzel slammed on the brakes to take the fortunate bounce and sweep it home.

LAK – 1st Pd./10:58 – Carter; A: N/A – 1-1
But about 5.5 minutes later, the Kings were back level after Marcus Pettersson made a rare mistake at the blueline.  The Pens 4th line looked like they had something going against the Kings 2nd line, working the perimeter and keeping them hemmed in.  But as Garrett Wilson tried to ease the pressure by moving it to the point, Pettersson couldn’t handle the pass.
The puck came out of the zone and you could see Pettersson get caught in between two minds: dump it back in and wait for the delayed offside or retreat back into the neutral zone.  By the time he made the delayed offside decision, Jeff Carter was all over him, stealing the puck and getting north to burn a clap bomb by a challenging Casey DeSmith.

LAK – 2nd Pd./8:47 – Iafallo; A: Carter, Muzzin – 2-1
Midway through the 2nd, the Kings would take the lead for the first and final time on the night, this time coming after Phil! looked like he was going to create something magical at the other end of the ice.
Instead, the Kings managed to break up Kessel’s near-highlight reel individual effort to turn it the other way.  With Pettersson jumping into the offensive zone to try to disrupt the Kings breakout, LA ended up with an easy path into the offensive zone with Johnson and Brassard the two lone guys back.
While they worked it in deep and worked Brassard, still having to play as a defenseman here, the Pens looked a bit out of sorts.  Brassard, as you can imagine, wanted to get back into his normal defensive posture, but that was occupied by Pettersson.  Eventually, LA would send it in deep and Johnson would engage with Muzzin coming down from the point, but without support in behind picking up Jeff Carter.  Brassard, here, is stuck.  Normally, Carter would be his man.  But Pettersson loses his guy here.  He’s chasing the puck as the Kings come out from down low, leaving Johnson and Brassard to deal with Iafallo and Carter.  But when Johnson chases Muzzin behind the net, Brassard is left with Iafallo and Carter.  Pettersson eventually gets on Iafallo, but so too does Brassard.  By the time 19 realizes Pettersson is on Iafallo, Carter is already making the free pass to the blue paint and Iafallo is getting the fortunate bounce off of him and in behind DeSmith.

Somewhere after this goal, Pettersson got himself in his second fight this week and, according to hockeyfights.com, just his 3rd of his career.  Somewhere, the ghost of Ian Cole is cranking one out.

LAK – 2nd Pd./16:05 – SHG – Kopitar; A: Carter – 3-1
Then, late in the period, with the Pens on the powerplay, they looked poised to get a 2 man advantage for 50 seconds after Alec Martinez airmailed the puck into orbit, only to have the refs confer and deem it not to be a penalty.  On the ensuing faceoff, Letang made a rare mistake when he tried to sell the Kings PK on making a pass across the blue line to Malkin, only to attempt to reverse it behind the back to Phil! on the near wall.  Carter didn’t bite and he and Kopitar went down on a 2v1.  DeSmith was able to turn away the initial attempt, but not the rebound.

A lot is going to be made of the Pens giving up shorthanded goals because it’s easy to write about and form narratives and it’s happened in consecutive games.  I wrote about this in early December when the narrative was at its peak.  In short, taking one of Guentzel/Kessel/Malkin/Crosby off the ice to add another defenseman to try to mitigate shorties will only weaken what is perhaps the most lethal powerplay on Earth.  The 4F-1D first powerplay unit just works and if you take away one of the 4 forwards that make it work, you might might not give up a shorthanded goal, but you’re probably not going to score a powerplay goal either.
LAK – 3rd Pd./0:49 – Leipsic; A: Kovalchuk, Muzzin – 4-1
Under a minute into the 3rd, the game basically ended for all floral incandescent porpoises after what looked like a really great shift for the Guentzel-Crosby-Rust threesome.
But as Guentzel’s shot attempts kept getting blocked down and a quick pinch and poke by Dumo didn’t come off his way, Kovalchoo was off to the races.  The 3 man unit he attacked with bobbed and weaved, had a shot blocked, but the Pens were all out of sorts.
Watch as the shot gets blocked and Muzzin gets to the loose puck at the blueline.  He throws it to the net while every single Penguin in the D zone aside from Letang stands and watches.  Kovalchuk attacks the shot and gets to it just a hair before 58, getting the deflection to come off and end up with on the stick of Leipsic at the side of the net.  No idea how the Pens had all 5 guys in the D zone while the Kings had just 4 and still managed to lose Leipsic.

PIT – 3rd Pd./9:20 – PPG – Guentzel; A: Phil!, Malkin – 4-2
Then, midway through the period, Guentzel once again gave his team some life, this time coming on the powerplay.  Again, you can see how good these guys are with 4 forwards on the ice.
Off the opening faceoff to the powerplay, the Kings were able to ship the biscuit down to DeSmith.  Letang goes back to pick it up, turns on the jets, then slips it to Phil! on the right wing wall.  Kessel’s immediate steps to the middle of the neutral zone and beating the first man gave him the space to gain the line and defer to Gene on the far side.  Nice little long distance give and go followed as Malkin rimmed it around for Phil! streaking to the far corner.  Phil! wasted exactly 0 seconds getting the puck right to the front of the net where Guentzel was crashing in.  LA here was looking like the Pens on the previous goal, allowing someone to have a freebie in front.

PIT – 3rd Pd./19:13 – ENG – Kopitar; A: Brown – 5-2
But as the Pens pressed on, the final blow would come in the form of an empty netter from Kopitar just after Crosby had a yawning 4×6 that he just missed because the puck was rolling on him.
Seemed like a non-issue until Letang’s point shot didn’t end up in the back of the net (while also eluding Kessel down low), sending Kopitar, Brown, and Associates the other way.  Brown slowed the play up to wait for Kopitar to catch up with him in the neutral zone, but Kopi’s mishandling of the puck was actually a blessing for the Kings.  Malkin was actually matching Kopitar’s speed when he initially touched the puck, but by mishandling it, Malkin found himself too far back in the d-zone, giving the Kings center a clean lane to hit the vacated cage and seal this.

Game
NOTES

Snoop fucking rules

The LA Kings had Snoop Dogg in the booth doing play-by-play tonight and it was amazing pic.twitter.com/SbyFc8U4LF
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) January 13, 2019

Snoop Dogg is an aspiring hockey play-by-play announcer  
(via @FoxSportsWest) pic.twitter.com/YSVn9USxZv
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 13, 2019

After his media scrum, Snoop Dogg went to the Kings podium in the room where he was. Jokingly said he was the new owner of the Kings and that the team would be getting a stripper pole and a DJ in the locker room … “We’re going to be changing some shit around here”
— Josh Cooper (@JoshuaCooper) January 13, 2019

Rare rough game from Pettersson.
One turnover does not make Letang bad.  Keep his name outcha mouths.
Pens actually dominate the possession all night, owning a 60.87% share of the shot attempts at 5v5 (that drops to 59.94% when adjusting for score and venue effects).  They also generated 32 scoring chances to the Kings 20 and had a 13-10 edge in high danger chances.
Goaltending, though, was a big difference here.  That’s not to say Casey DeSmith had a bad game by any means- there’s not a whole lot he could do differently.  But Quick was stellar in his 38 save effort.  The Pens at all strengths managed a 3.84-2.73 edge in expected goals (2.21-1.84 at 5v5).  At 5v5, Quick saw 9 high danger shots against and a staggering 7 rebound shots against, stopping every single one of them.  DeSmith, on the other hand, made just 4 saves on 7 high danger shots at 5v5.

Road trip continues on Tuesday as the Pens head north to San Jose before another Friday/Saturday back-to-back in Arizona and Vegas.  Do it.


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RECAP 38: BEATDOWN IN BRANSON

Category : Penguins

PREGAME
The Pens come rolling into a very bad state that evidently has casinos and a basketball tournament? I don’t know.
The Pens are steaming hot winning 7 of 9 and 4 in row, their longest streak of the year. It’s not a coincidence that the Pens best run of play has coincided with Murr coming back and playing out of his dome. He’s a good goalie folks!
St. Louis is a team in the NHL! That is an accomplishment! Getting a professional sports franchise requires lots of money, moxie, and ingenuity. They should be proud of themselves for that. It’s not always about what you do on the ice, and there is no greater example of that than the Blues.
They also made this:

St. Louis should also get more credit for naming a team after a genre of music. We should do this with more teams. Seattle Grunge. That’s a name. Do it Seattle.
LINEUP
Oleksiak has been cleared but was not back in the lineup last night.

Here are the line combos and defense pairs that the Penguins will be going with in St. Louis. pic.twitter.com/CT5fK5mMMn
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 30, 2018

Pistol Pete Pietrangelo back in the lineup.

Petro’s back in the lineup tonight! https://t.co/bwm7V1coa7 #stlblues pic.twitter.com/CWQcg54wWZ
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 29, 2018

GrapHic DeSiGN iS My pAsSioN.
They just showed the arch thing on TV. The arch thing is so stupid.
FIRST PERIOD
Red Berenson drops the ceremonial puck prompting the camera to pan the crowd for the palpable excitement in the building. They are foiled however when they realize every Blues fan looks like if a corn dog became a person.
9 seconds in Steen goes to the box for high-sticking both Rust and Crosby leaving Rust looking for a tooth.
Powerplay looks dangerous from the start and 48 seconds into the game the PENS LEAD 1-0.
Hornqvist and Kessel exchange passes and the Blues allow Horny to walk out in front for some reason and he makes a smart pass to Sid down low TM and he snipes the tough angle shot home.

Errey is telling a story about how the Blues’ coach kicked his ass one time. Wish more people talked about times they got their asses kicked.
Pens lose the run of play after the early goal. A few sloppy plays with the puck and general disinterest allow STL to get a few shots on Murr but he’s up to the challenge. Nothing too tough so far.
The Blues keep coming however and after Maatta has to leave the ice due to blocking a shot with his foot Brazzers deposits a puck in the Corn Dog infested crowd to put the Pens down a man for the first time tonight.
Whoops actually they get Pettersson for holding before Brassard’s delay of game so he serves the penalty. Blues get a chance early on the PP with Tarasenko coming down the left wing, but Murr flashes the leather to ooooh’s from the sentient deep fried hot dogs.
After that it’s nada for the Blues with the best chance coming shorthanded for Matt Cullen, but Allen stones him.
Pens melt down and allow Jaden Schwartz a free walk down main on Murr but he stops it with an insane glove save on the backhand shot.

HORN SOUNDS. After the fast start the Pens aren’t very good the last 19 minutes of the period, but Murray is. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
5on5: CF%: 65% BLUES, Scoring Chances: 10-5 BLUES, High Danger Chances: 3-2 BLUES. SOG (all situations): 12-8 PENS
SECOND PERIOD
PUCK DROPS. ZAR starting the period with Guentzel and Sid. Rust missing from the bench as the period begins.
Blues continue collecting CORSI’s while also not doing anything particularly dangerous or interesting. I am beginning to think they are bad. STL has back to back to back 3 on 2 breaks, but only one ends with a SOG. Yup, they are bad.
Blues take an interference penalty at 16:36 off of an offensive zone faceoff (see previous paragraph). O’Reilly has a mini-break until Letang skitters back and punks him immediately. The Pens look like they care about this game about as much as Nick Saban cares about the performance of the international handball team.
2nd PP unit hits the ice and Pearson works it back to the point and the Blues D loses Riikola and he buries a slapper glove side on Allen. 2-0 PENS.

Patrick Maroon gets a chance in front but Murr poke-checks it away and the Pens break the other way. After Dumo struggles to corral the pass into the O-zone he gets it to Sid behind the net, who finds Letang hitting the slot with a diagonal pass, Tanger shoots for the deflection and ZAR flashes some pretty hands on the deflection for his 5th of the year 3-0 PENS.

Pens starting to globe trot shit now Letang and Guentzel find ZAR again down the slot and he’s hooked by Bouwmeester for the Pens 3rd PP of the game.
Crosby wins the faceoff to Letang. 58 and 81 play catch, Letang half slaps it home for his 9th goal of the season, with Hornqvist parked in front. Allen never even sees the puck. 3-3 on the PP and 4-0 PENS.

Allen gets pulled for some guy playing like his 3rd NHL game ever. The Blues answer the goal with another flurry of hockey shots near the Penguins’ goalie but he scoffs at them and the Blues remain bad at hockey. The corn dogs scream, “SHOOT” at their hometown team but the Blues do not answer their wishes because they are human and the fans are corn dogs and humans do not follow the orders of their food.
Point shot gets through and the rebound bounces right to Perron who scores into the open cage, however, we have a coaches challenge! Goalie interference perhaps?

The Blues PA plays The Beatles “Let it Be” and the corn dogs laugh as the goal is confirmed 4-1 PENS.
Errey is talking about getting his ass kicked again…

Errey retelling stories of teammates assaulting each other in training camp! Super normal sport we’ve got here.
— New Year, Same Pat (@SynonymForWet) December 30, 2018

Murray has to make another huge save, this time on a re-direct from Schenn on the doorstep with 17 seconds left in the period. HORN SOUNDS and the Pens lead 4-1 after 2.
5on5: CF%: 71% BLUES, Scoring Chances: 23-7 BLUES, High Danger Chances: 8-3 BLUES. SOG (all situations): 20-18 BLUES
THIRD PERIOD
PUCK DROPS. Still no Rusty.
Riikola comes on like a hot one throws a huge check on Rob Thomas knocking him to the ice. That was not smooth.
MEATBALL GOAL. Crosby barrels into the zone and is able to shrug off two defenders to drop it back to Dumo who puts it on net finding Guentzel for the deflection home 5-1 PENS.

For some reason right after the goal Joel Edmundson tries to fight ZAR but mostly they just wrestle around for a little bit. Edmundson gets an extra 2 for roughing sending the Pens back to the PP. Pens have the extra man for like 7 seconds and Malkin scores on the Oshie play 6-1 Pens.

Damn it.
They reviewed some shot that was nearly a goal for STL I guess. Malkin gets cross-checked and turns around and can-openers Edmundson for the trouble.

Nothing doing on the PP but Matt Murray played the last 30 seconds or so with half a stick so that was neat.
Corn dogs are filing out with about 3 minutes to go in hopes of an extra few minutes in their mustard beds this evening.
HORN SOUNDS. Pens win 6-1.

5on5: CF%: 65% BLUES, Scoring Chances: 31-15 BLUES, High Danger Chances: 8-8. SOG (all situations): 31-30 BLUES
THOUGHTS

6 different goal scorers on the night. Multi-point nights for Sid (1-3), Letang (1-2), and Phil! (0-3). The big guns were totally dominant.
Pens have now won 5 in a row extending their longest streak of the year.
Big Murr stops 30 of 31 shots and continues to look like he’s 100% healthy and back.
1st NHL goal for Riikola.
Strong night for Tanner Pearson imo. He’s starting to find his legs with the Pens and carving out a bottom 6 role for himself.
ZAR looked really good on 87’s wing after Rust left the game. I imagine if Rust misses time they’ll stick with this combo for a bit.
Rust never returned after the 1st intermission. He took it in the mouth (phrasing) pretty good on the high stick to start the game.
Pens now 1 point back of CBJ for 2nd in the Metro. Road trip continues New Year’s Eve in Minnesota. Go Pens


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Gameday 30: Penguins @ Blackhawks

Category : Penguins

Penguins @ Blackhawks
United Center – Chicago, IL
8:00PM Eastern – NBCSN
The Penguins head out to Chicago looking to continue their point streak against a struggling new-look Blackhawks squad in the throes of salary cap woes and the fallout that has them bottoming out in a very real way. The Penguins haven’t won in Chicago since February of 2009.
The Penguins have earned at least a point in their last 4 games, most recently coming back and gutting out a 2-1 Shootout win against the Islanders on Monday night on Long Island.
The story of the day is that two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender Matt Murray has been activated from injured reserve. The corresponding move ships Tristan Jarry back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Coach Sullivan on Murray: “We would like to get him involved as soon as we can. We are playing a lot of games. We are encouraged that he is as close as he is. We’ll take each day as it comes.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 11, 2018

It’s the Dad’s trip for the Penguins, so it’s sure to be an emotional night for Murray, whose father passed away last January. While Murray is available this evening, it will be in a backup capacity, as Casey “The Smith” DeSmith will get the start.
Patric Hornqvist remains out and is day-to-day.

Coach Sullivan on Hornqvist’s injury: “We were hoping he would progress faster, but that hasn’t happened. Right now he’s status quo – day-to-day with an upper body injury.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 11, 2018

Coach Sullivan notes that Matt Cullen will be a game-time decision.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 12, 2018

The Pens will go with a new look lineup, with Brassard moving up to Crosby’s wing in the continued absence of Dominik Simon.
Brassard – Crosby – Guentzel
Pearson – Malkin – Kessel
Aston-Reese – Sheahan – Rust
Wilson – Grant – Day
Dumoulin – Letang
Maatta – Oleksiak
Pettersson – Johnson
DeSmith
The Blackhawks have struggled mightily this year, and they’re in the back end of a back-to-back after getting smoked by the Jets last night. They went into the first intermission down 3-0 and hadn’t registered a shot until 16 minutes into the game.
It’s almost like committing so much money to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane has crippled the franchise. Recently, they moved Nick Schmaltz to the Coyotes in exchange for Dylan Strome and Brandon Perlini. The Hawks’ first-round pick track record in the past few years has been… not so good.
2010 – Kevin Hayes – burnt out contract, signed as NCAA FA with Rangers
2011 – Mark McNeill – bust + Phillip Danault – traded for Dale Weise and Thomas Fleischmann
2012 – Teuvo Teravainen – traded with Bryan Bickell for 2nd and 3rd Round picks
2013 – Ryan Hartman – traded for a 2018 1st Round pick (Adam Boqvist)
2014 – Nick Schmaltz – traded for Dylan Strome and Brandon Perlini
2015 – No first round pick – traded for Antoine Vermette (currently on IR)
2016 – No first round pick – traded with Marko Dano for Andrew Ladd (left for NYI), Jay Harrison, and Matt Fraser
2017 – Henri Jokiharju (0G + 11A in 29GP)
2018 – Adam Boqvist + Nicolas Beaudin

Jeremy Colliton: "When bad stuff happens to us, we tend to stop playing for a little bit, and then the hole gets a little deeper." https://t.co/XGDHYAS2yy
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 12, 2018

It’s certainly an opportunity for the Penguins to roll through a team going through some tough times.
Former Penguin hero Chris Kunitz will be in the lineup tonight for the Hawks.
Saad – Toews – Perlini
DeBrincat – Strome – Kane
Kahun – Kampf – Sikura
Kunitz – Kruger – Hayden
Keith – Murphy
Seabrook – Manning
Rutta – Jokiharju
Crawford
Blackhawks Down.

Go Pens.


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Wednesday Grab Bag 12.12

Category : Penguins

It is Wednesday, my dudes. That means it’s time to grab a cup of coffee, pretend you’re working so your joke of a boss is happy and then read the grab bag.
Hasn’t been a bad week here in land of flightless birds. A complete dismantling of the Islanders at home got us back in the playoff picture, Canada’s capital proved to be a house of horrors and Jake-N-Bake’s leg kick got us all pregnant.
As it sits today before the Pens take on the Blackhawks tonight on Wednesday Night Rivalry Hockey, (I’m writing this prior to Josh having the gameday posted. I liked the part where you called Patrick Kane essentially Edgar from Men In Black. Hilarious!) we sit tied for third in the Metro and three points back of the second Wild Card. Not where we want to be, but that’s how she goes sometimes.
Links
The Good
The only podcast you should subscribe to is Dying Alive, but if you feel the need to broaden your horizons, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek’s 31 Thoughts: The Podcast has a special episode with former Penguins Defenseman Andrew Ference. It’s absolutely worth the hour listen. You learn plenty about Ference, the NHL as a whole, hockey culture, why Edmonton is trash and just how batshit crazy Tim Thomas actually was.
Robert Bortuzzo, getting the ball rolling on And1 Hockey…also bringing a new definition to the term “tip in goal.”
Don’t want to piss on your parade, Tyler Dellow, but G already did this two weeks ago.
Shouts to Dimitri Filipovic getting a gig at ESPN, and as he is apt to do, he brought the fire with his latest. Notes:

The Oilers are McDavid and some guys. Better hope his collarbone stays in tact!
Sid, while producing at a great clip, isn’t the only one on the Pens, which is good, but we need more.
Colorado is good, but MacKinnon and Rantanen account for almost 66% of their offensive output.
Shut down Patty Kane tonight and you shut down the Blackhawks.

The Bad
This is some Final Destination shit….thank god he’s okay. Kid can’t catch a break. Rough year.

Here come the Ottawa Senators. pic.twitter.com/fvSs2trc3g
— Mаtthew McKenna (@MattMcK2419) December 10, 2018

The Penguins, twice (twice!!!!), lost to this team. Looks like a screengrab of when you stop giving a shit during a game of NHL online and you just keep diving until your opponent quits…………..not that I’ve ever done that.
This is only going in “The Bad” because we all know how this is going to go, these guys will say they’re gonna test the market and then from June 28-30, they’ll all re-sign with their clubs. Just once, hockey, ONCE, let us have fun. Anyway, enjoy dreaming about free agents leaving and signing elsewhere.
“Way to go, Paul!!”
The Ugly

EDM was average-y here before Hitchcock and that remains the case. He's going to make one of the most infuriating runs for the Jack Adams. pic.twitter.com/tx7KZ7kKod
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) December 12, 2018

He’s gonna win the Jack Adams on the strength of a boring system with the world’s best player. Let’s all just get through this.
You know your season isn’t going well when your eighth goal of the season is described as “makes score more respectable.”
Numbers
Standings
Metropolitan

GP
W
L
OT
PTS

WSH
30
18
9
3
39

CBJ
30
16
12
2
34

NYI
29
14
11
4
32

PIT
29
13
10
6
32

NYR
30
14
13
3
31

CAR
29
13
12
4
30

PHI
28
12
13
3
27

NJD
29
10
13
6
26

Atlantic

GP
W
L
OT
PTS

TB
32
24
7
1
49

TOR
31
21
9
1
43

BUF
31
18
9
4
40

BOS
31
17
10
4
38

MTL
31
15
11
5
35

DET
32
14
14
4
32

OTT
32
13
15
4
30

FLA
29
11
12
6
28

Central

GP
W
L
OT
PTS

NSH
31
20
10
1
41

WPG
30
19
9
2
40

COL
31
17
9
5
39

DAL
30
16
11
3
35

MIN
30
16
12
2
34

STL
29
11
14
4
26

CHI
32
9
18
5
23

Pacific

GP
W
L
OT
PTS

CGY
31
19
10
2
40

SJ
32
16
11
5
37

ANA
32
16
11
5
37

EDM
31
17
12
2
36

VGK
32
17
14
1
35

VAN
33
14
16
3
31

ARI
29
13
14
2
28

LA
32
11
19
2
24

Points

Player
Team
GP
Points

Mikko Rantanen
COL
31
52

Nathan MacKinnon
COL
31
47

Nikita Kucherov
TB
32
45

Connor McDavid
EDM
30
43

Bryaden Point
TB
32
41

Save Percentage

Goalie
Team
GP
SV%

Pekka Rinne*
NSH
21
.932

Jaroslav Halak
BOS
17
.930

Frederik Andersen
TOR
25
.928

Cal Petersen
LA
10
.927

Mikko Koskinen
EDM
15
.927

*Technically, Laurent Brossoit of Winnipeg is tied for first, but with under ten games played, we are excluding him from this list.
What These Numbers Tell Us: Talk about your all-time unexpected things, Calgary leads a relatively weak Pacific Division that seemed pre-destined to belong to the Shorks. Granted, San Jose still only sits three points back, but hey, more power to boys of Alberta.
Chicago is garbage. I guess when you commit $21M to two forwards, $6.8M (until forever and ever amen) to a single defenseman and make a trade for uh….a third liner, the bottom is going to fall right out. That said, they’ll probably boatrace the Pens tonight.
Did you have Mikko Rantanen as the first player this year to get 50 points? No, you didn’t. What a season for that kid and Nathan MacKinnon of Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia.
I had someone ask me why I always find a way to criticize Toronto in the Grab Bag as if I have some vendetta against the Leafs. Well, I don’t. I just see obvious flaws in them, plus when your team is fighting to win a division, I have to talk about you. Andersen is up to 25 GP in early December, that’s not great, ask 2017 Cam Talbot how that went. He’s not a truly elite goaltender and it looks like he may hit 30 GP before the calendar flips to January, that’s a problem. Ron Hainsey is their second or third defenseman, that’s a HUGE issue. They’re good, almost really good, but not quite there yet.
No idea what’s happening in St. Louis, but apparently they’re trying their best!
The Week Ahead:
As stated a couple times in this blog, the Pens head to Chicago tonight to round out the Dad’s Trip and take on the Blackhawks. They’re on an eight-game losing streak. They’re last in their division. They’ve been pitiful all season long that they blamed awful roster composition on an objectively great coach. What does all this mean? Pens slip worse than Chris Boswell. Book it.
Know Your Enemy: Second City Hockey
Friday, it’s back home to take on the Bruins who, despite injuries to Bergeron and Chara, are still keeping pace in a top-heavy Atlantic Division. Thanks largely to David Pastrnak and Jaroslav Halak. Expect the usual antics from Marchand and Halak to become the greatest goaltender in the history of ever.
Know Your Enemy: Days of Y’Orr (pour one out for some of the OG Hockey Bloggers)
Saturday, it’s time to welcome the team with the NHL’s second worst record (only ahead of tonight’s opponent) the LA Kings. They have been awful. Ilya Kovalchuk, at age 35, is signed for two more seasons at a cost of $6.25M, they’re the oldest team in the league and they’re slooooooooooow. Even with Hagelin on their roster that team will lull you to sleep. Maybe Doughty should of tested free agency.
Know Your Enemy: The Royal Half (great week for remembering some of the blogs that got us blogging)
The week gets rounded out with a visit from Johnny Whitehall and Daniel Sprong. The Ducks come to town Monday and they’re somehow third in the Pacific Division. Half because that division is a tire fire inside a dumpster fire inside a warehouse fire, half because Gibson is Terry Sawchuk reincarnate. Expect a 1-0 or 2-1 slog.
Know Your Enemy: Pucks of a Feather

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