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Pens' Mid-Season Report

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Just past the halfway point.  Hopefully a new post will lure some of the Pens fans here out of their slumber. 


No team in the NHL has had more injury issues than the Pens.  Games missed…


Guentzel – Out for the year…

Dumoulin – 23 and counting…

Rust – 14

Malkin – 13

Hornqvist – 17

Schultz – 19 and counting…

Crosby – 28

Bjugstad – 36 and counting…


So their top scorer (at the time) is out for the year. Their best shut-down defenseman has missed 23 games with at least another month to go.  Crosby just returned – he’d been out since early November. And on and on and on.  Seeing that list I’d be happy if they were a borderline playoff team.  Yet here we are 46 games in and they sit 2nd in the Metropolitan behind the Caps with 63 points (only the Caps, B’s and Blues have more).  How are they doing it? By playing the brand of hockey Sullivan wanted. By being tough to play against. Only the Isles, Stars and Canes have given up fewer goals yet the Pens are far ahead of them (leading the league) with a +36 goal differential.  They found an absolute gem in John Marino. The parade of role players from the WBS Penguins continues with guys like Sam Lafferty and Joseph Blandisi coming up and playing solid bottom-6 roles.  Even Jack Johnson has been solid.  Bryan Rust has emerged as a scorer and is on pace for a 30/40/70 season despite the missed time (and he’s done this without the benefit of regular time with Malkin and Crosby).  During Crosby’s absence the Pens went 18-6-4 and had a league-high .714 points percentage.


Complaints: So far the Galchenyuk experiment does not seemed to have worked. Matt Murray has continued to regress and is again missing time with various injuries. That’s opened the door for Tristan Jarry who was just named to the All-Star Team and is top 3 in GAA, Save % and Shutouts (albeit with less games played than the other leaders).  I’ll save the goalie controversy thread for another day.


What’s next? The Pens should look to add a top 6 forward using the cap relief from putting Guentzel on LTIR.  I’m sure Rutherford will try. He could still move a Bjugstad (once healthy) or maybe even Galchenyuk (not much return there). 


I think we’ll get a good sense of how “good” these Pens are in the next few days with a home/away against the Bruins sandwiching a game at the Wings (4 games in 3 days) before heading to Philly before the break.

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I have been impressed by the job Sullivan is doing and by the depth in the organization.

There are a lot of top guys missing and the beat goes on.  Not just squeaking by teams but administering ass whoopings on the regular.

I haven't watched too many Pens games but the ones I have; I've liked the style they've played. Really fast and heavy. Speed kills and there is plenty in the organization. Also I don't know if it's organizational philosophy or coaching at the NHL level, I've only seen one team as good at tying up sticks in front of their goal than the Pens-and that was the Lighting...rebounds are there, but guys can't get to the pucks because they are tied up by Pens forwards back checking in the crease. 


At the halfway point I'd say Sullivan should be considered for the Adams trophy. The Pens are quite a good story.

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