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Sunday, October 30, 2016

WBS @ Springfield Recap by @WBSJeff_PI

11:53:00 AM 0

Starting Goalies - 

- WBS: Tristan Jarry (3-1-0; 1.25GAA; .950 SV Pct.)

SPR: Mike McKenna (1-1-0; 3.98GAA; .867 SV Pct.)

Starting Lineups:

- WBS: #15 Josh Archibald; #40 Oskar Sundqvist; #19 Garrett Wilson; #3 Reid McNeill; #2 Chad Ruhwedel

- SPR: #52 Mackenzie Weegar; #22 Logan Shaw; #14 Sena Acolatse; #13 Chase Balisy; #12 Ian McCoshen

First Period:

- A good first period of hockey both teams. The pace of the game was excellent and there was 7:36 of Game Play before the first whistle. Kevin Porter made his return after a one game absence and slotted into his usual spot centering the 2nd line. That line would be the most impressive of the stanza for WBS, as they controlled the puck in the Springfield zone for extended periods of time, and generated some quality scoring chances. Both Goalies were up to the task as the groups would trade chances until the Penguins capitalized in the closing minutes. On the play Haggerty entered the O-Zone with speed and would dump a puck behind the net. That puck would wrap around the glass and find Reid McNeill on the half-wall where he would fire a quick wrist shot towards McKenna. J.S. Dea was providing some net front presence and was able to get his stick on the shot and deflect it behind McKenna to put the Penguins ahead.

- Shots: WBS: 8 SPR: 8

- WBS PP: 0/1 PK: 1/1

- Scoring: WBS - 18:31 Dea(2) assisted by McNeill, Haggerty

Second Period:

- The Penguins took the momentum from scoring late in the first period and used it to dominate the majority of the middle frame. WBS would hem the T'Brids in their own zone and pepper Mike McKenna with 16 shots in all during the period. Compare that with 4 from Springfield and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the 2nd stanza. The second line would continue to put together multiple long, dominant O-Zone shifts despite not being able to beat McKenna. Penguins hard working forward Ryan Haggerty, who has been excellent thus far this season, left the WBS bench about midway through the period and would not return. The pairing of Reid McNeill and Chad Ruhwedel really flexed their muscle throughout the first 40 minutes, playing physical and making quick, crisp first passes to exit the zone with speed. McNeill has clearly added some offensive skills to his stout defensive mindset.

- Shots: WBS: 24 SPR: 12

- WBS PP: 0/1 ; PK: 1/1

- Scoring: N/A

Third Period:

- As dominant as the Penguins were in the 2nd period, Springfield would flip the script and do just the same to WBS in the 3rd. Former Penguin Paul Thompson would score a net-front Power Play goal just over the midway point of the period, and the Pens would barely hang on from there. Tristan Jarry played well and the Thompson goal surely can't be pinned on the 2nd year pro, as the power forward found himself in front and buried a rebound opportunity. Ryan Haggerty didn't return for the period so Clark Donatelli was forced to mix and match his lines trying to find a spark. The Penguins had one excellent chance in the 3rd, which came on the Power Play. Domink Simon would ring one off of the crossbar after Tom Kostopoulos nearly scored on the near post of Mike McKenna. Springfield would pressure for most of the closing minutes but Jarry was on his game and pushed the Penguins into Overtime and assured they would make it a 4 Game Point Streak.

- Shots: WBS: 28 ; SPR: 23

- WBS PP: 0/1 ; PK: 1/2

- Scoring: SPR - 10:25 Thompson(2) assisted by Balisy, Acolatse

OT: 

- WBS would get the first chance of the 3-on-3 on a 2-on-1 rush during which they failed to get a shot on net. As a matter of fact, the shot missed the net and would spring Thunderbird Chase Balisy on a breakaway. He left no doubt about it as he faked forehand drawing a reaction from Jarry, switched the puck to his backhand and swept it into the empty net behind the net-minder. 

- Shots: WBS: 0 ; SPR: 2

- Scoring: SPR 1:30 Balisy(1) unassisted


3 Stars:

*** - WBS - #9 J.S. Dea (1G)
** - SPR - #15 Paul Thompson (1G)
* - SPR - #13 Chase Balisy (GWG, A)

Post Game Notes & Quotes:

- The Penguins are now 4-1-1-0 on the season for 9 Pts. That is good enough for first in the Atlantic Division. Both of the losses have come at the hands of the Thunderbir

- Ryan Haggerty did not return at any point after leaving during the 2nd period.

- Mike O'Brien mentioned that Stuart Percy will begin skating again soon, most likely this week.

- This is the Penguins' first loss this season when leading going into the 3rd period. 

- Expect Casey DeSmith in net when the Pens host Syracuse at 3:00pm this afternoon.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

What's In A Name? by @MedinaMarie_PI

1:00:00 PM 0
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Winning a championship is one of the greatest feelings a person can have. The feeling is made even sweeter if that season started off on a low point, then got worse, and was plagued by injury.

On Oct. 26th, the Penguins unveiled the etching of names on the Stanley Cup. It was official. The 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins are part of history, engraved into the fabled chalice.

Ever observant as Pens fans are, tweets began to surface all thorughout the Twitter-verse involving the names. One observation made was the possibility of Evgeni Malkin's name being misspelled. Upon further inspection (and an official announcement from the organization), it was found that it was the angles of the photos and the lighting that made the "E" look like an "F" in his first name.

To be fair, the bottom line of the "E" in "Evgeni" is faint, but remember that these names are struck by hand, so it may have just been a matter of pressure on that letter at the time. There are no spelling errors on the Cup involving the 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The biggest hoopla, however, came from former Penguin, Beau Bennett and this tweet:
This (and the two tweets that followed) sent social media hockey talk into a frenzy. As people went back to the picture of the names on the Cup, they realized Bennett's name was not on it. Neither were the names of Derrick Pouliot, Steve Olesky, Scott Wilson, Oskar Sundqvist or Coach Sergei Gonchar. Bennett goes on to suggest, with the use of a hash tag, that putting his name on the Cup would be an act of plagiarism since he was not a part of the line up that earned it.

Bennett sat out much of last season due to sustaining injury after injury. He would play in 33 games, none of them coming in the Stanley Cup playoffs or Final.

Per the NHL, the requirements to have your name etched into the Stanley Cup are as follows:
  • have at least 41 games played for the championship winning club, or
  • have played in at least one game during the Stanley Cup Final.


There is an exception to those rules. In 1994, the league passed an amendment allowing the winning team to petition the Commissioner to include certain names that were not able to meet the aforementioned requirements due to extenuating circumstances, and would usually have been omitted.

The Penguins chose to petition for Jeff  Zatkoff and Pascal Dupuis.

Zatkoff earned the highest level of respect from the team and set the pace for the playoffs when he had to step in, and step up, in Game 1 against the New York Rangers. Would the series have ended differently had he not put in the effort to win that first game?

Thankfully, fans did not have to find out.

Pascal Dupuis' name being added had people in heated discussions. Why was he deserving and not Bennett when during the beginning of the season, as the going's were tough, Bennett was the teams 3rd leading scorer?

The true answer is anyone's guess but I have a theory.  Bennett was out of the line up due to injury that (assumingly) he could recover from. Once he was healthy again, the team chose to keep him off the ice in favor of such players as Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary.

Dupuis had no other choice but to hang up the skates. His issues with blood clots put his life at risk too much to keep chancing it night after night. Although he loves the game and his team, he loves his family more and made the choice. There would be no coming back to play. However he stayed with the team and gave every bit of encouragement and support he could.

Bennett will have more opportunities (barring injury) to add his name to the Stanley Cup. Dupuis will not (at least as of right now and definitely not as a player). Add that to the veteran leadership he brought to the locker room, the energy he added to the team, and the respect players have for him around the league and it becomes an easy decision.

I am sure Bennett was a little disappointed and rightfully so. his actions and words handled the situation with maturity and understanding. The tweets were short, sweet and to the point. Bennett, who got his day with the Cup back in June and should receive a championship ring from the team, does not feel his name deserves to be on the Cup. End of Story. We wish him good luck and success on his new team, the New Jersey Devils.

Tidbits:
  • If you are wondering why Derrick Pouliot, Steve Olesky, Oskar Sundqvist, and Scott Wilson were omitted it is simply because they did not meet the requirements. Pouliot played in 22 games, Wilson 24 and Sundqvist only 18. Sunqvist, along with Olesky, are also still active members of the Wilkes Barre/ Scranton Penguins roster in the AHL. They all received championship rings. Fans may throw out the argument that if a player receives a ring that their name should be added to the Cup and it is a fair point. But there is only so much space to work with and that's why the rules are the way they are.
  • It is not clear why Coach Gonchar's name was left off the list as he was hired by the team in late October of last year. The rest of the coaching staff is on there, even the video review guy. The team has not addressed it so it will remain a mystery.
  • Kevin Porter gets the "Lucky Duck" award for the season. Though lost mid-season to the injury bug, he played in exactly 41 games to eek out qualifying to have his name on the Cup despite not being in the line up.  





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Friday, October 28, 2016

Have You Embraced Jagr? If Not, It's Time by @nick422

4:02:00 PM 0
If you see this man and boo him, it's time to grow up and stop.



In the free agent, salary cap era them lifers are rare.  Look at what's happening to Marc-Andre Fleury as proof.  Pittsburgh has been blessed by a run of their best players (so far) being lifers.  Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mario Lemieux are names you can't imagine in any other jersey.

One player who should have, and could have, been a lifer had things been different was Jaromir Jagr. Instead Pittsburgh has become the start of what was, is, and will be a Hall of Fame career.  You'd never guess it by the way some people treat one of the greatest players of all time.

His start in Pittsburgh was sensational.  The yin to Mario's yang, he would win the Cup twice as they formed a dominant duo rarely seen in the expansion era.  A rare mix of size and natural skill, he would dominate the ice in similar but vastly different ways than Mario.

Seemingly tied at the hip, Mario and Jagr were often seen at the top of the scoring leaderboards.  Never was this more impressive than in the 1995-96 season in which Jagr amassed 149 points... only to come in second to Mario's 161.  His prolific offensive output continued after retirement, when poor Penguins teams essentially relied on Jagr, and his bad groin, to carry the team on his back.

Helping the Penguins stay afloat in the lean years that saw them sent in to bankruptcy, his performances kept the team from losing money by nearly single handedly marching them to the playoffs, a time when the Penguins would finally break even on the season.  Jagr, without Mario, helped keep them relevant and kept them financially solvent.

Along the way a five time Art Ross winner (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), named unanimous MVP of the league (1999), and nine time All Star (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001) he was a player who gave his all to Pittsburgh and the Penguins.

Yet he couldn't be pushed out fast enough.

Fairly enigmatic and misunderstood, Jagr was never quite a media darling.  Now he's laughs and smiles with the likes of Paul Steigerwald and media members who grew up and understand Jaromir, but in his prime in Pittsburgh the sight of him donning a woman's mask and saying things like he was "dying alive" helped make his departure from a Penguins team in dire need of shedding salary all the more bitter and all of the less sweet.

For those keeping track at home, that trade took place in the summer of 2001.  That was over 15 years ago.

And really that would have been the end of it.  The booing would have stopped and forgotten, his memory cherished and his jersey (eventually) retired had it not been for the summer of 2011.

After spending several years in Russia in the KHL, Jagr longed to return to the NHL.  He went on record as saying he would return and play for the Penguins, and Mario, at minimum wage.  Most fans took him for his word and fully expected him to return as word leaked the Penguins and Ray Shero made an offer.

But Jagr took his time.  The offer seemed fair, $2 million for a guy who had been playing overseas for a while.  Jagr, however, wanted to see what else was out there.  Feeling his hand was forced, and wanting to move forward with other free agents like Tyler Kennedy, Ray Shero pulled his offer.

And Jagr was a Philadelphia Flyer.

A scab, nearly healed, had been ripped back open 10 years after the initial wound had been made.  Back were the boos, harsher and more spiteful than ever.  Ignoring that Jagr left Pittsburgh and went to Washington and then New York.  Ignoring that Penguins had won the Cup without him, ignoring that they'd made another run without him.  Jags was a Flyer after being promised to Pittsburgh.  This wasn't going to stand.

Since then Jagr has put on a myriad of jerseys.  Philadelphia lead to Dallas which lead to Boston then off to New Jersey before landing in Miami where he stays as the NHL's elder statesman.  Jokes aside about going to Florida to retire, Jagr has continued to be an effective NHL player contributing points at an impressive clip and cementing his place among the greatest to ever set skate on NHL ice.

Fifteen years after the initial wound, five years after it was reopened, five teams later some still won't let it go.  Some still refuse to admire and appreciate the greatness and hockey nobility which began in Pittsburgh where fans were blessed enough to see his best, his prime, day in and day out.

Thankfully the Penguins have moved above the ever dimming noise and vitriol.  On Tuesday when Jagr came to town they presented him with his number on a piece of the old Civic Arena roof.  Perhaps the start of the final healing process that will see all of the old animosity fade away into the true appreciation that should come with Jaromir Jagr.

If you're one of those who still have hate in your heart for Jagr, it's time to grow up, move on, and let go.  Without Pittsburgh Jagr would not be the same.  And without Jagr, this team may have been no more.
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Best and The Worst In The NHL

12:46:00 PM 0
Canadiens.NHL.com
On opening night I wrote about the teams I thought would be the five best and the five worst during the 2016-2017 NHL season. To put it bluntly, I'm off to a rough and disappointing start with my picks, but, we have 75 games left to play.

Without further ado, here are the five hottest and coldest teams in the NHL as of 10/27/2016:

En Fuego

Montreal Canadiens

Looks like the Shea Weber for P.K. Subban swap has worked out well for the Canadiens. Weber has registered three goals and six assists in seven games. The Canadiens are the only team left in the NHL that has yet to lose in regulation boasting a 6-0-1 record. We saw Montreal start off hot in 2015-2016 and fizzle out in grandiose fashion. They still have a lot to prove.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers are off to a fast start this season. Edmonton has won it's last four games helping them get to a 6-1-0 record and the second highest goal differential to this point at a plus 10. They have had an advantage in that they have played five of their seven games to start the season at home in their beautiful new arena. Finally, it looks like Todd McLellan has really settled in with his young studs.

Detroit Red Wings

After starting the season 0-2, the Red Wings have now won five straight games. They boat a 4-0 record at home but have a measly 1-2-0 record on the road. Detroit sits in third in a strong Atlantic division but the five game winning streak they're on is the best in the NHL.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are off to a 5-1 start. Like some of the other teams in this list, they're off to a great start at home (3-0). Seems to be a theme with the current hottest teams in the NHL; win your home games. When Steven Stamkos has five goals and four assists, that certainly helps too.

New York Rangers

The Rangers sit at 5-2 atop the Metropolitan Division with an advantage of playing five home games where they have a 4-1 record. They have also won three straight games.


Ice Ice Baby


Mark DesRosiers - USA Today Sports 
Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are in the midst of a six game road trip. Arizona has lost the first five games of the road trip and still have one game to go in Philadelphia. This comes after winning their season and home opener. They're certainly looking forward to returning home.

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina has one regulation win and two overtime losses. They haven't played a game at home yet so they may be one of the coldest teams so far, but they'll get a home stand soon where they can potentially rebound. Six game road game to start the season? Rough.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins sit in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference but that's mostly because they have lost three straight games after a 3-1 start to the season.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings, like the Bruins got off to a great start. 3-0 to be exact but they've lost three straight since. What changed? The collective save percentage of the three goaltenders to see playing time this season so far is .888. When you have a sub .900 save percentage as a team, there's no way you'll win many games. Lucky for Los Angeles is they play the Predators at home and Nashville hasn't been good on the road.

Winnipeg Jets 

Just like the Kings, the Jets' goalie's have combined for a sub .900 percentage. Winnipeg also has a offensive issue with Mark Scheifele leading the team in points. Rookie Patrik Laine is in second one point behind Scheifele. This team lacks name recognition and big name point getting.


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Monday, October 24, 2016

Crowns and Clowns Week 1 by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:30:00 PM 0


Welcome to another incredible season of Penguin's hockey. We are geared up and ready to go to make another run for a Cup championship.

Though the Puck Princess persona has fallen by the wayside, Crowns and Clowns will still remain for your reading pleasure. After all, who doesn't like an honest recap of the best and worst?

Week one did not disappoint. in fact, our top bonehead notched his slot in the first game of the season. Want to know who sits on the throne and who wears the cone to start the season...then wait no longer.

CROWNS

High King(s)- Love Thy Tendy:
Though it has only been a few games, the goal tending on both sides of the ice has been nothing short of incredible. From our own Marc-Andre Fleury shutting the door on Alexander Ovechkin in a shoot out win against the Washington Capitals on Oct.13 to Al Montoya standing strong to shut out the Pens on Oct. 17th and everything in between. All the head standing, glove flashing, doing-the-splits action one could ever ask to watch.

While everyone wants their team to score on every opportunity at the net, watching these goalies make phenomenal or mind blowing saves are one of the aspects that make the game of hockey exciting. For a player facing down an elite net minder, when the puck does finally hit the back of the net, it makes that goal even sweeter.

So here's to you, the warriors between the pipes. Wear your crown proudly.

Prince- Patric Hornqvist: 

The last thing a ref or an opposing team wants to do is make Patric Hornqvist mad, especially if his team is trailing. What happens next could only be described as the type of reaction you would get if you'd pour gasoline into a bonfire. He becomes a roaring inferno.

His determination, passion and sheer brilliance on the fore-check helped fuel a depleted Penguins bench to a 3-2 come from behind victory over the San Jose Sharks on Oct 20th.


After his goal, that would have tied the game at one-a-piece, was called back Hornqvist went on the war path. He went hard to work, battling along the boards, forechecking with dominance, and taking shots at the net at every given opportunity. It would pay dividends as seen in the clip below as he scores the game winning goal.



Duke- Matt Murray:

(Photo Credit: PennLive.com)

Speaking of loving thy tendy, the Penguins management showed just how faithful they are in their young goaltender by sealing up a nice contract extension. The contract, worth $3.75 million annually for 3 years, keeps Murray in black and (Pittsburgh) gold through the 2019-20 season.

Though it could possibly mean the end of the line for the beloved MAF, inking Murray to this "bridge contract" (as GM Jim Rutherford put it) keeps one of the best young goalies in the NHL on our side a lot longer.



CLOWNS

The Bozo - Washington Capitals', Justin Williams:
The Capitals had not forgotten just who eliminated them from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When the Penguins opened their season at home, the Capitals once again tried to used their brute force to break down the Penguin's speed game. When that tactic clearly isn't working, what else is there to do but try and break an opposing players neck, right?

That is exactly what happened late in the game on Oct. 13th. When Evgeni Malkin got hooked in the legs in front of the Capitals net, he ended up shoving goaltender, Braden Holtby, down and off balance to stay on his feet. Justin Williams (who was coming in from the right end boards), was just "...protecting his goalie" and did the following (see clip):


The behind-the-back choke slam garnered Williams a laughable two minute minor for roughing when it should have been at least a 5-minute major for intent to injure. Luckily, Malkin is a very strong man and came out unscathed. The Penguins would go on to win the contest in overtime, while William's antics went un-noticed by the NHL and Players Safety.

Congrats Mr. Williams- I hope the purple and gold jingle hat doesn't clash too much with the red and blue jersey (I'm lying, yes I do).

The Simpleton- The Mess versus Montreal:

Mistakes in games can happen. A player is caught out of position and the opponent scores, a player loses focus and takes a penalty while their team is on the man advantage, or an off-game for a defenseman can all lead to a losing battle. However, when they continue to happen for a full sixty minutes, it makes for one mess of a game.

(Photo Credit: Penguins Twitter)
That is exactly what happened Oct 17th against the Colorado Avalanche. There is really no excuse that can be given for this game other than lack of discipline. The game was slow and drug out to begin with as the Pens could not seem to find any pep in their step. It became even more so when the Penguins began taking penalty after penalty. At one point, I thought Head Coach Mike Sullivan's head of literally going to come off his shoulders as he tried to hold his temper and frustration in check.

Though Avalanche goalie, Al Montoya, was fantastic all night, the Penguins could not even get their power play going to try and test him because as soon as it would start, it would be negated by a penalty of their own. The Pens would leave their own goalie high and dry on multiple occasions which ultimately lead to a 4-0 shutout loss.

It was the worst display the team had put on in a long time, and I am sure none of us want to see it again any time soon.







The Jester- Why can't we have nice things?:

The Penguins can't seem to catch a break (for lack of any better word). That pesky injury bug wanted to bite early this year...try even before the season began. Matt Murray broke his thumb in the World Cup. Sidney Crosby is still out with yet another concussion that he suffered in practice. Rust was out from lingering issues with an "undisclosed injury" but thankfully he is back on the ice. Fans hoped that things would begin to turn around injury wise.

Keep on wishing.

Both Kris Letang and Conor Sheary suffered upper body injuries against Colorado and are "day-to-day". Then, against the Sharks Oct. 20, the Penguins had to fend off a frenzy in their come-from-behind victory with only four defensemen. FOUR! Olli Maatta (who was having a much better game after struggling early in the first few games) went down the runway and did not return. Luckily as of mid-afternoon on Oct. 21, Maatta was cleared to play.

The same cannot be said for poor Derrick Pouliot. In what was by far turning into one of his best games on record, he was also seen headed down the runway to the locker room and did not come back. The lower-body injury will see him out of the line up for "...a while".  Hopefully Pouliot is not out as long as they are thinking and that once everyone is healthy, that they all stay that way.


That wraps up week one of the new season. We are off and rolling into week two as the team heads down to Nashville to take on former Penguin, James Neal, and the Predators. What will this week bring? Hopefully not more injuries, that's for sure.
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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wbs vs. Syracuse Post Game Recap with Audio & Quotes by @WBSJeff_PI

10:27:00 PM 0



Starting Goalies - 

WBS: #1 Casey DeSmith 0-0-0 (1st appearance)

SYR: #32 Adam Wilcox 1-1-0 ; 2.44 GAA ; .875 Save Pct,

Starting Lineups:

WBS: #9 Jean-Sebastien Dea; #19 Garrett Wilson; #15 Josh Archibald; #3 Reid McNeill; #2 Chad Ruhwedel

SYR: #11 Eric Condra; #40 Gabriel Dumont; #78 Michael Bournival; #82 Luke Witkowski; #85 Daniel Walcott

First Period:

Tonight's first period was nearly identical to last night's for the Penguins, the only exception being the early goal they allowed last night. They struggled to find any kind of rhythm for the majority of the frame, passes were just a bit off the mark, changes a little slow. Syracuse wasn't able to generate much in the way of offense either and both teams failed to capitalize with the extra man. Reid McNeill fought former Penguin Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond in a matchup of Heavyweights. It was a good fight but I'll score it 10-9 McNeill. The crowd came to life a bit after the fight, and the Pens used it to create some late scoring chances, though they couldn't find twine. The Penguins' goal scoring drought reached 4 periods and counting. The stanza ended with shots dead even at 10 apiece.

WBS PP: 0/2  ; PK: 1/1

Scoring: N/A

Second Period:

The Penguins would get back-to-back Power Plays to open the 2nd period. On the first, the top unit controlled the zone for the entire 2 minutes and eventually Rowney would end up robbed by Wilcox's glove as it expired. The second of those Power plays didn't go as well, the Pens were unable to control the puck and Syracuse generated at least one strong chance shorthanded. Believe it or not things started looking up as the Penguins went down a man. Playing Shorthanded, Josh Archibald made a fine play to chip a puck to Kevin Porter who took off all alone and absolutely sniped a goal past Wilcox to end the Penguins' scoring drought around the 98 minute mark. Just 2 minutes later Porter again scored shorthanded, this time after a great individual effort to steal a puck, and again he roofed one behind Wilcox. Syracuse would answer quickly as Cory Conacher scored his second goal of the season on that same Power Play and that was the way the period would end. WBS out-shot the Crunch 13-5 during the frame.

WBS PP: 0/4  ; PK: 2/3

Scoring: 8:11 - WBS - Porter (1) (SH) from Archibald; 10:30- WBS - Porter (2) (SH) Unassisted; 10:51 - SYR - Conacher (2) from Thomas, Erne

Third Period:

The Pens would get a few more Power Play chances during the first 10 minutes of the period, and despite multiple Grade A chances weren't able to cash in. The talented defense corps of the Penguins really shined through, they kept the majority of Syracuse's offensive shots to the outside and anytime the Crunch did get in tight, a defenseman was there time and again to knock it away. Specifically Steve Oleksy made a diving play to break up a 2-on-1 chance in tight that more than likely would have been a tap-in goal to tie things up. Kevin Porter literally dominated this entire game, the 3rd period was no different. With just under 5 minutes to go, he skated into the offensive zone with speed and dropped the puck to 2nd year sniper Dominik Simon, who did what he does. The wicked snap shot was the insurance goal the Pens were chasing and that was all she wrote. Casey DeSmith stood tall with the extra attacker on the ice and that's how it would end.

WBS PP: 0/3  ; PK: 1/1

Scoring: 15:45 - WBS - Simon (1) from Porter, Gardiner

3 Stars:

*** - Dominik Simon (1G)
** - Casey DeSmith (26/27 Saves)
* - Kevin Porter (2SHG, 1A)


Post Game Notes & Quotes:

- Kevin Porter became the first WBS Penguins to record two SH goals in the same game since Jonathan Filewich on December 23, 2006. For the second night in a row Porter was the best player on the ice. Take away his 2 shorty's and he still dominated this game. Clark Donatelli told Tom Venesky he was happy to see his veteran leader rewarded. "He does so many little things, he is a great guy in the room. It's always nice to see a player like him(Porter) get rewarded."

- Dominik Simon had a pretty quiet weekend up until he found a little daylight in the slot late in the game. Seth Lakso asked Donatelli how big the insurance goal was; "It was huge for the team, and it's huge for Dom. That's what Dom does, if you give him two or three chances, he's going to capitalize."

- The top line of Rowney, Guentzel, and Kostopoulos were all over the ice again tonight and created at least a handful of quality chances. I asked Donatelli what makes those 3 guys so compatible. Here's his thoughts: "I think you get a little of everything. They work hard, and TK's got the leadership, he's played a lot of games, right? You've got Jake the rookie and then Rowney's a workhorse. He's good offensively and defensively. They know where each other are going to be, and a lot of people don't realize how good they are defensively. They play such good defense as a unit that it creates a lot of offense for them."

- Both young goalies for WBS have looked very impressive to start the season. It will be interesting to see how the playing time will be split between them. One thing is clear; this organization is very very high on Casey DeSmith as well as Tristan Jarry.

- Ryan Haggerty is yet to score a goal in a Penguins jersey, but he has done everything he can possibly do besides that. He is all over the ice, drawing penalties, creating chances. It is only a matter of time before he buries one.

Full Audio of Donatelli's Presser will be available here in a bit. Check back either later on or in the morning to hear his thoughts on tonight's game.

Thanks for reading and interacting during the game! Check out @PensInitiative all season long as I cover the WBS Beat.
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Friday, October 21, 2016

WBS vs. Springfield Post Game Recap; Post Game Audio and Quotes included by @WBSJeff_PI

11:32:00 PM 0

Starting Goalies - 

WBS: Tristan Jarry (1-0-0-0) .923 Save Pct., 2.69 GAA

SPR: Reto Berra (1-0-0-0) .944 Save Pct., 1.01 GAA

Starting Lineups:

WBS: #44 Jake Guentzel; #17 Carter Rowney; #29 Tom Kostopoulos; #4 Tim Erixon; #24 Cameron Gaunce

SPR: #21 Graham Black; #15 Paul Thompson, #28 Brent Regner, #4 Jakub Kindl, #29 Dryden Hunt

First Period:

Both teams were fighting the puck for the first few minutes, including the Goalies. Tristan Jarry was beaten with a point shot about 5 minutes in but was bailed out when the referee deemed it was played with a high stick. Springfield seemed to find their game a bit following the near goal, while WBS continued to look a bit sluggish. Eventually Ryan Horvat would float a puck towards the crease and somehow it ended up behind Jarry to put Springfield ahead. They would remain there despite a few quality chances from the Pens. First, Steve Oleksy found himself down low in the slot and nearly scored a highlight reel type of goal when he deflected the puck between his legs onto the net. Berra just barely kicked out a late pad to keep the 'Birds ahead. A bit later Ruhwedel would fire a point shot through traffic and on the net, but again Berra just barely made the save.

WBS PP: 0/1 ; PK 1/1

Scoring: SPR - Horvat(1) Unassisted


Second Period:

It was more of the same for the WBS Penguins in the second frame. They were simply unable to find any kind of momentum or rhythm. They had a few decent chances off of the rush, but had absolutely no sustained zone time until the final shift of the period when the top line seemed to click. Even the PP could not get it going. Springfield had a few scoring chances in tight on Jarry but he was able to fend them off, and the fans at "The MO" showed their appreciation with chants of "Jarry, Jarry." Cameron Gaunce laid a big hit near the benches and ended up scuffling with a few of his former teammates, while drawing a PP for WBS. Late in the frame Guentzel was interfered with in the slot and Reid McNeill was very unhappy and made it known to Lammikko, the guilty Bird.

WBS PP: 0/2 ; PK: 2/2

Scoring: N/A

Third Period:

The Penguins had their best period of the game when it mattered most, but were unable to capitalize against Reto Berra who made some big time saves as this game went along. Early in the period Josh Archibald hit a streaking Oskar Sundvist who deflected the puck on net only to watch Berra get his blocker to it late. The Pens got a PP with 11:15 left and Sundqvist once again had a great chance, he skated in alone through the slot and tried to snap home a wrister that missed the night just high. Seconds later the PP was wiped out by a tripping call on the big Swede, and the fans at Mohegan Sun Arena took exception. With the fans making some late noise, the Pens pulled Jarry and brought on the extra attacker. Chad Ruhwedel would let an off-balance slap shot go from the point and Berra was forced to make one final stellar save. Game Over.


WBS PP: 0/1 ; PK: 2/2

Scoring: N/A

3 Stars:

*** - Tristan Jarry (22/23 Saves)
** - Ryan Horvat (1G)
* - Reto Berra (23/23 Saves)

Post Game Notes & Quotes:

- The Panthers affiliates (POR, SPR) are now 5-1-0-1 in the last 7 Games against the Penguins.

- Reid Gardiner made his professional debut skating on the 4th line with Sahir Gill and Ryan Haggerty. I asked Clark Donatelli what he thought of the rookie's performance; "I thought Gardiner was good, he didn't play a ton of minutes due to the amount of Special Teams. He had a couple of chances, the pace was good and he was on the puck. So he was good considering the amount of minutes he played."

- Donatelli wasn't disappointed in his teams performance, he was complimentary of Berra. Tom Venesky of the Times-Leader asked what the coach felt about his Goaltender (Jarry). "I thought Jarry made some big saves, I didn't like the first goal but other than that I thought he played solid."

- Seth Lakso of the Citizens Voice questioned Donatelli about whether or not he felt that Springfield intentionally played rookie sensation Jake Guentzel overly physical, and how he felt Jake handled it. "Yeah he is a good player, he's going to be challenged but I thought Jake played a really solid game. It doesn't bother him. The more they start running at him, the more success he's going to have because he is such a good player."

Thanks for reading! Check back later for the full audio from Donatelli's Post Game Presser. Don't forget I will be live tomorrow night right back here at the Mohegan Sun Arena where the Penguins take on the Syracuse Crunch.
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3 Games in 3 Days Looming for WBS - Weekend Preview by @WBSJeff_PI

12:30:00 PM 0

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be a busy group this coming weekend. After a dominant 6-2 victory over the Hartford WolfPack last Saturday evening, the Penguins will face their first dreaded 3-in-3 weekend of the season. 

They will play back-to-back home contests on Friday (Springfield) and Saturday night (Syracuse) and will make the brief trek down I-81 to the Giant Center in Hershey on Sunday. As many or most of you will remember the '15-'16 Penguins season ended in that building, losing on a Game 7 Overtime Goal from Travis Boyd which propelled the Bears to the Eastern Conference Final and eventually the Calder Cup Final.

The action packed weekend should provide the club with a stiff early season test, especially playing a 3rd game in 3 days on the road against their biggest rival.



- Vs. Springfield; Friday Oct. 21, 7:05PM-

- Affiliation: Florida Panthers (1st Season) (Formerly Columbus)
- Familiar Face(s): #15 Paul Thompson (Parts of 3 seasons in WBS); Scored OT winner at Hershey Park Stadium during AHL Outdoor Classic
- Record: 1-1-0-0 ; 2 PTS, 3rd Place Atlantic Division
- Leading Scorer(s): Brody Sutter & Mackenzie Weegar - 1G, 1A - 2PTS
- Top Goaltender: Reto Berra 1-0-0-0, .944 Save Pct., 1.01 GAA
- Recent Results: 10/15 - 4-2(L) @ LV; 10/16 - 2-1(W) @ Bridgeport

- Notes: Springfield is in it's first season as the top affiliate for the Florida Panthers, and are hoping that the change brings a successful club to the City that serves as the AHL's home base. They will be making their first appearance in Wilkes-Barre as the ThunderBirds (Formerly Falcons). After losing to the high-powered Phantoms on Saturday, they bounced back to win at Bridgeport on Sunday and look to bring that momentum to WBS tonight. Cameron Gaunce and Garrett Wilson were part of the Florida Organization last season, so they will be playing their former team for the first time. Paul Thompson returns to the Mohegan Sun Arena for the first time this season, he had spent the last few seasons with Albany. WBS traded him to Springfield while they were the affiliate for Columbus, they received Spencer Machacek in that deal.


- Vs. Syracuse; Saturday Oct. 22, 7:05pm

- Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning (5th Season)

- Familiar Face(s): #34 Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (2 Seasons in WBS)

- Record: 2-0-0-0 ; 4 PTS, T-1st North Division

- Leading Scorer(s): Cory Conacher - 1G, 3A - 4PTS

- Top Goaltender: Kristers Gudlevskis 1-0-0-0, .952 Save Pct., 1.00 GAA

- Recent Results: 10/14 - 4-1(W) vs. Rochester; 10/15 - 6-3(W) @ Rochester

- Notes: The Crunch will look to make it 3 straight wins to open the season tonight when they play host to the Utica Comets. Former AHL MVP Cory Conacher is back with the Crunch and off to a hot start to his campaign. Conacher playing with young sniper Matthew Peca gives the Crunch a strong offensive presence at the top of their lineup. Tough Guy PL3 makes a return to the Mohegan Sun Arena where he spent a 2 year run in WBS that saw him become a fan favorite. He suited up in Albany last season. Crunch netminder Kristers Gudlevskis is an absolute stud and is capable of stealing a game on any given night.


- @ Hershey; Sunday Oct.23, 5:00PM

- Affiliation: Washington Capitals (12th Season)

- Familiar Face(s): Zach Sill (5 seasons in WBS); Was an alternate captain, and 2-Time Fan Favorite Award winner as a Penguin. Go to the 3 Min. Mark of the video below, you won't regret it.


- Record: 0-2-0-0 ; 0 PTS, Last Place Atlantic Division

- Leading Scorer(s): Jakub Vrana - 2G, 0A - 2 PTS

- Top Goaltender: Vitek Vanacek; 0-1-0-0, .933 Save Pct., 2.09 GAA

- Recent Results: 10/14 - 5-4(L) @ Rochester; 10/15 - 3-0(L) @ Binghamton

- Notes: After a 7 Game war in the Atlantic Division Final last season, these two bitter rivals will square off for the first time this season. The Bears will have a few new banners to show off as they won both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference Titles last season. Hershey brings back most of the group that came up just shy of the Calder Cup and have added Stanislev Galiev back into the fold after he failed to crack the Washington Lineup. Galiev is a dynamic scorer at the AHL level and 2nd year forward Jakub Vrana will be an all-star this season without a doubt. WBS will be playing their 3rd game in 3 nights while the Bears have Friday night off. There is no such thing as a boring affair between these two, you'd be wise to tune in.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to follow me on Twitter @WBSJeff_PI, I will be live from the Mohegan Sun Arena Press Box (both Fri. & Sat.) and will have a full recap complete with Post-game audio. @PensInitiative is where you can find it first!


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where the Hell Can Fleury Go? Six Possibilities by @evil_shero

12:00:00 PM 0

I know, I know ... this is going to be a blogger's wet dream speculating and prognosticating on where MAF will land next year. It's not a guarantee, but the writing is on the wall. We've watched this quirky rabbit-toothed kid from the age of 18 blossom before our eyes as an elite NHL goaltender. Marc-Andre, until now, was considered part of the "core," the "untouchables," and undeniably a part of the franchise that resides in the 412. It will be difficult to see him go, and of no fault of his own, it's something we have to be ready for.

With the recent signing of Matt Murray for three years, it makes it even more clear.

Keep in mind that MAF has a no-movement clause in his contract with a provision in which he can choose 18 teams in which he can be traded to.                                                 

This can be expanded upon endlessly but I wanted to analyze all possibilities and see what - realistically - can happen with a trade of this magnitude.

I'm going to only address the teams with no real #1 goalie or have a situation where they need a goalie. For example, the Lightning have Bishop and Vasilevskiy; they aren't looking for a goalie.

Hurricanes

Lack / Ward

Ward quietly re-signed with the Hurricanes after a team-crippling $6.3 million contract to a manageable $3.3 million. Eddie Lack is (and always was) an average goalie that doesn't really have the capability to steal you a win on a bad night. Yes, Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey are your best defenders and they help as much as a Wal-Mart employee in the electronics aisle, but neither of these goalies are earning the team wins. 

It's not probable, but I can't see them ruling it out. The Hurricanes currently have two second-round picks in 2017 and two third-round picks to play with, and they have a surplus of young prospects to make a deal happen.


Jets

Hutchinson / Hellebuyck


My reaction to seeing these two was "Who the hell are these guys?". Hellebuyck took Pavelec's job this season and put up above-average stats for a young goalie. Hutchinson has been a pretty reliable back-up for the Jets for a handful of years. Hellebuyck is on his last year of his ELC (entry-level contract) and becomes an RFA at the end of this season. 

Depending on Hellebuyck's performance this year it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could shop for a starting goalie. The Jets, however, do not have a glut of picks to play with and most of their top talents are already playing NHL minutes. 






Senators

Anderson / Hammond

'Member the Hamburglar? Yeah, that's not a thing anymore. Craig Anderson is 35 and getting paid starter money for back-up minutes. The Senators have a great team. Karlsson, Hoffman, Stone, and Ryan are all capable up putting up a ton of offense. The glaring weakness is in goal. Andrew Hammond has come back down to Earth after an extraordinary playoff run years ago. It could be the missing link to a Stanley Cup contender.

The Senators are gutted with picks. No second-round picks in 2017 or 2018. They do have a healthy crop of forwards and if GMJR can grab a roster player off of their top-six, it would help both teams exponentially. 





Canucks

Miller / Markstrom

Once the cornerstone of Buffalo, Ryan Miller has eroded into just a competent goaltender. He can no longer steal a game, stand on his head, or put the team on his back. The last year of his $6 million deal is coming at the end of the season and the rebuilding Canucks need to see if Jacob Markstrom is their answer. Markstrom has been a career back-up and never had a season under 2.50 GAA. Not a good look. 

The Canucks are in rebuild mode and have a good amount of untested talent. Although, not rich in the draft pick department, they do have some to offer.





Sabres

Lehner / Nilsson


The Sabres make the most sense to me personally. They are a team on the rise with Eichel, O'Reilly, and soon Nylander. They also have Dan Bylsma who coached Fleury for years. That fact may determine whether Marc-Andre agrees to move to the 716. Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson's contract also expire at the end of this season. If Sabres GM Tim Murray manages to score another high draft pick and acquires a championship caliber goalie, the Sabres' future looks bright.

The Sabres have eight draft picks in 2017 and prospects to pick from acquired from the 2016 draft.




Flames

Elliott / Johnson


The Flames made news this summer by asking about Fleury's availability. Although no deal was made, this shows me that MAF was vetted, researched, and approved by the Flames' suits. Brian Elliot and Chad Johnson's deals are expiring after this season leaving them with zero goalies for next year. They left no goalies under contact this summer with a plan - what I think - to make a deal for Flower. 

The Flames are another team on the upswing with Monahan, Tkachuk, Bennett, and Johnny Hockey. They are a team who wants to succeed and is clearly not in the mindset of a rebuild. The Flower fits into that puzzle nicely.




It all depends on the return obviously. Rutherford, in my opinion, has proved himself a competent general manager that gutted a team without a rebuild and brought Pittsburgh its 4th Cup. I have no idea what Flower could be worth. Does Jimmy R have a disadvantage because his hands are almost tied into trading Flower for any assets, or do the teams with no planned goalie for 2018 feel pressured to take the best goalie asset on the market? Time will tell.








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Penguins Extend Matt Murray- 3 Years, $3.75 million

9:25:00 AM 0
General Manager Jim Rutherford was hard at work through the night and this morning it showed as the Penguins and Matt Murray announced an extension for three years at $3.75 million per year, beginning next year.



Murray burst on to the scene last year for the Penguins, taking over for incumbent franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at the tail end of the season.  A concussion suffered by Fleury gave Murray the net through the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and he never let go.

Posting impressive numbers and leading the Penguins to the Cup, the net was thought to be Murray's going forward.  A broken hand suffered during the early stages of the World Cup of Hockey has sidelined Murray so far this season, allowing Fleury to re-take the net.

Going forward this could spell the end of Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh.  Already thought to be on his way out with the emergence of Murray, a short term and inexpensive deal for the next man up should all but make this the former #1 pick's final season in Pittsburgh.  Whether that end comes via trade or expansion remains to be seen.
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Cage Tom Sestito, by @_MAF29

9:00:00 AM 0

On October 17th, 2016, the Pittsburgh Penguins fell to the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-3 overtime decision. 


Thanks to Micah McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath), we can see how the Pens individually did in the game.


When looking at this, there is one number that disturbingly sticks out from a small area: 4.

Four, the number of minutes Tom Sestito played during this hockey game.

Before we progress any further with Tom Sestito, I'd like to look back to last season's fourth line: the combination of Eric Fehr, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Matt Cullen.

Looking at how much time on ice (TOI) they averaged at even strength, per game, I found the following: Eric Fehr, 10:13 in the regular season, 9:45 in the postseason; Matt Cullen, 11:06 in the regular season, 11:40 in the postseason; Tom Kuhnhackl, 11:11 in the regular season, 9:59 in the postseason. Those are all reasonably close to each other, and became the consistent fourth line for the Pittsburgh Penguins once Kuhnhackl cemented his place in the lineup. For an active fourth line that can produce (and is trusted by the coach), this is a normal thing to see. 

In terms of the length of average shifts per game, I found the following: Eric Fehr, 0:39 in the regular season, 34 seconds in the postseason; Matt Cullen, 0:39 in the regular season, 35 seconds in the postseason; Tom Kuhnhackl, 0:38 in the regular season, 35 seconds in the postseason. Once again, those are all reasonably close to each other. (And to add, Travis Yost (@travisyost) found extremely sufficient evidence to back Mike Babcock and Paul MacLean's thinking that 40 seconds is the ideal shift length. As seen in the linked article by Travis Yost, Corsi% starts to drastically dip below 50 after you eclipse the 40 second mark for a shift in a 5-on-5 situation. Their post-season shift lengths were lower, but it's nothing worrisome.) 

According to Corsica (corsica.hockey), the trio had 189.68 5-on-5 minutes together last season (regular season & postseason combined.) They also had a CF% of 52.69 after score, zone and venue adjustments. To quote Micah McCurdy, "they were monstrously good in the playoffs."

So, considering all of this, we will say that the combination of Eric Fehr, Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Cullen is the standard for a fourth line in Pittsburgh. 

Now, let's come back to Tom Sestito. Last season, he averaged 5:48 TOI per game in the regular season (he was never utilized in special teams situations, nor did he play in the postseason.) Considering his shifts averaged about 41 seconds per shift, this means Sestito averaged about 8.5 shifts per game last year. During the regular season alone, Fehr averaged 20.6 shifts per game, Kuhnhackl averaged 19.3 shifts per game, and Cullen averaged 21.4 shifts per game.

So, considering Sestito only averaged 8.5 shifts per game on the fourth line, compared to these players who are all better than him, you may be asking questions similar to the one Pens fan, Alix (@freckledbutt), was asking during the Pens-Avs game:


Apparently, the reason the Pens are using a spot in the lineup for somebody to play a few minutes per game (which makes everyone else play more minutes, perhaps fatiguing them more than is necessary), is so Sestito provides a somewhat protective presence in the lineup. Protecting the star players from cheap shots, as it were. Well, let's take a trip back to the Pens-Caps game on October 13th, 2016.

At 6:33 of the 1st period, Tom Kuhnhackl ran into Braden Holtby as they were both attempting to get the puck, and Kuhnhackl received a two minute minor for roughing. Following it, there was some rough stuff.




After this, at 8:54 of the 1st period, it was the battle of the Toms as Wilson and Sestito were both assessed 5-minute majors for fighting.



So, following the previously mentioned notion, this fight should warn the Capitals lineup that if they take cheap shots at Pittsburgh's star players, there will be consequences. Right?

That's the notion, right?

Well, this happened at 19:56 of the 2nd period.


Had this happened ever so differently, we could've seen Evgeni Malkin's neck broken at the hands of Justin Williams. Williams received a two minute minor for roughing as a result of this (that's another issue for another time.)

So, dare I ask: Wasn't Sestito's presence supposed to prevent this kind of thing?

Well, whether it was or wasn't, the flat out reality is that it didn't.

And how much did Sestito play in this game?


Four. Four minutes!

What is the point, if not to protect our stars? Even if that is the point, it's very obvious that it isn't working. He isn't intimidating anyone.

So...what should the Penguins do with Sestito?

I'm not Jim Rutherford, but I believe they should send him down to the AHL. For a variety of reasons.

First off, let's remain in the hypothetical that Bryan Rust and Sidney Crosby are still hurt (or we can operate under the idea that Conor Sheary will be out for at least a few games, as he was hurt in the game against Montreal on Tuesday, October 18th. He is day-to-day with an eye injury. Sidney Crosby is still not practicing.) Instead of giving Tom Sestito the 12th forward spot, why not somebody else? Like, say, two players from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.


Before I get into these two players, I want to say that I believe the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins can benefit from Tom Sestito's presence more than the Pittsburgh Penguins will. In the AHL, Sestito is much more productive in terms of offense, which is generally what you want from a forward player. This is evident in his point production, alone. In 41 regular season games, Sestito managed to get 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 points. In 7 Calder Cup Playoff games, Sestito potted 1 goal and notched 3 assists for 4 points. That isn't bad for a bottom six AHL forward, by any means. So I believe the Baby Pens could stand to benefit having him in the lineup more than the Pens could. 

Now, for replacement options, I have two ideas. 


Firstly, Jake Guentzel. Or as I like to call him, Blonde Superman. Guentzel was among the last roster cuts from the Pens training camp, and although he was held pointless through the pre-season, the 2013 third round pick performed unbelievably, as he received many ringing endorsements from coaching staff.






In his first AHL season, in 11 games, Guentzel notched 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points. It was in the postseason, however, where the blonde superman exploded. In a mere 10 games, Guentzel had 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 points. The Baby Pens didn't make it passed the 2nd round, but Guentzel still ended up leading all AHL rookies in postseason scoring.


Oh, and on opening night for the 2016-17 AHL season? Just a four point night for Jake Guentzel, including this highlight reel goal.




Another option is Carter Rowney. In the 2015-16 AHL season, Rowney scored 24 goals and 32 assists for 56 points, over a 74 game span. In the postseason, Rowney 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points, over a 10 game span. As a result, Rowney was signed to his first career NHL contract by the Pittsburgh Penguins and, like Jake Guentzel, was among the last roster cuts. On opening night of the 2016-17 season, Rowney was also productive with a goal and an assist.


Now, the argument could be made that putting one of these two in Sestito's position would have them "wasting away" on the Pens' fourth line. Now, see, if this was a discussion a few years ago, I'd agree. But no longer is that a valid claim.

As previously mentioned, the standard for Pittsburgh's fourth line is skilled players like Matt Cullen, Eric Fehr and Tom Kuhnhackl who all manage to get at least 10 minutes in at even strength, per game, and a healthy amount of shifts per game. Getting somewhat-sheltered NHL time with the likes of Fehr, Cullen or Kuhnhackl (depending on how Sullivan would structure the lines) could not only be beneficial to the careers of Guentzel and Rowney (specifically Guentzel's development into what could potentially be an eventual full-time NHL player), but beneficial to the Pens as well. One of these two being put into the lineup is yet another scoring threat for the Pens. And not a player who will play for four minutes, not serve the purpose they're apparently supposed to, and make everyone else play more as a result.

Thanks for reading!



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