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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sprong to Get the "Pouliot Treatment": Revisited by @MedinaMarie_PI

2:58:00 PM 0
(Photo Credit: The Athletic)
In January of this year, I wrote a piece regarding the topic of Daniel Sprong being sent back to the AHL during the 2017-18 regular season. The Pittsburgh Penguins fanbase had begun to draw comparisons between how "the Sprong situation" was being handled to that of the situation of now former Penguins defenseman, Derrick Pouliot. 

At the time, I was not ready to so quickly give credence to there being a similarity. Sprong was still a kid fresh out of his final year in the QMJHL and needed some time/ room to grow. Playing in the AHL gave him a chance to potentially do just that. Sprong would end up scoring 32 goals/ 33 assists for 65 points while playing for the Wilkes Barre- Scranton Penguins and he was trending in the right direction. 

When Sprong made the NHL line up out of the 2018 Pittsburgh Penguins training camp, it seemed as though the similarities between the Sprong/ Pouliot situations were going to be put to bed. Everyone hoped that, come the Thanksgiving break, Sprong would be emerging as one of the top young talents of the year. 

However, recent events have caused the similarities to glare ever more brightly, so much so that they can no longer be ignored. 

To much disappointment, Sprong has failed to make even a ripple in his NHL career or impress Head Coach Mike Sullivan. In the past month, Sprong has had one good outing in which it seemed everything was starting to click (versus Vancouver on October 27), but one positive game has still not been enough to earn him a try on a higher line. 

Sprong has played strictly on the Penguins fourth line and averaged just under 10 minutes of ice time in his last five games played. He has no goals in 12 games, only four assists and sits at a -2 in plus/minus rating. He was a healthy scratch for the last two outings versus Washington on Wednesday November 7 and versus Arizona on Saturday November 10. The Pens Inside Scoop Twitter account noted that Sprong was only being slotted into various spots during the Penguins Monday practice on November 12, which would indicate that he is set to once again set to fill a seat in the press box. 

"....but he needs to play with Crosby!!!" 

I will admit that Sprong not even getting a sniff at the top line is a bit laughable, however one must take into account that spots and opportunities must be earned. If he would have scored at least one goal within the last 12 games, it would have helped his cause greatly, but he can't even get a shot off. It is also difficult to try and get a shot away when playing in the defensive end, somewhere Sprong has spent a lot of time, and is still not yet comfortable in. 

Disappointing play, not living up to expectations, an unwillingness to accept constructive criticism, an unwillingness to adapt or change playing style to not only progress their own abilities but strengthen the team, a bit of an attitude problem and seemingly in HCMS doghouse...it's just a familiar story with a new face.   

Will Sprong fall to the same fate as Pouliot? Some NHL media outlets think so. Rumors of the Penguins accepting calls/offers from prospective teams interested in a trade have begun to swirl and will only be fed more and more the longer Sprong stays out of action, but what could the club even get for a struggling fourth liner? Would a package deal with another player have to be put into the works to make any deal happen? 

There is no telling how many chances Sprong is going to be given to prove why he still belongs in a Penguins uniform, but dealing with Pouliot for so long may have shown management that there is only so much you can do if the player isn't willing to help themselves and isn't helping their team win games. With General Manager Jim Rutherford apparently ready to pull the trade trigger at any moment, Sprong's time in Pittsburgh could be up before it even got started. 

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The Phil 005 - Upon Further Review by @ryank_119

9:00:00 AM 0
Of course the hit was okay, guys. There's just some things you can't do on the ice.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Penguins at a Glance: Early Goings are a Bit Bumpy by @MedinaMarie_PI

11:31:00 AM 0
(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)
The first month-plus of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2018-19 season is in the books. October has been seen as more of a test month. Lines and defensive pairing were shuffled, reshuffled, substitutions were made, and final decisions on whether or not those on two-way contracts should remain on the main roster or be sent back to the AHL (or put on waivers entirely).

For the Penguins, there were significant highs and a few lows to deep to measure within the last 31+ days. Some things worked, some didn't, and some should never be in consideration for trying again unless there is no other option available.

One of these "please don't ever do that again" moments came when Derick Brassard was tested as a winger for Sidney Crosby's top line. It went about as well as using trying to us a newspaper as an umbrella. The experiment lasted all of three games (not in succession) that garnered lackluster results. His best game of the three came versus Calgary on October 25. However, in a game where even Jack Johnson scored a goal, not much could go wrong. While Brassard was tested as a winger, he had zero goals, only three assists (all coming versus Calgary), and broke even in plus/minus.

Brassard is not a winger. He has never played the wing and it clearly is not something he feels comfortable with or can be expected to be good at. Brassard was brought in to be a center. The third line center to be exact. That is where he should stay so that he can build some chemistry in order to get the bottom two lines scoring again. Currently, Brassard is plagued with a lower-body injury so any attempt to find his game and finally fit into the Penguins roster has come to an abrupt, but hopefully, brief halt. However, if the lack of minutes as the third line center is going to cause him to throw a hissy fit, the Penguins have Riley Sheahan and/or Matt Cullen to step into the position while Brassard throws his temper tantrum in the press box.

Another touchy subject is that of Daniel Sprong and Dominik Simon.

Sprong is still being used in a fourth line role with minimal, if any, in game chances on the top line. Verses Vancouver on October 27, it seemed as if Sprong may have finally woken up. He was defending, he was making plays, he was giving puck support, he even got an assist on one of the five goals scored during the Pens victory. It was his most ice time in the last five games. However, one shining moment has not been enough to get a shot on the top line or get him out of Head Coach Mike Sullivan's doghouse.

Simon, on the other hand, is trending upwards and has found favor in the Pens locker room, mostly with Captain Sidney Crosby. He scored in both games versus the New York Islanders and has seen an uptick in his ice time.

Sprong is, as they say, status quo. He still hasn't scored, he really isn't getting many shots away (only 11 shots in 10 games- the fewest of all forwards excluding Derek Grant), and he is no where near as good along the boards as Simon. That is the kind of player Crosby likes to play with and the kind of player that actually compliments his style of play (for more of an in-depth look at that notion, check out Dan Kingerski's article for Pittsburgh Hockey Now). To say the least, something has to change, otherwise, Sprong's name may appear on the trade block sooner than anyone ever expected.

Moving on to a high point, Evgeni Malkin has continued right where he left off last season. He was recently named the NHL's Second Star for the month of October with his six goals, 13 assists and rolling the Penguins to a 6-2-2 record within the month. Coming into November, Malkin rode a 10-game point streak, and on pace to topple is 98-point 2017-18 season. Malkin is a man on a (continued) mission to prove how wrong the NHL was in not including him in their 100 Greatest Players list.

Another man on a mission is Kris Letang. Coming off what was arguably his most unimpressive professional season, Letang has a point to prove.Since the start of the season, Letang is once again back to averaging 22-25 minutes of ice time, his half slapshot is deadlier than ever, and he sits at a 53.7%. With Justin Schultz out of the lineup for an extended period of time due to injury, it will be up to Letang to keep his stats on the positive side to carry a defensive core that could use a good kick in the backside.

If we are going to give October and early November a grade, it's a solid C/B- with a lot of room to improve on both sides of the puck. While Sidney Crosby is back to putting on in-game scoring and skating clinics, the team as a whole is still struggling to find themselves and fit together cohesively. They have lost four straight games since coming back from their trek through Canada and goaltender Matt Murray has been pulled in three of those four losses.

November could prove to be a crucial month for the Penguins as the holidays and the "mid-season judgment point" approaches.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Phil 004 - Banff Visit by @ryank_119

9:00:00 AM 0

This one took way too long to draw... almost as long as it took Phil and Sprong to get back to the bus.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

Wilson Named New WBS Captain

2:58:00 PM 0



Despite sharing a surname with the infamous Tom Wilson, Garret Wilson (no relation) has been named the new captain of the WBS Pens. Restated Tom Kostopoulos, Penguins captain eternal, has retired and someone needs to pick up the matrix of leadership. Realistically the only other player in the running for this honor was J.S. Dea, who in case you missed it, has been claimed by the Devils via waivers.

This is Wilson’s third year with the Pens, and there was an outside chance he would have stuck with Pittsburgh this season. Last season, Wilson was one of WBS’s best forwards scoring 17 times and putting up 25 assists. Hopefully for Wilson, earning the C in WBS is an honor for him and not a mark of AHL-lifer status. Wilson has 34 NHL games under his belt with the Panthers, and 0 with the Penguins.  
Wilson is now the 17th captain in Team history. The historic 20th season of WBS hockey starts on October 6th. Buckle up.

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Made It Through the Offseason Unscathed by @here4pghsports

11:38:00 AM 1



I wanted the Penguins to do something impactful this offseason. In retrospect, I'm relieved.

Many of us went into the offseason worrying or wishing that either Letang or Kessel would be traded. Maybe for the sake of change, maybe because of mistakes that occurred late in the season that we couldn't forget. Or, maybe just because we don't like THAT type of player.

I can accept all of that. However both players are difference makers at their best, and difference makers repeatedly turn routine plays into goals. So now that the dust has settled I'm content at where the Pens are at. Sort of. I'll get to that later.

Let's assess things for what they are. The Pens started the offseason chess match with the trade of Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick to Buffalo. And, whether or not you are a fan of Conor Sheary (I am), two more years of a three-million-dollar-player whose easily rubbed out of the play and inconsistently produces even when playing with Crosby, probably isn't money well spent for the Pens.

Matt Hunwick, on the other hand, was an enigma at best and never came close to justifying a salary north of $1 million a season, let alone the $2.25 million per season he was being paid. So, Buffalo did Pittsburgh a favor and in return lowered the return on a Conor Sheary trade. Honestly, I can live with that. $5 million in cap space is a big deal when constantly trying to surround a hall of fame core group with auxiliary talent.

The obvious key is spending that newly freed up $5 million wisely. Matt Hunwick should have been a reminder that 2+ million tied up in an unproductive player is wasted space. Five years of 31-year-old Jack Johnson at $3.25 million should have raised all kinds of red flags within the Pens front office.




Sentiment coming out of the preseason and after Thursday night's win over the Stanley Cup Champion Capitals has been predominantly positive. If one can believe that Derrick Brassard simply needed a new team and a new year to get off on the right foot, then the same probably needs to be extended to Johnson. Even his underlying numbers have been relatively positive through the preseason. That alone suggests he deserves a few months worth of "ok, make me a believer".

With how driven the group as a whole has seemed leading up to the season, the excitement for this upcoming season should be palpable. The Pens looked tired throughout the second half of the season and into the playoffs. Defensive breakdowns and lapses that occurred even while dominating an overwhelmed Philly team bore this out.

The numbers that Crosby and Guentzel put up in last year's playoffs exemplified how good they are and underlined the fact they simply couldn't drag a tired group through the eventual champions.

With that being said, could an additional 3rd or 4th defenseman have helped solve the defensive breakdowns from last postseason by rounding out the depth chart and redistributing minutes? Maybe. I think that's what the front office had in mind when they moved Sheary and Hunwick to open up cap space to go find that guy.

My pick would have been Calvin De Haan. Because he's a younger defensemen at 27 whose underlying numbers showed the ability to positively impact the team.

De Haan ended up signing in Carolina for $4.55 million per season. The Penguins potentially couldn't offer him top 4 minutes, and weren't willing to pay him the money he wanted. Another possibility is that having come from the Islanders, De Hann couldn't stand the idea of pulling on a Penguins' jersey after having them routinely beat his former team like a rented mule (thank you Mike Lange).

If the Penguins wanted a guy who can potentially play up into the role of a 3rd or 4th defensemen, then maybe Johnson can be that guy. BUT and it's a big but....He must play up to his contract. Points, hits, goals allowed while he is on the ice...whatever it is you believe $3.25 million is worth. Johnson has to be that guy, otherwise the money should have been spent elsewhere.

That spending should not happen just to fill a need but be done wisely to maximize potential future opportunities for success. This is what separates successful people and sports teams from the unsuccessful.

Here's to the success of Jack Johnson and our Pittsburgh Penguins.

Let's go Pens!
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Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Phil 001 - Back in the Room by @ryank_119

6:37:00 PM 1


All your favourite players are back for another year! Except Bones.. and that Sharey guy. But we have Cullen again!

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The Phil - Season 4: 4Get Last Year

4:29:00 PM 0

Another year, another season of your favorite cookie connoisseur and owner of the best wrist shot in hockey (sorry Matthews, try growing a beard first). 

You can read the previous 3 Seasons of the Phil at www.cityfolk.ca.
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Preseason Takeaways by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 1
(Photo Credit: Chaz Palla, Tribunbe Review)
The 2018-19 NHL season has officially begun. However, it does give another day to reflect on training camp, the preseason games, as well as some other tidbits thrown in.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Things I'm Thinking by @Nick422

2:27:00 PM 2
Rejoice brethren, for the Penguins are back on ice for informal practice. The season is one month away. We are so close to getting our fix. It's been an abnormally long off season. Here are things I've thought since the season ended.



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Friday, July 20, 2018

lol okay ESPN by @Nick422

1:27:00 PM 4
The ESPYs were held Wednesday. As if you didn't know. Or care. The only reason I found this out was because of an instagram post by the NHL that caused me to tilt my head like your dog when he's confused about what you're saying.



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Friday, June 29, 2018

The Flower 003 - Master of Pranks by @ryank_119

7:39:00 AM 3

Flower can scrunch up his whole body into ways you couldn't possibly imagine.



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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Penguins Continue to Trust in Rust by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:08:00 PM 2

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they have locked up winger Bryan Rust. The team extended their qualifying offer Monday June 25, 2018. The contract runs through the 2021-22 season and carries an annual value of $3.5 million per year.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Flower 002 - Teaching Perseverance by @ryank_119

1:05:00 PM 2


That young man would one day grow up to steal Flower's starting job by winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. This is not a true story, quit messaging me.

Inspired by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHYWWJXw2Zk

TimeLapse of the Comic: https://youtu.be/LzSdHjlK_tg


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Monday, June 4, 2018

The Flower 001 - New Beginnings by @ryank_119

7:00:00 PM 0

The Penguins may be out of the 2018 Playoffs, but one man still has a chance at a threepeat! This series looks at the career of the Flower from his early days in Pittsburgh to his new blooming in the desert.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wheeling Announces New Head Coach by @MedinaMarie_PI

5:30:00 PM 1
(Photo Credit: Wheeling Nailers Twitter)
The Wheeling Nailers, the ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, announced during a press conference Wednesday morning that Mark Dennehy has been selected as the new Head Coach.

He is the 17th Head Coach in the teams history. The change comes off the heels of a disappointing regular season in which the team failed to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs just a year after playing in the Finals, as well as mounting disapproval from both the organization and the fan base in now former head coach, Jeff Christian.


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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

2017-18: The Season That Was and What May be to Come by@MedinaMarie_PI

6:00:00 PM 0


It took overtime to decide the series, but with a 2-1 loss, the Pittsburgh Penguins quest for a third straight Stanley Cup came to an end. 

As we gather our thoughts and feelings as the Penguins clear out their lockers, let's take a look back at the season that was, as well as take a glimpse forward as to what could come for Pittsburgh. 

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Phil 031 - The Numbers Post-Phil by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0
Congrats on an amazing run! It took the Penguins more than 2 years to lose a playoff series! And you were there too Phil.
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Monday, May 7, 2018

Not Like the Others by @AlfaM1keFoxtrot

11:55:00 AM 0
Each of the last 3 times the Penguins beat the Capitals in the playoffs, they went into game 6 with a 3-2 series lead. Ironically though, they lost two of those game 6's.



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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Game 3: A Review and Angry Words by @MedinaMarie_PI

6:00:00 PM 0
(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)
This series versus the Washington Capitals is living up to the hype. Both teams are battling hard for every inch and game three was as close a contest as we have seen so far, but, that isn't what people are talking about the day after. Once again, the main talking point at the water cooler is the goon-style hockey portrayed by, you guessed it, Tom Wilson.


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The Phil 030 - Schmom Schmilsonby @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0

He's sure leaving his mark... or our mark. It's confusing.
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Monday, April 30, 2018

1 and 1, & the Dumoulin injury

12:30:00 PM 0
In retrospect, the Penguins were probably lucky to get out of their first round series with the Flyers with just two injuries. It speaks volumes about what the refs allow to go on when the Capitals are allowed to continue to out-Flyer the Flyers as seen in the latest injury to Brian Dumoulin.


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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Script flipped: Penguins ride road, penalty kill success en route to series victory

12:30:00 PM 0



 The Pittsburgh Penguins have flipped the much-maligned, “switch” this postseason.

Looking disinterested and lackadaisical while meandering an 82-game schedule, the Penguins appear reengaged as they work towards their third consecutive Stanley Cup.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Circling the Drain: Pens down 0-2 Against the Checkers

7:44:00 PM 0

Was your 10 dollar AHL Live feed loading a bit slow like mine? If so you missed the Pens only goal in game 2.  Joseph Cramarossa scored 22 seconds into the game to give the Penguins the lead. Then nothing happened for the Pens offense for the rest of the game. Jack and nothing .

Paging Daniel Sprong. If Sprong wants to play in the NHL he needs to score in the AHL. This WBS team is counting on him to score a goal a game to give them a chance at winning. This isn’t an option. Sprong needs to score.

Find this man. 


At 13:37 in the 1st Charlotte scored to tie up the game. Bizarro Fleury scored on an awkward angle shot that made everyone in WBS hate this time of year.
The Pens managed to stay out of the penalty box until late in the third. That was a huge improvement for life since WBS didn’t spend half the game killing penalties.

The Checkers play in the hilariously named BOJANGLES Coliseum, which is named after a fine supplier of foods that are fried nearly as well as the Pens are right now. 

WBS plays their first home game of the series Thursday. Thanks to the garbage playoff format in the AHL the home team opens the best of 5 series on the road. WBS will need to win 3 games in a row to keep the season alive and TK from retiring. A sweep in the first round to end the season on home ice Thursday would be a disappointment and an embarrassment. The team better show up on Thursday, I know I will.

At least the Flyers got eliminated before WBS. Cheers.  More from WBS on Thursday night.

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The Phil 029 - Incoming by @ryank_119

12:23:00 PM 0

Hope you've been practicing your disappointed faces Washington!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Game 1 Charlotte/WBS: Quick Off the Rails Already

7:16:00 PM 0

WBS lost game one of their best-of-five game series against the Charlotte Checkers last night 3-2 in overtime.

The Checkers play in the, “Bojangles Colliseum.” Charlotte deserve to lose this series just for that terrible name alone.


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Friday, April 20, 2018

First Round Preview: Charlotte Checkers Vs. WBS Penguins

12:00:00 PM 0

It’s FINALLY time to start the Calder Cup playoffs. Sure watching the Pens kick in the teeth of the Flyers has been great, but being forced to wait over a week after the NHL playoffs started  before my team hits the ice has been BRUTAL.  It’s high time to get this sucker started. Yeehaw?  It’s WBS VS Charlotte on Friday and Saturday. GO! 

Badly shopped racing jokes are the key to success. 

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tidbits and Take-A-Ways from Game 4 by @MedinaMarie_PI

1:36:00 PM 0
(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)
The Pittsburgh Penguins now hold a commanding three games to one advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers in their first round playoff match up. The Pens have turned their backs on the "oof" that was Game 2 and set their sights to finishing out the series this Friday at home at PPG Paints Arena.

While the Pens have all but taken control of their last two outings against their cross state rivals, there were some tidbits coming out of Game 4 that are worth noting.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Phil 028 - Another Theory by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0

Maybe Sid is a robot.. or maybe his stick is possessed? We might never know for certain.


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Friday, April 13, 2018

Good Riddance, Ken Hitchcock by @Nick422

2:18:00 PM 0
Earlier today the Dallas Stars announced that their head coach, Ken Hitchcock, would be ending his coaching career after near 20 years coaching. To this I say: Good.



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Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Flyers Didn't #EarnTomorrow (Today) by @williamahirsch

5:00:00 PM 0
Matt Murray robbing Scott Laughton of a first period goal - www.twitter.com/nhl

Whether you watched the Penguins make a mockery of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One, or not, there are some stats you might not be aware of and you totally need to be. The stats tell the same story as the score. The Penguins toyed with the Flyers right from the start and it was every bit as glorious as you could imagine.

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Who Else is Hungry? by @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 0
I'll admit to it. I fell in to a malaise. The regular season kind of sucked, with a few high points but it was going through the motions. It seemed the same with the Penguins and it made me worry. That's done, now. I'm ready to feast.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 - Penguins v. Flyers Preview by @msteiner90

5:00:00 PM 0

MATCH: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
SERIES: First Round
The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight at 7:00PM on NBCSN. The Pittsburgh Penguins coming off of back-to-back Stanley Cup wins are looking to write even more history.

The Philadelphia Flyers are entering the series after drafting at number two overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. These cross-state rivals are very familiar, and, aside from the Washington Capitals, know each other better than maybe any other team in the NHL. They have history (see: everyone dissecting a highly irrelevant series in 2012). They hate each other.  
Say what you will, but there is no better playoff match-up in the NHL. The ratings that Nielsen will report after the series should speak to that. Whether the series goes four games or seven games, rest assured that everyone in the state of Pennsylvania will be tuning in.
Patric Hornqvist of the Pittsburgh Penguins colliding with Andrew MacDonald of the Philadelphia Flyers
SEASON SERIES: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers met four times this season. The Penguins swept the Flyers by winning all games. The Flyers took it to overtime twice, but never prevailed. The Penguins scored five goals each time, which shouldn't surprise you since the Flyers haven't figured out their horrendous goaltending situation all season.
ADVANTAGE: If anything can be gleamed out of the season series is that the Penguins have no problem putting up five goals on the Flyers. The Penguins put the Flyers in the precarious situation of outscoring them, which hasn't ended well for our cross-state rivals yet this season.



FORWARDS: The Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the most dominant sets of forwards in the salary cap era. Part of this can be attributed to Ray Shero signing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to deals which were lucrative at the time of signing, but have become bargains as the cap increases, and, partly due to the wheeling and dealing of Jim Rutherford. The Penguins have supplemented their weakness at center, and are bloated at the wing position.  The Flyers are strong themselves with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and noted rookie Nolan Patrick. The Penguins are a juggernaut offensively, and when it comes down to it, will outmatch almost any team offensively aside from maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning...and that's not even for certain.  
ADVANTAGE: The Flyers have an MVP candidate in Claude Giroux, but let's be totally serious, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the straws that will stir the drink in this series. The Penguins outmatch the Flyers offensively, and the only way the Flyers can dominate the forward position would be a mistimed slump by the Penguins top centers and Phil Kessel to coincide with a Giroux/Voracek offensive explosion.

DEFENSE: Both teams use their defense in a similar fashion, employ fast, skilled and opportunistic defensemen. The Penguins have struggled defensively, yielding many odd-man breaks. In many ways, the Penguins defense has reminded me of the Steelers defense. Opportunistic, yet flawed. The Flyers have Shayne Gostisbehere (aka Ghost Bear) and Ian Provorov, who are the Letang and Schultz of the Philadelphia defense. They can move the puck and are fast, but not awfully big. This Philadelphia defense will have a hard time moving guys like Evgeni Malkin off of the puck, which may explain why the Pens put up 20 goals in four games.
ADVANTAGE: Both teams are vulnerable on defense, but the Penguins probably are less so. Both defenses are structured to produce offensively, and the Philadelphia defense may be a little better at setting up offensive opportunities and getting pucks to the net. For that reason, I would say the defensive advantage is a draw, but leaning towards the Penguins.

GOALTENDING: The Pittsburgh Penguins had goalie controversies, if you want to call it that, over the last two seasons. But really, it was just fans arguing which franchise goaltender they liked better. That controversy is over, and now the Penguins have one franchise goaltender and two capable backups. Matt Murray has struggled this season but was due for a sophomore slump and luckily hasn't struggled as much as Braden Holtby has.  Murray is ready for the playoffs, and who else would you want in net starting? The Flyers, well, they've had a rough ride in the goaltending situation since their General Manager played honestly. Brian Elliott is a respectable journeyman who doesn't have much left in the tank. Petr Mrazek has flashes of brilliance mixed in with weeks of very average play.  
ADVANTAGE: The Flyers will need a miracle to outperform the Penguins in the crease. It could happen, because the Penguins are literally famous for making bad goalies look good, but, it's not likely, and not something I would bet on.

PREDICTION: Pittsburgh Penguins in 5. I was leaning towards a sweep, but I do think the Flyers will pull a win out. They are similar teams overall, but in the end the Penguins outmatch them in every logical way. Logic may have no place in the NHL playoffs, but luck has a hard time playing out over a seven game series too.    
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