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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Things I'm Thinking by @Nick422

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.

I hope Jack Johnson plays well. It's best for the Pens and their fans. That being said don't hate him for his contract. If someone offered you that much money would you turn it down? No. Blame Rutherford for thinking it was a good idea and hope Johnson lives up to the deal he was offered.

Also don't be an ass. Yes, he's had money trouble. It wasn't entirely his fault. A lot of players have taken the wrong advice. Our beloved Sergei Gonchar was taken for a ride, too. Don't see anyone mocking him. Jack Johnson jokes are done and always have been (and I'll admit to being a part of the problem). Let it go.

The center situation will work itself out. Someone's bound to get hurt, pull or a groin, show signs of age, or get caught shoplifting from Robinson and have to spend perpetuity signing autographs at the Dicks out there. Doesn't make the Cullen signing any less weird but here we are.

Derick Brassard will be fine. The deal was fine. As someone who expressed many concerns about the deal (and who proved to be correct about those worries in the end, thanks trolls who have oddly shut up) I've never thought Brassard was a problem. His offense would have been swell but the defense was the big let down. Ian Cole could have helped against the Caps! Anyway Brassard will have more time to figure out the Pens system and figure out where he stands. Let's just hope he's not the one stuck in Robinson.

The biggest factors of this seasons success will be, in this writers most humble opinion, the play of Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese. One, if not both, need to become an offensive threat. I'm talking 15 goals, 20 assists. The top nine wings are set (for now) with Kessel, Hagelin, Hornqvist, Guentzel and Rust. That leaves two open spots. If Reese or Sprong can be penciled in a Rust like 15/25 then the Penguins depth problems on offense are A-OK.

Defense lays on Kris Letang. Period. End of story. Jack Johnson doesn't matter if Kris Letang isn't back to normal. The entire season doesn't matter if Kris Letang isn't back to normal. Dumoulin, Maatta, Schultz, and Oleksiak are just fine, thanks. They are a reasonable top 2-5. The Penguins need Kris Letang back as their #1. If he can be the Kris Letang of pre-surgery, where he was truly rounding in to form as one of the best defenders in the league, then the Penguins are fine. If not then the pressure slides to Johnson and Ruhwedel to pick up slack and no one wants that. No one.

Don't count on Juuso Riikola to be anything other than a funny name.

Matt Murray showed flashes and spurts. Then he'd either run into the injury bug or worse. Last year was likely an anomaly. This isn't to say it's a make or break year, but if he continues to be up and down without such awful mitigating factors it's time to worry. That being said I have confidence in this not being the case.

Leaving aside the defensive questions, I can't help but wonder what is to be of the backup position. While it's not best for Jarry and DeSmith to be in WB/S, I didn't see anything that told me either was necessarily the answer for the Penguins going forward. This may be something that only comes around at waiver time due to cap restrictions.

After two long seasons I was pretty burnt out. Winning was awesome. I loved it. But it was exhausting. Even during last playoffs I wanted them to win but I wanted the season to end because I was just... done. The extra time's made me happy, healthy and hungry. I'm friggin pumped.

I love Phil Kessel.

Puck drops on October 4th. Against the Caps. Who suck. Countdown's on.


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