The Penguins fell to the Capitals last night, 4-1, at Consol Energy Center in Sullivan’s Penguins coaching debut. The score may not look impressive, but I am here to tell you to have faith in Sullivan’s Penguins.
First of all, the Penguins did what Sullivan wanted them to do. They played towards their strengths: skill and speed. They had more jump and more passion to their game. It was clearly visible, and this guy has been here all of 2 days.
For those of you that did not watch the game, the first shift for the Penguins was arguably the best shift I have seen from a Penguins line in the last 2 years. They did not score, but had 2 or 3 quality chances, and they played like they wanted the puck. They played like they wanted to score.
Being that the Penguins had a few chances of their own, they gave up a few chances to the Capitals, who just seemed to capitalize (no pun intended) on their chances more than the Penguins unfortunately.
That being said, the Penguins registered 45 shots on goal, which is a season high. Holtby played out of his mind (he leads the NHL in GAA), but if the Penguins can play like they did last night, they are going to start winning hockey games.
I also want to add that although the Penguins gave up their fair share of chances, so did Johnston’s Penguins. Except Johnston’s Penguins had no jump, no energy, and no desire for the puck. Sullivan’s Penguins had numerous scoring opportunities, and had some bounces gone the Penguins way, the game may have been different.
Whether the Penguins won 7-1 or lost 4-1, it is just 1 game, so either way, we can’t make too much of this. But, all I am telling you is to have faith. Seriously.
I also want to bring up that Sullivan has been here a very short time, and lost to a Capitals team that is now first in the Eastern Conference and atop the Metropolitan Division. Considering that Bylsma’s first game behind the bench for the Pens was a shootout loss against, at the time, a lowly New York Islanders team, I am not concerned with the result of this one game.
On top of Sullivan being behind the new guy behind the bench, there is a ton of new Penguins news that I would like to enlighten you all about that has happened in the past 24 hours. Some bad, some good.
Beau Bennett out 4-6 weeks: Beau Bennett was crushed into the boards by Capitals forward TJ Oshie. It was a questionable hit, but no penalty was called. Bennett got up gingerly holding his shoulder and immediately went to the locker room. I would assume that he broke his collar bone after going shoulder first into the boards.
I really do feel for Beau Bennett. He must be so frustrated being that he always gets hurt. However, this is also why a guy like him should remain as a 3rd or 4th line guy, regardless of his skill. If he is injury prone, letting him develop chemistry with guys on a top line is pointless. Let other plays who are not injury prone to be put into that role. When Bennett does come back, I would keep him on the 3rd or 4th line because of his injury history.
Since Bennett is out for 4-6 weeks, this means that more than likely either Hornqvist or Sprong will get a chance with Crosby on the top line. Although I would love to see Sprong with Crosby on a consistent basis (we saw a little bit of it last night), I would think Hornqvist will move up being that he has played with Sid before. That being said, I think Sprong actually benefits more from the system and would perform better on this line with Sid. That’s just my thought…
Fleury concussed: Fleury said he did not feel right after the game and was tested for a concussion today. The results, unfortunately, came back positive, and he will like be out 1-2 weeks. Zatkoff will start tomorrow and Matt Murray was recalled to be his backup.
Sullivan will have the ability to control the goalie rotation. I would like to think, and hope, that Matt Murray is the starter in general while Fleury is out. But that will be up to Sullivan. We’ll find out later this week.
Pens trade Scuderi for Daley: Jim Rutherford, I have one question for you: HOW?! Trevor Daley (33) is an offensive defenseman who was on the Blackhawks for a short stint, after being sent there as part of the Patrick Sharp deal between Dallas and Chicago. Last year, Daley had 16 goals as a defenseman! That is impressive, and something the Penguins need.
They end up trading Scuderi, who has been, to put it lightly, pretty bad with the Penguins. The Pens did maintain 1/3 of his contract, but the fact that Rutherford got Daley out of this deal…wow.
One main reason he was able to make it was that apparently Daley did not fit into the Blackhawks’ system. They felt Scuderi would be a better fit for them, and similarly, Daley would be a better fit for the Pens.
I feel the Pens definitely won this trade, but I guess time will tell… Daley will wear #6 and I would expect him to be in the lineup against Boston tomorrow night.
Sullivan mixes up lines at practice: Today, the Penguins announced they have recalled Connor Sheary and Kevin Porter from the AHL. I would like to think Sheary plays tomorrow, since he has more potential offensively. But again, that’s up to Sullivan.
Sullivan really mixed up the lines at practice, going with the following line combos:
Kunitz – Crosby – Perron
Plotnikov – Malkin – Hornqvist
Kessel – Fehr – Sprong
Cullen – Bonino
The biggest changes here are that Kessel moves to the third line, Perron gets bumped up to 1st line, and Plotnikov goes back with Malkin. Sullivan wants to find some lines that mesh, so let’s hope this works.
By the way, I want to note that I actually like Kessel on the 3rd line. In Toronto he played with Bozak and had great success. Bozak is good, but he is no superstar. I think this allows Kessel to really focus on his game since he is not playing with a Crosby or Malkin. Heck, it worked in Toronto.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now! Thanks for those who continue to read my blog, as always! My next blog will be recapping and talking about my impressions from the game against Boston tomorrow at 8 pm. Hopefully the article will be up by midnight.