Friday Pens Points: Gearing up for the Olympics

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

While the Pens are enjoying a few hard-earned days off, we'll catch up on all news and start getting ready for the Olympics.

The Pens are off for the second consecutive day. No games this weekend either, so as there are only a few miscellaneous club news today, we'll get up to speed on all Olympics-related things.

The biggest news yesterday was the assignment of recent call-ups Drazenovic and Letourneau-Leblond back to WBS, along with Simon Despres. While his future with the team is very much up in the air, the actual move itself was aimed at giving him the ice time he so badly needs and won't get in the NHL now that the Pens defensive corps is back to full health with the anticipated return of Paul Martin.

Dr. Christopher Harner, Pens lead team physician, is no longer traveling with the team but is remaining with the staff. One of the other two team doctors will go on road trips from now on. Aside from the Blackhawks, the Pens are the only other NHL team that takes their team physician on all road trips. These guys are like a traveling hospital ward anyway.

While Jayson Megna and Brian Gibbons made some splashes due to their offensive and playmaking skill, Zach Sill has quietly played on the 4th line and embraced the role of agitator and checker. He's been playing hard and important minutes on the penalty kill with injuries to Dupuis, Glass, Scuderi, Orpik, Martin and Letang.

OLYMPICS

The expectations are high for possibly the most talented team USA ever, and Dan Bylsma is looking forward to the opportunity of coaching for his country. I really think Disco can win this thing, guys, I really do.

Standing in his way will be four other legitimate medal hopefuls: Sweden, Russia, Canada, and Finland. In their nets will be Henrik Lundqvist, Semyon Varlamov, Carey Price, and Tuukka Rask. Let's see how those four guys did last night.

Lundqvist saved all 38 shots he faced last night (including this great blocker save) for a 1-0 shutout win over the Red Wings. He is regaining top form and this will be a scary thing for anyone facing the incredibly balanced team Sweden.

Varly was robbing the Devils left and right and made 33 saves to lift the Avs to a shootout win. He stunned Jagr in OT and Elias in the shootout to get that much needed second point.

Carey Price was quite literally standing on his head and PK Subban scored the shootout goal for a Habs win over Ottawa. Price turned in a highlight-reel performance for the ages. I just want Babcock to say yes to the triple low five. Bring it back already!

Rask wasn't in goal last night as the Bruins beat Dallas 4-2 in Loui Eriksson's return to the Big D. Anyway, while Rask hasn't been really hot as of late, he is not the kind to get rattled. He also has the NHL-leading 5 shutouts.

Bylsma will have Miller, Quick (4-1-1 since his return) and Howard to pick from, which still puts team USA significantly ahead of any team but Finland in overall goal-tending depth.

People either love the shootout (I'm in that group) or hate it. Here's how one analytically minded Sharks fan learned to stop nitpicking and just enjoy the shootout. You should too, since there will be many of them in the Olympics and they will decide medals and things. It will be intense.

For the end, here are 10 surprising yet true facts about Olympic hockey. Really cool stuff. IIHF website has great writers.

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone.

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