1: Corey Pronman pointed out on twitter last night that Ty Rattie (St. Louis Blues prospect) is currently leading the AHL in shots with 88. Rattie also has 14 goals in 26 AHL games this season and is only 21 years old. He's been mentioned before on the wish list of players Penguin fans dream that Pittsburgh could be in the running for, but since that stat caught my eye, figured I'd spotlight it here. Impressive to see a young guy firing the puck that much, if it's possible (and who knows, it might now be) Rattie would look pretty good in Pittsburgh.
2: One of the better things about general manager Jim Rutherford has been his frankness and openness. He said he was going to sign Marc-Andre Fleury in a month, and much quicker than that it was done. Other predictions he's made about what he's wanted to do have come true as well. It's too bad that hasn't carried further in hockey ops with the shrouded secrecy about Patric Hornqvist‘s maybe/kinda/sorta/not confirmed concussion, or coach Mike Johnston saying on Monday there would be a "full update" on injured defenseman Olli Maatta on Tuesday, only to say on Tuesday that he was still being evaluated. Full information isn't to be expected when it comes to disclosing injuries, but it sure would be nicer to have more than what has been given.
3: Natasha linked this advanced WB/S stat look in Pens Points, but I wanted to point out that top prospect Derrick Pouliot has been on ice for 10 even-strength goals for, and 9 goals against. This time down on the farm should serve him well, critics of his game have always pointed back to his work in his own end and the more experience he can gain, the better. One good Pouliot stat: he has been on the ice for the team scoring 11 PP goals and has 3g+8a on the power play. The Pens need that guy to rush the puck and help facilitate on the PP, and Pouliot can do that. Well, they need it as much as any PP that's clicking at 30% needs anything.
4: Speaking of power plays, stick tap to the Trib's Josh Yohe to note that in the past 14 games the Penguins have gotten only 30 opportunities with the man advantage (compared to 49 for their opponents). Hopefully this disparity evaporates over time, which is about all you can do about the officiating. Not really worth bitching about, but it's always worth acknowledging. Yohe also found that the Pens have received 0 or 1 PP opportunities in 5 of the last 11 games.
5: Fast starts and playing from in front has long been a staple of regular season Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, and that trend is definitely continuing in a big way this year, even with the new managers, coaches and players. The Pens 35 goals in the first period are tops in the league, and they've scored the first goal in 20 out of 27 games. The Pens are also 12-2-1 when they have the lead after 20 minutes (and 13-1-1 when they're up after 2 periods). Get out front early, stay out front for the rest of the game. Pretty good strategy to win a game, says captain obvious.
6: Six Metropolitan division teams (Washington, NYR, NJD, Philly, ‘Lumbus, Carolina) are in the bottom 12 in the whole league right now. So much for the division being competitive and improved this year, eh?
7: The Pens won't be able to take advantage of that too much in the near future, though - they have 7 more games to go before Christmas playing both Florida teams twice, two Western conference teams (Calgary and Colorado) at home and old Columbus too. After Christmas the Pens get 3 straight games in-division vs. Washington, NJD and Carolina.
8: Not a Penguin thought, but it caught my eye watching a commercial last night that the Washington Capitals are still advertising holiday packages that include Winter Classic tickets. The game is 3 weeks away, and "only" in a baseball stadium with a 41k capacity (for baseball). As the premiere NHL event of the regular season, it isn't sold out yet? Add in not having an HBO "24/7" and it just seems like little to no buzz around the event this year. Is the Winter Classic losing its luster? With all the star power between Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the rabid Chicago market, hopefully the event will prove to be more of a success than it seems like it's shaping up to be.
9: If you hate projections, you might as well stop reading now. 33% into the season, what's the way-too-early forecast for the first round of the playoffs? As of today, Sports Club Stats says the Pens most likely opponents would be: 14.8 % Washington, 14.0% Montreal, 12.8% New York Rangers. Needless to say, there's a whole hell of a lot still to change as the season plays out, but often times the overall standings don't look a ton different in April than they do right now. If I gave you those three teams or the field as the Pens first round opponent, which would you take?
10: Also from forward looking, too-early files, the Pens 18-6-3 record has them on pace for 118 points at season's end. If you were curious, Dan Bylsma's best season: 109 points (which, ironically, was last season). The 2013 lockout Pens were on pace for 123 points had they gotten a full 82 games, it's worth pointing out. The process is more important than the results, but the results have been pretty encouraging too.