Heading into Saturday's matchup with the Florida Panthers, Penguins were coming off a 1-0 overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night that featured a goaltending duel between Marc-Andre Fleury and rookie Calvin Pickard.
The game also marked the NHL debut of defensemen Scott Harrington at the expense of Brian Dumoulin but due to injuries to Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin, Ollii Maatta, and Robert Bortuzzo, Saturday's game would be filled with the team's future.
The team's number one prospect, Derrick Pouliot was recalled and joined by Taylor Chorney due to the injuries to Ehrhoff and Martin.
Fan and media reaction as expected said this was 'Shero's Legacy".
An impressive legacy when you don't consider Shero's decision to sign Rob Scuderi to a 4-year deal.
General Manager Jim Rutherford has to be wrestling with himself knowing the team has Martin, Ehrhoff and Chorney heading to unrestricted free agency after the season, Bortuzzo and Dumoulin will be restricted free agents, and the long-term health for Maatta is a question mark as he's likely headed for a second shoulder surgery in less than a year.
Because the defense is such an unknown after the season, a trade involving one of the team's younger defensemen is doubtful unless they can re-sign one of Ehrhoff or Martin next month.
As for the defense pairings on Saturday night, Kris Letang played with Harrington, Despres with Dumoulin, and Scuderi with Pouliot.
The result was an outstanding 45 save performance by Fleury, though the highlight of the night belonged to Pouliot's first shot going top shelf over Roberto Luongo in the first period. Pouliot played 15:07, just 2:29 on the PP.
Defense Maatta's (matters)
While the team used their 10th different defensemen this year, team's defensive numbers haven't taken a hit throughout the season, though it was a bit of concern to see the Panthers win the Corsi For battle 54-27 during even-strength (5on5) play on Saturday night.
Of those 54 shot attempts by Florida, 17 were above the faceoff circle.
Prior to the game Saturday, Penguins were 5th (86.2) in the NHL on the penalty-kill, 4th (2.23) in goals against average, 2nd (93.9) in even-strength (5on5) on-ice save percentage, 6th (53.64) in Corsi Against per 60 minutes (ES 5x5), and 4th (36.96) in Fenwick Against per 60 minutes (ES 5x5).
Don't Ignore Fleury's Improvement
While Fleury's numbers from 2009/10-2013/14 were hardly worthy of him receiving the four year extension, it would be a mistake to ignore the success he's having on the ice this season.
ES Save % vs number one goalie in category with 1,000 TOI
High Percentage Shots - 83.58% vs Jaroslav Halak, 90.84%
Medium Percentage Shots - 95.28% vs Jonathan Bernier, 95.30%
Low Percentage Shots - 98.01% vs Steve Mason, 99.64%
Last year's numbers (2,500 TOI)
High - 79.86% vs Tuukka Rask, 88.72%
Medium - 90.06% vs Semyon Varlamov, 94.55%
Low - 97.53% vs Carey Price 98.80%
2009-2010 to 2012-2013 season (10,000 TOI)
High - 80.94% vs Henrick Lundqvist 85.46%
Medium - 92.38% vs Ryan Miller 93.43%
Low - 97.54% vs (best) vs Martin Brodeur (worst) 96.96%
World Junior Championship
Forward Kasperi Kapanen will be a heavily watched player in the upcoming World Junior Championship as he's the only player in the Penguins organization expected to make the roster for the ten countries in the tournament starting Friday in Montreal and Toronto. Kapanen is expected to be one of the key players for Finland as they start against the United States in Montreal on Friday.
Group A: Finland, Canada, United States, Slovakia, and Germany
Group B: Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Denmark
For more information about the World Junior Championship, go to their official site.