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Sunday News & Notes: Are Pens Scouting Flyers/Kings for Help?

Are the Penguins scouting the Flyers and Kings in hopes of acquiring help at wing?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Quick, someone buy Clint Hurdle season tickets and Ehrhoff a beer!

Prior to Saturday's afternoon game between the Penguins and Senators, Root Sports Pittsburgh tweeted out that Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle was in the house sporting a 15-0 record while in attendance. After Christian Ehrhoff had time to go to Hofbrauhaus to chug a German beer, he ripped a slap shot from 23 feet to beat goaltender Craig Anderson for the game-winning goal with 1:50 to play in the third period and improve Hurdle's record to 16-0.

Crosby Works Hard

Some attention was given to Sidney Crosby for having a post-practice workout to get himself back on track as he had gone three games without a point (or goal). A little piece of you had to laugh when Crosby was staring at a yawning open net from 91 feet away with 16 seconds left in the game and shot it wide. If there's one thing 'The Kid' can't do, it is shooting at open hockey nets.

At the next league meeting, Mario Lemieux might want to ask for a new rule to use a clothes dryer to replace the standard hockey net when the opposing team pulls their goalie.

Klinkhammer Acquisition is a True Analytics Story

Back on November 30th, Edmonton Oilers put forward Jesse Joensuu on waivers and you'd think it was about to be the worst move ever for the laughingstock of the NHL. I saw respectable analysts tweeting Joensuu had bad luck in Edmonton due to his 88.22 PDO during 5on5 play in 20 games this season.

Why the expectation he could do better on another team because of PDO?

Joensuu played in 42 games last season, doing something to get a 92.81 PDO.

A day later, Joensuu went unclaimed and assigned to Oklahoma City (AHL).

On Friday, Penguins acquired Rob Klinkhammer and a conditional 2016 draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes for Phil Samuelsson, Again, response was positive for a bottom six player because of the underlying stats.

This time, the praising by stats were Corsi and Fenwick, analytics that make sense.

Klinkhammer's stats

'11-12 (Ottawa): 15 games, 98.82 PDO, 2.93 Fenwick Rel %, and 3.75 Corsi Rel %

'12-13 (Phoenix): 22 games, 104.69 PDO, 6.71 Fenwick Rel %, and 4.71 Corsi Rel %

'13-14 (Phoenix): 72 games, 100.11 PDO, 4.03 Fenwick Rel % and 3.97 Corsi Rel %

'14-15 (Arizona): 19 games, 101.16 PDO, 7.22 Fenwick Rel % and 5.10 Corsi Rel %

The positive news is once the team gets back Chris Kunitz, Patric Hornqvist and oft-injured Beau Bennett, you should witness a better third or fourth line with Klinkhammer pushing Zach Sill to the press box or re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).

The difference between Sill and Klinkhammer is quite telling as Sill's -6.95 Fenwick Rel % during 7.21 TOI/game is nowhere near Klinkhammer's 7.22 Fenwick Rel % during 11.34 TOI/game. That's a pretty dramatic change if Klinkhammer replaces Sill on the left-wing with Goc and Adams.

Scouting in Los Angeles?

On Saturday afternoon, Dennis Bernstein (The Fourth Period) tweeted out 'PIT scout listed at PHI-LAK, Pens don't face either team until 1/20 (Flyers)'.

Normally, advance scouting is done closer to when two teams will be playing each other, which makes the news of a Penguins scout in Los Angeles just a bit curious.

The Penguins need help at winger and Kings could be a potential destination for defensemen Paul Martin, if he would be willing to waive his No Movement Clause and limited No Trade Clause. Martin was down to the Penguins and Kings before signing his 5-year $25 million deal as a free agent.

As for the Flyers, they need help in the worst way on defense. Could they be willing to move a winger to get that long-term defensemen? A deal here would probably be involving one of the Penguins defense prospects like Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin or Simon Despres.

The immediate reaction will be to snag Wayne Simmonds from the Flyers but it is more likely that Matt Read or Brayden Schenn would be on the block to get help on defense.

Centers of Attention

Prior to Saturday's game, here's a look at how Crosby and Malkin stacked up to the other centers in the NHL in terms of shot totals and top ten in points.

1. Sidney Crosby, 33 points, 72 shots

2. Tyler Seguin, 32 points, 108 shots

3. Steven Stamkos, 32 points, 87 shots

4. Evgeni Malkin, 30 points, 66 shots

5. Tyler Johnson, 28 points, 71 shots

6. Claude Giroux, 28 points, 107 shots

7. Ryan Getzlaf, 26 points, 72 shots

8. Jiri Hudler, 25 points, 46 shots

9. Filip Forsberg, 25 points, 77 shots

10. Ryan Johansen, 25 points, 63

Malkin Goal Pace

While Jim Rutherford was right in acquiring two players for James Neal, the more important aspect of the deal was forcing Malkin to be the go-to-man on his line.

Through 26 games, Malkin has 14 goals and on pace to score 44 goals.

If he can increase his shot totals over the remainder of the season, he could hit 50 goals.

How to Change Course In-Season

In this Fox Sports Arizona update by Craig Morgan, Arizona Coyotes General Manager Dave Maloney isn't happy about his team not playing well and on his decision to trade Rob Klinkhammer and place Kyle Chipchura and David Schlemko on waivers - "I can take the losses if the losses are out of simply being out-skilled, but what I can't accept is getting outcompeted, and that's what we've been seeing," Maloney said. "We have to look at everybody and say 'where are we? Are we making any progress?' I don't like where we're trending right now, so you make some changes to try and change that."

It is surprising more teams don't try to make deals, waive lower tier players in an attempt to change the course of their season. If you are going to have a bad team, might as well do it with young players to develop them or find out, are they legit or not.

Then there's the Edmonton Oilers.

On Friday, General Manager Craig MacTavish held an embarrassing press conference telling the assembled media, "Visually to me we’re a better hockey team."

That's right, he said visually.

What is visual is that MacTavish, Kevin Lowe, and Scott Howson were doing such a great job in Edmonton, ownership felt the need to bring in Bob Nicholson. The Oilers have had a credibility problem for awhile now and hiring Nicholson after 16 years running Hockey Canada should have been the bombastic announcement needed for the front office trio to get things in order.

Instead, Nicholson is watching a train wreck of a press conference and hearing how the team's General Manager says he's pissed off and it is all on the players.

If the Oilers want some credibility in Alberta, it might be wise for ownership to allow Nicholson to be something other than a figurehead. Sweeping changes are needed and the first place to start is the alumni suite with MacTavish, Lowe and Howson.

NHL Competition Committee

Remember July 22, 2005?

You don't?

You should.

Those were the good old days.

The NHL Board of Governors announced "a series of rule changes that will emphasize entertainment, skill and competition on the ice."

Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the creation of a new Competition Committee "responsible for making recommendations about rules and related issues to the NHL Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Board."

The objective of the new rules endorsed by the Competition Committee was to "reduce the scope of defensive "tools" a team may effectively employ, and to create a corresponding benefit to the offensive part of the game -- thus allowing skill players to use their skills and increasing the number and quality of scoring chances in the game."

Colin Campbell went so far as to say, "...we felt it was our obligation to recommend a slate of changes that will succeed in doing one thing: entertaining our fans -- both those in the arena and those watching on television."

Fast forward to the current NHL Competition Committee:

NHLPA: David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, Ron Hainsey, Alex Pietrangelo, Cory Schneider

NHL: Randy Carlyle, Ken Holland, David Poile, Ed Snider, Steve Yzerman

Non-Voting: Mathieu Schneider, Colin Campbell

Do you notice something missing, of which is representative of today's NHL?

Not one NHLPA or NHL representative is from Europe.

That must change.

Jean Beliveau (8/31/1931 - 12/2/2014)

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't end this entry with a respectful stick tap upon the passing of the Montreal Canadiens great Jean Beliveau. He was a legend on the ice winning the Stanley Cup ten times as a player and seven times as an executive.

He was a man of class off the ice doing so much for charity.

If you want to read a great remembrance of the man, I'd ask that you read Red Fisher's special for the Montreal Gazette. You won't be disappointed.