15 Pens thoughts
Yeah, it's a rip off of what Elliotte Friedman does over at CBC (and with only half the work!) but let's take a look at some thoughts in, around and about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
#1 - As Pensburgh friend Eric on twitter recently pointed out, 28 of the 30 NHL teams have two goalies on one-way contracts. This could bode well for when the Pens waive either Thomas Greiss or Jeff Zatkoff (and probably, Zatkoff), for getting him through waivers. If a team wanted the Pens castoff, they would have to waive another goalie, or carry 3, which they are loathe to do. So, unless a team likes them more than their own guy, it's probably not going to happen.
The two teams that don't have full a compliment of goalies? One is New Jersey, who has veteran backup Scott Clemmensen battling with AHL starter Keith Kincaid for the backup role behind Cory Schenider. The other is Winnipeg, who has 24 year old AHL starter Michael Hutchinson penciled in behind Ondrej Pavelec right now on the depth chart.
#2- Interesting switcheroo of the defensemen lately- Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff practiced together in the early days, as did Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang. But for this first exhibition games, Martin and Scuderi played together, while tonight Ehrhoff and Letang will go. How all the new pairings mesh will be a huge part of the season.
#3- Speaking of defensemen, Simon Despres might be a candidate for a huge breakout. From the PG, there were nice comments about him from assistant coach Gary Agnew (who handles the defense). We've been waiting years for Despres' breakout year, but better late than never, right?
#4- Nick Spaling, 2nd line left winger? We tried to hint at this earlier, and it's looking close to reality, especially if they decide to use Steve Downie and Beau Bennett as the wingers for Brandon Sutter.
#5- If Downie-Sutter-Bennett is a 3rd line, what an improvement that would be. In Sutter's two years as a Penguin, his most common linemates have been Matt Cooke, Tanner Glass, Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams.
#6 - Which just goes to show the plan often changes and is at the mercy of unforseen injuries. Hopefully that doesn't happen this time around, but it can't be guaranteed.
#7- The race for the 4th line seems wide open, penalty killing might be a key decider. Sutter, Spaling, Pascal Dupuis and Marcel Goc are lineup staples that can play normal shifts on the PK. Adams was a regular contributor in years past, too. Besides that most of the new guys (Downie, Blake Comeau) are not very accomplished PK'ers. Getting another PK body could be important for that contested spot in the lineup.
#8- 16 days until the season opens and it's been, reportedly, 2 weeks since Evgeni Malkin got injured with no updates and no sight of him on the ice. The team said it would be a minor injury, but when do you start worrying he won't be ready when the season starts? The team only has 9 games in the month of October this year (compared to 13 last year in the Olympic schedule), at least.
#9- Congrats to the Penguins video staff for winning 2 Emmy's. They're really good at what they do, and we as fans benefit from their hard work.
#10- Courtesy of Bovada, if you're a gambling fan:
Who will win the 2014 Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player?
Sidney Crosby (PIT) 7/4
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) 6/1
Steven Stamkos (TB) 6/1
John Tavares (NYI) 8/1
Alex Ovechkin (WAS) 12/1
Claude Giroux (PHI) 15/1
Tyler Seguin (DAL) 15/1
Evgeni Malkin (PIT) 15/1
Who will win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's points leader?
Sidney Crosby (PIT) 1/1
Steven Stamkos (TB) 3/1
Alex Ovechkin (WAS) 17/2
John Tavares (NYI) 10/1
Evgeni Malkin (PIT) 10/1
#11 - Those are nice, but you won't make a lot of money betting on Sid, especially when you weigh it against the injury odds. Kris Letang also checks in at 9th best odds (14-1) to win the Norris, that's probably the best play* if you wanted some action.
*Non-licensed and just for fun, natch. Please don't send your shark after me
#12- Meesh from Pens Nation on Patric Hornqvist from his Penguins debut last night:
Aside from scoring, Hornqvist showed off everything that's great about his game against Detroit. With a team-leading seven shots, he demonstrated he can put the puck on net from anywhere on the ice and in any situation. One aspect of his game that is extremely impressive is his footwork around the crease and his ability to pivot with or around the puck. He was extremely efficient in screening the goalie and then making quick turns to play the puck or man as necessary. He was also a terror in the offensive zone with quick bursts to the corners that disrupted a few clears by the Red Wings.
#13- A longstanding prediction here is that Hornqvist will impress. He's had a 30 goal season before. In a separate year he's had a 30 assist season. James Neal didn't have those types of numbers before coming to Pittsburgh. Although, true, Neal was younger, but he also had a better center in Dallas (Brad Richards) than Hornqvist had in Nashville.
#14- Continuing the betting trend, who scores more goals- Neal in Nashville or Hornqvist in Pittsburgh? If healthy, both might well end up in the 30 range.
#15- WB/S camp opens on Saturday, so expect some cuts soon. The dream of making an NHL club is short-lived for some, but hey, it means we're one step closer to the start of the real season.