clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

10 Pens Thoughts: A golden time for goalies, penalty kill, Pouliot and more!

Some news and notes on the Pittsburgh Penguins including: Eric Fehr's fast start is unusual (and awesome), the Pens PK has quietly been really good, Derrick Pouliot's shot at getting back to the NHL in the wake of his troubles, Pens d-pairings and more!

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

#1: Food for thought: the first time Eric Fehr left the Capitals was for the 2011-12 season, he went to Winnipeg, and scored 2 goals and 1 assist in 35 games in a dreadful season. He'd go back after the 2012 lockout and regain his footing back in DC.

It took 2 games in Pittsburgh (coming off an elbow surgery no less) for him to match that exact same 2g+1a stat line. At age 29 Fehr has seemingly found his niche.

#2: This is a golden time for the 4 goalies the Pens have signed to NHL contracts. Sure, small sample size and all but the save %'s for them read really well:

  • .939% (Marc-Andre Fleury)
  • .943% (Jeff Zatkoff and yeah he's only played one game)
  • .944% (Matt Murray)
  • .938% (Tristan Jarry and yeah only two games played)

#3: Think the drunkness citation for Derrick Pouliot will delay his path back to the NHL? Would seem like he needs more maturation. And, really the defensemen-not-named-Kris Letang are playing OK right now. No need to see Pouliot back anytime soon, or so it seems. Though injuries can change that in a hurry.

#4: And the reports said Pouliot was released from the police station to "an adult". Who got that honor? Team captain Tom Kostopolous? He's so old and has a family, I would hope not. Pouliot's d-partner Steve Oleksy? Another teammate he's boys with? The crazy things to think about.

#5: Gotta give credit to the OG Bob Grove on this one

There were a lot of questions about the Pens PK. And certainly, the credit starts with Fleury's great performance. But the skaters are performing well too.

#6: Maybe we should turn this into the 10 thoughts on Bob Grove tweets (not a bad idea!)

Just shows how great Lemieux was. He scored 23 short-handed goals (13 and 10) in 1987-88 and 1988-89. We'll never see another one like 66 with his size, reach, anticipation and ability. Plus the game was more wide-open and goalies weren't as good but still.

#7: After playing pretty well, David Perron finally broke through Wednesday for his first goal of the season. Goal scorers are notoriously streaky and often see them come in bunches. If Perron gets on track and opens up more room for Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel (both of whom have played well) look out. That's a #1 line right there.

#8: Not to break our arms patting our back but in last Pens Thoughts we said watch for Pittsburgh's scoring to go up based on favorable opponents. Since then, starting with the Washington game the Pens have scored 3, 4, 4 and 3 goals. That's not huge, but considering the dreadful offensive start the team had, it's a big improvement.

After two more favorable matchups, next week could be challenging when the Pens return back home from the west- sandwiched around dreadful Columbus they play Montreal on Monday and the John Hynes led Devils next Saturday. Should be a real test to see how consistent the goal production will be.

#9: Should be interesting to see if the Pens decide to change anything up, or continue to let their pairings gel and hopefully grow. Kris Letang and Ian Cole, for example, have some rocky underlying numbers.

The results are better than the process (thanks to Fleury bailing everyone out) but will the team identify and change this up before they get burned? Or wait and ride it out? Something to keep an eye on.

#10: Love, love, love this sequence in today's Trib on Evgeni Malkin

The 48 seconds per game Malkin averages on the penalty kill are 18 more than he averaged the past six years combined. He's being deployed in more shorthanded situations, similar to how he was used during his career-high, 113-point season in 2008-09, when he averaged 1:04 of shorthanded time per game.

The extra work isn't easy, and it has required some extra attention, but Malkin's not about to complain.

"I'm still learning," Malkin said. "I've not played on the PK for the last eight years. It's new for me. I like it. It should help for the playoffs. In tight games, you need to focus on the defensive zone first. I think it's helped me."

That's very encouraging for Pens fans. Malkin's like the smartest kid in class, he needs to be pushed, he needs to be challenged. The regular game comes way too easy for him, and it would be easy to settle into a comfort zone.

Playing Malkin short-handed like the Pens have done this season is a good way to make him use all the different parts of his game, and challenge him to play a different role. A more detail-oriented one too Malkin has responded to the challenge very well, and has been probably the most visible, consistent and best skater on the team in just about every single game for the Pens.