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3 Stars of the Week...Not

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Not a ton in the way of positives to start off the season.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Hi guys, I’m Andy. I’m new here. I’m super stoked to be joining the Pensburgh team, and to be writing a weekly column where we’ll eventually be looking at three highlights of the past week.

Eventually.

To start off, we’ll be doing something a bit different - since the back-to-back champs haven’t given us much in the way of positives to start off the season, let’s discuss three things that irked me this week and in no way involve any sort of overreaction thank you for asking.

3. Back to backs

Can we talk about NHL scheduling?

The Pens are tied this season for most games playing a rested team while tired, aka playing a team who did not play the night before while the Pens did play the night before. I won’t go into the gritty details here (you should read that thread above as well as the thread that Micah links to - that dude is a genius), but the gist is that the Pens are getting screwed on the schedule this year. Obviously, that isn’t ideal.

When you’re playing as many back-to-backs as the Pens are this year, you gotta have the depth there. Despite the insufferable arguments of the last year and half, having both Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury proved to be a boon for the team - when you have a starter-quality backup like MAF, it takes a lot of pressure (and workload) off the starter. 82 games is a long season, and backup play like we saw from Antti Niemi (granted, in only 10 minutes of icetime) doesn’t really create an environment of trust there.

2. Greg McKegg

Okay look - I’ve got nothing against Greg McKegg. He seems like a cool dude, and “Kegger” is the best nickname I’ve heard probably ever. My issue isn’t with him per se - more what he represents. Which, and again, through no fault of his own, is that he isn’t Matt Duchene.

Also, this isn’t even about Matt Duchene! He is a very good hockey player and I would love to have him play 3C for the Penguins, but they don’t even necessarily need him!

The issue I’m running into here is that the Penguins just do not currently have a center on the roster that could allow them to run three scoring lines. Again, no disrespect to Kegger and Carter Rowney, but they really just do not provide the vision or skill that a Nick Bonino was able to bring to this 3rd line. As a result, the team is going to have to either 1) increase the workload on the Top 6 or 2) continue playing a Top 9 with less production out of the 3rd line. A quick peak at Corsica shows... wait, what do you mean the McKegg line has gotten more 5v5 TOI than Geno’s line??

In GMJR We Trust and all but that isn’t fun.

1. How Much I’m Liking Ryan Reaves

I honestly, truly yelled when they announced the Reaves trade. It irks me to my core that hockey purists insist there’s a place for players whose sole job isn’t to be good at hockey, not to mention all the health effects of fighting and the types of hits generally dished out by these players.

All that said:

Ryan Reaves is Yinzer Jesus.

He got in two fights on Saturday night and got the first star! And PPG chanted his name! LOOK AT THE HELMET. The city of Pittsburgh is going to be head over heels for this guy, if they aren’t already.

On top of all of that, he hasn’t exactly been a waste of a lineup spot this first week? I mean you can always find a player that’s better than a fourth liner, but from the eye test, he’s skating well, he’s forechecking, and he even had a pretty slick tip-in for a goal on Saturday.

I honestly hate that I’m saying this, but if he keeps not being bad, and doesn’t do anything that gets someone hurt, this could go pretty well, right? Doesn’t even need to actively contribute, just not actively be a negative. And keep wearing that helmet.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Here’s hoping that next week goes better, and we can have a real 3 Stars column on our hands.