Some random thoughts for your Thursday afternoon..
The Casey DeSmith train will roll on tonight for the 4th straight game.
Coach Sullivan: "The great thing about our goaltending situation is right now we have three very capable guys. I envision all of these guys getting some time. Matt Murray is our #1 guy... We have a lot of flexibility with DeSmith and Jarry as our backup goalies. "— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 25, 2018
It’s a great thing for the Pens that DeSmith is playing so well; it’s allowed Tristan Jarry to go back to the AHL to get some game-action while the NHL is about to shutdown for the weekend’s All-Star game and it allows the team to give Matt Murray all the time he needs (as they should) as he endures the recent loss of his father.
Bryan Rust may be listed as 4th line right winger, but he’s really anything but it. From HockeyViz:
In addition to playing a lot with Tom Kuhnhackl on the 4th line, Rust got shifts with the Malkin-Kessel line and the Crosby-Sheary line on Tuesday night against the Hurricanes.
Rust played 14:48 total at even strength on Tuesday, ranking 4th in that category among Pittsburgh forwards (only Malkin, Crosby and Hornqvist played more ES time).
Expect that to continue even more as he gets his legs and game timing back under him. That could be a key element for the Penguins as they mix and match combos together and rotate around within games to try and get extra shifts for 87 and 71.
Always got to like Bob McKenzie’s coaches polls. Check out the latest here. They really like Tampa and give a lot of love to Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon as the best player in the game. Sidney Crosby gets no love (someone staple this blog to his locker). Only one coach picks the Pens to win the East and the Stanley Cup. I like to imagine that was Barry Trotz.
It’s an out of conference game tonight, but the Wild have a lot of reason for motivation
The Pens division might be about the 8 tightest teams grouped together, but the Central Division is no doubt the toughest in hockey this year. 6 of the current 11 best teams in the league reside in it. (At least) one of them won’t make the playoffs. As of today, Minnesota is the team to draw that short straw, but with game’s in hand they’re right there with STL and DAL. Tonight’s game could be a real knock down, drag out fight of 2 desperate teams on the edge of playoff contention trying desperately to get some points rather than the standard sleepy out of conference game.