Don’t look now but the Penguins are on a three game points streak following Saturday’s win over the Blue Jackets. They will be looking to extend that streak to four game tonight when they kick off a short two-game Western Conference road trip against the Winnipeg Jets. A major reason for the Pens recent success has been the vast improvement in their quality of play, especially on the blue line. That play will need to continue this evening against a Jets side that loves to score goals.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 PM and will be broadcast on AT&T Sports Network.
Get ready for tonight’s contest with a fresh edition of Pens Points...
Tristan Jarry is back in Pittsburgh for the second time this season after being recalled from the AHL. With Matt Murray on the shelf for an extended period of time, Jarry is just focusing on enjoying the ride and making his case to remain with the team once Murray is ready to return. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Missing the Penguins last two games with an unspecified injury, center Derek Grant returned to practice with his teammates on Monday wearing a non-contact jersey. Grant said he did manage to work in some light contact near the end of practice and will travel with the team to Winnipeg and Colorado. [Trib Live]
It seems a change of scenery is doing newly acquired forward Tanner Pearson some good, scoring three goals since coming over from the Los Angeles Kings earlier in the month and providing the Penguins some much needed help on the bottom-six. [Pensburgh]
Through this three game point streak the Penguins are currently on, the team has shown great improvement in the defensive zone. Strong showings against three good offensive teams in the Stars, Bruins, and Blue Jackets have the Penguins feeling optimistic but that new found success will be tested this week. [Trib Live]
One area where this improved defense will shine through is in the Penguins underlying numbers that do not show up in the box score. A rough start to this season pulled the team’s underlying stats down but they have been trending in the right direction recently which bodes well for a turnaround in the standings. [Pensburgh]
While the Penguins defensive unit was struggling to start out this season, one play who fans could not pin the blame on was Kris Letang. The much maligned blue liner has arguably been the Penguins best player this season, returning to his Norris-caliber level of play after a healthy offseason. [Trib Live]
Sidney Crosby has mastered the game of hockey in about every aspect you could imagine. Offense, defense, faceoffs you name it and Crosby can do it. Many of his talents come from endless hours of practice but one area that just comes naturally to Crosby is his ability to process the game better than anybody in history. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
On November 26, 1991, former Penguins head coach Bob Johnson passed away. Just six months removed from leading the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, Johnson was gone after only one season in charge. To this day, Johnson’s legacy still shapes the Penguins franchise in many ways. [Pittsburgh Hockey Now]
News and notes from around the NHL...
Pennsylvania’s other hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, made waves Monday morning with a move very few saw coming. Instead of replacing Dave Hakstol to try and jump start the team, general manager Ron Hextall was relieved of his duties by the front office. [Broad Street Hockey]
Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets had a week to remember and it earned him NHL First Star of the Week honors for his efforts. Laine tallied 11 goals in four games for the Jets, including a pair of hat tricks. Second star honors went to Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning rounded out the weekly trio as the third star. [CBC]