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Pens Points: Desert Bound

Pens get an extra day of rest before beginning final stretch of their long western road trip in Arizona on Friday night. Enjoy a day of rest yourself with this morning’s Pens Points.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Slowly but surely, the Penguins are chipping away at this long western road trip, but before they can begin the final stretch they will have an extra day to rest up before facing the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night in the desert. Coming off consecutive losses for the first time since December, the Penguins will look to head into the bye week/All-Star break with some momentum.

Enjoy another rest day with this morning’s Pens Points...

General manager Jim Rutherford was burning the midnight oil, as he traded away forward Derek Grant in a one-for-one swap for fellow forward Joseph Blandisi late Wednesday night. [Pensburgh]

There is no doubt that the Penguins are a good hockey team, but Tuesday night’s loss to the San Jose Sharks should serve as a lesson on just how much room the Pens still have for improvement before the playoffs arrive. [Trib Live]

Next stop for the Penguins is in Arizona on Friday evening where they will take on the Coyotes in game four of this extended road trip. Currently, the Coyotes sit near the bottom of the Western Conference but playing bottom feeders has been no easy task for the Penguins this season. [Trib Live]

Derick Brassard returned to the score sheet with a late and meaningless goal on Tuesday night, but it was at least a step in the right direction. With trade rumors beginning to swirl around the Penguins third line center, Brassard hopes to be more involved on the ice going forward. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Going up against a Sharks team that can roll all four lines exposed the Penguins lack of depth with key players out to injury. Having a guy like Patric Hornqvist in the lineup last night may not have changed the result, but he surely could have made the Penguins more competitive. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Now that Casey DeSmith has a brand new three-year contract extension, it appears as if Tristan Jarry’s time in the Penguins organization is coming to an end. While no one can predict what lies ahead for Jarry, the young goaltender is simply focused on playing well in the AHL. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

College hockey is getting into the meat of its 2018-19 season now that the holidays are past, and there are a few Penguins’ prospects to keep an eye on at the NCAA level this season. Ar Providence College, 2016 second round pick Kasper Bjorkqvist is developing into a top-tier NHL prospect. [Pensburgh]

News and notes from around the NHL...

Love it or hate it, the current NHL playoff format appears to be here to stay, at least as long as Gary Bettman is in charge of running the league. The playoff format has changed various times over the years, and this season’s playoff picture may look different even a decade ago. [Sportsnet]

If you enjoy seeing your favorite players don their home country’s sweaters and play for the pride of their nation, then your best bet is to hold out hope the NHL takes part in the 2022 Winter Olympics. On Wednesday, the NHL and NHLPA announced they will not be pursuing a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 like previously reported. [Second City Hockey]