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Sid joins 66+99, Pittsburgh as a “hub”, and other Penguins thoughts

Finally, some hockey news!

2017 NHL Awards And Expansion Draft Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After over two months of being in a pause due to the NHL shuttering over the global pandemic, the proverbial fire hose of information and news has opened up in the last day as the NHL attempts to finish their 2019-20 season. Here’s some more items on our collective minds today:

Crosby joins Lemieux and Gretzky

The extra-special career of Sidney Crosby is just going to keep piling up accolades. Here’s a cool nugget from Yohe that puts Sid in a class with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

Hub mania

Another big question is just where these games will be played. The plan is to have two host cities, but precisely where the league doesn’t know.

The Canadian cities seem like a formality at this point, since Canada is still mandating a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming into the country, and NHL officials have admitted this rule would make NHL playoffs there a no-go, though at this point they don’t want to rule anything out.

Vegas has long been thought to be a strong contender as a host given the infrastructure setups there. Las Vegas is meant to host big events. Los Angeles seems like an unlikely contender at first glance, given the high rates of infection in that city, but they also have the LA Live complex attached to the Staples Center that includes hotel accomendations. Not a bad place to7build a bubble and play hockey.

A place like Columbus has their practice facility located within the same building complex as their hockey arena. That could be an advantage in the NHL’s eyes for logistics over Pittsburgh, where the UPMC Lemieux practice facility is 20 miles north of the city center and game arena.

Taking a stab at a 28 man roster

I’ve heard and read 28 skaters, plus unlimited goalie. Can’t find the sourcing now with everything flying around. Here’s a crack at how the Penguins could look:

Forwards (17): Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, Conor Sheary, Jason Zucker, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Jared McCann, Nick Bjugstad, Patric Hornqvist, Zach Aston-Reese, Teddy Blueger, Brandon Tanev, Patrick Marleau, Evan Rodrigues, Sam Lafferty, Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson

Defensemen (11): Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, John Marino, Marcus Pettersson, Justin Schultz, Jack Johnson, Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Zach Trotman, Kevin Czuczman, Pierre-Olivier Joseph

Injured and not on active roster: Dominik Simon

Goalies: Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio

It would be cool to see Pierre-Oliver Joseph get a chance to at least skate with the NHL club or black aces this summer, though he almost certainly has 0% chance of playing. Up front the Pens are just stacked and loaded with tons of great options. It feels like in year’s past guys like Rodrigues and even Lafferty would play a lot of playoff games. Now, they’re buried. Can they get Emil Larmi back from Europe? Maybe, who knows. Most tend to believe at this point NHL teams will carry four goalies, just to be totally safe.

Play in to help or hurt

The pause of the season has a lot of side-effects, some good and bad. The double-edged sword definitely applies to the Penguins. On one hand, this pause makes them have to “play in” to the top 16 teams. Had the regular season ended as usual, they had a 96.9% chance of making it, without a play in.

But then again, they also wouldn’t have Jake Guentzel for the playoffs. Plus, important players like Brian Dumoulin and John Marino were coming back from lengthy or painful injuries. A couple months of rest will do them well, too.

In that vein, in a very micro view, would you trade a surefire playoff berth for the risk of having an extra a five game series (against an incredibly weak opponent) in order to have Guentzel back if the Pens advance to play Philly or Washington or whomever else would have awaited anyways?

Seems like the Pens still come out ahead in that perspective. And if they were to play flat and end up losing to Montreal, that probably means they would have lost if their first games were against a PHI/WSH team too, right?