Some random Friday thoughts to get us through the day:
Nice piece by Wes “no relation” Crosby today about the Penguin captain prepping and getting a little retrospective about playing in NHL game No. 1,200 tomorrow:
Sidney Crosby, on the verge of his 1,200th game, has 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in 9 this season.— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) November 3, 2023
But Pittsburgh is 3-6-0.
“You don’t just love it when it’s good to you. You love it when it’s tough and when it’s difficult too."
Read it Here: https://t.co/wAFGB9ITU7 #Pens
“Like anything, there’s challenges and adversity,” Crosby said. “You get through it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.
“I feel pretty fortunate to be doing it. So, I try not to complain, that’s for sure.”
It’s nice to see quotes like that, and remember how spoiled and reactionary we can be after all the success to whine and moan about systems and coaches following every lost. Just sayin’.
It was slightly under the radar, but don’t sleep on the fact the Penguins made a signing yesterday. The Wilkes-Barre Penguins, that is:
Mark Pysyk was in Pittsburgh’s NHL camp as a pro tryout in September, before suffering an injury. The door is being held open for him, if his body will hold up and allow him to walk through it. The Penguins have kept Pysyk in town following his injury, he’s been occasionally seen on the ice before practices working out. That was a strong indication that the team hadn’t closed the door on his comeback attempt, and now he’s apparently ready for that next step to get some games in.
The AHL level pro tryout gives Pysyk up to 25 games down in the minors. It’s a no risk, low commitment move by the team at this point that does not yet give Pysyk one of the team’s 50 standard NHL contracts. If Pysyk can prove the torn achilles from 2022 is behind him and can help in Pittsburgh, he’ll be in line to get that contract and called up to the NHL. If he can’t hold up, the team can move on with no lasting effect.
Given the weak and unimpressive state of the NHL third pair, the Pens are surely hoping that Pysyk can eventually add something to the NHL roster. However, it’s worth remembering that this a player who has not played a game in 19 months and couldn’t make it through camp in one piece. It’s very much up in the air for just how capable his body will allow him to be at this point.
That said, it certainly won’t hurt to give him more time and see if a potential answer for the blueline can be conjured up. It won’t be today or tomorrow, but it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if Pysyk is physically able to round into form. If so, it could be a fairly important development for Pittsburgh’s season.
It’s very truly sad that it took the death of a player to bring change, but if there is any sort of positive from the passing of Adam Johnson, it does look like change is coming in response to improve safety for other players.
Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin was the first NHLer to wear neck protection, TJ Oshie followed suit yesterday in his first game since the tragedy. Four Penguins tested them out yesterday at practice. Pittsburgh has also mandated that the players on their minor league affiliates in the AHL and ECHL must wear them (such a declaration can’t be made unilaterally by teams/league at the NHL level without NHLPA input).
Karlsson on wearing a neck guard at today's practice: "Just trying it out, it is available for us. I don’t think it is a bad thing, and I’ll probably try it out for a bit and see if I can get accustomed to it and go from there." pic.twitter.com/KFcJgDuPUK— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 2, 2023
Fans might see this and wonder why any resistance or push back to a measure to make the game safer. In this instance, adding a layer to one area that can shed heat will be an adjustment and change. However, unlike adding a full face cage that would limit vision and hinder ability to make plays with the puck, adding a layer on the neck (or wrists, or ankles) to protect against skate blades is more style/comfort issue than a performance one.
“You’re a little warmer and things like that, but comparing what could happen versus wearing that, it’s a pretty small detail,” Graves said. “So, it’s a work in progress. I think that guys will start experimenting with them. You wear it all through minor hockey. If you look back like 15 years ago, no one wore visors. I would never play without one now. So maybe this will be part of it, and it’ll become something that’s second nature to us.”
Graves has a big scar on his chin after getting clipped with a skate up high two years ago. At the time, he said it didn’t cross his mind to wear more protection. But between what happened to Johnson and the overall pace of play, Graves is reconsidering his options.
“It’s a fast game. It’s getting faster every year that it goes on,” Graves said. “You trust that guys can control their bodies, and you don’t want skates to get that high, but it happens. It’s scary what happens, you know? Everyone’s had close calls.”
It’s human nature to resist change, but in this instance it looks like momentum is picking up very quickly for added protection to hockey players. It’s just unfortunate that it cost losing a life to show that importance, but sadly that tends to be the catalyst for widespread change.
The Penguins finally made a change to their forward lines in practice. Jeff Carter didn’t skate on the fourth line or the power play, indications that the struggling veteran forward will not be in the lineup tomorrow night against San Jose. Vinnie Hinostroza would be playing in his stead.
Hinostroza on practicing on the fourth line today: "It is my goal to help this team win and play as many games as I can. If I am able to step in there - I'll be prepared. I try to stay on top of my game every day there in practice, so just try to stay ready." pic.twitter.com/9leLggbH7r— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 2, 2023
It will be interesting to see how long this roster permutation lasts. This situation isn’t Jack Johnson with 3, 4, 5 years remaining on a sizeable contract and no choice for the coach and organization but to play the veteran despite on ice results. It’s a circumstance where a player has nothing positive left to add, yet his contract pins him to the NHL roster. (And at times the salary cap will force out room for alternatives like Hinostroza, who is only able to be on the team as an LTIR replacement for an injured player).
Tough place to be in for player, coaches/managers and the organization. Carter is a prideful person, as he should be with all his achievements. Wouldn’t expect him to instantly develop an allergic reaction to his equipment, but how he responds and how long he’s watching from the press box will be pretty compelling.
Speaking of things going poorly, did you see the late night result of the Pens’ next opponent last night?
Canucks capitalize on power play in 10-1 win over San Jose Sharks.— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 3, 2023
READ | https://t.co/MQw8UjuhCx
Woof. The loss drops San Jose to 0-9-1 on the year. They’ve scored a total of only 10 goals all year. And given up a whopping 45 against.
This is historically bad.
But also kinda scary. I mean, no one can be that bad forever. Even when realizing they’re not good at all, no team of NHL caliber players loses every single game. Is getting shelled and giving up 10 enough to buckle down and play for pride or something else?
None of this serves to excuse the Penguins, they are the better team than San Jose and should absolutely go out and beat them like a drum tomorrow night. But the Sharks are going to win against someone eventually, right? They can’t lose forever. But for Pittsburgh’s sake, they better be able to add another game to the Sharks’ terrible start.