4-21-14: The Penguins are lucky. Very lucky. Overall, they have played sloppy in the first two games of their series against the Blue Jackets. They came back from a 3-1 deficit in game one to beat the Blue Jackets. They followed that up by blowing a 3-1 lead in game two in double overtime. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has looked good in net, but it’s the Pens defense and bottom two lines that have been suspect.
4-14-14: With a massive lead on the rest of the Metropolitan Division, Pittsburgh had the ability to play subpar hockey. That turned out to be fortunate, given that the club managed only one regulation win in April. 28 active goalies have 20 games or more of playoff experience. Of those 28, none have a save percentage lower than Fleury's .903. The Pens' biggest postseason problem in recent years has been in goal. That needs to change this season against Columbus.
4-7-14: The Penguins are 4-2-1 in their past seven as they slowly get healthy. They are locked into the second spot in the Eastern Conference, which means they will draw the top wild-card team, which is currently Detroit. With Paul Martin out of the lineup after the Olympics, the Penguins went 7-7-1. His return to the lineup will be welcomed by the Penguins for the postseason. As always, the Pens are one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
3-31-14: The Pens have been scuffling lately as they’re 5-5-1 in their last eleven games. They have been bitten by the injury bug as Evgeni Malkn is out two to three weeks with a toe injury. They had a big victory over the Blackhawks this past Sunday. The reality is, the Penguins will only go as far as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin take them this season. They’re still a dangerous team come playoff time, but can be beaten.
3-25-14: The Penguins bounced back from a home and home sweep at the hands of the Flyers two weekends ago to go 2-1-1 this past week. They won’t catch the Bruins for first place in the East. They appear to be the No. 2 seed and will likely face the top wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs. The Pens are 0-4 in March when Sidney Crosby fails to register a point. When he gets a point, the Penguins are 6-0.
3-17-14: The Penguins were the best team in the East for most of the year, but they have been caught and passed by the surging Bruins. They have not looked like a great team in recent weeks and the injuries to Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, and James Neal don’t help. Are the Pens one of the best teams in the NHL or have they benefited from a bad conference and division? I think it’s a fair question to ask. Not getting a top scoring winger at the deadline to play alongside Crosby could come back and haunt the Pens.
3-10-14: The Penguins will wrap up their five-game roadtrip this Monday in Washington with a chance to win three out of their last five. The Penguins were dominated by Chicago in the stadium series game. They did beat Anaheim in a shootout last Friday, but I think injuries are what is going to keep this team out of Stanley Cup Finals. No Paul Martin. No Kris Letang. No Pascal Dupuis. GM Ray Shero needed to make a splash and acquire a winger to play with Crosby. He did not. Instead, he picked up Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak.
3-3-14: Two games out of the Olympics and two losses in which the Pens allowed 10 goals. Pittsburgh could be in trouble defensively with Kris Letang and Paul Martin missing for long periods of time. Look for GM Ray Shero to be active. They will win the Atlantic even with a depleted lineup, but they could be in danger of giving up the overall lead in the East to Boston over the final six weeks. Four of the Penguins' next five games are on the road, where they are 17-12-2.
2-10-14: Pittsburgh continues to roll along, going 4-1-1 in their past six games played. They played the final five games of that stretch without defenseman Kris Letang, who was diagnosed with a stroke and will miss at least six weeks. The Pens will be no worse than the top team in the Metropolitan, which assures them home-ice advantage in the first two rounds. The key will be holding off the Boston Bruins, who are now five points back with one game in hand.
2-3-14: Pittsburgh has been winning roughly two-thirds of its games, but is just .500 over its last four contests, beating Los Angeles and Buffalo but falling to Dallas and Phoenix. The Penguins have a five point lead on Boston for the top slot in the Eastern Conference, and a 15-point lead on the Rangers for the Metropolitan Division crown. Pittsburgh will be active at the trade deadline and one name to watch out for is Nashville’s David Legwand. He’s the perfect Dan Bylsma type player.
1-27-14: The Penguins just keep on playing well as they went 2-1-0 last week and are 7-2-1 in the month of January. They continue to be the class of the East and either the Bruins or Lightning will need to heat up over the final 30 games to unseat them in the conference. Sidney Crosby was held without a point in the Penguins' 3-0 loss to the Stars on Saturday. It was the third time in 13 games he was held off the scoresheet.
1-20-14: The Pens have gone 5-0-1 since the New Year, with an overtime loss to Edmonton as the only blemish on their record. Pittsburgh has a healthy lead on Boston for first place in the Eastern Conference, but seems unlikely to catch up to Anaheim for the Presidents' Trophy. Sidney Crosby's having a mediocre season by his standards with his worst points-per-game total since 2009-10. However, he has 10-point cushion on everybody else in the NHL.
1-13-14: It is business as usual for the Penguins, who continue dominant. The Pens are 4-0-1 in January with their only loss coming in overtime with backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff in net. The top spot in the East appears to be in their future. The question will be if they can capture the Presidents' Trophy by virtue of playing in the weaker East. With a .918 save percentage, Marc-Andre Fleury is having his best season in that category since he had a .921 save percentage in 2007-08.
1-7-14: Pittsburgh has four regulation wins in its last five games played and is 16-3-1 in its last 20.With 63 points, the Penguins have a 17-point lead on Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division and sit only four points out of first place in the NHL. Jussi Jokinen cleared waivers last season and then was dealt to Pittsburgh in exchange for a draft pick. Since that trade Jokinen has 41 points in 54 regular-season games for the Penguins.
12-30-13: The Pens are an unstoppable force. They are 14-2 in their past 16 games. They've also done a lot of that damage with an injury-riddled defense corps and key offensive guys out as well. Everyone in the East is chasing the Penguins, and that will likely be the case throughout the season. Since returning from a five-game suspension for kneeing the head of Boston's Brad Marchand, left winger James Neal has four goals and six assists in five games.
12-23-13: The Pens have won seven straight games and 12 of their last 13, with the lone loss by a single goal at the hands of the Bruins. Pittsburgh's incredible has propelled the team to first in the East by a healthy five-point margin. In the Penguins' last game against Calgary, the team dressed eight skaters who spent significant portions of last season in either junior or the minors. Just wait until this team is full healthy again.
12-16-13: Pittsburgh is crippled with injuries to their blue line as Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi are all out. The Pens are 8-1 in their past nine contests and they won 4-1 in Detroit this past Saturday with backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff in net. Pittsburgh is a lock to win the Metropolitan division, so the question becomes if they'll finish with the conference's best record or not. Evgeni Malkin’s injury could be a concern for Penguins fans.
12-9-13: The Penguins won two games early last week, including a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, but those wins are overshadowed by what happened in last Saturday's game against Boston. Brooks Orpik is injured after being punched in the head by the Bruins Shawn Thornton, and James Neal is facing a suspension after a nasty knee to the head shot at Brad Marchand. Rearguard Matt Niskanen has a surprising plus-15 rating on the season.
12-2-13: The Penguins won three of the four games they played this past week and picked up a point for an overtime loss to Boston in the other game they played. Aside from Boston, the Pens' opponents weren't that tough. Pittsburgh destroyed Florida and Tampa Bay and outshot Toronto by a 2:1 ratio, including 19-0 from the end of the second period on, in a 6-5 shootout win. Evgeni Malkin had nine points in four games this past week and now has four goals, 13 assists for 17 points in his last eight games.
11-25-13: The Penguins had a good overall week going 3-1, picking up wins over Anaheim, Washington, and the New York Islanders. They did lose a game to Montreal though. They have a huge game in Boston versus the Bruins this week. This game will be true measuring stick to how well the Pens stack up against the B’s. Sidney Crosby’s 30 points lead the NHL and Evgeni Malkin’s 22 assists are tops in the entire league.
11-18-13: The struggles continue for the Pens as they dropped two out of three games last week. They lost a close 2-1 game to the Flyers and followed that up by losing 4-1 to New Jersey. Their lone win came against Nashville. Marc-Andre Fleury started off the year well, but his play has slipped lately. He won his first seven games and had a 0.930 save percentage in that stretch. Fleury suffered his first loss on October 21 and since then has gone 4-7-0 with a 0.909 save percentage.
11-12-13: It was another tough week for the Pens as they dropped both games they played to the Rangers and Blues. Surprisingly, Pittsburgh has struggled to score recently as they were outscored by a 7-2 margin this week. Despite their struggles, the Pens still have the second best record in the East. Evgeni Malkin quietly has 15 points in 17 games this season. The Pens should get some more scoring to their lineup as James Neal returned last week from injury.
11-5-13: The Penguins has a perfect week beating Carolina, Boston, and Columbus twice outscoring their opponents 13-5. Crosby’s 23 points in 15 games gives him a three point lead over Steve Stamkos for the NHL point lead. He’s the most dominant player in the NHL. Pittsburgh is still banged up but they continue to win. Marc-Andre Fleury is having a bounce back year and is the first goalie in the NHL to record double digit wins this season.
10-29-13: After their hot start, the Pens have dropped three straight. It all started with a 1-0 shutout loss to the hands of the red hot Colorado Avalanche. They outshot Colorado 34-14, they outshot the Islanders 42-25 in a 4-3 loss, and outshot the Leafs 38-29 in a 4-1 loss. Sometimes good teams lose games. That’s exactly the case with the Penguins. They will be fine. Once they get James Neal and Kris Letang back from injury, the Penguins will be a scary force.
10-21-13: Right now, the Penguins are class of the Eastern Conference. Sidney Crosby leads the NHL with 17 points and once again is proving why he’s the best player in the world. The line of Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis have combined for 36 points this season. Sky’s the limit for the Penguins. Just think about how much more deadly this team will be once Kris Letang and James Neal return from injury. It’s a scary thought for opposing goaltenders.
10-14-13: No one should be surprised that the Pittsburgh Penguins currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division. Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in points early on and is second in goals behind San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl. Crosby has a point in all five games this season, which is his longest point streak to start a season since a six-game stretch in October of 2005. Defenseman Kris Letang is still nursing a lower-injury and there in no timetable for his return.
10-7-13: There is not much to say about the Penguins. They have been workmanlike in their two victories against New Jersey and Buffalo. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world. The only concern the Penguins have is star winger James Neal is sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
8-23-13: After being swept out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals last season by the Boston Bruins, the Penguins have their eyes set on Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Penguins are the favorites once again to hoist the Cup, but there are question marks in the Steel City. Can goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury regain his old form? Will Crosby remain healthy? Is head coach Dan Byslma on the hot seat? All these questions remain to be seen. The Pens welcome the Bruins to the Consol Energy Center on Oct. 30 in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. The Penguins will visit the Blackhawks on Mar. 1 at Soldier Field.
8-22-13: The Penguins have hired longtime NHL head coach Jacques Martin to be an assistant under Dan Bylsma. Martin, 60, was a head coach in the NHL for 17 seasons St. Louis, Ottawa, Florida and Montreal. During his time as a head coach, Martin compiled a record of 613-481-119. The 613 wins are the 10th most for a head coach in NHL history.
Penguins 2013 NHL Draft Summary:
Pick #44: Tristan Jarry, G
Pick #77: Jake Guentzel, C
Pick #119: Ryan Segalla, D
Pick #164: Dane Birks, D
Pick #179: Blaine Byron, C
Pick #209: Troy Josephs, C