The Penguins welcome the Capitals into The Paint Can with as much enthusiasm as you had waiting for your first colonoscopy. As you can see the season series has been lopsided in the last two, with the Caps outscoring the Pens 12-3. The Penguins are currently on their first three game losing streak of the Mike Sullivan era, and while it hasn’t exactly been fun to watch it also isn’t time to hit the panic button yet. Unfortunately for the Pens, the Capitals have won 9 in a row and are once again reaching their stride as a dominating regular season team, so snapping the current skid will be a tough challenge tonight. Fortunately for the Pens, the Capitals have won 9 in a row and are once again reaching their stride as a dominating regular season team. The big question mark going into this game is Kris Letang, after suffering a leg injury in Detroit the Penguins have been completely silent on Letang’s status. If Letang can’t go, the Penguins will be down 2 of their top 4 defenders facing a Capitals team that has outscored it’s opponents 20-3 in their last four games. In other words, would it really surprise anyone out there for the Pens to pull this off tonight? The game is on NBCSN again… so yay. It is also at home in Pittsburgh, where the team has posted an unreal 18-2-2 record this season (don’t look at the road record, whatever you do).
Surprisingly we haven’t featured the Capitals on our Gomez gallery yet this season! Probably because it is ridiculously obvious who gets this award.
This is rumored to be the look on his face when originally presented with the contract. He thought it was 550,000 per year, until his agent laughed and said “No Brooks, there is another 0 in there”
Orpik is signed at 5.5 million per year for two more years after this one. He will be 38 years old in the final year of that contract, and the Capitals will have an option of buying him out, and then having to pay him over a million dollars for 3 more years. That’s some smart negotiating for a team that can’t reach the Stanley Cup because their defense isn’t up to par.
The Capitals will have Holtby in net after using Grabdik last night. The Capitals also have zero injuries and will be at 100% tonight, minus the fatigue of playing back-to-backs. The Penguins on the other hand are a giant question mark. Sullivan once again rolled with the ineffective Sheary-Crosby-Rust line in Detroit, and has hopefully realized that the line isn’t working. Fehr has been sitting in the press box in favor of Kuhnhackl recently, but I suspect Fehr to be back in the lineup against the Caps since the Pens will need all of the defensive help they can get. As for the defense, if Letang is out then look the fuck out. The defensive pairings will be mixed up in an effort to try to match the Capitals offense, but with Olesky, Ruhwedel and Maatta there will be a mismatch somewhere. Unfortunately for the Pens, the biggest mismatch opportunity for the Caps is Kuznetsov’s speed against Maatta’s inability to move faster than the speed of smell. This game is truly going to come down to the Penguins offense getting back to what made them so successful in the first half of the season, a high pressure forecheck that forces the opponents to play to their speed. Sullivan called the team out last game saying they weren’t trying to outplay teams, just outscore them, and he is right. The Penguins have lost the fundamentals that got them here, and it is now on Sullivan and the coaching crew to get them back. It should be an interesting game tonight, and I am sure NBCSN will make it all the more enjoyable with their flawless coverage of hockey.
LET’S GO PENS
PENS BLOW the Joe...tough one to swallow...pick a porn.
3) “That thing’s rock hard down there.” -- Ken Daniels (33%, 8 Votes)
9) "I can honestly tell you I didn't know they were that big" -- Steigy (25%, 6 Votes)
6) "It feels like its a big one" -- Crosby (17%, 4 Votes)
1) "He has a chance to penetrate a bit here and works it down low" -- Steigy (13%, 3 Votes)
8) "That's the biggest one I've seen" -- Steigy (8%, 2 Votes)
7) “Athanasiou and Daley came together.” -- Ken Daniels (4%, 1 Votes)
5) “Schultz did a really good job of spreading himself out.” -- Mickey 'GOOBER' Redmond (0%, 0 Votes)
10) "A strong bottom hand from Neilson and he buries it" -- Jay (0%, 0 Votes)
2) “All the Penguins came in hard.” -- Mickey 'GOOBER' Redmond (0%, 0 Votes)
4) “To the slot and it wouldn’t go.” -- Ken Daniels (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 24
HERE WE GO
4th round HP POLL…GAME 31 through 40
M L ‘PORN’ King POLL…”I have a wet dream”
These are some HAWT rods...gonna be HARD to pick just one.
Game 38: "Crosby just whacked off with his left hand." -- Errey (59%, 13 Votes)
Game 33: “They all touched it, all 5 men touched it.” -- Errey (27%, 6 Votes)
Game 32: “Stopped by Hyman for a moment.” -- Jim Hughson (5%, 1 Votes)
Game 34: "Bonino's got that Kessel's Stick Disease." -- Errey (5%, 1 Votes)
Game 35: "Cullen doing the job. On two knees." -- Errey (5%, 1 Votes)
Game 31: "It'll be a big hole to fill." -- Brian Boucher (0%, 0 Votes)
Game 39: "And then the chance in tight, just jam, jam, jam." -- Errey (0%, 0 Votes)
Game 37: "Staal tries the reach-around on Pouliot." -- Steigy (0%, 0 Votes)
Game 36: "Fleury sees it at the last second and squeezes the pillows." -- Steigy (0%, 0 Votes)
Game 40: "Good scissors with the legs by Fleury." -- Eddie O (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 22
Games 1-10 champion:Game 4: “Taste it, you just taste it. You don’t sit there and guzzle it, you just taste it. Okay?” “I think at the end of the night there will be some guzzling” — Errey
Games 11-20 champion:Game 16: “They are talking about bad stuff, nasty stuff. Stuff that I think Doc likes to see from time to time” — McGuire “Yes, depending on the circumstances” — Emerick
Games 21-30 champion:Game 28: “Feels good when it’s goin in…you want to ride it as long as you can.” — Crosby
The Penguins continue taking their show on the road tonight as they pay one final visit to The Joe in Detroit. It only makes sense that the Redwings are getting a new hockey arena, considering that the entire city is nothing but vacant buildings there is plenty of locations to choose from. It is also fitting that the Redwings will be ending their playoff streak in their final season at The Joe, taking away the cities last saving grace and respectable feature. To commemorate The Joe Detroit has posted a huge 7-10-3 mark at home, adding to the delicious decision of Detroit to build a new arena that the city can’t afford because there aren’t any taxpayers left for a team that will be rebuilding for the first 3 years of said buildings existence to play in.
The Redwings currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and are starting their back-up’s back-up’s equipment manager in goal tonight, so this one is probably a 7-1 blow out for Detroit. Rumors are Mike Sullivan is feeling a little sensitive and will be starting Marc-Andre Fleury in goal one last time at The Joe, because Fleury has some sort of memories there or something:
Every time I hear Athanasiou I hear “HAPPY TO SEE YOU,” and now you will too, you’re welcome. Am I the only person that forgot Vanek was still in the league? I’m not kidding this time, I truly thought he retired like 2 years ago or something. Sullivan has been sticking with Olesky despite the fact that he takes 1.5 penalties per game, so he will probably do that again. I absolutely refuse to put Rust and Sheary on the first line so I will not adjust that graphic and you can’t make me. Like I said above, Fleury is rumored to start but after a subpar performance by Murray against Ottawa I wouldn’t mind seeing him again. Who in the hell are these guys on Detroit’s defense? Mike fucking Green, who reportedly is upset about the new arena because he will now have to ride his vespa through a famously occupied bloods area, and Dickeyser are the only names I know. I thought I knew Ouellet, until I discovered it is Xavier Ouellet… Also what happened to Steve Ott?
The Penguins enter tonight following back to back regulation losses for the first time in over a season. They face a team that has struggled in every way this year except for one (Detroit is 5-0 in shootouts….woo). This game results in two things, a Detroit Pistol Whip as the Penguins decide now is a good time to reestablish their alpha dominance over the league, or a Pittsburgh Pussy Show and we all pretend that we didn’t care because we are more interested in the Steelers game tomorrow. Regardless of the result, just remember that you don’t live in fucking Detroit, so that makes you a winner.
This game was rubbish. I am not from Britain so I don’t know if I am allowed to say rubbish on here, but we are followed by the official British Penguins Fan Club on Twitter so fuck it. I am going to keep the recap a bit short today, because I want to dive in a bit on the first half of the season. In recap, the bye week was good for the old guys, bad for the young guys. This is a problem because the team has 3 old guys and 20 young guys. You can just see that the team doesn’t have the legs under them, and a major part of that is from the disruption in the schedule.
Mike Condon played out of his freaking mind. Unreal performance, probably has 17 voicemails from Durex looking into a partnership
Kris Letang hasn’t been very good the last two games. Is it trying to do too much in Dumoulin’s absence? Probably. Is it because Letang is a stupid lazy overpaid idiot? Most likely. Bottom line, and I know it is super easy for a loser like me to say this, but when a key defender goes down the Pens need Letang to step up his defensive game by being more sound, not by trying to do more.
Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored in like 11 periods or something, rumor is he is no longer elite and will be replaced by Claude Giroux at the all-star game
Tommy Kuhndawg finally cracked the lineup. Kuhnhackl looked like a player with good potential that has been benched for 4 weeks.
Sheary-Crosby-Rust line isn’t working folks, please retire it.
Reuniting HBK when down in a game is a smart move, I feel this is the best way to roll with that line. It obviously didn’t work, but I have no issues with Sullivan trying to bring in some momentum.
Matt Murray gave the entire league a “how to score on Matt Murray demo,” it involves deflections. Murray is extremely well positioned on every shot, and as we’ve mentioned almost every shot hits him in the chest. This means that once the puck is deflected it is just a prayer, but since Murray is Jesus who answer’s Jesus’s prayers? Don’t be surprised if we see teams start to take long shots with lots of traffic on MMX in the future
Good money should be spent finding out what Mike Sullivan said to get ejaculated, I mean ejected, here is our good friend Brendan with a demonstration of how Sullivan’s voice carries:
It has been over a season since the Penguins last dropped 2 straight games in regulation (over 90 games according to Steigy, but consider the source). That is pretty incredible. We are now at the halfway mark of the season, so let’s have a quick breakdown of that:
Record: 26-10-5. Points recorded in 31/41 games = 57/82 points= 69.5%
If the Pens were to produce an identical record in the second half they would finish with a 52-20-10 record and 114 points. Last season the Capitals won the President’s trophy with 120 points, so finishing at 114 ain’t too shabby. In fact, the Penguins haven’t finished a season with more than 110 points since 92-93.
In conclusion: 6 months after lifting the Stanley Cup the Penguins are sitting in a comfortable spot as they gear up to do it again, and you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Of course with all that being said I don’t think the Pens have come close to hitting their full potential this year, both on the ice or in the GM box. Major kudos to Jim Rutherford for his patience, or more probable his napping, and not trading away Fleury at the beginning of the year when Pittsburgh Media demanded it necessary. Now however, I would expect Grandpa Jimmy to open up his “box” and start making some calls to figure out how he can attempt to forever cement his legacy. What is JR looking for?
Since the injury to Brian Dumoulin the Pens have suffered in a big way on the penalty kill. Giving up 2/4 to the Capitals is one thing, giving up 2/5 to fucking Ottawa is a problem. In addition to this, Olli Maatta is yet to return to where he was his rookie season and after 39 games played this year it is hard to chalk it up to being rusty or unconditioned. Ian Cole and Justin Schultz have been a huge surprise for the Pens blue line, but you have to wonder if it isn’t due in large part because of Schultz and less because of Cole (though I admit, Cole looks 100x better than he did last season). With all of this in mind it doesn’t take a creative imagination to think Rutherford is calling some peeps about available d-men. The question, as always, is what is the price? Another consideration is the term. The Pens currently have 3 defenders (Letang, Maatta, Cole) signed beyond this season, and with resigning Dumoulin a must, you have to think JR will want someone with a few years left instead of a rental.
The Penguins offense has been an absolute threat the entire season. Here is a quick graphic:
Removed Justin Schultz (4th place 7 goals, 19 assists, 26 points) because I only wanted the offense on this chart
CROSBY, MALKIN, KESSEL leading the team is what you obviously want. There are two red flags here, and you know where I am going with this. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr are taking up 6 million dollars in cap space right now, and have a combined 10 goals and 13 assists, which COMBINED is less than Conor Sheary. Nods to Sheary by the way, 25 points in 34 games in his first full NHL season so far, not too shabby.
Does Rutherford move Hagelin, the guy he wanted so badly? I admit Fehr seems more likely to go, especially in a package deal for a defender, but the play of Hagelin can be overlooked…crickets… 4 million dollars on pace for 10 goals is never a good thing, especially when Fehr is doing the same. Kunitz, Bonino, Cullen and Sheary are the only forwards with expiring contracts, well and Dupuis, RIP. Bonino takes a lot of shit from fans, but at 2 million dollars he is way more serviceable than Brandon Sutters jock. Kunitz is most likely done, but probably doesn’t get traded. Kuhnhackl has been as good as Fehr so far this season, so putting Fehr on the trading block isn’t going to hurt the Pens, but he also isn’t going to bring home anything to show your parents. That leaves us with Hornqvist’s Swedish Brotha:
By putting Hagelin on the block JR dangles a shiny, fast, STANLEY CUP WINNING Swede with 2 years left on his contract in front of other teams. Is there a better fit for the Penguins, that is the question that Rutherford has to answer. The other issue is disrupting chemistry and morale, something Rutherford believes a lot in. I am not going to sit here and write out trade scenarios or anything like that, mainly because after trading away Scuderi for Daley my imagination isn’t as good as JR’s reality.
Flat out saying it now, Fleury finishes the season with the team, gives up his NTC and moves on. I just don’t see the team making a trade at the deadline to move Fleury unless it brings in another above average back-up, and even then it is questionable. Murray has now had two injuries in the last 4 months (broken hand in world cup, lower body injury in December), I don’t see Rutherford, a man that loves goalie depth, putting all of his eggs into the Murray basket.
Murray the starter, Fleury the back-up, that’s what the team is carrying to the post-season.
Projections and Midway Awards:
Crosby and Malkin are on pace for 90 points each, with Kessel a casual 82… damn son.
Fleury and Murray both have 13 wins oddly enough, putting both on pace for 20+ win seasons
MVP: Crosby. No debate, move on.
Most Improved: Come on, Schultz.
Best Rookie / new guy: Murray is technically a rookie and gets this by default for that reason. If the debate was between Rust and Sheary, Sheary gets the advantage in my book but I have honestly been thrilled with the play of both of them.
Best Defender: Rob Scuderi, for no longer being here.
Most Likely To Improve in 2nd Half: Tie between Carl Hagelin, because he can’t get any worse, and Derrick Pouliot because whatever pick JR gets for him has an equal chance of being as good.
Most Likely To Cool Off: This is a tough one because historically the Pens have played their best hockey in March. With that in mind it wouldn’t surprise me to see the team as a whole cool off a bit in early February before igniting the world in March.
I can’t believe half of the season is already over. It has been a fun ride doing this here blogging thing with yinz, and I can’t believe some of you have actually enjoyed reading my stuff. I think we need to have some kind of poll or something for the end of season awards, so that everyone contributes. Some categories can be: most memorable play, best goal reaction, best Sully moment, dumbest Errey saying, etc. Anyways, thanks as always for reading and here is to the next 41!
LET’S GO PENS
HERE WE GO STEELERS…HERE WE GO…clap, clap
No words….can’t talk with a mouthful.
2 in a row??? YOU DRITY LIL HO! Off yer knees and VOTE!
9) “That box is very tight.” – Errey (42%, 8 Votes)
5) “Comes around the backside and gets his stick in there.” -- Errey (16%, 3 Votes)
12) “Spread out the Senators and come with speed.” -- Errey (11%, 2 Votes)
11) “Trickling between his pads, he’s able to squeeze it.” -- Errey (11%, 2 Votes)
7) "Dribbled off his stick right onto Condon." -- Steigy (5%, 1 Votes)
2) "Hornqvist, he's just runnin' everybody, everybody on the Senators is biting their lip right now" -- Errey (5%, 1 Votes)
8) "Murray has seen a lot of rubber here." -- Errey (5%, 1 Votes)
3) "Crosby would have scored if he just shot, without trying to open up the Condom." -- j-b0t (5%, 1 Votes)
4) "Another big Condom stop!" -- TSN (0%, 0 Votes)
6) "Get on your forecheck and start banging bodies." -- Jay (0%, 0 Votes)
14) “I think if we get it behind them and go to work, we’ll be OK.” -- Sheary (0%, 0 Votes)
10) "We have 4 on league waiting if you wanna do a 5 man?" -- Blawgayczar (0%, 0 Votes)
13) “He doesn’t have the big size that the other ones do.” -- Errey (0%, 0 Votes)
1) "They've blown one lead this year." -- Steigy (0%, 0 Votes)