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Penguin Call-Ups Doing the Job – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguin Call-Ups Doing the Job

Let’s play a guessing game. We’ll call it “Name That Penguin.”

Ready? Who’s scored eight goals and 12 assists (20 points), registered a plus-11, and leads the team with 64 penalty minutes this season?

Stumped? I’ll give you a hint. The answer’s more it than individual. Kind of an on-ice kolkhoz, or collective, if you will.

If you guessed “Recall Man,” you’d be spot on.

Okay, there’s no such Penguin. But I wanted to make a point.

Our Penguins have received extraordinary production from the eight players they’ve called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2016-17 (I’ve excluded Derrick Pouliot, who began the season with the Pens). A testament to the fine job GM Jim Rutherford and his staff have done in securing quality depth guys who can step in and plug a gap should the need arise.

Or more than plug a gap, as the following numbers suggest.

Player Pos GP G A PTS PIM +/- ATOI
Jake Guentzel LW 17 5 5 10 6 3 14:59
Chad Ruhwedel D 11 1 2 3 2 3 17:10
Josh Archibald RW 1 2 0 2 0 2 10:03
Cameron Gaunce D 3 0 2 2 4 3 13:17
Steve Oleksy D 9 0 1 1 22 2 13:41
Carter Rowney C 6 0 1 1 0 0 10:54
Tom Sestito LW 8 0 1 1 24 0 5:28
David Warsofsky D 6 0 0 0 6 -2 15:10
Total   61 8 12 20 64 11

When injuries shook the defensive corps Steve Oleksy, Chad Ruhwedel and Cameron Gaunce stepped firmly into the breach. Carter Rowney and Tom Sestito have likewise filled in effectively up front.

Josh Archibald is the latest erstwhile Baby Pen to shine. Playing his first game of the season for the black and gold (and second overall) the speedy right wing struck for a pair of key goals in last night’s 4-3 overtime loss to Arizona.

In particular, his Johnny-on-the-spot shorthanded tally off a forced flub by Coyotes goalie Mike Smith at 14:38 of the third period ignited a Pens rally and helped secure an all-important point on the road. One that enabled our boys to maintain a share of second place in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division.

“That play changed the complexion of the game,” Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. “We had the lead and things were going pretty smooth … but that gave them life, and then we were hanging on for dear life.”

Mike Sullivan also praised Archibald’s efforts.

“(Josh) scored two goals and brought us a lot of energy,” said the Penguins’ coach. “He chased pucks down and he was in on the forecheck. He can really fly.”

The Saskatchewan native’s heady play shouldn’t come as a shock. The Pens’ sixth-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, Archibald starred at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, netting 29 goals in 2013-14 to merit Hobey Baker consideration.

As a member of the Mavericks, Josh frequently shared the ice with Jake Guentzel, the most prominent of the Pens’ call-ups. The team’s third-round pick in 2013, Guentzel’s already carved out a spot among the club’s top-six forwards with his skilled, determined play. After setting the AHL on its ear (21 goals), the rookie pro’s tallied five goals and 10 points in 17 games with the locals. Including a two-goal effort in his black-and-gold debut.

The gritty 180-pounder’s displayed good chemistry with Evgeni Malkin, to boot.

Yet the true worth of Jake and his mates extends far beyond their surprisingly effective play. They afford Rutherford the luxury of operating from a position of strength should he decide to swing a deal before the upcoming trade deadline.

Now that’s what I call value.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
 
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5 Comments

  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    February 12, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    I read somewhere else people complaining about only getting 1 point off of the Coyotes and others getting ready to ride MAF out on the rails. I hate not getting both points off of one of the worst teams in the league, myself. However, with Malkin, Rust, and Sheary on the shelf, those call-up guys are responding very well. Malkin, Rust, and Sheary represent half of our top 6. If not for the latest call up, they boys in black and gold don’t even get a point. And I may not be so quick to send Rowney down, right now he is looking pretty good in the FO circle (26 of 47 FOWs). That is unless we trade for a FO man.

    As for MAF, I agree that he didn’t look all that stellar, getting only his 2nd start in 2-wks and 5th start this year but he isn’t a back-up G nor does he fit Sullivan’s system. It is pathetic that the Pens brass just isn’t getting it. They are hurting both MAF and the team with their refusal to acknowledge the obvious. I can’t help but wonder what both Calgary and Pittsburgh would have looked like this season had the JR pulled the trigger on that trade in the off-season.

    Yes, MAF is worth more than a 2nd round pick, but outside of Hamilton and/or maybe Wideman, there really isn’t much on that roster I think may have really upgraded the Pens, but the freed up $5.75 mil could have brought in one or maybe more FAs that could have and they (the Pens) would have still gotten that 2nd rounder. So the Pens would have gotten far more than a 2nd round pick. And as for MAF being the best back-up for Murray, Condon has shown he easily could have held the fort down and probably better than MAF, since Condon has been used to that role and MAF isn’t.

    As for Calgary w/MAF, as their undisputed starter, I am pretty darn sure he would be in the top ten of goalies, much better than Elliot and more than slghtly better than Johnson so Calgary would be more than an after thought. Instead, Fleury is foundering with a bloated GAA (at least for him) and a very average W% and Sv%.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 13, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      Rather than focus too much on the point that got away, I guess I chalked it up to being one of those games that every team has now and then over the course of an 82-game schedule. Especially with the Pens being so banged up.

      Heck, Columbus got shut out by Vancouver a few nights ago.

      And while I was hardly pleased when Connor Murphy’s eminently stoppable shot somehow sailed past Marc-Andre Fleury (still don’t know how it got past him) in OT, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Flower also made a couple of key saves to keep us in the game, including a spectacular left pad save on Brendan Perlini’s breakaway attempt in the third period.

      Flower at his best and worst. Reminds me of Kris Letang circa 2013-14, when “Tanger” would follow a brilliant play with a ghastly giveaway while trying to do too much.

      I’m a little concerned that the Pens are beginning to show signs of fatigue. But again, with so many burners on the shelf—Hagelin, Rust and Sheary—I’ll reserve judgment for now. And in a weird way, all these injuries may wind up benefiting us down the road by giving guys a little unplanned rest.

      Back to Fleury. I read on another site that the Pens were rumored to have engaged in preliminary talks with Dallas, which is where I thought Flower would be headed last summer. The Stars truly need a No. 1 goalie.

      The problem…at least in my eyes…the return. Almost assuredly Antti Niemi, like Fleury a former Cup-winning goalie (with Chicago) who’s fallen on hard times (their numbers are strikingly similar). But Niemi’s not cheap—$4.5 mil/season through 2017-18—and, in my opinion, overpaid at that price. So, while every bit helps, we wouldn’t really open up that much cap space.

      Bottom line…I’m not sure I want to have to rely on Niemi should Murray go down.
      The other option with Dallas—Kari Lehtonen—isn’t an option at all. Six mil/season through ’17-18.

      So, unless a three-way deal can be worked out with Dallas and another team that brings us a reliable backup (at a reasonable rate) we’re back to square one. At least as far as the Stars are concerned.

      Rick

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        February 13, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        Agreed, I am no fan of either Niemi or Lehtonen, nor have I jumped on the MAF basher wagon. I also agree that the team is wearing down, That is why I was looking at the WBS roster the same day you posted the stats thinking to myself where they could get some fresh legs to give some of the older some time off.

        My only real complaint with the team right now is their insistance that keeping MAF around is a good thing; that is if they truly believe it and not giving lip service to it due to the difficulty in arranging a trade. At this point I am not sure MAF as a back-up is any better than flippng him for Niemi, (not Lehtonen, he frustrated me for years when he was with Atl and I was down there with only the Thrashers to watch live) or just about any other goalie. Nor do I think MAF would be better than Jarry.

        MAF is not a Back-Up. Never in his career has he played back-up. Even in his best temperment he is ill-suited for the role of playing only 5 games in a month and a half. Furthermore, he is ill-suited for back-stopping the Pens behind their midget, puck handling, skating D. He needs to play full-time for a team that has big, heavy D who can cause opposing forward to repect their slot and keep them from craching the net and pouncing on rebounds.

        MAF haters are having a field day because MAF is not a good fit for this team. MAFs legacy is suffering, the team is throwing away its near future (next season) and not really helping the cause for this season either.

        At this point in the season JR would need a miracle on par with the trading of Scuderi for Daley to make up move forward, with cap considerations, teams that are out of it now looking at girding against the expansion draft, and the limited number of teams really in search of a goalie.

        My main frustration that I was venting was one that probably won’t be addressed by season’s end. My main frustration is that the team may have best up its best hope to have fresher legs when they turned their noses up at traded MAF to Calgary even if all they got in return was a 2nd round pick.

        MAF would be happier (at least playing regularly), Calgary would be at least a little better (although Johnson may not be all that happy), and the Pens could have gotten some FA who hadn’t played through until June and in the WC, who could still be skating with fire.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          February 13, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          Hey Other Rick,

          Excellent thoughts and points.

          Actually, a Fleury for Chad Johnson swap would make a lot of sense…at least for the Pens. Johnson’s accustomed to a backup role (actually more like 1A), and he’s got plenty of experience as a starter. He’s developed into a decent goalie, too.

          Plus, he’s inexpensive at $1.7 mil to boot and a pending UFA. So it would open up a ton of cap space for the Pens.

          Only one rub. The Flames are pretty much maxed out cap-wise. We’d likely have to take someone else off their hands in the $4 mil range to make it work. Perhaps T.J. Brodie, a 26-year-old puck-moving defenseman who’s having a subpar season (-21) with Derrick Pouliot going west.

          That would make about $6.5 in cap hit going to Calgary and $6.35 coming back to us.

          We might have to throw in a mid-round pick, too.

          Rick

          PS—Of course, this assumes that Fleury and Pouliot are still viewed as valuable commodities by rival GMs. Given that hard-nosed Brian Burke is the Flames’ president, it’s difficult to imagine him wanting a player of Pouliot’s ilk, skilled or not.

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            February 13, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

            Hey Guys
            Great discussion. The longer this situation goes on the more pressure we will be under. Reminds me of an old business saying” your first loss is your best loss”.
            Nobody wanted to face up to the fact that we can not afford the team we have now come next October 2017. To be fair everybody was saying last September that the Cap would rise to 77 to 79 million and now it will be 73 to 74 million.
            That 4 to 5 million decrease really impacts us negatively.
            So I am of the opinion the longer you wait to deal with the MAF situation the worst it will be.
            Nobody wants to give away a star goalie for nothing but time is not on our side.Pretty soon we will have pay teams to take him. ( Holding back salary ).
            That second round pick offered last year may seen as a distance memory.

            Cheers


            

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