The Penguins slip by the Coyotes – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

The Penguins slip by the Coyotes

As the final ticks on the clock faded in the tilt between the Arizona Coyotes and the Pittsburgh Penguins, ending the Penguins’ 3 game slide, all I could hear was Ringo Starr, “You got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues and you know it don’t come easy.

Our Penguins went up against the worst hockey team in the league right now, a team that has now lost 6 straight games, and nearly lost. To be sure, there were some positives; the Penguins did out shoot the Coyotes 33 to 17, the first time this year they held a team to less than 20 shots. However, they had twice as many power plays as Arizona, 4 – 2, that certainly helps. Possibly balancing out this positive though, the Penguins only managed to get 9 shots in a first period that saw them the beneficiaries of 3 power plays.

Bryan Rust has certainly got to be considered another positive. Going into the game, he already had 2 Shorthanded Goals (SHG) to his name. With the same great anticipation that he had shown on his 2 SHG he started the play that led to the opening goal. Carter Rowney pressured Oliver Ekman-Larrson who tried to force a pass to Max Domi for the Coyotes, while Ian Cole was sitting in the penalty box for cross-checking. Rust cut in front of Domi to steal the pass and raced up ice. He couldn’t beat Ekman-Larrson enough to get a lane to the net, but did get enough of a step on him to cause the Coyotes’ defenseman to go down to the ice before Rust slid a deft backhand pass across the slot to a charging Rowney. Rowney wasted little time burying the feed with wrist shot into the roof of the net.

Evgeni Malkin was also a serious positive. He gave Coyotes’ defenders fits with his stick handling and barge the net like Patric Hornqvist to shove the Penguins’ second goal into the net. But it was his tenacity and stick handling that set up the game winner with only 15s left in the game. Actually the whole line worked their collective tail feathers off (do Penguins have tail feathers?) to try and end the game in regulation. After dogged fore-checking by Carl Hagelin, Hornqvist, and Malkin, Hornqvist got the puck to Malkin with some room. Malkin skated the puck up toward the point. With Malkin coming up to the point, Chad Ruhwedel cycled down the boards. Instead of dropping the puck back down to Ruhwedel, Malkin opted to pass across the ice to Olli Maatta, who hammered the puck home.

It was fitting for Maatta to get the Game Winning Goal (GWG) since he made a brilliant defensive play to keep Arizona from winning the game just a little earlier. Jakob Chychrun, son of former Penguin Jeff Chychrun, ripped a shot from near the top of the Penguins Right Wing Circle. Matt Murray made the save but the puck started to trickle between his legs. Brad Richardson saw the puck and was about to pounce on it, but Maatta was strong on the check and kept Richardson from getting his stick on it and in the same motion he (Maatta) swept the puck out of harm’s way and tried to tuck the puck back up under Murray, preserving the tie until he could win it himself.

Sidney Crosby iced the victory with an empty net goal with 6s left in the game.

No, it didn’t come easy, the Penguins had to wait until there were only 15 ticks left on the clock to win it but they did win.

Odds and Sods
Congratulations Mario Lemieux! Lemieux’s historic 5 goal performance, scoring a goal in every possible combination; an even strength goal, a power play goal, a shorthanded goal, a penalty shot, and an empty net goal, beat out Bobby Orr’s game winning goal against the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup for the greatest moment in Hockey as voted on by us Hockey fans. That game was against the New Jersey Devils at the old Civic Arena on New Year’s Eve, Dec 31, 1988.

A couple of interesting news item out of Ottawa on 2 fronts; there is talk that the ownership group might move the Senators out of Ottawa due to financial difficulties and that the team asked captain Erik Karlsson for his list of 10 teams that the Senators could not trade him (like Kris Letang, Karlsson has a limited no trade clause). As our own Phil Krundle noted recently in a reply to some postings, despite the trade for Matt Duchene the Senators are a disaster this year. Now it appears that they may in the mood to hit the reset button, although they did just beat rival Montreal in the Outdoor Classic. The report I read suggested that although there also seems to already be talk, the Penguins are not among the teams in the picture. However, let’s stir the pot, would anyone here make an offer? Would you give Ottawa maybe Letang and a 1st rounder for Karlsson? (Karlsson carries a $7mil tag and Letang is $7.25mil they would still have a good offensive defenseman and could recoup some of what they lost for Duchene. The salary numbers would also work out.)

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  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    December 19, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see; the Pens gave up a fairly good bottom 6th young forward, an even younger goalie and a 6th round draft pick for a 36yr old veteran goalie who has only played more than 10 games in a single season 4 times in his career. Hmm… on the surface the Penguins didn’t give up much. A 6th round pick, a player that may have a hard time getting regular ice time even in the AHL, a Goalie prospect on a team loaded with good young goalies, 2 of which have already shown that they can hack it in the NHL, even when backstopping a “D” as inept as the Penguins, a team that regularly gives up odd man breaks, gives the puck away, lets opposing forwards to run into their goalie and interfere with their goalies as often as they like, and allows them to hammer away at their goalies when the goalie is trying to freeze the puck, until the puck is knocked loose and into the net.

    However, even though they gave up little to nothing , at least with respect to players that would be given a legitimate chance to make the team (Archibald was
    never going to be given a chance once the team traded for Reaves, the team will never acknowledge the mistake), they got less than nothing in return. With Murray, Jarry, DeSmith, Gustavsson, and D’Orio, chances are Maguire was never going to play but if Leighton plays, chances are if Leighton plays, he will be worse than Niemi. The team may have been better off just keeping Maguire, after all these year, it should be obvious that Leighton is not a goalie you want backstopping you. Even if the team had not lost Maguire, Leighton probably should be below Maguire on the depth chart.

    As for Oleksiak, perhaps, perhaps this deal may pay off; who knows? He is still a kid, only 24yr old I believe and at 6’7″ I am willing to give him a chance. But seriously, is this what JR meant when he said that he was going to shake up the team? All of the under-achieving players get a pass.

    Why? Could it be that JR really is too weak of a GM to do what is needed to 3-peat? Sorry for bringing it back up but JR was quoted as saying “If I have to change it up, it will be very difficult,” Rutherford said. “With as many returning guys that won Stanley Cups, it could be guys you’re forever indebted to as part of that accomplishment.”

    Sorry JR, those Stanley Cups were yesterday; this is today and the Pens chances of 3-peating are disappearing faster than the hottest toys from the store shelves during this shopping season.

    I gave JR the benefit of the doubt during the play off run and off-season. Even during the start of the season, I conceded that maybe JR was trying to make a deal to help the team. But after that quote of his, I find it hard not to wonder about JR.

    To really have a shot at 3-peating, the team still needs a 3rd line Center and to clean out some dead wood on D. They also need to get their team speed back up.

    Sorry, but these trades have only exacerbated my frustration.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      December 20, 2017 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Hey coach.
      Great stuff as always. I hope that this is just the beginning of several key trades because this is not a power move to shake things up. This is more of a gentle bump than a real shake..

  2. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    December 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Archibald and Sean Maguire to Arizona for Michael Leighton, a 36 year-old, retread currently doing time in the AHL. Anyone? Anything?

    • kerdog211's Gravatar kerdog211
      December 19, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I think they just wanted the 4th round pick so they could use it to get 6’7″ 250lb defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the stars.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        December 19, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        55 on Point !!
        Seasons greetings my friend. 🙂
        Archibald and Maguire is to much to pay for a 34 year,old AHL talent level goalie.
        But the Oleksiak deal for a conditional 4th was a good move.
        Together we came ahead today.
        Only 5 more trades to go!
        A center. 2 wingers. A another d man . A priest to pray for us every night because it will take a miracle for these guys to 3 peat !!


        How about getting Cullen back ! I read some where he was not playing much in Minni ????

        • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
          December 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          Happy, Happy to you too, Jim! All the best for the holiday season.

          He was a first-rounder and he’s big. Not what you’d call an offensive threat, so maybe they’re trying to get serious about D. I like that. He’s had a tough time cracking the top six in Dallas. Hopefully the new digs will give him a lift.

          I also heard Cullen was unhappy in Minnie, not getting much playing time. Intriguing but I don’t think they’ll go back there until they exhaust other possibilities.

          Ok. Who’s next?

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            December 19, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

            Hey 55,
            I hear Priests are easy to come by !!
            Good to be back

            • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
              December 19, 2017 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

              🙂 !

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        December 19, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        Hi kerdog 211.
        Welcome. I think that the 6 th round pick from Arizona is the fall back if Oleksiak gets injured again and can not play theentire season. I am not really worried about it because half of the current Pens team have had concussions or head injuries of one form or another and Pittsburgh has a great program to deal with these types of injuries.
        I think he may be a real steal for JR come play off time. No matter how you look at it, we will have to beat Tampa sometime in the playoffs and a 6’7″, 260 pound anything will come in real handy against their big boys. I bet Matt Murray is really pleased today.They have a back up to the back up in nets and a big boy out front.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      December 19, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Hey all,

      Just found out about the trades. My initial reaction on both counts was, “What the #$@%…?” (Fill in your expletive of choice.)

      As far as Leighton goes, I’m kinda dumbfounded. I guess the Pens wanted a veteran to fill a void with the Baby Pens, or perhaps to even serve as a backup to Murray (shudder). Apparently, Mike Sullivan prefers to ride his starter, giving backups very little opportunity to play.

      It sure seems like we overpaid for a guy who really hasn’t been a presence in the NHL since 2009-10. But having signed Archibald to a one-way deal, my guess is Rutherford was looking to shed salary. I loved the kid’s speed and grit, but it was obvious he didn’t figure into our plans.

      I get the Oleksiak addition…sort of. Monstrous kid at 6’7″ 260, and we’ve all bemoaned our lack of size on ‘d.’ But that’s about where it stops making sense, at least to me. From what I’ve read, he’s not especially skilled or physical.

      If that’s the case, I would rather have promoted Jarred Tinordi or Andrey Pedan. The fact that we didn’t? Perhaps it speaks volumes about how the brass views those guys.


    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      December 19, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      A little PS to my previous post.

      I always go out to the hockey fight site, Dropyourgloves.com, whenever we acquire anyone, just to check out how they handle themselves. (Yes, old rock-head habits die hard.)

      Oleksiak may not be overly physical. But, based on what I saw, he can fight.


    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      December 19, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      I’m at work, so I’m doing my research kind of piecemeal.

      I looked a little harder at Oleksiak’s numbers. Based on his hit totals (271 in 140 NHL games), he plays a more physical game than some of the scouting reports give him credit for. No stranger to blocking shots, either.

      Corsi is hovering a shade under 50 percent.

      The most visible downside? Eighty-nine career giveaways vs. 30 takeaways.


      • December 19, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        According to NHL.com he can skate. I guess we will just have to wait and see. The last defenseman the Pens got that wasn’t working out in Dallas didn’t turn out that bad. I do like the idea of a big guy back there, play him a few games and see how it goes.

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          December 19, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

          Hey Phil
          I believe he had a concussion early on in his career and hence the conditional 4th round pick.If stays healthy and can play he could be what we need as #5-6 d man with size. With the right motivation and surrounding himself with a winning culture that the Pens have, it could do wonders for his game. In my opinion the Pens do not need any more scoring d men, but a few that can protect the front of our net and knock somebody over on their rear end when the need arises.
          He could be a sleeper.

    • December 19, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Best I can come up with is that it opened up a roster spot and salary. I’m pretty sure Sean Maguire was never going to see the light of day with the 3 guys we have. The only plus side I can come up with for Leighton is that he is experienced and seems to be fine in the AHL. He can help Jarry & Desmith learn the tricks of the trade.

  3. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    December 19, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Hey Coaxh
    WE lost another one to the Avs. They beat us twice this year local media reports say as they talk up a Sydney verses Nate rivalry in Cole Harbor. Beating the defending Champs twice this season was their early Christmas present local media reported. Very interesting comparison. From the Av’s view point they are getting better, going in the right direction and obviously we are not.
    We have the CBJ and Ducks in the next two games and they will not be as easy to play against as the Coyotes or Av’s were. Both big and fast teams with balance thru out their line up and not one bit afraid to play us! Should be a real test Coach, and we are not the only team with injuries, so we can not use that as an excuse if we fail to win .
    Lets Go Pen’s

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      December 19, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Hey Jim,
      I hear you my friend. This year, the team has been very healthy in comparison to previous years and they are plummeting down the standings. And let’s face it, looking at the Pens over all record; 17 – 15 – 3, vs the Penguins line up with Hornqvist in the line-up, 16 – 13 – 2, it is only barely better; and looking at the Pens line-up with out Schultz in the line-up, 12 -8 -2, it is only barely better than Hornqvist, so the team really isn’t missing much. And again, Colorado may be trending up in comparison to our Pens but they hardly constitute Cup contenders.

      At this point in the season, the team is just about as close to being in the lottery for Rasmus Dahlin as they are to being Cup Contenders.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        December 19, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Hey Coach
        I know you will like this one.!!!! 🙂 🙂
        They just traded for 24 year old d man, Jamie Oleksiak.
        6’7″…. 255 pounds….
        14th over all pick. Restricted free agent after this season.
        Played on a Calder Cup team.
        Under a million cap hit.
        Great number 5-6 d man that with the right Coaching could develop to be a defensive # 4th d man.
        Maybe him and DUMO pair up and the good lord forbid, we actually have 2 d men, 6’4″, 220# and 6’7″ 255# with size to help handle Tampa Bay big boys.
        He never worked out in Dallas. Couple of injuries.
        A new start could do him good.
        ONLY COST US A conditional 4th pick !! Way to go Jimmy.!!

        However as 55 points out above he may have given away to much for 24 year old, retread Goalie Micheal Leighton.

        Only 5 more trades to go and just maybe we can get to the finals…haha

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          December 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          34 year old …sorry typo

  4. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    December 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Just a quick update;

    Hornqvist was sent home to be evaluated for an upper-body injury, Simon is sick; not good news.

  5. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    December 17, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Hey Other Rick,

    Good stuff, as always.

    I was none too pleased when our boys leaked for a goal with 8.7 seconds left in the second period. And I just about choked on my expletives when Maatta gave the puck away inches in front of Murray, a brain cramp that led to the tying goal.

    Thank goodness Olli redeemed himself with a gem of a defensive play and, of course, the big game-winning goal. The kid can shoot the puck.

    It was great to get a win, no doubt. But many of the same issues…including ghastly turnovers and a tendency to let down…still remain.

    I fear it’s going to be a familiar theme throughout the season.



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