A big welcome back to the ‘burgh to Marc-Andre Fleury.
Welcome back Fleury! You may be donning a different uniform tonight but you haven’t been forgotten. We Penguins’ fans still remember everything you did here for our team while wearing the Black-and-Gold. We also remember everything you did off the ice; your friendliness and generosity.
What a difference a year makes
With the return of Fleury to our fair city I am struck by the brilliance and success of “the Flower” this season. No, I am not surprised; not at all. If anybody remembers what I wrote about him last year, when doubters surfaced, I said, I thought he still was a number 1 goalie and that the Penguins were fortunate to have 2 goalies of that quality. But let us compare Fleury’s stats from last year at this time to this year at this time;
Mr Fleury, you are one class act and deserve all of the success!
What does this mean about the current Penguins?
Okay, so after I satisfied my personal curiosity, a different agenda started to rear its head in my brain; “Is Fleury’s success just a random return to form? Or is there some other factor playing into Fleury’s success. Of course, I am choosing to suggest that there is something other factor playing into Fleury’s success. I am choosing to suggest that Fleury never really lost it but was the victim of bad defense; otherwise I wouldn’t have brought it up.
Last year in Pittsburgh, Fleury faced 33.38 shots on goal per 60 minutes (SOG/60min). This year, “the Flower” is facing 28.41 SOG/60min. In other words, Fleury is facing just about 5 less shots on goal per game. Question, how is it that Fleury is facing fewer SOG/60min while plying his trade on an expansion team? What does that say about the efficacy of the Penguins defense from last year? And since this years version of the Penguins defense is roughly the same as last years, what does that say about them? And the number of break-aways and odd man breaks they have given up this year?
Patric Hornqvist is out Week-to-Week
Coach Mike Sullivan initially said that he thought Hornqvist would not miss much time after sustaining a lower body injury from his collision against Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik. However, yesterday the Penguins’ right wing (RW) was listed week-to-week, pretty much ruling him out of this week’s contests. This is not good news. The team hasn’t won any of the games that Hornqvist has missed this season.
Tom Kuhnhackl has been practicing on Evgeni Malkin’s line, in Hornqvist’s place. Hopefully, with some practice time, the team will not experience the futility that it displayed in the loss to New Jersey when Sullivan first tried that line combination.
Question, how will this injury effect any possible trade talks?
The Trade Deadline Cometh
Tic-toc, tic-toc goes the clock as we wind down the precious few weeks left before the trade deadline. This seems to be one of our friend and fellow Penguin Poop contributor, James Arthurs, favorite times of the year. To some people it is almost as exciting as Christmas is for the kids as teams push and shove each other to try and pluck that last piece of the puzzle off of some other team’s roster.
It is also a good time of the year for teams on the outside looking in to shed players and salaries that they don’t see as part of their future for prices far in excess of said player’s talent. It has been suggested that this year, with visions of sugar-plum play-off berths for so many teams, that prices may be even more exorbitant. It has been suggested that there will be more buyers this year turning it into a seller’s market.
As the trade winds and rumors are about to begin in earnest, let me start them off with something interesting that I heard this past weekend.
(But please remember these are only rumors, I am not attesting to any veracity attributable to them, just starting some gossip)
It had come to my ear that Jim Rutherford had said that he actually had 2-trades all worked out already but his trading partners nixed the deals at the 11th hour. The names of the teams and players involved were not revealed.
(Take it for what it is worth. If you are one of those that swears that everything that they read on the internet is true, well……)
To add more logs on the fire of trade rumors, I came across a couple of new names associated with the Penguins; Rick Nash and Max Domi.
Even before the Rangers’ play-off hopes started to fade, there were rumors that New York may opt to be a seller at the dead-line. With a price tag of nearly $8 million, I have a hard time believing our Penguins would bite on a trade for Nash. New York would have to eat a huge amount of that salary to make it workable. The Penguins have less than $2 million to work with under the Cap, last time I checked Cap Friendly.
Max Domi, son of former NHLer Tie Domi, on the other hand, is a more interesting name. Domi had a strong rookie season notching 18 goals and 52 points but he has been struggling the last 2 seasons. He has only scored 12 goals since that first campaign. However, Domi’s struggles may be more attributable to overall team struggles that Arizona has had to fight through.
Although listed as a winger Domi has been playing a fair amount of center and he carries a reasonable price tag, less than $1 million. The cost in trade according to the source would be a prospect. The source tossed the names of Brian Rust, Conor Sheary, and Daniel Sprong. Personally, the only one of those players I would risk trading for Domi is Sheary but he is on IR right now. Furthermore, Domi really hasn’t been enjoying a great deal of success in the face-off circle.
Truth be told, I am wondering what rumors may be swirling North of the Border. If you hear anyhting Jim or any of our other friends from Canada hear anything, please don’t hesitate to pass it along. Maybe I am one of those who is like a kid before Christmas waiting in anticipation.