Alright, so I know what you’re probably thinking. There goes Peep making this all about him again. Well, listen up a second, all you haters and losers out there.
A. You’re damn right this is (partially) about me, but more importantly, B. this is about our beloved Pittsburgh Penguins – the winners of two of the last three Stanley Cups (aka the premier franchise in hockey).
You see, 66 days ago the Penguins were plummeting to their death in the standings. In fact, 19 games into the 2018-2019 season, the Pens found themselves with a record of 7-8-4 (18 points) – good enough for the 29th-worst record in the NHL. Basically dead last after the the first month and a half of the season. The only teams that were worse? The Blues and the Kings (who still suck complete ass).
Things were getting so out of control two months ago that even the Ottawa Senators were kicking the shit out of us. The quality of hockey being played by the team who just won their second consecutive Stanley Cup a mere 17 months prior was, in a word, AWFUL. Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith couldn’t stop a beach ball, the only people with any prayer of putting a puck in the back of the net were guys named Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel, and Jack Johnson was, well, let’s just say the best quality about Jack Johnson this year is his consistency. He’s been consistently shitty.
Fast forward to today. We’ve officially reached the unofficial halfway point in the season as the NHL gears up for its annual All-Star Game festivities this weekend in San Jose, and the Penguins find themselves with a respectable record of 26-16-6 (58 points) after 48 games played – or five points behind the division-leading Islanders (yes, you read that correctly). To say things have flip-flopped in a positive direction for the Penguins would be an understatement, to say the least.
So how did this happen?
Well, for starters, GMJR made a couple of moves in November and December to get the ball rolling. First, he shipped out fan favorite/road runner on skates, Carl Hagelin, to LA for more scoring depth in Tanner Pearson (who’s been pretty okay for the Pens with 13 points in 32 games played). Then, he shipped out the most underwhelming hyped up player in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins* whose teammates used to make him take Ubers to practice instead of driving him to the rink for Marcus Pettersson (who’s quietly turning into a solid defenseman behind the shadows of the likes of Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin).
*Eric Tangradi was by far and away the worst hyped up prospect to ever play for the Penguins.
But even GMJR shaking up the roster wasn’t enough. So what can we pinpoint as the real turning point in the season?
Let’s cut straight to the chase – I took matters into my own hands.
Sure, I didn’t succeed (the first time), but you know who’s succeeding now? The goddamn Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ever since that fateful evening on Monday, November 21st, 2018, here are a few stats for all you analytics dorks out there:
- Over the past 30 games, the Penguins have scored the 4th most points (19-8-3, 41P) in the league. The only teams they trail include Calgary (48), Tampa (47), and Vegas (43). Not bad company. They also went on an 8-game winning streak over this stretch of play.
- Sidney Crosby has amassed 38 points in 29 games (or 1.31 PPG) while Jake Guentzel has 35 in 30 games (or 1.16 PPG).
- Matt Murray is 10-1 with a .944 Sv% and a 1.81 GAA. It’s safe to say he’s been pretty damn good.
- Kris Letang has remained in god mode.
- The Penguins somehow found a way to lose twice over this stretch of time to the Chicago Blackhawks (who currently have the 27-worst record in the league). Spin zone: if you pretend it’s still 2015 then this is perfectly acceptable.
- We’re officially back in the playoff picture.
And now for the fancy(ier) stats courtesy of Geoff:
Now that you’re done jerking off to all those stats, take a second to relax. The times are good (again) and so, too, are the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Again, I’m not saying I’m entirely responsible for the Penguins’ turnaround, but I’m also saying it’s tough not to call this whole thing a “coincidence.” Facts are facts – I shoveled hot dogs and beers down my throat Lemieux days ago, then the Penguins started winning hockey games all of a sudden. Kinda makes you think a bit.
Which leads me to my next point.
After dropping 3 of 5 on the most recent west coast trip, I’m starting to get a little concerned again. No, I’m not a complete dipshit who thinks the Pens are gonna miss the playoffs. Rather, I think we could be flirting with another early round playoff exit if things continue to persist the way they’ve been over the past couple of weeks. So what am I doing to prevent this?
Answer: Pat‘s helping me get into shape for another 3-on-3 Challenge later this season by doing a little practice next Wednesday at Franktuary in Lawrenceville prior to the Pens-Bolts game.
Pat will be doing this as well so come on out and do it with us if you’re around before the game.
P.S. – You bet your fucking ass we’re Winning it Wednesday.