Happy Wednesday, tPB faithful and welcome back to the Grab Bag.
Since our last correspondence, the Pens dropped Thor’s hammer on the Lightning, finally beat a last place team, played two-thirds of a game in Canada and hit a patch of bad luck against the Corsi Gods of The East.
There was also that little mess of Peep taking down the #WinItWednesday Challenge and that’s all that happened there. Nothing else.
Let’s get into it.
It’s no secret that the Penguins have a lethal power play. However, it’s also no secret that they lead the league in shorthanded goals surrendered. Adrian, our resident Will Hunting, took a crack and creating a new statistic: Net weighted Power Play. It’s a lot of numbers, but offers a lot of great insights into the Penguins power play and the league as a whole.
Everyone remembers the Wayne Gretzky trade from Edmonton to LA and it’s likely the biggest in the history of the league. Despite there being seemingly less and less franchise-altering trades, partially due to salary cap restraints and partially due to GMs being timid, the NHL’s history is full of wild trades. Down Goes Brown of The Athletic had a piece today trying to determine what the Second Most Important Trade in NHL History. For us hockey history nerds, it’s a worthwhile read.
Here’s the thing, I put this in the good because for us Pens fans, it never hurts to laugh at the Flyers. They’re on an eight-game winning streak. However, Ryan Lambert wrote this about the Flyers just about a month ago:
“Flyers fans, media, and front-office types might not want to do that, as they’ve spent years glibly making fun of the Penguins for tanking in the early 2000s. But when you’ve picked in the top-8 four times in the last 12 years BY ACCIDENT — with another surely on the way in June — while the Penguins won three Stanley Cups, I think the joke is probably on you.”
Carter Hart appears to be the real deal. You still have plenty of young talent on your roster, but you also have a lot of anchors that are north of 30, but since it’s Philadelphia where the hardest of hard-headed idiots reside, they’ll never tank, because toiling in misery is far better than one bad season that can set you up for a decade plus of success.
Oh my god, a hockey movie that actually looks….good?
The Leafs locked up Auston Matthews to a five-year $58M extension yesterday. That must mean all is well in Hockey Mecca, right? Ha ha ha WRONG! The Leafs actual best player, Mitch Marner, should be the next to get paid in Toronto, but his agent is torpedoing the talks by bitching about GM Kyle Dubas to anyone that will listen.
The Buffalo Sabres started the season looking like geniuses. A 17-6-2 start through a quarter of the season will do that for your coaching and management. Now they sit just three points back of a wild card. They may become one of a handful of teams to miss the playoffs in a season where they won 10 straight…they’re also apparently interested Hagelin?
Given their history, you’ll excuse me for thinking Columbus will screw this up. The next month is going to arguably be their biggest month in franchise history. (h/t Jackets Cannon, check them out they do great work.) Panarin is all but gone. Bobrovsky not only hates the coach, but hasn’t played like a Vezina winner. Do they say screw it, keep both and go on a run? Do they flip one and keep the other? Flip both? We’ll see.
I hope Edler is okay after this scary incident Monday night in Philly. Again, this is difficult to watch. If blood and injuries trigger you, feel free to skip.
Now that we are into 2019, this section now includes the wild card races. In the interest of fairness (and my sanity) the four teams in the race for wild card will be included. Full standings can be found here.
wild card – eastern conference
Wild card – western conference
What These Numbers Tell Us: Man, the western conference just will not allow teams to be bad, huh? As shown above, the second wild card in the west would be seven points out in the east. Rough go of it when you’re hoping to fall far enough to get a good pick.
Despite riding a complete PDO bender to the top of the Metropolitan Division, we haven’t talked enough about the duo of Lehner and Griess on the island. While the Islanders never really boasted a contending squad during the Tavares era, they were always extraordinarily weak in net. This year, Griess and Lehner have been as close to lights out as it can get.
It took longer than expected, but San Jose is finally looking like the super team we all expected. When you have two Norris-caliber defensemen on two separate pairings you might not even have to worry about goaltending.
The Carolina and Toronto losses sting, but everyone else that needed to lose, lost so, we still sit third as of February 6. Operation Get In the Top Three of the Metro and Stay There is still going.
The Week Ahead
The Pens are taking to the road this week. Starting tomorrow as they’ll face their old teammates Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan and the rest of the….underwhelming Panthers.
Know Your Enemy: The Rat Trick
Saturday, it’s another Litmus Stick as the Pens head to Tampa to take on the league’s best team. There’s no doubt they’re going to be salty about the 4-2 drubbing they took at PPG last week.
Know Your Enemy: Raw Charge
Carter Hart, probably good. Carter Hart, hasn’t played the Penguins yet. Let’s see how you do when the best player in the world has the puck in front of ya, kid.
Know Your Enemy: Broad Street Hockey
Well, this is a week that could do wonders for the playoff push. Florida should be a game they can take with ease, but we’ve seen them stumble. They handle their damn business against Tampa last week and nothing tells me they can’t do it again. Then they play a resurgent Flyers team that might not be as bad as their record indicates, but Flyers-Pens rarely makes any sense, so let’s just enjoy the chaos.
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