BREAKING: Penguins Acquire Riley Sheahan

Bob McKenzie announced over Twitter that Penguins‘ winger Scott Wilson has been traded for Red Wings‘ center, Riley Sheahan.

Penguins also received a 2018 5th round pick and gave a 2018 3rd round pick.

Sheahan has 98 points (38G-60A) across his 7 season career, though he only played 2 games in his first 2 seasons.

Scott Wilson has 32 points (13G-19A) in 4 seasons, but only playing 1 game his first.

Neither player has recorded a point this season.

Advertisements

Three Takeaways: Pens Win, 5-4, In OT vs. Rangers

The Penguins pulled off a resilient victory Tuesday night, 5-4, over the Rangers in overtime. They improved to 4-2-1 on the season. Here are the Three Takeaways.

Even When They’re Bad, They’re Good Enough

I don’t think it’s criminal to say the Penguins didn’t play their best game on this night. It was ugly as many players struggled through what probably could’ve been a much better game. Sidney Crosby took two penalties, one of them a double minor, before scoring the game winning goal. More on that later. Defensively, the Penguins are still a mess. They’re the highest paid unit in the league. They aren’t getting highest-paid-unit-in-the-league production. Matt Murray wasn’t even as sharp as he usually is and, yet, the Penguins still came out on top. Those three star forwards you’ve been criticizing (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel)? They all scored.

Sid-sational

Are you kidding me? Crosby with another goal on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist from below the goal line. Truly, this guy is unbelievable. The even crazier part is the fact that he had the where-with-all to let Kevin Shattenkirk touch a puck Crosby couldn’t play because Patric Hornqvist gloved it and throw it towards an unexpecting Lundqvist with less than a minute to play from below the goal line to tie the game. Ridiculous. He really is just a man on a mission who does stupidly good things at the most important times.

Death By Penalty

This team has been very undisciplined to open the season. They’re taking such stupid penalties at inconvenient times. They were on the penalty kill six times Tuesday. They were scored on twice, both times were off of Crosby’s double minor penalty. They rank in the top-10 in the penalty kill category but a lot of that has to do with the amount of times they’ve been on the penalty kill. They’re also killing penalties with almost an entirely new unit after the losses of Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen in the offseason. They are doing well but need to cut down on how many they make these guys kill.

Maatta Improving His Game

Olli Maatta. Many of you are probably thinking of him as a slow moving turnover machine. Well don’t.

Maatta has been the target of many bad comments and fans haven’t treated him fairly. He set his expectations high after a superb rookie season where he scored nine goals and 20 assists. After that, Maatta was plagued with multiple long term injuries including a battle with cancer and missed a significant amount of games over the course of a few seasons.

Also, consider the fact that the Penguins were being coached by either Dan Bylsma or Mike Johnston. Once Mike Sullivan took over, everyone on the Penguins seemed to be transformed by his speed philosophy. One of the lone exceptions to that was Maatta who seemed to struggle a lot due to his lack of speed.

So what is different from 2012 and now?

Consider Maatta’s defensive partners back in 2012, Rob Scuderi and Matt Niskanen. Both Scuderi and Niskanen could stay back and cover while Maatta joined the rush. Since his rookie year he’s been paired up with Kris Letang quite often and spent a long time with Trevor Daley.

Being along side offensive defensemen like Letang and Daley gave Maatta very little opportunities to get up the ice to get some points.

Some of you might be thinking “hold on Justin Schultz does all the things offensive defensemen do, so how is he different then Letang or Daley?” Well, as we all know, Schultz and Maatta spent a significant amount of time together at the Penguins Stanley Cup parade and seem to have developed a friendship.

Why is that important? It develops chemistry on the ice together. That’s very important for defensemen to have that chemistry because you know your partners tendencies and when to join the rush and when to cover for your partner.

That’s not the only thing that’s changed, though.

Maatta has improved his defensive game and has shown much more poise and consistency throughout all areas of the ice. Everyone seems to forget the fact that he’s only 23 years old and he is still maturing as a defensemen. Most defensemen don’t fully develop until their late 20’s.

Next time you want to criticize Maatta’s contract, consider the fact that his best years are yet to come and so far the season looks bright for the young Finn.

Penguins Physicality Not What You Might Think

On October 6, after a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan asked for more physicality from his players.

Physical play has been a point of contention for years in Pittsburgh as superstar veterans Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and especially Sidney Crosby have been the victims of some “liberties” dished out by opposing players who have little retribution to fear based on the Penguins roster.

Fans haven’t quite been satisfied with the contributions of protection players such as Tom Sestito, and the addition of Ryan Reaves for the 2017-18 season opens the conversation even wider. Although Reaves has been pretty good so far, the Penguins won two Stanley Cups in a row and counting with those types of players contributing minute bit parts on the journey.

So if that isn’t the kind of toughness the Penguins rely on, what kind of physicality is Sullivan asking for? Substituting the word “physicality” with the words “compete” and “body position” might give you the answer.

The game against Chicago really wasn’t that bad as far as the Penguins creating their own chances and having the puck. The Blackhawks just simply weren’t slowed down at all by any sort of physical contact. I don’t mean hitting. I mean body positioning.

Someone like Carl Hagelin seems lost so far. It’s because he’s not engaging. To create separation from an opponent, you first have to come together. That’s why in every foot race as a kid someone would always jokingly push off the person you’re racing against. It’s why basketball and soccer players post up, leaning into the opponent with their back. It helps you control where your opponent can move, and what your opponent can reach with the hands or stick.

It’s why football quarterbacks want their top receivers in one on one coverage so they can battle for position and control the defender. The quarterback always gets the credit for putting the ball “where only the receiver could get it”, but that magic spot the defender can’t reach is only created by the positioning and desire of the receiver to keep that defender away from that spot.

We always think of using your body and being physical on the defensive side of the puck. This tweet I put out a while ago is a great example of an NHL defenseman doing everything right with physicality, not in terms of hitting but just by pure compete and positioning:

But this kind of physicality is just as important on offense. Watch Partic Hornqvist‘s recent goal against the Florida Panthers:

One notable thing about Conor Sheary is how he reminds me of Crosby. It’s not his hands or his moves. It’s his strength. It’s how he keeps low and fends off anyone trying to get in his way. He craves the feeling of someone on him so he can win the battle and explode away. Crosby is famous for fending off players riding his back, using his body positioning and lower body strength to make even the best checkers look like they need to hit the gym. But if he didn’t engage in the physicality with them, he wouldn’t be able to use his strength to his advantage. What’s the point of being the strongest lower body player in the game if you never engage?

To demonstrate the point, here’s a video shot by John Moore of some Nova Scotian NHLers practicing in Halifax during the off season. James Sheppard, Zack Sill, Brad Marchand, and Crosby are all working on puck protection. Notice how little body checking there is. It’s just brute strength and intelligent body placement. The most important detail in this video is this: notice how not one single battle is won until one of these players pushes off the other and explodes away. Spoiler alert: it’s not the guy without the puck that does this in most cases. It’s the guy WITH the puck.

This is the physicality Mike Sullivan needs on both offense and “defense”.

Quickly Shaking Off The Rust

The Penguins are six games into the brand new season and they’ve already seen a roller coaster of results. One constant, though, has been the play of forward Bryan Rust.

Through the first six games, Rust has recorded eight points. He is tied with Sidney Crosby for a team high. Anytime your name is tied to Crosby’s, you are in pretty good company.

The only game Rust did not record a point in was the Chicago game. Not many people did in that contest.

It is shocking enough that Rust is scoring points at a rapid rate that is sure to slow down eventually. Perhaps, the even better part is that he is doing the things that don’t show up on the score sheet.

It’s tough to compare any ones speed to that of Carl Hagelin. Personally, I think Rust compares quite aptly, if not, might even be faster than Hagelin. Of course, Rust has a bit more scoring touch than Hagelin. But seeing Rust beat defenders outside who don’t have the chance to match his speed is something of a blessing.

I can count many times last season that he’d be in on a breakaway but could never finish. I am truthfully seeing a different player this time around.

Rust looks more complete on the ice. He might’ve even gotten a step faster. I see more willingness to shoot the puck and I see a much more methodical passer than in the previous two seasons. He just looks like he worked hard on the areas of his game that needed a bit of refining.

Playing in a top-6 role, Rust will be called upon to score frequently. He had 15 goals last season playing mostly with Evgeni Malkin and Crosby during the regular season. He only played 57 regular season games, though. He saw more time with Hagelin and Nick Bonino in last postseasons run. This season, he’s already seen time with both superstars.

Rust is going to be a key piece for the Penguins this season. If he stays healthy and plays upwards of 70 games, it’s fair to say he will score 20 goals and post 45 or more points. Keep your eye on him. Even if he isn’t putting up the points this consistently in December, watch for the little things like his speed and his willingness to win a puck battle in the corner. Those are things that don’t fade throughout a breakout  year.

WBS Results Recap: Weekend of October 15th

Welcome to the WBS recap for the weekend of October the 15th. This was the first 3 games in 3 nights of the season for the Baby Penguins who looked to rebound from their loss against Charlotte last weekend.

The Penguins were missing Chris Summers after he was recalled to the NHL and they also continue to be without Jeff Taylor, Colon Smith, Troy Josephs and Jarred Tinordi to injury.

Friday Night (10/13/17)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Home) – 5-0 Victory.

Dylan Zink slid in to Summers’ spot, otherwise, it’s the same lineup as last weekend. Despite a slow start, the Penguins romp to a 5-0 shutout victory over Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate, Lehigh Valley. Casey DeSmith got his first start of the year, completing a 33 save shutout while the Penguins PK managed to kill off all 7 powerplay opportunities for Lehigh Valley.

Scoring:
Friday 13th October

Saturday Night (10/14/17)
@ Lehigh Valley (Away) – 3-2 Loss

The same lineup 2 nights in a row with Tristan Jarry coming into the game. It was a penalty heavy game in which the Penguins cost themselves victory by failing to convert on multiple 5 on 3 opportunities, as well as failing to convert on a 5 minute major penalty. There was a late rally to bring the game to 3-2 but it was too little too late. Daniel Sprong, however, did continue his scoring streak to 3 games.

Scoring:
Saturday 14th October

Sunday Night {10/15/17)
Syracuse Crunch (Home) – 6-1 Victory

There were a few lineup changes. Zink gets scratched in favor of Ethan Prow, making his first appearance of the year. Zach Aston-Reese (who had struggled through the first 3 games) and Jarrett Burton (who took a cross check to the face resulting in a major penalty Saturday night) were replaced in the line up by Gage Quinney and Freddie Tiffels. Both Quincey and Tiffels made their season debuts.

The Penguins scored a  6-1 victory. It was a weird game with 8 minor penalties in the 2nd period alone. The Baby Penguins didn’t look like a team coming into their 3rd game in 3 days. With plenty of jump and a heavy shot advantage, they used their speed to have Syracuse chasing the play the entire game.

Scoring:

Sunday 15th October

THREE TAKEAWAYS:

1) Aston-Reese has had a rough start to the beginning of the year. He played top-6 minutes until some shuffling in the loss against Lehigh Valley and is still yet to get on the scoresheet. Only appearing in three games and looking a bit behind the play really isn’t a huge issue or something to be that concerned about yet, but his struggles are hugely different to that of Sprong. Sprong has scored 4 goals and has 2 assists through 4 games and has shown the ability to drive the play significantly.

2) Lukas Bengtsson looks perfectly healthy after his injury disrupted season and is playing at a very high level. He is registering the most time on ice (as per my naked eye as the AHL doesn’t track TOI) and playing on the top PP. There’s still some work to be done in the defensive zone as he does struggle with bigger forwards due to his size, but this is a very positive development for both the Penguins organization and for Bengtsson himself.

3) Don’t panic over guys not producing and don’t get too excited over guys producing plenty. The season is only 4 games old. However, WBS, when they’re on, look like an unstoppable offensive team. The influx of rookies like Sprong and Adam Johnson, as well as Thomas Di Pauli and Bengtsson managing to begin the year healthy has made the Baby Penguins offense look almost unstoppable at times. The Sprong-Bengtsson connection on the powerplay has created 2 carbon copy goals so far, and will likely repeat it for most of the year.

Hockey & Coffee: Week of October 8 – 14

Welcome to the newest blog here on LTP that will be posted every Monday morning at 9am that I am calling Hockey & Coffee. So, what exactly is Hockey & Coffee going to be? I will highlight three of the biggest news stories, games, and even trades throughout the ENTIRE NHL, not just the Penguins. I’m going to throw in some different stuff each week with predictions and what to watch out for etc. This gives us writers a chance to write non Penguins articles, and for our readers to get some league wide coverage from us. Now that you know what you are getting yourself into, let’s jump into some headlines…

The Great 8

 

The Washington Capitals are off to a good start to the 2017-18 season. In their first six games played they have a record of 3-2-1 and sit in a wildcard spot in the East. Much of the Capitals success comes in part of Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin has 9 goals in six games, including two hat tricks in just 13 minutes of ice time. Needless to say, Ovi and the Capitals are off to a red hot start to the season. For me personally, I am not fully convinced by the Capitals just yet. They appear to have some depth issues and clearly their defense is not nearly what is was last season, especially with Matt Niskanen going onto LTIR. However, it is hard to ever bet against Ovi and the Caps; well unless it’s the second round of the playoffs.

Bad Teams, Good Starts

The Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils, who finished 30th & 27th respectively last year, are both off to a surprisingly good start this year. The Avalanche in my eyes are not as bad as last year showed. They unfortunately had their starting goalie go down early into the season and were forced to play an unproven Calvin Pickard for the majority of the season. As shown already this year with a healthy goalie, this team has some potential to be a middle of the pack team. With the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, and newly acquired Nail Yakapov all playing well, they might be able to make a run for a wild card spot if they can hold their own throughout an 82 game season. As far as the Devils are concerned, they have a very very good goaltender who is capable in stealing a game on any given night and have a plethora of young skaters coming up. Will ButcherJesper Bratt, and Nico Hischier are leading the way as far as young guns go in NJ, but some forget about the “veterans” the Devils have. Taylor Hall is still a very good pure goal scorer, and maybe this year he has a breakout year scoring wise when playing with more depth behind him.

MAF Goes on IR

Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on IR Sunday morning after suffering a concussion Friday vs the Red Wings. Fleury was off to a good start with a 3-1-0 record in Vegas. This could have been the worst possible situation for the Golden Knights, the back bone of the team goes down early in the season. It appears newly acquired goaltender Malcolm Subban will start between the pipes during Fleury’s absence. Subban recorded his first victory of the season Sunday night in a 3-1 win vs his old squad, the Boston Bruins. Vegas fans, I would not hit the panic button yet, but boy would my hand be real close to it. Hopefully we hear some good news regarding Fleury’s status in the near future.

A Look Ahead:

  • Games to watch out for: Leafs vs Capitals (Tuesday 10/17),  Oilers vs Blackhawks (Thursday 10/19)
  • Expect a big week from Auston Matthews, (5 points in 3 games)
  • I’m predicting a Patrik Laine hat trick Tuesday vs CBJ

We are not affiliated with the Pittsburgh Penguins in any way. We just hope to bring you coverage you will enjoy.