Monday Morning Thoughts: Crosby The NHL’s Premier All-Star

Sidney Crosby didn’t take home Sunday night’s All-Star Game MVP award. That went to Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. Crosby did record his first two points ever in all star game competition. It’s only the second time he’s competed in an all star game competition due to various reasons such as injuries to Olympic participation.

– As the Penguins return to PPG Paints Arena to play the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the question of who will be the netminder remains to be answered. Matt Murray has all but seized the starting job as proven by his heightened work load over the past three weeks. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t started a game since January 14 in Detroit where he allowed 6 goals on 34 shots.

– Personally, if I’m the Penguins, unless I’m blown away by an offer for Fleury, I’m keeping him through the end of the season and dealing with the problem then. Fleury is an experienced goalie heading into the postseason and someone like Tristan Jarry, who’s never played in an NHL game, wouldn’t be the ideal starter if something would happen to Murray. Of course, if they package him in a deal for a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk, then you do it with ease. It’s a very unlikely possibility. But a possibility nonetheless.

– A guy who’s not getting enough recognition is Chad Ruhwedel. As I wrote earlier this week, Ruhwedel is quietly enjoying success at the NHL level. Hopefully, they can get Kris Letang back soon which would relegate Ruhwedel back to the seventh defenseman. I don’t say this in a negative way because who wants to be without their top defenseman. But carrying Ruhwedel on the roster the rest of the season as an insurance to the Penguins’ oft-injured defense corps is going to pay off.

– Both Jarry and defenseman David Warsofsky participated in the AHL’s skills competition Sunday night. Warsofsky took part in the hardest shot contest recording the second highest shot at 98.4 MPH. Jarry went a perfect 3-for-3 on the “Pass and Score” Competition. He stopped 5 of 10 in the “Rapid Fire” Competition.

– The Penguins gear up for 13 games in the month of February. Only five of those games ( 2 vs. CBJ, 1 vs. DET, CAR, PHI) will be against Eastern Conference opponents. February 9 is a 9 PM start against Colorado. Other than that, not many surprises on this schedule coming up.

Phil Kessel was among the lost of snubs from the ASG in Los Angeles over the weekend but he doesn’t mind. His 46 points are good enough for T-11th in the points race with Leon Draisaitl and Evgeni Malkin‘s injury replacement Cam Atkinson. Many believed Kessel should’ve made the game because of the Blue Jackets already sending goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman Seth Jones to the game while Malkin, a Penguin, should’ve been replaced by a teammate.

Justin Schultz has to be a priority this offseason, right? At the level he’s playing at, the last thing the Penguins can do is allow him to walk in free agency. He is a restricted free agent though. If he makes it to that point without a new deal, the Penguins can match any offer and would receive compensation if the Penguins let him go for a certain price tag. Schultz’s 35 points are an incredible number for a guy who, one short year ago, was rotting away on the Edmonton Oilers’ blue line.

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