Tag Archives: Mike Sullivan

COLUMN: The Non-Move That Won The Pens A Cup

Let me start by saying that Sidney Crosby is deserving of the Conn Smythe. I do believe it should’ve gone to Evgeni Malkin but Crosby was just about as equally deserving.

But let’s make no mistake about it, had it been possible to give the Conn Smythe to a split tandem of Pittsburgh goaltenders, there’s no doubt in my mind they were the club’s most valuable players.

Without Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins don’t beat Washington. They probably squeak by Columbus with an average backup goalie because they were simply the better team. The game seven shutout of Washington in the second round was about as disheartening to a fan base as the inevitable Fleury trade will be for this one. He carried that momentum two games into the Ottawa series, then things went south.

A bad nine minutes in game three, where he allowed four goals on nine shots, will soon turn into the final outing that Fleury had as a Pittsburgh Penguin. Let me remind you, Fleury is considered the back up.

So, when the starter got his chance, he wasn’t going to look back.

Matt Murray was very good over the final four and a half games of the Eastern Conference Finals. He faced barrages from the Senators and battled tooth and nail with embattled Senators goalie Craig Anderson for a victory in seven games.

Murray took on the Cinderella story from Nashville. He opposed Pekka Rinne, a leader for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Finals, and thoroughly played better. The Penguins made Rinne look silly on several occasions. Although it seemed that mid-series that the Predators had figured Murray out, Mike Sullivan‘s confidence didn’t waiver. He stuck it out with Murray who repaid the coach with, not one, but TWO shutouts in the final two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Murray is still considered a rookie. He is the only player in NHL history to win two Cups as a rookie. While this comes on sort of a technicality, it doesn’t downplay the magnitude of him spearheading two Stanley Cup championships. Who’s to say the Penguins would or wouldn’t be in this situation today had Murray not hurt his groin in the pregame of the game one of the Blue Jackets series?

But that wasn’t the case. Fleury stepped in and did an admirable job. One that Tristan Jarry simply wouldn’t have been able to do.

Credit Jim Rutherford for that one.

As trade deadline day approached, an unsettling feeling grew within the stomach of Marc-Andre Fleury. He was drafted by the Penguins in 2003 and has played his entire career to this point with Pittsburgh. The rumors ran rampant that he’d be moved to another team as his trade value seemed to be plummeting ever so quickly after his truthfully horrible regular season.

Rutherford surprised everyone and stuck to his guns saying that it’s never a bad thing to have two goalies of the caliber that Murray and Fleury are. Rutherford wants to keep both goalies. It’s practically impossible at this point.

The impending Vegas Golden Knights franchise will be drafting in a few weeks to assemble their team for the upcoming year and Fleury is undoubtedly on their radar. After his playoff performance, he’ll be on a few other teams’ radar.

As I mentioned before, the Penguins don’t beat Washington without Fleury. It doesn’t happen. He was spot on against Alex Ovechkin and outdueled Braden Holtby with no reason to look over his shoulder.

Rutherford not moving Fleury is a credit to Rutherford’s intelligence as a general manager. It’s a huge reason why the Penguins repeated as Stanley Cup champions and why they have a legitmate shot to win yet again in 2018.

Pens In Need of A Bounce Back

Not often will a team that played one of it’s worst games of the season come out victorious. That’s exactly what the Penguins did Monday night. If the Penguins want to win Wednesday, they will absolutely have to be better.

They went 37 consecutive minutes without a shot on goal and were sloppy in their zone entries. They allowed Matt Murray to be tested more often than they would’ve preferred without a doubt. So where do they go from here?

This Mike Sullivan led team does not lose consecutive games. It’s in their DNA to avoid being unacceptingly horrific in two straight contests. They just won’t accept it.

Sullivan kept reiterating the lack of pushback from his team in his postgame conference after game one and how the Penguins were unable to do so when the Predators went on attack.

“When you’re playing a team like Nashville that has a balanced attack, you’ve got to have some pushback. I don’t think in the second period we had any pushback.”

He’s right.

As the Penguins somehow tip-toed out of a shotless second period, the first in the franchise’s history, only allowing one goal after a three goal onslaught in period one, it became increasingly clear that the Penguins couldn’t cling to the lead much longer. The Predators then tied the game accordingly until Jake Guentzel, a near scratch before Monday, and buried a laser in behind Nashville goalie, Pekka Rinne, who was absolutely abysmal in that game.

It’s very likely the Penguins won’t see this bad of a Rinne and this lackluster of a Predators team the rest of the series. They will need to be better and, if they are, the Penguins should be in the driver’s seat comfortably heading into Nashville.

Credit Mike Sullivan For Making Changes Even When Unpopular

Coach Mike Sullivan might only have near the same amount of time behind the bench as a head coach as Connor McDavid has playing in the NHL, but he’s shown the wisdom of a tenured coach like Joel Quenneville or Mike Babcock. Just like what these 2 men already obtained, Sullivan is trying to join them as a multi-time Stanley Cup winning coach.

Make no mistake about it, Sullivan has earned his stripes and is just as responsible for the Penguins getting this far as any player on the ice.

Years of being an assistant coach taught him how to be a general right there, commanding respect even when he does something unpopular that might get questioning from some fans, even if its the right move.

Inserting Matt Murray in goal for games 4 and 5 put him under fire by many (though I agreed with the move) but that’s exactly what the Pens needed, a spark that would turn into a fire. You can’t argue with the results since the move, a must win on the road followed by a 7-0 blowout, Sullivan created some change.

There could of been many 2nd guessers based on how great Marc-Andre Fleury had played so far these playoffs, but Sullivan stuck to his gut and went with his guy Matt Murray. None of the nay sayers are saying anything now.

It goes much further than just the goalie situation, Sullivan has evolved the team from game to game and series to series, shuffling lines around without hesitation to make the Penguins squad better. That meant sitting guys who have been staples of the team we have come to know and love. Now sometimes the moves he made were forced because of injury, but that doesn’t mean he’s pieced together some wonderful things.

Look at the line with center Nick Bonino being thrown along with Bryan Rust and Carter Rowney, they might have been the most dominant line in game 5, but it was Sullivan who put them together. He’s learned when to keep a nice line going and when to tweak it around for proper filling.

Josh Archibald has made a positive impact since being called upon to play his role, that meant sitting players like Tom Kuhnhackle (even before he got hurt) and Connor Sheary, guys who have helped all year. Sullivan learned early and often that you can’t please everyone, it’s about winning and not other’s feelings.

They’re not done either, there’s still some wins to go and I bet we will still see some more changes made. Whether that’s calling up another winger or dressing 1 more defenseman because of a Chad Ruhwedel injury, Mike Sullivan will get it done. He isn’t afraid to make any choice no matter the preference on the move.

No player or team does it alone, Sullivan’s made great decisions on a team that’s been worn thin by sidelined players, but he still needs the Evgeni Malkin’s and Phil Kessel’s of the world to contribute. Those great players still need the right coach, Sullivan has fit that bill so far in his 2016 and now 2017 playoff durations, though they’re not finished yet!

Series Analysis: Pens Top Caps in 7

Wow.  The Penguins did it again.

And should we even really be shocked any more?

On the 1 year anniversary of the Nick Bonino overtime winner against the Capitals last year in game 6, the Penguins once again beat their division rival to move on to the next round.  Although this time, it took 7 games.  Going into the game, many Penguins fans thought that the Caps were going to end it.  I knew that if any team was going to pull off this win, it would be the Penguins, but I really didn’t think they actually would.

Well until they did, of course.

Marc-Andre Fleury pitched a shutout, which adds to this story-book ending of the series, as the Penguins knock the Capitals out of the playoffs with a 2-0 win in Washington, and now hold a 9-1 lead in the series against the Caps.

Let’s make this clear: A Penguins’ team that was clearly concerned about losing Kris Letang for 1 game against the Capitals last year just took out the President’s Trophy winners without him.

And Matt Murray

And a banged up D-core…

Oh yeah, and they played almost 2 games without Conor Sheary and Sidney Crosby!

Not to mention that this was a Capitals team that remained healthy all year, were healthy in the playoffs, dealt for Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline, and were once again the clear favorites to finally lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Until they ran into the Penguins.  Again.

The Penguins were outplayed for the majority of this series, but they found ways to win hockey games, 4 out of 7 to be exact, against an extremely talented hockey team.  So, how did the Penguins pull it off, despite blowing a 3-1 series lead and having to go back to Washington for a do-or-die game 7?  Here is my series analysis, which includes 5 main reasons as to why the Penguins were able to emerge victorious, once again:

Marc-Andre Fleury > Braden Holtby

The Capitals needed Braden Holtby to be…well…Braden Holtby if they were going to beat the Penguins in these 2017 playoffs.  In fact, they simply needed Holtby to be the better goaltender between him and Fleury.  Unfortunately, for the Capitals, this was not the case.

The Penguins generated some decent chances throughout the series, but not once outshot the Capitals in a single game.  Holtby did not have to stop a ton of pucks, so one would think that he would have had the edge over Fleury.

Well, he may have.  But the stats indicate otherwise.

Holtby had an abysmal .887 save percentage (17 goals on 151 shots), compared to his .925 save percentage in the regular season, good enough for the former Vezina winner to be yet another nominee to win the trophy for the 2016-17 year as the NHL’s top goaltender. However, it was the Penguins’ goaltender, Fleury, that looked like the Vezina Trophy nominee in this series.

Fleury kept his hot play from round 1 going into round 2, and put up a .921 save percentage (18 goals on 227 shots) in this series, including a shutout in game 7.   Although a .921 save percentage is quite good, I still do not think it even comes close to describing how well he played in this series and how many absolutely unbelievable stops he made.  One, in particular, comes to mind:

Without their top defenseman Letang, the Penguins will need him to continue to be their best player if they want a chance at moving on.  Fleury seems up to the task, as he holds a .927 save percentage in these playoffs.  If he can keep up these kind of stats behind a dangerous Penguins’ offense that leads the NHL in playoff scoring…they just might have a chance.

Penguins’ Stars > Capitals’ Stars

Simply put, throughout the series, the Penguins star players stepped up to the plate.  The Capitals’ stars didn’t, especially when they needed it most in game 7.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was, in my opinion, the Capitals’ best player this series.  He needed to be a factor if the Capitals were to win this series, but he should not have been their best player…

Alexander Ovechkin had a few goals, sure, but none of them were game-changers.  He made mistakes in his defensive zone that cost his team goals more often than not, and played in a 3rd line in the final 3 games of the series, receiving less ice time than 6 other Capitals’ forwards in game 7.

Nick Backstrom had his moments, but didn’t really stick out at all to me.

TJ Oshie was largely just kind of there for this series.  He generated chances and was often causing mayhem in front of the net, but he did not contribute much offensively.

Justin Williams, Mr. Game 7 himself, was “out-Mr.-Game-7-ed” by Penguins’ forward Bryan Rust, and was largely invisible for the entire series.

John Carlson was…wait, who is he?

On the Penguins side, Crosby was about as good as it gets when he was healthy. Evgeni Malkin didn’t play his best hockey throughout the series but generated good chances, put up decent stats, and stepped up when Sid was out. Phil Kessel scored a few important goals for the Pens and continued to impress in the playoffs. Jake Guentzel continued his production and still leads the NHL playoffs in goal scoring. Nick Bonino came in clutch again in game 1 to give the Penguins the win.  And somehow, someway, Rust scored again and leaves Washington, DC with another elimination game game-winning goal in his back pocket.

Simply put: the Penguins’ big named guys outplayed the Capitals’ big named guys when it mattered most.  Period.

Quick Strike Ability

For the majority of this series, the Penguins were badly outplayed.  Ironically, one of their better games, game 3, was one of the games they would lose.  Regardless, the Penguins truly were not the better team for probably 80% of this series.

They were outshot 227-151, and often times the Capitals were able to have multiple shifts in a game where they would have the Penguins completely pinned in their zone.  The Penguins were not able to do this often to the Capitals.  And yet, they were able to win the series.

I think this was mainly due to the Penguins quick strike ability.  It seemed as though many of the Penguins goals came after an extended shift for Washington when it seemed like they were going to get a goal.  All of the sudden, someone has a breakaway or the Penguins have a 3 on 2 the other way and score.

The Penguins shooting percentage was 11.26% in this series, which is incredibly high.  I really do not think Holtby played an awful series.  His stats were not good at all, but I honestly think the Penguins simply scored at will when they needed to and generated high-danger scoring chances and capitalized, unlike the Caps.

The Penguins Are In Their Heads

The Penguins own a 9-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals, and Ovechkin has yet to see an Eastern Conference Final.  Oh, and every Stanley Cup the Penguins’ have won in the Crosby era involve the Penguins going through Washington.

Need I say more?

Mike Sullivan

The Penguins, somehow, took a 3-1 series lead into game 5, but it certainly did not feel like a 3-1 series lead.  The Penguins even took a 2-1 lead into the 3rd period of game 5, before allowing 3 goals in the 3rd and losing 4-2.  The Penguins then came back home for a game 6 with another chance to wipe out the Capitals, and were just straight up man-handled.  The Caps put up 5 straight goals to open the scoring, and the Pens would lose 5-2 as Guentzel and Malkin put up meaningless tallies in the games’ waning minutes.

The series then shifted to Washington for game 7, and it just screamed 2010 Eastern Conference Finals against the Canadiens all over again.  The Penguins had the 3-1 lead coming off of a Cup win the previous year, but just became too fatigued and did not have the drive, heart, or energy to finish it off.

Except the guy behind the bench isn’t Michel Therrien or Dan Bylsma.

Sullivan and his coaching staff should receive a ton of credit for this game 7 win and series win.  The Penguins, after being dominated at home in embarrassing fashion, had a practice that was almost entirely X’s and O’s, as stated by multiple sites/sources.  The coaching staff knew what they needed to adjust against Washington, and clearly, they pushed the right buttons, as the 2-0 final game 7 score indicated.  Sullivan said after the game that this was the best game for the Penguins this postseason, and it’s hard to disagree.

This team felt the pressure of game 7, but they fed off of it, rather than let it get to them like this team had in the past, and I attribute that to Mike Sullivan.  He has changed this team and their mindset, and makes it extremely difficult to ever count these Penguins out.

Sullivan is now 6-0 in playoff series as the Penguins’ head coach, and you can bet he wants to be 8-0 after this year.

He’s not done, and these Penguins aren’t done either…

Bring it on, Ottawa.

COLUMN: It’s Go Time

It’s Wednesday. Tonight, the Penguins will look to win their fourth game of the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators all while avoiding becoming the first team to allow the Capitals to get to the Conference Finals for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era.

But this isn’t even about that.

The narrative that the Capitals don’t win the big games is there. The narrative that Ovechkin will never win a Stanley Cup is there. The “Penguins blew a 3-1 lead” narrative would be there.

It’s not even about those.

It’s about how the Penguins respond. As a team that has been pegged as one of the most resilient teams in the NHL, what gives with the two flattest performances in a long time in games five and six? The stars have gone cold and the fans have gotten colder.

Here’s a narrative for all of you: How many of you actually believed at the beginning of this series that we’d breeze through the Capitals in five games? I can guarantee not many of you did. I didn’t.

I had “#PensIn6” at the beginning of the series and that, to me, was best case scenario. Here we are. The NHL’s two best regular season teams in a game seven for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t think it gets much better.

Of course, panic sets in because Washington was able to win two straight games and have all the momentum going home to Washington. But how do you define momentum?

“The impetus gained by a moving object,” is the non-physics definition of momentum. If you watch a hockey game, you’ll know that both team’s are moving objects. There is no physical object moving from game to game aside from time.

And it’s go time for the Penguins.

The Sidney Crosby‘s and Evgeni Malkin‘s of the world need to get going. The Phil Kessel‘s of the world have yet to show up to the playoffs. Luckily, Marc-Andre Fleury has absolutely stolen three wins in this series. It’s time the team wins for him.

It’s inevitable that this is Fleury’s last ride in a Penguins’ uniform with the emergence of Matt Murray and the looming expansion draft. I would hate for that pathetic 5-0 loss to be the final time Fleury plays in PPG Paints Arena while donning a Penguins uniform.

Mike Sullivan will need to be better, too. Go back to what worked. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Whatever the hell that game was on Monday night, that was broke. So it needs fixed.

And there is a simple fix.

Take Conor Sheary OFF of Crosby’s line. Take him so far off that he’s witnessing the game from the press box. Put Guentzel back on Crosby’s line where he leads the NHL in goals for the playoffs. They were together for all of a few shifts last night and managed to score a goal in the waning minutes. Guentzel scored, Crosby assisted.

And by all means, shoot the puck.

Watching the Penguins power play on Monday was abysmal. The constant passing and looking for the perfect shot drive me crazy. Braden Holtby has not been good in this series at all. The Penguins are not putting shots on him. He’s had 3 different instances where he’s faced less than twenty shots and has given up two or more goals in each game. He’s 1-2 in those games.

If the Penguins just throw shots at him like the Pirates give up home runs, then the Penguins will win that game. Mark my words.

It’s go time, Pittsburgh. Let them hear you in Washington. Keep the dream alive. But just remember, if the Penguins do lose, it’s nearly impossible these days to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins are 5-0 in game seven’s on the road in franchise history. They’ve done it in Washington twice. Tonight, the Penguins need to be immortal and do so again to avoid becoming a part of a very familiar meme…

COLUMN: When “Just Play” Becomes The Way

Three coaches are nominated for the Jack Adams Award every season. This year’s nominees are Mike Babcock of the Maple Leafs, Todd McLellan of the Oilers, and John Tortorella of the Blue Jackets. I will see your three my-team-sucked-last-year-and-I-turned-it-around coaches and raise you the guy in charge of the NHL’s best team, Mike Sullivan.

Like, really. Is Sullivan being exempt from the list some kind of sick cruel joke? I guess the same case could be made for Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz being left off the list, too. But what Sullivan can do to make a team missing it’s best defenseman and, not only the teams best forward, but the world’s best player is mind boggling.

The Penguins could’ve easily targeted the trash can defenseman that wears number 2 for the Washington Capitals, Matt Niskanen. But why waste your time throwing around something you already think is wasteful?

Revenge is a dish served cold. I don’t think there was anything colder than handing the Capitals their third loss of the series after yet another President’s Trophy and putting them on the brink of elimination for the second time in as many seasons.

Not only did Niskanen suffer yet another loss in the playoffs, something Capitals players and fans alike have gotten used to, he was a part of probably the meanest thing goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has ever done.

After hearing about it from many players and fans, Fleury added the names of James Neal and Niskanen to the back of an already crowded helmet in sharpie. Before the game, he taped over the writing of Niskanen’s name in response to his highly controversial hit on Sidney Crosby. I’m positive you’ve seen it already, but you can’t really grasp the magnitude and savageness of the act until you’re staring at it. So for your viewing pleasure:

That’s all the revenge that the Pens attempted personally towards the former Penguin. They knew that winning is everything and the only thing. They sure taught the Capitals a lesson they have yet to learn in the Ovechkin era and thats how to win anything meaningful.

So what? One revengeful win makes Sullivan a shoe-in for the Jack Adams? No, but there is plenty more to talk about.

Not every team is blessed with a Kris Letang AND Sidney Crosby. That’s not to even mention Evgeni Malkin as the “third fiddle” if you will. When the aforementioned two aren’t playing in a game, specifically the playoffs, the Pens go from odds on favorites to “Welp, Caps in 5”. But this coach wouldn’t let that happen.

The Dan Bylsma‘s would’ve given guys like Carter Rowney and Matt Cullen 20 minutes a night. The Mike Johnston‘s would’ve plugged together some line combinations and wished upon a star hoping it worked harder than James Harrison in the offseason. Instead, Sullivan demands results. Sullivan demands integrity and grit and 110% effort on 150% of the plays. That’s where he’s different.

In a game where the lines looked like this…

Sullivan generated a lineup that scored three goals. Yes, they didn’t look great doing it. And yes, their starting goaltender had to do just about anything he could to win them the game.

Yes, that is Chris Kunitz on the first line. You don’t need your bifocals. I promise your eyes aren’t deceiving. And while Brian Dumoulin has been below average, Ian Cole is playing some of the best hockey of any defenseman in the playoffs still.

He laid the body continuously on the Capitals and made them ponder if they even wanted to stay on the ice.

That’s a hockey play, Trotz. Not slashing and tripping the NHL’s best player into a cross check from a former teammate who Crosby has never been all that fond of, anyway.

We watched this lineup get beat pretty badly by the Capitals yet again. The barrage didn’t stop. Their Stanley Cup winning goaltender helped lift them to another win to take it to 3-1, the “worst series lead in sports”.

As Sullivan’s “Just Play” message resonated through the Penguins’ player’s heads on a night when they could’ve targeted every culprit in the book, they didn’t. They played with class and integrity on the minds. They weren’t trying to tip the scales in their favor by taking out a very quality player on the Capitals roster where there is a lot of them. That I must admit. But in a world where the Capitals are to focused on “Sid-Nay”, the Penguins are thinking “just play”.

Mike Sullivan’s Case For Jack Adams

2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series - Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins go into tonight’s action against the Buffalo Sabres 1 point back of both the division lead in the Metro and the lead on the Presidents Trophy, awarded to the team who finishes with the most points in the NHL, with less than 3 weeks remaining in the NHL regular season.  A huge reason that the Penguins are in the position that they are is because of Mike Sullivan.

You know, the Mike Sullivan that turned the hibernating Penguins of last year into an offensive juggernaut that went on to win the Stanley Cup.

That same coach continues to impress, and has an extremely strong case for taking home the Jack Adams Award, which is awarded to the coach who is deemed to have contributed the most to his team’s success.

Not only should Mike Sullivan be a candidate to receive this award, but he should win.  Easily.

Some may argue that Sullivan should not receive the award, because the Penguins are such a skilled team that was expected to be towards the top of their division and conference by the end of the year.  Some have made cases for guys such as Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, Capitals coach Barry Trotz, Leafs coach Mike Babcock, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, or even Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.  Although all of these coaches are fair candidates to receive the award, Sullivan deserves it even more so.

And no, this is not a result of a “Penguins fan bias.”  Let the statistics speak for themselves in the graph below:

man games lost 20162017

On the horizontal axis is “team total man-games lost to injury” and on the vertical axis is “team wins.”  In addition, the bubble size of each team represents the quality of injured players.  For example, if the Penguins had 200 man games lost to injury, but the majority of those man games lost were to bottom 6 forwards and depth defenseman, the bubble would be small, whereas if they had 200 man games lost while missing guys such as Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Kessel, etc. the bubble would be large.

At first glance, it seems as though the only bubble that is larger than the Penguins is Buffalo, who currently are not in the playoff picture and likely will not make the playoffs barring a huge win streak down the stretch.  The Penguins bubble is also very close to the size of the Red Wings’ and Canucks’ bubbles, but both of these teams are also not in the playoff picture and likely won’t be in 3 weeks.

The Penguins?  Well, they’re fighting for a president’s trophy and for 1st place in the best division in hockey this year.

To make things more interesting, try to look for the other teams that have been extremely successful this year: Washington, Columbus, Chicago, Minnesota…you’ll find them all with relatively smaller/medium size bubbles and towards the upper left of the graph, meaning that they do not have many man-games lost to injury compared to the rest of the NHL and that the guys they are not high quality guys, relatively speaking.  In fact, the only 2 teams with more man-games lost to injury than the Penguins that are in the playoff picture are Anaheim and Edmonton, but neither are fighting for a division championship in the toughest division in hockey.  Also, neither of their bubble sizes are near that of Pittsburgh’s.

So if the Penguins have the 10th most man-games lost to injury in the NHL as well as having the most cumulative quality of players injured besides Buffalo, how are the Penguins in a position to still end the season as the President’s Trophy winners?

Mike Sullivan.

To add to it, the Penguins have been without 6 or 7 guys for the last 9 games that would usually be in the starting lineup.  The Penguins record in those games? 7-1-1.

To add to that, the Penguins lead the NHL in goals for per game at 3.46,and shots per game at 34.1, despite all the injuries.  They rank 16th in the NHL is goals against per game, which is not bad when considering that their #1 defenseman, Kris Letang, has only played in 41 of the teams’ 71 games, and both Daley and Maatta, the Penguins usual 2nd D pair, have both been out for at least a month.  Guys like Chad Ruhwedel, Cameron Gaunce, and others that many did not think would be getting any time, have had to play top 4 minutes occasionally due to all the defensive injuries for the Penguins.  The Penguins will likely be playing their 12th defenseman of the season tonight, as newly acquired Frank Corrado will play on the 3rd pair with Mark Streit, according to the morning skate line rushes.

For a team that has missed guys such as Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Maatta, Daley, Sheary, and Rust for some time to still lead the NHL in goals for per game, is just absolutely incredible, and the man who deserves that credit is Mike Sullivan.

Could you imagine if/when this Penguins team gets healthy for the playoffs?!

Give the man the Jack Adams Award already…