In my mind’s eye, the Pittsburgh Penguins will always be a finesse team. Back in the Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr Era, their teams were typically explosive on offense and soft on defense*, making them an adventure to watch on both ends of the ice.
* Aside from a few dirty hitters such as Ulf Samuelsson and one of my childhood favorites, Darius Kasparaitis.
Yet ever since current head coach Dan Bylsma took the mantle from Michel Therrien, the Penguins rapidly transformed from a cute and cuddly group into a rugged team that can go toe-to-toe with their cross-state rivals in Philadelphia. Another big thematic change came when the team traded downy soft offensive defenseman to Anaheim for forechecking demon Chris Kunitz. Although Kunitz isn’t a consistent fighter, his addition signaled that the Penguins would morph into a club that is uncomfortable to play against.
In fact, Puck Daddy points out the fact that the Pens are among the league leaders in fighting majors, lead the league in total penalties and rank second in total penalty minutes.
The question remains: is their newfound toughness a good thing? From the most basic standpoint, the mindset brings heightened security for stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin while conversely increasing the number of penalties the team must kill. Greg Wyshynski studied season-to-season results and didn’t find a conclusive trend while Seth Rorabaugh wonders if it’s such a good thing.
That’s all good and well, but is it becoming a problem? Leading the league in times shorthanded isn’t exactly a good thing. Granted, when you have the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL, the severity of that issue is lessened, but that’s still a lot of time the Penguins have to spend playing defense for the most part. It’s also lot of time their two best players – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – are likely to ride the bench.
And while their penalty kill is obviously excellent, it’s not dangerous the same way the Flyers’ is with the scoring abilities of Mike Richards or Claude Giroux.
So are the Penguins better off playing their old, borderline pacifistic style or are they better off taking the good and bad that comes with getting into a lot of scuffles? Let us know in the comments.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.
Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.
(It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)
You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …
… Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.
It remains to be seen if the Ottawa Senators can avoid losing against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, but either way, it’s been a costly night.
The Senators saw two forwards leave the game with injuries, as Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad were banged up on Tuesday.
Michalek may have gotten hurt blocking a shot while a Radko Gudas hit on Zibanejad left the Senators forward with an upper-body injury.
Gudas may get a call from the league for his infractions.
Update: Michalek’s issue could be significant.
The Flyers ended up beating the Senators 4-2, so a tough night for Ottawa.
In hockey terms, Patrick Kane was like a star basketball player left alone for an almost strange amount of time to score. Sometimes you miss that opportunity out of the sheer shock of getting that much time and space.
Devan Dubnyk wasn’t so lucky, however, as Kane beat him to score a 1-1 goal.
You can watch the whole sequence in the video above, including an absolutely fantastic play by Duncan Keith.
With that tally, Kane’s scoring streak is now at 20 games, leaving him one game behind Bobby Hull’s Chicago Blackhawks record.
PHT discusses Kane’s streak and his place among the all-time great runs in the clip below.