One area the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t lacking in is on defense.
That may sound surprising to some who watched the Islanders and Bruins score plenty of goals against Pittsburgh in the postseason, but when you look at the organizational depth on the blue line this is a team that doesn’t need much help. Take a look at what they’ve got headed into this season on the back line.
Kris Letang was a Norris Trophy finalist last season thanks to his offensive production. His defensive play has picked up in recent seasons and if he can cut out his penchant for taking retaliatory penalties, he could be even better. Paul Martin’s play last year showed that his first season in Pittsburgh was just one big slump as he was one of the Penguins’ most consistent players.
Matt Niskanen’s play improved to a point that helps make the James Neal-Alex Goligoski deal look even more lopsided. Brooks Orpik… Could’ve been better, but Rob Scuderi will jump in to help him carry the defensive load. The talent doesn’t stop there though.
Young guys like Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres will push for more ice time in Pittsburgh on their third pairing and Deryk Engelland showed he’s more than a fist-thrower. He has to do that because the skill coming up is strong.
Derrick Pouliot (2012 1st round) was part of Team Canada’s World Junior camp and was excellent last season in the WHL for Portland.
Brian Dumoulin (acquired in Jordan Staal deal), Olli Maatta (2012 first-round), Scott Harrington (2011 2nd round), and Philip Samuelsson (2009 2nd round) round out an exceptional group of kids, some of which will be knocking on the door in the AHL this year.
With this kind of depth, Pens GM Ray Shero was comfortable in moving Joe Morrow in the deal to get Brenden Morrow last season. It’s also this kind of depth that led to rumors of Kris Letang possibly being moved before he agreed to a monster extension with the Pens.
Say what you will about Pittsburgh’s defense, but they’re not lacking in talent or options. That’s the kind of thing that should make Marc-Andre Fleury a happy guy.
Alex Burrows doesn’t want a trade out of Vancouver and he wants to make sure everyone knows it.
On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman reported that Burrows was potentially willing to waive his no-trade clause if a deal came up.
When asked about the report, Burrows went into denial mode.
“There’s no truth to that,” Burrows told beat reporter Ben Kuzma. “I’ve never talked to management or coaches about it.
“Last time I talked to my agent was to wish him Merry Christmas.”
Whether or not Burrows is willing to accept a deal out of Vancouver may be irrelevant.
The 34-year-old has seven goals and 16 points in 53 games this season, and he comes with a cap hit of $4.5 million dollars next season.
That’s pretty steep for a guy who’s on pace to score just 25 points this year.
If the Canucks want to find a taker for his services (assuming he’s willing to go), they’ll likely have to take a good-sized contract back or they’ll have to eat some of his remaining salary.
It makes sense that a swift bit of history happened in a game in which three goals were scored scored on three shots in about three minutes.
Brad Marchand found the net eight seconds in after an icing call, setting a new record for the Boston Bruins.
(You can see that goal in the video above.)
Watch that three-goal burst in this video:
The two teams weren’t done then. Loui Eriksson made it 3-1 while Pavel Datsyuk scored his 900th point to make it 3-2.
Maybe the best moment wasn’t a goal: Torey Krug was seemingly hurt by a Pavel Datsyuk hit, yet he returned without missing much time.
When the New Jersey Devils shut down a team 1-0, it’s usually with Cory Schneider in net.
Their workhorse got the afternoon off against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, yet Keith Kinkaid did his Schneider impression, grabbing his first NHL shutout in the process.
It was a low-event game with just 46 combined shots on goal, but Kinkaid had to work, stopping all 28 shots. To give you an idea of how tight this game was, the only tally was credited to David Schlemko on the power play.
This gives the Devils three straight wins. They managed to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New Jersey’s edge is a little misleading; the Islanders trail them by one standings point while holding three games in hand.
That leaves the Islanders in the bottom wild card spot, while the Penguins aren’t so far behind either.
Third in Metro: Devils – 65 points with 57 games played
Second wildcard: Islanders – 64 points, 54 GP
First spot outside the East playoffs: Penguins – 63 points, 54 GP
So, the Devils’ hold of a playoff spot is a bit tenuous, yet the bottom line is that they’re staying in the mix.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain comfortably in first in the Pacific.
The Boston Bruins (without Patrice Bergeron) take on the Detroit Red Wings (missing Jonathan Ericsson) on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a matchup between the second-ranked and third-ranked teams in the Atlantic Division, with little separating the two in the standings.
You can watch the game on NBC and also stream it online via the link below.
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