Penguins GM Jim Rutherford would like to add a bottom-six goal-scorer to Pittsburgh’s forward group.
“If it’s a guy who’s capable of scoring a goal or a big goal, I would like to get that guy because if [Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin] get shut down, we need to be able to win games with our third and fourth lines,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this morning.
“That’s what teams try to do to us. They try to shut those guys down. If they shut those guys down, and you don’t have enough balance on your third and fourth line where you can score periodically, then you can’t win.”
(See: the 2013 Eastern Conference Final versus Boston.)
The challenge for Rutherford is to find “that guy,” and to find him for a reasonable price.
Some have suggested the Penguins go out and get Jaromir Jagr. But according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, that’s “highly, highly unlikely.”
Chris Stewart is another candidate, we suppose. (Is he a good candidate? That’s debatable.)
Maybe Antoine Vermette? He’s not likely to come cheap though.
Suffice to say, the pickings are rather slim.
Remember also the salary-cap uncertainty that may end up defining the 2015 trade deadline, with GMs hesitant to add players with term on their contracts, and Rutherford has his work cut out.
NBC continues its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center at 12:30 pm ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.
Despite being among the NHL’s gold-standard franchises, the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins don’t meet all that often. When they do, it’s quite the treat, and hockey fans can check out their latest meeting on NBC.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks bested the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout. Pittsburgh’s a much healthier team today than they were then, as Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin were unable to play on Jan. 21.
To point out the obvious, this game should be a star-studded affair. Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury join Letang and Malkin as Pittsburgh’s potent stalwarts. Chicago remains loaded with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa.
Hossa’s noteworthy beyond his very-brief status as a Penguin, as he has seven goals in his last four games.
One would think that both teams hope this contest will be a springboard for a strong finish to the regular season.
February has gone really well for Pittsburgh so far. They’ve won four of six games since a rocky month of January ended, including two straight contests. They also should be well-rested since they haven’t played since Thursday and only dealt with two games this week.
The Blackhawks’ efforts have been solid-to-good (at least from a shots perspective), yet their results have been a little frustrating. They’ve split their six games in February and are just 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.
In other words, these two teams have struggled – at least compared to their typically elite work – but there are plenty of reasons to believe that they can kick things up a notch before the games get a lot bigger. We might just see a little bit of that this afternoon.
That was Penguins winger Blake Comeau speaking this morning ahead of tonight’s game against the Red Wings (on NBCSN).
Comeau is likely to make his return to the lineup after missing almost two months with a wrist injury. He says he feels good and that shooting the puck is no problem.
“I feel good, feel confident,” he said. “I didn’t want to come back and be second-guessing it, so that’s where I’m at right now, is that I don’t have to go out there and think about it. I can just go out and play.”
When Comeau was injured, he had 11 goals and eight assists in 32 games — a pleasant surprise for the Penguins.
He’s expected to skate on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist.