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It’s Pittsburgh Penguins day on PHT

Aug 29, 2013, 9:26 AM EDT

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin AP

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Pittsburgh Penguins.

Last season didn’t turn out quite how GM Ray Shero intended. Sure, the Penguins made it to the Eastern Conference finals, but his veteran acquisitions that pushed the team “all in” (Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jarome Iginla) all lost a step against a hungrier Boston Bruins team.

For many teams, making it to the conference finals is a major accomplishment. For the Penguins, it was a let down. Sidney Crosby saw his health factor into the end of their season, although thankfully not a concussion. Smashed out teeth thanks to a deflected puck made for a gorier scene.

Goaltending went from being a strength to one of controversy thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury falling apart in the playoffs only to be supplanted by Tomas Vokoun. How Fleury bounces back this season will be a huge factor in whether the Pens are Stanley Cup contenders or pretenders.

Offseason recap

Shero tried giving the team the veteran presence he thought was needed for coach Dan Bylsma during the season, but each of Morrow (unsigned), Murray (Montreal), and Iginla (Boston) won’t be back this season.

Also not returning to Pittsburgh is Matt Cooke (Minnesota) and that may work out to be better from a PR standpoint, but the Pens penalty kill will suffer for it. They also traded Tyler Kennedy to San Jose during the NHL Draft.

The team paid up big to extend Kris Letang and to retain Pascal Dupuis. Craig Adams also re-upped on a new deal. Rob Scuderi returned after four seasons and a second Stanley Cup in Los Angeles. Shero admitted letting him get away then was a mistake.

Their other free agent pick-ups weren’t exactly ones that will blow you away. Forwards Matt D’Agostini and Andrew Ebbett along with defenseman Brendan Mikkelson will help fill out ranks.

The goal is the Stanley Cup once again and with (stop me if you’ve heard this before) a fully healthy Crosby and Evgeni Malkin they’ll be threats to do so.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

  1. amityvillefun - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    There was lots of talk on this very site about how “unstoppable” the Penguins were after the Iginla and Morrow signings last year. Pitt fans already had another parade all penciled in. Goes to show you can’t get to the finals “on paper.”

    Bruins swept them 4-0. So much for that. Reality check right there!

    So tired of all the “Crosby is the best in the world” talk. Datsyuk is probably better with half the whining and showboating.

    When your goalie is seeing a shrink because he chokes in the playoffs, you got some serious problems.

    • amityvillefun - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      To quote “A Few Good Men”:

      “You can’t handle the truth!”

    • curioustraveler13 - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Crosby has played 470 regular season games with 238 goals and 427 assists. Datsyuk has played 779 regular season games with 255 goals and 512 assists. Crosby has played 82 playoff games with 40 goals and 65 assists. Datysuk has played 140 playoff games with 36 goals and 67 assists. Still think datsyuk is better?

      • amityvillefun - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        Career plus minus:

        Datsyuk +229

        Crysby +106

        Yup. I’ll take Datsyuk. He doesn’t put himself before his team and plays more solid D.

        Plus he’s less likely to have to be out with concussions and such. More of a sure thing.

      • curioustraveler13 - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Hahaha you take the +/- stat over goals and assists. Do you know how flawed that stat really is? The only sure thing is that Crosby is more effective on the ice in the NHL at age 26 then datysuk is at age 35. 9 years apart and he’s already right there in points. You know your reaching when you have to bring up medical history too. Just accept your wrong. Or as you liked to say ” You can’t handle the truth”.

      • amityvillefun - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:45 AM

        Swept by the Bruins. That’s enough “truth” for me.

        I just don’t like Crysby. I don’t like how he carries himself in the media and on the ice. He’s one good pop from his career being over anyway. Maybe Matt Cooke can help when they play the Wild.

        But hey, good luck Fleury seeing the shrink. Goaltending isn’t all that important anyway, right?

      • jpelle82 - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        i dont know why you are even bothering. let him have his datsyuk for 2 more years before he rides off into siberia never to be seen or heard about again.

      • curioustraveler13 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        So you can’t admit to defeat on that topic so you change it to another one. Well hey fleury was top of the league in regular season wins for the past couple years. While he has had trouble in the playoffs recently he still has won a Stanley cup more recent the wings. That save on lindstrom still haunt you huh?

      • goodolejr - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        As a Flyers fan, it really REALLY pains me (my hands are physically hurting typing this right now!) to say it, Crosby is the best player in the world. Anyone who disputes that fact is only letting their personal feelings towards him cloud their judgement on his physical abilities. I really don’t like the guy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s the best in the game right now. And I do think he’s got a little more competition currently for the #1 player ranking but he’s still there.

        And using +/- for any hockey related discussion is like trying to judge players on how they perform based on which color unis they’re wearing. Just, no.

      • curioustraveler13 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        By the way johnathon quicks even strength save % is .003 better then Fleury’s over the past 3 years, but fleury is just sooo bad huh?

      • footballfan - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        Not quite sure how one concussion, yes that is all it was, means he is one hit away from Crosby’s career being over. Every player on the ice is one hit away. Please know what you are talking about before you post. You really make hockey fans look stupid.

      • nyrnashty - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM

        You probably have never played hockey. Datsyuk is the best 2 way center in the league right now.

  2. brockohol - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    dagostini will score 25+ goals this year. not the most consistant or defensive reliable player but he scored 20 in st. louis playing with average offensive players. if he gets time with malkin or crosby he will put the puck in the net.

    • illashell - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      Yeah, except he won’t see any time with either. Unless injuries pile up, you’ll see Sids line stay intact, and either Bennett or Jokinen with Geno.

    • martysbetter - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      As someone who watched him play for half a season (albeit on an offensively anemic team like the Devils) you’re taking a piss if you think D’ags will score 25+…he’s just not very good.

      • dwmccu - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        People had similar sentiments towards Dupuis when he was acquired. However, one of the biggest fears this offseason was whether or not the Pens would keep him. Sometimes it just takes the right team, so we shall see.

  3. bihler7 - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    One thing not mentioned in this article is the Penguins are currently over the salary cap; not by much at a little under $1.1mil but someone will need to be moved to get under. My thought, trade Niskanen and Jokinen for draft picks (now $3.3 in space) and sign a solid veteran presence in Danny Cleary.

    kunitz-crosby-dupuis
    neal-malkin-bennett
    cleary-sutter-jeffrey
    adams-vitale-glass

    letang-scuderi
    martin-orpik
    despres-bortuzzo-engelland

    fleury-vokoun

    Just my GM thought of the day.

    • pensswag91 - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      I see Orpik and Scuderi as the better defensive pairing is the Pens are serious about keeping the pressure off of Fleury.

      • ewoods6 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        No way Orpik-Martin separate. That’s the Defensive equivalent to breaking up Kunitz-Sid-Duper

      • pensswag91 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        I just can’t imagine the pairing of Letang and Scuderi shutting down lines every night, their styles just appear to be such polar opposites.

      • jpelle82 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        bihler7 has it right. no reason to put 2 defensive defensemen together when you have two quality puck movers in letang and martin that should each be paired with a stay at home guy.

      • illashell - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        Orpik – Martin are the ‘shutdown’ pair and that’s not going to change. Scuderi will play sound positional hockey which will compliment Letang quite well. Look what he did with Doughty, who’s very similar to Kris. Tanger had rotating partners last year, which was clearly an issue from the get-go.

  4. ewoods6 - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Flower will win 40 and get the #1 to #3 seed. Him seeing a sport psych. will help more than people think…his issues was always upstairs.

    When you have the like of Sid, Geno, Neal and Letang locked up for 6-8 more years, you don’t have major problems, i’m sorry. This team needs tweaks, not a total re-haul that people were calling for after last season.

    Hats off to Shero.

  5. snipedanglecelly13 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Wings will go farther in the postseason this year than the pens just saying

    • jpelle82 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      ok nostradamus….. just keep saying it to yourself

    • amityvillefun - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Yup.

    • dwmccu - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      On that note, the Wings have not made it past the 2nd round since 2009. That’s not to say they won’t go further this year, who knows what effects the realignment will have. Just something to consider.

      • jpelle82 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        they certainly have a better chance of a higher seed or winning their division now with their new division opponents compared to the old. i mean, playing buf, fla, tb, tor 6 times a year sure beats nsh, chi, stl, any day. playing the bottom 6,7,8 in the first round of the east is usually a better prospect than facing the botom 3 in the west any given year in my opinion.

  6. themohel - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Isn’t every day on PHT “Penguins Day”?

    • ron05342 - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      They’ve called the Penguins for the Stanley Cup every season since 2007 and PHT is 1-6 in their predictions over the past 7 seasons.

      When the Penguins become bottom-dwellers, PHT will still be predicting they win the Stanley Cup.

  7. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    In contrast, Stan Bowman of the Hawks made 1 trade deadline acquisition, picking up a guy who contributed well at a reasonable cost – Michael Handzus.

    He also chose to extend the contract of the future HOF coach who will be the #2 all time leader in regular season and playoff wins before his contract expires.

    I also have a little more reason for confidence in Stan’s goalie decisions;)

  8. bwana63 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Cup contender? Perhaps in the loosest sense of the word.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      What was that legendary Bop-do-wap song?

  9. Stiller43 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Oh finally, a team to talk about!

  10. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Poking fun aside, the Pens have a big challenge to overcome – they don’t make defense a priority.

    Admittedly, they are the best in the league offensively. And it is very top line focused. They had better depth than most teams.

    AND they were middle of the pack defensively. It showed in the playoffs. The main reason they got passed the Islanders is because Nabokov totally stunk and they had no confidence in their backup, resulting in Naby’s abysmal .842 save%.

    In contrast, the Hawks, while only #2 offensively, were #1 offensively, and had the best points and +/- depth in the league.

    Good reason why they will go farther in the playoffs than the the birds that can’t soar.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      Pens fans, feel free to step up and refute me vs. the lame down thing.

      • dwmccu - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        I will not refute you, the Pens do need to put a stronger emphasis on defense. However, I do believe hiring Martin as Assistant Coach and bringing Scuderi back were steps in the right direction. Yes, Scuderi is 35, but he is still a solid stay-at-home defenseman that should help mitigate the Letang-Liability factor. Martin is known for his defensive mindset, and his presence behind the bench should also play a large role in helping them maintain more stability.
        They are capable of playing responsible defense, it’s just a matter of actually doing it. Hopefully, it all works out, I would love to see Fleury obtain the level of success that everyone, who is not out to simply criticise, knows he is capable of.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        Good response. And I did note that signing Scuderi was a step in the right direction. And it may well be that the assistant coaching change was a step in the right direction.

        I’m really not anti-Pens (was ticked off as the Pens fans who frequently trolled Hawks game threads last year and only trash talked).

        Just pointing out their major limiting factor. Pens were actually more balanced last year than the Caps, who were sop weak defensively it was no surprise that they were 1 and done.

  11. blomfeld - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    HAPPY PITTSBURGH PENGUINS DAY ! :)

    The Penguins are a quality organization and Crosby is still the face of the NHL, no two ways about it. Nonetheless, they’re going to have their hands full this year, as just emerging from the Metropolitan Division will be a ‘very’ tall order for them. Fleury has to get his confidence back and Crosby has to stay clear of injury. I think they can do it, just as long as they all ‘pull together’ the way we LA Kings always do !

    ps: Crosby still needs more PR training, as he continues to come across as being way too serious in his interviews …

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      LA Kings pull it together – like they did against the Hawks? Hmmm, I thought the results were 4-1?

      One goalie was pulloed. Wonder which.

      How many players on either team had a hat?

      • blomfeld - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        back off Solutions ! … seriously

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:01 PM

        I was admittedly a lot more “in your face” than normal. I was really trying to bring home my point on your other post I had serious issues with.

        I’m back to my normal nicer self now;)

  12. supercoop8 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Matt D’ag is a very smart pick up and the kind of player that can come in and pot 20+ goals on a quick striking Pens team. The signing of Scuderi shows Shero understands their greatest weakness. Not a bad off season. My question for Pens fans is that if they end this season disappointingly do you think that Shero tries to move Letang before his new contract and NMC kicks in???? It would offer a huge respite from cap constraints and bring in at least a roster player, highly touted prospect, and draft picks.

  13. thecrabcakestate - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    I hate the pens but their offense is absurd. Crosby and Malkin are two of the best players in the world right now. The D needed some tweaks and only time will tell if that works. Only big question mark is which fleury they will get. The great or the abysmal. There isn’t much in between. Very good team either way. And this is coming from someone who despises the penguins and everything Pittsburgh.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Interesting – I’m reading Maryland (have had a few there myself;), and thus likely a Caps fan.

      If so, the irony is last year, they were the essence of “All O and no D”. Not to trash, and with a new coach with no time to make his mark on the team with no real camp and no preseason, the year can perhaps be ignored. Things may well improve.

      Pens were Great O and Some D.

  14. thecrabcakestate - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    endusersolutions2013. I wasn’t going to bring the caps into this cause I know how that goes in a pens article but I do agree with your assessment. The O was very good and the D played good at times but not even close to consistent enough. The team is just not mentally resilient IMO. Only time will tell if that’s fixable. I like Oates as a coach and am looking forward to hockey season. The new division should be a hell of a fight for better or worse.

  15. girouxed - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    lol

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