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Thoughts of division title + way out of the box idea for forward depth

April 2, 2021, 10:34 AM ET [159 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Don’t look now, but the Penguins are tied for first in the division with both the Islanders and Capitals with only the Capitals having a game in hand. The conversation for a while was about the Penguins making the playoffs. It should now be shifted to can they win the division? Pittsburgh's schedule the rest of the way has to be the most favorable.

Ultimately, the prize for winning the division would be home-ice advantage for line changes and the Penguins being able to cash in slightly on in person attendance. It might also give them their worst matchup. Currently the Bruins are eight points behind the three tied at top. If Pittsburgh does land the #1 seed they may get Boston. Pittsburgh has a record of 4-2 against Washington, 6-2 against the Islanders, and 2-2-1 against the Bruins. I would prefer to avoid the Bruins if possible. They have one of the few jars of Kryptonite known to keep Sidney Crosby in check ala Patrice Bergeron. They did however put a four spot on the Bruins last night in their 4-1 victory.

The Penguins are slowly getting their injured players back and they are contributing right away. Jason Zucker scored his first goal since coming back from an extended absence in only his second game back. Brandon Tanev stole some of Evgeni Malkin’s powers when he took the puck from Frederick Gaudreau in the neutral zone, swooped in with speed, and then dished across the high-danger area for Zach Aston-Reese’s goal. He didn’t quite get all Malkin’s powers as the “sauce” looked like the jar was left out for a week, but it worked

Mike Matheson had the goal of the game. This is the most obvious example of why he got his contract and why Jim Rutherford traded for him.

The issue of course is these plays are rare and not the norm. To be fair they aren’t the norm except for the elite players in the league, but that is the point. This play will stick in the mind for a while and for good reason. It was an awesome sequence. The countless mundane mistakes just kind of blend together and don’t stick out as much. Those mundane errors are way closer to who he is. A lot of those errors could probably be avoided with a position change. More and more I am on the Matheson is actually a winger train. It would take the scenarios of his worst decisions away because he wouldn’t be in those spots anymore. It would allow him to just try and be an offensive minded player without the severe liabilities he has. The goal last night he is leading the charge like a winger would.

I would be an interesting out of the box attempt to try and revamp the forward depth. Add a right wing via trade and a Matheson-McCann-Doe allows you to keep rolling out ZAR-Blueger-Tanev as a fourth line sucking up the tough deployment with Rodrigues as an extra forward. Pierre-Olivier Joseph can play bottom pairing minutes. If I didn’t have a lot of assets to play with I would want to be as creative as possible. This is just one path of creativity.

Casey DeSmith did it again. Another high end performance. He’s up to .933 on the year after his 30 save performance on 31 shots last night. He is honestly making a case to be the playoff starter. There’s no reason why it should be given to Jarry by default. Jarry has been really good since the poor start, but .933 is .933.

Bruins and Penguins meet again on Saturday at 1PM.
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