Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

Penguins dispose of down and out rival

March 12, 2023, 3:57 PM ET [67 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Penguins did exactly what they had to do Saturday afternoon and that was to take two points from their flailing state rival. They defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 5-1. The score was definitive while the game was closer than the result. The majority of the game was played within one goal until the final five minutes.

In what began as a familiar sight, Casey DeSmith struggling, turned into a very strong 31 save performance with only one goal allowed. The goal allowed was early in the game and it was of the terrible variety. You can excuse Penguins fans for assuming they were headed down a very familiar 2022-23 path. With Tristan Jarry struggling since coming back from injury the Penguins needed a competent performance from their goaltenders. DeSmith provided one. Without his performance the game could have been a very disappointing two points by the wayside as the Penguins only held a 50.76 xGF% edge. His best moment was a desperation paddle save which kept the game from taking a very different path when it was 2-1.

The Penguins have had one of the worst third lines in the league this season. Two of the players responsible for it have moved on (Kapanen, McGinn) and now the center has received an overdue demotion. Alex Nylander was once again called up on an emergency basis and slotted in on the second line with Evgeni Malkin. Bryan Rust received promotion to the Crosby line which allowed Rickard Rakell to drop to the third line with Mikael Granlund and Drew O’Connor. Their debut was an xGF% of 70.17. The Carter line was 36.56. I don’t know if I love taking Rakell away from Crosby, but moving Carter to the 4th line was a step in the right direction. The top nine setup worked against a bottom feeder like the Flyers. We’ll see if it holds against top competition.

The Penguins power play had been another source of pain throughout recent games. They stepped up as well. They were one for four but looked dangerous throughout. Something which has been severely lacking as of late. The goal was another Sidney Crosby one-timer. A somewhat rare occurrence in the past few seasons. Crosby has suffered numerous wrist injuries at various times throughout his career. It is a good sign to see the one-timer back in his arsenal.

Jason Zucker is on fire and has put together as good of a bounceback season as one could have hoped for. He has eight goals in his last seven games. Even when he isn’t scoring he has been buzzing around the ice all season. He’s certainly not staring down a huge discount on his next contract. Something that was almost assured given how his last two seasons played out. He scored the insurance goal with about five minutes left in the third period.

Mikael Granlund got in on the action for his first two points in a Penguin. His first point was an assist on an empty netter and his goal was scored after the empty netter. Not exactly the most impactful points he’s had in his career, but when you’re on a new team you just want your first point and your first goal to come sooner than later. Especially when the discourse around your acquisition has been painted mostly in a negative light.

After the victory the Penguins have a 92.1% chance to make the playoffs per Moneypuck

Lastly, congratulations are in order for Mike Sullivan. Yesterday was his 400th career coaching victory, most of which were with the Penguins.

There isn’t time to celebrate. The Penguins start their mini-series with the New York Rangers this afternoon. The two teams will face each other three times in the next seven days.

Thanks for reading!
Join the Discussion: » 67 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Ryan Wilson
» Getting your Penguins fix
» My thoughts on Penguins thoughts
» It's their fault
» Still alive, for now
» Going to need some help now