The question is pretty simple. What about the Penguins do you like the most so far in this young season?
Defensive Zone Coverage
It's no secret, the Penguins needed to improve their d zone coverage. When the going got tough the last few years in the playoffs, the defensive zone broke down. Players did not stay true to their responsibilities and at times calling it controlled chaos would be putting it nicely.
What did the Penguins do to try and fix this issue? First they solidified their player personnel by signing former Penguin Rob Scuderi, the definition of a stay at defenseman. They also took it a step further by hiring Jacques Martin to the coaching staff to incorporate some more defensive minded schemes.
So far the returns have been positive. The Penguins d zone coverage has appeared to be better. The flip side is that the Penguins have yet to play a team that has serious firepower.
Chuck Kobasew was invited for a professional tryout and given the opportunity to make the team. Kobasew ran away with his opportunity and not only made the team, but is now producing offense in his third line role. Kobasew has two goals in two games and has done so by going hard to the front of the net. Kobasew can also contribute on the second PP. Ray Shero was able to sign Kobasew for the league minimum of 550k.
Marc Andre Fleury
Fleury has been a piñata for the hockey community since his performance in the playoffs this past spring. Fleury was going to be under intense scrutiny even if Tomas Vokoun was healthy. With Vokoun out it was imperative for Fleury to regain his confident level of play. Through two games Fleury has been very solid. If not for Thomas Vanek's fortuitous tip towards the end of the Sabres game he would have started the year with 2 consecutive shutouts. Fleury is currently in the top 3 of all major goaltending categories (save%,GAA, wins, shutouts) amongst goalies who have started at least one game.
Glass' tenure with the Penguins has not been very good. Glass was largely ineffective in the 2012-2013 season and caught the scorn of many fans and writers (myself included). So far this season Glass has been productive in his 4th line role. Unlike last season it did not take 40+ games for Glass to find the scoresheet. He has also played with more of an edge this season. He laid a big hit in the home opener which drew the ire of Ryan Clowe. A fight ensued and the Penguins were able to take an important player for the Devils out of the game for 5 minutes.
Maatta played extremely well in training camp which impressed the important decision makers in the Penguins organization. When Kris Letang was injured at practice it gave him the window to make his NHL debut. Maatta has done well in his first 2 NHL games by keeping things simple and making basic plays. Maatta also flashed some of his offensive potential on the blue line with his agile skating and booming shot. The penguins brass will have an interesting decision to make with Maatta after his 9 game tryout is up.
Sidney Crosby has started killing penalties and it has already been beneficial from a faceoff standpoint. He has also generated a little bit of offense while being a man down.
Malkin had an off year by his standards I. 2012-2013 but he is off to a decent start. He has had different line combos throughout the first two games but it has not been like last year where he had to play with AHL caliber talent on his left wing for a month. Jokinen and Bennett have chemistry with Geno and look to be a solid line in Neal's absence. Malkin has also generated offense on multiple occasions with Craig Adams and Tanner Glass, no small task.
The Philadelphia Flyers have fired coach Peter Laviolette. The move itself is not surprising but the timing is. If you were just going to fire a coach 3 games into the season, why didn't the firing take place in May?
It's these types of moves that brings unneeded drama to the Flyers organization.
Personally I think they fired the wrong guy. It's pretty clear that Ron Hextall is the heir apparent for the GM job in Philly. The Flyers should cut bait with Holmgren and accelerate the process for Hextall. For now the rest of the Metropolitan Division is more than content with Holmgren leading the Flyers.
Thanks for reading!