Penguins Notes: 2/18/13
After Sunday’s win against the Buffalo Sabres the Pittsburgh Penguins now sit atop the Division and Conference with 22 points. The New Jersey Devils are right on their heals though with 21 points in 15 games.
The Penguins have 5 games left in the month of February, a month that has been very kind to them. First up they will play Philadelphia on the 20th. After that they focus on the Southeast as they play the Florida Panthers twice within a weeks time as well as the Lightning and Hurricanes before months end. None of those teams are currently in a Playoff position, that doesn’t mean those will be an easy 10 points for the Pens to get.
Sidney Crosby is now 1 point behind Thomas Vanek for the league lead in points, by this time next week I suspect Crosby will have the lead and never look back. He is currently on a 1.5 Points Per Game pace which could give him 72 points by seasons end. If you take February’s totals Crosby is scoring at a 1.9 points per game pace which could give him 78 points by seasons end.(that total is adjusted due to the low performance in January)
Marc-Andre Fleury has been spectacular in net this season, and most importantly in the month of February. This season Fleury’s stats are 8 wins 3 loses with a 2.34 Goals Against Average and .914 save %. If he continues to improve game after game there’s no doubt he will be considered for the Vezina at the end of the season, but most importantly he will be more confident than ever going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It is still rumored the Penguins are shopping for a top four winger to play along Malkin and many names have come up over the course of the season. The idea though is to see how Bennett fits, if he does. If he is capable of filling that spot then Shero will back off and hopefully shop for a top four Defenseman.
Beau Bennett has now played two games on the Penguins roster, and in those two games he has looked very solid. Confident is the first word that pops into my head when I watch him play. When he has the puck he is not rushing to get it to someone else, nor is he making mistakes. After playing primarily on the third line for the first two games I think it may be time for Bylsma to give him a real shot with Malkin.
Around the League
As more trade rumors come out it seems that more and more Defensemen are the ones on the trading block this season. Lubimor Visnovsky, Jay Bouwmeester, Ryan Whitney and Mark Streit have all been talked about in the past week.
Gm Paul Holmgren(Flyers) and Hc Peter Laviolette have been given a vote of confidence from their owners and are (amazingly) not on the Hot Seat.
The Chicago Blackhawks are continuing their tear on the Western Conference. They have yet to take a regulation loss and have only lost in 3 overtimes out of 15 games played.
The NHL realignment plans will not be announced until a deal with the Players has been reached.