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April 14, 2016
by Bill West


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Penguins-Rangers Game 1 reflections

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“Random,” the term data maven Nate Silver used to describe hockey results, certainly fit the bill for Wednesday’s playoff opener between the Penguins and New York Rangers.

Who could predict neither Marc-Andre Fleury nor Henrik Lundqvist finishes the game? Pens vs Rangers final

Who could foresee the Rangers, the Eastern Conference’s worst playoff-qualifying possession team, not only establishing a healthy edge in shot attempts but sustaining it over the Penguins, the conference’s best group of puck possessors?

And who could guess that goalie Jeff Zatkoff, basically a practice goalie the past two months, would stand on his head while the Penguins worked out their troubles in the first and second periods? Zatkoff was 3-8 with a 4.26 goals against average and .871 save percentage in parts of four postseasons with Manchester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.

Coach Mike Sullivan delved into the anomaly of the Penguins’ possession woes on a couple occasions after the win.

“I don’t think we had the puck as much tonight as we’ve been accustomed to,” Sullivan said. “Especially early in the game. I don’t know if it was just home-team jitters or what, but the first part of the game, I thought we weren’t playing with the same conviction. I thought we settled in. But it took us probably 10 or 12 minutes of that first period to settle into the game. I thought our guys did a pretty good job as far as making the right decisions in the critical areas of the rink.”

Later, he returned to the topic.

“We talked to our guys about settling down and just playing the game the way that we’ve played it for the last three months,” Sullivan said. “Try to keep our shifts short and just simplify the game out there. Take a little bit of the thinking out of it and just get our feet moving, get involved physically. Sometimes your adrenaline starts to flow, and you can settle into games. … I thought early in the game, they were shooting the puck from everywhere. When that happens, sometimes it’s tough to grab ahold of the rebound, because it’s ripping around the wall or it’s not laying in areas. That might’ve had something to do with it on a couple of shifts there early in the game.”

It certainly helped the Penguins that Rangers coach Alain Vigneault opted to give defenseman Dan Girardi 17 minutes and 17 seconds of ice time. Once a cornerstone of a smothering Rangers defense, Girardi seems to have become the whipping boy of the team’s fanbase this season. That won’t change after tonight’s game. On the Penguins’ first goal, Girardi stood idly by as Conor Sheary ran down a Patric Hornqvist dump-in. On their second goal, Hornqvist blocked a Girardi shot and sent Sidney Crosby off on a breakaway.

Girardi was one of two Rangers with sub-50 percent possession numbers in five-on-five play. The other: Tanner Glass.

Plenty of Penguins finished below the 50 percent mark.

Pens possessionRangers possession

Sullivan’s explanation for using seven defensemen: “It was Olli’s first game back in a while. We wanted to make sure we managed his minutes the right way to we could be effective. It gives more options as far as on the back end for Jacques (Martin), when he’s looking for certain matchups. We have some guys that we use on the power play. … It gave me some flexibility up front as far as moving other guys in with that front line.”

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April 13, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Rangers Game 1 pregame

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Lots of talk about goalies this morning, obviously.

Marc-Andre Fleury took part in practice, was the first goalie off the ice and gave every indication he’ll be the starter in Game 1 tonight. Mike Sullivan, as you might have expected, said pretty much nothing.

“I didn’t watch the morning skate, but we’re certainly aware of where our guys are at and we’ll make a game-time decision.”

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, meanwhile, is reading the tea leaves the same way everyone else is:

“We expect him to be in. He’s practiced the last couple of days and he was on the ice today. Unless somebody tells us otherwise, he’s the goaltender we’re getting ready for tonight.”

If Fleury plays, the next question is obvious: How sharp will he be?

On one hand, you have to think he’ll be rusty. He said himself yesterday that he wasn’t picking up pucks as well as he’d like.

On the other hand, he was perfectly fine coming off his first concussion of the season in December. I think there’s a narrative out there that he struggled coming off that layoff. The numbers don’t back it up. In his first five games back, he went 2-1-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. His first game back was a 38-save effort in a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Jan. 2.

My guess is that he’ll be good tonight.

Other notes after morning skate:

— Fleury will probably make some saves tonight, but he won’t make The Save. That honor always and forever will be reserved for Frank Pietrangelo, who made his famous stop 25 years ago today. On the 20th anniversary, Mike Palm wrote a terrific oral history of The Save. Check it out.

— Going through the tape from Sidney Crosby’s media session yesterday, I noticed something interesting. He talked about how they spent most of practice yesterday focusing on the tendencies of the Rangers. Here’s one specific area he talked about:

“I think they’re a pretty disciplined team defensively. They’re patient. They block a lot of shots. It’s making sure we find a way to get shots through. You don’t want to pass them up, but you also want to make sure that you’re smart and try to find ways to get them through and make them count.”

That could be the key to the whole series.

The best way for the Penguins to counteract New York’s collapsing D-zone coverage is to use their newfound speed and not let it set up in the first place. Create off the rush. Failing that, getting shots through, like Crosby said, will be critical.

— In the last month, the Penguins have lost one game they cared about winning, a 3-0 defeat against New Jersey on March 24.

The Devils shut down the Penguins off the rush thanks in large part to a group of young, energetic forwards who applied all kinds of back pressure defensively. Do the Rangers have the kind of roster that can apply that same kind of pressure? I’m not sure. Some lines yes, some lines no.

— Vigneault said something I found very interesting during his media session this morning.

“I have noticed in watching, we’ve played them four times in the last month and watching a little bit on TV, that they’re clogging up the neutral zone a lot more than they have been in the past. They’ve got numbers back. There are a lot of times five guys skating backwards. They’re looking to clog it up and force turnovers and with their speed, they counter-attack and generate some good offensive looks. There’s no doubt one of the areas we’ve talked about our group is getting through that neutral zone and making sure we manage the puck well. It is tough. A lot of times they’ve got five guys skating backwards and there’s not a lot of room to go.”

Do you think of Sullivan’s Penguins as a trapping team? I haven’t really noticed that. When they’re protecting a lead, sure, but every team does that. I think of Sullivan’s Penguins as an aggressive team that frequently sends in two guys on the forecheck. Perhaps the public perception of this Penguins team and the reality in the film room of the opponent is different.

More after the game. Bye for now,

jb

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April 12, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Things other than injuries

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Let me quickly sum up the injury news, then hit some other notes.

Marc-Andre Fleury practiced and looked fine. He said he had no setbacks and his recovery was moving in the right direction. It’s entirely possible he could play tomorrow night. He also said he felt rusty and his timing was off, and he still has to be cleared by doctors to play, so this one is very much up in the air.

Olli Maatta looked good to go, skating with the top four defensemen. Beau Bennett rotated in with the fourth line but didn’t sound as optimistic as Maatta when talking about playing. Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust are skating but not practicing with the team.

Coach Mike Sullivan on the impact of the injury situation:

“We’re not going to change how we play if we make a lineup decision. This team has established an identity for itself and has played to their strengths for a long time and I think there’s a belief in the room that if we play a certain way, we give our team the best chance to win. And we’re a competitive hockey team. Regardless of who we move in and out of the lineup, that will never change.”

Some other notes:

— Bovada.lv released playoff series odds today:
Washington -290 Philadelphia
Dallas -225 Minnesota
Anaheim -180 Nashville
Penguins -150 Rangers
Tampa Bay -150 Detroit
Florida -145 Islanders
Los Angeles -145 San Jose

Who do you think the most live underdogs are? I’d say Philly and the Islanders.

They also released Conn Smythe odds:
Braden Holtby 17-2
Patrick Kane 15-1
Jonathan Quick 15-1
Sidney Crosby 16-1
Alex Ovechkin 18-1

— One of the big decisions Alain Vigneault will have to make is which of his sometimes-criticized defensemen to play against the Crosby line. I looked back at the four regular season meetings between the teams and came to a conclusion: I’m not sure Vigneault has many good options. Crosby pretty much worked whatever D pair the Rangers threw out against him this season.

Take the March 13 meeting, for instance. At 5-on-5, the most common pair out against Crosby was McDonagh-Girardi. Crosby was plus-7 Corsi against McDonagh and plus-6 against Girardi.

Kevin Klein had one good matchup with Crosby, putting up a plus-5 Corsi against him in about seven minutes of ice time March 3. Maybe go with him. And good luck.

— Finally, I don’t know if you get tired of these look-how-far-the-Penguins-have-come stats, but I was thinking of one today.

I remember being in Chicago on Jan. 6 when the Blackhawks beat the Penguins 3-1 in a game nowhere near that close. They outshot the Penguins 37-18. A blowout, essentially. I remember thinking the Penguins were getting better under Mike Sullivan, but they were still light years behind the Blackhawks in every way imaginable.

Chicago was 25-13-4 for 54 points with a plus-17 goal differential. The Penguins were 19-15-6 for 44 points with a minus-5 differential.

Final standings.

standings0412

Bye for now,

jb

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April 10, 2016
by Bill West


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Flyers postgame

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The end of the regular season affords us the opportunity to step back and truly admire a tale of two seasons.

For better or worse, neither the players nor coach Mike Sullivan are particularly interested in big-picture reflection on the Penguins’ season right now, so stirring quotes must wait until some later date.

In the meantime, let’s look at a few #Fancystat sampling from War-On-Ice.com’s to see how things ultimately played out in the regular season during Mike Johnston’s 28-game tenure and Sullivan’s 54-game stretch. All stats are score-adjusted and strictly reflect five-on-five play.

First, here’s an overview of some of the key metrics. I included a sample that includes the whole season and one for each coach’s stint. It’s worth noting that shooting plus save percentage, known as PDO, remained just a smidge above 100 percent for both coaches. So neither benefitted from some unsustainable aberration in performance.

prime overallPens under JohnstonPens under Sullivan

Next, scoring chances. Notice how the total scoring chances per 60 minutes barely changes. The notion that the Penguins are just giving up chances to get more, one that’s still held by certain segments of the hockey watchers in town, is false. They’ve simply generated more and allowed fewer.

overall scoring chancesJohnston scoring chancesScoring chances under Sullivan

Lastly, the data that probably resonates most with the non-analytics crowd: Shot and goal differentials. The goal differential under Johnston was perhaps the brightest part of his season — the Penguins managed to score more than 50 percent of the goals, even though the rest of their possession stats fell short of 50. But Sullivan turned the Penguins into a goal-scoring machine, and did so without ruining their defensive efforts.

Goals overallGoals under JohnstonGoals under Sullivan

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April 9, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Sullivan to Bruins, Red Wings: Tough luck

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Coach Mike Sullivan said Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang won’t play today in the regular season finale in Philadelphia.

Crosby is out with “bumps and bruises.” Letang is a healthy scratch. Call-up Kael Mouillierat will take Crosby’s spot in the lineup. Pouliot will be in for Letang.

The Bruins and Red Wings, whose playoff hopes would be helped with a Flyers loss today, probably aren’t too happy about those lineup decisions. Sullivan had an amazing quote when asked about that topic:

“The reality is that there are 82 games in the schedule for teams to take control of what they can to put their teams in the best position. That’s what we tried to do with our club. That’s what we’re going to continue to try to do with our club.”

In other words, dear Bruins and Red Wings, tough luck.

Matt Murray will start in goal. That’s a little surprising, since an injury to Murray, with Marc-Andre Fleury’s status in question due to a concussion, would be very bad news for the Penguins.

Here’s what Sullivan said about it:

“He is important for us. He gives us a chance to win. I think the experience he gets in games like this that are playoff-like will serve him well moving forward.”

I can see his point. Murray’s played a dozen NHL games. The more NHL shots he can face, the quicker he’ll develop. It’s risky, though. Just watch that Mouillierat-Subban clip from the last post down.

Meanwhile, I think I can shed some light on why Crosby is out with bumps and bruises and Letang is a healthy scratch.

Teams are allowed four non-emergency call-ups from the AHL after the trade deadline. The Penguins have used them up.

Teams are allowed as many emergency call-ups as they need, so long as the call-up is replacing an injured player. So Mouillierat can only replace Crosby due to an injury, but Pouliot, who was already on the roster, can replace Letang for any reason.

I’m not saying Crosby doesn’t have bumps and bruises. By April 9 every season, I’m sure he does. I’m just talking about the technicalities of it.

Finally, Sullivan didn’t say where Mouillierat will slot into the lineup exactly, only saying that he’ll play center.

More after the game,

jb

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April 9, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Philadelphia pregame

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The Penguins called up Kael Mouillierat from Wilkes-Barre this morning, perhaps signaling Sidney Crosby will have the day off as the regular season wraps up with the Flyers this afternoon. With Derrick Pouliot available, Kris Letang could get the day off too.

Coach Mike Sullivan will talk with reporters at about 1:30 and perhaps he’ll confirm that theory. Or, the playoffs being near, he may call everyone a game-time decision.

Either way, I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the Mouillierat call-up.

First of all, he did a good job for WBS this season, holding down the top-line center spot with call-ups leaving the lineup on a practically daily basis. He centered Scott Wilson and Conor Sheary to start the year, and those guys ended up having very good seasons.

His last name is pronounced MOOL-uhr-aht, incidentally.

None of that is why I’m excited to see him, though. It’s because he has an awesome highlight reel.

You probably know about his lacrosse goal for WBS earlier this season:

You might know he did it once before in the AHL:

But did you know he did it in the ECHL too?

He’s scored in the NHL before:

Here’s a filthy goal from his college days:

He’s fought Cory Conacher, which I’m sure a lot of players would like to have done:

How about this nasty little piece of work on Bruins goalie prospect Malcolm Subban?

If you prefer your big hits to be delivered to skaters, try this instead. Holy cow.

Bye for now,

jb

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April 8, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Erasing a zero

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The Penguins practiced at the Class of 1923 ice rink at the University of Pennsylvania this afternoon, getting on the ice right around the time the Penguins Roundtable podcast started. It was a loud rink, and that made my involvement a little spotty on the audio side, but Bill West, Ken Laird and Josh Taylor still had a good show. Listen to it here.

For some injury updates on Marc-Andre Fleury and Beau Bennett, such as they are at this time of year, check out Bill’s notebook here.

I wrote about the idea of resting stars for tomorrow’s game against the Flyers. Read about it here.

If I had to guess, reading between the lines of what Mike Sullivan said, I think Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang will get the day off, but it could still go the other way.

Here on the blog, I’d like to look at tomorrow’s game from a different angle. It’s Brian Dumoulin’s last chance to score a goal this season.

Dumoulin is clearly having an outstanding season, emerging as a top-four defenseman before anyone thought he would. He has 16 assists in 78 games with no power-play time. But he doesn’t have a goal.

“I’m getting chances. I think it’s going to come,” Dumoulin said a few weeks ago. “It’s going to be a big goal when I score one, hopefully. That’s something I’m not too worried about, but obviously you want to score a goal.”

Dumoulin’s zero in the goal column got me thinking. What Penguins player has appeared in the most games in a season without scoring? It’s not that hard a trivia question because it only happened a couple of years ago, but it was a fun list to put together. So check it out.

I think you’ll see Ian Cole wouldn’t mind getting a goal tomorrow too.

CRAIG ADAMS 09-10 82
CHRIS TAMER 97-98 79
BRIAN DUMOULIN 15-16 78
BARRY WILKINS 75-76 75
JIM MORRISON 70-71 73
ROB SCUDERI 07-08 71
BROOKS ORPIK 06-07 70
IAN MORAN 02-03 70
IAN COLE 15-16 69
CRAIG MUNI 96-97 64
TYLER WRIGHT 98-99 61
JOSEF MELICHAR 01-02 60
FRANCOIS LEROUX 96-97 59
GRANT JENNINGS 92-93 58
ROB SCUDERI 05-06 57
KRYSZTOF OLIWA 01-02 57

More before tomorrow’s game.

Bye for now,

jb

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April 8, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Washington postgame

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I realize I’m still relatively new here, but I honestly thought there might be mixed emotions in the Penguins locker room — and especially in the coaches room — after a 4-3 overtime win over the Capitals tonight.

Sure, they clinched second place in the Metropolitan Division. They actually did that just by getting to overtime after the Rangers lost 4-1 to the Islanders earlier. But they also had to play overtime after holding a 3-0 lead as late as 17 minutes into the second period.

Coaches usually hate that.

But that’s not how it played out.

The Penguins seemed happy to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and coach Mike Sullivan chalked up the blown lead largely to the vagaries of the game.

“That’s hockey. When you look around the league, it happens a lot,” Sullivan said. “I think our team has been extremely diligent in making sure when we have leads, we continue to play on our toes and we don’t sit back and let teams come at us. This is a good team we played. They had some chances in the third and they buried a couple of them. What I love about it is how our teams responds to it. For me, that’s encouraging. We don’t sink on the bench. We don’t get rattled. We go about our business. We go back and we play.”

Sullivan’s right, I guess. When the Senators blew a three-goal lead to the Penguins two nights ago, you didn’t see them steady things up and force overtime. They got rolled.

And they certainly didn’t score an OT goal as pretty as this one.

Beyond that, Matt Cullen, whose 39-year-old legs helped him score two hustle goals in the first two periods, said he thinks a game like tonight’s might end up helping the Penguins in the long run.

“That’s good preparation for the playoffs,” Cullen said. “Nobody’s going to go away, no matter what the lead is. It was good for us to see that. It was good to experience it. The crowd really got into it. It felt like a playoff game, which is good for us. Obviously there are a few things we’d like to clean up and we’ll take a look at them, but that’s playoff hockey. There’s a lot of ups and downs. Teams are going to come back. It’s an emotional roller coaster.”

All right. I give up. I guess Sullivan and Cullen have convinced me. Go ahead and celebrate home ice without my pesky questions, Penguins. You’ve come a long way since December.

Some other notes from tonight’s game:

— Sullivan said Beau Bennett did not play after taking warm-ups because the team is being cautious with him as he’s still dealing with the effects of a shoulder injury that cost him 42 games earlier this season. Tom Sestito took his spot in the lineup.

— Sestito was right earlier. His presence in the lineup didn’t deter Tom Wilson from taking a boarding major that sent Nick Bonino briefly to the locker room for repairs. But that doesn’t mean Sestito didn’t play a good game. I thought he was excellent. He played seven shifts for about six minutes of ice time, recording an assist, getting involved in at least one other scoring chance and delivering five hits. A strong showing.

— Who was the toughest No. 43 on the ice tonight? Was it Wilson, who would win a fight against all but one or two players in the division? Or was it Conor Sheary, who scored a second-period goal despite having an ugly, swollen eye from a high stick two days earlier? Depends on your definition of toughness.

— Checking out the possession stats, good night for the Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel line. Good night for Brian Dumoulin, who has been really effective defending Alex Ovechkin this season. Bad night for the Cole-Schultz pair.

As I try to learn more about using advanced stats, tonight’s Corsi chart from hockeystats.ca confuses me. The Capitals had more shot attempts when the Penguins were scoring and the Penguins had more shot attempts while the Capitals were scoring.

penscapscorsi3

If anybody wants to take a crack at explaining it to me, I’m all ears in the comments or on Twitter. (Comments about my sloppy screen-grabbing are not as welcome.)

— You know how teams often talk about wanting to turn in a full 60-minute effort? I think that’s where Matt Murray is right now. He’s been good for the most part, with a handful of hiccups along the way. Early in the game against Ottawa. Late in the game tonight. Not awful hiccups. I mean, two of the three goals he gave up tonight came on redirections around the net. But for a few minutes here and there, on a few shots here and there, he hasn’t consistently reached the high standards he’s set for himself.

— Power play wasn’t good tonight, going 0-4, including a five-minute major after Wilson hit Bonino. Can’t imagine the coaches were too happy with that.

See, there I go again …

Bye for now,

jb

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April 7, 2016
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Washington pregame

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The way I see it, the Penguins have three objectives here tonight in Washington.

1. Clinch second place in the Metropolitan Division and the home-ice advantage that comes with it.

It’s not a huge deal, really. The Penguins have been very good lately no matter where they’ve played. They’re 7-0 in their last seven road games and 6-1 in their last seven home games. I can’t imagine having to start a playoff series in Manhattan or Brooklyn would bother them much.

Still, you’d rather have home ice than not, and here are the three ways the Penguins clinch it tonight, according to the NHL’s PR department:

1. Win
2. Lose in overtime or the shootout AND the Rangers lose to the Islanders
3. Lose in overtime or the shootout AND the Rangers beat the Islanders in a shootout

2. Make a good impression against an opponent they could easily see in the second round of the playoffs.

You know, like the last time the teams met, a 6-2 Penguins win at home on March 20. That kind of impression.

Sidney Crosby, more or less, buys into that idea.

“You look at the games throughout the year, how teams match up, what you can improve on based on previous meetings. I thought the last game, we did a better job staying out of the box and being more disciplined, but at the same time, we still played with that intensity that we needed. You learn things about your team. Hopefully we can build off that and use it as a good motivating factor here, that we could see them again.”

3. Stay healthy.

Mike Sullivan gave an injury update after morning skate today.

Evgeni Malkin, Olli Maatta and Bryan Rust have been ruled out for the final two games of the regular season. That’s not a significant change in prognosis for any of the three. It’s just basically a formal update from the team.

Based on the reports right after Malkin got hurt, the earliest he could be expected back is April 23. When Maatta got hurt March 24, he was deemed week to week. No surprise they won’t play tonight or Saturday.

It’s a bit of bad news for Rust. The team called him day to day when he got hurt March 29. I thought there was at least a chance he could be back before the end of the regular season.

Marc-Andre Fleury, you’ll notice, wasn’t ruled out for the next two games. That’s good news for him as he recovers from a concussion. Sullivan said he’s been making significant progress in his recovery.

Conor Sheary, meanwhile, took morning skate after taking a high stick near his right eye Tuesday in Ottawa. There is considerable swelling and discoloration but no damage to the eye itself which, of course, is the primary concern in situations like this. He’s a game-time decision tonight.

Sheary said he feels fine, that it looks worse than it is, but there’s a complicating factor, in my mind anyway. Sheary wears contacts. He said he’s near-sighted, so he can get by on the ice without them, as he did for morning skate. I’m not sure he’d want to try that in a game.

As an aside, I can’t imagine jamming a contact into that eye. Can you? I have a hard enough time with it the morning after having a few drinks the night before.

If Sheary is out, Tom Sestito will be in. He was called up this morning and took part in morning skate.

I asked Sestito if he thinks his presence could stop some of the hack and whack hockey that’s been going on the last few games for the Penguins. He said he wasn’t sure. Maybe if someone was thinking of starting something, they’d see him out there and think twice, but probably not.

I completely agree with Sestito. Let’s use Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds as an example. If Sestito had been dressed last Sunday, would that have stopped Simmonds from scraping his stick blade across Matt Murray’s neck or elbowing Kris Letang? Probably not.

But since those actions weren’t penalized by the referees, justice has to be administered somehow. That’s where Sestito would come in.

I was going to close the pregame post with a video of Sestito’s previous scraps with Washington’s Tom Wilson, but to my surprise, the pair haven’t tangled before.

Instead, here’s Wilson’s most recent fight, a meeting with LA’s Kyle Clifford about a month ago:

And Sestito’s fight with a Capitals farmhand, Liam O’Brien, from last month. Sestito does an amazing job fighting off a takedown attempt at the end of this fight. As I tweeted the night it happened, I think he was using a whizzer.

More after the game,

jb

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April 6, 2016
by Bill West


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Ottawa postgame

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I guess I should start by apologizing for today’s pregame post, which certainly fulfilled its jinx-y promise to the fullest. Guess it’s a good thing the Penguins no longer have a non-playoff team left on their schedule.Pens vs Sens final

What I found interesting/unique about tonight’s 5-3 win over Ottawa, at least in regards to the pregame entry, was the Penguins actually performed poorly on the possession front. Unlike in the wins over Buffalo, Carolina and Columbus, the Penguins didn’t pile up shot attempts and simply wait for the probabilities to play out. They legitimately trailed in score-adjusted Corsi throughout the game and never caught up, even as they tied and then surpassed Ottawa on the scoreboard.

Below, you’ll find a very helpful set of data tracking the Penguins’ score-adjusted Corsi differential over the past two months. All credit goes to Mike Darnay for putting it together in a nice, tidy tweet.

Of course, almost any Penguins fan knows what happens when the team pulls off a comeback win by now. Cue the #ResilientPenguins quote.

“When you get down three goals, that’s a tough climb, and I love the resilience that our guys showed to crawl back into it, one goal at a time,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “For me, that’s kind of been part of the identity of this group here. They’ve shown that regardless of how the game goes, or especially early on, if we’re down in games, we have the ability to come back. I think it’s an indication of the mindset of the group right now. There’s a mental toughness there, that we can battle through some of that adversity, even when we’re not at our best.”

The Penguins won when trailing after one period for the 10th time, a total which tied them for second in the league. Only Washington (12) has more wins of that variety.

Is there any panic among players when the Penguins fall behind these days? Apparently not.

“We played even sloppier in the first five minutes of the second (period),” said Carl Hagelin, who scored the tying and winning goals. “Sometimes that’s what it takes for us to get going. It was a good response.”

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