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Penguins Organization Update: One Month In

2020-01-11

PITTSBURGH- There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get right into it.

Pittsburgh (7-6-1, 6th in Metropolitan Division)

Pittsburgh started the season 4-0, then would go on to lose 7 of the next 8, and have since won their last two games. In that time they've been seriously contending with the injury bug, as in that time they lost Mike Matheson (1 game), Brandon Sutter (4 games), Nic Dowd (3 games) and Paul Stastny (6 games once he returns) to various injuries. There has also been a revolving door in the bottom six, with Sutter, Alan Quine, and Paul Thompson all being healthy scratched at one point or more this season. They would also pick up Andrew Agozzino off waivers from Chicago, lose Kyle Rau on waivers to Chicago, and pick up AND losing Wedgewood on waivers from and to St. Louis. Christoffer Ehn who is a rookie this year has bounced between the AHL and NHL, however no matter where he goes he makes an impact and is point per game in the AHL while scoring at half a point per game in the NHL.
In terms of scoring, Bo Horvat is poised to have yet another breakout year, as he looks to shatter last year's point total of 76 (currently on pace for 128 with 12G and 10A in 14GP) He also set a franchise record for points in a single game, scoring a hat trick and three assists in a 6-1 win over Columbus. Jamie Benn, Jason Zucker, and Stastny have all gotten off to slow starts after their hot play last season, however Stastny was heating up before his injury and was the best player aside from Horvat at that time. Brandon Saad is back on track from last year's disaster, as he is on pace for 47 points (he had 31 last year between Calgary and Pittsburgh) and finally looks to have cemented himself on the 2nd line. Last year's unsung hero Brian Gibbons has also continued his run as being deceivingly clutch, amassing 13 assists in 14 games (no goals).
Penguins GM Gurtowski was very complimentary of his team's defense and goaltending this season, and they've made him look good as they all have contributed to a very good penalty kill and outside of a few games, a very low goals against. Dubnyk has also made loads of saves for the team which has kept them in the thick of things so far.
Overall Pittsburgh has played good in the first month, however if they're going to complete for a playoff spot they're going to need more scoring from their bottom six. GM Gurtowski hasn't come out and said he's in the trade market but if I know him, he's always got one ear to the ground for that kind of stuff.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (7-6-1, 4th in Atlantic Division)

WBS this year has already had a much better year to start than they did last year, and a lot of that was GM Gurtowski's assertivness in acquiring AHL depth. Two of WBS' top five point scorers were UFAs signed by Gurtowski this past summer, and top to bottom they've receive scoring from just about everyone. GM Gurtowski also made an AHL trade, sending defenseman Matt Donovan out for forward Emile Poirier which was strictly a position based move, and even Poirier has made an impact in the short time he's been here. The thing that kills WBS is allowing the tying or leading goal in the waning stages of games. If they can clean up the amount of third period goals they allow, no doubt in my mind they have a chance to win every night.
They're also getting contributions from the defense, as Aaron Ness, Peter Stoykewych and rookie Rasmus Sandin have all played important minutes for the team while factoring into the offense more than a handful of forwards. On the defense, it's worth noting that after GM Gurtowski gave Frank Corrado another chance with the organization (he was not tendered as an RFA and re-signed as a UFA), Corrado appears to have lost his roster spot to John Nyberg, going from the 2nd pair to the press box in two games. Even with the inexperienced Nyberg however, the defense has still done a bang up job at keeping the puck out of the net.
Goaltending has been an interesting case to note. Both Gibson and Nyberg have .500 records, yet their GAA and SV% are about on pair with the good team's in the league. It'll be interesting to see how this trend corrects itself over the course of the season.

 

In the first month of the season, both PIT and WBS appear to be on track in order to compete with the best teams in the league. Be sure to follow the organization's Twitter account @penguinsEHE in order to be appraised of all game and team updates. See you next month for the next update.