The Pittsburgh Penguins started off their past week with tremendous success, beating out two division rivals: the Flyers and the Capitals.
Though that may not have changed their position, it keeps them going steady against the teams underneath them and attempting to stay ahead. But luck is not on their side this time around.
After beating Washington, the Pens took on another commanding force in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning (37–15–5). The Lightning are now ranked second through the entire league after besting Pittsburgh twice and are currently on an eight-game win streak.
Despite the Penguins’ best effort, including goaltender Matt Murray, who was in net against Tampa for both games, Pittsburgh managed to score only three goals compared to Lightning’s six, though one being an empty-netter goal.
In the first matchup, Tampa was ahead the whole game 3–1 ‘til the third. All it took was a bad pass in the offensive zone from Mikhail Sergachev to bring them within one. The rogue pass went through Mitchell Stephen’s legs, off the boards, then straight to Malkin. Geno carried the puck past both blue lines and swung around the net, where John Marino was open in front of the net to bring Pittsburgh within one. Due to an empty-netter, they couldn’t pull away with a win. The Lightning claimed victory, 4–2.
Marino did not make it through the rest of the third period. With four minutes left, Marino took a one timer, deflection to the face and immediately fell to the ice. The slap shot came from Stamkos but deflected off Aston-Reese’s stick and up into Marino’s face. Marino underwent surgery Monday afternoon.
Mike Sullivan was optimistic about the injury, saying, “... when injuries occur, it’s going to provide opportunities for others to step up and continue to help this team move forward.”
Marino is expected to return in three-to-six weeks.
It wasn’t all bad through the week, though. The Penguins pulled out a win against the Florida Panthers (30–30–6). Kris Letang scored first after getting a breakaway goal coming off a penalty kill from Pittsburgh. Teddy Blueger rallied next for another goal. Johnson threw on net, then after a few bounces of a Panthers’ d-man’s leg, it went left of the net, right where Blue was coming around, 2–0 Burgh.
Frank Vatrano took a pass past through the blue line, then carried the puck to the outer circle, which opened up center after being followed by the lone defensemen, Letang. He passed it back to Hoffman, who ripped one past a trailing Jack Johnson who was expecting a pass, then past the netminder, Tristan Jarry. The Panthers were within one.
All it took was another power play chance for Pittsburgh to score again. After a few fumbled passes and some shots on net, it went back to the point to Jarred McCann. He took a shot on net, which was deflected by Sidney Crosby, who called for the pass prior to his shot. Not long after that, Brett Connolly slipped another goal past Jarry. But that would be all they scored, and Pittsburgh would head back home with a win in their pocket.
Due to recent injuries such as Guentzel and Kahun, Pittsburgh was looking for someone to fill an offensive position in the lineup. But for GM Jim Rutheford, he knew he had to replace the talent that was there prior to these two being injured. The GM had his eyes set on Minnesota and forward Jason Zucker.
There were some early hints as to his current trade that may have been in the works for quite some time. Just a little negotiation from Pittsburgh’s GM and the offer of their first-round pick plus a few add-ons made it a worthwhile trade for former penguin Bill Guerin. The Wild earned in the trade Alex Galchenyuk and minor league defensemen, Caleb Addison, plus the 2020 first round pick on a conditional basis.
Jason Zucker has scored 90 goals in the last three or so seasons. Zucker’s contract continues through 2023, and his cap hit of $5.5 million made for an easy choice when adding to the deal a prospect from the minor league. Zucker looks to be a part of Pittsburgh’s top six.
With Rutherford’s trade of Addison, the Penguins prospect isn’t something of great glory. Seemingly, Addison may have proven himself to be one of the best after proving immense skill in the World Juniors Tournament last year.
GMJR is looking for a “win now” idealism. It’s hard not to having two of the best players in the sport on the same team. But they can’t stay young and skilled forever.
It’s up to the coaching staff, the managers, and the players alike to do their best and be the best they can while they had the dynamic duo of Crosby and Malkin, as well as other prime and high-level veterans on the team.