Didn’t last season give Olli Maatta a career’s worth of bad luck already? The talented young Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman, 21, dealt with cancer, a case of the mumps and a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.
The Pens eased Maatta back into this season, playing him only 16:46 a night in his first 17 games, but at least he was healthy. He chipped in a pair of goals and four points, too.
Then came this unfortunate accident Tuesday night, in which, after a shove from Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter, Maatta fell into the Consol Energy Center boards just as Wild backup goalie Darcy Kuemper opened the bench door.
When Pittsburgh acquired Phil Kessel in the summer much of the conversation surrounding the Penguins was about how unstoppable their offence would be this season.
With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kessel playing amongst Pittsburgh’s top-six, goal scoring wasn’t expected to be an issue.
However, through the first 17 games of the season the Penguins have averaged just 2.06 goals per game – good for 27th overall. Only the Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Anaheim Ducks are worse.
By Malcolm Campbell
Like many hockey fans you are probably thinking the New York Rangers are the team to beat in the Metropolitan Division this year. And after watching Henrik Lundqvist blank the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, it’s hard to believe otherwise. King Henrik has indeed looked like royalty this season, and his backup, Antti Raanta, has put up even better numbers. The problem for both of them is their ridiculously high caliber play is the only thing standing between the Rangers and a drop in the standings.
The story told by advanced statistics is that the Metro division is due for a shakeup. The three teams atop the table right now are separated by four points in a battle of the NHL’s second-most competitive group. The Rangers are riding a six-game winning streak heading into Thursday and have only lost twice in regulation this year. Right behind them are the Washington Capitals, with two more regulation losses than the division leaders, and rounding out the top three are the Pittsburgh Penguins, also four points back. While Pittsburgh doesn’t seem to be on the same level, the season is young, and it seems the Rangers are due for a regression. The only problem for the Penguins though, Washington isn’t.
So, what did we learn from the Pittsburgh Penguins shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night? Well, we know Mike Condon isn’t perfect. We also know that Sidney Crosby isn’t perfect, but he’s getting better.
Crosby went into his team’s 4-3 shootout win tied for 175th place in NHL scoring. Two assists later, he moved up more than 50 spots to tied for 124th. But the best part of Crosby’s performance was that he had an impact on the game right at the beginning and right at the end. His shootout goal on Condon, the second the young Canadiens gave up in two shots, put the game out of reach.
It’s a busy time in the prospect world with several events wrapping up and others just beginning. In this week’s Prospect Need to Know wrap, I’ll shed the spotlight on players from the World Under-17 Challenge, the Five Nations under-18 tourney and Four Nations under-20 showdown. So we’re getting into all the age brackets today. Also, the CHL-Russia Super Series kicked off, with the WHL taking Game 1 for the major junior side. That’s a series to watch for the next 10 days, as Canada’s world junior scouts will be grading carefully.
If this were an Olympic year, there is a good chance Sidney Crosby would not make Team Canada. That is if the players were chosen based on merit.
Of course we all know Crosby would be named to the team based on his wonderful and deserved reputation. In fact, Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong said Crosby will be among the first 16 players named to Canada’s roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Pittsburgh Penguins left winger Pascal Dupuis won’t play Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers and has been taken to hospital as a precaution.
The Penguins close to an hour before their Friday tilt that Dupuis, 36, was taken to the hospital because he was “experiencing symptoms that may or may not be related to his blood clot history,” according to the Penguins.
“We’ve said all along that Pascal’s health is the highest priority,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “We will take every precaution necessary to ensure he is in good health.” Read more
If the league wants to do something to increase scoring, Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby said the first place they should look is at goalie equipment, which is a route the league has taken in the past.
In speaking with NBC ProHockeyTalk’s Jason Brough, Crosby said he’d much rather the net — which has remained the same size throughout the history of the NHL — remain at it’s current 4-feet by 6-feet dimensions.
“I’m kind of a traditionalist,” Crosby said to Brough. “I would rather see the goalies get smaller equipment before the nets get bigger. I’d rather try that. But I’m all for more goals. However you want to do it.” Read more