1 p.m.: Matt’s wrapping things up from the dressing room. Look for a grab bag of insights in just a bit on PHN Extra!
11:40 a.m.: Simon still getting work on the second unit of the power play.
11:35 a.m.: Nothing changed from Sunday’s lines, although Aston-Reese is splitting time with Dominik Simon on the right wing of the fourth line.
11:30 a.m.: Defense pairings at practice look like status quo from Sunday …
11:15 a.m.: Still a toss-up as to who the Penguins’ first-round opponent will be. According to Sports Club Stats, here are the percentages …
Blue Jackets: 39 percent
Flyers: 35 percent
Devils: 15 percent
Panthers/Capitals: 4 percent each
11 a.m.: Per Matt Gajtka, Zach Aston-Reese was on the ice before practice here at Lemieux Complex. Full team workout underway now, with ZAR taking part.
7 a.m.: The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled to maintain consistent defensive zone coverage, at times they’ve struggled to score 5v5 and even struggled to keep the puck out of the net, but they haven’t struggled to win games.
TSN analyst Craig Button is buying whatever the Penguins are doing. In a video fans may find comforting, Button says the Penguins are “wired to win”:
–Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s old friend Lyle Richardson, SpectorsHockey.net, looks at five teams who will be most helped by the 2018-19 salary cap rise. Guess who is #1?
–The Penguins win over the Philadelphia Flyers put the Penguins in second place, three points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and three points behind the Washington Capitals in the Metro Division.
The Penguins have only six games remaining; the Capitals have seven remaining. If the Capitals earn only seven points in their remaining seven games, the Penguins would be forced to win five of six to win the division.
In short, it’s unlikely. Based on NHL standings, the Penguins first round opponent is most likely the Flyers or the Blue Jackets.
–If you’re a sports bettor, Dan Kingerski has a few suggestions on the Stanley Cup. This weekend, the Winnipeg Jets (11-1 odds) beat the Nashville Predators (3.75-1) in a shootout to clinch a playoff berth. Winnipeg is the fourth team in the NHL and second in the Western Conference to clinch a berth.
For entertainment purposes, of course, here are Dan’s matchbook recommendations.
–The Florida Panthers are keeping pace with the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers trail the Devils by three points for the second Eastern Conference wild-card position, but the Panthers still have two games in hand.
After watching the Devils give the Penguins fits again, Friday, Penguins fans may root even harder for the Panthers and forward Vincent Trochek.
Connor McDavid zoomed past Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov. McDavid has 10 points in his past four games. He has 99 points, Kucherov has 95 points, and Malkin ‘just’ 92 points.
Call me crazy, McDavid may win the Art Ross Trophy, but should not be a candidate for the Hart Trophy. The team should have some success to be an MVP. –Dan Kingerski
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The playoffs are coming!
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Our Matt Gajtka–who starred on WPXI’s Final Word, Sunday night, will cover practice later today.
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