The Pittsburgh Penguins have won five of seven games, including three in regulation against the first-place New York Islanders this season. It’s the same New York team that squashed the Penguins in the 2019 playoffs and has bedeviled the Penguins with rigid defensive structure and patience.
Saturday night, the Penguins lineup missing a half-dozen forwards still raced past the New York Islanders for a 6-3 win. The depleted Penguins have scored 15 goals in their last three games.
These Penguins are a far cry from the 2019 team, which the Islanders knew would fold or make mistakes.
Actually, these Penguins are a lot closer to the 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins team, which used a handful of new faces who were fighting for NHL jobs. PHN will explore the topic more fully on Sunday, but here’s a little teaser from Mike Sullivan about players like Anthony Angello, Frederick Gaudreau, Sam Lafferty, and Radim Zohorna.
“Yeah, I think these guys that have an opportunity to play at the NHL level, they bring that a certain level of urgency and a complete level and an enthusiasm that can be contagious.”
Tactically, the Penguins were sound, at least when it really mattered. You probably saw a few of the tweaks, even if you don’t normally pay attention to the Xs and Os. The report card has a few surprising grades, too.