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Penguins Offseason Analysis

Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Questions: What If?



pittsburgh penguins nick bjugstad
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 21: Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad (27) is shown during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins, held on March 21, 2019, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire)

Changing thinking and beliefs in a social media, 24/7, hyper-saturated media environment is next to impossible. There is always someone else to confirm a belief, proffer a feel-good explanation or emotional validation. But what if we changed the paradigm? Asked the same questions, took the same thoughts but reversed them to look at questions, issues and beliefs from the opposite angle? What if we looked at the Pittsburgh Penguins through a different lens?

What if wasn’t Jack Johnson who dragged down Phil Kessel, but Kessel’s absence in the defensive zone or availability for an outlet pass dragged down Jack Johnson? Both had a much better Corsi (though both were still below 50%) apart than together (43%).

What if Evgeni Malkin didn’t want to play with Kessel but was saddled with him because Kessel wouldn’t play with anyone else?

What if Alex Galchenyuk is what he has been?

What if the Penguins and GM Jim Rutherford are right about the game changing to a team-game with speed, grit and then talent? Columbus took down Tampa Bay. The New York Islanders pasted the Penguins. St. Louis won the Stanley Cup one year after Washington did.

What if Patric Hornqvist wasn’t healthy or simply suffered a slump in the second half of the season but is rested and ready to go next season?

What if the Penguins power play drops without Phil Kessel but the penalty kill soars with Brandon Tanev? Goal differential, not goals is the important stat.

What if increased defensive responsibility protects Matt Murray?

What if Kris Letang’s miscues and goals allowed are less than the rewards of his risky play? And what if his turnovers and mistakes are in-line with other top defensemen but his salary is well below that level?

What if Erik Gudbranson was in the wrong system, trying to fit the wrong roles before being acquired by the Penguins?

What do we expect from Justin Schultz?

Are 40 points and a healthy goal differential an acceptable output for a third line center? That’s what Nick Bjugstad brought.

Could Juuso Riikola fit into the Penguins top-six defensemen and who would he displace? Could Zach Trotman?

What if the Penguins get these decisions right but it still isn’t enough to win the Stanley Cup? How would you react?

What if trading Johnson costs the Penguins Tristan Jarry, but Murray wants franchise goalie/Sergei Bobrovsky cash? Then what?

What if the Pittsburgh Penguins penalty kill dips without Jack Johnson?

What if the Penguins get these decisions wrong?

What if my head starts to hurt with too many questions?

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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