ShareThis Page
Penguins

Penguins notebook: Pluses, minuses for mandated, 5-day break

Jonathan Bombulie
| Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
The Penguins celebrate Phil Kessel's goal against the Burins in the first period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins celebrate Phil Kessel's goal against the Burins in the first period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin celebrates his goal against the Burins in the second period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin celebrates his goal against the Burins in the second period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak celebrates his goal against the Burins in the first period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak celebrates his goal against the Burins in the first period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

With snow falling most of the day in Western Pennsylvania, Penguins players who planned trips to warmer climates were probably glad their CBA-mandated, five-day off week started Monday.

When they really think about it, though, the break has pluses and minuses.

Sidney Crosby isn't complaining about a vacation, but he noted the Penguins' break this season comes just a few weeks after the team had three days off for Christmas.

“You don't necessarily need it this soon, but it is what it is,” Crosby said. “We have a big stretch coming up after that. To get rest knowing what's ahead, it's not going to hurt us. That's something we can take advantage of.”

After the break, the Penguins will play seven games in 13 days, including a three-game West Coast swing, before having three more days off for the All-Star break at the end of the month.

In order to build the break into schedules, busy stretches have been commonplace. The Penguins, for example, are still smarting from the beatings they took in the tail end of back-to-backs three times in the first three weeks of the season.

They get the break now, but they paid for it in October.

“That's the thing. It's tough,” defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “You saw our schedule at the beginning of this year. Maybe without it, we'd have a little more lenient of a schedule.

“But we're going to be tired no matter what. We're going to be banged up no matter what. It's nice to have a couple days to just enjoy yourself.”

Special showing

While the Penguins have been limping along for much the season, their special teams have been successful at historic levels.

The power play, for instance, is second in the league with a 27.3 percent success rate, trailing only San Jose's 29.0 percent.

The Penguins are on pace to set a franchise record in that department, which is a significant achievement given the stars who played on the team's power play over the years. The team record is 26.0 percent set in 1995-96.

“All year, it's been like that,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “We've been confident our power play could get big goals for us and keep us in games.”

The penalty kill, meanwhile, leads the league with a 94.0 percent success rate since Dec. 1, killing 47 of the last 50 power plays it faced.

“It's been a big part of some of the wins we've been able to get since then,” coach Mike Sullivan said.

The number is even more impressive given the personnel shake-up that injuries caused in recent weeks. With PK regulars Carter Rowney and Bryan Rust out, Jake Guentzel and Crosby have eaten some shorthanded minutes effectively.

Starring role

Crosby's recent scoring surge earned him an NHL honor Monday. With a goal and seven assists in four games, Crosby was named the league's third star of the week.

Boston's Patrice Bergeron was the first star with five goals in three games. Colorado goalie Jonathan Bernier went 3-0-0 and was named second star.

Crosby had a goal and three assists in a 4-0 win over the Islanders on Friday and three assists in a 6-5 overtime win over the Bruins on Sunday.

After a relatively slow start to the season, Crosby has moved into the top 15 in the league in scoring with 43 points in 44 games.

Crosby sunk to a tie for 63rd in the league in scoring in the middle of November and was tied for 27th as recently as last Thursday.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.comor via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me