What’s up yinz? Hope you’re all heading down the road to recovery after the heartbreaking Steelers playoff loss. The AFC championship game almost dulled some of the pain when the Jaguars came so close to upsetting the Patriots, and every Steeler fan like myself craves to see anyone take down New England. However, the Patriots, as always came back in the second half to steal the win away 24-20.
As football comes to a close and we prepare for the final game of the season, hockey is in full swing. The Pens continue to have an up and down season, winning some and losing some. Currently, they remain a few games over .500 with a record of 26-21-5 and lagging at 5th in the metro. Does this mean we must abandon our hopes of a three-peat Stanley Cup Season? In my opinion, absolutely not. While they may not be the unstoppable force that they were last year, the Penguins are still a solid team and are very capable of making and competing in the post-season.
It’s no secret that part of the pens issue is the lack of production from the superstars of Crosby, Malkin, and Letang. Phil Kessel remains an exception as he is having his best season so far with the pens. However, the young talent on the team has seemed to pick up a lot of the slack and is a huge contributor to keeping the pens in the race. This emergence of young talent was very prominent in last night’s game versus Carolina. Less than a month ago Dominik Simon, Jean-Sebastian Dea, and Casey DeSmith were playing in the minors. Last night the rookies were named the three stars of the game. Dominik Simon netted the game-tying goal for the pens for his second goal of the season. The story of the night, of course, being that Dea scored his first NHL goal, which just so happened to be the game winner. Let’s not forget the fantastic goaltending by rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith, who made 35 saves, only letting one squeak behind him. He has done a great deal in carrying the load while starter Matt Murry has been absent.
The Penguins are continually one of the best teams in hockey because of their knack for developing young minor league guys into high-level NHL players. We often forget that guys like Jake Guentzel, Conner Sheary, and Brian Rust were only rookies last year. Now they are looked at throughout the league as top-tier players. Even starting goalie Matt Murray has only been in the NHL for two seasons and now is one of the most desirable goalies in the league and has two cups under his belt. Are Dea, Simon, and DeSmith the next generation of standout rookies? I can’t be certain yet but they’ve shown great promise so far and their high production keeps some of the pressure off of guys like Crosby and Malkin.
If the young talent continues to play like they are and the stars of the team get out of this current slump, the Pens can once again return to that unstoppable force that we have seen the past two seasons.
LET’S GO PENS!!