Dave Molinari's Penguins chat transcript: 11.21.16
November 21, 2016 2:17 PM
Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press
Sidney Crosby looks to pass as he's defended by the Sabres' Josh Gorges Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y.
Dave Molinari: OK, let's get this chat started. Thanks to everyone who has joined us, especially those folks who have submitted questions. (The chat runs a whole lot better when that happens.)
Laura: Also, any concern on the low number of assists for Crosby so far? Goals are great but typically his points are skewed more towards assists.
Dave Molinari: Sidney Crosby, for those who might not be aware, has 12 goals and four assists in his first 12 games this season. As Laura noted, that's a highly unusual division of points for a guy whose playmaking ability is widely regarded as one of his greatest assets. The Penguins don't seem to have any real concern about the small number of assists he has so far, however, in part because his linemates have failed to capitalize on a number of good scoring chances he has given them. As a set-up man, he has no control over what the guys he gives the puck to do with it. In any case, this whole issue was addressed at length in a Post-Gazette story last Wednesday. You can find it here: http://www.post-gazette.com...
Dan Novak: Dave At what point do the Penguins start to worry about Boninos lack of production ?
Dave Molinari: Nick Bonino has one goal and four assists in 18 games, and there's no question the Penguins would like to get a little more offense out of him (as well as a few teammates). It's a little early to panic over his production just yet, however, and he can help to compensate for his modest offensive output with strong penalty-killing and good work on faceoffs.
Lasse: What current NHL player would you compare Guentzel to?
Dave Molinari: Jake Guentzel, recalled from the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre today after Chris Kunitz was put on injured reserve because of an unspecified injury, is expected to make his NHL debut this evening. He skates well and has good offensive skills, but I'd like to see him play a few games at this level before I start comparing him to others.
Guest: Hi, do you still provide framed articles?
Dave Molinari: Writing them is enough of a challenge. I will leave the fancy stuff, like framing, to others.
Andy: Dave, what's been the major factor why the Pens have not been playing as fast and aggressive as last year, especially thru the neutral zone? Penalties, lack of interest/desire bc of SC win, injuries, other teams playing them harder, etc?
Dave Molinari: I think the biggest issue -- though not necessarily a major surprise -- for the Penguins to this point of the season is their lack of consistency. Their personnel is largely unchanged from last season, so it's not a matter of having capable players. I just think that motivating themselves on a nightly basis during autumn is a much greater challenge than doing it during the stretch drive and playoffs. I expect that will change as the season progresses. Certainly, it's something of which the players and coaches are well aware.
Spyyyyder: It's no question at this point that the Rangers are on fire offensively right now. That said, which of the Penguins' players do you see stepping it up in the next couple games to contain NY's attack?
Dave Molinari: New York is the most prolific offensive team in the NHL to this point of the season, averaging four goals per game. That's a big part of the reason the Rangers are third in the overall standings, and two points ahead of the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division. East Palestine, Ohio native J.T. Miller has been a major force in New York's offense, putting up a team-leading 17 points, and Michael Grabner has surprised a lot of people by piling up 11 goals so far. Damage-control against New York won't be something that concerns just the goalie or a handful of players when the Penguins and New York play tonight at PPG PAints Arena and Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Sound team defense is an issue for all 19 guys who are involved in a game.
Laura: What's going on with discipline with this team? Did some player insult an official and give the team a bad rep? They're not close to league leader in PIM yet, but the number of penalties per game is getting concerning...
Dave Molinari: I don't know that the Penguins have a particularly bad reputation among officials, but they certainly have taken more than their share of undisciplined, untimely penalties this season. Whether that reflects a lack of focus or self-control -- or both -- is a matter of perspective, but it's something the Penguins should clean up at the earliest opportunity. There is too much parity in the NHL for even a skilled, accomplished team to put itself in shorthanded situations any more often than is necessary.
DontCry4MeJanHrdina: While he's still young, is Maatta settled in to where he slots- a solid middle pairing guy, but no longer a potential top pair anchor we'd hoped for a few years back?
Dave Molinari: I think it's too early to pass judgment on where Maatta will fit in on the depth chart for the bulk of his career, but he certainly hasn't played to the potential that he seemed to have a couple of seasons ago. Mind you, he's had some tough medical luck -- thyroid cancer and a shoulder issue that had to be surgically corrected -- so it's entirely possible that he eventually will elevate his game back to where it was earlier in his career. At the same time, there's no guarantee he will be able to do that.
JamesinNYC: I don't know if you know but if they keep Fleury until the end of the year a) can they trade him after the season before the expansion draft b) how does it impact the ability of the Pens to protect Tristan Jarry who at this point is having a great season?
Dave Molinari: I'm not aware of any rule that would prevent the Penguins from trading Fleury between the end of their playoff run and the expansion draft, but they would have very little negotiating leverage if they put off doing something with Fleury until then. They definitely would like to hold onto him -- their playoff run this spring underscored the value of having two quality goaltenders -- and the best way to make that happen would be to work out a deal with Las Vegas under which that team would agree to not draft Matt Murray if he's exposed in the expansion draft. (Fleury, by nature of his no-movement clause, must be protected.)
Lasse: Once I've seen a player play, I never forget if he's a left or a right shot, something that limits me from mistaking players with similiar numbers, skating style or size, something some of the professional comentators do however. Do you have the same "talent"?
Dave Molinari: I don't really think of that as a talent, but I suspect that I'm like most frequent observers, be they fan or media members or whatever, who pick up on a player's on-ice appearance -- whether it's the way he shoot or skates or whatever -- and are able to identify a player without seeing his number or nameplate. Skating styles, in particular, make it easy to distinguish one player from another, in my experience.
Dave Molinari: We still have a few minutes left, if anyone would care to submit a question. We have several that we won't get to because, unfortunately, they address topics that were raised by other folks.
John: Why is fleury starting today? It's not a back to back and Murray is rolling and should be the number 1 now. To your Vegas point, there's no deal pens could offer that would keep them from taking Murray in expansion draft and making him their franchise goalie for a decade.
Dave Molinari: I think the coaching staff still is allowing Fleury and Murray to compete for the No. 1 job, so it's reasonable to expect a fairly even division of labor, at least for a little while longer. And Las Vegas surely is aware that the Penguins won't expose Murray in the expansion draft, that general manager Jim Rutherford will do something with Fleury if he is forced to. That being the case, there's reason to believe Las Vegas might be receptive to working something out since it is not going to get Murray under any circumstances.
Dave Molinari: OK, everyone. Thanks for another stimulating half-hour. Take care, and let's do it again next week.
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