The Penguins started their Southern California trip in a 0-3 hole after one period. Fortunately, they were playing one of the worst teams in the league and combined their skill with effort to roar back in the game and win 7-4. Jake Guentzel led the way with his second career hat trick.
Here are all 11 goals
Pittsburgh was benefited by falling down by three goals earlier than later. The Ducks are the 29th ranked possession team in the league and when you combine that with score effects the Penguins had two periods to storm back and they did. When you look at expected goals Anaheim is the worst. They are a horribly coached team and have predictably fallen from grace after replacing Bruce Boudreau with Randy Carlyle. This was Anaheim’s tenth loss in a row
Here’s the time period from when Boudreau was hired as Ducks coach to the present. The mark on the line is when Anaheim made the coaching change
I shudder to think of what the Ducks would look like if Pittsburgh native John Gibson wasn’t the front runner for the Vezina Trophy. Actually, I take that back. Anaheim would be in a great spot to land Jack Hughes (or Kaapo Kakko) which would be way better for their franchise than being propped up by wasted goaltending.
I really appreciated Jake Guentzel’s first goal on the night when he dropped his shoulder faking pass and cleverly shot the puck through Gibson’s legs when he started his shuffle process anticipating the pass across. You can’t teach those hockey smarts. He’s just a naturally gifted player in that regard. It’s a huge reason why he and Crosby are a great fit.
Guentzel’s second goal came in front of the goal on the power play. He goes about his business differently than Patric Hornqvist, but he is a very good player in that section of the ice. You don’t have to be a bulldog to be effective in that area. Timing and smarts can be just as good. Puck luck never hurts either.
Daniel Sprong scored against his former team. He had an assist in the last meeting between the two teams. He isn’t lighting the world on fire in Anaheim. He’s a limited player who can be a nice secondary scoring option. He has six goals in 16 games with Anaheim. Over the course of 82 games it would be a… 30 goal pace. You can live with warts on a player if they put up 20-30 goals. It’s better than some defensive specialist who isn’t good at defense and doesn’t produce offense for 750k. I am not referencing Marcus Pettersson, he’s been fine. I’m referencing the endless supply of forwards in the NHL that get a free pass for being offensively and defensively inept because they know how to hit the puck off the glass in their own end.
I liked how Mike Sullivan has tried to get Derick Brassard going by giving him Phil Kessel. The teams has been banking points so he has more flexibility with some roster decisions. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked. If Brassard isn’t going to show a pulse with Kessel then Evgeni Malkin deserves to get some help if he’s saddled to the non-Letang pairings breaking him out of the zone. Phil took it upon himself to make things happen if his center wasn’t going to help. He had a jump in his step the entire night.
Tanner Pearson scored his seventh and eighth goal of the season for the Penguins a day before he plays his former team. He’s shooting 12% with Pittsburgh and has a 1.66 points per 60 at 5v5 which is right in line with previous seasons for him. He was a great buy low trade for Jim Rutherford. It’s still amazing how many general managers don’t understand shooting percentage regression.
Carl Hagelin will face the Penguins for the first time since being traded away. He’s been hurt for much of his time in Los Angeles. When he’s played he has been a good possession player with anemic offense. So business as usual.
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