One month into 2017-18 season, Pittsburgh Penguins have room to improve
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons. Their goal for this season is to win it all again, but they have a long way to go. In 13 games, Pittsburgh's record is 7-5-1 with 15 points and they sit in fourth place in a tough Metropolitan Division.
Realistically, it wasn't a bad month at all. The negative part during the month of October was Pittsburgh going 0-4 in the second game of back-to-backs. Opponents are outscoring the Penguins 29-7 in those four games. When they don't play the second game of back-to-backs, Pittsburgh have outscored their opponents 29-21.
They have 15 more back-to-backs this season and Pittsburgh need to show more grit and compassion in those games. It doesn't help when the blue line doesn't play well. Kris Letang has been horrendous on the defensive end with a plus/minus of -14. Justin Schultz had missed the last week with a concussion and they missed his presence. He can defend and play offence.
Antti Niemi was put on waivers last week. His record was 0-3 with a 7.50 GAA and a .797 save percentage. That is horrendous. Pittsburgh called up Casey DeSmith recently and he came in relief against the Winnipeg Jets. He didn't play bad, but DeSmith was left out to dry. His GAA in the game was 4.30 and DeSmith's save percentage was .800.
Pittsburgh decided to recall Tristan Jarry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL). His record in five games this season was 3-2 with a 3.18 GAA and a .897 save percentage. Despite a slow start, he is NHL ready. Jarry appeared in one NHL game last season and he lost. His GAA was 3.06 and save percentage was .880.
The year before with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), Jarry played in 45 games and his record was 28-15-1 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.15 GAA, along with three shutouts. Jarry is hoping to be the backup to Matt Murray for the rest of the season. Pittsburgh lost goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights via the expansion draft in the offseason.
Riley Sheahan was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Scott Wilson earlier in the month. Carter Rowney will be out for another few weeks with a hand injury. General manager Jim Rutherford will probably make another trade sometime soon to improve the roster.
Evgeni Malkin has scored five goals and recorded eight assists so far this season. Phil Kessel has scored four goals and recorded nine assists so far this season. Sidney Crosby has scored five goals and recorded six assists so far this season.
Olli Maatta leads the Penguins defenseman in points with eight (two goals six assists). Patric Hornqvist and Jake Guentzel have three goals each.
Matt Murray's record is 7-2-1 with a 3.04 GAA and a .903 save percentage, along with one shutout.
Brian Dumoulin has been one of the better Penguins defenseman, if not the best despite his -8 plus/minus. He has been great in coverage and Dumoulin makes the right defensive play most of the time. The reason why he has that plus/minus is that Dumoulin plays on the top defensive pairing with Letang.
If any of the Penguins wingers get hurt, the first guy that is going to be called up is Daniel Sprong. In eight games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) this season, he has scored seven goals and recorded three assists.
The Pittsburgh Penguins play 13 games in the month of November and the most important thing is playing better in the second game of back-to-backs.