Tasting the Potential

Penguins celebrate a Power-play goal Saturday night against the New York Islanders on their way to a 5-2 victory.

Written by The Burgh Blog writer Austin Tocco

Hopefully not all of the Penguins faithful has given up on this team, the Penguins have finally opened their own eyes as to how well they could play and they have taken advantage of that the past week and a half. We all knew of the firing of head coach Mike Johnston and nobody knew what the new coach Mike Sullivan would bring to the table. His style was yet to be determined by most of the players and it sure did take a few games to get used to it. His shot first mentality has allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins (19-15-4) to maintain the hopes of making the playoffs once again.
The past two games have definitely been games to remember for this team, through all the adversity over the past several months, the team managed to get two memorable wins against Eastern Conference teams that have proven themselves. Winning at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit is a task in itself, the Penguins defeated the Red Wings by a score of 5-2. Finishing the night going 2 for 4 on the power-play and launching 37 shots on goaltender Petr Mrazek. There was no better way to end the 2015 than with a win against a familiar foe in Detroit. The next step after this victory was to get the first victory of 2016 against the divisional opponent the New York Islanders. The Penguins did not bait into their hard hitting, bruising style winning convincingly with a score of 5-2. The hometown team went 2 for 4 on the power-play against the 2nd best penalty kill team in the league and put 43 shots on ex-Penguin goaltender Thomas Greiss who was pulled after allowing 4 goals. The fans took exception to his comments during the off-season about how the Consol Energy Center was “pretty dead” by booing him as he skated off the ice. The fans sure had a good reason to start cheering, 10 goals in 2 games in not heard of in this league.
Sidney Crosby has finally looked like Sidney Crosby. The golden boy that is the MVP of the Penguins and the league. Crosby has scored 5 goals in his past 5 games and is finally aiding in the power-play. Crosby’s play has raised the play from most of the team also with exceptional performances from Patric Hornqvist, Matt Cullen, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. With the power-play clicking for the first time all year, momentum and confidence is going all through their heads. “The power-play got big goals and we didn’t give them too much. . .” said Marc-Andre Fleury after the 5-2 win Saturday night. It was his first game in roughly 2 weeks so it was nice for the offense to provide the offense when he needed it most It sure is nice to see the team work how they are supposed to, with all of the skill that General Manager Jim Rutherford has provided we are finally executing, all thanks to Mike Sullivan. The shot first, get to the dirty areas for the rebound is working. The Penguins must keep up this pace in order to contend for a playoff position. As of now, the Pittsburgh Penguins sit 2 points behind the second place wild card team in the Boston Bruins. The excitement is finally in the air at Consol Energy Center and I truly believe that come April, the hometown faithful will be even louder than ever in the playoffs.
The Penguins have played 38 games up to this point in the season with many more games left to play, but the schedule only gets harder as divisional match-ups quickly approach. The Pittsburgh Penguins play in a home and home series against the defending Stanley Cup champions Tuesday and Wednesday night and then 2 Metropolitan Division games against the Carolina Hurricanes who have proven to be one of the most underrated teams in the league. If the Penguins can keep the confidence at the level it is now and consistently scoring over 3 goals a night, they will be in good shape going into the All-Star break at the end of the month.

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