There will be no cleaning house in Pittsburgh. Buoyed by standout individual performances and contributions from their whole roster, the Penguins look poised to make a respectable playoff run this year.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Now, there's a saying in hockey, or at least hockey media, hurry up and wait. Well, I thought Evgeni Malkin might have been hurrying back to get dealt or to see his entire team get dealt. Because he is an unrestricted free agent. Started the season on the shelf.
And this year could have went one or two ways for the Penguins, who could have been staging or getting ready to stage a fire sale right now. But the Penguins are going back to the playoffs. We know that because there's zero intrigue among playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
We know who the eight teams are already. Look at the standings. And not only are they going back to the playoffs, but they might have another run left in them. And that's not because Sidney Crosby was All World in Gino's absence, though he has been very good recently.
No, it's because of the standout individual performances at other corners of the roster and the depth of contribution, despite so much uncertainty entering the season, both at the individual talent level and when just assessing team. His team lost a lot to in expansion, did not have a particularly good summer.
But listen to this. Tristan Jarry, Vezina Trophy form. The goals against average under two. 932 save percentage. The league's second best goals saved above average. Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang, really the only star players that were with this team through the entire year so far.
Guentzel-- well, Guentzel's been hurt, too. But Guentzel leads the team in goals and points, performing well above a point per game. And Letang is averaging almost an assist per game, playing his best hockey in a long time, with the Penguins outscoring the competition almost 2-to-1 in his minutes.
But it's deeper than that. Evan Rodrigues, who shouldn't have had a job with if Penguins didn't have so many injuries to start the season or lose Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann through the expansion process. 15 goals and 15 assists, for someone who's basically out of work. It's found money. That's Mark Donk level stuff.
But Mike Sullivan, head coach of the Penguins. Lots of Jack Adams candidates out there right now, but Sullivan should be chief among them. Dominant five-on-five team all season long. Despite no Malkin, despite no guarantee of Sid, no Tanev and McCann, as I mentioned. He's done a tremendous job.
The fire sale in Pittsburgh would have been tremendous. But one last ride for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the teams-- maybe the team-- of the salary cap era. That's better. That's more befitting of a team of that caliber.