The season has started strong for the Penguins, and Pensburgh Manager Mike Darnay is here to chat about the Pens and their season ahead.
C&B: Last season, the Oilers and Penguins made a deal sending David Perron for Rob Klinkhammer and a 1st. Since then, Perron’s tenure with the Penguins has been underwhelming. What do you think the Penguins need to do to get the former 57-point player back to where he was?
PB: It’s impossible to argue with the underwhelming aspect of it, and a lot of Penguins fans are upset that the Penguins used a first-round pick to acquire Perron. Personally, I love the guy. I think he was playing through injury at the end of last season and in the playoffs. And this season, I believe he is in the top 5 players of the NHL who have the most shots without a goal (until he scored on Wednesday night against the Canucks). And it feels like he just needs to keep it simple. When playing with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, he just needs to keep it basic and the points and production will come.
C&B: This offseason the Penguins took Phil Kessel with hopes to finally find a quality player to play with Sidney Crosby. How has he fit in this season, and what are the expectations for him in Pittsburgh the rest of the year?
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PB: He didn’t work out with Crosby, per the scoring sheets. Crosby and Kessel were dominating in shot attempts and possession metrics, but the goals weren’t coming, so they mixed things up and Kessel is now with Malkin and it’s working out pretty well. Many are expecting him to score 40 goals, and he still might. He has 4 in 12 games, but is playing excellent. He’s hit several posts. Against Vancouver, he put a shot off of the crossbar and it landed IN THE PENGUINS BENCH.
C&B: The Penguins have been able to build one of the deepest defensive prospect pools in the NHL. However, the lack of quality NHL defencemen is starting to show for the team. Is there legitimate concern surrounding this defensive group, and do you think anything will be done to help them out?
PB: So far, the concern has been very vocal from Penguins fans, but Marc-Andre Fleury has been amazing and has kept the Penguins afloat, and the Penguins have the best defensive goals-against per game record in the NHL so far. How sustainable that is, is the big question. They’re bleeding shot attempts in games and that’s not a good sign, but I think the biggest thing is if the Penguins defensemen can all stay healthy.