I have some questions about these Penguins. Mike Darnay from Pensburgh was there to satiate my curiosity.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then we’ll begin.
Copper and Blue: We must ask: Is Evgeni Malkin returning to the lineup just for today’s matinee game against the Oilers? Who’s been picking up the slack in Malkin’s time away?
Pensburgh: I don’t seem to think so. He was ruled out “longer term” a while back, and the troops seem to all be coming back from the MASH unit lately for the Penguins. They recently added Galchenyuk and Dumoulin back, and I think they’re happy to be getting back near full health as a team. It’s been a collective effort of sorts, but Jared McCann’s presence and play lately has been outstanding.
Copper and Blue:The Oilers have had some significant issues with their bottom six and their lack of scoring. If you take a look at the Penguins, seven different Penguins scored in Pittsburgh’s 7-1 victory over their cross-state rivals on Tuesday night. How important has it been for the Penguins to be able to spread the scoring all across the lineup?
Pensburgh: In Malkin’s absence, players like Jared McCann, Zach Aston-Reese, Sam Lafferty, Dominik Kahun, and Brandon Tanev stepping to the plate has been huge.
Copper and Blue: Tell us about a player or a prospect that’s due for a breakout season.
Pensburgh: Sam Lafferty’s call-up from Wilkes-Barre was big for the team, with 3 goals and 3 assists in 10 games. He was just sent back down to make room for Malkin, but I’d expect he’ll be back sooner than later.
Copper and Blue: Matt Murray has gone about his business this season, putting up a .923 SV% early on. How far from the norm is this for Murray? Is this what we can expect over a full season?
Pensburgh: I think this is about the norm for Murray. He is a career .918 goalie and putting up just above that with a .923 has been good for him. He’s got 7 wins in 10 starts and has looked solid in general.
Copper and Blue: There’s been plenty of talk about Pittsburgh’s fall from elite status. Is this a team that’s expected to make some noise in the playoffs once again? Why, or why not?
Pensburgh: They looked horrible down the stretch into the postseason last year. There are 4 keys to sustained postseason success -- Sidney Crosby (who looks very much in great form), Evgeni Malkin, who by all accounts had a terrific offseason looking to come back and make noise, the health of Kris Letang, and the play of Matt Murray. It seems like a team that many were betting against could be a team to surprise many.
Thanks go to Mike for his time.
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