First of all, congratulations to Beau Bennett on his first career NHL goal. And it was a beauty of a power play goal off a pass from Sidney Crosby at that!
Now onto a few topics for the day.
1. Evgeni Malkin has been placed on IR with a concussion. Leave it alone folks. Leave. It. Alone. He will be back when he is well and we don’t want him back a moment sooner. Don’t feed into the media on this one like everyone did with Crosby. Concussions are tricky. They range in severity. There cannot and will not be a time table. Just let it be.
2. Pens have to stop melting down and blowing leads. I don’t know what happened after the break for commercial in the second period, but they found their legs again. But coming out and giving away leads night after night is unacceptible. You can’t spend the last minutes of the second period and the entire third period trying to recover ground night after night when you should be focusing on maintaining and extending your lead.
3. Roster Movement.
The Pens brought back and signed 35-year-old defenseman Mark Eaton to a one-year contract worth $725,000. This is a curious move. While the signing fills out the roster spot being vacated by Malkin while he is on IR, it doesn’t replace a forward. It adds even MORE defensive depth. A few scenarios can play out here:
- Simon Despres will be sent back to WBS where he can continue to develop in the top pairing each night. Despres has been playing anywhere from 10-17 minutes in the last 5 games. He will get 20+ back in WBS.Eaton will rotate in the roster with Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo, with Bortuzzo likely being the health scratch. Engelland is +8 right now and has been playing well. As the veteran, Bylsma will play him over Bortuzzo.
- Bortuzzo will be put on waivers or be traded. Either scenario doesn’t pan out well for the Pens because in each scenario we get nothing in return. Bortuzzo would be nabbed by the Islanders within an hour and if he is traded, you’re getting nothing but low picks that aren’t worth a thing in the grand scheme of things.
- Ray Shero is scheming to package Bortuzzo and Tyler Kennedy and ship them off for a winger. Shero has expressed displeasure with Kennedy’s production (as he should) and the team has needs when it comes to fowards, now more than ever with Malkin gone.
- Shero keeps Bortuzzo and trades Kennedy and plays Zach Boychuk and prays another forward doesn’t go down with Malkin out.
- Shero deals Engelland, which again, whether it is waivers or a trade, you’re not getting anything in return for him.
The worst thing that could happen though for their development though would be for Bortuzzo and Despres to both stay in Pittsburgh and live the life of healthy scratches because any way you slice it, one of them will be sitting an awful lot and wasting time in a press box that could be spent on ice in WBS. And honestly, Bortuzzo will be that guy if only one is staying. If Shero has long term-or even just through this season- plans for Bortuzzo, he must keep him on the active roster.
All of this craziness though, as I said yesterday, is a huge opportunity for Brandon Sutter to show just how strong he can be offensively. And as long as Bennett keeps playing as well as he has been, with great vision and patience, Boychuk is also going to ride the pine for the foreseeable future.