Carolina Hurricanes: Keys for Metro Success

RALEIGH, NC - MAY 14: Andrei Svechnikov #37 of the Carolina Hurricanes leaves the ice following warmups prior to Game Three of the Eastern Conference Third Round against the Boston Bruins during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MAY 14: Andrei Svechnikov #37 of the Carolina Hurricanes leaves the ice following warmups prior to Game Three of the Eastern Conference Third Round against the Boston Bruins during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
7 of 9
Next
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby
PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 16: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Islanders in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on April 16, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Pittsburgh Penguins

Gone are Phil Kessel, Olli Maatta, and Matt Cullen.  In are Alex Galchenyuk, Dominik Kahun, and Brandon Tanev.  A superficial glance shows that these changes leave the Penguins both younger and faster, but will that be enough?  Pittsburgh matched the 100 points they put up in 2017-18 only to be unceremoniously dispatched by the New York Islanders in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sidney Crosby (35g; 65a; 100p) and Evgeni Malkin (21g; 51a; 72p in 68 games) are still rolling, which means the Penguins are still a threat.  Losing Kessel, who averaged 27 goals and 75 points in his 4 years in Pittsburgh, will hurt.  Adding Galchenyuk, who scored 30 in 2015-16 but hasn’t cracked 20 since will help.  If he lines up on Malkin’s wing he could eclipse his career-high of 56 points.

Defense could prove to be a concern, not that that’s new for Penguins’ fans.  With Maatta gone and Brian Dumoulin coming into camp recovering from a knee injury (though probable for the start of the season), the blueline could be exploited.  I say this considering that the Penguins allowed the 6th most shots against (2729; 33 per game) last season.

Despite giving up a lot of shots, Pittsburgh finished the season tied for the 5th best team save percentage (.913).  Matt Murray improved on his 2017-18 performance but the 25-year-old keeper will need to find better consistency.  Of his 50 starts last season, he posted a sub .850 save percentage in 10.  Casey DeSmith posted numbers close to Murray’s in his 36 appearances.

Keys for the Hurricanes:

  • Keep the Crosby and Malkin lines in check – Yeah, obvious no-brainer.  While no one is going to keep these two off the scoresheet, the Hurricanes have the defensive depth to mitigate a lot of damage and cause frustration for Pittsburgh’s offense.
  • Exploit every opportunity – We’ve talked about the Carolina Hurricanes’ offensive depth and how they need to get their foot on the opponent’s throats and not let up.  The Penguins aren’t pushovers but their defense can be exploited.  Doing their best to keep the play in Pittsburgh’s end will go a long way towards achieving Key #1 and increasing the Hurricanes’ shot at winning.