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2016-17 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

2016-17 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

How they did last season: 48-26-8 (104 points), 2nd in the Metropolitan, 2nd in the Eastern Conference. They went the distance beating the Rangers, Caps, Lightning and Sharks to win the Stanley Cup.

Notable acquisitions: D Stuart Percy

Notable departures: D Ben Lovejoy; G Jeff Zatkoff

When they will play the Caps: Oct. 13 in Pittsburgh; Nov. 16 in Washington; Jan. 11 in Washington; Jan. 16 in Pittsburgh


Analysis: The Pittsburgh Penguins took a very different approach to the offseason than what we see from teams like the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks dismantle their roster every offseason to avoid cap trouble and keep the core intact. The Penguins, however, elected to keep the roster largely together after winning the Stanley Cup and will feature essentially the exact same lineup this season.

There’s no question this team has a roster capable of being among the top in the league because they did it just last year, but we should not automatically expect the Penguins to look like the same team they were in the playoffs through an 82-game season.

Head coach Mike Sullivan faces a different challenge as he will coach the team through an entire season, unlike last year in which he took over in December for the fired Mike Johnston. Those are two very different scenarios. Sullivan's success last year does not guarantee success as the new full-time coach, just ask Dan Bylsma who also led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup after taking over midseason.

The biggest question for the Penguins is in net. Despite how well the young Matt Murray played in the playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury also returns. How will the team divide the starts? Who will be the team’s No. 1? With the expansion draft looming, the Penguins must get rid of Fleury before June 21 because of his no-movement clause, otherwise they would be obligated to protect him from the draft thus exposing the 22-year-old Murray. They won't do that. Sometime between

The question of whether Fleury will be traded is something that will hang over the team’s head throughout the entire season.

Season prediction: The Penguins have more questions than you would expect for a defending champ returning essentially the same roster. Can Sullivan find the same success through a full season? Will the situation in net become a distraction? Will the rest of the NHL figure the Penguins out?

There’s a reason no team has won the Stanley Cup twice in a row since 1997 and 1998. The stars have to align perfectly and every other team in the league is gunning for you. Plus, the playoffs are physically and mentally exhausting which makes this the wrong year for the World Cup of Hockey which will give Pittsburgh's top players even less time to recover.

Having said all of that, I don’t see this team taking a step back and if they do, it will be a small one. Few teams can come close to the scoring depth this team boasts and, even some members of the supporting cast are due for a dropoff in production (Matt Cullen), scoring goals won’t be a problem for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins don’t just have a roster tailored for success, they have a roster that multiple general managers have tried replicating this summer. If Pittsburgh does run out of gas, it will come in the postseason. Until then, the Penguins will find themselves among the top teams in the conference and poised for a title defense come April.



Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
— Carolina Hurricanes
— Columbus Blue Jackets
— New Jersey Devils
— New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
— Washington Capitals (coming soon)

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.