The highlight of the past seven days for the Pittsburgh Penguins was a 3-2 overtime road win against the Islanders. The rest of the week included three losses — one was a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Capitals and a 5-2 home loss to the Rangers in which the Penguins blew a 2-0 lead.
But hey, it’s Thanksgiving this week!
The Penguins can give thanks to a lot of things through 19 games. They have the third-best record in the East. They’re just four points behind the Rangers for the division lead and get another crack at them Wednesday. Sidney Crosby is healthy. Kris Letang is healthy. A case can be made the Penguins aren’t playing anywhere close to their best hockey but are on pace for about 107 points.
They can also be thankful for Thanksgiving itself. There’s a lot of good food on the horizon … although they are in New York on Wednesday night and Minnesota on Friday night, so they might be eating hotel room service turkey, which is still pretty good.
A family gathering
Before Monday’s game went off the rails, rookie Jake Guentzel scored two goals in his NHL debut. His first goal came on his first shot about a minute into the game, and his family understandably lost it.
There was another great tweet where Jake’s brother, Ryan, took a screen shot of his reaction and tweeted a self-deprecating joke about it.
This should make for an interesting gathering on Thursday for the Guenztel family. No matter what the one Guentzel does, he is definitely going to hear about his brother.
“Well, mom and dad, work is going great. Just got a promotion and I plan on buying my first home very soon. I’m very happy. I’m getting a lot done right now. I’m in a good pla—”
“Why can’t you be more like brother and score two goals in an NHL game?”
“NOTHING IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU DAD!”
Turkey: Sidney Crosby
The main dish. The center of the meal. Yeah, there’s a lot of other great stuff on the table but the whole thing doesn’t work without the turkey.
Mashed potatoes: Chris Kunitz
The thing that always seems to go along with the turkey but there are always better options.
Stuffing: Evgeni Malkin
No matter where you go, you will find someone that makes an argument that stuffing is the best thing on the table, and while that argument sounds good sometimes, the turkey is consistently a little bit better.
Cranberry sauce: Carl Hagelin
The Swedes are known for their berries. Lingonberries. Bilberries. Bog Bilberries. Rowanberries. Even Raspberries. Hagelin is Swedish but went to college at Michigan, so he feels like the ideal match for representation on the American holiday plate.
Green bean casserole: Tom Sestito
Both are easily the worst thing on the table. You wonder why they’re even on the table in the first place. Think of Sestito being sent to the AHL as mom taking the green bean casserole and setting it on the kids’ table. Get it away! Make room for better things.
Player of the week
Let’s be honest — when you get outscored 15-7 in a four-game stretch, there aren’t a lot of players having good weeks. So instead of forcing a player into this space, why don’t we focus on the best penguin thing to happen during the hockey season.
This can also be a lesson for Thanksgiving. Maybe mom and dad have split up. Maybe it just happened, and look, there’s already a soon-to-be stepdad at the table. Let these penguins be a lesson in how not to handle that situation. Violence solves nothing.
This may be how Tom Sestito likes to solve problems, but don’t let these angry Penguins influence how you spend your holidays.
Player of the weak
Poor Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s such a nice guy. But he’s just not stopping pucks. He made three appearances over the last week and stopped 83 of 93 shots (.893), and that includes a sharp 32-save performance in a 3-2 overtime win against Buffalo.
He allowed five goals in relief of Matt Murray in the blowout loss to the Capitals but also allowed four straight goals in the loss to the Rangers. The idea of trading Fleury for something to help the rest of the team only works if Fleury is playing well. His .907 save percentage isn’t going to attract any good offers.
In attempting to maintain the Thanksgiving theme this week, you could say opponents are stuffing too many pucks past Fleury this year.