Happy holidays. It’s not Trump’s America yet so we can still say that legally. No matter what you’re celebrating with your family this week, if you’re a Penguins fan, you’re probably celebrating their season too.
The Penguins still play two more games before Christmas break, but they’re 8-0-2 in their past 10 games after rolling the Rangers 7-2 on Tuesday night. If not for the Division Of Death™, the Penguins would be in a more comfortable position instead of one bad week away from finding themselves in a wild-card spot. Competitive nature of the Metropolitan aside, the Penguins are playing excellent hockey and are in a way better spot this Christmas compared to last year.
But hey, everyone wants gifts, so what are three things the Penguins would love to find under their tree (or wherever you choose to keep gifts) for Christmas (or your holiday celebration of choice) this year? Glad you asked!
Kris LetangKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1. An Invincibility Amulet For Kris Letang: Is anyone more important to the Penguins’ success than Sidney Crosby? Maybe not, but if it is anyone, it’s Letang. He’s currently in the midst of a multi-week absence with a lower-body injury, so the silver lining is it’s not related to his concussion history. Yeah, you want all your players to be healthy come playoff time, but the Penguins won’t go anywhere without Letang.
2. A Passable Marc-Andre Fleury: With a .904 save percentage through 19 games, the idea of trading Fleury for something useful at the deadline is out the window. The new goal is to have Fleury simply be average so the Penguins don’t run Matt Murray into the ground. Fleury has made just one start over the past 20 days — a 41-save dandy against Ottawa on Saturday — so he could be turning the corner.
Olli MaattaKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
3. A Reborn Olli Maatta: The talented (and extremely nice!) 22-year-old has had his career sidetracked by injury and illness, and although he’s been on the ice for 33 games this season, it’s possible all the time off rehabilitating is catching up to him this season. He has zero goals and two assists, not that you’re looking for scoring from him. This team is playoff bound, so using the last three months to get Maatta right should be a priority.
Going Top Sh-Elf
The Penguins have knocked their holiday video out of the park three years running. This year’s “Elf” video seems like it’s doing better on social media than last year’s video, but I’m partial to the “Home Alone” one. I don’t feel like there’s a true star in the “Elf” one. I mean, they went out and hired actor Tom Cavanagh to play the James Caan role? How much money do the Penguins have that they can … oh, that’s Matt Cullen? Sorry.
All the videos are well done — the Penguins have Emmys! — but I’m ride or die with the “Home Alone” video. A good way to decide which video is better — which one has a better Phil Kessel appearance? And Kessel getting his head scorched in the “Home Alone” video is unbeatable.
The first one was “Christmas Vacation,” which is fine, but you can tell it’s the one that helped them work out the kinks to make the next two great. It’s like watching that first season of “Seinfeld” where you’re like, “What is this?” But given time, each staff improved and won Emmys. I can’t wait to see Kessel in “Bee Movie.”
Player of the Week
It is not Sidney Crosby.
It’s Justin Schultz!
Remember how bad Schultz was in Edmonton?