Pittsburgh Penguins: Power Rankings Pulse


Last week was a huge one for the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the team posting a 1-1-1 record and head coach Mike Johnston being fired after the overtime loss to the Kings.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins floundering and Head Coach Mike Johnston proving ineffective, he was relieved of his duties on Saturday afternoon by General Manager Jim Rutherford.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Head Coach Mike Sullivan was hired as the new bench boss of the Pens, with hopes to right the ship over the next two thirds of the season and steer the Penguins back into playoff relevancy.

With relatively little production from superstars Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel compared to sky-high expectations, the Pittsburgh Penguins will prove an interesting watch over the rest of December to see if Sullivan can turn the team around.

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Here’s how the hockey world is talking about and ranking the Penguins heading into the first week of Mike Sullivan’s tenure:

Bleacher Report — this week: 15 / last week: 14 — What they said: “It’s up to the players now. No more blaming the coach…Obviously, the Pens are hoping for the same kind of result that happened the last time Pittsburgh fired a coach mid-season – in 2009 when Michel Therrien was replaced by Dan Bylsma and a Stanley Cup happened. Until Sidney Crosby (six goals first 28 games) starts playing like Sidney Crosby again, that is unlikely to happen.

NESN — this week: 13 / last week: 7 — What they said: “Pascal Dupuis stepping away from hockey because of blood clots is a huge loss for Pittsburgh, both on the ice and in the locker room. Dupuis provided important leadership, scoring and experience.

NHL.com — this week: 13 / last week: 9 — What they said: “It’s been a tough week for the Penguins with the news that forward Pascal Dupuis won’t play again because of a medical condition related to blood clots, and president and CEO David Morehouse had heart valve repair and bypass surgery. Here’s hoping for better days ahead for Dupuis and Morehouse.

ESPN — this week: 19 / last week: 17 — What they said: “A coaching change was needed, which is why GM Jim Rutherford fired Mike Johnston and promoted Mike Sullivan from the AHL. This is the type of shakeup this team of talented players needs. Sullivan will make sure the Penguins find an identity and play with passion.

CSN — this week: 21 / last week: 15 — What they said: Nothing.

Fox Sports — this week: 15 / last week: 16 — What they said: “The Mike Johnston era is finally over. The Penguins were simply a paper tiger under his reign. Now, Mike Sullivan will take a stab at trying to get this team to score some goals. First test is against the Washington Capitals. Yikes.

The Hockey News — this week: 21 / last week: 6 — What they said: (written before Johnston was fired) “With his team trying to salvage a road trip, GM Jim Rutherford changed his travel plans and flew directly to Denver from the board of governors meeting and he had some pointed words for his team, saying it is not motivated or determined enough.

Sportsnet – this week: 13 / last week: 12 — What they said: “Dear Santa, A prospective owner would be nice. Your pal, Mario

Middle of the road rankings for a middle of the road team. Seems fair enough.

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One could argue that after recent showings the Pittsburgh Penguins should have been closer to the ESPN and CSN rankings near the twenties than sitting in the mid-teens like most of the others.

Last night’s battle with the Capitals showcased a Pens team that might finally recapture the old offensive glory if they can ever get the puck to go in the net. The pressure and the passion returned to the their play, if nothing else. Those two things that had been conspicuously absent for some time.

A resurgence of the high flying offense should see the Pittsburgh Penguins shoot up the regular season rankings, even if their chances will likely still prove futile come playoff time.

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