While the Pittsburgh Penguins tackled one area of need yesterday evening when they traded winger Scott Wilson and their 2018 third-round pick to Detroit for center Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round pick, Penguins brass might not be able to take a break as a new weakness was exposed last night in their 7-1 loss Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning — goaltending.
The team went with backup Antti Niemi, who they signed after he was bought out by the Dallas Stars in June. It was his third appearance for Pittsburgh and he now has allowed 16 goals (only seven of those came last night) and has a 7.49 GAA and a .797 save percentage. The team may be forced to look for a new backup goaltender, according to Adam Gretz of NBC Sports.
The difference between Niemi’s starts and that of starter Matt Murray are night and day. Niemi’s only other start was a 10-1 loss, hence his high goals against. The team plays much better when Murray is in goal as the team is 5-0-1 and the Penguins have outscored their opponents 24-17 in those games. Gretz does suggest it can’t all be Niemi’s fault. Both of his starts came on the second night of back-to-back games when players were more tired and the team they played were rested.
However, despite those excuses, some blame has to fall on Niemi, who has legitimately struggled. The team isn’t used to having issues at that position as they have had the past luxury of having Marc-Andre Fleury as a backup. Now, they might have to look elsewhere if they want that aspect of their team to improve. The scribe suggests they will give Niemi more time to adjust, but also suggests the team has 2013 second-round pick Tristan Jarry sitting in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. He has struggled a bit too, although it’s a bit early, as he has a 3.96 GAA and a .883 save percentage in three games there.
- John Shannon of Sportsnet tweets that Vegas Golden Knights’ backup goaltender Malcolm Subban, who had to leave Saturday night’s game due to an apparent leg injury, will have an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury. According to Shannon, a team source said the Subban will be “probably out weeks.” Subban, who has started the last three games after their starter, Fleury, went on IR last week with concussion-related issues, has a 2.06 GAA and a .936 save percentage in his three starts. Oscar Dansk filled in for Subban in the third and immediately allowed the game-tying goal to St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, but then settled down and made 10 consecutive saves after that to claim the overtime victory, the Golden Knights’ sixth win of the season. Dansk had just been called up on Thursday to replace emergency backup Maxime Lagace, who was sent to the AHL Chicago Wolves to get playing time.
- The Boston Bruins have assigned goaltender Zane McIntyre and defenseman Rob O’Gara to Providence of the AHL, the team announced. Both were recent call-ups to fill in for injured players and now, with the Bruins not playing until Thursday, the team sent them down. McIntyre was called up after Tuukka Rask reportedly was injured during practice Thursday. The 25-year-old did not get into a game with Boston. He has performed well in Providence, having accrued a 2.35 GAA and a .914 save percentage in three games. O’Gara was recalled yesterday and filled in for injured defenseman Kevan Miller. NBC Sports Joe Haggerty tweeted that O’Gara played a solid games for Boston. O’Gara had an assist in three games with Providence before his call up. CapFriendly tweets that with the two demotions, the team is $863,333 under the ACSL (the new upper limit), which allows them to accrue valuable cap space against that amount.