Ever since the injury to defenseman Justin Schultz, there have been rumors that the Pittsburgh Penguins may have to upgrade their defense if they wanted to make a serious run for a Stanley Cup. Regardless, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford stated that the team has enough depth to fill the hole in their defense from within.
Yet rumors continued, especially after defenseman Jack Johnson was found to be on the ice for five goals against in their 6-5 overtime victory Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers. Again, fans began clamoring to get help to lessen the role of Johnson, after he signed a questionable five-year, $16.25MM deal in the offseason. However, head coach Mike Sullivan was quick to come to Johnson’s defense, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“The reality is when you break down the involvement of those goals, he had no responsibility for any of those goals-against,” Sullivan said of Johnson’s performance against the Oilers. “He just happened to be on the ice for them. We try to look at the game a whole lot closer than the fact that guy is on the ice when a goal is scored because a lot can happen in a team game.”
Rutherford furthered that notion by reiterating that the team intends to stand pat with regards to adding more defense.
“I certainly don’t see us having to go get another defenseman with the group of guys we have,” Rutherford said. “We have guys in Wilkes-Barre who can come in and play on top of who we have here.”
- While the Carolina Hurricanes made a number of moves this offseason, the team may be most happy with the play of Micheal Ferland, who came over in the trade with the Calgary Flames during the offseason. While the team’s main reason to bringing Ferland in was to add some toughness to a team that lacked it a year ago, the team seems to be getting quite a bit more than that out of him, according to Chip Alexander of the News & Observer. Ferland has found a place on the team’s top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, and has a team-high six goals, along with 10 points. If Ferland keeps that up, he could break his career-high of 21 goals this season.
- NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti writes Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said that Travis Boyd will have some tests tomorrow to determine the progress of his injury when he sustained a lower-body injury during training camp and was placed on LTIR. Because he was placed on LTIR, he was forced to miss 10 games, meaning he can be activated now if he’s healthy. “We’ll have him checked out again tomorrow and then see how close he is to being able to play as soon as Thursday,” Reirden said (via NBC Sports J.J. Regan). “But we still need to get some tests done and see exactly where he’s at. He’s been coming along and for the most part seems to be fairly pain-free.” Boyd made eight appearances with the Capitals last year and was battling with Nic Dowd for the fourth-line center position, but lost that job after getting injured.
- New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said that perhaps the biggest surprise on the roster has been the play of defenseman Scott Mayfield, according to Newsday’s Andrew Gross. The 26-year-old has a goal and five points in seven games this season, but has really impressed the coach with his play even though Trotz admitted that he got off to a slow start at training camp.