Friday Thoughts: Want to see more of Zohorna, and less of Jarry?…


Some random Fridays take earthquakes for your viewing pleasure…

In the last two games, which Penguin forward has been on the ice for the most goals at 5 on 5? Did you guess Radim Zohorna? Because it’s Radim Zohorna on the ice for three goals at 5 on 5. He did good things, was in the right place at the right time and made things happen.

The Penguins have already started to cull the herd, so to speak, by trading depth forward Sam Lafferty to Chicago a while ago. While some of the surplus bodies don’t necessarily need to leave the organization, it would be nice to see Zohorna get the chance to build on what he’s done and have a real opportunity to play in the NHL. . Even with simple tricks, it stands out and suggests that there is a player who belongs at this level.

This is Zohorna’s second season in the Pens organization, and he only has 46 total NHL + AHL games combined, due to shortened seasons, stoppages, delays and all that jazz. His combined NHL sample is very small, but also encouraging with 3G+3A in just 11 games.

There is a real case to be made that Zohorna should at least have the chance for a while to play mostly forwards below the ‘Danton Heinen zone’ (Kasper Bjorkqvist, Anthony Angello, Drew O’Connor, Dominik Simon, even Brian Boyle, though the team may defer to the veteran for PK and faceoffs).

That could be important with Jason Zucker skating yesterday in a regular contact jersey, and Brock McGinn released from solitary and likely to be back on Saturday. It’s dangerous to have too much hope these days, but the Pens’ lineup looks to be improving very soon (with Danton Heinen, Bryan Rust and Zach Aston-Reese all likely not too far behind McGinn on the way back COVID).

Is Zohorna one of the Pens’ top 12 forwards? Probably not at this point, given their enormous depth up front. But Pittsburgh is also 0 for 36 games so far this season having its top 12 forwards all healthy at the same time, and they could also go 0 for the next 36 given the nature and spread of the recent variant. and injuries that occur during an NHL season. Zohorna hasn’t played a ton yet, but based on what he’s done so far, he’s definitely worth the shot to get more looks.

One player who doesn’t need more looks is Tristan Jarry. Jarry has been the Pens’ workhorse this season — and for good reason, he ranks in the top five in the NHL in wins, save percentage, goals against and shutouts. His Vézina CV is growing and is very real.

It’s hard not to play such a hot hand (especially when the substitute goalkeeper position has been a real weakness). There have been a few stops and starts this season, but Jarry is on pace for 64 starts. In the last three full 82-game NHL seasons, only five goalies have started more than 65 games (Cam Talbot twice, Frederik Andersen twice, Sergei Bobrovsky, Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk). Neither of those goaltenders had long playoff runs either.

Jarry’s 29 games played this season currently rank third in the NHL.

The modern NHL goaltender is no longer about setting a goalie up for 65+ starts in the regular season, especially when you’re hoping for 20+ playoff games. It’s tough for the Pens right now not to face Jarry, but his workload management will be key for the rest of this season. Jarry was exceptionally sharp, but last night the Kings dumped 45 shots on him. Mikey Anderson (he scored 0 goals in 35 games this year before last night) beat Jarry cleanly on a long-range shot that was stoppable. The more cracks like this show up the more the Pens rely on Jarry.

Sidney Crosby won’t be heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks for the NHL All-Star Game. There are two schools of thought on this. On the one hand, that’s probably a plus for Crosby personally. He can take a weekend to rest and relax (and practice, that’s Sidney Crosby we’re talking about here).

For players, and especially older ones like Jaromir Jagr who publicly beg to be selected, going to the game is more of a personal burden than having much prestige like an honor. Despite the NHL’s best efforts to suspend players for one game if they choose not to attend the event, a player usually has little qualms about not going.

However, it’s still not great for the game that the biggest star doesn’t appear in a league showcase. Or as Josh Yohe said-

As Yohe also pointed out, the format is to blame. 3v3 games can be fun and the intensity of All Star play is always low, so it makes sense to look into opening up space and skills for players.

The compromise for this is 12 rosters for each division that has eight teams. And the league is ensuring that each team has a representative, causing a numbers crunch, meaning only one player from many clubs will be named to the squad. On the surface, Jarry and Jake Guentzel are much more deserving of All Star status.

But the name of the game is “All Star”. With all due respect to Tristan Jarry, Sidney Crosby is the face of the league and the event is more of a marketing and television showcase than a real sporting competition. While few players are likely to connect with specific players, not having big names in the sport like Crosby and Alex Ovechkin (who has retired multiple times) narrows the event.

It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but the All Star game would be better with the biggest star players there. Does that mean expanding the lists a bit and getting exemptions to get them? May be. But this year’s ASG appears to be missing Crosby, or Artemi Panarin or Brad Marchand or Vladimir Tarasenko or Anze Kopitar, none of whom are even in the ‘last man’ vote. When voting, there’s a good chance that players like Guentzel, Troy Terry, Sasha Barkov and Steven Stamkos will be left out.

These are all players or personalities or skill levels that should be at the biggest showcase in the league, and on some level it’s a bit of a shame that the format isn’t perfect for the league to highlight various old and new stars who could add more prestige to the event.


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