Pumped? Six days away from the release (and return) of my Midseason Guide! The seventh edition was missed last year thanks to the battle between the millionaires and billionaires, but it’s back stronger than ever with deep analysis and the usual strong second-half projections and advice!
As expected, Martin Jones has been sent back to Manchester. Although he lost his last three games after winning his first eight, he showed the Kings that they don’t need to re-sign Ben Scrivens. So I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes to free agency. If I were his agent, I would not let it get to that point and offer my services at a discounted rate to get it done before April. I don’t think there is a likelihood of anything positive coming from him hitting the open market. As for Jones – just one game out of 11 in which he gave up more than two goals.
Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup with a flourish, posting three points on a line with his buddy James Neal, who also had three. The lucky lottery winner? Jussi Jokinen, who had two points as the other guy on that line. Jokinen has seven points in his last five games. Jokinen added eight shots. He’s on pace for 56 points, which is second to his career high of 65.
Brian Gibbons, an undrafted free agent signee from out of Boston College where he played with (and flourished with) Cam Atkinson. Now in his third pro seasons, we’re finally seeing some of that offensive flair with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as he leads the team with 27 points in 23 games. With all the injuries to the Penguins, he has been with the team for 10 games now and has four points. Now that Evgeni Malkin is back – and Pascal Dupuis is out – Gibbons gets to play with Sidney Crosby. He was held off the scoresheet yesterday, but the situation is worth watching as I think he will hold that spot until Beau Bennett returns. If he does well with it, maybe Bennett won’t be able to take the spot from him (though that scenario is highly unlikely). You can read up on Gibbons right here.
Bennett, by the way, is still out for another four to five weeks.
Here were the line combos for the Penguins Sunday, courtesy of Frozen Pool: