PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The defending two-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins have hit their stride of late, winning 6 of their last 8 games and situating themselves just four points back of the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals.
NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Tuesday and said that like most others, he was not a believer in the Penguins earlier this season, but things have certainly changed.
“How they’re playing right now, where they’re at, where they were earlier in the year when I would not have said you should feel really, really good. Now, you should,” said Lawton. “They look like they’re a team that’s poised to continue the run that they’re on. I thought, along with a lot of people not more than a month, month and a half ago, this team might not make the playoffs. It might be a great story. Two Cups in a row, played a lot of hockey, tired, lost a lot of players. Somehow they’ve worked themselves through that and I feel like they’re in striking distance again of their third Cup in a row.”
Most expected (or still expect) Jim Rutherford to make a roster move to boost the club for the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs. The former Tampa Bay Lightning GM weighed in on what he expects Rutherford to do for his team.
“I would absolutely be trying to do exactly what I know Jim Rutherford is and that is trying to improve the club any way he can for the short-term,” said Lawton. “I think he owes it to the group, to the city, to the fans, to the ownership, to really put their best foot forward in trying to acquire maybe one more center, maybe a backup veteran goaltender, but not as much as people would have thought certainly a couple months ago. I think the team is in a really good place right now.”
Lawton also said that both Jamie Oleksiak and Riley Sheahan have both been benefited greatly by getting out of the organizations they were in and having a fresh start somewhere else.
Hear what he said about Phil Kessel as well and his regrets about not joining the U.S. Olympic team in 1984 on “The Fan Morning Show” above.