Now Playing: The Casey DeSmith Show

 

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Here we are. The worst possible scenario has reared its ugly head. Tristan Jarry, one of the Penguins' saving graces this season, is out week-to-week with a lower body injury that is reportedly a broken bone in his foot. Nobody wanted this to happen and the Penguins certainly could not afford it.

We're not in 2016 where a failing Matt Murray could be benched in favor of future Hall-of-Famer Marc-Andre Fleury. We're in 2022 where an injured Jarry gives way to Casey DeSmith. That's not as much fun is it?

That's not a knock on DeSmith. He simply isn't a Hall-of-Fame backup goaltender in waiting, much like Fleury had been. He isn't some young, hot shot prospect that could be the future inside the blue paint. DeSmith is simply a slightly-above average backup goaltender on a team that is already searching for their identity they've lost over the past few months.

Broken bones don't heal overnight and the Penguins only have 12 days left in the regular season with the playoffs starting three days later. The timeline just doesn't add up for a Jarry return in time for the playoffs, so DeSmith will get his shot to show goaltending-desperate teams that he can be the guy.

A lot of fans are quick to point out that it didn't have to be this way. The Penguins are always a cap strapped team and make moves every year. They claim that there's no way they couldn't have fit another goaltender in under the salary cap. 

Yes, it would've been tough.  They also would have then had to send DeSmith through waivers. They weren't going to keep three goaltenders on the NHL roster. Would potentially losing him to waivers had been worth it? I don't think so.  Now, with Jarry hurt for the foreseeable future and an aging core likely on their last leg, DeSmith is the guy this city turns their eyes to.

But not all is bad. DeSmith owns a 5-2-3 record with a 2.50 goals against average and a .920 save percentage over his last 12 games. That's a stark contrast to his 3-3-2 record with a 3.37 goals against average and .892 save percentage in his first ten contests.  Some of these games he was not the goalie of record, but you can see from the GAA and Save %, he's certainly turned it around.

While those aren't eye-popping numbers, they're better than some run of the mill backup with no future at all in the league. DeSmith is nowhere near that.

Penguin fans remember when Jeff Zatkoff's number was called upon in game one of the playoffs in 2015-16'. He kickstarted a Stanley Cup run and earn himself a Stanley Cup ring to show for it. There's always one of those romantic sports moments in the playoffs. Why can't DeSmith write his chapter?

It should be noted, however, that the Penguins don't figure to go into any playoff series as a favorite. After the Jarry injury, that all but cements the Penguins as the underdog. But would we rather have it any other way?

Mike Sullivan seems to do his best work when the Penguins are flying under the radar. Sidney Crosby should be an MVP-candidate but won't actually receive any love from the national media despite a 1.25 points per game average with 80 points in 64 games. Also, despite likely cresting over 100-points, the Penguins will be an afterthought in a loaded Eastern Conference.

If Pittsburgh sees the Rangers in round one, maybe having DeSmith in there will mess with New York's psyche. They haven't seen him yet this year and seem to have figured out Jarry and the Penguins. Sending DeSmith at them could alter their plan and make them uncomfortable. Any mental edge is certainly a huge factor.

Louis Domingue will be the backup for the time being. Yes, that Domingue with one of the best save percentages in Penguins history. No one on the outside needs to know he only played one NHL game this season before getting hurt.

Jarry receives a much needed break but it isn't in the ideal way. There's a chance that Jarry won't don the skating Penguin logo in a game again this season. If the Penguins lose the series, Jarry might not be back in time. 

And if they win?

Oh, no one thought that one out?

Well, the answer is simple. You ride with DeSmith until he gives you a reason to go back to Jarry. Here's hoping the Penguins find their groove and score 10 goals a game every game the rest of the way and into the playoffs.

The Casey DeSmith Show is officially live. I'm excited to read all the expert reviews all over twitter and the like. Until then, let's all just agree that the Pittsburgh Penguins have their work cut out for them.

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