Thanksgiving is a time for us to sit back and reflect on the year’s happenings, prepare for Christmas, and generally be thankful for all that we’ve been given in our lives.

That includes hockey, too.

So, in the spirit of the turkey season, I compiled a list of all the things I am thankful for this hockey season. I hope that you’ll add your own in our comments section.

1. I am really thankful for:

Marc-Andre Fleury’s 1.90 goals against average.

Fleury has been the unsung hero of this young season. With a ton of attention paid to the return of several superstars on the Penguins roster, and the scoring pace that James Neal set early this year, Fleury has quietly been a key component for the Penguins as his statistics fully show.

The shutout against the Islanders on Monday night further cemented his statistics this season, and with all the hype surrounding Crosby’s return, that was probably the most inconspicuous shutout that Fleury will ever have.

In some way, this team goes as Fleury goes. We can only hope that the injury bug steers clear of Pittsburgh for the rest of eternity, but even if we do lose a few key guys down the stretch, if your goaltender is only allowing 1.9 goals per game, you’ve got a pretty good chance to win, especially with Sidney Crosby back in the lineup.

2. I am really thankful for:

Dan Bylsma.

In the face of a bare cupboard, Dan Bylsma had the Penguins playing first place hockey.

There’s something to be said about a simple game. What the Penguins do isn’t elaborate, but it requires a full buy-in from every man on the roster. In my time following the Penguins, I probably can’t point to a coach in the last 10 years that has had this team playing so well, and so committed to a greater end cause.

Again, what Bylsma does isn’t innovative, but it’s certainly fit perfectly for the make-up of this team. Bylsma made the on-ice gameplan, Shero provided the tools, and the rest is history.

In Pittsburgh, we are so blessed to have a nice, harmonious balance between coach and general manager.

3. I am really thankful for:

A healthy Jordan Staal.

For a guy that is a magnet of criticism, you have to praise Staal’s 10 goals and 6 assists in the first 19 games this year.

Often times, too much is expected of Staal, but with a healthy Crosby and Malkin, it deflects a bit of that scoring pressure off of #11 – and we can go back to enjoying the Cooke – Staal – Kennedy line smothering the competition late in games where the Penguins have a lead.

Be thankful for this; the Penguins essentially have two top lines with the Crosby/Malkin combination back in action, and a third line that is about as good as any other teams 2nd line. When you look at it on paper, the Penguins have two top lines and a 3rd line that is essentially a 2nd line.

4. I am really thankful for:


The thing that makes Faceoff Factor great for us is the interaction with you. We have an excellent hockey community here, and without the readers, contributors, and commentors, we wouldn’t have any reason to keep this place going.

So thanks to everyone out there!

5. I am thankful for:

Let the video speak for itself:

Everyone have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.