Kovacevic: 39 reasons the final 39 games will rock


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A group of forwards line up to all try to score on Casey DeSmith simultaneously at practice Thrusday. - DEJAN KOVACEVIC / DKPS

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Brian Dumoulin had no idea.

An NHL team logs so much travel time, ice time and game time that it’s not uncommon to come across an athlete who’s lost all sense of the calendar.

How many games have the Penguins played?

When’s the All-Star break?

Hey, what month is it, for that matter?

"I know the month. It's January," Dumoulin would affirm, almost seriously, after the team's practice Thursday here at the Toyota Sports Center. "But the halfway point ... the break ... man, I can't even."

See, this is why I’ll confess to hating halfway-point columns. They generally end up as hackneyed analysis of stuff you already knew, half of which you’d rather forget.

I much prefer, you know, a 52.439-percent-point column. At least I do on this occasion.

Not just because that’s where these Penguins are in their 2018-19 NHL season, at 43 games deep and 24-13-6 overall, but more because this just feels like a meatier break. Or pivoting point, if you will. They’re in the midst of a big rebound phase — that recent eight-game winning streak, the 14-3-1 broader run — and they just flew all the way out here for their longest trip of the winter, a five-game, 10-day western tour that carries right into All-Star week.

In that spirit, then, here are my 39 reasons to believe they’ll keep rolling through the rest of these remaining 39 regular-season games and through to the Stanley Cup playoffs:

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