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SteelCityMan786
02-14-2007, 09:48 PM
FIRED BACK TIED AT 4!

X-Terminator
02-14-2007, 09:48 PM
Easily the worst call I have ever seen - even worse than the goal that was allowed that went through the net from behind. How the HELL could they have missed that they had too many men on the ice???? Unfortunately, the goal couldn't be overturned if they didn't immediately blow the whistle. Thank God Malkin came back and tied it up.

SteelCityMan786
02-14-2007, 10:06 PM
Easily the worst call I have ever seen - even worse than the goal that was allowed that went through the net from behind. How the HELL could they have missed that they had too many men on the ice???? Unfortunately, the goal couldn't be overturned if they didn't immediately blow the whistle. Thank God Malkin came back and tied it up.

:iagree:

SteelCityMan786
02-14-2007, 10:12 PM
WE WIN!!!!! HEY REFS YOU CAN RIP US OFF ALL YOU WANT! WE STILL WIN!

SteelCityMan786
02-14-2007, 11:10 PM
http://post-gazette.com/pg/07045/762313-100.stm

Penguins rally past Chicago, 5-4, in shootout

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins didn't make it look easy last night.

Quite the opposite, really.

But despite failing to protect a multiple-goal lead for the third game in a row, they finally did find a way to defeat Chicago, 5-4, in a shootout at Mellon Arena to extend their current streak to 12-0-2.

Erik Christensen beat Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for the deciding goal; Evgeni Malkin also scored for the Penguins, while Sidney Crosby was stopped.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins denied Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski.

Penguins rookie Jordan Staal was held without a goal for the first time in six games, while Crosby failed to get one for his eighth game in a row, the longest such slump of his pro career.

Although a standing-room crowd of 17,051 was announced, team officials estimated that about 15,400 fans actually attended the game.

Craig MacDonald gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal at 8:29 of the opening period, when he chipped a shot past Fleury from the right side of the crease.

X-Terminator
02-14-2007, 11:57 PM
Actually, I take it back - the "phantom hand-pass" call in Edmonton earlier this season that cost them the game-winning goal was worse...but barely. I still can't see how the hell they missed that - it was such an obvious call. I guess when they saw the Hawks celebrate with 6 guys on the ice it finally hit them :dang:

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:06 AM
Gonchar marks 800th game

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar played in his 800th career NHL game on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I never thought I would play in that many (games)," Gonchar said. "It goes by quick, then you realize you've been around that long. Seems like yesterday you just started playing and all of a sudden it's 800 games."

Gonchar went into last night's game with nine goals and 37 assists for 46 points and on pace for a career-high 69 points on the season. His 46 points were tied with Montreal's Sheldon Souray for second-highest in the league among defensemen, and trailed leader Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings by only four points.

? Coach Michel Therrien said that he started goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury against the Blackhawks in part because if he started Jocelyn Thibault against his former team, the layoff would have been too long for Fleury.

Fleury played in the Penguins' last game on Saturday, and their next game isn't until Friday at the New Jersey Devils.

They play back-to-back games this weekend, hosting the Washington Capitals on Sunday and traveling to the New York Islanders on Monday and Therrien indicated that Thibault would play at least one of those games.

? Of the 12 remaining Penguins home games in the regular season, only four have more than 1,000 tickets remaining: March 13 vs. the Buffalo Sabres, March 18 vs. the Ottawa Senators, March 25 vs. the Boston Bruins and April 3 vs. the Sabres.

Last night's game was a sellout, the 11th out of the last 13 home games and the 18th this season, and despite the inclement weather the actual attendance was close to capacity.

? C Chris Thorburn was a healthy scratch for last night's game. D Alain Nasreddine was scratched after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy, yesterday morning.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493267.html

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:07 AM
Penguins rally, prevail in shootout

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, February 15, 2007

For the first few months of the season, the Penguins couldn't win in a shootout.

Now, after they beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-4, on Wednesday night for their fourth straight shootout win, it hardly seems possible that in mid-January they were 1-5 in shootouts.

But when a team's as hot as the Penguins are right now, they just seem to find ways to win that eluded them in the past.

"We're definitely building some character," defenseman Mark Eaton said. "(Last night) was a classic example. We don't panic, and we find a way to win. When you're on a roll like this, bounces seems to go your way. Success breeds success, I guess."

Erik Christensen and Evgeni Malkin both scored on Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in the shootout, and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made both saves, plus 24 in regulation and overtime. The game may not have been Fleury's strongest through 60 minutes, but he kicked off overtime with a fantastic stop on Blackhawks leading scorer Martin Havlat.

"(Overtime) is difficult sometimes when you're not playing well," Fleury said. "You get in there, it's like a second chance. You have to refocus. That's what I've learned."

The Penguins (30-17-9) are 12-0-2 in their last 14 games, including two shootout wins and one in overtime win in their last three games. They are tied with the Ottawa Senators, who also won last night, for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points.

A minute after Tuomo Ruutu outskated his older brother, Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu, to put the Blackhawks ahead, 4-3, Malkin scored his 28th goal of the season to tie it back up, 4-4.

After Crosby took the initial shot, Malkin got the rebound and then got his own rebound after the puck popped out at the right corner. Malkin got his stick on it as he was passing by to get the Penguins to overtime.

Malkin's goal appeased the fans at Mellon Arena, who had been booing in protest because Martin Lapointe, who assisted on Ruutu's goal, appeared to have come on the ice too soon to give the Blackhawks too many men on the ice. There was no penalty called.

Ryan Malone started the game back on the top line after being moved off it on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But in the third period, coach Michel Therrien moved Malone to the second line with Jordan Staal in the middle and brought Malkin up to play on the left wing with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi.

Putting the trio back together for the first time in a month paid off.

"It was like poker, and we were going all in," Therrien said.

Although Crosby had an assist in the game, his goal drought is now at a career-high eight games.

The Penguins led, 3-1, with five minutes left in the second period on a goal by Ronald Petrovicky, an unassisted shorthanded goal by Maxime Talbot and a goal from Michel Ouellet. Patrick Sharp pulled the Blackhawks within one with less than two minutes left in the second period, and Martin St. Pierre tied it two minutes into the third on a rebound.

The Penguins were 0 for 5 on the power play and allowed a shorthanded goal.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493271.html

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:08 AM
Penguins rally past Chicago, 5-4, in shootout

Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sure, the Penguins probably could find a way to live a bit more dangerously.

They could apply for part-time jobs on a bomb-disposal unit, maybe, or take up juggling chain saws as a hobby.

Barring any of that, though, they'll have to settle for continuing to find ways to win games after squandering multiple-goal leads.

They did it for the third time in a row last night, when they pulled out a 5-4 shootout victory against Chicago at Mellon Arena. That came in the wake of a 6-5 overtime triumph in Toronto Saturday, which followed a 5-4 shootout victory at Philadelphia 48 hours earlier.

"It's a good thing I'm not too old, so I don't have a heart attack," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.

Actually, a lot of Penguins fans probably added a cardiologist to their speed-dial 12 seconds into overtime, when Fleury had to whip out his left leg to get his skate on a shot by Blackhawks winger Martin Havlat from the right side of the crease.

"That was the most I could stretch," Fleury said.

Although the save on Havlat was Fleury's best of the evening -- "We had the game-winner on our stick," Chicago coach Denis Savard said -- he turned in a couple of nice sequels during the shootout, when he denied Havlat and Bryan Smolinski.

Couple those saves with shootout goals from Erik Christensen and Evgeni Malkin, and the Penguins had a victory that extended their current surge to 12-0-2 and kept them tied with Ottawa for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

"Marc was really good in the overtime and in the shootout," coach Michel Therrien said. "He plays with confidence when it seems to be crunch time. He's able to elevate his game."

So, it seems, is Malkin, who got his team-leading 28th goal at 14:21 of the third period to tie the game and, eventually, put it into overtime. The goal came after Therrien bumped him into Ryan Malone's spot on the No. 1 line with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi.

"We kind of decided to go all in, like it was a poker game," Therrien said.

He ended up with a winning hand when Malkin scored in the shootout to give the Penguins an insurmountable, 2-0 advantage.

Penguins rookie Jordan Staal was held without a goal for the first time in six games, while Sidney Crosby failed to get one for his eighth game in a row, the longest such slump of his pro career.

Crosby also was unable to beat Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin during the shootout, but picked up an assist on Malkin's game-tying goal to push his league-leading points total to 88.

Craig MacDonald gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal at 8:29 of the opening period, when he chipped a shot past Fleury from the right side of the crease, but Ronald Petrovicky countered for the Penguins at 10:32.

Maxime Talbot put the Penguins in front with a shorthanded goal -- his fourth and their ninth -- at 4:10 of the second, as he carried the puck down the right side, then blew past Havlat and cut to the net before stuffing it past Khabibulin.

Michel Ouellet gave the Penguins some breathing room at 15:01 of the second when he threw a wrist shot behind Khabibulin from the top of the right circle for his 13th, but Patrick Sharp made it a one-goal game again just over three minutes later.

The Blackhawks pulled even when Martin St. Pierre tossed in a rebound from inside the right circle during a power play at 2:18 of the third, and Tuomo Ruutu put them in front, 4-3, by scoring at 13:10.

The Penguins, who were adamant that Chicago had too many players on the ice when Ruutu scored, were concerned after the Hawks went ahead, but hardly were ready to panic.

"We came back before," Talbot said. "And we know we can do it."

And 71 seconds later, they did it, as Malkin nudged his own rebound past Khabibulin to make it 4-4.

"Malkin was flying," Therrien said.

So are the Penguins, who persist in living on the edge and continue to get away with it, although they recognize the perils of failing to hold onto the leads they have been building.

"By no means can we look past that or try to pretend it's not happening, because it's been a couple of games now," Crosby said. "It's not a habit we want to get into."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07046/762343-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:09 AM
Penguins flirt with disaster again but stay white-hot against Chicago

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, February 15, 2007

They're taking nothing for granted, these Penguins contend, but in the odd moment of personal reflection, they've allowed themselves the guilty pleasure of looking ahead.

At least Ryan Malone has.

"I keep telling guys, if we do get in the playoffs, you know last year, they saw the Steelers and how crazy Pittsburgh gets," Malone said. "I keep telling them Pittsburgh is a great sports town, and it'll be the same way for us if we get in there."

He said "if,' not "when," which made his response perfectly acceptable and not the first sign of a pending apocalypse.

Colby Armstrong seemed to speak more to the team's prevailing mindset when he spoke of the commitment that's been made to put the Penguins in the position of contemplating the playoffs in the first place.

"We said after we came back from the all-star break that we have to play consistent and stay focused,' Armstrong said.

Wednesday night's Mellon Arena visit by the Blackhawks provided some evidence that, while those conversations have clearly contained more than just idle chatter, perhaps, the subject nonetheless needs to be revisited.

Their 5-4 shootout triumph had a sellout crowd standing and screaming before Evgeni Malkin ended it.

But the game the Penguins have been playing of late is as potentially dangerous as it has been exciting.

Chicago came in a respectable 15-15-5 in their last 20 games, but it also arrived at 22-27-7 overall and ranked 13th among 15 teams in the Western Conference.

The Penguins came in riding an almost unthinkable 11-0-2 streak that had catapulted them into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

If there was a game to overlook, if there was a time to go through the motions and get less than maximum effort from everyone, this was it. Such a letdown seemed especially plausible with a stretch of six of the next eight on the road looming, including a game Friday night in New Jersey that has (gasp) first-place implications in the Atlantic Division.

It didn't happen initially.

The Penguins responded at first by being imperfect, yet remaining in control for the better part of two periods against Chicago.

They skated and cycled and fired pucks at Nikolai Khabibulin from all angles.

And the two-goal lead they took to the locker room after 40 minutes was fairly indicative of their superiority.

But in letting a two-goal lead get away for the third consecutive game, the Penguins continued playing with fire, even as they remain on fire.

Another comeback was needed to save the day.

At 12-0-2, there are worse problems to have.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493300.html

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:12 AM
Penguins Notebook: Olczyk talks about first visit back to Mellon Arena

Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With a delayed flight in and another out right after the game last night, former Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk only spent a matter of hours in Pittsburgh and at Mellon Arena, but it was an emotional chunk of time.

"It is hard," said Olczyk, who was fired as the Penguins' coach in December 2005 and returned to do color for the Chicago Blackhawks television broadcast. "It's the first time I've been in here. It will be 14 months exactly [today] since I cleaned out my office."

Not that he's keeping track or anything.

An hour or so before he went on the air, Olczyk talked passionately about his time as coach, which started with the 2003-04 season, and, before that, as a Penguins broadcaster and player.

Olczyk said he and former general manager Craig Patrick were thwarted last season by decisions made by Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer, including a reluctance to keep Marc-Andre Fleury on the roster because the young goaltender became eligible to earn $3 million in bonuses if he played in at least 25 games.

"After the lockout, the organization's plans changed," Olczyk said. "We aborted some things. There's no quick fixes. I'm not surprised [at the Penguins' success this season]. I think Craig and I had a lot of the same visions and a lot of the same ideas, but, unfortunately, I don't believe Ken was on the same page when it came to dispersing of funds.

"That's the hand that's dealt. There's no question I think about it -- what could I have done differently? -- and I take full responsibility. I walked out the same way I walked in, and that was with my head up high and with respect for Mario [Lemieux] and the game. People on the inside know what was going on. Unfortunately, it didn't happen as quickly last year as people would have liked, and the coach is the one to take the blame."

It's not Canada

Snow-covered roads, school closings and weather bulletins the past couple of days had a strong effect on some of the Penguins.

"It's pretty funny," said winger Colby Armstrong, who grew up in Saskatchewan, a province in the western Canadian prairies where winters are fierce but where school closings are unheard of.

"Never, We had to go outside for recess when we were little unless it was, like, 40 below. It took us 10 minutes to get our snow suits on and then we'd go outside for five minutes."

Armstrong said he had trouble finding a restaurant open for dinner Tuesday night.

"It was, like, what the heck is going on?" he said "The stores were closing. The whole city pretty much shut down because of the snow.."

Armstrong and winger Michel Ouellet agreed they are not used to snow remaining on the roads like it did yesterday.

"In Canada, they have that big truck, that plow," said Ouellet, who is from Rimouski, Quebec. "It's funny, you turn on the TV here and you see that school is canceled just because of a little bit of snow. We needed a lot, like 20 inches, to get the schools to close."

Time for Thibault

Therrien considered giving backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, a former Blackhawk, his 10th start of the season, but instead stuck with starter Marc-Andre Fleury because the Penguins had not played since Saturday and don't play again until tomorrow.

"It would have been too long of a break for Marc-Andre," Therrien said. "There's no doubt Jocelyn is going to play this weekend."

The Penguins have three games in three cities in four days, starting tomorrow at New Jersey.

Oh, baby

Penguins defenseman Alain Nasreddine missed the game after the birth yesterday morning of a son, Alec.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07046/762338-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:14 AM
Collier: Third, fourth line keeps Penguins' streak alive
Stars aren't out, but Penguins win again

Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Max Talbot streaked into the offensive zone, veering right, with Ryan Malone in the penalty box behind him and a puck, the very puck that had just got rung off the post next to Marc-Andre Fleury, dancing on his blade.

Though the third-line Penguins center was very much in control of this particular short-handed situation, the rate at which he flew around Chicago's Martin Havlat toward the goal mouth made it seem otherwise. It seemed too fast for conditions, with Talbot resembled a PAT bus ready to turn hard on Black(hawk) ice, but there went the 25T Uptown, roaring in on Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, beating him soundly to the far side.

That was the night's third essentially outsourced goal, the one that put the Penguins ahead, 2-1, little more than four minutes into the second period, the one that overturned an early Blackhawks lead courtesy of Craig McDonald, another third-line center, and matched by the Penguins' Ronald Petrovicky, the fourth-line right winger.

There was clearly a lesson in here somewhere.

The stars weren't out last night. At least not until very, very late.

They were in the penalty box, where Sidney Crosby and Malone did time, but they weren't on the score sheet until barely five minutes remained in a delicious little winter riot with a rare Western Conference opponent. Neither was the red-hot Jordan Staal terribly conspicuous, nor, for most of this episode, Evgeni Malkin. Even Fleury, the best player on the ice for large chunks of this stunning 12-0-2 march of the Penguins, recovered poorly on a rebound from the rear boards to account for that McDonald goal.

But serious contributions from the margins of this Penguins roster are part of the necessary calcification of a bona fide winner, an accepted wisdom rarely so evident as it was last night.

"A lot goes into winning these games," Talbot was explaining in a glowing Penguins locker room 15 minutes after Malkin's shootout goal iced another victory. "I think if you look at it, right from the time the winning streak started, that was when we started getting some offense from our third and fourth lines. It takes a little pressure of Sid and those guys."

Everyone in the old opera house knows how this team is supposed to win. Everyone in the National Hockey League and over most of hockey's continent knows what to expect from them. They expect the Penguins to generate so much heat from the brilliance and resultant opportunities created by Crosby to carry them well past the spring thaw, to rely for momentum on the near equally gifted young impulses of Malkin and Staal.

That's their story line, but the Penguins are not sticking to it. Not entirely. At least not for the moment.

While Crosby misfired through an eighth consecutive goal-less event, the longest of his two NHL seasons, the usually reliable Pittsburgh power play collapsed into a series of misadventures. On its first opportunity, a centering pass to Mark Recchi high in the slot slipped through the old guy's skates and floated clear across the blue line. Seconds later, Crosby positioned himself on the right dot for a dead-on wrister at Khabibulin, but fired it wide.

Maybe Sid should try shooting from his butt again. Or does that only work in NHL cities where ice does not occur naturally, like Phoenix? Lasse Kukkonen cleared Sid's misfire and, a second later, Radim Vrbata put it on McDonald's stick for a short-handed goal. Ten minutes later in that same first period, with the Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook off for hooking, Crosby won a face-off by raking the puck back toward his defenseman, but the biscuit snaked between Sergei Gonchar and Mark Eaton into the neutral zone.

So went the league's fourth-best power play.

"I didn't much like the special teams tonight," said coach Michel Therrien. "That will be addressed in the next few days. But I thought Talbot's line, and Dominic Moore's line, really brought a lot of momentum for us tonight. You need every line to contribute defensively, but when those third and fourth lines score, that brings a lot of momentum."

Malkin finally appeared from a cloud-covered constellation deep in the third period, taking a pass from Crosby, firing it on Khabibulin, then poking it past the Blackhawks' goalie when Khabibulin looked in the wrong direction for the rebound. Up 1-0 in the eventual shootout, Malkin slid a clinching backhander past Khabibulin. But the young Malkin knew as well as anyone the genesis of this latest Penguins success.

"Sometimes the top lines don't have the greatest nights," he said through his Russian interpreter. "Sometimes things don't go the way they should. When you get third- and fourth-line guys scoring, that's very important."

When you win when things don't go the way they should, you're becoming a very dangerous hockey club.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07046/762372-150.stm

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 01:21 AM
HOCKEY IS A FAMILY TRADITION FOR PENGUINS

by Shannon Boyle
pittsburghpenguins.com
02/14/2007

For the Pittsburgh Penguins, hockey is a family game.

With the Chicago Blackhawks in Pittsburgh tonight, two brothers go head-to-head as Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu’s battles his younger brother Tuomo Ruutu of Chicago.

Tuomo was drafted by the Blackhawks in the first round in 2001. This year marks his third season in the NHL wearing a Chicago sweater. The 6-foot, 200-pound center has 28 points (12+16) on the season.

And, there is third, Mikko. He’s the middle middle brother of the three. He was drafted in 1999 in the seventh round by Ottawa. Mikko does not currently play in the NHL. He played several seasons in his native Finland.

Like the Ruutu brothers, there is another group of three hockey siblings that were drafted.

Penguins center Dominic Moore has two brothers that played in the professional ranks. And, they all were teammates once.

Mark Moore, Dominic’s older brother, was drafted by the Penguins in 1997 in the seventh round. He spent part of the 2000-01 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He also played for the Wheeling Nailers.

Mark, a defensive player, had an almost-perfect SAT score of 1590 and wrote a book “Saving the Game.” He currently lives in Toranto and helps with a summer hockey program for children.

Steve Moore was drafted by Colorado and spent parts of three seasons with the Avalanche. He played in 57 games in 2003-04 with 12 points (5+7) before he was severely injured.

Dominic got to skate one season with both his two older brothers while at Harvard in 1999-00.

Mark attended Harvard from 1996-2000, Steve attended from 1997-2001 and Dominic from 1999-2003.

Steve and Dominic are they only two brothers to be captains for Harvard.

There are more Penguins players with hockey in their blood.

Jordan Staal, the Penguins’ first-round pick in 2006 (second overall), has two older brothers who are members of the NHL family.

Eric Staal was drafted second overall by Carolina in 2003, one pick after Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury. The 22-year-old center won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and recently traveled to Dallas to participate in his first All-Star game. Jordan went along for the trip also, as he was a member of the Eastern Conference YoungStars team.

Eric currently has 23 goals and 25 assists on the year.

Marc Staal was picked 12th overall in 2005 by the New York Rangers. He currently plays in the OHL Sudbury Wolves. He has 27 points (5+22) this season.

Jared, the youngest Staal brother, might lace up his skates in the NHL someday also. He is a highly-touted prospect in the OHL.

Other Penguins that have brothers in hockey players are Brooks Orpik and Colby Armstrong.

Brooks’ younger brother, Andrew, plays for Boston College. He was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in 2007 in the seventh round. The forward has played in 22 games for Boston College this year and has six points (2+4) on the season.

Colby’s younger brother, Riley, was signed as a free agent in December 2004 by the San Jose Sharks. He currently plays for the Worchester Sharks in the AHL and has 21 points (13+8) this season.

Like father like son, or at least in the Crosby family.

Sidney Crosby’s father, Troy, was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1984 in the 12th round. Troy, a goalie, never played in the NHL.

In the Malone family, being a Penguin is tradition.

Ryan Malone’s father, Greg, was selected in the second round by the Penguins in 1976. He played with the Penguins from 1976-83. Greg also served as the Penguins’ head scout for 16 seasons. This is his first season working as a scout for the Phoneix Coyotes.

On Dec. 15, Ryan had his first career hat-trick against the Islanders. His dad had a hat-trick almost 20 years prior for the the Penguins in 1978-79. The Malones are the second father-son pair to record a hat trick for the same franchise. Ken Hodge Sr. and Ken Hodge Jr. did it for the Bruins.

Ryan is the first Pittsburgh-born and trained player to play in the NHL.

Mark Recchi’s brother might not be on the ice, but he is a member of the hockey community.

Mark’s brother, Matt, is in his second season as an amateur scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins. His primary focus is on players in western Canada.

Hockey really is in these Penguins’ blood.

http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/team/features/arts/2331.0.php

HometownGal
02-15-2007, 08:12 AM
http://post-gazette.com/pg/07045/762313-100.stm

Penguins rally past Chicago, 5-4, in shootout

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins didn't make it look easy last night.

Quite the opposite, really.

But despite failing to protect a multiple-goal lead for the third game in a row, they finally did find a way to defeat Chicago, 5-4, in a shootout at Mellon Arena to extend their current streak to 12-0-2.

Erik Christensen beat Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for the deciding goal; Evgeni Malkin also scored for the Penguins, while Sidney Crosby was stopped.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins denied Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski.

Penguins rookie Jordan Staal was held without a goal for the first time in six games, while Crosby failed to get one for his eighth game in a row, the longest such slump of his pro career.

Although a standing-room crowd of 17,051 was announced, team officials estimated that about 15,400 fans actually attended the game.

Craig MacDonald gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal at 8:29 of the opening period, when he chipped a shot past Fleury from the right side of the crease.

WOO HOO!!!! :banana: Way to go Pens! I didn't get to see the game as I fell asleep around 7 PM after all of the shoveling and snow-blowing, but it seems I missed a great game!

I think 15.400 people braving the weather here yesterday was a definite indication of how much our Pens are loved here in this city. :thumbsup:

HometownGal
02-15-2007, 08:20 AM
Penguins Notebook: Olczyk talks about first visit back to Mellon Arena

Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With a delayed flight in and another out right after the game last night, former Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk only spent a matter of hours in Pittsburgh and at Mellon Arena, but it was an emotional chunk of time.

"It is hard," said Olczyk, who was fired as the Penguins' coach in December 2005 and returned to do color for the Chicago Blackhawks television broadcast. "It's the first time I've been in here. It will be 14 months exactly [today] since I cleaned out my office."

Not that he's keeping track or anything.

An hour or so before he went on the air, Olczyk talked passionately about his time as coach, which started with the 2003-04 season, and, before that, as a Penguins broadcaster and player.

Olczyk said he and former general manager Craig Patrick were thwarted last season by decisions made by Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer, including a reluctance to keep Marc-Andre Fleury on the roster because the young goaltender became eligible to earn $3 million in bonuses if he played in at least 25 games.

"After the lockout, the organization's plans changed," Olczyk said. "We aborted some things. There's no quick fixes. I'm not surprised [at the Penguins' success this season]. I think Craig and I had a lot of the same visions and a lot of the same ideas, but, unfortunately, I don't believe Ken was on the same page when it came to dispersing of funds.

"That's the hand that's dealt. There's no question I think about it -- what could I have done differently? -- and I take full responsibility. I walked out the same way I walked in, and that was with my head up high and with respect for Mario [Lemieux] and the game. People on the inside know what was going on. Unfortunately, it didn't happen as quickly last year as people would have liked, and the coach is the one to take the blame."



I loved Edzo, but it was obvious from early on that he just wasn't tough enough to get the job done and didn't want to give the players that kick in the rear that they needed.

As for the Fleury situation, all I can say here is WOW. :jawdrop:

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 09:52 AM
I loved Edzo, but it was obvious from early on that he just wasn't tough enough to get the job done and didn't want to give the players that kick in the rear that they needed.

As for the Fleury situation, all I can say here is WOW. :jawdrop:

I remember the Fleury situation - I kept wondering why they refused to keep him up here, even though he clearly was the best goalie we had even then, and then it came out that it was due to money. The Pens' brass at the time tried like hell to out penny-pinch the Nuttings, but unlike Dumb and Dumber, they at least had an excuse for not spending gobs of money. Still though, Fleury should have been the #1 guy back then - I think it only would have helped his development.

83-Steelers-43
02-15-2007, 10:17 AM
WE WIN!!!!! HEY REFS YOU CAN RIP US OFF ALL YOU WANT! WE STILL WIN!

Amen to that. We go down and we battle back. Not only were the refs off their game last night, but we can't keep blowing these leads. I'm all about the "as long we get the two points" type of attitude, but that **** won't fly come playoff time in my opinion. I can't imagine Therrien being exactly proud of the fact that they have been blowing leads as of late and climbing back to get the points. Hopefully we can work on that before playoff time (fingers crossed).

On thate note, being one of the "supposed" 15,400, it was worth the cold and idiot drivers. Strange though, only a handful of us actually saw the six men on the ice during the Ruutu goal. More were upset with the Crosby "slash" than anything else. Also purchased playoff tickets yesterday. Expensive little buggers this year. Back in the early 90's they would cost around $70 the first round, around $80 the next round, etc. etc. Now they are $90 a piece for every round. That's $180 a game. I'm not complaining, just a little surprised. Oh well times have changed and the bangwagon is filling, it's worth every penny though. :banana:

HometownGal
02-15-2007, 11:06 AM
I remember the Fleury situation - I kept wondering why they refused to keep him up here, even though he clearly was the best goalie we had even then, and then it came out that it was due to money. The Pens' brass at the time tried like hell to out penny-pinch the Nuttings, but unlike Dumb and Dumber, they at least had an excuse for not spending gobs of money. Still though, Fleury should have been the #1 guy back then - I think it only would have helped his development.

I agree, but it all worked out in the end. Fleury has been pretty darned good in goal and has been much improved on the shootouts. I used to dread them, but I don't any longer. :cheers:

X-Terminator
02-15-2007, 11:19 AM
I agree, but it all worked out in the end. Fleury has been pretty darned good in goal and has been much improved on the shootouts. I used to dread them, but I don't any longer. :cheers:

Well, the last 3 games shouldn't have even gone to overtime or shootouts - they blew 2 and 3 goal leads in all of them and were lucky to come away with wins. Fleury though has been a big reason why they have been able to win them - in the 3rd period and OT of all the games, he has stood on his head. That save on Havlat last night was a thing of beauty! I still dread the shootouts, though not as much as I used to.

BTW, the check's in the mail for our playoff ticket package, just to let you know! I missed out on the playoffs the 2 seasons they made it since becoming a season ticket holder, and I was not about to miss out on them again. This team has a chance to do some great things should they get in, and I want to be there to see it first-hand!

83-Steelers-43
02-15-2007, 11:38 AM
Craig MacDonald gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal at 8:29 of the opening period

We also have to cut down on SH goals. It seemed Chicago put on more heavy pressure while on their PK than when they were 5 on 5.

HometownGal
02-15-2007, 12:38 PM
Well, the last 3 games shouldn't have even gone to overtime or shootouts - they blew 2 and 3 goal leads in all of them and were lucky to come away with wins. Fleury though has been a big reason why they have been able to win them - in the 3rd period and OT of all the games, he has stood on his head. That save on Havlat last night was a thing of beauty! I still dread the shootouts, though not as much as I used to.

BTW, the check's in the mail for our playoff ticket package, just to let you know! I missed out on the playoffs the 2 seasons they made it since becoming a season ticket holder, and I was not about to miss out on them again. This team has a chance to do some great things should they get in, and I want to be there to see it first-hand!

No, those last 3 surely shouldn't have gone to OT/shootouts, but we came away with wins in all 3 thankfully. I'm sure Therrien is addressing the meltdowns and working the guys hard in practice to try to eliminate the problems.

Great on the tix! :cheers: I went to most of the playoff games in their Cup years and it will be awesome cheering this young and very talented team on! :thumbsup:

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:15 AM
No, those last 3 surely shouldn't have gone to OT/shootouts, but we came away with wins in all 3 thankfully. I'm sure Therrien is addressing the meltdowns and working the guys hard in practice to try to eliminate the problems.

Great on the tix! :cheers: I went to most of the playoff games in their Cup years and it will be awesome cheering this young and very talented team on! :thumbsup:

Lucky you! :flap: However, during their first Cup run, I did leave my uncle's wedding reception so that I could get home in time for the Pens' playoff game that night. Hey, had to keep my priorities straight! :wink02: :sofunny:

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:17 AM
Fleury's confidence, maturity kicking in
John McGourty | NHL.com Staff Writer Feb 15, 2007, 11:03 AM EST

There are many reasons why the Pittsburgh Penguins are on an 10-0-1 run and closing in on the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference lead: They're playing their last seven No. 1 draft picks; Sidney Crosby is running away with the NHL scoring lead; Evgeni Malkin is likewise running away with the rookie scoring race; Jordan Staal hasn't been in the minus category since early December and is threatening to outscore his brother, Eric, this season; and 15 players are in the plus category, many of them recent arrivals there.

The Penguins have doubled their points from a year ago, from 32 to 69, won 18 more games than at this point last season and have increased scoring by nearly a goal a game.

But if Crosby, Malkin and Staal's production and the increase in Pittsburgh's overall team scoring were the only factors, the Penguins would be winning and losing games by 8-7 scores. They're not. They've become a tight defensive team for several reasons: Coach Michel Therrien's disciplined system, the development of four solid lines and the maturation of the defense and goaltending. The Penguins have surrendered only 175 goals so far, down from 222 a year ago, or a decrease from 4.04 goals-per-game to 3.1.

"Our defensive play is really improved from last year. That's one of the biggest differences," said starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the first-overall pick in the 2003 Entry Draft. "That's something that we really needed to do. Our coach put in a good system defensively and everyone has been really focused. Our defensemen have been awesome in blocking shots and clearing away rebounds."

To compare his record to a year ago is to wonder who's wearing Fleury's equipment this season. After going 13-27-6 in 50 games last season with a 3.25 goals-against average and .898 save percentage, Fleury now ranks fourth in the NHL with 28 victories, against only 12 losses and seven overtime losses and has a 2.83 GAA and .906 save percentage. Like his teammates, Fleury's stats have improved dramatically over the course of the season.

"Our coach has been playing four lines and it's been working great," Fleury said. "Everyone is getting rest and can play with more intensity."

Fleury took a shelling in a 21-game stint in 2003-04 and again last season, but it didn't seem to shake his faith in himself. Teammates agree that his positive attitude and belief in self helped him to get to this point. Defensive leader Sergei Gonchar was asked what's different about Fleury this season.

"In my opinion, he's more confident. He always had the skill and the talent," Gonchar said. "Since Day One, you could see he was going to play here. It took him a while to get his confidence. Now that he has that confidence, that's the biggest difference from last year to this year."

"The more games you play, the more confident you're going to get," Crosby explained. "When you see your team get that insurance goal, or a goal that ties the game or puts you ahead, that gives a goalie more motivation. It works both ways. There's been a lot of times when we needed him to save us and we try to help him out too. He's just got confidence in himself and we're confident that if he gives up a couple of goals, we're still going to be able to score while he shuts the door."

The Penguins beat the Nashville Predator's, the NHL's top team, in Nashville last week, their biggest victory in the Crosby era. Predators center Jason Arnott said Fleury was sensational in that game.

"Yeah, he was," Crosby agreed. "You can't go far without strong goaltending and he has been the difference in winning and losing this year. He's had a lot of games where he's faced 30 to 40 shots and he's kept us in there and given us a chance to win. That's so important. The team has a lot of confidence in him."

Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero credits Fleury's increasing maturity, as well.

"It's confidence and maturity," Shero said. "He's getting there, his confidence is high and he's maturing, but remember, he's still a 22-year-old kid. He's gone through a lot and this is a really good year for him. He's playing in meaningful games for the first time in his NHL career. He has responded well and that's great for his development."

Shero sensed a positive change in Fleury early on.

Fleury blocks a shot by Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson Friday, Jan. 26, 2007.
"He's been on a roll from the first game of season," Shero said. "He has that confidence and knows he's a good goaltender. Goalie coach Gilles Meloche has done a good job with him on the mental side as well as working with video and with reassuring him at times. That goes with coaching."

"Marc-Andre has more confidence but the big thing is that he is more under control," Meloche said. "His positioning is a lot better than it was earlier. He was trying to do too much. We've got him relying less on reflex and more on positioning.

"He's maturing. He's a year older and he's playing with a better team. He's not seeing those back-door shots like before, when we were more helter-skelter out there. He's playing off his defenseman and his positioning is better."

Meloche said Therrien's system has been a big factor in helping Fleury get on his game.

"We're a lot different team now," Meloche said. "We have a system and everyone is buying into it and it's paying off. Everyone knows where they are going and they're working harder at it. It makes Marc-Andre's job a lot easier. You start winning games, you get more confidence and the puck looks bigger."

Meloche disagreed when he was told Fleury seems a lot happier and confident. A lot of NHL goalies don't like to talk after practice on the morning of a game. Fleury is like, "Hi, guys. What's up?"

"He's been like that since he got here. He never changed, he's always been that way," Meloche said. "He went through some tough times, but he never changed his attitude. He's a workaholic who is always working on his game. Sometime, we have to chase him off the ice.

"He never stopped believing in himself. He's got the right attitude for a goalie. If you don't believe in yourself, you can't play goal in this league."

The Penguins have the added benefit of having on staff former GM and current senior advisor, Eddie Johnston, a two-time Stanley Cup winner. Shero said Johnston discusses goalies with Meloche and gives his input. Meloche and Johnston were having one of those talks in a quiet corner of the dressing room when they were interrupted so Meloche could talk to a reporter.

"At 71, Eddie is sharp as a tack and has made a lot of valuable observations," Shero said. "Gilles incorporates those suggestions and passes them along to Marc-Andre and Jocelyn."

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=289062

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:24 AM
Penguins face devilish task tonight

Friday, February 16, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With a victory tonight at New Jersey or one point from an overtime or shootout loss, the Penguins will leapfrog Atlanta for the third-highest point total in the Eastern Conference.

But in terms of playoff positioning, the Penguins won't budge from the fourth spot in the conference no matter the final score.

The Penguins have hit a ceiling, and the only way to crash through it and grab one of the top three playoff seeds is to win the Atlantic Division. The three division champions in each conference get preference over other teams, even if they have fewer points.

A division title and top-three seeding one year after finishing last in the Eastern Conference and 29th overall among the 30 NHL clubs might seem a bit farfetched, but it looks to be within reach for the Penguins.

"That's not an unrealistic goal," defenseman Mark Eaton said yesterday after practice at Southpointe.

The Penguins, Southeast Division leader Atlanta and Ottawa each have 69 points, although the Penguins have played fewer games. The only teams above them in the conference are Atlantic Division leader New Jersey with 76 points and Northeast Division leader Buffalo, which had 80 points going into its game last night against Edmonton.

That gives the red-hot Penguins 26 games to make up the seven points separating them from the Devils -- and they have their remaining four games against the Devils over the next four weeks, plus a game in hand on New Jersey.

"If we can win three out of four or all four of them, we're right there," Eaton said. "There's a lot of hockey left."

The Penguins are 1-3 against New Jersey this season, including 0-2 on the road, but they have not faced the Devils since Dec. 26, which was during a five-game losing streak and before they started their 12-0-2 tear.

New Jersey didn't climb to the top of the Atlantic Division and to within four points of the conference lead without some good stretches and it's on a couple now. The Devils have won five of their past six games and 16 of their past 22.

"During our streak, we beat some really good hockey teams," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "I'm excited to play that game to see where we stand against a team that has the best goalie in the league [in Martin Brodeur], that is really disciplined, and they play really well in their system."

Penguins winger Ryan Malone is cautious about talk of a division championship.

"That sounds great, but we have no control over how they're going to play the rest of the year, or anyone else for that matter, so we have to make sure we're ready to go every night," he said. "We're in control of our own destiny."

Therrien likes riding the wave of speculation over whether the team could make such a huge one-season jump to become a division winner.

But he's doing his best to keep eyes in the back of his head, too.

"It's fun. We don't have any problem with [division title talk]," Therrien said. "We've kind of surprised a lot of people because we were saying our goal is -- and it still is -- to battle and make the playoffs. That's our focus. We're looking ahead, but at the same time we know what's going on behind us."

Although the 14-game unbeaten streak and its 26 points have lifted the Penguins into a tie for fourth in the conference, things are nearly as tight now up and down the standings as they were earlier.

Before last night, Toronto and the New York Islanders were tied for ninth place in the conference, one spot below the playoff cutoff, with 62 points. They were as close to the Penguins as the Penguins are to New Jersey.

"You'd think we would be a lot more comfortable in a playoff spot, but we're not that far ahead of those teams," Eaton said. "New Jersey is the team we want to catch, so this game will be a test."

The fact that the game is against not just a division rival but also the team that stands in the way of a possible division title makes for an interesting subplot, center and NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby said.

"They're all important, but there's probably a little more importance on this one," he said. "I think we're going to be intense, and it's going to be an emotional game. We'll have to prepare accordingly.

"We're still taking a game at a time, and I think that's why we've been so successful. You can't get the division title with the next win. We're just chipping away right now. Somewhere that would be a nice place to be, but we need to [make up the gap in] points to do that."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07047/762651-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:30 AM
Penguins Notebook: No. 1 line copes with 'slump'

Friday, February 16, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins have not lost in 14 games, and that's with their top line a little out of sorts since late last month.

Center and NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby has not scored a goal in the eight games since the Penguins returned from their trip to Dallas and Phoenix. It is the longest drought of his career, although it has been tempered by six assists in those games.

Right winger Mark Recchi has two goals, three assists in the past eight games and no points in five of them.

Left winger Ryan Malone has one goal and one assist in the same span.

"Some games [earlier], we played really well and got everyone going," Malone said yesterday before the Penguins left for New Jersey and a game tonight against the Devils. "We were doing the little things and the right things, and we were all on the same page."

Late in the past two games, Malone was replaced on the top line by Erik Christensen and Evgeni Malkin. Malone took responsibility for the dip in production on the top line.

"Now, it feels like I zig when I should zag," he said.

"That's just how it goes sometimes. You've just got to work hard and almost try to simplify the game -- just put the pucks on the net and play smart with the puck -- and, usually, it turns around. Right now, the important thing is that the team's winning. Hopefully, we can get our line going."

Brodeur keeps raising bar

At 35-15-5, New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is on pace to reach 50 wins this season, giving him a chance to break the NHL record of 47 set by Philadelphia's Bernie Parent in 1973-74.

"I care a lot about this," he told The Record of Bergen County after beating Montreal, 5-2, Wednesday night.

"It shows a lot of consistency in my game. Again the team wins, but I'm the one getting the win in my column. First, it's 30 and now 35 and, hopefully, later on I can get to 40."

The new and proud father

Penguins defenseman Alain Nasreddine, who missed the game Wednesday night, returned to practice and passed out cigars to his teammates, but skipped the trip to New Jersey.

"It's really nice of them to let me stay home," said Nasreddine, whose wife, Josiane, gave birth to 8-pound, 6-ounce Alec at 7:33 a.m. Wednesday.

Nasreddine said he had no problem getting to the hospital in the early morning during the winter storm that hit Pittsburgh.

"I have a big truck, and no one else was on the roads because of the weather," he said.

Tickets going fast

The Penguins had their 18th sellout crowd this season Wednesday night at Mellon Arena. It was their 11th in the past 13 home games. There were an estimated 1,651 no-shows because of poor weather and road conditions.

There are about 1,000 or fewer tickets available for eight of the 12 remaining home games in the regular season.

The games with more ticket availability are March 13 against Buffalo, March 18 against Ottawa, March 25 against Boston and April 3 against Buffalo.

Slap shots

Recchi and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, the two most-experienced players on the team, were given the day off from practice. Gonchar played in his 800th NHL game Wednesday in a 5-4 shootout win against Chicago. ... Penguins coach Michel Therrien on officials failing to see or call six Chicago skaters on the ice just before the Blackhawks scored their fourth goal: "They told us they were right. They're always right. Sometimes coaches are wrong. Sometimes players make mistakes. But those guys are right. That's the way it is."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07047/762639-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:32 AM
Much work remaining in arena talks, Rendell says

Governor says many details unresolved in negotiations with Penguins, but no 'deal-breakers'

Friday, February 16, 2007
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gov. Ed Rendell doesn't see any "deal-breakers" that would prevent an agreement with the Penguins on a new arena, but added the two sides are still "a lot of details" away from a final accord.

"There are so many nuances to this, it is amazing," he told reporters yesterday. "Each time we solve three or four of the problems, one or two more crop up, but none of them in my judgment are deal-breakers."

While development rights, parking revenues and the Penguins' share of the arena funding have long been considered key issues to be resolved, Mr. Rendell added another yesterday -- what happens if construction costs exceed the Plan B funding amount.

The Penguins have agreed to cover cost overruns once a guaranteed maximum price has been established. The question is what happens if the final price comes in above the amount of financing available under Plan B.

While conceding that that's a "problem," Mr. Rendell said he believes it can be resolved through the design of the building and through a no-strike agreement the city, county and state will seek from unions involved in the project. He said both should help keep costs down.

Talks between the Penguins, the governor, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato have moved well into a second month since team co-owner Mario Lemieux emerged from a Jan. 4 meeting to say he was optimistic about the prospects of keeping the team in Pittsburgh.

At the same time, the Penguins are entertaining an offer from Kansas City to move into the new rent-free $276 million Sprint Center next season. The arena opens in the fall and the Penguins would not have to pay any construction costs. They would share building revenues.

The team is free to move this summer after its Mellon Arena lease expires at the end of June.

Locally, even as the two sides continue to wrangle over various issues, Mr. Rendell said he hopes to have an agreement completed in the next couple of weeks.

"This is a slow and arduous process. This is an ongoing process. We make progress every day but there are a lot of details, a lot of details involving land use, a lot of details involving parking ... everything under the sun has to be ironed out," he said.

The Penguins have repeatedly declined comment on the negotiations.

The two sides have participated in conference calls and other conversations over the last two weeks. Mr. Rendell also talked to Penguins' officials yesterday while in Pittsburgh for events.

"Each time we get together, either by phone or in person, we make a little progress and we've still got a little bit more to do and I'm hopeful we can bring this to a conclusion shortly," the governor said.

The parties are trying to reach an agreement under the Plan B funding formula, which includes a contribution of $7.5 million a year for 30 years from Pittsburgh casino license winner Don Barden and $7 million a year for 30 years from a slots-financed state economic development fund.

The Penguins' share started out at $2.9 million a year, plus $1.16 million annually in naming rights, and an upfront contribution of $8.5 million. Under a revised formula, Mr. Rendell has said the Penguins' share would be significantly lower than the $2.9 million per year the Pirates put in toward PNC Park. It's unknown whether naming rights revenue is part of that.

Like Mr. Rendell, Mr. Onorato and Mr. Ravenstahl were optimistic about closing the deal, but would not put a timetable on it.

"Do I think we'll get a deal? Yes," Mr. Onorato said. "I think we'll resolve this long term. We're not there yet."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07047/762591-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:45 AM
Trib story on the arena negotiations.

Penguins, officials haggle over arena cost

By Andrew Conte
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, February 16, 2007

The Penguins and public officials are trying to determine how much a new Uptown arena will cost and how to make up the difference if the total comes in higher than expected, Gov. Ed Rendell said Thursday.

"The problem is, what happens if construction costs go up over the contemplated amount," Rendell said before attending a luncheon with a German delegation at the Duquesne Club, Downtown. "The contingencies are what happens if it goes over. That's a problem."

Rendell said construction of the arena should cost $270 million, while Penguins officials have estimated it will cost $290 million.

A team spokesman declined to comment.

Rendell said he spoke with a Penguins official yesterday morning and hopes to announce an agreement within two weeks.

None of the remaining issues are insurmountable, said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

"We are competitive," he said. "We do have a good deal on the table, and we'll continue to negotiate with them to fine tune and address any issues or concerns they might have."

The remaining issues include development rights for the Mellon Arena site, parking revenues at a new arena and the arena cost, Rendell said.

Like the Pirates and Steelers, the Penguins would have to pay for cost overruns at a new venue. But the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority will not have a good estimate for the total projected construction costs until the arena designs are completed.

The sports authority could drive down costs by designing a less-expensive building and reaching labor agreements with unions, Rendell said.

"There are so many nuances to this, it is amazing," he said. "Each time we solve three or four of the problems, one or two more crop up."

Rendell ruled out asking for more money from Detroit casino developer Don Barden, who plans to build a Majestic Star Casino on the North Shore. Barden has agreed to pay $7.5 million a year for 30 years toward an arena.

Questions over costs at this late point in the negotiations could become a problem, said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp.

"Cost overrun responsibility ... can be a deal breaker," said Ganis, who advised public officials on the North Shore stadium deals. "There are many ways to handle it, though. Sometimes it requires creativity, but it can be done."

One way to bridge a gap for cost overruns could be through naming rights, which public officials have said likely will be given back to the Penguins under a revised financing plan.

In Newark, N.J., where the $370 million Prudential Center is scheduled to open this fall, the Devils hockey team is on the hook for cost overruns. The multipurpose facility originally was estimated to cost $310 million.

Earlier this year, the Devils and Prudential Financial reached terms on a 20-year naming rights agreement for $120 million -- double the $60 million in expected additional costs.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493408.html

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:47 AM
Pens remain committed one-game-at-a-game

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, February 16, 2007

The Penguins take on the Devils tonight, hoping to slice into New Jersey's seven-point lead in the Atlantic Division but understanding that there's only so much they can do in the first of four remaining games between the two teams. The Pens' 12-0-2 run has put them in position to at least contemplate winning the division championship. They remain committed to a cliched but effective one-game-at-a-time approach. New Jersey is 3-1 against the Pens this season. The teams will also meet Feb. 27 and March 8 at Mellon Arena and March 14 in New Jersey.

? The Pens and coach Michel Therrien remained convinced on Thursday that Chicago's fourth goal on Wednesday night was scored after the Blackhawks benefited from having too many men on the ice. Therrien's pleas to the officials on Wednesday night resulted in little consolation.

"They told us they were right," he said. "They're always right. Sometimes coaches are wrong, sometimes players will make mistakes, but those guys are right. That's they way it is, they're right. OK? OK."

? Therrien said no decision had been made regarding when to get Jocelyn Thibault a start in net. The Pens play tonight, Sunday (against Washington) and Monday (at New York Islanders). Marc-Andre Fleury has started the last eight games and 47 of 56 overall ... Winger Mark Recchi and defenseman Sergei Gonchar were given yesterday's practice off.

Digits

0 - goals the Pens scored in their last game against New Jersey (a 3-0 loss on Dec. 26 at New Jersey).

1.75 - Goals the Penguins have averaged in four games against the Devils.

3 - Games in which the Pens have surrendered at least four goals over their last four games.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493429.html

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:48 AM
Nasreddine's absence commendable

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, February 16, 2007

Alain Nasreddine isn't the most prominent Penguins player.

He's not insignificant, either, which makes his absence from tonight's game at New Jersey noteworthy.

Nasreddine, who has the best plus-minus rating (plus-12) among the team's defensemen, will miss a second consecutive game in order to be with his wife and newborn son.

Alec Nasreddine was born at 7:33 a.m. Wednesday. He and his mother, Josiane, are doing fine, which prompts the question:

Why won't Dad be in the lineup tonight for a big game against the division-leading Devils?

Short answers:

? Because Dad has his priorities straight.

? Because he works for good people.

? Because the Penguins can afford to play without him.

If this were Sidney Crosby, it would be a mega-story, perhaps spawning an ESPN "Outside the Lines" segment titled, How soon should an athlete play after his wife gives birth?

That also would put Penguins coach Michel Therrien in an awkward position, though Therrien tends to put family first.

When the Penguins played in Phoenix earlier this season, Therrien started backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault and spare winger Ronald Petrovicky because their fathers were at the game.

Therrien told Nasreddine he wouldn't be in the lineup Wednesday against Chicago and advised him to stay home when the Penguins left for New Jersey after practice Thursday.

"I think family is the most important thing," Therrien said. "I know Naz, it's his first child, and in the last week you could see it was a little bit of a distraction. That's normal. He's a human being before he's a hockey player. I wanted to make sure he spent time with his wife and his new boy."

Plus, Therrien said, "We're in a position to do that, because we have seven defensemen."

Nasreddine's teammates are thrilled for him. Many played with him in Wilkes-Barre, where he was their captain under Therrien. They love the guy.

Today, Nasreddine will demonstrate his leadership in a different way. Wife and son will be released from the hospital this morning, "and I want to be there for them," he said.

He practiced yesterday and hardly looked like a man conflicted. His smile was wider than a goal crease.

Josiane was there for every minute of Nasreddine's 12-team tour of professional hockey (the two were married in October after dating for 10 years). He'd played only 24 NHL games before the Penguins recalled him Dec. 6.

Not that he minded the minors.

"It's not like you're working 8 to 5," he said. "I was playing hockey and making decent money."

When his wife first felt labor pains Tuesday night, Nasreddine admits, he wondered if the delivery time might conveniently allow him to play Wednesday.

Hey, the man is 31 years old, and this is the first time he's earned a regular NHL paycheck (his salary is $450,000).

The two went to the hospital around 6 p.m. but were sent home. It was a false alarm - an offside, if you will.

Two hours later, reality set in.

"She said, 'I can't handle this anymore,' " Nasreddine said. "Once she started contractions, everything else just went away. I was just thinking about her, the baby, being a dad on Valentine's Day, and that this was for real."

What a season for Nasreddine. He scored his first NHL goal -- against Montreal, his hometown team -- established himself as a regular on the NHL's hottest club, was told he could move from a hotel to an apartment (he's renting downtown) and became a father.

"You know what," he said, "2007 has started real strong."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493427.html

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:53 AM
Here's hoping the Pens can find a way to beat those damn Devils...but I doubt they will. Unfortunately, the regulation unbeaten streak ends tonight - the Devils have their number big time.

Unthinkable 6 weeks ago, Penguins go for Atlantic Division lead

By The Associated Press
Friday, February 16, 2007

The Pittsburgh Penguins could be getting closer to winning their first division title in nearly a decade.

The team hasn't come within striking distance of the top spot this late in the season since taking the championship in 1997-98.

But with Pittsburgh only seven points behind Atlantic Division leader New Jersey, a game in hand and four meetings with the Devils in coming weeks, the Penguins are playing games with division title implications.

"It's fun," said coach Michael Therrien. "We're kind of surprising a lot of people. Our goal still is to be able to make the playoffs, and that's our focus."

The Penguins are on a 12-0-2 run and have 69 points, tied at third in the conference. The Atlantic-leading Devils and Penguins meet Friday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

But the middle of the Eastern Conference is tightly bunched. The seven-point differential between New Jersey and Pittsburgh is the same as that between the Penguins and the 10th-place New York Islanders.

"(The division lead) is not something on our mind a whole lot," said league scoring leader Sidney Crosby. "It's so close, and that's something that would be nice, but from the fourth position to the eighth spot, there's not a lot of separation."

The Penguins did not move into the top eight until the eve of the All-Star break.

Pittsburgh had the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season. Since moving back to the Atlantic Division in 1998-99, the Penguins have never placed higher than third and finished in last place four consecutive seasons.

But the hot streak has the Penguins not only in the playoff race, but thinking about potential seeding.

"We can get home-ice advantage," said forward Erik Christensen. "With each win, we get more confident."

After averaging 62.5 points the previous four seasons, Pittsburgh is on a pace for 102 points. In the division race, however, the Devils have been one of the few teams winning at the same pace as the Penguins this year. The Devils are 18-4-4 in their last 26.

"We aren't that far from where we were before we went on this streak," said forward Ryan Malone. "It's been a big part of the year so far, but we've still got a lot of games left, and we still realize that (Friday) night is a big test for us to see where we're at right now."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493472.html

X-Terminator
02-16-2007, 01:56 AM
Crosby, Malkin ratchet up intensity

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, February 16, 2007

You could tell by the fury in his stride. You could tell by the look in his eyes. Evgeni Malkin wasn't about to be denied.

And he wasn't the only one.

"I was on the ice when they scored the fourth goal," Malkin said late Wednesday night through his interpreter, George Birman. "Everybody saw Chicago had six players on the ice. Everybody got upset and found something extra."

What Malkin found was more than the Blackhawks could handle.


He re-tied the game a mere 71 seconds after Chicago had taken a 4-3, third-period lead on a goal the Penguins contend was scored just after the Blackhawks should have been whistled for too many men on the ice.

Then, with a chance to register a knockout in the subsequent shootout, Malkin delivered again, beating countryman Nikolai Khabibulin like a rented Russian mule.

"Malkin was flying," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "(Sidney) Crosby was flying."

And when Therrien began playing them together in the third period, after a 3-1 lead had degenerated into a 3-3 stalemate, the pair really got airborne.

Malkin will be back between Jordan Staal and Michel Ouellet, and Crosby with Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone tonight when the Penguins visit the New Jersey Devils.

But as the Blackhawks were reminded, Crosby and Malkin remain a gut feeling away from being reunited and potentially tilting the ice profoundly in the Penguins' favor.

"Yes, it's a feeling," Therrien said, "but you have to see how those guys are playing."

Crosby and Malkin were regular linemates briefly this season but eventually separated in the interest of creating a more balanced attack.

The results speak for themselves.

The Penguins, seemingly as balanced as they've been unbeatable in regulation during their current 12-0-2 surge, ranked tied for third in the NHL with 195 goals before Thursday's games.

Crosby, with 25 goals, 63 assists and 88 points, had a 12-point advantage over the Tampa Bay tandem of Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in the scoring race.

Malkin, with 28 goals, 36 assists and 64 points, was even further ahead in the rookie scoring race (the Kings' Anze Kopitar trailed by 14) and tied for 12th overall.

So Crosby and Malkin have thrived on separate lines. And they play together regularly on the power play.

Still, there are times when Therrien feels compelled to load up and go for broke.

"When you see they're on top of their game, they're skating well, and you need a goal," Therrien said.

Wednesday night was another one of those times.

The two never practice on the same line. And there couldn't be less verbal communication between them.

"None," Crosby said. "We watch each other, and sometimes that helps. For the most part, it's just hockey out there. It's the best way, reading and reacting off each other.

"When we're thrown together, we know the message is to create something or make something happen. Especially when you're down by a goal, the urgency seems to go another notch up."

Imagine how opponents must feel once Crosby and Malkin begin gaining altitude simultaneously.

"We want to be the guys that make the difference," Crosby said. "I think it's important for every guy to want to be that. There's no reason we don't want to be those guys.

"You're put in those situations and you get used to it and you thrive on it."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493425.html

83-Steelers-43
02-16-2007, 09:58 PM
Beautiful win. I saw no reason to doubt this team before this win and I see no reason to doubt them against Washington or NYI.

Nice win Pens. Dominic Moore, you played your heart out tonight. Bring on DC and keeping the faith SCM. :cheers:

Borski
02-17-2007, 12:00 AM
That was an exciting win!

X-Terminator
02-17-2007, 01:22 AM
Penguins deal with Devils

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, February 17, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The last time the Penguins were at Continental Airlines Arena, they trailed the New Jersey Devils by five points and were fourth in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference.

That was 53 days ago.

After last night's 5-4 win over the Devils, the Penguins (31-17-9) remain five points behind the Atlantic Division leaders, but now they are second place in the division and fourth in the conference, after gaining two points on the idle Atlanta Thrashers and Ottawa Senators.

The team that was struggling to get into the playoff picture in late December is now the hottest team in the NHL, with 35 points in the last 21 games and a streak of 13-0-2.

"A couple months ago we never thought we'd be in this situation, and now that we're chasing (the Devils) it's a good feeling," said rookie Jordan Staal, who scored his 24th goal of the season in the win. "We just have to keep it rolling."

Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in nine games - ending the longest drought of his career - and his first points at New Jersey this year. Jarkko Ruutu scored twice for his first multigoal game of the season, and Rob Scuderi got his first goal of the year.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for his 29th win of the season. He's now tied with Tom Barrasso for the third-most wins by a Penguins goaltender in a single season.

"He's playing like a veteran goaltender," Staal said.

When the Devils and Penguins last met, Brodeur made 26 saves and registered his 85th career shutout in a 3-0 win that brought his team's record to 3-1-0 in the season series.

Last night, he gave up two goals on the Penguins' first three shots, as the Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with goals from Ruutu on a tip from in front of the net, Scuderi from the point and Staal.

"That's a tight team. You never expect to get a big lead like that," Crosby said. "Not saying we sold ourselves short, but you expect it to be tight all the way through."

Brian Rafalski scored to put the Devils on the board 7:39 into the second period, but Crosby scored three minutes later.

The NHL's leading scorer won a faceoff in the Devils' end to start a power play, then got the puck back from Sergei Gonchar, skated it in and beat Brodeur with a wrist shot from the right circle for goal No. 26 on the season.

"It felt nice to see it go back in the net," Crosby said. "It had been awhile, so it's nice to get that monkey off your back."

The Penguins nearly watched another third-period lead slip away, as the Devils closed the gap from three goals to just one when Zack Parise and Travis Zajac scored six minutes apart early in the third. But one goal was on the power play, prompting Crosby to say that it's not something they're going to dwell on.

"We don't want to make (letting teams back in) a habit," Crosby said. "But this game was a little different than the ones before. We got into penalty trouble. The games before, it wasn't so much penalties as us letting up a little bit. (Last night) was different, so I don't think we're going to look into it too much."

The win ended a string of three victories in overtime.

"I think it was a good measuring stick for us," Ruutu said. "I think when we do the things we're supposed to do, it showed we can play against whoever."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493663.html

X-Terminator
02-17-2007, 01:24 AM
Notebook: Pens' Therrien may be candidate for coach of the year

Saturday, February 17, 2007

• Coach Michel Therrien, who earlier this season faced criticism and even rumors that his job was on the line, is being frequently mentioned as a strong coach of the year candidate. But much the way that Sidney Crosby brushes off suggestions of his winning the league MVP trophy, the scoring title or both, Therrien said he's not thinking about the possibility of winning the Jack Adams Trophy. "I've got a job to do with those young kids," Therrien said Friday. "We took those young kids last year and tried to get better, and we're improving as an organization and a team. That's my main focus. We'll see what's going to happen at the end of the year. But I'm fortunate to work with some good young players who want to try to get better."

• Center Chris Thorburn and defenseman Alain Nasreddine were scratched against the New Jersey Devils last night. Thorburn was a healthy scratch, while Nasreddine was allowed to remain in Pittsburgh to be with his wife and son, who was born on Wednesday morning.

• Rob Scuderi's first-period goal was his first of the season, leaving fellow stay-at-home defensemen Mark Eaton and Brooks Orpik as the only two players on the team without a goal.

• "That's not our focus right now, to finish in first place in our division. We want to stay focused on our goal for the season, to put ourselves in a good position to make the playoffs. That's our goal. We'll take it game by game and see where we're going to end up. But right now the focus is on our team and to make sure we're going to perform well." -- Coach Michel Therrien, before yesterday's game, on whether the Penguins can catch the Devils in the Atlantic Division.

Digits

7 - Goals the Devils allowed against the Penguins in their first four meetings.

3 - Goals the Devils allowed against the Penguins in the first period last night.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493678.html

Fire Haley
02-17-2007, 01:31 PM
After blowing $100 last year on Center Ice, I am pleased as punch I got it again this year.....nobody expected them to do squat this year....this is all gravy to me.....

The best thing is, it's not all Sid and Malkin. If somebody told you Ruutu would score 2 goals in a game, or the 3rd and 4th lines would be winning games, you would have called them a liar.

I say it's all good. Fleury is a God.

Just keep shooting the damn puck!

X-Terminator
02-17-2007, 05:28 PM
After blowing $100 last year on Center Ice, I am pleased as punch I got it again this year.....nobody expected them to do squat this year....this is all gravy to me.....

The best thing is, it's not all Sid and Malkin. If somebody told you Ruutu would score 2 goals in a game, or the 3rd and 4th lines would be winning games, you would have called them a liar.

I say it's all good. Fleury is a God.

Just keep shooting the damn puck!

All of the elite teams can put 3rd and 4th lines out there who not only crash and bang, but can put the puck in the net. That's why there was no panic with the first line struggling a bit and Sid going 8 games without a goal - everyone else was picking them up. Thus, Sid's and Malkin's lines can relax and play their games without feeling like they have to win the games all by themselves. Also, their production will allow Therrien to keep rolling those lines over, which will keep the top 2 lines relatively fresh for the stretch run - they play 20 games in the final 38 days of the season - and into the playoffs. That will be very, very important if they have any hopes of going deep into the postseason, assuming, of course, that they make it.

It really has been great to see the progress this team has made this season - I know I wasn't expecting them to do much at the beginning of the season, at least not enough to be a playoff team. They are well on their way to being one of the elite teams in the NHL for many years to come, and hopefully there will be a few more Cups in their future. Now, if Mario will just keep the team here...

Edman
02-17-2007, 06:35 PM
I must say, I'm very suprised about the performance of the 2006-07 Penguins. I'm going to admit, I'm not a super-diehard hockey fan, but I have quietly followed the Penguins these past few years, from the playoff run in '00 to the lockout. The Penguins are a team on fire right now and I (Like everyone else) don't want them to leave Pittsburgh. They are a young, exciting team. Crosby and Malkin look like the next Lemieux/Jagr, just my opinion of course, and I'm fond of Staal and Recchi as well.

Go Pens!:thumbsup:

polamalufan43
02-17-2007, 06:45 PM
Well, I feel sure about saying that we definately have a solid team, and these past wins are proof for all the doubters.

~Polamalufan43:tt02:

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:00 AM
Collier: Trade Deadline game probably not for Penguins
Sunday, February 18, 2007

By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nine days remain until the National Hockey League trade deadline, but, as far as I can tell, there is no actual rule that says you must re-jigger your roster by Feb. 27.

Not in the board game anyway.

Trade Deadline Hockey, the honest-to-God board game ($29.99 Canadian), includes an electronic scorekeeper, 99 player cards, 33 game cards, 4 card stands, 4 player pucks and 1 die. But Trade Deadline Hockey, untrue to its name, imposes no real deadline. It's OK to play on Feb. 28. It's OK to play on July 28. It's for ages 8 and up, meaning even Jordan Staal and Sid The Kid can play.

But there's no virtual reality version available, so we'll just have to make due with the actual reality version, the one Penguins general manager Ray Shero and his 29 NHL counterparts have waded into with varying degrees of inspiration, trepidation, agitation, perspiration, et al.

In the board game, you simply must roll the die. In the NHL, you needn't, indeed, sometimes, you musn't. Given the philosophical bedrock and relaxed demeanor of Pittsburgh's first-year GM, I'm thinking the March Penguins will look amazingly like this morning's rookery, even if they're on a much more prominent ice flow that anyone anticipated.

"Trade-wise, there are not many players out there," Shero said at the approach of the weekend. "There are many more buyers than sellers, and nobody is on sale. From that standpoint, I don't anticipate a lot of major moves."

But in only the second year of the salary cap, the new NHL is still adjusting to its new balance of power and the attendant fresh political realities. No longer can the wealthier teams take on payroll and talent for an extended playoff run. Every move has serious cap implications. At least theoretically, someone such as Peter Forsberg was as readily available to the Nashville Predators as he was to the New York Rangers.

As such and what-d'ya-know, the Predators won the Forsberg sweepstakes Thursday, sending two players and two draft picks to Philadelphia to chip loose one of the world's top two-way centers, but it happened just as much because Shero's former boss, Predators GM David Poile, rolled the dice. Poile concluded, by most any analysis, that Nashville's time is now, it's June appointment with Lord Stanley, if not penciled in, more than the stuff of sweet dreams.

Makes you wonder, at least, what time it is in Shero's Mellon Arena office, assuming there's a working clock somewhere in the old barn. Is it, perhaps, dice-rolling time?

"That's premature," Shero said flatly and convincingly. "We've got hard games coming up. We've still got to grow as a team. We can still improve on our performance, even in games we win. We're ahead 3-1, then we're down 4-3. How can you manage your game better? You have to remember that everything they're going through in terms of development, that this is the first time these guys, whether you're talking about Marc-Andre Fleury or Ryan Whitney or Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal or Evgeni Malkin, this is the first time they've played any meaningful games in the National Hockey League."

The issue is that, for a bunch of first-timers, these callow Penguins are pretty electrifying. It's more than just the fact that, 10 months removed from the Eastern Conference slums, they're occupying that statistical real estate where home ice advantage in the postseason is openly discussed; it's that they've begun to develop a certain cache.

"They're hungry," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said Wednesday. "They were hungry the whole game. ...They're very good down low, below the circles, protecting pucks and finding that soft area. We addressed that ... but they still found a way."

If you think these Penguins are hungry, their fans are certifiably ravenous, having not witnessed a playoff game since Crosby was at the eighth-grade picnic, literally. Shero, to his great credit, brings an objective eye to all of it.

"What I wanted to see, and what we've demanded from the start, is that this team get better every month," he said. "In early December, we were playing the Rangers, Atlanta, Washington and a had a losing streak, and at that point, I didn't want to be judging this team on streaks because you're not as good as you think you are when you're winning, nor as bad as you think you are when you're losing.

"I think what's been good is that they just play so hard together. Obviously we've got some top end skill people, but we've had contributions from a lot of different areas, which is what you need to improve as a hockey club."

Doesn't sound like a man reaching for the dice, and that's likely prudent. The Penguins are due for a kind of market correction, and a March schedule thick with desperate teams could still lead to Pittsburgh entering its first playoff season since 2001 in the sixth, seventh, even eighth slots.

All that said, someone like bruising Phoenix winger Georges Laraque might add an intriguing element. I mean, if you can get him without having to purchase the board game.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07049/763124-150.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:01 AM
Penguins players not ready to sever ties that bind them
Sunday, February 18, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With a run of 28 points in their past 15 games and a roster of young players that includes NHL leading-scorer Sidney Crosby, prolific rookies Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal and improving goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins are grabbing a lot of attention around the hockey world.

They might also be sending a message to parties closer to home.

By winning and staging a strong march toward the playoffs, the Penguins hope they are making it more difficult for general manager Ray Shero to make changes through deals before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

That could be a nice fringe benefit for the players, who are having a blast and growing closer as the wins and points pile up.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I guess," defenseman Rob Scuderi said yesterday. "It's kind of a delicate process because you don't want to add or take away someone who has added to our chemistry throughout this year.

"It's up to management. They've made some good decisions so far this year and, obviously, that's paid off. I have no doubt that they'll make some good decisions, whether that be keeping everybody together or maybe trying to get a guy or two."

The Penguins have four games between now and the trade deadline, beginning today against Washington at Mellon Arena.

Shero has said he would look at trades that would improve the team in the long run and give the club a chance to become a solid Stanley Cup contender, not just moves that would help to ensure they get into the playoffs this season.

The Penguins seem to be taking care of the part about making the playoffs without any changes.

Although they are not a lock for the postseason, they are in a pretty good place -- fourth in the Eastern Conference and flirting with an Atlantic Division title.

And despite season-long concerns about adding a scoring winger or perhaps a defenseman with a right-handed shot, the Penguins have proven to be a multi-dimensional team, getting help from a full four lines and several defensemen.

"I think it eases the minds a lot more when everyone's able to contribute like they are," Crosby said. "When you're winning, it changes a lot, and everyone's happy. There's probably less thinking about trades and things like that when the team's doing well, so we hope we keep playing well."

The winning and the spreading of the wealth has not just convinced the players that they have a team that can win. They also just plain like each other.

"We're not GMs and [trades] are obviously not our jobs, but the players here are all in this together," winger Mark Recchi said. "We love playing together. We've all got each others' back. We're hoping nothing happens. We're hoping we just keep going as a team together.

"We definitely have the depth, and everybody's very comfortable with what we have here."

Although deals are Shero's realm, coach Michel Therrien is expected to have some, if not considerable, influence in trade decisions.

He's as mindful of the effects a trade might have on the players' psyches as they are.

"We like our players. We like the way things are going," Therrien said. "There's a reason why. There's a chemistry. So this is where you've got to be really careful.

"We've got meetings. We evaluate things with Ray and the coaching staff together. There's good communication there. We're going to make sure we make the best decision regarding the hockey team and not breaking up the chemistry that we've got on our team. It might [mean] not doing anything. We'll see what's going to happen."

Winger Ryan Malone is in just his third full season in the NHL, but he's a relative old-timer on the young squad as someone who predates the 2004-05 lockout season.

He has seen the team built and, like his teammates, appreciates the merits of a group that gets along and works well together. He also knows what it's like to see a lot of players come and go.

"You never know," said Malone, who has been the subject of trade rumors. "It's still a couple weeks away. Every general manager's looking to improve, looking at what's out there and seeing if it will fit.

"We have a great group of guys. No one wants to leave. But, if they can make the team better, that's the most important thing."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07049/763117-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:02 AM
Penguins Notebook: It's a day for kids at practice
Sunday, February 18, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


It's hard to imagine that one more little nose could have found a spot up against the glass to watch the Penguins practice yesterday at Southpointe.

The parking lot was overflowing. The stands and Jay's, a restaurant that overlooks the ice rink, were packed with what appeared to be several hundred fans, including many children.

They came to watch a 45-minute workout by a Penguins team that is 13-0-2 going into its home game today against Washington, its longest undefeated streak in regulation since a 17-game winning streak followed by a tie for an 18-game undefeated streak to close the 1992-93 regular season.

"It's pretty easy to see that the support is there, and people are excited," said center and NHL leading-scorer Sidney Crosby, who elicited a wave of high-pitched shrieks when he took the ice.

"As players, we're excited to be competing for a playoff spot at this point of the season and doing well, but to see the turnout [yesterday] and the sellouts we're getting, that motivates us all."

With the stands filling, a team of mites-aged tykes who had been on the ice before the NHL team got the thrill of having Penguins defenseman Josef Melichar and winger Ronald Petrovicky join them. Melichar's son, also named Josef, plays on the team.

"That's what every day is for us -- a lot of fun," the elder Melichar said.


Whose goal was it?


A couple of the Penguins have a slight beef.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi thinks the Penguins' second goal of their 5-4 win Friday at New Jersey should be credited to winger Ryan Malone, not him.

"I was just trying to get it on net and, hopefully, something good would happen," said Scuderi, whose shot came from the point to give him what was announced as the second goal of his career. "I thought it got tipped or hit something. Whether it was mine or Ryan's, we don't really care, as long as we had the lead. The team's not going to suffer if I don't score a goal this year."

Malone confirmed he got his stick on the puck.

"I thought it was obvious, but I guess New Jersey said it didn't know," he said.

Melichar and Crosby got the assists.


Backup goalies get their day


Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who said backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault would play one game this weekend, named him the starter for today.

Thibault, 2-5-2 with a 3.29 goals-against average, will be making his ninth start and first since Jan. 27.

The Capitals also will be going with a backup, expected to be Brent Johnson, because starter Olaf Kolzig, the longest-tenured active athlete in Washington. D.C., is out at least two more weeks because of a knee injury he sustained at practice Monday.

Johnson is 0-2-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in four career appearances against the Penguins.


Olczyk backs Crosby

Along with the points and accolades for Crosby has come criticism -- he's a whiner, a diver who doesn't always get along with his teammates.

Add Eddie Olczyk, Crosby's first pro coach, to the list who thumb their noses at those who disparage Crosby.

"He's an incredible guy," said Olczyk, who coached the Penguins through Dec. 15, 2005, in Crosby's rookie season and who will be at Mellon Arena today as an NBC commentator after returning there Wednesday for the first time since his firing.

"There's a lot of unfair things that were said about him last year," Olczyk said. "He is a legit guy. To me, it was very unfair. There was a lot of envy and jealousy that came with the so-called rumors and speculation. But you know what? I'll go to bat for him forever as long as he continues to be the type of guy I know he is."

Olczyk wonders if those who criticize Crosby are paying attention to the maturity the 19-year-old has shown this season.

"You can't assume what it is to skate in his boots or to be Mario [Lemieux] or Wayne Gretzky, to be guys that are wanted and grabbed at all the time," Olczyk said. "I think watching from the outside now, he's just in much more control of his game. He's controlling what he can control."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07049/763126-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:04 AM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions
Sunday, February 18, 2007


A Calder-on of opinion boils down to one choice -- Geno


The poll was unscientific, premature and, for all practical purposes, irrelevant.

But the information it turned up was at least a little bit interesting.

It showed that, amazed as Jordan Staal's teammates are by how effective he has been as an 18-year-old in the NHL, they still believe center Evgeni Malkin, known in the locker room as "Geno," is the clear choice for NHL Rookie of the Year.

Nine players were selected at random after practice a few days ago and asked to identify which first-year NHL player they thought would be most worthy of receiving the Calder Trophy if it were awarded that afternoon. (Which, by the way, it wasn't.)

All respondents were granted anonymity, with the goal of encouraging candor by removing any danger of alienating a teammate who might feel slighted by an unvarnished opinion. Even then, not all of the players could settle on a favorite but of those who did, Malkin was the guy.

The individuals polled were asked to pick the league's top rookie (to that point of the season) and briefly explain their selection. The responses:

"I'd give it to Malkin, just because he leads rookies in goals and points, and it's not like he's a 23- or 24-year-old. He's 20. He might have a lot more ice time than [Staal], but at the same time, he's 12th in the league in scoring. And I'd be willing to bet money he's in the top nine or 10 by the end of the year."

"Probably Geno. He and Staal have had tremendous success [as linemates]. They work so well together, maybe Geno being the centerman and taking a little more responsibility defensively, I would have to go with Geno. But it's close."

"Can I say two? How many points does Geno have? It's between him and Jordan. Jordan has so many [short-handed] goals, most in the league, so that's pretty sick. And Geno has lots of points. I'll go with Geno, I think."

"It wouldn't be fair to say, because I haven't paid enough attention to all the other rookies around the league. I don't know what they've done. I know our two rookies, in particular, have been phenomenal, but I don't know enough about what the other rookies around the league have done."

"Can I say two guys? It would have to be Staal or Geno. They've both stepped up. The most improved from Day 1 of training camp until now has definitely been [Staal]. He's improved so fast, it's incredible. He just gets more confident every day. Geno obviously had a lot of hype and can change a game with one shift. That is a tough question. I don't know."

"I really only know of three. That [Anze] Kopitar from L.A., I haven't really seen him play because he's all the way out on the West Coast. So if I were to choose, I'd say Geno. He's still learning to play the North American game, but he's exciting to watch when he has the puck. Like [Sidney Crosby], he's just come into the league and drawn a buzz. People come to watch him and Sid play the game, and that's what makes our team exciting. ... I couldn't have imagined Jordan scoring 23 goals by this time. At the start of the year, I think that if he would have gotten 10 or 12 , that would have been a pretty good start. But Geno has scored some highlight-reel goals."

"I'd vote for Malkin. He's had a huge impact not only on our team, but overall. He's a game-breaker. He can make a difference. He's been, at times, close to our best player, for stretches, and has been pretty dominant."

"I think I'd vote for Geno. It's a close race with [Staal], though. A close race. I love the way [Staal] is playing, but for stats and everything, the number of goals [Malkin] has -- and big goals, too ..."

"It's tough between [Staal] and Geno. Kopitar from L.A. is doing pretty well, too, so I think there are probably three of them really in the running. But it's tough, because Geno has a lot of assists, and [Staal] has, like, six. It's up in the air between those two. That's too tough for me to make a decision. They're both having great years. [Staal] has really turned it on of late, but Geno had four points in the game when [Staal] had a hat trick, so it's going back and forth. We'll see how they both end up."


Trend-setters or rebels?


Erik Christensen scooped the puck up with his stick behind the net and, without breaking stride, curled out around the left post and whipped a shot under the crossbar.

It was flawless execution of a lacrosse-style goal.

Something Christensen, who has some of the best hands on this team, made look effortless when he was the first player on the ice before a recent practice.

But also something he insists he would never consider doing in a game, even though there is no rule against it.

"If you try it and you miss, you look stupid," he said. "I'm not established enough yet to be able to try doing stuff like that. Even if I play 12 years in this league, I would never try that."

Crosby did while playing junior hockey and, not surprisingly, got a goal. Then took a ferocious beating from people who claimed he was disrespecting the other team, if not the game itself. "He got a lot of criticism," Christensen said.

Crosby isn't intimidated by much, so if he decides it would benefit his team to break out the lacrosse move again, it's safe to assume he'll do it.

But whether he, or any other Penguin, will try a completely behind-the-back shot a few guys experimented with after being inspired by the American Hockey League skills competition is another matter.

"It actually looks ridiculous," Christensen said. "But interesting."


Trend-setters: Part II


In the NFL, when a coach is entering the final year of a contract, he's a lame duck. In the NHL, he's just one of the guys in the crowd.

Michel Therrien of the Penguins has the balance of this season and 2007-08 left on his contract and has not had any discussions about a new one. General manager Ray Shero, who said he will not publicly discuss contractual dealings with coaches, noted that many accomplished coaches complete their contracts before negotiating a new one, and Therrien said his contract status is a non-issue with him.

"It's not on my mind," he said. "My focus is on the team. My focus is on this season."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07049/763129-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:06 AM
Surging Penguins are the talk of the NHL

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 18, 2007


Saturday was yet another bitterly cold afternoon, with snow flurries whipping in the wind and piles of ice and snow lining the parking lot at the Iceoplex at Southpointe.

And everywhere you looked in that parking lot, there were cars.

Cars double-parking other cars. Cars in parking spaces where parking spaces weren't meant to be. Cars circling, almost running into one another, their occupants hoping beyond reason that one person would leave when so many others were trying to get in.

What was the fuss?

The Penguins were practicing inside, to a standing-room only crowd that lined the bleachers, the restaurant overlooking the ice and anywhere else they could fit their bodies to watch the hottest team in the NHL.

"It's kind of neat," veteran forward Mark Recchi said. "It's exciting for the town, and it's exciting for the players. Pittsburgh's always been great like that, though."

It isn't just in Pittsburgh that fans are getting caught up in the Penguins' improbable vault from second-to-last place in 2005-06 to fourth place in the Eastern Conference this season.

"There's a Penguins craze building like a big wave, and it's not only in Pittsburgh but everywhere else," national broadcaster Bill Clement said yesterday. "It's to the point where almost every person I speak to says they love to watch the Penguins more than any other team. You can tell there's something special when hockey people want to watch the Penguins all the time."

Even as the franchise's uncertain future hangs on whether ownership can reach an arena deal with the city, the Penguins (31-17-9) are on a 13-0-2 run entering today's nationally televised game on NBC against the Washington Capitals.

The last time the Penguins lost in regulation was Jan. 10 against the Florida Panthers, when they were in 13th place in the East.

As the second-youngest team in the NHL, they're led by the Sidney Crosby, 19, Evgeni Malkin, 20, and Jordan Staal, 18, to make them the fourth team in history to have three players age 20 and younger score 20 goals in a season.

If Staal scores today, they'll also be the first team in the NHL this season to have three 25-goal scorers.

Crosby leads the league in scoring with 90 points in 54 games, Sergei Gonchar is tied for the second-most points among NHL defensemen, Staal has the league's best shooting percentage and Malkin leads all rookies in points. With 29 wins, Marc-Andre Fleury is tied with Tom Barrasso for the third-most victories by a Penguins goaltender in a season.

Those aren't the only players contributing. The Penguins routinely roll four forward lines and three defensive pairings and lately are getting goals from their most defensive defensemen and their fourth-line guys.

If this keeps up over the final 25 games, Crosby could win the scoring title and league MVP, coach Michel Therrien could be coach of the year, Malkin and Staal could be the top two vote-getters for rookie of the year and Fleury might be in contention for top goaltender.

"The people that aren't jealous think it's an unbelievable story," said national broadcaster Pierre Maguire, who's also here for today's game. "It's must-see TV, it's a must-watch. They sell out every game they go to, and they had the largest crowd in the history of Air Canada Centre (in Toronto on Feb. 10). I was at the game in Montreal two Sundays ago, and it was crazy there. Everybody who's really honest about it and doesn't have a hidden agenda thinks this is the best story in the league."

Clement said the Penguins have a swagger about them that they didn't have before. Still, the question remains: Are they good enough to not only make the playoffs, but challenge for the Stanley Cup?

"Strange things happen in playoffs," Clement said. "I'll say this - if the Edmonton Oilers can do it (in 2006, when they went to the finals), there's no reason why the Penguins can't."

The Penguins players are ticking by their one-game-at-a-time credo, and Crosby said it's important for them to realize what it took to get to this point.

"We've been working hard, we've been working together, and everybody's contributing," Crosby said. "Hockey's a game where some nights it's just not going to go your way. You can play a great game and you might not end up with the two points. But, hopefully, we can ride this as far as we can."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_493761.html

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:07 AM
Coach Therrien getting credit as Pens surge

By The Associated Press
Sunday, February 18, 2007


The Pittsburgh Penguins have gone from a team with the worst record in the NHL's Eastern Conference a year ago to the team with the third-best record this season.

The players credit coach Michel Therrien, and say he should be considered for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

"Any individual award, you look at it after the year, but I think up to this point he definitely has put himself in a great position," said center Sidney Crosby, who leads the league in scoring. "He's been great with us, especially with the young team we have. It seems like our learning curve has moved pretty fast, and we're not done learning yet."

The Penguins were among the NHL's worst teams when Therrien was promoted from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in December of last season.

The Penguins went 14-29-8 after he took over and finished with the second-worst record in the league. Pittsburgh earned roughly the same number of points per game under Therrien as under his fired predecessor, Eddie Olczyk, last season.

This season, the young Penguins were improved at 18-17-7 through Jan. 10, but have been the best team in hockey since. Pittsburgh's current 13-0-2 stretch has not only lifted moved the Penguins from outside playoff contention into fourth place in the conference, it is earning Therrien attention, too.

"Look at how he's developed these young guys," veteran winger Mark Recchi said. "And with the great attitudes and work ethic these young guys have, it makes it easy for Michel to keep teaching them and prodding them along and helping them."

Therrien has repeatedly said he isn't worried about winning any individual honors for the job he's done. He said after practice Saturday that he doesn't even allow himself to sit back and take pride in his own performance.

"I'm not (looking at) it that way at all," he said with a laugh. "It's crunch time. I want to make sure we're well-prepared for the next game. The players have got to respond. We've got no choice but to keep coaching, even when things are going well for us."

Therrien surely has benefited from Crosby, who is a year older and wiser, and from the addition of rookie of the year candidates Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, defenseman Mark Eaton and role players Jarkko Ruutu, Dominic Moore and Ronald Petrovicky.

The team has benefited as much from new general manager Ray Shero's roster-building as from coaching. But that hasn't diminished the contribution of Therrien.

"He's done a great job. He knows how to manage," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "He has a feel for the way we as a group of guys has to play to win. It is tough to ignore the success we have had."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_493775.html

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:08 AM
Notebook: Crosby, Ovechkin rivalry featured in NHL ad

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 18, 2007


Sidney Crosby only had one line in the NHL's promotional ad that was filmed January during the NHL All-Star Game, but it was a good one.

The commercial, titled "Road Trip," opens with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin ordering room service for one in his hotel room -- lots and lots of room service.

As the clip moves to other NHLers acting up -- brothers Jordan and Eric Staal have a pillow fight in their room -- it always goes back to Ovechkin ordering more and more food. Finally, Ovechkin says, "My name? Sidney Crosby," and the commercial cuts immediately to Crosby opening his door to a huge delivery.

His one line -- snarling the name "Ovechkin" -- wasn't one he got down right off the bat, either.

"It took a lot (of takes), just because of the lighting or I didn't say it the right way," Crosby said. "They have to be so precise for a two-second clip."

As of yesterday, Crosby hadn't seen the commercial, available on YouTube.

"I haven't heard too much about it," he said. "But it was fun to do."

Ovechkin on a slide

Crosby ended an eight-game stretch without a goal when he scored Friday against the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin probably knows how Crosby felt. Although he owned or shared the league lead in goals for most of January, Ovechkin has scored only once in the last six games, and his total of 34 has him in a tie with Anaheim's Teemu Selanne for second in the league going into yesterday's games. They trailed league leader Vincent Lecavalier by five goals.

Thibault back in net

With back-to-back games today and Monday (at the New York Islanders), goaltender Jocelyn Thibault will get the start against the Capitals. It is his first game since Jan. 27, when he made 22 saves in a win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Quotable

"I'd like to say I was aiming for the corner. But I was just trying to get it to the net, hoping something good would happen. It did." Defenseman Rob Scuderi, on scoring his second NHL goal in 124 career games Friday against the New Jersey Devils.

Quotable, part two

"I like the chemistry of our team. That's the most important thing. I like the players. I like what our players are giving to us. I like their commitment, and that's my main focus." Coach Michel Therrien, when pressed on whether there might be pressure to make a trading deadline deal with the team playing so well.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_493762.html

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 08:09 AM
Scouting the Capitals

By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, February 18, 2007


Washington Capitals (23-26-9) at Penguins (31-17-9)

When and where: 3:30 p.m. today at Mellon Arena

TV/radio: NBC/105.9 FM

Probable goaltenders: Jocelyn Thibault (2-5-2, 3.29 GAA); Brent Johnson (4-7-4, 3.72 GAA)

Notable: The Capitals have lost 11 of their last 15 games and are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss Thursday to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They'll also be without starting goaltender Olaf Kolzig for at least three weeks after the perennial starter suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee during Monday's practice. ... Alexander Semin hit the 30-goal mark for the Capitals against the Lightning. ... The Penguins and Capitals last met in a surprising 2-0 defensive battle that the Penguins won Feb. 3. ... Five of the NHL's top six goal scorers age 22 and under will be on the ice today: Ovechkin (34), Semin (30), Evgeni Malkin (28), Sidney Crosby (26) and Jordan Staal (24). Carolina's Eric Staal is the sixth, with 24 going into yesterday's game.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_493763.html

X-Terminator
02-18-2007, 09:24 AM
On and off the ice, Armstrong vital roles for Pens
Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Senior Writer


Colby Armstrong no longer has a place on the same line as Sidney Crosby. Yet the rugged winger remains a big reason why Crosby is now running away with the League scoring title.

The 24-year-old Armstrong keeps the in-demand Crosby, the game?s biggest emerging superstar, grounded with a cutting jibe or a friendly smile.

Whatever it takes to get Crosby laughing a little and forgetting about the enormous responsibility he is asked to shoulder as the 19-year-old cornerstone of the franchise, says Armstrong.

Armstrong uses his quick smile and easy-going demeanor to keep things loose in the Pens? dressing room. As often as not, Crosby will be the target of Armstrong?s lighthearted attacks.

?That's just the way I am, my normal personality,? says Armstrong. ?You know, you get together and poke fun at each other. (Crosby)?s got a lot on his plate. Especially last year, you come in here and you see a media circle around him like I've never seen before and he's only 18-years-old. So if you can loosen him up or make light of a situation that is pretty serious and it doesn't have to be ... you know, it makes it a little easier, especially when you are so young.?

Perhaps that is why the two youngsters clicked so well last season when Armstrong was thrust onto the top line soon after Michel Therrien took over for the fired Eddie Olczyk. During the second half of the Pens? 2005-06 season, Armstrong averaged nearly a point per game -- finishing with 16 goals and 40 points in 47 games -- to announce his legitimate candidacy as a permanent linemate for ?Sid the Kid.?

Crosby certainly didn?t mind having Armstrong on his flank, which was how the two players started this season before Armstrong?s scoring woes and the emergence of other players broke up that tandem.

"It seems like I have always had somebody like (Armstrong) on my line," Crosby said earlier this season. "He plays the way I like to play. I like to work for the puck, so it means we are always 2-on-1-ing the puck. I think it?s important for us to force the issue. That's the way you cause turnovers and create chances. With him out there, a lot of things tend to happen."

Now, Armstrong is playing mostly third-line duty ? perhaps a more reasonable assignment given his skill set ? and can only help Crosby through his off-ice contributions.

?I don't know what it is like to be in his shoes, but I know if you are having a good time doing whatever you are doing, it's going to be easier,? says Armstrong. ?I don't know; I just try to loosen him up a little bit. He's a real serious guy around the rink and it pays off. He does a great job on the ice. But, he's different off the ice. He's easy to joke around with.?

An example involves Armstrong talking about the Memorial Cup he won in 2002 as a member of the Red Deer Rebels. Crosby lost a chance at the Memorial Cup when his Rimouski team was defeated by London in the 2005 championship game.

At the time, early in the season, Armstrong was talking about how the older players on the team are great with the team?s young core, humoring them when it comes to their ?crappy? junior stories.

Naturally, Armstrong was asked if winning the Memorial Cup ? junior hockey?s version of the Stanley Cup ? was one of those ?crappy? junior stories.

?No, that's a great junior story,? Armstrong said, adding a quick chuckle. ?I bring it up whenever I have to.?

Most often, it seems, it is brought up to get Crosby?s goat.

When asked about the story, Crosby just smiled and said go ask Armstrong about the World Junior Championships. Crosby starred for Team Canada while Armstrong was one of the final cuts for that same team during his eligibility.

Again, Armstrong just smiles at the counter from Crosby. That disappointment still stings, but is in the past. Today, Armstrong is in the NHL. No, he is no longer riding shotgun for the game?s most explosive offensive player, but third-line duty on one of the NHL?s hottest teams is still pretty good duty for any young player.

Armstrong knows that he has made it as far as a boy from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan can. After all, Armstrong is playing hockey ? a game he has loved since his earliest days ? at the highest level possible. Plus, he is part of the nucleus of a young team that most hockey experts believe is on its way to becoming a force ? sooner rather than later ? in the NHL.

Despite having to demote Armstrong from top-line duty because of the player?s lack of production ? Armstrong has just six goals this season ? Therrien still has the utmost faith in the grinding right wing.

?We want him to contribute offensively, like everyone,? Therrien told Pittsburgh reporters earlier this week. "But in the meantime, he's having a huge role on our team. Killing penalties, being a good checker, making sure he plays the system well, being a tough guy to play against. That's his bread and butter. As long as he does that, he's going to be fine.?

And, those are the things on which Armstrong has been concentrating.

He is Therrien?s first choice to kill penalties, averaging close to four minutes of kill time per game for a Penguin team that is still finding its way playing against man-advantage situations. Overall, he is seeing 17 minutes of ice time per game and is a plus-3 for the season. Armstrong also brings the sandpaper and jam his coaches ask for. His 48 hits rank a reasonable seventh on the team. His 51 penalty minutes also rank seventh and include a memorable opening-night fight against Nolan Baumgartner of Philadelphia that had the Mellon Arena crowd in a frenzy.

?I just play hard,? Armstrong says. ?I just work hard and I am an up-and-down guy, get a couple of big hits and do my part.?

That, right there, describes third-line duty to a tee. And, it is, for that reason, that Therrien is happy with Armstrong?s new role as a lower-line grinder.

?We always figured that Colby Armstrong would become a good checker in this League, a good third-line guy," Therrien told reporters. "That was the plan, and that's what he's doing right now.?

That, and helping Crosby navigate the often demanding off-ice existence as a bonafide NHL superstar.

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=289071

83-Steelers-43
02-18-2007, 09:25 AM
Penguin tribute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFc0tLFkGQQ

Very nice beginning. Wish they put in the Petro fight. :banana: :thumbsup:

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:17 AM
Red-hot Penguins extend streak to 14-0-2

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 18, 2007

Three weeks is a long time to go without playing a game in the NHL, especially for a goaltender.

There's the risk that the all-important sense of timing will erode with the lack of action, that game shape will be gone or that the mental sharpness required to win just won't be there when needed.

But Penguins backup Jocelyn Thibault exhibited none of those problems Sunday in his first game since Jan. 27, making 29 saves in a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals to keep the Penguins' streak alive at 14-0-2.

"I don't play a lot so I'm always happy when I get a chance," said Thibault, who's now 3-5-2 on the season. "It was nice to get a win here at home. It does a lot for my confidence. It's good to participate in the winning streak. It's nice to do your share."

Mark Recchi, Evgeni Malkin and Maxime Talbot scored to bring the Penguins' record to 32-17-9 and pull back within five points of the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils, who won the night before.

The afternoon game was decidedly down-tempo and reminiscent of the last time the two teams met at Mellon Arena earlier this month. But just as life seemed to be escaping sold-out Mellon Arena by the minute, Malkin brought it thundering back when he scored late in the second period to make it 2-1.

The Penguins had been battling against the Capitals' trap all game long, resulting in little more than a series of broken plays and passes. Their lone goal to that point was a power-play tally on a redirection by Recchi five minutes into the game, a goal that was answered a minute later by the Capitals' Jeff Schultz after his shot redirected off Richard Zednik to tie it, 1-1.

Then in the final two minutes of the second period, Michel Ouellet won a battle along the boards, got the puck to Malkin and he sent it back to Sergei Gonchar on the point. Malkin skated back down low, to the bottom of the circle to goaltender Brent Johnson's left.

Gonchar fed the puck back, and as Johnson dropped, Malkin's one-timer from a seemingly impossible angle rocketed up and under the crossbar. It was his team-leading 29th goal of the season.

Then just 1:10 into the third, Talbot scored his ninth of the year with a one-timer from the slot to give the Penguins breathing room.

Thibault admitted he got lucky in the third when 30-goal scorer Alexander Semin hit the crossbar on a penalty shot with six minutes left in the game to keep the score 3-1.

"I was nowhere near that puck," Thibault said. "He was coming on my glove side and usually I'm pretty good at poke-checking players when they try to come across. I totally missed him. I don't know if I surprised him by trying to poke him, but I was so happy it didn't go in."

Semin did go on to score with 44 seconds left in the game to make it 3-2, but Thibault held off the pressure after that for the win.

It was the Penguins' sixth win in a row, equaling a season-high set Jan. 20-Feb. 3. Only one overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 4 separates the two stretches. It also was their fifth one-goal game in a row.

"(The Capitals) came here and there was not a lot of space on the ice," coach Michel Therrien said. "It was a game with a lot of checking, and we fought through adversity. I really liked the way that we were able to compose ourselves."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493807.html

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:22 AM
Cook: Malkin outplays Ovechkin again
Malkin continues to get the best of Ovechkin in rivalry

Monday, February 19, 2007
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Where was George Birman when we really needed him?

A Penguins employee, he serves as the team's Russian translator.

Where was he when the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin hooked up with the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin in the bowels of Mellon Arena early last night after the Penguins' 3-2 win?

Wouldn't you have loved to been a part of that little chat between the two good friends and former Russian national teammates?

Here's a guess how their conversation might have went:

"Hang in there, Ovie. Keep playing hard. One of these days, you'll get the best of Sid and me."

Actually, we won't attempt to speculate Ovechkin's response.

It can't possibly be suited for One of America's Great Newspapers.

"Yeah, of course, I'm enjoying playing against him, especially when we win," Malkin had said through Birman a bit earlier in the Penguins' locker room. "He's getting pretty mad."

No translation was needed to decipher Malkin's and Birman's laughter.

Yes, these are fabulous times for the Penguins, who ran their unbeaten-in-regulation streak to 14-0-2 with another workmanlike performance. These are fabulous times for Malkin, who, strange as it seems now, was something of a consolation prize for the Penguins in the 2004 NHL entry draft. Despite finishing with the league's worst record the season before, the Penguins lost the draft lottery to the Capitals, who took Ovechkin No. 1. The Penguins settled for Malkin at No. 2.

Talk about a lovely parting gift.

Talk about the start of a beautiful rivalry between friends.

For the next 10 or 15 years, the Penguins-Capitals series figures to be noted for the duel between Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin. Because of the NHL lockout in 2004-05, the two came into the league together last season. Ovechkin edged Crosby for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

That's about the only time Ovechkin has beaten Crosby, by the way. His Capitals are 1-6 against Crosby's Penguins.

Ovechkin has had even less success against Malkin, who almost certainly will succeed him as the Calder Trophy winner. The Penguins are 3-0 against the Capitals this season with Malkin playing a huge role in two of the wins. Ovechkin, meanwhile, didn't score a goal.

"I'm sure [Malkin] gets extra motivation when he plays a good friend," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

That first showed when the clubs played a mid-December game in Washington. Malkin tied the score with a goal late in regulation, then won it in a shootout. It showed again yesterday when Malkin gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead late in the second period with a sick goal, beating goaltender Brent Johnson to the short side with a rocket shot from a ridiculous angle to Johnson's left.

"An amazing shot," Crosby said.

"An incredible goal," teammate Mark Recchi said.

"A perfect shot," Therrien said.

Yeah, that sick.

"Only a few guys can score that goal. Most don't even try that shot," Recchi said, shaking his head.

Thing is, Recchi has seen that goal before. In the same old building, no less. That goes back to his first stint with the Penguins in the late '80s and early '90s. Though he admits to feeling sacrilegious at times, he has not been afraid to compare Malkin to you know who.

Mario.

"I've said that from day one," Recchi said. "His size, his hands ..."

Malkin has a ways to go to match Lemieux's popularity here, but he's off to a nice start. Look at the adversity he has shrugged off. His odyssey from Magnitogorsk last summer. The language and cultural differences. A shoulder injury in his first exhibition game that wiped out most of his preseason and cost him the first four games of the regular season.

Despite it all, Malkin is the NHL's leading rookie scorer with 29 goals, 37 assists and 66 points. He has scored at least a point in his past 14 home games. And he has been his best in the clutch with 12 goals and 14 assists in the third period and overtime.

There is one more thing.

Malkin has pulled within six points of Ovechkin in their personal battle.

Do you think Malkin might have mentioned something about that to Ovechkin last night?

Really, has anyone seen George Birman?

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07050/763294-87.stm

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:33 AM
Penguins Notebook: No holiday break for Penguins

Monday, February 19, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The NHL mandates that teams can't play on three consecutive days. The Penguins are coming about as close as possible to violating that rule.

When they land in Pittsburgh sometime early this evening, they will have played three games in three cities in less than 72 hours. With a practice squeezed in during that time.

"It's quick. Everything happens fast," center Sidney Crosby said yesterday after a 3-2 win against Washington at Mellon Arena as the Penguins were scurrying to pack and fly to New York for a Presidents' Day matinee against the Islanders.

"You don't have time to dwell on the games that you just played. You just look to the next one, try to be sharp mentally when you get to the rink."

The weekend started with a 5-4 win at New Jersey Friday night and flight home. Then came a later-than-usual afternoon practice Saturday, followed by the midafternoon game yesterday and the early afternoon game today.

"I think it's just about trying to be ready to play," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "Obviously, your legs aren't going to be fully there, but you've got to be mentally prepared."

No matter the mix of mental or physical demands, the Penguins have handled the tightly packed schedule well. Their two wins so far this weekend make it six in a row, part of 14-0-2 string.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien expanded the stretch to include Wednesday's 5-4 shootout win against Chicago to make it four games in six days.

"The schedule is pretty demanding," he said. "We're going to try to get the most energy that we can have. We talk about conditioning, and I think it's right [where it needs to be]. This is where it's important to play six defensemen and have Thibault play [yesterday] and rotate four lines. This time of year, it starts to pay off."

[B]Recchi still going strong

Mark Recchi tipped in a Sergei Gonchar shot for the first goal of the game and his 20th goal.

Recchi, 39, has reached 20 goals 15 times in the NHL, and he doesn't appear to be slowing. He skated 24 shifts totaling 17 minutes, 24 seconds, was even in plus-minus rating, dished out two hits, had a takeaway and didn't make a turnover.

"Obviously, knock on wood, I've been able to stay healthy," Recchi said. "It's kind of nice. I'm proud of my consistency. I've played with a lot of great players who have helped me.

"It's been fun. I hope I have another year or two under my belt."

Penalty shot stopped

Washington's Alexander Semin rang a shot off the crossbar behind Thibault at 14:04 of the third period, the first penalty shot awarded to a Penguins opponent this season.

The Penguins have stopped three penalty shots in a row, dating to a goal by Toronto's Chad Kilger March 31, 2006.

The Penguins once went eight years, four months between penalty-shot goals by opponents, from October 1983 until February 1990, a total of 12 stops.

Slap shots

Crosby missed the first 2:53 of the third period. He said he had a problem with a skate. ... Penguins center Dominic Moore was 7 of 8 on faceoffs. ... The Penguins scratched center Chris Thorburn and defenseman Alain Nasreddine. The Capitals scratched center Kris Beech and defensemen Ben Clymer and Steve Eminger. ... The Islanders will be without captain Alexei Yashin, who is expected to miss his 10th consecutive game with a knee injury. ... Ray Shero left the Capitals game early to travel to Naples, Fla., for league general manager meetings. ... The Penguins raised more than $332,000 for the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at their Penguins at Your Service dinner last Monday.

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:36 AM
Thibault brilliant in 3-2 win

Monday, February 19, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jocelyn Thibault didn't steal the Penguins' No. 1 goaltending job from Marc-Andre Fleury yesterday.

He didn't earn his own segment in the team's highlights tape, and didn't make the folks who selected the Eastern Conference All-Stars second-guess the decision to leave him out of the game.

But he did stop 29 of the 31 shots he faced during the Penguins' 3-2 victory against Washington at Mellon Arena. And, in the process, reinforce bosses' and teammates' faith that he can be a significant contributor during the stretch drive.

Whether they all share center Maxime Talbot's feeling that "he's definitely the best backup in the league" isn't clear, but they clearly expect quality work from Thibault anytime he's called upon.

"We have full confidence in him," defenseman Mark Eaton said. "He showed us again today that he's a top-notch goalie."

The start was Thibault's first since a 7-2 victory in Phoenix Jan. 27, but he isn't likely to go three weeks without working again this season. Not with 17 games shoehorned onto the schedule in March.

"We're going to have to use both goalies, because there's a lot of hockey to be played in a short period of time," coach Michel Therrien said. "It was great to see Jocelyn performing the way he's capable."

Thibault helped to extend the Penguins' surge to 14-0-2, raise their record to 32-17-9 and move them back into sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Ottawa.

They have the third-highest total in the East, but are ranked fourth because Tampa Bay, which has four fewer points, leads the Southeast Division. Division winners get the top three seeds in each conference.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby recorded a narrow victory in his head-to-head competition with Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin, who beat him out for the Calder Trophy last season.

Crosby picked up one assist, raising his league-leading points total to 91. He has one goal and two assists in three games against Washington this season, and four goals and eight assists in seven all-time meetings; Ovechkin has two assists against the Penguins this season, three goals and five assists all time.

Ovechkin tied Alexander Semin for the team lead with five shots on goal yesterday, but was held fairly well in check. Therrien credited that mostly to the defense pairing of Eaton and Sergei Gonchar.

"They were really solid," he said. "They didn't give [Ovechkin] much."

The Penguins did a lot of solid things, like neutralizing Ovechkin. The only spectacular moment of the game, however, carried the signature of Penguins rookie Evgeni Malkin.

With the score 1-1 late in the second period, Gonchar threw the puck to Malkin, who was along the right-wing boards, near the bottom of the circle.

The logical play was for Malkin to take the pass, then look for a teammate in a more favorable scoring position and try to set him up.

Malkin apparently didn't see the need to involve a middle man, however, because he rifled the puck past Capitals goalie Brent Johnson from a ridiculously sharp angle without ever bothering to stop it.

Therrien described it as "a perfect shot," which might have been understating its brilliance. And while Malkin isn't the only one in the world who could pull that off, the contingent of guys who can could commute to work together in a minivan.

"Probably nobody in the building was thinking that he would shoot from that angle," Gonchar said. "But he's a special player who sees the ice differently.

"I'm sure he saw an opportunity, and decided to take advantage of it. That's why he's a great player."

And why Thibault, who watched the play unfold from about 175 feet away, could empathize with Johnson.

"I thought [Johnson] got across [the crease] pretty good," he said. "But it was just one of those shots where it's almost impossible to stop."

Penguins right winger Mark Recchi (5:59) and Richard Zednik of the Capitals (7:04) had traded goals in the first period, and the outcome was in doubt until Malkin scored at 18:44 of the second.

His goal invigorated the Penguins -- "We attacked the third period with confidence," Therrien said -- and Talbot put them ahead by two at 1:10 of the final period.

Semin, who hit the crossbar on a third-period penalty shot -- "It was luck," Thibault said. "I was beaten" -- made the score 3-2 on a blind backhander with 43.6 seconds to play, but that infusion of suspense didn't last.

"That was one of the better thirds we've had in a while," Recchi said. "We did a lot of good things. They scored at the end, but we really had a good, solid third period."

And their goalie had three of them.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07050/763299-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:38 AM
Penguins rookie Malkin continues to impress

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, February 19, 2007

The second period was winding down, the Penguins and Capitals were deadlocked at 1-1 and not much was happening Sunday afternoon at Mellon Arena.

That's when Evgeni Malkin took it upon himself to try to make something happen.

Frustrated to an extent that the Penguins hadn't been getting more pucks on Capitals goalie Brent Johnson, Malkin decided to launch one from an almost impossible angle with a minute-and-change remaining before the second intermission.

"You don't teach those things," Penguins head coach Michel Therrien said. "It's an instinct."

Malkin's instinct resulted in a spectacular goal that put the Penguins ahead to stay in what became a 3-2 triumph.

"It was a little bit of a lucky goal," Malkin said through his interpreter, George Birman. "We didn't shoot enough. This time was a little bit lucky."

The play began with winger Michel Ouellet beating defenseman John Erskine to a loose puck in the Capitals' end. Ouellet was able to dig it off the boards and push it ahead to Malkin, who kept up a head of steam as he looped behind the Washington net.

Malkin re-emerged in the far corner and wristed the puck to defenseman Sergei Gonchar at the left point. Gonchar took one stride and then gave it back to Malkin.

Malkin did the rest, unleashing a one-timer from the bottom of the left face-off circle, almost between the face-off circle and the goal line. The puck came off his stick like a rocket and beat Johnson high to the short side at 18:44 of the second.

"I think (Malkin) set himself up," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "He knew what he was doing when 'Gonch' got the puck. A lot of good goal-scorers will do that, set their body up. He was set up perfectly there."

The goal was Malkin's team-leading 29th of the season and might have been his most impressive.

"Probably one of the best," Malkin said.

His next goal will tie Mark Recchi (30 in 1989-90) for sixth place on the Penguins' all-time single-season rookie goal-scoring list.

Malkin would have been given credit for his sixth game-winning goal of the season had the Caps not sliced into a 3-1 deficit with 44 seconds remaining. Malkin leads the Pens with five of those in 2006-07 (Crosby led the team with five last season).

Malkin settled for extending his franchise-record rookie scoring streak at Mellon Arena to 14 games, and for impressing Capitals winger and fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin.

"It was a great goal, a great slap shot," Ovechkin said. "It was very fast and upstairs, just a great goal.

"He's a good player. Of course, you have to have some luck."

Malkin was skating with his regular linemates, Ouellet and Jordan Staal, at the time.

Malkin had previously been paired with Cosby during a four-on-four stretch in the first period and periodically throughout the second.

"When coach sent me and Crosby out on the same line, that meant we had to shift the game," Malkin said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493817.html

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:42 AM
Pens right back in action vs. Islanders

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, February 19, 2007

The Penguins face the New York Islanders in a 1 p.m. game today at Nassau Coliseum. It will be their third game in four days and their fourth in six.

"I think we're ready for it," center Maxime Talbot said. "We're hot right now and it's nice to get a couple games in a row so we can keep that momentum. It's nice that the games keep on coming."

• Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be back in net today against the New York Islanders at Nassau Colisuem. It will be his 49th game of the season, and with two more wins he will tie Tom Barrasso for the second-most wins in a single season by a Penguins goaltender. The two are now tied at third with 29. The record is 43, set by Barrasso in 1992-93.

• Yesterday was the second game in a row against the Capitals in which the Penguins kept Alexander Ovechkin completely off the scoresheet.

"(Defensemen Mark) Eaton and (Sergei) Gonchar played really solid," coach Michel Therrien said. "They didn't give Ovechkin much. Those two are demanded to play against tough players game in and game out, and they're certainly doing a great job."

• The Penguins raised more than $332,000 for the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at its annual "Penguins At Your Service" dinner Feb. 12. Since the dinner's inception in 1986, the event has raised more than $4.3 million for research toward finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.

• Yesterday was another sellout for the Penguins at 17,132, their 19th of the season. Twelve of the past 14 games at Mellon Arena have been sold out.

Digits

15 - 20-goal seasons for Mark Recchi after registering his 20th yesterday against the Capitals.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493818.html

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 12:43 AM
Scouting the Islanders

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, February 19, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (32-17-9) at NY Islanders (28-23-6)

When, where: 1 p.m. - Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, N.Y.)

TV/radio: FSNP/105.9 FM

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (29-12-7, 2.85 GAA); Rick DiPietro (24-18-5, 2.60 GAA)

Notable: Captain Alexei Yashin remains out of the lineup indefinitely with a sprained right knee. ... The Islanders have points in 10 of their last 12 games but are coming off a 2-0 shutout loss to the New Jersey Devils at home Saturday, one day after the Penguins beat the Devils, 5-4. ... The Islanders' power play is fourth-worst in the league at 15.4 percent. They have scored only one power-play goal in the last seven games (1 for 21). ... The Penguins lead the season series 4-2, outscoring the Islanders, 23-19.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493820.html

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 10:08 AM
For what it's worth, on the news yesterday they stated that the Penguins are in talks with Columbus. Supposedly we are trying to grab Anson Carter. :hunch:

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 10:14 AM
For what it's worth, on the news yesterday they stated that the Penguins are in talks with Columbus. Supposedly we are trying to grab Anson Carter. :hunch:

Maybe send a draft pick.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 02:20 PM
Could some PLEASE GIVE AN EFFORT. They just blew a 3-1 lead and are now down 4-3.

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 02:37 PM
This is going to be a tough one. Back to back games against a rested Islander team who normally gives us fits to begin with while on a 14-0-2 streak.

But, it's only 4-3 in the 2nd. On that note, 5 on 3 for 1:14 for the Pens with 2:15 left in the 2nd

Borski
02-19-2007, 02:38 PM
FINALY we tied it up, though we never should have lost that lead in the first place

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 02:38 PM
SCORE!!!!

Tie game. Mark Recchi again. WOW.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 02:52 PM
Ahhh THEY HEARD ME!!!!!! I should travel to Florida with them. LOL.

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:00 PM
Ryan Malone with the HT, another one against the Islanders!!!! 5-4 Pens

Borski
02-19-2007, 03:00 PM
Sweet 5-4 Pens!

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:00 PM
MALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOONE!!!!!!!!

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:01 PM
Malone is to the Islanders as Morozov was to the Devils.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:02 PM
DAMN IT!

Borski
02-19-2007, 03:02 PM
WTF 5-5

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:02 PM
I think we are going to be seeing a good bit of Thibault in the next month. Tie game. Damnit. I know your tired but keep battling boys!! Faith.

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:05 PM
Penguin PP coming on up!!!

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:08 PM
I think we are going to be seeing a good bit of Thibault in the next month. Tie game. Damnit. I know your tired but keep battling boys!! Faith.

Don't stop believin in the Burgh! :jammin: We are a City of Believers.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:12 PM
LET'S KILL THIS PENALTY!

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:12 PM
Unless I missed something, but I did not see that phantom call on Petrovicky but whatever. I guess they have to appease the NY fans. Paul and Bob were too busy wasting air on Don Cherry instead of explaining and replaying the supposed penalty. A little Mike Lange syndrom.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:22 PM
We kill the penalty. Now, LET'S PUT UP ANOTHER GOAL PENS!

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:29 PM
1:12. We got to score.

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:31 PM
Islanders win this game 6-5. Score with 26.8 seconds. Fleury blew this one. Damn, I would have been content with taking one point. That sucks.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:31 PM
WTF?

83-Steelers-43
02-19-2007, 03:33 PM
Tough loss but it was bound to come sooner or later. It happened to come against a well rested Islander team against a tired Penguin team.

Time to gather ourselves and bounce back against the Panthers.

SteelCityMan786
02-19-2007, 03:35 PM
Tough loss but it was bound to come sooner or later. It happened to come against a well rested Islander team against a tired Penguin team.

Time to gather ourselves and bounce back against the Panthers.

Here's to being 15-1-2 when we finish the Florida game.

X-Terminator
02-19-2007, 03:55 PM
Well folks, it was bound to end sometime. 3 games in 68 hours will take it's toll on any team. Let's just hope they bounce back and try not to go 0-for-Florida again.

Borski
02-20-2007, 12:43 AM
Well some good news
ESPN moved the Penguins up to #2 in the Power rankings.
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/powerranking

I know some people dont like power ranking and how its only one guys opinion, but I like to look at them and see the different opinions of sports reporters.

X-Terminator
02-20-2007, 01:28 AM
Isles snap Pens' point streak

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - No one who watched the Penguins' 16-game streak without a regulation loss end Monday would say goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury played his best game.

Still, coach Michel Therrien spared no criticism, essentially laying blame for the Penguins' 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders on his starting goaltender.

"I thought we played a solid game," Therrien said. "We scored five goals on the road. You have to win those games. ... Fleury was not good."

Citing Fleury's previous three starts -- he allowed four goals twice and five goals once -- Therrien said the thought of pulling his goaltender in favor of back-up Jocelyn Thibault crossed his mind.

"This is the fourth game in a row he's given up way too many goals," Therrien said. "Lately, we're giving four and five goals. He's got to be better than that."

The Islanders' sixth goal, and game-winner, came with 26.8 seconds to play when Mike Sillinger sent a wrist shot between Fleury's glove and leg pad after the goalie had caught a piece of it.

That ended the Penguins' streak at 14-0-2 and was their first loss in regulation since Jan. 10 against the Florida Panthers.

"Everybody wanted to keep (the streak) going," a visibly upset Fleury said after the game.

Fleury's six goals allowed came on 30 shots.

Ryan Malone scored his second hat trick of the season, getting goals in the first minute of each period, and Mark Recchi scored the other two Penguins goals on the power play and added three assists. It was his first five-point game this season.

Sidney Crosby had four assists.

The game, the Penguins' second in less than 24 hours and third in four days, was tied for most of the third period.

The Penguins held a 3-1 lead after Malone's second goal just 49 seconds into the second period, one that had to withstand a video review before it was counted.

But less than two minutes later, the Islanders tied it with two goals scored 15 seconds apart.

The first was from Chris Simon, who scored on a 2-on-1 with former Penguins center Randy Robitaille at 2:03. Jason Blake made it 3-3 after intercepting a pass by Sergei Gonchar in the Penguins' end.

With the teams skating 4-on-4 after penalties to Ronald Petrovicky and DiPietro, the Islanders took their first lead. After Crosby lost a faceoff in the Islanders' end, the play came back down to the Penguins' end, and Miroslav Satan drove the net to score to make it 4-3. It was the Islanders' third goal in 6:02.

"We got to 3-1, and we made a couple of real big errors that changed the momentum of the game," Recchi said. "That got them back in. But I love the character in this dressing room. We battled hard and to play the amount of hockey we did in the last three days, come into another team's building and play as well as we did ... There were some mistakes that hurt us, but we battled hard."

Recchi scored again to tie it, 4-4, with two minutes left in the second period. Malone completed his hat trick 48 seconds into the third period to give the Penguins the lead for the third time.

Just over a minute later, Simon scored his second goal on a wrist shot that beat Fleury glove side and tied it again.

Malone refused to blame his goaltender, who was 12-0-2 during the stretch, for the loss.

"I'm not sure what happened on the last (goal)," Malone said. "I'm sure he'd like to have it back. But we win and lose as a team. There've been numerous times this year where he got us the two points. He's been playing great. Everyone deserves the loss."

Therrien saw it differently.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493903.html

X-Terminator
02-20-2007, 01:35 AM
Hill District divided by legacy of Mellon Arena

By Salena Zito
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

As the Penguins and public officials haggle over how to pay for a new Uptown arena, a second argument has begun -- between people impassioned over whether to preserve or demolish Mellon Arena.

They are represented on one side by state Sen. Jim Ferlo, the Highland Park Democrat who says he views Mellon Arena the way he did Oakland's Syria Mosque in 1991, when he led a feisty but fruitless fight to prevent the concert hall's destruction by standing in the way of the demolition crew.

"I'd like to see the adaptive reuse of the Mellon Arena," said Ferlo, a board member of the city Urban Redevelopment Authority.

An opponent is Democratic state Rep. Jake Wheatley, who disagrees with preservationists' view of the arena's historic value. The facility built 49 years ago to house the Civic Light Opera, he says, was a project that left a scar on the Hill District community he represents and calls home.

The URA in 1951 revealed its plan to redevelop 95 acres in the Lower Hill District, and in 1956 began demolition that dislocated about 1,500 families and more than 400 businesses. About 80 percent of the families living in the once-vibrant neighborhood were black, according to records at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.

"For many Hill District residents, the Mellon Arena has been the symbol of the beginning of the end of our community and communal process," Wheatley said.

"The presence of the Mellon Arena is on the same par as having the Confederate Flag put in the middle of a community of African Americans, because it symbolizes destruction and hate, even though some saw value in it."

The city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority owns the arena and most of the surrounding 28 acres. The authority hasn't said what its plans are for the building.

"Part of that decision rests on what happens with the situation with the Penguins and their agreement for a new arena," said Greg Yesko, spokesman for the sports authority.

Ferlo, who hasn't taken action to try to preserve the arena, said he would like to see the basic structure stay as it is. He thinks City Council should hold a hearing about whether to preserve the building, so that people in the community could speak out. The arena, he said, could have a number of potential uses.

"Why not go through a community bidding process, with all of the different stakeholders, including the Hill District community, before we just summarily demolish it?" Ferlo said.

Kimberly Ellis, a scholar and activist who has lived in the Hill for nearly 30 years, organized a petition drive against an Uptown arena when the Penguins and their partner, Isle of Capri Casinos, applied for Pittsburgh's slots license. The license instead went to Majestic Star Casino for a North Shore development.

Ellis questions Ferlo's proposal to save Mellon Arena because, she said, "he was a major advocate of the Isle of Capri casino."

"Where was he on preserving the Hill District then?" Ellis said. "The Hill District residents' legacy is nothing but living negative history and broken promises.

"If the Penguins have their new arena and the Mellon Arena stays as is, then you have two extremely large structures located in that neighborhood. That is problematic for the community."

Another question, said Marimba Milliones, chairwoman of the Hill Community Development Corporation, is whether re-use of Mellon Arena would impede redevelopment.

Steve Paul, executive director of Preservation Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that advocates finding new life for culturally significant buildings and green spaces, thinks the building could fit into any redevelopment plan.

"I could envision a combination of a hotel, retail shops, and perhaps an exhibition space," Paul said.

When the Penguins sought the slots license that would have fully paid for a new arena, their development group Pittsburgh First conducted an economic impact study showing redevelopment of the Mellon Arena site could generate more than $11 million a year in taxes for the city, state, Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Who gets the rights to redevelop the site is an issue delaying a deal on the new arena, Gov. Ed Rendell has said. The Penguins and public officials also are negotiating what the arena would cost and how to divide up parking revenues.

In 2003, the city Historic Review Commission declined to assign the arena a historic designation. The decision was influenced by former Mayor Tom Murphy's administration, which opposed giving the building historic status in case officials later proposed replacing it, said John DeSantis, who chaired the commission.

DeSantis voted to give the arena a historic designation.

"There are very few times when a Historic Review Commission has on its agenda a building that is the only one of its kind in the world," he said. "It is truly a significant work of architecture and engineering."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493962.html

X-Terminator
02-20-2007, 01:39 AM
Malone continues to feast on Isles

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Penguins winger Ryan Malone went into Monday's game against the New York Islanders with nine goals, three of which were produced in a game against the Islanders on Dec. 15. He now has 12 after registering his second hat trick against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Malone's first goal came 45 seconds into the first period, his second was 49 seconds into the second period and his third was 48 seconds into the third period.

"Every game you just want to go out and have a good start," Malone said. "I put the puck on net and good things happened."

Eleven of Malone's 56 career goals have come against the Islanders.

? Left winger Nils Ekman has been practicing with the Penguins wearing the red no-contact jersey, but he says there's still no target date for his return to the lineup.

"As soon as possible, that's the only target I have right now," he said.

Ekman suffered a dislocated elbow Dec. 29. Ekman, 30, has six goals and nine assists in 32 games for the Penguins, who only have 22 players on the active roster and therefore won't have to make a move when Ekman is ready to return.

? The Penguins will have the day off today following a stretch of three games in four days and four in six. They will resume practice Wednesday. From there, they travel to Florida to take on the Panthers at the site of their last regulation loss before yesterday, dating to Jan. 10.

Digits

9 - Multi-point games for Sidney Crosby in the past 17 games.

2 - Zero-point games for Sidney Crosby in the past 17 games.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493948.html

X-Terminator
02-20-2007, 01:40 AM
Deal or no deal for Penguins?

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Penguins' mission statement has been not to do anything that might threaten their long-term future in the interest of enhancing their playoff chances this season, and that's a commitment that must be honored.

But general manager Ray Shero might be able to do so and still find a way to change on the fly.

The NHL trade deadline is next Tuesday, and it no longer appears deals will be needed to allow the Pens to sneak into the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

They took the ice Monday afternoon on Long Island occupying fourth place in the conference with 73 points, five behind Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey and seven ahead of Montreal and Toronto, which were tied for the eighth and final playoff position.

That being the case, the Pens' 6-5 loss was disappointing but hardly disheartening.

Their 14-0-2 streak may be history, but they're still sitting pretty.

The question is how pretty?

Is the current collection good enough to win the Stanley Cup?

The answer is no.

Should Shero concur, he must ask himself if the right deal or two might be enough to transform the Pens from participant to legitimate contender in the postseason, assuming the transactions adhere to the stated guideline of not costing too much down the road.

The answer this time is the Pens owe it to themselves to find out.

For a change, they're buyers rather than sellers, so adding help is at least an option.

Their needs are another defenseman, a first-line winger and a face-off specialist, in that order. And the Pens, presumably, wouldn't have to pay a Peter Forsberg-type ransom to address at least two of them.

They should be able to obtain an experienced defenseman (Jassen Cullimore of Chicago or Aaron Miller of Los Angeles) for much less.

Phoenix center Yanic Perreault figures to be more pricey, but still affordable, as are Canadiens defensemen Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov and Craig Rivet.

It would likely require a significant investment to pry wingers Bill Guerin or Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis' grasp.

The Pens have draft choices and winger Ryan Malone to offer in exchange and still not compromise their mission statement.

Picks they can part with because of the array of young talent that's already been assembled.

Dealing Malone, particularly for a rent-a-player, would be more of a risk because of the lurking potential that once again was on display in yesterday's loss to the Islanders. Malone's second hat trick of the season pushed his goals total to 12 in 41 games.

It's reasonable to suggest Malone is destined to blossom into a star somewhere eventually. But the Pens seemingly have about run out of patience for it to happen here this season.

No question a deal or two would alter the Pens' chemistry.

But a deal or two might also make them better.

Such an aggressive stroke on Shero's part would also send a message to the players that the Pens are committed to more than just threatening to make the playoffs, as they initially hoped to do.

If they play their cards right, their mission statement can be respected and expectations can still be raised.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_493947.html

X-Terminator
02-20-2007, 01:44 AM
Penguins Notebook: Malone pulls off a quick 'trick' against Islanders

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Score three consecutive goals in a game, and a player is credited with a natural hat trick.

Score them the way Ryan Malone did yesterday in the Penguins' 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, and he simply is credited with a strange one.

Malone got a goal in the first minute of each period -- 45 seconds into the first, 49 into the second and 48 into the third -- as the Penguins consistently got the kind of start that is the stuff of dreams for most teams.

"We wanted to set the tone for every period by keeping it in their end and trying to get some momentum," Malone said.

Part of Malone's success seemingly had to do with a positioning adjustment, as he made a conscious effort to put a little distance between himself and the goal crease so that he had extra room to maneuver.

"I backed up a little," he said, "and ended up getting some bounces."

Malone scored his first goal from the inner edge of the left circle, his second on a wraparound at the right post and his third when he chopped his own rebound past Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro from the slot.

Meet and greet

Penguins general manager Ray Shero is with his colleagues from around the league in Naples, Fla., for meetings that will run through tomorrow.

The meetings, with the trade deadline a week from today, are pretty much a lock to include a lot of conversations about potential personnel moves.

"There have been plenty of conversations up to this point," Shero said. "You try to get a feel for what's out there, and what your needs may be. I'm sure it will be a continuation of where teams are now."

The GMs are scheduled to talk about the merits of a variety of other matters, from elimination of the instigator penalty to no-touch icing, and from awarding three points for a regulation victory to cracking down on interference with goaltenders.

Shero appears to have strong opinions on at least some of the topics that will come up, but declined to divulge them. He added that because he doesn't have a feel for how many GMs feel about them, "I really don't know what to expect on those issues."

Sticky fingers

DiPietro took the concept of holding the stick to a new level about six minutes into the game, when he emerged from a scrum around his net holding not only his stick, but that of Penguins center Dominic Moore.

DiPietro held onto Moore's stick for several seconds before tossing it toward the left-wing corner.

Referee Don Koharski watched the entire sequence from a few feet away, but apparently did not deem it significant.

"I don't know if [Koharski] quite knew what was happening," Moore said. "I think he just thought we were jostling."

Slap shots

Yesterday apparently was a good day to wear No. 12. Malone does, and so does Islanders left winger Chris Simon, who had two goals after going 26 games without one and having only five in the previous 59 games. ... The Penguins played three games -- in three distinct venues -- in about 68 hours. "It was a real short turnaround for us," right winger Mark Recchi said. "I think the guys did a good job." ... Defenseman Alain Nasreddine and forward Chris Thorburn were the Penguins' healthy scratches. ... The Islanders played without captain Alexei Yashin, who is recovering from a sprained right knee. ... Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, acquired from Edmonton over the weekend, made his Islanders debut and earned two assists. ... The Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre was shut out for the first time in 61 games Sunday when it dropped a 1-0 decision to the Islanders' minor-league affiliate, Bridgeport. ... The Penguins returned home after the game and, after a day off today, will practice there tomorrow before traveling to Florida for games against the Panthers Thursday and Tampa Bay Sunday.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07051/763455-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-20-2007, 01:47 AM
Penguins' streak comes to an end
Fleury caps shaky performance by allowing a goal with 26.8 seconds remaining

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Marc-Andre Fleury obviously did not stop every shot he faced during the Penguins' 14-0-2 run.

He didn't even stop every one he could have. Or should have.

But Fleury invariably seemed to come up with the key save when his team needed it most. Sometimes in regulation. Sometimes in overtime. Sometimes in a shootout.

Almost always, when it truly mattered.

Not yesterday. Fleury's performance in the Penguins' 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum -- their first defeat in regulation since a 5-2 setback Jan. 10 at Florida -- ran the gamut from awful to abysmal, with a bit of average sprinkled in.

And his afternoon came to a horrific end when, with 26.8 seconds left in regulation, Islanders center Mike Sillinger took a drop pass from Andy Hilbert and beat Fleury with a terribly ordinary shot from the top of the left circle to break a 5-5 tie.

"[Sillinger] shot from beside my defenseman's leg," Fleury said. "I don't know. It went [between] my pads and my glove."

Fleury's teammates, not surprisingly, had no qualms about giving him a mulligan for stopping just 24 of 30 shots. They noted that they were guilty of breakdowns that let New York score twice in 15 seconds early in the second period, and that they had leads in every period and were unable to protect any of them.

"We made some mistakes that really, really hurt us," right winger Mark Recchi said. "Especially when it was 3-1. There were some big momentum-killers there."

Coach Michel Therrien, however, wasn't nearly as charitable.

People near the Penguins' dressing room immediately after the game reported that Therrien gave Fleury a blistering assessment of his play, and he wasn't much easier on him when speaking with reporters.

"Fleury was not good," Therrien said. "This is four games in a row that he's given up way too many goals. ... Lately, we give him like four or five or six goals to help us to win games.

"He's got to be better than that. It can happen once in a while. This is four games in a row that I think Marc was ... fair. That's not good enough."

Therrien said that the idea of replacing Fleury with Jocelyn Thibault during the game "crossed my mind," but he did not make that switch.

While Fleury had a game he can't forget soon enough, his co-workers shrugged it off as an unfortunate, but inevitable, occurrence.

"He had a tough night, but we all have tough nights," center Sidney Crosby said. "When a goalie has a tough night, there are a lot more eyes on it than [when it happens to] a forward or a defenseman.

"He's saved our butts a lot this year. Hopefully, we'll all bounce back."

Fleury, one of the game's truly happy spirits, was visibly upset after the game, removing his equipment in a manner that bordered on violent, and punching the door that separates the visiting team's quarters at the Coliseum.

Whether that was Fleury's response to his own play -- or to Therrien's critique of it -- isn't known. What seems clear, though, is that Therrien's harsh evaluation almost certainly will have some sort of impact, positive or negative, on Fleury.

The loss stripped most of the luster for a spectacular afternoon by the Penguins' No. 1 line, which accounted for all five of their goals.

Left winger Ryan Malone got his second hat trick of the season -- the other came against the Islanders Dec. 15 at Mellon Arena -- by scoring in the first minute of each period, while Recchi scored two goals and assisted on the other three and Crosby had four assists to push his league-leading points total to 95.

Few would have expected the Penguins to lose a game in which their best line was so productive.

"That's how the hockey gods work sometimes," Crosby said. "It's not always fair or right."

There was, however, probably some justice in the Penguins finally losing a game in which they squandered yet another multiple-goal lead. That has become a staple of their game and the hard reality is that if a team lives on the edge long enough, eventually, it's going to fall off.

Especially when its goaltender isn't there to save it. Which is why the Penguins' 14-0-2 streak is now nothing more than a footnote in franchise history.

"Everybody wanted to keep it going," Fleury said. "It was going well for us. ... It would have been a good two points."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07051/763456-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-20-2007, 06:41 AM
"For many Hill District residents, the Mellon Arena has been the symbol of the beginning of the end of our community and communal process," Wheatley said.

"The presence of the Mellon Arena is on the same par as having the Confederate Flag put in the middle of a community of African Americans, because it symbolizes destruction and hate, even though some saw value in it."

This guy is actually serious. :coffee:

Some topics are best left untouched. This is not only one of those topics, but it's not even worth it.

83-Steelers-43
02-20-2007, 06:43 AM
Well some good news
ESPN moved the Penguins up to #2 in the Power rankings.
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/powerranking

I know some people dont like power ranking and how its only one guys opinion, but I like to look at them and see the different opinions of sports reporters.

Very cool. Thanks!

HometownGal
02-20-2007, 07:38 AM
"I thought we played a solid game," Therrien said. "We scored five goals on the road. You have to win those games. ... Fleury was not good."

Citing Fleury's previous three starts -- he allowed four goals twice and five goals once -- Therrien said the thought of pulling his goaltender in favor of back-up Jocelyn Thibault crossed his mind.

"This is the fourth game in a row he's given up way too many goals," Therrien said. "Lately, we're giving four and five goals. He's got to be better than that."


Can't say I disagree with Therrien here. I know the team was tired after playing 3 games in less than 72 hours, but Fleury had a rest in Saturday's game against the Caps. I don't blame Fleury entirely for yesterday's loss against the Isles, but he has to shoulder some of the blame and get his act together soon if the Pens are going to stay in playoff contention. We have some difficult matchups coming up and he's got to be on his game - he's a better goaltender than he's been showing as of late.

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:23 AM
Can't say I disagree with Therrien here. I know the team was tired after playing 3 games in less than 72 hours, but Fleury had a rest in Saturday's game against the Caps. I don't blame Fleury entirely for yesterday's loss against the Isles, but he has to shoulder some of the blame and get his act together soon if the Pens are going to stay in playoff contention. We have some difficult matchups coming up and he's got to be on his game - he's a better goaltender than he's been showing as of late.

No question of that. I see Thibault playing quite a bit down the stretch - he's the fresher of the 2 goaltenders and has played pretty well lately when he's been called upon. Even though the Pens are in a good position right now after that run they had, the playoff race is still very tight, so now is not a good time for your #1 goalie to start struggling. It may be that Fleury's getting tired from playing so many games, but that's still no excuse. When your number's called, you have to answer the bell, plain and simple.

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:30 AM
Here you go HTG - a nice story on your favorite player. :wink02: It's interesting that he's second among defensemen this season in scoring - to think that so many fans wanted to run him out of town, especially last season. He's really having a great year, but it is being overlooked because of all the other talent on the team.

Gonchar presses point in Pittsburgh
John McGourty | NHL.com Staff Writer Feb 20, 2007, 12:00 PM EST

If you think everything is working right for the Pittsburgh Penguins these days, you're right. Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in scoring, Evgeni Malkin leads all NHL rookies in scoring, Marc-Andre Fleury is the real deal in net and Jocelyn Thibault has proved to be the among the best NHL backup goaltenders.

A host of young forwards, plus Mark Recchi, support the stars and the defense has matured into a reliable unit.

Heading that defense is 12th-year veteran traffic director Sergei Gonchar, the team's ice-time leader and fourth-leading scorer. Gonchar, 32, ranks second among NHL defensemen with 40 assists and 49 points.

His deceptive pass to Malkin for Pittsburgh's middle goal in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals set the rookie up for what he called his greatest goal yet in the NHL.

Gonchar, a native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, has long been among the NHL's best offensive defensemen. He made his reputation over 9 1/2 seasons with the Capitals before his 2004 trade to the Boston Bruins. The Penguins signed him as a free agent in 2005 and he put up 12 goals and 58 points last season, comparable to his best years in Washington.

Gonchar thrived after Michel Therrien was named to coach in December 2005. He finished tied for fifth among NHL defensemen with 10 power-play goals.

He was seventh among league blueliners with 46 assists and eighth with 58 points. He was particularly sharp after the Olympics, when he racked up 20 points in 19 games.

While Gonchar is being counted upon for that kind of production, his secondary role is to help a young defense mature. He's doing a good job of that, as evidenced by the progress of both Ryan Whitney and Rob Scuderi.

"'Gonch' is a quiet guy by nature, but a real good person who really cares about winning and his teammates," said Penguins GM Ray Shero. "He plays lots of quality minutes and hard minutes. He's a guy who wants to play against top players. He's a top defender, but everyone thinks of his offense only. Gonchar plays plenty of time on the penalty kill with Mark Eaton. He wants that reputation of an all-around defenseman. That's a great attitude to have.

"The most important thing he gives us is minutes, the quality minutes that allow us to bring other players along properly. Gonchar and Eaton give us that and have allowed an offensive defenseman like Whitney to learn how to play a two-way game. A defensive defenseman like Scuderi can see how an Eaton has developed into a quality defender. Gonchar and Eaton gave us the opportunity to put Brooks Orpik, Whitney and Scuderi into their proper roles without giving them too much responsibility too soon. Sometimes they've struggled, but with good coaching they are all developing.

"But Gonchar comes by his reputation as an offensive defenseman honestly," Shero continued. "He can pass the puck like few others. He can put a 50-foot pass right on the tape and for skilled forwards, guys like that are hard to find. When you have someone on your team like that, you really appreciate it."

Gonchar and Fleury agree that Pittsburgh's defense has matured to where the team can contend for the Atlantic Division title and the Stanley Cup.

"Our defensive play is really improved from last year," Fleury said. "It's one of our biggest differences and that's something that we really needed to do. Our coach put in a good system defensively and everyone has been really focused. Our defenseman have been awesome in blocking shots and clearing away rebounds."

"Everyone is on the same page and we're familiar with the system," Gonchar explained. "We are trying every night to improve our communication and it has been getting better."

Gonchar is impressed with the progress of Scuderi and Whitney.

"They've been with the coach a little longer now and have adapted to the system," he said. "We've all been together since the middle of last season and we've adjusted to playing with each other."

The Penguins have been a work in progress all season. They weren't as good earlier as they are now and some of their stats lag their lofty position in the standings. They're still ranked low in penalty killing.

"The penalty killing is better than it was and we're working on it," Gonchar said. "We can't cure it overnight, but we can by working and sticking with the system. We've done a better job lately, I'd say in the last 10-15 games, than we were at the beginning of the year. There's still room for improvement."

The Penguins perhaps could close the five-point gap between them and the New Jersey Devils without beating the division leaders but in their remaining three games, two at home, they'd like to reinforce their Feb. 16, 5-4 victory over the Devils in New Jersey. Pittsburgh players feel they passed an important test recently with a victory over the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators, but the Devils represent an important Eastern rival, one they must overcome if they wish to compete for the Stanley Cup.

"Playing against Nashville was a good measurement," Gonchar said. "It's never easy to play against the Devils, especially with their defense as good as it is and Martin Brodeur as good as he is. Those will be tough games for us. But if you look at the standings, almost everyone we play is battling for a playoff spot and so are we, so it's already like a playoff game every night.

"We're going to be very smart when we play against the Devils and a little tougher. No game is less important than another."

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=289308

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:49 AM
Therrien not too hard on Fleury

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

At first blush, Michel Therrien's public criticism of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury might have seemed unfair and unduly harsh, considering Fleury hadn't lost in regulation since Jan. 9.

In truth, the Penguins' coach did nothing wrong Monday - and he flatly rejects the rumor that he also blasted Fleury behind closed doors after the 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders.

"I didn't yell at him; I didn't even talk to him after the game," Therrien said by phone Tuesday. "I never talk to the players after the game. It's an emotional time, and when you're mad, you don't want to do something you'll regret. I learned about that 15 years ago in junior. I was so (ticked off), I grabbed a kid, 17 years old. That wasn't right. I apologized the next day, and I told myself it would never happen again."

As for the public criticism, what's the big deal? It was nothing compared to the heat Fleury would face in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If anything, Therrien was being charitable when he said, "This is the fourth game in a row he's given up way too many goals."

It was actually Fleury's fifth consecutive sub-par performance. The Penguins won some of those in spite of him, not because of him - though it's also true Fleury salvaged some shaky outings with clutch saves.

Over this five-game stretch, his save percentage is a paltry .847, his goals-against average a bloated 4.40. Part of that is a function of the team's uneven play in front of him, and there is no disputing that Fleury is a major reason why the Penguins are positioned for their first playoff appearance since 2001.

Like a pitcher who can win without his best stuff, Fleury has developed a penchant for bearing down at critical moments. He was tied for fourth in the NHL in victories (29) as of yesterday afternoon, behind only Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Dominik Hasek.

That's good company, but there is room for improvement. Fleury's save percentage (.904) ranks 26th out of the top 30 goalies, and his GAA (2.92) is 28th.

Fleury knows he needs to rebound. He also knows Therrien isn't afraid to hurt his feelings. Remember, Therrien benched Fleury in consecutive years in the AHL playoffs.

On the other hand, Therrien has shown the utmost faith in Fleury this season, and that likely will not change.

"He's a great kid," Therrien said yesterday, before reiterating that Fleury's recent stretch is "unacceptable."

"I can see he's not as sharp, and I want him to be better," Therrien said. "He will be better. We're going to need him, and he knows that. Sometimes, young players can lose focus. As coaches, it's up to us to work with him and make him better."

Sometimes, that will include a kick in the pads. It worked in training camp, when the Penguins floated the idea that Fleury could be sent to the minors.

Some might suggest Fleury needs more rest, but if he starts Thursday at Florida - Therrien wouldn't guarantee as much - it would be only his fifth start in 13 days. That's a manageable workload.

Besides, he's only 22. He shouldn't need much rest -- and he shouldn't be excused from criticism because he's young.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was Fleury's age when he raised the Stanley Cup above his head last spring.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_494154.html

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:51 AM
Penguins make trade game-plan

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Before Penguins general manager Ray Shero left on Sunday for the NHL general manager meetings that continue today in Naples, Fla., he sat down with his coaches and staff to put together a game-plan with the trading deadline rapidly approaching.

And, echoing comments made earlier this month, Shero said if there's a trade that makes sense, he'll do it.

"We met as a group and went through it again as to where we were, what we thought could help our team, what we thought about our chemistry and what we're trying to accomplish with this group," Shero said. "I've talked to plenty of teams, that's the job, and if it makes sense for us we'll look to do something."

One player the Penguins are believed to be in the hunt for is Bryan Smolinski, a veteran center who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could help the Penguins on faceoffs. As the Chicago Blackhawks' second-leading scorer, Smolinski has 12 goals and 21 assists and is 51.4 percent on draws.

The Penguins, whose payroll is believed to be in the upper $30 million range, will have competition with the Vancouver Canucks for Smolinski, however.

Another player the Penguins have expressed interest in is Bill Guerin, but they're not alone.

The St. Louis Blues' leading scorer, with 27 goals and 19 assists, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He is also a sought-after commodity, particularly among teams in the West looking to compete with the blockbuster move the Nashville Predators made to get Peter Forsberg last week.

But deals such as the Forsberg trade, in which the Predators gave up a former first-round pick in winger Scottie Upshall, promising defenseman Ryan Parent and the first- and third-round picks in this year's entry draft, plus the deal that brought Ladislav Nagy to the Dallas Stars, have set the bar high. It's believed the Blues simply want more than the Penguins are willing to part with.

The Penguins are believed to have an interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet, and they have also asked about enforcer Georges Laraque, but as of last week the Phoenix Coyotes were asking too much.

Shero wouldn't comment on specifics, and he said that he's not limiting himself to a specific position, but rather will emphasize the right player, the right experience or the right contract.

And that's if he does anything at all.

"I've said all along that I don't want it out there that someone's coming," Shero said. "This group here's down a real good job. They've progressed, and they've done what we've asked for."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_494157.html

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:52 AM
Penguins look to tighten defense

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Penguins' 14-0-2 streak had to end sometime, but that was of little consolation to many of the players after their 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders.

If there is a silver lining, forward Ryan Malone said, it may be that the Penguins (32-18-9) can work on getting back to what allowed them to get the streak started - solid defense.

"Everything happens for a reason, so maybe it's good that we lost this game when we lost it," Malone said after Monday's loss at Nassau Coliseum. "We definitely have to get back to limiting the other team's chances. We can't be giving up three or four or five goals every night. We definitely have to get back to basics."

The Penguins have a chance to regroup this week with a welcome stretch of two games in seven nights. The break comes on the heels of four games in six nights, and it will be their lightest stretch until the season ends April 7.

Tuesday was a day off for the team, and today it's back to practice before the Penguins travel to Florida for a game against the Panthers on Thursday.

"I can guarantee you coach (Michel Therrien) is going to work on structure stuff defensively and focus on that," forward Mark Recchi said of today's practice.

The Penguins and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury yielded six goals to the Islanders, including five at even-strength. They allowed six goals in a game only three times before Monday, and the last time was Dec. 16 in a 6-3 loss at the Montreal Canadiens.

Fleury was by no means at his best against the Islanders, which Therrien made clear to the media after the loss. Therrien did emphasize a recent trend of allowing four to six goals per game, something which many of the players said they need to reverse if they want to keep improving and moving up the standings.

"I think we've allowed a few more goals than we're typically used to, so I think we want to make sure we get our goals-against down, whether it's on the penalty kill or making sure we're stronger in our own zone, off the rush, whatever it is," forward Sidney Crosby said. "We have to make sure we tighten up there. These games, shootouts where they're 5-4 or 6-5, if you win they're great, but if you see you give up six goals, there's a problem, too, and you have to make sure you don't do that consistently."

The Penguins have allowed 25 goals in the past six games. In the first seven games of the 14-0-2 stretch, they yielded only 17 and allowed more than three goals in a game just once.

Still, Recchi said the team's good habits outweighed the bad during the run, and with time to rest and practice in the next week, they should be able to put an end to the mental errors that have cost them lately.

"We can be proud of our stretch," Recchi said. "We only had a couple of games out of that whole stretch where we felt like maybe we got away with stuff. Overall, I think we did a great job. But goals-against is something we can control and we can get a lot better. We know as a team if we have everybody chipping in we can score some goals, but we have to get that focus back as well."

Note: Center Chris Thorburn was sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton yesterday for a conditioning assignment. In 38 games with the Penguins, Thorburn scored three goals and two assists and had a plus-1 rating.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_494152.html

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:55 AM
Florida a cold spot for Penguins
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


When the Penguins walk off their plane near Fort Lauderdale late this afternoon, the temperature should be around the mid-70s, give or take a few degrees.

The breezes should be soft and warm and, if the team arrives early enough, the sky blue and the sunshine plentiful.

There are a lot of ways to describe the conditions they can expect. "Perfect hockey weather" is nowhere on the list.

It's easy to see how going from the North, where temperatures have flirted with the far side of zero so often in recent weeks, to a place where palm trees line the roads could be more than a little unsettling, and the Penguins' record in Florida the past few years does nothing to refute that idea.

They are 1-8 in their past nine games at the BankAtlantic Center, where they will face the Florida Panthers at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow, and 1-9 in their past 10 at the St. Pete Times Forum, where they will play Tampa Bay at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.

Their run of misery at the Panthers' arena in suburban Sunrise includes a 5-2 loss Jan. 10, when they were outshot, outskated and outworked in every facet of play.

"That was the last time we actually didn't play well," right winger Mark Recchi said.

It also had been the Penguins' most recent loss in regulation until their 6-5 defeat Monday on Long Island.

In reality, though, the Penguins don't just struggle with the Florida-based teams when they travel south to play them. They have lost 14 of their past 16 overall against the Panthers and 11 in a row to the Lightning, although one of their three losses to Tampa Bay this season came in overtime and another in a shootout.

"We've lost at home, too, so we can't really blame the weather," center Sidney Crosby said.

Even if the Penguins' problems with the Panthers and Lightning were confined to road games, blaming them solely on playing in areas where T-shirts and shorts, not scarves and gloves, are normal attire at this time of year would be a copout.

The simple truth is, it's not any sunnier or warmer inside the buildings in Sunrise and Tampa than it is in any other arena in North America. If anything, it often is a bit chillier in them than in venues elsewhere.

"Once you get in the rink, it's back to normal," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "Everybody has their routine. Just because it's hot [outside] doesn't change that."

The Panthers and Lightning played in Tampa last night; Tampa Bay was hoping to strengthen its grip on first place in the Southeast Division, while Florida was looking to keep its long-shot playoff hopes on life support.

Although the Panthers seem like a good bet to be a seller in the days leading up to the trade deadline Tuesday -- veterans such as Gary Roberts, Jozef Stumpel, Martin Gelinas and Todd Bertuzzi, if he is deemed healthy, could command a lot of interest -- Recchi isn't ready to write off their season just yet.

"They're still in the hunt," he said. "They play well, and they play a good system."

Center Olli Jokinen is the Panther who gives the Penguins the most fits; for Tampa, it's usually Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis who give them the most trouble.

Odds are Jokinen will be on his game again tomorrow, and there's no reason to believe Lecavalier and St. Louis will be no-shows Sunday.

But the Penguins played some of their best hockey in this decade during parts of the 14-0-2 surge that ended Monday, and Fleury figures the next few days would be the ideal time to put their problems with the Panthers and Lightning behind them.

"Yeah," he said. "So we don't have to talk about it anymore."

NOTE -- Coach Michel Therrien, through a team spokesman, denied secondhand accounts that he criticized Fleury in the locker room after the Penguins' loss to the Islanders. Therrien gave reporters a harsh assessment of Fleury's performance during his postgame news conference saying, among other things, that "this is four games in a row that he's given up way too many goals."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07052/763653-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 12:59 AM
Bob Smizik: Penguins' turnaround defies odds

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How did this happen?

Here are, in no particular order, the top five reasons why the Penguins are where they are today, according to Bob Smizik:

Jordan Staal: He wasn't supposed to make the team. In the slight likelihood he did, he would be along for the ride to kill penalties and play on a fourth line. After all, he is only 18. He was barely old enough to be drafted. But he has 24 goals and has moved from center to left wing to give the Penguins a formidable second line. Not bad for a kid who scored 28 goals in Juniors last year.

Sidney Crosby: Everyone knew he was marked for greatness. But at 19? He leads the league in scoring with a 15-point lead over Vincent Lecavalier. The 16th-leading scorer in the league is closer to Lecavalier than Lecavalier is to Crosby.

Evgeni Malkin: He will do what Crosby could not do last year -- win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He leads all rookies in scoring by 14 points. His 67 points are double the output of all but three NHL rookies. He's on pace to score 93 points, a Crosbyesque total.

Marc-Andre Fleury (left): He's living up to the hype that comes with being the first pick in the draft. His 29 wins are fourth best in the NHL. Despite being only 22, he's developing into a franchise-type goalie. It's looking more and more like the Penguins made a serious mistake by not keeping him with the team at the start of last season.

Michel Therrien: Best known as a harsh disciplinarian when he took over the team last season, Therrien has been tough but also flexible enough to let his young team grow. He installed a system that makes their NHL growth come easier.In the recent history of professional sports, there have been rare occasions when a team has gone from last place to first place in one year. The Atlanta Braves, for example, went from sixth and last place to first place in 1991. The advent of free agency in all sports and the ability it gives teams to make an almost immediate and drastic revamping of their roster, along with a trend toward smaller divisions, makes this unusual development possible.

But here's what would figure to be impossible.

Going from last to last to last to last to first.

That's what the Penguins, who are 14-1-2 in their past 17 games, are attempting to do. After four consecutive sixth and last-place finishes, the Penguins aren't just playoff contenders, they're candidates to finish first in the Atlantic Division and a threat to any team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It's questionable whether the Penguins' furious charge up the NHL standings eventually will carry them to first place in the Atlantic Division -- they trail New Jersey by seven points -- but the mere fact the subject is up for discussion is testimony to one of the great revivals in sports history.

No one expected this. There was hope the team would make the playoffs, which often does not require a winning record. But the Penguins are 32-18-9 going into their game tomorrow night at Florida. Considering the team's youth, their slow start was not unexpected, but now the Penguins are among the elite of the league.

With 23 games remaining, they already have 10 more wins than last season and nine more than the previous season.

It has all served to markedly increase the interest in the Penguins. Games are regularly sold out, and there is a distinct buzz about the team that hasn't been here since the 2000-01 season, when Mario Lemieux was at the height of his comeback and the Penguins were thick with talented veterans. That's the beauty of this team and why the buzz is so intense. It's thin with talented veterans. Mark Recchi, at 39, is enjoying a memorable season -- 20 goals and 55 points. Sergei Gonchar, 32, is the second-leading scorer among NHL defensemen. There are five other players over 30, 14 in their 20s and two teenagers. Eleven of the team's players were born in the 1980s.

It is too early to call this a dynasty in the making but such a future is not out of the question. What makes that future even brighter is that the Penguins will become a desired destination for free agents. With the salary cap in place, there's not a tremendous difference between what teams can pay free agents. Why not come to Pittsburgh where a championship team is being built? If you're a winger, why not come to Pittsburgh and play beside Crosby or with Malkin and Staal?

It looks like all those last places are soon to be equaled and surpassed by first places.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07052/763657-194.stm

HometownGal
02-21-2007, 08:33 AM
Here you go HTG - a nice story on your favorite player. :wink02: It's interesting that he's second among defensemen this season in scoring - to think that so many fans wanted to run him out of town, especially last season. He's really having a great year, but it is being overlooked because of all the other talent on the team.



Gei is my fave, but Jarkko is climbing up my fave ladder rather quickly, LOL!

Excellent article, XT, and very much on point. It's nice to see Gonchar finally getting the credit he deserves. He was on the ice almost non-stop and held things together while Eaton was out and together they make quite the dynamic duo. :thumbsup: Many fans don't bother to look at his defensive abilities and talents. I laugh at some of these people at the games who expect him to rough it up - that isn't his schtick and never has been. I'm glad the Pens realize the gem they have in Gonchar - I clearly saw it last season amid the boos and hisses coming from the stands.

83-Steelers-43
02-21-2007, 08:38 AM
1-On-1 With Sidney Crosby; Sid Talks Life, Ice

POSTED: 1:20 pm EST February 20, 2007
UPDATED: 8:07 pm EST February 20, 2007

Email This Story | Print This Story

CANONSBURG, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are burning up the ice these days, largely because of star Sidney Crosby.

We've seen the 19-year-old Crosby's moves on the ice, but what does he do when he's off the ice?

WTAE Channel 4 Action News anchor Michelle Wright caught up with Sid the Kid to find out. They played pool and bubble hockey at Southpointe recently before a team practice.

Wright: "Do you have a girlfriend?"

Crosby: "I'm single. It's pretty tough to meet girls and stuff like that. We don't get a lot of time away from the rink."

Wright: "When you're ready to look for a girlfriend, what are you going to look for?"

Crosby: "Probably somebody who's pretty independent. I mean, with the hockey schedule, you need somebody who's going to have to deal with what I deal with when I'm out in public and stuff like that. Pretty patient person."

Wright: "Lots of people were interested in you or had a daughter they wanted you to meet. Do you get a lot of people wanting to fix you up?"

Crosby: "Yeah, that happens a lot. And you know, there's not too many ways you can take it. You don't want to say yes to everybody, but it really depends on the situation. I'm not too big on the blind dates or anything like that, but you never know."

Wright: "How easy is it for you to go out and hang out?"

Crosby: "It's fine. People are awesome here. They're supportive. They definitely recognize people when we're out, but by no means do they invade people's privacy."

There is often a rush of people requesting Sid the Kid's autograph, but Crosby said he has requested a few autographs for his own collection, too.

"I got (Steelers wide receiver) Hines Ward, and I was pretty happy with that," said Crosby. "It was right after the Super Bowl, and that was pretty interesting to me to get his autograph. And (Pirates outfielder) Jason Bay, a fellow Canadian who's doing great here."

Crosby also takes pride in his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"I get home for Christmas if we have a good break, if we have enough days off," said Crosby. "In the summer, I have a house back there. I love going there. It's a great place. You can go there and I guarantee, first day, you'll make five friends."

In Pittsburgh, Crosby lives with Penguins part-owner Mario Lemieux.

With four children running around the Lemieux house, Crosby said it's easy to stay grounded.

He said there's not a lot of hockey talk at home, but Lemieux and his wife, Nathalie, have given some advice: When it comes to hockey, enjoy the game, and when it comes to women, be responsible.

Crosby said that's something he keeps in mind when he hangs out with his teammates, both on and off the ice.

"Everybody, I mean the young guys on the team, hang out the most," said Crosby. "Guys like (Colby) Armstrong and (Ryan) Whitney."

Wright: "Who gives you the hardest time?"

Crosby: "Army (Armstrong) for sure. He's my roommate, so I hear a lot from him."

Crosby said when they go out, they like to hit Morton's or Sonoma Grille.

He said his taste in music includes Three Days Grace and Foo Fighters, and his Sunday routine now includes watching football.

But plans for after the end of his hockey career aren’t written in stone.

Wright: "What do you think you'll do after hockey?"

Crosby: "I don't know."

Wright: "You're 19, so you probably don't have to think about that yet."

Crosby: "I don't know. You never know. I don't know, and I want to think about it. I want to play as long as I can and see how that goes."

His goals on the ice come easy. Crosby was picked to be a hockey great at an early age, but he said he wasn't so sure that would be the case.

"For me, I didn't want to expect it or anything like that," said Crosby.

When it came to dishing out dirt, Crosby went straight for his on-the-road roommate, Armstrong.

"He snores," said Crosby. "He snores like crazy. I am one of those people who could fall asleep within two minutes of my head hitting the pillow, but I've woken up and heard some pretty awkward noises coming out of his nose."

Full interview (video) on right side: http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/nhl135/11063667/detail.html

HometownGal
02-21-2007, 08:58 AM
Bob Smizik: Penguins' turnaround defies odds

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How did this happen?

Here are, in no particular order, the top five reasons why the Penguins are where they are today, according to Bob Smizik:

Jordan Staal: He wasn't supposed to make the team. In the slight likelihood he did, he would be along for the ride to kill penalties and play on a fourth line. After all, he is only 18. He was barely old enough to be drafted. But he has 24 goals and has moved from center to left wing to give the Penguins a formidable second line. Not bad for a kid who scored 28 goals in Juniors last year.

Sidney Crosby: Everyone knew he was marked for greatness. But at 19? He leads the league in scoring with a 15-point lead over Vincent Lecavalier. The 16th-leading scorer in the league is closer to Lecavalier than Lecavalier is to Crosby.

Evgeni Malkin: He will do what Crosby could not do last year -- win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He leads all rookies in scoring by 14 points. His 67 points are double the output of all but three NHL rookies. He's on pace to score 93 points, a Crosbyesque total.

Marc-Andre Fleury (left): He's living up to the hype that comes with being the first pick in the draft. His 29 wins are fourth best in the NHL. Despite being only 22, he's developing into a franchise-type goalie. It's looking more and more like the Penguins made a serious mistake by not keeping him with the team at the start of last season.

Michel Therrien: Best known as a harsh disciplinarian when he took over the team last season, Therrien has been tough but also flexible enough to let his young team grow. He installed a system that makes their NHL growth come easier.In the recent history of professional sports, there have been rare occasions when a team has gone from last place to first place in one year. The Atlanta Braves, for example, went from sixth and last place to first place in 1991. The advent of free agency in all sports and the ability it gives teams to make an almost immediate and drastic revamping of their roster, along with a trend toward smaller divisions, makes this unusual development possible.

But here's what would figure to be impossible.

Going from last to last to last to last to first.

That's what the Penguins, who are 14-1-2 in their past 17 games, are attempting to do. After four consecutive sixth and last-place finishes, the Penguins aren't just playoff contenders, they're candidates to finish first in the Atlantic Division and a threat to any team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It's questionable whether the Penguins' furious charge up the NHL standings eventually will carry them to first place in the Atlantic Division -- they trail New Jersey by seven points -- but the mere fact the subject is up for discussion is testimony to one of the great revivals in sports history.

No one expected this. There was hope the team would make the playoffs, which often does not require a winning record. But the Penguins are 32-18-9 going into their game tomorrow night at Florida. Considering the team's youth, their slow start was not unexpected, but now the Penguins are among the elite of the league.

With 23 games remaining, they already have 10 more wins than last season and nine more than the previous season.

It has all served to markedly increase the interest in the Penguins. Games are regularly sold out, and there is a distinct buzz about the team that hasn't been here since the 2000-01 season, when Mario Lemieux was at the height of his comeback and the Penguins were thick with talented veterans. That's the beauty of this team and why the buzz is so intense. It's thin with talented veterans. Mark Recchi, at 39, is enjoying a memorable season -- 20 goals and 55 points. Sergei Gonchar, 32, is the second-leading scorer among NHL defensemen. There are five other players over 30, 14 in their 20s and two teenagers. Eleven of the team's players were born in the 1980s.

It is too early to call this a dynasty in the making but such a future is not out of the question. What makes that future even brighter is that the Penguins will become a desired destination for free agents. With the salary cap in place, there's not a tremendous difference between what teams can pay free agents. Why not come to Pittsburgh where a championship team is being built? If you're a winger, why not come to Pittsburgh and play beside Crosby or with Malkin and Staal?

It looks like all those last places are soon to be equaled and surpassed by first places.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07052/763657-194.stm

WOW!!! :jawdrop: Finally an editorial by Smizik that isn't negative!!! Very well written and right on the money. These guys are gelling with each other quite nicely and Therrien being patient and trying different line combos until he found the right mixes has really paid off. Not too many teams out there who can boast of having 4 productive lines. :thumbsup:

While I am obviously quite impressed and ecstatic over both Crosby's and Malkin's development, I am pleasantly shocked at how well Jordan Staal has started coming into his own. I, like many others, thought the Pens would ship him off to Juniors this season but this kid has well earned his spot on the team - he's played amazingly well for a young man barely 18 years old.

This season has been very exciting for us Pens fans and I have a feeling the best is yet to come! :banana:

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 09:50 AM
Gei is my fave, but Jarkko is climbing up my fave ladder rather quickly, LOL!

Excellent article, XT, and very much on point. It's nice to see Gonchar finally getting the credit he deserves. He was on the ice almost non-stop and held things together while Eaton was out and together they make quite the dynamic duo. :thumbsup: Many fans don't bother to look at his defensive abilities and talents. I laugh at some of these people at the games who expect him to rough it up - that isn't his schtick and never has been. I'm glad the Pens realize the gem they have in Gonchar - I clearly saw it last season amid the boos and hisses coming from the stands.

Yeah I know - there were many times you wanted to give some of those "fans" a water shower - LOL! The sad part of this is if he finishes in the top 3 or 5 in scoring among defensemen, he won't get any consideration at all for the Norris Trophy, even though he'd have outscored some likely candidates as Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and maybe Sheldon Souray. He is only one point behind Niklas Lidstrom right now, who will most likely win it even though it's possible Gonchar could outscore him. The reason? Lidstrom's a +38, which leads the league, while Gonchar's a -1 right now. But it is nice to see get some credit for the job he's done this season.

X-Terminator
02-21-2007, 09:57 AM
WOW!!! :jawdrop: Finally an editorial by Smizik that isn't negative!!! Very well written and right on the money. These guys are gelling with each other quite nicely and Therrien being patient and trying different line combos until he found the right mixes has really paid off. Not too many teams out there who can boast of having 4 productive lines. :thumbsup:

While I am obviously quite impressed and ecstatic over both Crosby's and Malkin's development, I am pleasantly shocked at how well Jordan Staal has started coming into his own. I, like many others, thought the Pens would ship him off to Juniors this season but this kid has well earned his spot on the team - he's played amazingly well for a young man barely 18 years old.

This season has been very exciting for us Pens fans and I have a feeling the best is yet to come! :banana:

My jaw hit the floor too when I read this - Smizik must have hit the wacky weed last night - LOL! I think Michel Therrien deserves a lot of credit for Staal's development, but the kid has helped himself with his natural talent and tremendous hockey sense that many veterans don't possess. You can't teach that - you either have it or you don't. How many 18 year olds are counted on late in games for defense, or to kill an important power play in OT? It truly is an amazing story. Wow...just thinking about all this talent on the team right now, and that they will all get better...it's a scary thought. It's a dynasty in the making, no question about it.

83-Steelers-43
02-21-2007, 10:24 AM
Here's to being 15-1-2 when we finish the Florida game.

Standings as of February 21. I figure if we play .500 hockey for the rest of the season we should be around 97 points (give or take). That should be more than enough to grab a playoff spot. Play .500 hockey for the rest of the season and we should be fine. We just can't afford to go on a losing skid. I would like to see us take 3 out of a possible 4 points during our upcoming Florida trip.

Eastern Conference:

1 Buffalo - 60 - 40 - 15 - 5 - 85
2 New Jersey - 60 - 37 - 17 - 6 - 80
3 Tampa Bay - 61 - 34 - 24 - 3 - 71
4 Pittsburgh - 59 - 32 - 18 - 9 - 73
5 Ottawa - 60 - 35 - 22 - 3 - 73
6 Atlanta - 62 - 31 - 22 - 9 - 71
7 Montreal - 62 - 31 - 25 - 6 - 68
8 Carolina 62 30 25 7 67

Toronto - 60 - 29 - 23 - 8 - 66
NY Islanders - 60 - 29 - 23 - 8 - 66
NY Rangers - 60 - 29 - 26 - 5 - 63
Boston - 59 - 29 - 26 - 4 - 62
Florida - 61 - 23 - 26 - 12 - 58
Washington - 60 - 23 - 28 - 9 - 55
Philadelphia - 60 - 16 - 36 - 8 - 40

Western Conference:

1 Nashville - 61 - 40 - 18 - 3 - 83
2 Anaheim - 61 - 35 - 16 - 10 - 80
3 Vancouver - 60 - 35 - 21 - 4 - 74
4 Detroit - 60 - 38 - 16 - 6 - 82
5 San Jose - 59 - 36 - 22 - 1 - 73
6 Dallas - 59 - 35 - 21 - 3 - 73
7 Minnesota - 61 - 33 - 23 - 5 - 71
8 Calgary - 60 - 31 - 21 - 8 - 70

Colorado - 60 - 29 - 27 - 4 - 62
Edmonton - 60 - 28 - 26 - 6 - 62
St. Louis - 61 - 26 - 26 - 9 - 61
Chicago - 59 - 22 - 28 - 9 - 53
Phoenix - 60 - 25 - 32 - 3 - 53
Columbus - 60 - 23 - 31 - 6 - 52
Los Angeles - 61 - 20 - 31 - 10

83-Steelers-43
02-21-2007, 10:40 AM
Maybe send a draft pick.

If Shero really feels the need to pick up an enforcer, the way I look at it is that Anson Carter is 32 years old and is 6'1 210. In the 53 games he has played this season he has 10 goals, 17 assists and is at a -1.

Then I look at the other supposed trade rumor.......

Georges Laraque who's name has been thrown around for almost a month now is 30 years old and is 6'3 243. In 56 games he has played this season he has 5 goals 17 assists and is at a + 7.

Once again, if Shero even plans on grabbing an enforcer in the next six days I guess I would rather see him go after Laraque. I personally don't think there is a strong demand for Laraque out on the market at this point in time so I'm guessing maybe a 2nd round pick should do the job? Just a guess on my part.

SteelersFever
02-21-2007, 11:23 AM
I have never been to a Penguins game, EVER! Who is taking me? :laughing:

HometownGal
02-21-2007, 12:01 PM
I have never been to a Penguins game, EVER! Who is taking me? :laughing:

You are more than welcome to attend a game with me and I'm sure XT would enjoy your company as well! Between the 2 of us, we have 5 home games left, as well as tickets on the way for the playoff package! :thumbsup:

83-Steelers-43
02-21-2007, 02:54 PM
I saw this coming. If he plays well against the Panthers I would start him against Tampa Bay....

Thibault to start in goal Thursday for Penguins
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jocelyn Thibault will start in goal when the Penguins play the Florida Panthers in Miami tomorrow, coach Michel Therrien said today.

Thibault has been the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury this season, posting a 3-5-2 record. Fleury is 29-13-7.

The decision to start Thibault comes after Therrien was critical of Fleury's play in a 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. The Islanders scored the winning goal with just under 27 seconds left in the game, ending the Penguins 16-game streak of being unbeaten in regulation play.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07052/763789-61.stm

SteelCityMan786
02-21-2007, 07:19 PM
May not be bad for Fleury. Save him but also play him so that way he's ready for the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he plays against the Panthers.

83-Steelers-43
02-21-2007, 08:59 PM
May not be bad for Fleury. Save him but also play him so that way he's ready for the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he plays against the Panthers.

If it were one or two games with Fleury I could understand why some fans are asking "why?". But his play has been dropping the last four or five games. I believe Therrien has enough confidence in Thibault. On top of that, I feel he actually feels Fleury needs a 'longer' break.

It's strange though, the last time Fleury played the Panthers he shut them out. I do have to wonder if Therrien is better off playing Fleury against the Panthers and then playing Thibault against the Bolts? Who knows though? Much like with Therrien's trading/player decisions, I really can't complain about Therrien "plugging" the players he has been dealt. I'll take his word for it.

83-Steelers-43
02-21-2007, 09:02 PM
May not be bad for Fleury. Save him but also play him so that way he's ready for the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he plays against the Panthers.

If it were one or two games with Fleury I could understand why some fans are asking "why?". But his play has been dropping the last four or five games. I believe Therrien has enough confidence in Thibault. On top of that, I feel he actually feels Fleury needs a 'longer' break.

It's strange though, the last time Fleury played the Panthers he shut them out. I do have to wonder if Therrien is better off playing Fleury against the Panthers and then playing Thibault against the Bolts? Who knows though? Much like with Shero's trading/player decisions, I really can't complain about Therrien "plugging" the players he has been dealt. I'll take his word for it. I'm not the GM or HC nor do I pretend to be so.

SteelCityMan786
02-21-2007, 09:08 PM
If it were one or two games with Fleury I could understand why some fans are asking "why?". But his play has been dropping the last four or five games. I believe Therrien has enough confidence in Thibault. On top of that, I feel he actually feels Fleury needs a 'longer' break.

It's strange though, the last time Fleury played the Panthers he shut them out. I do have to wonder if Therrien is better off playing Fleury against the Panthers and then playing Thibault against the Bolts? Who knows though? Much like with Shero's trading/player decisions, I really can't complain about Therrien "plugging" the players he has been dealt. I'll take his word for it. I'm not the GM or HC nor do I pretend to be so.

I can tell.

X-Terminator
02-22-2007, 02:18 AM
Pens' Thibault looking forward to start

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jocelyn Thibault, who will start in goal tonight against the Florida Panthers, was 2-0 during the Penguins 14-0-2 run and made 29 saves in a 3-2 win Sunday over the Washington Capitals. Tonight will be the first time he's started twice in three games since mid-November. It's only his fourth start since the Penguins exited the holiday break Dec. 26.

"I'm always hoping to get starts," Thibault said. "But I'm looking forward to (today). It's been a while since I've played two games in a short period of time, and I look forward to the opportunity. I've been practicing hard recently knowing that I have a chance to help the team down the stretch, and here we are."

? Penguins coach Michel Therrien said center Chris Thorburn was sent to Wilkes-Barre on a conditioning assignment so he could get some playing time.

"He's a young player," Therrien said. "It's tough for him to crack the lineup right now because we're really satisfied with the way our players are playing. It's been almost 10 games."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494349.html

X-Terminator
02-22-2007, 02:27 AM
Nothing more than business as usual here, though somehow I can't see a whole lot of people plunking down $200 deposits without knowing for sure that the team will be staying.

Penguins take deposits on 2007-2008 Mellon Arena tickets

By Andrew Conte
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Penguins might not know where they're playing past June, but they've started taking $200 ticket deposits for another season at Mellon Arena.

That does not mean the team has firm plans to stay in Pittsburgh, Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said Wednesday.

"It's not a sign of anything regarding the arena," McMillan said. "If there's no arena deal, and the team is not here, people can get their money refunded."

Fans who want an early shot at buying playoff tickets for this spring can put down a $200 deposit per seat for next season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494347.html

X-Terminator
02-22-2007, 02:35 AM
A more in-depth story on Thibault getting the start tonight. Good to hear that the rumor of Therrien blasting Fleury after the game has been quashed. Hopefully Fleury channels the criticism in a positive way and gets back to being the goalie we all know he can be.

Thibault will start against Panthers

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, February 22, 2007

If it were up to Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, he'd be playing tonight against the Florida Panthers.

But the call belongs to coach Michel Therrien. And he decided Wednesday that backup Jocelyn Thibault will get his second start in three games tonight against the Florida Panthers as the Penguins try to avoid losing two games in a row in regulation.

"We want (Fleury) to succeed, and we need him," Therrien said. "But we need him to be good. That's all I ask from players. You need to be good. Goalie, defense, forwards, we ask you to be good. There's going to be times when a performance from any player is exceptional. We don't ask them to be exceptional. In the meantime, we don't accept being fair. It's not good enough. ... When it's game in, game out, fair, fair, fair, it's got to stop."

Therrien was critical of Fleury's play Monday in a 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders that snapped the Penguins' 16-game point streak at 14-0-2. Saying Fleury had to be better, Therrien pointed to the goaltender's past four outings, in which he allowed 4 or 5 goals each game.

Fleury didn't seem to agree with the assessment that he wasn't on top of his game the past 10 days.

"I don't know; I don't remember all of the last four games," Fleury said. "But I thought we won those last three games (until Monday), and that's the main thing."

Fleury, 22, was 12-0-2 during the team's run that launched them from 13th place in the Eastern Conference to fourth. Heading into Montreal on Feb. 4, when he was 10-1-2 in his past 13 starts, he'd allowed four goals on 106 shots in the previous three games, including two shutouts.

Although his numbers haven't been as impressive lately, Fleury had found ways to win until Monday, when he allowed a soft goal in the final minute of regulation with the score tied. They Penguins had won six in a row heading into the game, and Fleury had been in net for five of those wins.

During games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks, Fleury allowed four goals in regulation, and both games went to shootouts. But Fleury didn't allow a goal in either shootout, and the Penguins walked away with wins each time.

"It's 82 games in a season, so it's not always going to be perfect," said Fleury, who confirmed that Therrien did not speak to him following the Islanders' loss despite reports that the coach berated him. "Hopefully, it's just going to be one game and everything will be fine the next one."

At practice yesterday, Fleury worked with goaltending coach Gilles Meloche, which Therrien said should give his goalie a chance to "get back to basics."

Meloche isn't with the team on a regular basis, but Therrien said his current stay was planned before Monday's loss.

Therrien said he didn't talk to Fleury about not getting the start in Florida.

"I always talk to the starting goalie," Therrien said.

Still, it was clear that Fleury hopes to be back in net Sunday when the team plays the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"It's always tough when you have a bad game and you have to live with it for so long," Fleury said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494346.html

X-Terminator
02-22-2007, 02:37 AM
Scouting the Panthers

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (32-18-9) at Florida Panthers (23-26-12)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. ? BankAtlantic Center (Sunrise, Fla.)

Probable goaltenders: Jocelyn Thibault (3-5-2, 3.18 GAA); Ed Belfour (16-13-7, 2.76 GAA)

TV/radio: FSNP/105.9 FM

Notable: The Panthers are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They are 3-1-1 in their past five games and 4-3-2 in February. The Panthers are also 1-12 in games that go to overtime or a shootout. ... Todd Bertuzzi has been practicing with the team as he continues to recover from back surgery Nov. 2, but there is still no target for his return. ... The Panthers have the fifth-best power play in the league at home at 22.2 percent.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494350.html

X-Terminator
02-22-2007, 02:51 AM
I'm still upset that Lange was canned by FSN. Paul Steigerwald sucks and it's to the point now where I watch all the games muted. I don't care what anyone says - Mike Lange has not lost a damn thing in his broadcasts. He's still among the best in the business. And if he decides to leave for another PBP position, I wouldn't blame him one bit.

On the air with Bob Smizik: Lange back, but will he remain here?

Thursday, February 22, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sometimes the printed word fails us. Consider the following, 17 seconds of radio play-by-play by Mike Lange in the final minute of the Penguins' loss Monday to the New York Islanders. The call opens with Sidney Crosby in control of the puck behind the Islanders' net.

"Look at Crosby dance with it. Around back the other side to the near wing. Crosby's putting on the Ritz. Open man ... Recchi ... good shot ... better save DiPietro.

"Loose puck. Crosby wants it. Can't get it.

"The Islanders have it. Here they come. Hilbert on the left wing to the Penguins' end. Drop pass to Sillinger. Wrister ... scores."

You had to be there to believe it.

Lange used short bursts of words, full of emotion, to convey the drama and the emotion of the closing seconds of what had been a tie game. Even though the goal meant defeat for the Penguins, Lange never let on the team that pays his salary had lost. He was there to call a hockey game, not root for the home team. It was radio play-by-play at its best, as good as it gets.

Suffice to say, Mike Lange is back.

Lange, in his 31st year as a Penguins broadcaster, won't say it, but he's determined to prove the people who fired him wrong. His career is not over. In fact, it's flourishing.

Lange was fired in June as the Penguins' television announcer by FSN Pittsburgh, which owns the rights to the games. He was replaced by Paul Steigerwald, his former color analyst who had been doing radio. Lange was humbled. A few weeks later, he agreed to do the radio, where the rights are owned by the Penguins.

He makes no attempt to hide his disappointment about losing his job nor the fact he remains unhappy with how it was handled.

"I won't lie to you," Lange said the other day. "There is more money in TV. I took a gigantic hit."

He won't be doing Penguins television any time soon. FSN is happy with Steigerwald and Lange remains unhappy with FSN.

"I don't think [the firing] was done in a professional manner. They called my agent [in late June] and said, 'As of tomorrow he's fired.' If they wanted me to change some things, at least they could have offered me that. They didn't."

Lange had signed a two-year contract with FSN before the 2005-06 season. But FSN had the option for the second year and exercised it. With the firing coming so close to the start of the hockey season, Lange had little choice but to accept the radio job, which was a one-year deal. He might be more discerning after this season.

"I'm committed to working with the team and finishing the season," he said. "We'll see what happens after that. I still enjoy broadcasting, and we'll just have to see what presents itself. I'm going to explore every option. If I find something that's comparable ...

"I do love Pittsburgh, but the scene has changed for me. There isn't any doubt about that. I've been turned aside from TV. I'm not their No. 1 guy any more. I have to do what's best for me. I have to consider my career."

Working against Lange is this: As good as he can be, the era of announcers approaching the importance of players, a status Lange once had, is over. It's not like 20 years ago when the vast majority of games were handled by a small number of hometown announcers. Today, games are everywhere; often we don't know the announcers' names.

They might not be interchangeable, but the public hears so many it almost approaches that level. Consequently, the value of play-by-play announcers, particularly on radio, has declined.

What also might hurt Lange, but what definitely should not, is he's not a homer. If you listen to his broadcasts, you know he's the Penguins' announcer, but he's not there to provide excuses and alibis. He calls a game much more down the middle than announcers for most teams. That's the right way to do it, but not all teams might look at it that way.

Once Lange was as big a story as the players. He took on iconic status when the Penguins weren't particularly good and chronicled the glorious Stanley Cup years. He's proving again he's as good as he ever was. That might make him too good to stay with the Penguins.

Elsewhere

Dennis Galloway, a Pittsburgh native, has been hired by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network to be director for Baltimore Orioles' telecasts. Galloway directed Pirates telecasts for 20 years before being fired after the 2005 season ... Richard Sutphen, long-time KDKA and FSN employee, is FSN's new producer for Pirates telecasts. ... The 1979 Steelers will be profiled tonight at 8 on "America's Game," on the NFL Network.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07053/764091-194.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-22-2007, 07:34 AM
Sounds like Shero is reluctant to trade for anything at this point in time.........

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=burnside_scott&id=2773945

In Pittsburgh, the Penguins appear locked into a playoff berth despite their youth. It has added another dynamic for rookie GM Ray Shero, who didn't expect to have to be dealing with the lure of making trade deadline acquisitions.

"I always say the same thing. I don't want our players or coaches expecting something. I like the team the way they are," Shero said.

With the asking price so high, it's easier for Shero to take that position than many of his colleagues.

"I know who we're not going to move -- prospects. I know my plan out two or three years from now. I have a pretty good idea of the young guys who should be on our hockey club. I don't want to be giving that up," Shero said. "The price certainly is high and some teams will pay it. That's been proven so far. But every team is different."

83-Steelers-43
02-22-2007, 08:54 AM
According to ESPN Insider......

Penguins rediscover happy feet

Feb 21 - A recent hot streak has Pittsburgh in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race, and for the first time in years, in position to be a buyer at the trading deadline.

But the Penguins won't part with high draft picks or their wealth of young talent and prospects, nor do they want to mess with team chemistry.

Besides the much-talked-about need for a bodyguard for Sidney Crosby, the Penguins could use another defenseman, a first-line winger and a faceoff specialist, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Odds are slim they can get all of those, but if the Pens can address any of those needs the Tribune-Review speculates that promising, but inconsistent F Ryan Malone (12 goals and 21 points in 41 games through Monday) will be the one to be sent packing.

Rangers, Blackhawks, and Canadiens are possible destinations.

If Malone is not traded, I'd be highly surprised.

Shopping for Smolinski

Feb 21 - Although Chicago coach Denis Savard has said he likes his team the way it is, it's GM Dale Tallon who makes the moves and two-way center Bryan Smolinski can help some playoff-bound team.
The 36-year-old has $633,000 remaining on his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

The Penguins are believed to be pursuing Smolinski, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The Maple Leafs might be interested if the asking price drops to a third-round pick, according to the Globe and Mail.

The Red Wings, Rangers and Canadiens are also interested, according to the Province newspaper in Vancouver.

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 07:44 PM
Tied early, both teams are playing well defensively. It's a matter of busting the scoreboard.

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 07:45 PM
FIRST POWER PLAY:Florida Panthers Alexei Seminov. 2 Minutes for high sticking. LET'S SCORE ON THIS POWER PLAY PENGUINS!

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 07:47 PM
Gonchar called for Holding. 4 on 4 for 31 seconds.

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 07:49 PM
Good Job Killing the penalty. Now, let's get a goal on the board Pens.

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 08:16 PM
1-0 GOAL BY STAAL. INTERMISSION

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 08:38 PM
Penalty killing has been awesome. LET'S GO PENS!

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 09:42 PM
1-1 and we're heading down to the wire. LET'S GO PENS!

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 09:54 PM
Here comes OVERTIME.

SteelCityMan786
02-22-2007, 10:04 PM
ARMSTRONG SCORES AND THE PENGUINS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Borski
02-22-2007, 11:37 PM
that was a nice OT goal. one more exiting win

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 12:10 AM
I'm just happy the Pens finally won a game in Florida. Giving up the point doesn't matter - the Panthers aren't going anywhere.

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 01:04 AM
Penguins drive past Panthers

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, February 23, 2007

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Penguins reversed their fortunes inside the Florida Panthers' lair, thanks to Colby Armstrong's seventh goal of the season at 2:39 of overtime. Armstrong fought off a slash to his left hand before pushing a puck past veteran Florida goaltender Ed Belfour for a 2-1 win.

Armstrong was set to have an X-ray after the game.

"It's been a while since I scored, so I'm not going to complain about a little pain that comes with a getting a goal in overtime," said Armstrong, who had not scored since the Penguins' last match here, Jan. 10.

They lost that one. In fact, the Penguins had dropped eight of their previous nine matches at BankAtlantic Center.

The victory last night helped the Penguins continue a torrid second-half surge.

They are 12-1-1 since the All-Star break. More important, they stopped a potential losing skid before it could start.

Despite a last-minute loss to the Islanders in New York on Monday, coach Michel Therrien said he was pleased with his players' effort in that defeat -- save for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, whose shaky outing landed him a spot on the bench last night.

In Fleury's place, Jocelyn Thibault shined in his fourth victory of the season. Thibault made 32 saves and was named the second star for outdueling Belfour, who turned aside 39 pucks.

"It was one of those games where you don't want to be the guy that lets the next one past you, because you know that could be it," Thibault said. "He played really well, and I felt really good."

Rookie Jordan Staal continued his scoring ways by tipping an Evgeni Malkin slap shot past Belfour during a 5-on-3 power play at 16:25 of the first period. The two-man advantage was set up by penalties drawn by Sidney Crosby and Malkin. Both of those young stars assisted on Staal's goal.

For Staal, it was his 25th goal, as he continues to establish himself as a front-of-the-crease disturbance on the Penguins' power-play unit.

The Penguins led, 1-0, at the first intermission, but they deserved a larger cushion.

Belfour was nothing short of stellar over the game's initial 20 minutes, stopping 12 of 13 shots -- including a nifty backhand by left wing Erik Christensen at 13:30 and a point-blank wrist shot off the stick of right wing Mark Recchi at 18:10. Additionally, right wing Michel Ouellet slid a backhand through the crease at 9:03 after breaking in on Belfour following a turnover.

If Belfour was brilliant in the first, Thibault was terrific early in the second. Florida peppered him with 12 shots in the opening nine minutes of the second, but Thibault was up to the challenge, stopping every one.

Thibault and Belfour traded excellent saves over a two-minute span midway through the second. Belfour again kept Florida in the match by getting in front of Recchi's one-timer off a feed from Crosby at 8:51. Thibault then denied Florida left wing Ville Peltonen's snap shot at 10:26.

The Panthers finally cracked Thibault's wall at 17:41 of the second, when right wing Juraj Kolnik roofed a tap-in off a feed from center Chris Gratton.

"Just that one goal, and there was nothing he could do about it," Armstrong said of Thibault. "He was awesome."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494595.html

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 01:11 AM
Where do you put Ekman when he comes back? And who do you take out of the lineup? Christensen? Nope. Ouellet? Nope. Petrovicky? Hmmm, maybe...but I say nope. That 4th line has been great. And even if/when Malone is traded, whomever they get out of the deal is going to play. So Ekman is the odd man out. Trade bait, perhaps?

And why in the hell isn't Nasreddine playing? His kid was born a week ago...I think he's had ample time to spend with his family. He's a plus freaking 12 and has been more than solid - get him back in the lineup and Melichar's worthless ass back in the press box.

Pens' Ekman works toward return

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, February 23, 2007

A dislocated left elbow has kept left wing Nils Ekman out of action since late December. However, he accompanied the Penguins to Florida and is practicing with the club. Ekman has yet to test his injured elbow by participating in contact drills.

"Hopefully by the end of the trip," Ekman said of a plan for him to skate a full-contact practice.

Ekman said he is sporting a brace to support his elbow.

"I'm still getting used to that," Ekman said. "Everything else feels pretty good, though. My conditioning is OK, so my legs shouldn't be a problem."

Ekman, acquired from San Jose during the offseason, has scored six goals and recorded 15 points in 32 matches this season.

? If the Penguins needed any reason to rebound from a disappointing, last-minute loss to the Islanders in New York on Monday, a quick glance at the Eastern Conference standings provided ample motivation.

"After a loss, you always want to bounce back with a great game, but with the standings so tight, that makes this (Florida trip) even more important," defenseman Mark Eaton said. "You think about it ... if we had played only a couple of games over .500 the past month, how far would we be out of the playoffs right now? Our hot streak came at a great time. We needed it to keep pace."

? Defenseman Alain Nasreddine was a healthy scratch for the fourth consecutive match since missing a game against Chicago on Feb. 14 due to the birth of his child. Once again, Josef Melichar teamed with Rob Scuderi for the Penguins' third defensive pairing.

? Veteran goaltender Ed Belfour started for the Panthers against the Penguins. NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby, 19, was 1 when Belfour broke into the league for the 1988-89 season.

Digits

35 - Road points recorded by the Penguins this season.

26 - Road points recorded by the Penguins last season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494604.html

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 01:18 AM
Penguins Notebook: Jokinen shows loyalty to Panthers

Friday, February 23, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SUNRISE, Fla. -- There are plenty of things that separate Olli Jokinen from most players in the NHL

Like how he is Florida's captain, leading scorer and best player.

Jokinen's greatest distinction, however, is one he would rather not have: He has appeared in 621 regular-season games, the most of any active NHL player who has yet to make his playoff debut.

And with the Panthers, who faced the Penguins at the BankAtlantic Center last night, anchored in 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings, there's little reason to believe Jokinen's futility will end soon.

"It's been disappointing, not being in the playoffs and not winning anything at this level," he said yesterday. "But I have faith in this team and try to do everything possible to help this team reach its goal."

Jokinen underscored his belief in the Panthers by signing a four-year contract in March rather than accepting a trade at the deadline, then shopping for a new employer as a free agent in the summer.

"A lot of people were saying, 'You're crazy. Why would you sign with a team like the Florida Panthers when you have 29 other options and you could pick the team?' " Jokinen said.

The answer, he said, was easy. It was a show of loyalty.

"I had a chance to go somewhere last year, to teams that were in playoff position, but this franchise saved my career," he said. "I was heading to Europe before I finally got a chance to play here.

"I want to make the playoffs here. I want to help this team, do everything possible."

Understanding Ruutu

Jokinen and Penguins left winger Jarkko Ruutu were teammates with HIFK Helsinki in Finland a decade ago and have remained friends.

Which means Jokinen has a special appreciation for the feisty game Ruutu plays when he is at his best.

"He's one of those guys you want to be on the same team [with]," Jokinen said. "And he's a pain in the [rear] to play against.

"Your own guys love you, and everyone else hates you. You need guys like him on a winning team."

Some blame for others

While coach Michel Therrien singled out goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for criticism after the Penguins' 6-5 loss Monday on Long Island, goaltending was not the only reason his team had allowed four or more goals in five of the previous six games before facing the Panthers.

The Penguins were guilty of numerous defensive lapses and letdowns in the latter stages of their recent 14-0-2 run, as evidenced by the regularity with which they surrendered multiple-goal leads.

"We have to tighten up our defensive game, there's no doubt about that," Therrien said.

"And we will. We just have to make sure we stay focused on things we have to do to have success."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07054/764427-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 02:00 AM
Armstrong stuns Panthers, delivers Penguins 2-1 OT win
Colby Armstrong's rising shot breaks his 15-game goal-scoring drought as well as the Florida Panthers' heart

Friday, February 23, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Yeah, Colby Armstrong said, it had been awhile.

Way too long, really.

Fifteen games and more than a month, if anyone was keeping track.

But he figures it was worth every frustrating shift and second of it to get a goal like this, the winner in the Penguins' 2-1 overtime victory against Florida at the BankAtlantic Center last night.

Armstrong scored it at 2:39 of overtime when, after using Maxime Talbot as a decoy on a two-on-one break, he beat Panthers goalie Ed Belfour high on the glove side.

"It was a good feeling," Armstrong said.

Belfour had been nearly unbeatable all night -- he stopped 39 of 41 shots -- but gave Armstrong a bit of room on the short side, and Armstrong lasered the puck there.

"Their [defenseman] kind of got back on me, and I think then [Belfour] started cheating over when he thought I was going to maybe pass it," Armstrong said. "And I decided to shoot just when he came off [the post] a little bit. He went down, so I put it up high."

If Belfour was the major reason the Penguins had to work beyond regulation for the victory -- "He made a lot of real good saves on us," right winger Mark Recchi said -- goalie Jocelyn Thibault was the biggest one for why they were able to survive Belfour's brilliance.

He finished with 32 saves and, while he wasn't forced to be quite as spectacular as Belfour, he made numerous stops on quality scoring chances for the Panthers.

"It was a pretty good goaltending duel," Armstrong said. "[Thibault] played awesome for us. He made some huge saves."

The victory was Thibault's third in his past three starts and, although he insisted he is not looking to plant the seeds of a goaltending controversy, his strong play of late does give Penguins coach Michel Therrien an option if he remains dissatisfied with the performance of No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

"I've been working real hard all year in practice and watching Marc-Andre play," Thibault said. "I was just waiting for my chance and, when I get a chance to play, I try to make the best of it. ... It's a great feeling to be able to chip in like that toward the end of the season."

The victory elevated the Penguins' record to 33-18-9, and kept them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

"Who would believe the Pittsburgh Penguins would be in fourth place in the Eastern Conference?" Panthers center Olli Jokinen said. "They struggled in the past few years, but they've been rebuilding and getting players like [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin and doing good drafting."

Florida, meanwhile, remains mired in 13th place and surrendered a precious point by losing in overtime.

"It's tough, but, as long as you still have a chance, you have to keep fighting," Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "We still have a lot of games against the team's we're chasing. We need a lot of help, but, at the same time, all you can worry about is what you're doing."

Penguins rookie Jordan Staal got the only goal of the first period when he deflected a Malkin shot past Belfour during a five-on-three power play at 16:25 for his 25th of the season.

Crosby picked up the second assist, raising his league-leading points total to 96.

Despite giving up that goal to Staal, Belfour had a strong first period, a portent of his play all night.

He stopped Crosby from the left side just 15 seconds after the opening faceoff, scurried across the crease and threw out his left leg to deny Malkin from inside the right circle during an early Penguins power play, then rejected an uncontested shot by Recchi from in front with 1:52 to go before the intermission.

Neither goalie lost his edge during the intermission as Belfour stopped Recchi from the slot at 8:50, and 90 seconds later, Thibault thwarted Ville Peltonen from the inner edge of the left circle.

"I had some great chances," Recchi said. "Obviously, you'd like to put them in, but Belfour's done that to a lot of people."

The Panthers finally spoiled Thibault's bid for his first shutout since Oct. 8, 2003, at 17:41, when Juraj Kolnik took a feed from Chris Gratton and beat Thibault from the front edge of the crease.

That was the final goal either team got until Armstrong buried the overtime winner behind Belfour.

"He's a good goalie," Thibault said. "It's nice to beat him."

And even nicer to get a superb performance from Thibault at a time when Fleury is not at his best.

"This gives [Fleury] a little breather, and we'll get him sharp again," Recchi said. "Then we'll be rolling."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07054/764428-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-23-2007, 05:48 AM
Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari
Friday, February 23, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Q: Do you think that Michel Therrien is being overly critical of Marc Andre Fleury? Fleury helped the Pens win 16 straight games and when he has one bad game, he is criticized and benched by the coach. Isn't he allowed to have a bad game occasionally?

Jeff, Chambersburg, Pa.


MOLINARI: Just for the record, the Penguins didn't actually win 16 consecutive games; they picked up at least one point in 16 games in a row, winning 14 while losing one in overtime and another in a shootout.

Also, the Penguins' 6-5 loss on Long Island was Fleury's worst game in quite some time, but not the only time recently when he allowed some suspect goals. He, like most of his teammates, seemed to lose a bit of the edge on his game as the Penguins' run moved through its final stages. Witness the way they squandered multiple-goal leads in almost every game during the past few weeks.

All of that aside, Therrien's criticism of Fleury after the Islanders game was surprising, because Fleury's play has been one of the key factors in the Penguins' success this season. That doesn't mean Fleury was entitled to a free pass after giving up a few soft ones, especially a game-winner in the final half-minute of regulation. Just that no one would have thought twice about it if Therrien had simply portrayed it as a bad day for Fleury, and said that he expected him to play better in his next start. To call him out the way Therrien did really didn't seem necessary.

Still, it would be folly to read too much into Therrien's decision to start Jocelyn Thibault against Florida last night. Thibault played well in the Penguins' 3-2 victory against Washington Sunday and, with Fleury coming off a sub-par performance, giving the backup a chance to play doesn't qualify as a radical move by the coach, especially when there will be enough work during the rest of the season to keep both goalies busy.

Q: With the trade deadline approaching, everyone seems to be talking about Ray Shero attempting to add a quality scoring winger. But what do you think about Shero calling a meeting with Michel Therrien and the team and telling them there will be no moves, that "You guys are good enough to win today?" When you consider the average age of that group, you've got to think that would be a major confidence-builder, especially since it's probably true.

Joe, Peters Township


MOLINARI: Whatever merits such a move might have -- and it could do anything from providing the confidence boost you suggest to giving the players tacit permission to ratchet down their intensity --it would be foolish for Shero to guarantee his players that he won't make a trade before the deadline Tuesday at 3 p.m.

As of this writing -- and things can change quickly and dramatically as the deadline closes in -- there isn't much evidence that he is contemplating a high-impact move, in part because he has repeatedly insisted that he won't do anything that would provide at short-term upgrade at the expense of a long-range setback for his team's development. And because it figures to be a seller's market for the kind of players the Penguins could use -- goal-scoring wingers and reliable defensemen -- it's hard to imagine Shero could swing a deal without making that kind of sacrifice.

Nonetheless, if the opportunity presents itself to improve his lineup without straying outside the parameters he has set, Shero has to be able to act on it without appearing to go back on a pledge to his players. It would be more prudent, though less dramatic, to wait until the deadline has passed, then remind his players that a number of them publicly expressed a desire to have this group remain intact. At that point, he can add that he shares the confidence they have in themselves, and thus opted against messing with his personnel mix.

Q: Now that Jordan Staal's statline (24-7; 24 goals and seven assists before the Penguins played Florida last night) looks like something Pirates fans would love to see from Zach Duke or Ian Snell, I was wondering what the record is for the difference between goals and assists in one year.

Sam Smith, North Irwin


MOLINARI: In the early days of the NHL, goals routinely came with one assist, and often none. Consequently, the kind of disparity seen in Staal's personal numbers wasn't all that unusual.

But according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brian Savage of Montreal is the most recent NHL player to get at least 20 goals and have at least three times as many goals as he did assists. In 1995-96, Savage scored 25 but set up only eight.

The only Penguin to manage that feat was left winger Wayne Bianchin, who had 28 goals and six assists in 1976-77.

Q: Does the shootout-deciding goal get added to a team's total goals?

Bob Buchko, Raleigh, N.C.


MOLINARI: In fact, it does. Even though individual stats from shootouts do not show up in player's personal numbers, a shootout-winning club does get credit for an "extra" goal in its team total. The Penguins, for example, had scored 203 goals during first, second, third and overtime periods before taking on Florida, but were credited with 208 in the standings because they had won five shootouts.

Q: What's happened to Ryan Lannon? Is he no longer considered a big part of the Pens' future? I noticed in the last Q&A he wasn't mentioned as part of their future defense.

Scott Bender, Minneapolis


MOLINARI: Lannon is in just his second pro season, so it's a little early to make a definitive judgment on his potential -- remember, this forum's favorite mantra is that goalies and defensemen must be given ample time to develop -- but indications at this point are that he likely will be a guy who spends most of his career in the minors.

There appears to be a parallel with Alain Nasreddine who, like Lannon, is a defensive defenseman who was a solid citizen and great asset for the organization, on and off the ice, when he played in Wilkes-Barre. Although Nasreddine turned pro in 1995, he played just 24 games in the NHL before this season. But he has been a reliable member of the Penguins' blue line since being recalled from Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 4, and there's no reason to think he'll be back in the minors anytime soon.

It is not hard to see that sort of scenario playing out for Lannon at some point in the future. Whether he will still be on the Penguins' depth chart if and/or when it happens is impossible to predict, though.

Q: Last year, one of the most often-mentioned knocks by Fleury-bashers was that he didn't make the big save in the third period or overtime, as if that should somehow be expected of such a young player. Now, everyone knows Fleury is having a breakout year, but lately I hear talk about how he is making the big third-period and OT saves, even if the score is 4-4 or 5-5. Do you think this is the most representative facet of the improvement of Fleury's game?

Mathew Calland, Squirrel Hill


MOLINARI: In fairness, you submitted your question before the game on Long Island, when Fleury gave up the game-winning goal on a very stoppable shot by Mike Sillinger during the final half-minute of regulation. Of course, Fleury didn't just have a bad third period against the Islanders; he was shaky the entire game.

That game aside, however, Fleury has done some of his best work this season in pressure situations, like late in the third period or during overtime or shootouts; the best example came during the Penguins' 5-4 shootout victory against Montreal Feb. 1, when they were short-handed twice during overtime and outshot, 7-0, but Fleury stopped everything the Canadiens threw at him to get the Penguins into the shootout.

Still, the most impressive progress in his game this season probably has come in his positioning. Fleury isn't making spectacular saves nearly as often as he did in previous seasons, primarily because he doesn't have to. He's reading plays and anticipating how they will develop much better than in previous seasons, and that allows him to be ready for shots before they ever are taken. When he broke into the league, Fleury relied almost exclusively on his exceptional athleticism. Now, that quality simply complements his ever-growing knowledge about how to play the position.

Q: Much has been said about the rule changes and tighter calling of penalties. One change that produced lots of talk before the fact and virtually nothing since is the trapezoid behind the goal. Do you have any sense whether it has affected the game in any significant way?

Gerry Mangold, Richmond, Va.


MOLINARI: There were some, including the moderator of this forum, who believed that the trapezoid -- a defined area behind the goal line inside of which goalies are allowed to handle the puck -- would be unfair to guys like Martin Brodeur, who spent years developing their puck skills and did not deserve to have that facet of their game limited.

But goalies seem to have adapted to the change, which went into effect before last season, with little difficulty. There have been very few penalties assessed for playing the puck outside the designated area, and goaltenders rarely seem tempted to stray beyond the trapezoid.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07054/764188-125.stm

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 07:48 AM
Pulled this from another message board:

ESPN Radio 1250 AM in Pittsburgh is reporting that Georges Laraque has tenatively been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Phoenix Coyotes pending on Laraque removing his no-trade clause.


If this turns out to be true - it hasn't been mentioned on the Pens or Coyotes' websites just yet - I'd accept it, but I wouldn't like it. If they were getting the Laraque from 5 or 6 years ago, then yeah, but this guy clearly does not have the will to be an enforcer anymore. If he wouldn't do it in Phoenix, why would that change here? Maybe Therrien would bring it out of him since he coached him in juniors - who knows?

BTW, he was a healthy scratch last night, which makes this all the more possible.

83-Steelers-43
02-23-2007, 08:46 AM
The Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins could to be discussing a trade involving tough-guy Georges Laraque.

A source close to the situation told TFP that the two teams have been talking and a deal could be done as early as today.

The Arizona Republic is also reporting the possibility of Laraque ending up in Pittsburgh, as the 30-year-old enforcer was scratched from last night's game.

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky hinted that Laraque may be dealt before the NHL trade deadline on Tuesday.


"We haven't really got to a point where anything is imminent, but obviously we'll explore everything," Gretzky told the Republic. "He's a good young man, it's just sometimes things don't work out and right now maybe [a trade] is the best situation for both sides."

The Penguins, in the market for an experienced rearguarg, are also believed to have interest in Coyotes defenseman Nick Boynton.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are supposedly entertaining offers for forwards Owen Nolan, Kevyn Adams and Jeremy Roenick, defenseman Derek Morris, and goalie Curtis Joseph


From spectors...


LARAQUE A GONER?

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: David Vest reports Phoenix Coyotes tough guy Georges Laraque was a healthy scratch in last night's Coyotes-Calgary Flames game and head coach Wayne Gretzky hintined Laraque could be dealt by the deadline.

Spector's Note: This confirms the e-mail I received from "Al" last night regarding a potential trade of Laraque, possibly to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He'd have to waive his no-trade clause, but rumours I've heard from another source today suggests he could be moved as early as today. Stay tuned...

HometownGal
02-23-2007, 08:58 AM
Pulled this from another message board:



If this turns out to be true - it hasn't been mentioned on the Pens or Coyotes' websites just yet - I'd accept it, but I wouldn't like it. If they were getting the Laraque from 5 or 6 years ago, then yeah, but this guy clearly does not have the will to be an enforcer anymore. If he wouldn't do it in Phoenix, why would that change here? Maybe Therrien would bring it out of him since he coached him in juniors - who knows?

BTW, he was a healthy scratch last night, which makes this all the more possible.

You know how I feel about Laraque, XT, but Therrien seems to have that magic touch with the guys, so who knows? I've never been particularly fond of him, but I wasn't fond of Kasper either when he was with the Isles and when he came to the Burgh, he ended up being one of my faves! I guess we'll know soon enough which of our guys will be wearing a Coyotes uniform- better not be Gei or Ruutu. LOL!

Thank you for the more detailed article, 83.

83-Steelers-43
02-23-2007, 04:40 PM
Penguins trying to acquire heavy hitter
Friday, February 23, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Penguins are trying to acquire rugged winger Georges Laraque from Phoenix.

Laraque, 30, is 6 foot 3, 243 pounds, and is regarded as one of the NHL's top heavyweights.

He has five goals, 17 assists and 52 penalty minutes in 56 games with the Coyotes this season.

Laraque spent his first eight professional seasons in Edmonton's organization but signed a two-year contract with Phoenix in July. The deal includes a no-trade clause that he would have to waive before any deal could be finalized.

While the particulars of the potential trade still are being negotiated, the Arizona Republic reported that the Penguins likely would receive Laraque and a second- or third-round draft choice in exchange for a first-round draft choice and a player from the Penguins' minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07054/764537-100.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-23-2007, 05:02 PM
"would receive Laraque and a second- or third-round draft choice in exchange for a first-round draft choice and a player from the Penguins' minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre."

I love Shero and have all the respect in the world for the guy, but I really hope that was a typo on the PPG's part

Giving away our first round pick (even though it's a late first, already heard that one) and a minor league prospect for Georges ****ing Laraque. Get Boynton's named involved and then we are talking.

Wait a minute here, does Dave Littlefield have something to do with this?

Eitherway, I will pray tonight that this is just wishful thinking on the PHX media's part.

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 07:37 PM
Here's the trade story from the Arizona Republic:

'Yotes work with Penguins on Laraque deal

David Vest
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 23, 2007 01:44 PM

The Coyotes and Pittsburgh are working to complete a trade that would send Phoenix enforcer Georges Laraque to the Penguins.

An NHL source said the Coyotes are offering Laraque and either a second- or third-round draft pick to Pittsburgh and are hoping to land a first-round pick and an American Hockey League player or two in return.

Laraque said Friday morning that he has yet to be approached about waiving his no-trade clause, but he did reveal the Coyotes told him he would not be playing another game for them.

A deal could be completed by Friday afternoon. The NHL trade deadline is Tuesday at 1 p.m.

http://www.azcentral.com/sports/coyotes/articles/0223laraque-ON.html

If this goes down as written, I will be EXTREMELY pissed at Shero for making this deal. Hey Ray - if you're willing to part with a first-rounder, the Blues are offering Bill Guerin for one. I think that would be a WAY better deal than offering it AND minor leaguers for a washed-up enforcer like Laraque. Plus, Guerin has and will stand up for his teammates and will take on a heavyweight if need be, in addition to shoveling Sidney Crosby passes behind opposing goalies with regularity. I can't believe that he would allow himself to be raped like this after all of the shrewd moves he has made, and will demand another player from the Coyotes' NHL roster to be included.

X-Terminator
02-23-2007, 07:43 PM
You know how I feel about Laraque, XT, but Therrien seems to have that magic touch with the guys, so who knows? I've never been particularly fond of him, but I wasn't fond of Kasper either when he was with the Isles and when he came to the Burgh, he ended up being one of my faves! I guess we'll know soon enough which of our guys will be wearing a Coyotes uniform- better not be Gei or Ruutu. LOL!

Thank you for the more detailed article, 83.

I'm not all that thrilled with Laraque either - his best enforcing days are behind him. Sure, he's the heavyweight champ, but when Wayne Gretzky - the biggest puss this game has ever seen - challenges your willingness to fight and stand up for your teammates, I think you're just about done. And giving up a 1st round pick plus minor leaguers for him is just friggin insane. Laraque is nowhere near worth that much - maybe a 3rd round pick AT BEST. We'll know soon enough what this deal will include, but it had better not be what has been reported, I know that.

X-Terminator
02-24-2007, 08:01 AM
Thank God! Shero isn't going to pull a Craig Patrick after all. I knew he was smarter than that.

Asking price might be too steep for Penguins to acquire enforcer
Laraque trade is unlikely

Saturday, February 24, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- No, the Penguins wouldn't mind adding some toughness before the NHL trade deadline Tuesday.

And yes, the name of Phoenix enforcer Georges Laraque has turned up in a few conversations between Penguins general manager Ray Shero and his Coyotes counterpart, Mike Barnett, in the past few weeks.

But there is absolutely no evidence that a trade that would send Laraque to the Penguins is likely, let alone imminent. Indeed, an individual familiar with the situation said last night that while Phoenix is openly entertaining trade offers for Laraque, it is "not desperate to get rid of him."

Although neither Shero nor Barnett would comment on a possible Laraque deal last night, there were strong indications that the Penguins would not be willing to give up a first-round draft choice, let alone a No. 1 and a prospect, for Laraque and a second- or third-round pick, a variation that has been reported in Phoenix.

Laraque, a 6-foot-3, 243-pound right winger who spent his first eight pro seasons in Edmonton's organization, signed a two-year contract with Phoenix last July 5.

He will earn $1.1 million this season, $1.3 million in 2007-08. His deal includes a no-trade clause, so he would have to agree to any trade before it could be finalized.

Laraque, 30, is widely regarded as one of the NHL's premier heavyweights, but can do more than just make a fist with his hands. He has five goals, 17 assists and 52 penalty minutes in 56 games this season.

His most productive NHL season was 2000-01, when he had 13 goals and 16 assists, both career bests, in 82 games with Edmonton. He also piled up 157 penalty minutes, another career high, that winter.

At least three other clubs, one in the Eastern Conference and two in the West, are believed to have expressed interest in Laraque, whose tough-guy role in Phoenix presumably would go to rookie Josh Gratton if he is dealt.

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/07055/764725-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-24-2007, 08:05 AM
For some Penguins defensemen, scoring droughts are no big deal

Saturday, February 24, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- There was a delayed penalty coming on Boston, and Brooks Orpik decided he should move up on the play.

He did, he got open and he received a feed from teammate Ziggy Palffy.

"Of all people," Orpik said, smiling. "I can't believe he actually passed it to me."

Turned out to be a shrewd decision, because Orpik launched the puck past Bruins goalie Andre Raycroft.

He remembers the details like it was yesterday.

Except it wasn't.

Not even close.

Orpik scored that goal on Oct. 22, 2005. He has played 105 games since then without getting another. Or even coming close very often, for that matter.

So, while a few eyebrows might be arched over the 10-game goal-less streak defenseman Sergei Gonchar takes into the Penguins' game against Tampa Bay at 5:05 p.m. tomorrow at the St. Pete Times Forum, no one is even a little surprised that Orpik has gone more than 16 months without one.

Or that Josef Melichar doesn't have a goal in his past 47 games, or Mark Eaton in his past 29. Or that Rob Scuderi went 110 without one before scoring Feb. 16 at New Jersey.

"We know it's not expected of us," Eaton said. "If we can add a goal, it's a bonus."

And potentially profitable. Although the NHL's collective bargaining agreement bans performance bonuses for most players, that didn't stop Orpik, Scuderi and Eaton from agreeing to a wager to reward the first of them to get a goal this season.

The catch is, there didn't seem to be any urgency to work out the finer points of their agreement, so they hadn't settled on what the winner's payoff actually would be before Scuderi tossed a shot past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

"We kind of had a gentleman's bet," Scuderi said. "We kind of threw it together at the last minute. Maybe someone will buy tickets for a Pirates game or something like that. We'll figure something out."

Assuming, of course, that the league doesn't intervene.

Not because it's concerned about the wager -- this won't be the NHL's next great gambling scandal -- but because some people still aren't entirely convinced that Scuderi deserves credit for his goal.

At the time, it appeared that Ryan Malone had deflected in the shot.

"It's still a controversial issue," Orpik said. "Malone swears he tipped it. [Scuderi] swears that he didn't."

Actually, Scuderi was adamant after the game that he thought the goal belonged to Malone, but the off-ice officials reviewed the play multiple times and could find no compelling evidence that the puck touched Malone's stick.

Consequently, the original scoring stood and, now that more than a week has passed, it isn't likely to change.

"I told [Malone], 'If you tipped it, you tipped it. Just tell them.' " Scuderi said. "They couldn't really find anything. Since there was no video evidence, it stayed mine.

"I'll take it, don't get me wrong. But I didn't want to steal one."

There was a time when he didn't have to, because Scuderi entered Boston College with a reputation as a pretty good point-producer, which is pretty much the way Eaton was regarded when he turned pro.

"I came into the pros as an offensive guy," Eaton said. "For whatever reason, my role in Nashville changed. My role on the team was to be more of a defensive guy, so the offensive numbers went out the door."

In Orpik's case, those big numbers never made it in the door in the first place.

"I've never been a goal-scorer," he said. "Never. I'm pretty sure that's not why I'm here.

"I don't think the coaches are too disturbed by the fact that I haven't scored yet this year. I think we could go two years without scoring and I don't think the coaches would care too much."

Truth be told, Orpik set a sizzling pace early in 2005-06, when he scored twice -- both against the Bruins -- in the first six games.

"I came out of the gates hot," he said. "I think I used them up too quickly."

He's had plenty of time since to replenish the supply, as have Eaton and Melichar. But while all of them enjoy scoring, none of them puts it anywhere on his to-do list.

"It's always nice," Orpik said. "But as long as the team's winning, I don't really care."

Strictly defense

Staticstics this season for defensemen Rob Scuderi, Mark Eaton and Brooks Orpik:

Scuderi

GP.....G.....A.....PTS.....+/-.....PIM

57.....1.....8.....9.....3.....22

Most recent goal: Feb. 16, 2007 vs. Devils.

Eaton

25*.....0.....2.....2.....12.....12

Most recent goal: April 8, 2006 vs. Blackhawks.

Orpik

48.....0.....4.....4.....-1.....64

Most recent goal: Oct. 22, 2005 vs. Bruins.

* missed 34 games because of injury.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07055/764724-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-24-2007, 08:10 AM
Penguins' chemistry plays role in success

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, February 24, 2007

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Prior to Thursday, Jocelyn Thibault had only appeared in 14 games this season. Of those, he had only won three times.

So, how to explain Thibault's clutch performance for the Penguins in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday?

There he was Thursday night -- flashing brilliant glove save after textbook butterfly stop for a Penguins squad that, despite having gone 11-1-1 since the All-Star break, seemed destined to drop a second consecutive decision in a building where they had won just once in nine prior visits.

"Everybody else on this team has been stepping up lately," Thibault said. "I did not want to be the one to let us down, to ruin that chemistry."

No wonder teammate Mark Recchi, who joins Thibault as one of the few veterans among these upstart Penguins, expressed supreme confidence in the club's backup goaltender following a morning skate on Thursday.

"Chemistry is an important part of winning. It seems like a cliche, but it's true from what I've seen," said Recchi, a two-time Stanley Cup champion. "If you don't have guys all buying into the same thing, you'll have guys going in different directions. We don't have that problem. We have everybody pulling together -- from the stars, like Sidney (Crosby) and Geno (Evgeni Malkin), to the role players, like (Jarkko) Ruutu and (Dominic) Moore.

"You can feel it. These guys are growing up together. There are no egos. They know we are in this thing together."

So it was that the Penguins avoided a losing skid by getting game-changing contributions from a seldom-used goalie and a winger whose scoring touch from last season had vanished.

"You know, it might seem weird to some people, but I have not worried about my goals total for a while now," second-year wing Colby Armstrong said after he scored the winning goal in overtime against the Panthers. It was only Armstrong's seventh goal this season after netting 16 in 47 games last season.

"I'm so focused on helping this team win that the individual stuff has not really mattered," he said. "We've got something special going in this locker room, and I think everybody realizes that."

In fact, the immeasurable quality that is the Penguins' chemistry might force general manager Ray Shero into holding his cards as the trade deadline approaches. After all, why mess with a team that has amassed the league's highest point total since the All-Star break?

"Anybody we get would come in and work hard to fit in, but trading for another player, even if he is more talented than some of the guys we have here, might not make the team any better," said left wing Ryan Malone, himself the subject of trade speculation. "This group of guys has spent a lot of time together. The natural stuff, the fighting for one another -- it seems pretty easy, to the point that it's not something we think about. We just get along really well and have a good time. There's no secret to it, I don't think. It's just what it is -- we're a close team."

One that Recchi insists might prove best suited to chase the Stanley Cup as is.

"We believe in what we're doing, and that is a lot of the battle," Recchi said. "Once you get in the playoffs, it's a two-month process. I know this: You have to have chemistry to survive that grind, whether it's a two-month run to the Cup or an opening-round series. You have to be there for one another, and so far this team has done that."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494723.html

83-Steelers-43
02-24-2007, 09:22 AM
"At least three other clubs, one in the Eastern Conference and two in the West, are believed to have expressed interest in Laraque,"

For the rumored asking price, they can ****ing have him. Please Mr. Shero, play this season out, see how far we can go, head into the offseason and play around with trades and the FA market.

It's not worth it.

83-Steelers-43
02-24-2007, 05:26 PM
WHAT?!?! THAT GUY WAS GREAT!


He's great? That's kind of stretching it just a bit don't you think?

83-Steelers-43
02-24-2007, 05:43 PM
I can see it now. This upcoming Monday at approximately 7:00 PM on FSN Pittsburgh.......

Stan: Mullet Hank from New Brighton, your up.

Caller: Stan, love the show. Yinz all hear abaht that Laraque guy? Shero is a jagoff for not snagging him!!

Stan: Well the asking price was high.

Caller: Jano what Stan?

Stan: What?

Caller: Stan...

Stan: What?

Caller: Stan, yinz all hear abaht that Laraque guy? Shero is horrible!!! Bring back Mike Lange!!! *burps IC*

Stan: Do you mean Craig Patrick?

Caller: Same difference!!!

Stan: Thank you caller *click*

SteelersTilIDie
02-24-2007, 08:25 PM
Lange was and always will be the best announcer in penguins history and im glad he took the radio job

83-Steelers-43
02-24-2007, 10:58 PM
im glad he took the radio job

You and me both.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 12:53 AM
Crosby sings praises of Lightning duo

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 25, 2007

TAMPA - Sidney Crosby was 16 when Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis helped the Lightning lift the Stanley Cup in 2004.

At 19, Crosby is trying to protect his NHL scoring lead with Lecavalier and St. Louis as his chief competition for the Art Ross Trophy. Lecavalier and St. Louis, each with 83 points, trail only Crosby, who has amassed 96, in the scoring race.

"Those are two guys I grew up watching -- they're fun," Crosby said. "They have a sense of creativity when they do things. But the thing about each of those guys that I really respect is that they put in the second effort, never give up on a play. A lot of times when you see guys score goals or set up goals, it's because they don't give up on a play."

Crosby, too, seemingly never gives up on a play. Likewise, he is not giving up on the possibility that his Penguins could make like the Lightning and win a championship with a core of mostly young players.


"It's kind of a unique situation that we're in, to have as many young guys that we do," Crosby said. "But it's encouraging for us to see that Tampa was successful. It's funny, because it's not like Tampa is that old. Those guys are still pretty young. They have a lot of long playoff runs in them."

Tampa and the Penguins are both on pace to reach the playoffs this season. And though the Penguins have recorded the league's highest point total since the All-Star break, chances are it would not mind avoiding the Lightning in the playoffs.

The Penguins have dropped each of their three games with Tampa this season and have won just once here since the 1999-2000 season.

Strong arm

Colby Armstrong wrapped a bag of ice atop his left hand following the Penguins practice Saturday. He said that X-rays revealed no broken bones in the hand, which absorbed a nasty slash prior to Armstrong scoring a goal in an overtime victory against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

"Right before I saw it, somebody got a one-handed whack on me," Armstrong said. "It's just a little sore, but nothing is wrong. That's what happens when you pay the price to go to the goal-scoring spots. I've got to do that a little more."

Armstrong is eighth on the club in scoring with 23 points, but his seven goals through 58 games are somewhat of a disappointment after he tallied 16 in 47 games last season.

"You always want to score more, everybody does," Armstrong said. "But our line" -- Armstrong has played the right wing on a unit with Maxime Talbot at center and Erik Christensen at left wing -- "is working hard and doing the little things that help us win games, and that's the most important thing to me."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494916.html

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 12:55 AM
Scouting the Lightning

By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, February 25, 2007

Today's game

Pittsburgh Penguins (33-18-9, 75 points) at Tampa Bay Lightning (35-25-3, 73 points)

When, where: 5 p.m. St. Pete Times Forum

TV/radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Penguins: Jocelyn Thibault (4-5-2, 3.00 GAA); Lightning: Johan Holmqvist (21-12-1, 2.77 GAA)

Notable: The Penguins are 0-3 against the Lightning, with each defeat coming by a single goal. The Penguins have dropped games to Tampa Bay in every conceivable fashion -- regulation, overtime and shootout. The Penguins own just one win in Tampa since the 1999-2000 season. ... Tampa right wing Andre Roy, who began this season with the Penguins, has been suspended three games for allegedly abusing an official in a loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494881.html

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 01:07 AM
You know what Joe? Shut up. Just SHUT UP! You know NOTHING about the sport or the code, and don't pretend you do. You want to see figure skating? Go watch Nancy friggin Kwan. I'm so sick of you and people like you wanting to see everything done to pussify the sport. What will you ask for next? Body checks to be outlawed? Like it or not, Joe, physical play/fighting puts asses in the seats just as much as skating and scoring. Learn it, love it, live with it...or watch another low-impact sport, like badminton. A BIG reason why the NHL's ratings and attendance are in the tank is because the league, led by Gary Bettman, has gone out of it's way to appeal to people like you, and ultimately is going to kill the sport that I love. Will you be proud of yourself then, Joe? And please, do me a favor - never, EVER call yourself a real hockey fan, because you are NOT.

Oh, and by the way, Joe ol' boy...were you calling for the same punishment against Colby Armstrong when he laid out Trevor Letowski? Because Chris Neil's hit was exactly the same thing. I don't remember you crying about it then or calling for Army to be suspended, though...maybe it was just an oversight on my part :wink02:

Ringling Bros. running NHL?

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 25, 2007

A star player lies on the ice, blood dripping from his head.

On the next shift, a couple of no-talent hacks seek vengeance against the other team's best players.

Fights break out all over the rink, including one between the goalies and very nearly one between the coaches.

Old-time hockey or plain-old farce?

Natural by-product of a legitimate sport, or WWE meets the Ringling Bros.?

Surely, you've seen the lowlights from Thursday night's game in Buffalo, when the Sabres and Ottawa Senators made "Slap Shot" look like "Bambi."

If you're a hockey fan, there's a good chance you were hoping for a sequel Saturday night in Ottawa. A recent Hockey News survey showed the vast majority of hardcore NHL fans - what other kind are there? - approves of fighting.

If you're indifferent toward the sport, you probably scoffed when you saw the replays. Or maybe you laughed. Either way, I'm guessing you didn't scramble to find Versus on your cable package.

The NHL wants to have it both ways.

It wants to appease a loyal fan base, so it keeps fighting in the game and often legislates lightly or not at all against killer hits. It also wants the outside world's approval, so it wags a finger at the fighters.

And, in truth, fighting majors have declined steadily over the past few decades, largely because of the instigator rule, which penalizes a player who starts a fight.

But the goonery hasn't gone away. Its insidious presence is what has the Penguins apparently pursuing hockey's heavyweight champ, Georges Laraque -- so he can "protect" Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Surely, you don't believe Laraque's presence would prevent some cementhead from taking a shot at Crosby, do you?

Only the league can protect its players. Or not.

It would be so much easier to respect the NHL if it would go one way or the other.

Option No. 1: Scrap the instigator penalty, embrace fighting and allow for the re-emergence of bench-clearing brawls. Make violence a major part of the entertainment package. Heck, replace commissioner Gary Bettman with Ric Flair and let the Hanson Brothers supervise officials.

Television ratings would spike.

Option No. 2: Emphasize and protect the sport itself. Severely penalize cheap shots like the one Ottawa's Chris Neil laid on Buffalo's Chris Drury. Enact a zero-tolerance policy on intent-to-injure hits and fighting. Make any such offense punishable by a minimum 10-game suspension.

Obviously, I'm for the latter. It's too hard to defend the NHL as a legitimate, competitive enterprise when you witness the kind of cartoonish buffoonery that broke out in Buffalo. Real hockey fans will love the sport with or without the WWE element.

The NHL has done so much to improve the product coming out of the lockout. What a shame the thug element threatens to undermine that.

You know, the entertainment value of a fight kind of gets lost when you see a player carted off on a stretcher, as was the case with Toronto's Kris Newbury after his recent bout with Ronald Petrovicky.

Not that I'm not expecting the mentality to change. Listening to ESPN's Barry Melrose talk over a replay of the Buffalo brawl was enough to make me retch. He defended Neil, saying the hit on Drury was "late" but not cheap. As if there's a difference.

Melrose didn't have a problem with any of the thuggery until Buffalo "tough guy" Andrew Peters went after Ottawa goalie "Sugar" Ray Emery, who'd just beaten up Sabres goalie Martin Biron.

"That's sort of against the code," Melrose said.

Ah yes, the code.

Apparently, "the code" allows for dirty hits that could potentially ruin a player (Drury likely sustained the second concussion of his career and is out indefinitely) and for a stiff like Adam Mair to launch a retaliatory attack against a real player like Jason Spezza.

But a forward fighting a goalie?

Oh, don't you go there.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494920.html

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 01:20 AM
Can't say I'm totally surprised, though I did think Fleury would be back in there. I just hope this doesn't mess with his confidence.


Thibault gets nod again from Therrien

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 25, 2007

TAMPA - From Jocelyn Thibault's view, there is no budding goaltender controversy with the Penguins.

Of course, his view is from atop the depth chart these days -- as coach Michel Therrien has announced that Thibault will start today against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

For those keeping count, his start against Tampa will be Thibault's second in a row and third in four games.

"To me, it's not a controversy," Thibault said. "For a while, (Therrien) thought the team had a better chance to win with Marc-Andre. Now, I'm getting to play."

Thibault might continue to play as long as he performs the way he did Thursday, when he stopped 32 of 33 shots to preserve a Penguins' victory over the Florida Panthers.

In his season-plus tenure as Penguins coach, Therrien has consistently gone with the hot goaltender. Thibault, despite just 14 appearances to date, has proven pretty warm of late.

"(Thibault) deserves to play," Therrien said. "Our philosophy hasn't changed and won't change: If you deserve ice time, you get ice time. That's the same whether you're a forward, defenseman or a goalie. I have to respect that philosophy. Thibault played outstanding (against Florida), and he deserves to be in there again."

Thibault is 4-5-2 this season, with a 3.00 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. Perhaps more important, he has surrendered only three goals over his past two starts -- against the Panthers and the Washington Capitals.

"I'm happy that I'm having a chance to play. I just want to make the best of it," Thibault said. "There are just two goalies on this team, and we're going to need both of us, especially down the stretch."

For much of this season, Fleury was seemingly the only goaltender for the Penguins.

Prior to his benching against the Panthers, Fleury appeared in 49 of the club's 60 games. For the most part, he fulfilled the heavy expectations that came with his selection as the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft. This season, Fleury is 29-13-7 with a 2.92 GAA, a .904 save percentage and four shutouts.

However, if his play reached new heights over the season's first four months, it has been on a steady decline in February. Over the past five games, Fleury has posted a 4.44 GAA and a .847 save percentage.

Knowing those numbers, Fleury was not surprised that Therrien is going with Thibault tonight.

"He's playing really well, and maybe I'm not right now," Fleury said.

Asked if he still considered himself the Penguins' No. 1 goaltender, Fleury said, "I don't know."

"Jocelyn played great the last few games he has played. The way Michel goes, if you play good, you play. He's consistent with that, and I respect him for that. We'll see how it will go."

Fleury of activity

Marc-Andre Fleury will sit for a second consecutive game when the Penguins play the Tampa Bay Lightning today. Fleury is 29-13-7 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. However, he has struggled over his past five games:

Date Opponent SA GA

Feb. 8 Flyers 33 4

Feb. 10 Maple Leafs 28 5

Feb. 14 Blackhawks 28 4

Feb. 16 Devils 31 4

Feb. 19 Islanders 30 6


* Fleury has a 4.44 GAA and a .847 save-percentage over this span.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494923.html

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 01:30 AM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: Therrien / Every word has its place and for every bad play a word
A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions

Sunday, February 25, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Part of Michel Therrien's success as a coach can be traced to how little, if any, energy or effort he wastes in the execution of his duties.

Pretty much everything his players work on during practice is directly related to game situations, for example, and the impact of virtually every word he utters in public -- especially in post-game settings -- is calculated long before he says it.
Onlookers might smile when he triggers an occasional second-language trapdoor -- like saying that decisions are made for the long-term good of the "horgazination" or declining to make "comparations" between players -- but there is no question Therrien wields his words with a purpose.

Which means that his criticism of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after the Penguins' 6-5 loss on Long Island Monday was not rooted strictly in anger or disappointment that a valuable point, if not two, had slipped away.

Oh, Therrien is quite passionate about his work and there were times earlier in his coaching career when emotion seemed to override good judgment. But there has been little evidence of that during his 14-plus months behind the Penguins' bench.

There have, however, been several instances of him using the media to deliver a message to one or more players beginning with his classic diatribe Jan. 10, 2006, when he proclaimed that, "I'm really starting to believe [the Penguins' defense corps'] goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league. And they're doing such a great job at being the worst." Clearly, he was speaking to Fleury with his comments after the Islanders game.

However, while Therrien's intent was transparent -- it's tough to misinterpret "Fleury was not good. This is four games in a row that he's given up way too many goals" -- it remains to be seen if he chose the correct method of motivating Fleury.

(He can only hope Fleury reacts better than the Penguins did after his scalding critique last January. The next night, they gave up a goal 10 seconds after the opening faceoff en route to what became a 6-1 loss in Columbus.)

While some players respond best to a pat on the back, Therrien obviously determined that a very public kick in the ego was a better way to get through to Fleury.

That is a decidedly different approach than he has taken this season with other players who went through longer, less productive, stretches than the one that Fleury experienced in the games leading up to that loss on Long Island.

It shouldn't take long to determine whether Therrien has pushed the right buttons with Fleury, who had won his previous five starts and was 12-0-2 in his previous 14.

If Fleury polishes a few of the rough edges that had appeared on his game, calling him out will be validated and Therrien will have gone a long way toward making sure his team gets into the playoffs.

Conversely, if Therrien's criticism damages Fleury's confidence -- a critical component in any goaltender's game -- it could go down as one of the most costly errors in judgment he has made in his time with the Penguins.

The only thing certain at this point is that Therrien knew exactly what he was trying to accomplish when he publicly skewered his No. 1 goaltender.


Memorabilia makers; memorabilia collectors


Most players save pucks associated with important moments, whether it's a first shutout or goal or hat trick or some milestone achievement as they get older.

Mark Recchi, for example, has the puck with which he scored his 500th NHL goal Jan. 26, and he didn't stop there. Recchi also saved the sweater he was wearing and the stick he used.

He did the same for No. 400, but figures that getting to 500 will go down as the most important individual feat of his career.

"That's probably going to be it," he said. "Five hundred goals is pretty significant."

So is No. 1, which is why Sidney Crosby didn't settle for just a puck when he scored his first in the league; he got the sticks Recchi and Ziggy Palffy were using when they assisted him on it.

Crosby also collects sweaters with particular meaning. He gave his father the one he wore in his NHL debut -- "That one's pretty special," he said -- and has held onto those he wore while representing Canada in international competitions, such as the world junior championships.

"You grow up getting up at 3 in the morning to watch [world junior games] from Russia, to have that jersey is pretty unique," he said.

So far, defenseman Ryan Whitney has confined his collection to the pucks used to score his first goal in college, the American Hockey League and the NHL, but he plans to expand it.

"[The pucks are] not plaqued up or anything," he said. "But hopefully someday, I'll have a room or something with a bunch of players' sticks, like [those of] Sid and [Recchi] that you can collect along the way."


Are you Sidding me?


Maxime Talbot got the winning goal in the Penguins' 3-2 victory against Washington last Sunday when he beat Capitals goalie Brent Johnson from just inside the left dot while dropping to one knee.

No matter how it looked, however, Talbot wasn't losing his balance as he scored. It turns out that he, like Crosby, is quite comfortable launching pucks from that position.

"That's how I shoot, Brett Hull-style," he said. "Put your knee on the ground, and you can put a little more weight into it."

Talbot acknowledged, though, that Crosby is a bit more adept at it than he is, adding that, "I have to work on it a little bit."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07056/764782-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 09:12 AM
Penguins Notebook: Thibault will make second start in a row

Sunday, February 25, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Penguins will play their 61st game when they face Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum at 5:08 p.m. today. Goalie Jocelyn Thibault, however, will be making consecutive starts for the first time all season.

"I can deal with that," he said, chuckling after asked if he can handle such a workload. "I might look old, but I'm not that old.

"It's fun to be playing again, to get some kind of rhythm. To play a couple of games in a short period of time is a good feeling."

This will be the second time Thibault has appeared in consecutive games in 2006-07, but coach Michel Therrien was reluctant to sit him after Thibault stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 overtime victory at Florida Thursday.

"He played outstanding," Therrien said. "He deserves to be there again."

Thibault's partner, who has appeared in 49 of the Penguins' first 60 games, didn't argue the point.

"He's been great the last two games he's been in, or the last three," Marc-Andre Fleury said.

Thibault, meanwhile, agreed that the edge on his game is as sharp as it has been in several years.

"It's been a while," he said. "Probably before the lockout [that wiped out the 2004-05 season]. I feel comfortable. I know what I have to do out there. It might not work great every night, but I'm going to try to put my best effort out there."

Roy draws suspension

Former Penguins left winger Andre Roy, who returned to the Lightning via re-entry waivers Dec. 3, won't face his old club today.

He received an automatic three-game suspension for violating Rule 41.4 (Category III), which deals with abuse of an official, at the end of a 6-2 loss to Boston Friday, after complaining about the performance of the referees and feigned a head-butt at one of the officials. And it could be that, in the wake of his comments after the Lightning's workout in suburban Brandon yesterday, Roy might be facing additional sanctions -- or at least an unpleasant phone call -- from the league.

"It's all about the name on the back [of the sweater], and the number," Roy said. "If it's anybody else, maybe a 10-minute misconduct. But it's Andre Roy. We'll suspend him. They just like to [expletive] me.

"This [expletive] league, where's all the emotion? You used to be able to [expletive] let your emotions out, say what you think. ... I spoke, and I faked a head-butt, or something like that. And they [expletive] suspend me.

"I'm very surprised. Very, very, very surprised. But ... [NHL executive] Colin Campbell likes to [expletive] me every time. So [expletive] him."

Lightning coach John Tortorella said after the Bruins game that Roy's actions were "just emotion, at least from what I saw," and that, "if a little common sense comes into play and ego stays out of it," Roy likely would not have been penalized.

Yesterday, though, he criticized Roy for failing to show restraint.

"It was selfish, doing some of the things he did. We're not looking for undisciplined stuff. We're looking for him to be a tough player, but we also know he can play, or he wouldn't be here, so he frustrates me.

"Andre gets put into a box that he can't play. We believe he can, and I want him to believe that he can [make] a difference here. Him doing stupid things like that and sitting out three games at a key time of the year for us, it's selfish."

Schedule becomes Lightning rod

The NHL schedule has not done the Lightning any favors lately. Boston was resting in Tampa while the Lightning played a physically and emotionally draining game in Atlanta Thursday night, and the Penguins got here about the same time the Lightning returned from its overtime victory against the Thrashers. The difference is, Tampa Bay had to face Boston the next night, while the Penguins had to do nothing more strenuous than sit around and relax.

"But we haven't had many back-to-back games this year," said Lightning center Tim Taylor, "so it's not really anything to complain about. Obviously, this is a tough stretch, with five games in eight nights, but we have the next two at home, so we should be all right. We can regroup."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07056/764885-61.stm

LarryNJ
02-25-2007, 09:13 AM
You know what Joe? Shut up. Just SHUT UP! ......

Hehehe...I wish you would tell us how you really feel! :)

BTW: It's Michelle not Nacy Kwan! :wink02:

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 09:16 AM
Lecavalier's scoring burst is latest bolt of Lightning

Sunday, February 25, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jay Feaster let it be known late last summer that he expected Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier to score 50 goals this season.

Talented as Lecavalier is, that seemed like a lot to count on from a guy who had not gotten more than 35 in any of his previous seven NHL seasons.

Turns out, though, that Feaster, the Lightning's general manager, might have been underestimating him a bit. Lecavalier enters Tampa Bay's game against the Penguins today at 5:08 p.m. at the St. Pete Times Forum with a league-high 40 goals, which puts him on pace to finish with 52.

That makes him the front-runner to receive the Maurice Richard Trophy, which goes to the NHL's top goal-scorer. Quite a feat, to be sure, although one Lecavalier seems to have kept in perspective.

"If it happens, it happens," he said. "It would be great, but my main goal is obviously for Tampa to win."

While there wasn't much precedent for Lecavalier's goal production, it hasn't exactly triggered a tsunami of disbelief inside the industry.

"I'm not surprised," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "He's a great player. He's playing with a guy like [Martin] St. Louis, who's a great playmaker and can score, too."

Going into the games last night, Lecavalier and St. Louis were tied for second place in the NHL scoring race with 83 points, 13 behind Crosby.

"Playing with Marty St. Louis, it just kind of makes things so much easier," Lecavalier said. "He's such a determined player and he's very demanding of his linemates and his teammates, and I think I started getting a little more consistent. We've really been pushing each other, and it's been working very well."

St. Louis acknowledged after the Lightning's workout in suburban Brandon yesterday that, "we really feed off one another," but suggested Lecavalier's outburst should not have caught anyone off-guard.

"It's not like this is the first year that he's scored goals," St. Louis said.

He and Lecavalier form not only the most lethal 1-2 combination in the league, but one of the most visually improbable. St. Louis is 5 feet 9, 185 pounds, Lecavalier 6 feet 4, 223.

St. Louis' greatest asset likely is his speed; Lecavalier, while a good skater, is particularly difficult to contain because he has learned to use his reach and large frame to full advantage.

"He's got a big body, and he's not afraid to use it," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Like Joe Thornton [of San Jose]."

Thornton, the first player drafted in 1997, was honored as the NHL's Most Valuable Player last season. Tampa Bay claimed Lecavalier with the No. 1 pick a year later and, while he probably won't succeed Thornton as the Hart Trophy winner, coach John Tortorella believes his offensive production reflects the maturity Lecavalier has gained during his time in the league.

They had what Tortorella described as "a pretty frank conversation" at the beginning of the season, with one of the four key points they discussed being the need for Lecavalier to consistently keep his game at its highest level.

"In the past couple of years, as he's grown and matured, he's become a great player at certain times of the season, a couple of games here, a couple of games there," Tortorella said. "He's been a good player following some games. Two great games, maybe five games when he's decent and good.

"We wanted to try to step up that maturity and that responsibility of being a gamebreaker more consistently, and he has accepted that."

That might not bode well for the Penguins' defense pairing of Mark Eaton and Sergei Gonchar, who routinely face opponents' most dangerous forwards. They figure to have the daunting task of performing damage-control against Lecavalier and St. Louis today.

"You just try, the same as with any world-class player, to limit their time and space," Eaton said. "Realize they're good players, but don't respect them too much [so that] you back off and give them a lot of time to make the plays they like to make. "You just try to be in their face, have a good stick near the puck and make it as hard on them as you possibly can."

Seems only fair, since that's what Lecavalier and St. Louis do that to other teams so often. And, as good as they have been, Tortorella seems convinced that Lecavalier will get even better.

"It's not what I think or what you think [that matters]," he said. "He thinks he can. I think he believes he can bring another level to his game."

Kind of like he is doing now.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07056/764913-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 09:17 AM
Ron Cook: Therrien hopes benching will help Fleury blossom

Sunday, February 25, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Marc-Andre Fleury took it like a man. All of it. The rotten performance against the New York Islanders Monday. The stinging public criticism that followed from Penguins coach Michel Therrien. The embarrassing benching in Florida Thursday night.

Too bad many of the team's fans weren't so mature.

The reaction to Therrien's handling of Fleury was way over the top.

How can the fool coach do that after just one loss?

Why start a goaltending controversy now? This late in the season? When the Penguins are so close to a playoff spot?

What about poor Marc-Andre's psyche?

Please.

I know Fleury's nickname isn't the most macho in sports -- "Flower" -- but do you really believe he's that fragile?

If Fleury is, he's not the goaltender you want leading the Penguins into the playoff pressure, anyway.

Now, I'll admit it's unusual for a coach to take on a star player in such a public manner. Most coaches are afraid to call out their athletes for fear of offending them. That goes along with the big-money contracts and the huge investments teams make in their players. It frequently puts coaches in the uncomfortable position of having to smooch their players' behinds, so as to cover their own. If Fleury quits on Therrien, Fleury won't lose his job. Therrien will.

But give Therrien credit, not just for his brass, which is admirable, but for knowing his players, knowing which need stroked and which need kicked in the fanny. He has coached Fleury for a long time, here and with the Penguins' Wilkes-Barre/Scranton farm club. Obviously, he believes Fleury can handle the rough treatment and benefit from it. Obviously, he thinks this is the way to get the most out of him and help him become the team's franchise goaltender for the next 10 or 12 years.

There's no doubt Therrien's criticism of Fleury was calculated.

Everything Therrien does is calculated.

Remember his infamous blowup after a loss to Edmonton last season -- not long after he replaced fired Eddie Olczyk -- when he called out the team in general and the defense in particular? "That defensive squad, I'm really starting to believe their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league ... I've never seen a bunch of defensemen soft like this."

The players didn't like it, but they responded to it.

The Penguins didn't make the playoffs last season, but they were a better team after Therrien's meltdown.

The coach's only regret?

Not doing it sooner.

"I thought about doing that for more than a week," he has said.

The same premeditation went into the Fleury episode. After the Penguins' 6-5 loss to the Islanders ended their 14-0-2 run, Therrien said, "Fleury was not good. This is four games in a row that he's given up way too many goals." Therrien not only didn't back down from those comments two days later after his emotions settled, he announced that backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault would start against the Florida Panthers. Thibault made the coach look like a genius by playing well in a 2-1 overtime win.

This served a couple of valuable purposes.

One, it helped to get Thibault ready -- mentally and physically -- for the stretch run. The Penguins will play 17 games in March, including four sets of games on consecutive nights. They will need both goaltenders.

Two, it served as a healthy slap in the face for Fleury. The kid is just 22 and had extraordinary success most of the season. If that made him just a bit complacent, well, that wouldn't be all that shocking.

You might say Therrien welcomed Fleury back to reality.

It's easy to forget Therrien did much the same thing with Fleury in training camp. Fleury arrived as the Penguins' clear No. 1 goalie but did not play well early. Therrien went public to make it known he was considering starting Thibault, keeping Dany Sabourin on the roster and sending Fleury to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Fleury responded by playing well late in camp, winning the starting job and leading the Penguins to a 7-3 start. He continued to play well until just a week or two ago and might have been the team's Most Valuable Player, no disrespect to the great Sidney Crosby.

Don't be surprised if Fleury reacts the same way this time.

Therrien is a lot smarter than he seems.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07056/764780-87.stm

HometownGal
02-25-2007, 09:55 AM
You know what Joe? Shut up. Just SHUT UP! You know NOTHING about the sport or the code, and don't pretend you do. You want to see figure skating? Go watch Nancy friggin Kwan. I'm so sick of you and people like you wanting to see everything done to pussify the sport. What will you ask for next? Body checks to be outlawed? Like it or not, Joe, physical play/fighting puts asses in the seats just as much as skating and scoring. Learn it, love it, live with it...or watch another low-impact sport, like badminton. A BIG reason why the NHL's ratings and attendance are in the tank is because the league, led by Gary Bettman, has gone out of it's way to appeal to people like you, and ultimately is going to kill the sport that I love. Will you be proud of yourself then, Joe? And please, do me a favor - never, EVER call yourself a real hockey fan, because you are NOT.

Oh, and by the way, Joe ol' boy...were you calling for the same punishment against Colby Armstrong when he laid out Trevor Letowski? Because Chris Neil's hit was exactly the same thing. I don't remember you crying about it then or calling for Army to be suspended, though...maybe it was just an oversight on my part :wink02:



You tell him XT! :jammin: :thumbsup: What is hockey without physical play for God's sake????

83-Steelers-43
02-25-2007, 03:34 PM
Who are you?! These Pens are 'alright'
By Linda Cohn
ESPN.com

It was a total surprise. Completely unexpected.

Who would have thought I would meet Roger Daltrey's mother-in-law at the same coffee shop I visit every morning?

For you younger readers, Roger Daltrey is the lead singer of The Who, not to be confused with Chris Daughtry, the best fourth-place finisher ever from "American Idol." I bring up this chance meeting because it came on the same day I planned to write this column about the surprising and unexpected success of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Anyone familiar with The Who's history knows one of their biggest hits was "The Kids are Alright." Well, these kids in Pittsburgh are better than all right. And for those who predicted it was going to be a "teenage wasteland" in Steel Town, those same prognosticators should add "We Won't Get Fooled Again" to their iPods.

Some critics will still say the Penguins' recent success will fade, but this team is scary good and will be even better come April.

The obvious reasons why:

• It begins with face of the franchise, Sid "The Kid" Crosby. The 19-year-old phenom continues to lead the NHL scoring race with 95 points heading into Thursday's games. I guess the old clothes dryer he used to use for shooting drills as a kid has really paid off.

• The Penguins are one of the league's hottest teams. Before a loss to the New York Islanders on Monday, Pittsburgh was riding a 16-game points streak. With a 32-18-9 record, the Pens already have more wins than in each of the past four seasons, four seasons in which they did not make the playoffs.

So those are obvious reasons. But here are five things you may not know about this group of "Happy Feet" on skates.

• Jellin' at the Mellon and beyond: The Penguins are playing to 95 percent capacity at the Mellon Arena. The Mellon might be archaic, but Pittsburgh's die-hard hockey fans know a good thing when they see it, and they're paying to see it right now. Sorry, Kansas City. Keep the Pens in Pitt! Oh, by the way, when Crosby and the gang hit the road, they're the league's third biggest draw (the Pens recently gave the Phoenix Coyotes their first home sellout).

As for TV ratings in Pittsburgh, they are up 34 percent on Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, the highest percentage increase in the league and the best since the 2000-01. A perfect example -- Super Bowl Sunday. Pittsburgh's game against Montreal got a 7.2 rating. That's astronomical for hockey. Want more? Last week's Penguins-Maple Leafs tilt helped attract the highest-rated audience of the season on Canada's CBC.

• They draft well: The last seven first-round draft picks for the Penguins are all currently playing on the team and are making significant contributions. That's rare in any sport. The "Magnificent 7" are Crosby, Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Whitney, Colby Armstrong and yes, even Brooks Orpik.

Staal leads the league in shorthanded goals (five) and became the youngest player to record a hat trick in that Feb. 10 game vs. Toronto. But, if you ask Jordan, he would tell you he'd like to duplicate what older brother Eric accomplished with Carolina last season -- win a Stanley Cup.

• What Pittsburgh has in common with Edmonton: Besides the fact both teams were financially strapped at one time or another, the Penguins resemble the Oilers of over two decades ago, when, in the season of 1981-82, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey each scored 20 or more goals in a season before their 21st birthdays. That feat hadn't been repeated since Staal, Crosby and Malkin pulled it off this season. Don't tell me something that worked in the '80s can't work now. We did see Prince perform during halftime of the Super Bowl, right?

• Excellent accommodations: It has been well-documented that Crosby has been living with legend Mario Lemieux and his family since the Kid's NHL arrival last season, but it's worth pointing out again what this has meant to Crosby's development, on and off the ice. The formula worked so well in his rookie season, Crosby continues to make the Lemieux house his home. Staal, 18, bunks with 39-year-old teammate Mark Recchi, and Malkin, 20, shares a home with fellow countryman and veteran Sergei Gonchar (age 32). Can you imagine this in any other sport? It would be like LeBron James sharing a crib with Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Would never happen.

• Family matters: It does when you're talking about Penguins coach Michel Therrien. His dad Jerry brought hockey into his life at age 7. The two were in the stands at the old Montreal Forum to watch the legendary Jean Beliveau score his 500th goal. More than three decades later, a series of strokes has left his dad blind and bedridden in Montreal. Michel knows firsthand how close father-son relationships can be. It's one of the reasons why, for the first time in team history, the Penguins recently held a "dad's trip," when players were joined by their fathers on a two-day road stint.

One of the funnier moments from the trip was when Therrien stood up at the team dinner and imposed a curfew that night for all the players. He added (with tongue firmly placed in cheek) if the Pens lost the next night, players and dads could not use golf carts for their outing the next day. The Penguins went 2-0 on the trip. Right now, Therrien is a strong candidate for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. He has fought for respect and is earning it.

The kids are all right, and then some, in Pittsburgh. Make sure you see the march of the Penguins, coming to a hockey arena near you.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=cohn_linda&id=2775715&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab3pos2

83-Steelers-43
02-25-2007, 03:41 PM
Metzer's take..........

Rumors Running Wild Through The Streets....

Happy Saturday gang...things are certainly getting interesting around here...there is a lot of posturing going on, people asking for things that they are never going to get in return for certain players, or asking for guys that are pretty much untouchable at this point. This is all very normal at this stage of the game; the days leading up to the deadline are wrought with high trade demands, outlandish claims and rumors, lots and lots of rumors. When the smoke clears a lot of deals will happen Monday evening/Tuesday morning and all the way up to the deadline.

We will see what teams really are asking for and what they are willing to take when their backs are against the wall.

Take for instance the story that Phoenix is asking for a first round draft pick and a player for Georges Laraque. Does anyone actually think that they are going to get that? I personally don't, and that is what has that deal in jeopardy in Pittsburgh. Ray Shero may end up getting coerced into giving his first rounder up, but it is not going to be for a goon with some offensive upside. Come Tuesday, Big Georges could still be headed east for a lot less that that.

Here a couple buy its and don't buy its for you...

Colby Armstrong for Aaron Miller...buy it. Colby is a valuable player here in Pittsburgh, adds a lot of character and chemistry, but he may have topped out last season. That isn't a given, but he had ample opportunity to cash in earlier this season with Sidney Crosby as a center and he couldn't recapture the magic. As much as I like him as a player and a personality, character guys can be replaced.

Brad Boyes to Pittsburgh...buy it. Boyes has long been rumored to be on the Penguins radar screen and if they can get him for the right price, I think that they will. He had chemistry on a line with Sidney Crosby at the World Championships last year and could recapture that here. He is having an off-season and a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered.

Jordan Staal to Chicago for a package involving Seabrook...don't buy it. The Penguins aren't going to trade Jordan Staal, I am sure that Ray Shero has been asked about him a million times and he will be asked a bunch more before Tuesday, but it won't happen. If he was still wallowing in a 3rd or 4th line role there may have been a chance, but not now. Malkin and Staal have been lights out on that second line and Staal may be kept at wing for the long haul. Plus he is probably the best defensive player on the team. Though Seabrook fits the Penguins plan of building with youth, they aren't going to trade one of their top talents to get him.

Rob Blake...don't buy it. The Penguins may be sniffing around, but I can't see them bringing in another d-man of that style. Though Blake is a great two-way guy, whom would he replace on the Power Play? I can't answer that right now, and if he isn't on the power play he isn't going to be happy. Though he is getting a bit long in the tooth, he would still like to be the guy. The only place he would be willing to play second fiddle on a blue line just may be Anaheim (as Ek mentioned) where he would probably be third to Neids and Pronger.

There will be a lot more chaos before this is over and done with Tuesday. I still say that at the end of the day the Penguins will have Laraque, Miller and a surprise player...Malone, Welch, maybe Christensen and a bunch or picks will be gone. Stay tuned...I will keep you posted if anything breaks...

Just one last note…Tyler Kennedy could have been involved in some talks, but was injured in a recent WBS Penguins game.

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=5754

83-Steelers-43
02-25-2007, 04:44 PM
Colby Armstrong for Aaron Miller...buy it. Colby is a valuable player here in Pittsburgh, adds a lot of character and chemistry, but he may have topped out last season. That isn't a given, but he had ample opportunity to cash in earlier this season with Sidney Crosby as a center and he couldn't recapture the magic. As much as I like him as a player and a personality, character guys can be replaced.

35 year old Aaron Miller? About five years ago. Right now? No thanks.

Brad Boyes to Pittsburgh...buy it. Boyes has long been rumored to be on the Penguins radar screen and if they can get him for the right price, I think that they will. He had chemistry on a line with Sidney Crosby at the World Championships last year and could recapture that here. He is having an off-season and a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered.

24 year old Brad Boyes. Former Maple Leaf 2000 first 1st round pick (24th overall). While I'm not crazy about this team trading, if they do decide to trade for anybody I wouldn't mind seeing them pick up Boyes. Of course I would have to see the Bruins asking price.

Jordan Staal to Chicago for a package involving Seabrook...don't buy it. The Penguins aren't going to trade Jordan Staal, I am sure that Ray Shero has been asked about him a million times and he will be asked a bunch more before Tuesday, but it won't happen. If he was still wallowing in a 3rd or 4th line role there may have been a chance, but not now. Malkin and Staal have been lights out on that second line and Staal may be kept at wing for the long haul. Plus he is probably the best defensive player on the team. Though Seabrook fits the Penguins plan of building with youth, they aren't going to trade one of their top talents to get him.

Dream on Chicago. Dream on.

Rob Blake...don't buy it. The Penguins may be sniffing around, but I can't see them bringing in another d-man of that style. Though Blake is a great two-way guy, whom would he replace on the Power Play? I can't answer that right now, and if he isn't on the power play he isn't going to be happy. Though he is getting a bit long in the tooth, he would still like to be the guy. The only place he would be willing to play second fiddle on a blue line just may be Anaheim (as Ek mentioned) where he would probably be third to Neids and Pronger.

36 year old Rob Blake? About five years ago. Right now? No thanks.

I'm sorry, but I'm not crazy about this team going out and spending a chunk of cash and trading our future for high-priced over the hill players that will be on this roster for a year or two tops. I already saw enough of that in the late Patrick era. Anything over the age of 34 makes me cringe. Then again, I'm not crazy about the Penguins making ANY trades at this point in time. As I've stated numerous times, sit back and have fun in the offseason with the FA market and possible trades. Just my opinion.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 05:26 PM
Down 2-0 to the Lightning already. Gee, what a shocker!

Looks like yet another loss in Tampa is in progress.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 05:38 PM
Let's get a score on the power play.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 05:47 PM
It amazes me how we didn't score. Thibault isn't looking good.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 05:50 PM
Terrible...terrible...terrible. The only thing that slowed the Bolts down was the damn glass breaking. Do they want to actually play the damn game, or go back to lounging on the f'ing beach?

They had better pick up their play, or they're going to be run out of the building. Again.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 05:51 PM
Terrible...terrible...terrible. The only thing that slowed the Bolts down was the damn glass breaking.

They had better pick up their play, or they're going to be run out of the building. Again.

Especially if this keeps up.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 06:12 PM
Put in Fleury.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 06:14 PM
3-0. What in the blue F*** is going on here? Why can't they get a f***ing win down there??? This is complete bullshit!!!!

I'd better turn the game off before I break something, I swear to God. The team looks like they shouldn't have even bothered to get out of bed this morning.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 06:14 PM
Put in Fleury.

Therrien must have heard me.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 06:15 PM
3-0. What in the blue F*** is going on here? Why can't they get a f***ing win down there??? This is complete bullshit!!!!

I'd better turn the game off before I break something, I swear to God.

Might not be a bad idea if it keeps going at this rate.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 06:21 PM
IT'S ABOUT TIME! 3-1.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 06:32 PM
Ouellet misses the net on a partial breakaway. I've been one of his biggest supporters here, but he has to at least get the damn shot on goal!

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 06:59 PM
4-1. Game over. Time to watch Family Guy...

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 06:59 PM
This is just f'n awful.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 07:22 PM
LORD GIVE ME A SIGN! (Please)

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 07:36 PM
What was the final score? 6-1? 8-1?

Pathetic performance today. Absolutely f'ing pathetic.

EDIT - just saw it was 5-1 on NHL.com and Talbot fought twice. At least somebody showed some emotion...

83-Steelers-43
02-25-2007, 07:36 PM
I would have felt more comfortable heading into this game if it were back-to-back with Florida and Tampa. Those two days in the sun F with us.

Anyways, the whole team looked horrible. From Omelette missing two scoring chances to Thibault giving up that third goal to our absolutely horrible passing. Just a bad day in the sunshine state. I guess we were due for one of these games. No point in bitching about it, let's bounce back against NJ.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 07:52 PM
I would have felt more comfortable heading into this game if it were back-to-back with Florida and Tampa. Those two days in the sun F with us.

Anyways, the whole team looked horrible. From Omelette missing two scoring chances to Thibault giving up that third goal to our absolutely horrible passing. Just a bad day in the sunshine state. I guess we were due for one of these games. No point in bitching about it, let's bounce back against NJ.

The best thing about it is, it's at home.

83-Steelers-43
02-25-2007, 08:10 PM
The best thing about it is, it's at home.

Not only that, this could be a little wake-up call for this team. We have not been beat this bad since what? Mid-November?

Like I said, this team was due for a thorough ass whooping. We received it today in Tampa Bay. Now we have to respond.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 08:36 PM
The best thing about it is, it's at home.

Yeah, that's true, but I was hoping for a win today so that we could have a chance to close the gap a little bit more by beating them on Tuesday, plus give us a little bit more breathing room with the Bolts since we have 3 games in hand on them. Now that we're 9 points down in the division, it's almost impossible for the Pens to catch the Devils even with 21 games remaining. And I certainly don't want to see any repeats of their performance today - that was painful to watch for the 41 and a half minutes that I saw. Now is NOT the time for losing skids, not when they're closer to being out of the playoffs than they are to the division title.

I do think there will be a new face or two when the Pens take the ice on Tuesday though. We'll see what happens on that score.

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 09:23 PM
Yeah, that's true, but I was hoping for a win today so that we could have a chance to close the gap a little bit more by beating them on Tuesday, plus give us a little bit more breathing room with the Bolts since we have 3 games in hand on them. Now that we're 9 points down in the division, it's almost impossible for the Pens to catch the Devils even with 21 games remaining. And I certainly don't want to see any repeats of their performance today - that was painful to watch for the 41 and a half minutes that I saw. Now is NOT the time for losing skids, not when they're closer to being out of the playoffs than they are to the division title.

I do think there will be a new face or two when the Pens take the ice on Tuesday though. We'll see what happens on that score.

But which would you rather have? The Division, or the Stanley Cup?

SteelCityMan786
02-25-2007, 09:26 PM
http://post-gazette.com/pg/07056/764913-61.stm

Lecavalier's scoring burst is latest bolt of Lightning

Sunday, February 25, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jay Feaster let it be known late last summer that he expected Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier to score 50 goals this season.

Talented as Lecavalier is, that seemed like a lot to count on from a guy who had not gotten more than 35 in any of his previous seven NHL seasons.

Turns out, though, that Feaster, the Lightning's general manager, might have been underestimating him a bit. Lecavalier enters Tampa Bay's game against the Penguins today at 5:08 p.m. at the St. Pete Times Forum with a league-high 40 goals, which puts him on pace to finish with 52.

That makes him the front-runner to receive the Maurice Richard Trophy, which goes to the NHL's top goal-scorer. Quite a feat, to be sure, although one Lecavalier seems to have kept in perspective.

"If it happens, it happens," he said. "It would be great, but my main goal is obviously for Tampa to win."

While there wasn't much precedent for Lecavalier's goal production, it hasn't exactly triggered a tsunami of disbelief inside the industry.

"I'm not surprised," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "He's a great player. He's playing with a guy like [Martin] St. Louis, who's a great playmaker and can score, too."

Going into the games last night, Lecavalier and St. Louis were tied for second place in the NHL scoring race with 83 points, 13 behind Crosby.

"Playing with Marty St. Louis, it just kind of makes things so much easier," Lecavalier said. "He's such a determined player and he's very demanding of his linemates and his teammates, and I think I started getting a little more consistent. We've really been pushing each other, and it's been working very well."

St. Louis acknowledged after the Lightning's workout in suburban Brandon yesterday that, "we really feed off one another," but suggested Lecavalier's outburst should not have caught anyone off-guard.

"It's not like this is the first year that he's scored goals," St. Louis said.

He and Lecavalier form not only the most lethal 1-2 combination in the league, but one of the most visually improbable. St. Louis is 5 feet 9, 185 pounds, Lecavalier 6 feet 4, 223.

St. Louis' greatest asset likely is his speed; Lecavalier, while a good skater, is particularly difficult to contain because he has learned to use his reach and large frame to full advantage.

"He's got a big body, and he's not afraid to use it," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Like Joe Thornton [of San Jose]."

Thornton, the first player drafted in 1997, was honored as the NHL's Most Valuable Player last season. Tampa Bay claimed Lecavalier with the No. 1 pick a year later and, while he probably won't succeed Thornton as the Hart Trophy winner, coach John Tortorella believes his offensive production reflects the maturity Lecavalier has gained during his time in the league.

They had what Tortorella described as "a pretty frank conversation" at the beginning of the season, with one of the four key points they discussed being the need for Lecavalier to consistently keep his game at its highest level.

"In the past couple of years, as he's grown and matured, he's become a great player at certain times of the season, a couple of games here, a couple of games there," Tortorella said. "He's been a good player following some games. Two great games, maybe five games when he's decent and good.

"We wanted to try to step up that maturity and that responsibility of being a gamebreaker more consistently, and he has accepted that."

That might not bode well for the Penguins' defense pairing of Mark Eaton and Sergei Gonchar, who routinely face opponents' most dangerous forwards. They figure to have the daunting task of performing damage-control against Lecavalier and St. Louis today.

"You just try, the same as with any world-class player, to limit their time and space," Eaton said. "Realize they're good players, but don't respect them too much [so that] you back off and give them a lot of time to make the plays they like to make. "You just try to be in their face, have a good stick near the puck and make it as hard on them as you possibly can."

Seems only fair, since that's what Lecavalier and St. Louis do that to other teams so often. And, as good as they have been, Tortorella seems convinced that Lecavalier will get even better.

"It's not what I think or what you think [that matters]," he said. "He thinks he can. I think he believes he can bring another level to his game."

Kind of like he is doing now.

X-Terminator
02-25-2007, 11:46 PM
But which would you rather have? The Division, or the Stanley Cup?

The Stanley Cup of course, but they have to get into the playoffs first, which is my whole point. This team has come a long way - I don't want to see them blow it. That's why I was - and still am - so upset over their performance today and hope it does not carry over.

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 12:43 AM
Penguins Notebook: GM busy before trade deadline
Monday, February 26, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TAMPA, Fla. -- Penguins general manager Ray Shero joined his coaches and some scouts in the St. Pete Times Forum press box for Boston's 6-2 victory against Tampa Bay Friday night.

He probably shouldn't have bothered.

While the rest of his party spent the evening dutifully making observations and taking notes, Shero was in the corridor behind the press box much of the time, talking on his cell phone.

Most, if not all, of his conversations presumably were with some of the other 29 GMs from around the league, but none yielded a trade agreement.

Which is pretty much how things have gone everywhere to this point: Lots of talk and not much action, although a few prominent veterans such as Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik changed teams over the weekend.

Shero believes the pace will accelerate before the trade deadline arrives tomorrow at 3 p.m., although he believes asking prices probably will have to drop in what has been a seller's market before there is much movement.

"The people who are [considering] buying are also seeing if the price might come down, so it's taking a little bit of time," he said. "But things will come together in time.

"There will be guys moving , because the players are available. It's just the cost [that has prevented deals to this point]. Some teams have to make that decision about what they want to pay."

In Shero's case, he seems intent on sticking with his vow to not overpay for a player.

He acknowledged that "we've identified a few things" the Penguins would like to upgrade or bolster in their lineup -- adding a tough winger, a winger who can score and a solid defenseman figure to be on that list -- but said he hasn't come close to completing a deal, and that most of his work to date has been laying the groundwork for potential trades.

"We want to be on top of things," he said, "so that if something is there that just pops up, we want to be prepared to do it."


[B]No damage done


Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said that the criticism he got from coach Michel Therrien after the Penguins' 6-5 loss on Long Island last Monday did no lasting damage to his confidence -- "It's good that we had a couple of days off, with no games and no practices," he said. "It's OK now" -- and that he'll be doing some back-to-basics work with goalie coach Gilles Meloche to get back in sync.

"I was doing well, " Fleury said. "Then I think I tried to do too much, and I was getting worse, and more frustrated. I just had to go relax and try to get hit by the puck."


Tough talk


Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella is pretty good at what he does -- he led the Lightning to a Stanley Cup in 2004 -- and not afraid to express his opinion on just about any hockey-related issue. Witness his take on subjects such as:

The mayhem during last Thursday's Buffalo-Ottawa game: "That's the game we're missing. [Sabres coach] Lindy Ruff did what he needed to do. The instigator rule should be thrown out. You just need to get some honesty back in this game and let the players police themselves. That's where I think we've taken a major step backward in what this game is about. This is North American hockey. It's not the hockey played across [the Atlantic Ocean]. It's the game over here ... and we've lost a little bit of that identity."

Post-lockout changes in NHL rules and enforcement: "There are a lot of players in this league who are a little bit braver than they should be because they're protected by some of the rules in our game. I think we've changed the landscape of our game a little too much. We don't have enough battling in the game because of so many non[violations] that are being called."


Slap shots


Defenseman Alain Nasreddine was the Penguins' healthy scratch yesterday. ... Forward Chris Thorburn was recalled from the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre, where he was on a conditioning assignment. He had an assist and two penalty minutes in three games with the Baby Penguins.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07057/765105-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 12:45 AM
Lightning strikes Penguins, 5-1
Tampa exposes the Penguins' lack of desire; troubles in goal arise again in blowout loss
Monday, February 26, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


TAMPA, Fla. -- Michel Therrien didn't have to do a frame-by-frame analysis of the game tape to evaluate the Penguins' performance last night.

All he had to do was watch it for 60 minutes.

And whatever Therrien didn't see, he probably smelled.

Therrien, the Penguins' coach, called his team's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum their "worst game of the year," and that might have been understating it.

The Penguins were outshot, outskated and outworked from the earliest moments of play. While the Lightning looked desperate, the Penguins seemed almost disinterested.

"We were not prepared to play," Therrien said. "It's disappointing. Very disappointing."

Fact is, if there was anything misleading about the final score, it's that the Penguins weren't nearly as competitive as Tampa Bay's four-goal margin of victory might suggest.

"The score could have been a lot worse than it was," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "The goalies actually made some pretty big saves."

Therrien started Jocelyn Thibault for the second consecutive game, but replaced him with Marc-Andre Fleury after the Lightning scored on three of its first 15 shots.

Playing both goalies made perfect sense, given the way the game was playing out, although perhaps Therrien should have tried to come up with a way to use them at the same time.

The victory was Tampa Bay's 12th in a row against the Penguins, who finished their three-game road trip 1-2 and have slipped nine points behind first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.

Despite the Lightning's domination of head-to-head play, however, Tampa Bay needed the victory to match the Penguins' total of 75 points.

"They're a much better team than they showed tonight," Lightning forward Vaclav Prospal said. "It was a really good game for us, but maybe they didn't come out with their best."

Yeah, maybe.

The Penguins (33-19-9) have two games in hand on the Devils, who will visit Mellon Arena at 7:38 tomorrow, but are closer to falling out of the Eastern playoff field than they are to being atop their division.

"A couple of bad games, and you're right out of the playoff picture," Orpik said.

Tampa Bay, though playing its third game in four nights, was coming off a 6-2 spanking at home by Boston, so no one was surprised that the Lightning opened the game with a palpable urgency.

"We all knew we'd better come up with a good effort and get a good start," center Brad Richards said. "We hadn't done that for a while."

Perhaps, but Tampa Bay clearly hadn't forgotten how to do it.

Martin St. Louis rapped a Dan Boyle rebound past Thibault during a power play at 2:17 of the opening period, and Paul Ranger flipped in a backhander from the slot at 3:56 for what proved to be the winner.

Therrien said he realized "really, really early" that his team was hopelessly flat and, while his assessment was based on his observations from behind the bench, he could have come to the same conclusion simply by looking at the scoreboard.

Thibault turned aside the rest of Tampa Bay's 14 first-period shots, but the tone had been set.

"We definitely let [Thibault] down, the way he's been playing," Orpik said. "He was just starting to get his confidence at a pretty good level."

Filip Kuba beat Thibault on the short side at 4:58 of the second, at which point Therrien made his goalie switch, although he insisted it wasn't because of Thibault's work.

"As a coach, you have to try to change the momentum," Therrien said. "You have to try to do anything, but nothing was working."

Sergei Gonchar got the Penguins' only goal when he beat Johan Holmqvist with a slap shot from the left side of the slot during a five-on-three power play at 8:26 of the second, but Richards countered for Tampa Bay by beating Fleury from the right side at 1:31 of the third.

Vincent Lecavalier then rubbed it in with a short-handed goal at 14:16 to close out the scoring and give the Penguins plenty to ponder as they prepare to face New Jersey tomorrow.

"We're a team that's supposed to care," Therrien said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for us to see who wants to bounce back from a performance like this."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07057/765053-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 12:46 AM
Penguins struck by Lightning

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, February 26, 2007


TAMPA, Fla. - Considering they have earned points in 17 of 19 games and hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, it would simply be inaccurate to suggest these Penguins are not contenders to make some noise in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Then again, in a 5-1 loss to the Lightning Sunday at St. Pete Times Forum, the Penguins showed that, despite how far they have come the past two months, they still have a long way to go just to make the playoffs.

Coach Michel Therrien was not shy about letting his club know as much, either.

"It was our worst game of the year," Therrien said. "We were not prepared to play. I'm very disappointed, at this time of year, to have a performance like that.

"I thought we were mature enough to realize the importance of this game."

With 21 games remaining, the Penguins trail first-place New Jersey by nine points in the Atlantic Division. More pressing, it holds only a five-point lead on ninth-place Montreal in the conference.

The Penguins will play New Jersey on Tuesday at Mellon Arena -- a game veteran right wing Mark Recchi called "huge."

"All these games are huge," Recchi said. "We can't take a game off because everybody else keeps winning. We have to keep winning or we're going to be on the outside looking in. That's just the way this race is going."

Tampa has won 12 consecutive games against the Penguins, who have triumphed just once here since the 1999-2000 season.

The Lighting completed a four-game sweep of the Penguins with an emphatic early assault yesterday -- scoring twice before four minutes had passed and peppering goaltender Jocelyn Thibault with 14 shots in the opening period. Conversely, the Penguins managed just four shots.

Tampa right wing Martin St. Louis' 38th goal and defenseman Paul Ranger's fourth both were the result of clean rebounds allowed by Thibault.

St. Louis provided the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 2:17 after Thibault failed to secure a shot from the point by defenseman Dan Boyle on a power play. Ranger followed suit less than two minutes later after Thibault could not control a blast from center Eric Perrin.

The goal by St. Louis proved particularly telling as Tampa improved to 31-9-2 when it has scored with the man-advantage. The Penguins entered the game owning the league's worst road penalty-killing unit at below 74 percent.

"We lost it in the first period," defenseman Mark Eaton said. "It was by far our worst period of the year."

Center Brad Richards set up the shots by Boyle and Perrin that led to those rebound goals in the first. At 4:58 of the second, Richards was the primary player responsible for setting up defenseman Filip Kuba's 10th goal -- one that chased Thibault, who allowed three goals on only 15 shots.

Thibault had made a second consecutive start in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury, who was essentially benched by coach Michel Therrien due to poor performances in his previous five games.

After replacing Thibault yesterday, Fleury stopped seven of nine shots. He allowed third-period goals to Richards and center Vincent Lecavalier.

Therrien said he pulled Thibault merely in an attempt to change momentum.

The Penguins pulled within 3-1 at 8:26 of the second when, working with a two-man advantage, defenseman Sergei Gonchar fired a puck through the legs of Tampa goaltender Johan Holmqvist. It was Gonchar's 10th goal of the season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494966.html

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 12:47 AM
Pens' Gonchar on verge of surge

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, February 26, 2007


The Penguins have 21 games remaining in the regular season. Though there is little doubt they will look for major contributions from the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to help carry them to a playoff berth for the first time since the 2000-01 season, chances are they can expect big things from defenseman Sergei Gonchar, too. Gonchar, who scored his 10th goal yesterday, is on pace to finish with 69 points - a total that would be a career-best for the 12-year veteran. However, holding Gonchar to merely 69 points might prove difficult considering his penchant for posting huge numbers late in the season. To close the 2005-06 campaign, Gonchar recorded 38 points over 24 games.

? Center Chris Thorburn was recalled from a conditioning assignment in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League prior to the Penguins' game Sunday in Tampa. Thorburn played three games in the AHL and recorded an assist and two penalty minutes. He will rejoin the Penguins today in Pittsburgh.

? Defenseman Alain Nasreddine was a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game since being excused from a game against the Blackhawks to attend the birth of his child on Feb. 14.

Digits

9 - Points separating the first-place Devils from the Penguins in the Atlantic division; the teams play Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

32 - Career goals scored by Tampa's Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis against the Penguins

- Rob Rossi

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_494995.html

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 12:48 AM
Smizik: 'An 'enforcer' would not help the Penguins' cause
Monday, February 26, 2007

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins are said to be looking for an enforcer, and general manager Ray Shero has gone so far as to make inquiries about the availability of Georges Laraque, who fills that role with the Phoenix Coyotes. Give Shero credit. He's looking for the best. Laraque is widely regarded as the Mike Tyson of the NHL. The Coyotes, however, were asking too much, so, for the time being, Laraque, 6 feet 3, 243 pounds, remains in Phoenix and the Penguins, presumable, are still searching.

Enforcers come in all styles. Laraque, unlike some of his ilk, has modest hockey skills. He has five goals in 56 games this season and it's believed he could skate on a fourth line and not embarrass himself. Others, former Penguins right winger Richard Zemlak comes to mind, had no skill other than the ability to throw a punch.

The most famous enforcer in history never skated a shift in the NHL. Frank Nitti, known as "The Enforcer," helped Al Capone rule the street of a lawless Chicago some 70 years ago. The police might not have been able to maintain order, but Nitti, legend has it, could. Nitti and men of his stripe were necessary in that era because the police often were bought off by the mob and subsequently had no power in controlling the criminal element.

Does the NHL really want the league compared to Capone's notorious Chicago? By suggesting their teams need enforcers, NHL coaches and general managers have made that a fair comparison.

The NHL is not Chicago. It has honest policemen. They're called referees and linesmen. It's their jobs to enforce the rules and they're good at it. They're not perfect, but they're good. Lawlessness does not reign in the NHL. Enforcers are not needed to make the participants abide by the law.

Even if referees and linesmen were not in control of NHL games, the idea of enforcers is still stupid. Not only do such players downgrade the entire game -- and serve to keep away millions who might otherwise enjoy the speed, skill and grace of the sport -- they really don't enforce.

Many Penguins fans and, by his actions, perhaps Shero, are frustrated by the varied assaults on Sidney Crosby and deem an enforcer necessary to keep Crosby healthy. That is absolutely ridiculous.

No legitimate NHL tough guy -- as opposed to a goon -- is going to go easy on Crosby because he fears retaliation. Good hockey players will continue to do everything they can within the rules and sometimes go beyond them to stop Crosby. When they go beyond the rules, sometimes they're called for penalties and sometimes they're not. They will not allow the possibility that at some point in the game a goon will come after them to change the way they play.

There is a word to describe players who change their style for fear of retaliation: Gutless.

It's hard to imagine a player so lacking in fortitude could ever advance to the highest level of hockey.

To take the goon theory a step further, if it truly worked, Shero should be mining the rosters of the NFL for his goons. If, say, Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu do not know how to skate, athletes of their ability easily could be taught. Once they can skate in a reasonable fashion, suit them up. If NHL players are going to blink at the thought of facing retaliation from Laraque, they'll be cowering at the prospect of Porter coming after them.

If NFL players aren't interested, and they probably wouldn't be, NHL GMs should go directly to the nearest correctional facility and obtain a list of those soon to be released who are serving time for assault with intent to kill.

If the theory of retaliation really worked, other sports would employ it. For example, if Ben Roethlisberger got roughed up on a tackle, the Steelers would send their enforcer into the game to go after the opposing quarterbacks.

It's too stupid to comprehend.

The Penguins have no need for an enforcer. Crosby does not need a goon to protect him. In fact, he's doing rather well without one.

There is a Neanderthal segment of the Penguins' fan base that finds a brawl entertaining and would relish a goon or two. Fortunately, those fans are in a minority.

Hockey doesn't need fighting and it certainly doesn't need the kind of retaliation that goon hockey implies.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07057/765054-194.stm

Fire Haley
02-26-2007, 02:36 PM
"There is a Neanderthal segment of the Penguins' fan base that finds a brawl entertaining and would relish a goon or two. Fortunately, those fans are in a minority.

Hockey doesn't need fighting and it certainly doesn't need the kind of retaliation that goon hockey implies."

Smizik is an idiot too. Hockey ain't football, ya moran. Top players on teams do get singled out for abuse, and you better have an answer for it.

When Sid is lying on the ice with a concussion and on the bench for a week - don't come cryin' to me...

BOXCAR JOEY
02-26-2007, 03:25 PM
The goon (enforcer) has a place in hockey if you ask me. They keep their other teammates honest to the game by fighting their battles for them and protect the teams franchise talent, like crosby, from getting injured.

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 03:40 PM
I wonder if the Penguins will have to pay for the wheelchair ramp?

Penguins try to deal for veteran winger
Monday, February 26, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins are trying to finalize a deal to acquire winger Gary Roberts from Florida.

It is not known what the Panthers are seeking in return, and Roberts, 40, would have to waive a no-trade clause for the deal to go through.

Roberts has said repeatedly that he would prefer to end up with a team near Toronto, where he has a daughter in school, and that he would like to get a one-year contract extension in return for accepting a trade.

He has 13 goals and 16 assists in 50 games with the Panthers this season.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07057/765150-100.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 04:20 PM
Rumor has it that if a deal is reached, Welch is the guy going to Florida for Roberts if the deal is completed. I don't want this guy to begin with, but to give up Welch for 40 year old Gary Roberts is pathetic. I believe Welch being the trade piece is exactly that, a rumor. At least I hope. He does not seem to be very high on the new FO's list.

Much like with the Laraque deal, if Shero really feels the need to make a move for a winger this year I'd rather see them go after Guerin than Gary Roberts. At least Guerin has a little gas left in the tank. This is bad in my opinion.

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 04:48 PM
Panthers have trade in place for Roberts
Bob McKenzie
2/26/2007 12:49:48 PM


It is Decision Day for Gary Roberts.

The Florida Panther forward was told by General Manager Jacques Martin this morning after practice that the club had found a trade it deemed acceptable and all that is required to consummate the transaction is Roberts' waiving of his no-trade clause.

But that may be easier said than done.

Roberts had made it abundantly clear that he would only waive his no-trade clause for two teams - the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. And sources suggest the deal the Panthers have worked out with Roberts is with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While sources suggest Roberts is still intent on playing in only Toronto or Ottawa, he apparently is going to take some time to consider the Panthers' wishes. But that should not necessarily be confused with waiving the no-trade clause to go to Pittsburgh or anywhere else other than Toronto or Ottawa.

Roberts did not accompany the Panthers' on their flight this afternoon to Washington, but is expected to let the Panthers know later today whether he will waive the no-trade clause to go to Pittsburgh.

While Ottawa and Toronto have shown some interest in acquiring Roberts, Pittsburgh has shown the most interest. Sources say the Penguins are prepared to give up a young roster player with potential in exchange for Roberts, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Stay tuned.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=197768&hubname=nhl

SteelCityMan786
02-26-2007, 05:18 PM
"There is a Neanderthal segment of the Penguins' fan base that finds a brawl entertaining and would relish a goon or two. Fortunately, those fans are in a minority.

Hockey doesn't need fighting and it certainly doesn't need the kind of retaliation that goon hockey implies."

Smizik is an idiot too. Hockey ain't football, ya moran. Top players on teams do get singled out for abuse, and you better have an answer for it.

When Sid is lying on the ice with a concussion and on the bench for a week - don't come cryin' to me...

Smizik doesn't know what the heck he is talking about. If he wants to find TRUE CLASSLESS fans, GO TO PHILADELPHIA.

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 05:38 PM
A little more in depth article...

Penguins closer to deal for veteran winger
Monday, February 26, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins might not know until tomorrow if they'll be acquiring winger Gary Roberts from Florida.

They apparently have worked out the details of a trade with the Panthers, but it will not be finalized unless Roberts waives a no-trade clause in his contract, and it is far from certain that he will do so.

He has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he would accept a trade only to Toronto or Ottawa, so that he could be closer to a daughter who attends school in Toronto.

But a member of the Roberts camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, said late this afternoon that Roberts "is intrigued by the Pittsburgh situation" and is considering waiving the clause to come here.

"Nothing's going to happen immediately," the individual said. "I don't see this being wrapped up until tomorrow."

Roberts, 40, has 13 goals and 16 assists in 50 games with the Panthers this season. He did not accompany his teammates when they traveled to Washington this afternoon.

It was not immediately known what the Penguins have offered the Panthers for Roberts.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07057/765150-61.stm

SteelCityMan786
02-26-2007, 06:04 PM
I guess they couldn't get a deal in Toronto for Roberts.

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 06:41 PM
Penguins' Fleury to return to starting lineup

By The Associated Press
Monday, February 26, 2007

Nearly a week after he was openly criticized and benched for two starts by Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Michel Therrien, Marc-Andre Fleury has been reinstated as the team's No. 1 goaltender.

"The last couple of games are not what I'm used to," Fleury said after practice today. "I'm just looking to get back in it and start over."

Therrien was displeased with Fleury after the team's 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders on Feb. 19 and opted to start backup Jocelyn Thibault in games against the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.

Thibault was stellar against the Panthers, stopping 32 of 33 shots, but allowed three goals on 15 shots before being pulled near the beginning of the second period in a 5-1 loss to the Lightning.

Fleury was touched up for two goals on nine shots in the loss to the Lightning, but that wasn't enough to keep him on the bench.

"He's our guy and I've made that statement from day one," Therrien said. "We believe in that kid and we want him to succeed ... but there's times when you need to take a step back and work and concentrate and pay attention to detail."

While Thibault was starting, Fleury spent his time working on his technique with goaltending coach Gilles Meloche.

"Sometimes I was just trying to do too much," Fleury said. "I was sliding too far and moving too much instead of just staying calm and getting hit by the puck."

After tying Anaheim for the longest streak of consecutive games with a point this season, the Penguins are 1-2-0 and have dropped into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. The Penguins and Devils will play Tuesday at Mellon Arena.

"That was our plan, to make sure that he was going to play at home, work on different things with Gilles, and watch some video so he can bring back his 'A' game," Therrien said. "There's nothing that is wrong. I just wanted to give time to our young goalie to make sure that he's going to bounce back."

In his last five starts, Fleury is 4-1-0, but his goals-against average ballooned to 4.40. He had not allowed fewer than four goals in any of those games and his save percentage is a sub-par .847.

This is also not the first time Fleury has slumped this season. In his first eight starts in December he went 3-4-1 with a 4.26 goals-against average, a .840 save percentage and was twice pulled midgame in favor of Thibault.

"I haven't been playing much, but I think I've had a couple of good practices with Gilles, so we'll see," Fleury said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_495091.html

83-Steelers-43
02-26-2007, 06:48 PM
I guess they couldn't get a deal in Toronto for Roberts.

I can't blame Toronto, who in hell wants a 40 year old rent-a-player? Unfortunately the Penguins. I would expect this type of move from Craig Patrick. To add insult to injury, Roberts will be a UFA this Summer.

On top of his age and the fact that he is a left winger and shoots lefty when that's the last thing we need, I kinda feel like the Penguins are the ugly date in a triple-blind date situation.

Gary Roberts: "Well, since Toronto won't take me and Ottawa doesn't seem like they want me I guess I will go to Pittsburgh *kicks dirt with head down*.

This deal makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE TO ME.

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:13 AM
Pens' Crosby poised to be fastest to reach 200 pts.

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sidney Crosby is just three points shy of 100 for the season and one point shy of 200 for his NHL career. With a point tonight against the New Jersey Devils, he'll be the youngest player in NHL history to reach 200 points, at 19 years, 204 days. Even if he doesn't get a point tonight, he'll still have plenty of time to reach the milestone and beat the record set by Wayne Gretzky, who reached 200 points at 19 years, 347 days.

"I'm not there yet," Crosby said Monday. "I'm just going to worry about playing the same way. I don't sit there and admire (my numbers) during the season, especially not now when things are so tight. Last year, I got (to 100 points) the second-to-last game, so when you're one game from finishing a season you can think about it a little more. But, really, my mind's on winning."

? Defenseman Ryan Whitney did not practice yesterday because of a sore wrist, but he is expected to play tonight. Left winger Nils Ekman has taken off the red no-contact jersey and is getting closer to returning to the lineup from a dislocated elbow suffered Dec. 29, but coach Michel Therrien said that he's not quite there yet.

? Quotable: "The great thing about it is we know when we play well and we know when we don't. We had a couple of games during that (14-0-2) streak where we weren't as good and the guys knew that. That's important, and that's a sign of maturity from young guys is they did understand when we were playing well and when we weren't."

- Mark Recchi, on the team handling a 1-2-0 stretch after going 14-0-2.

Digits

7 - Consecutive games in which both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have registered at least one point.

1 - Number of goals Crosby has in the past 13 games.

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:18 AM
Gary, please do us all a favor...GO TO TORONTO! This would go down as one of the worst moves the team has ever made if they trade Welch for this washed-up, injury-prone 40 year old. Hey Ray - get Guerin if you're really looking at a veteran! He has all the intangibles that you would possibly want at this time of year. Roberts is a horrible choice!

Penguins hoping to land Roberts

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Penguins want Gary Roberts. The feeling may not be mutual.

The veteran left winger was not quite sold on the Penguins as of Monday evening, but he was at least considering the option on the eve of the NHL trade deadline.

"The effort the Penguins have made has certainly been commendable because it's an option that Gary had not and would not have ever considered," Roberts' agent, Rick Curran, said last night. "The conversations we've had with club officials and guys on the team have certainly been very impressive for him."

Roberts, 40, has a no-trade clause with the Florida Panthers. It previously was reported that he'd waive the clause only to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Ottawa Senators. Roberts has a daughter in school in Toronto and plans to settle in southern Ontario when he retires.

But there has been a lot of interest in Roberts, and Curran indicated yesterday there are three or four teams Roberts would consider joining.

Curran also didn't expect Roberts to make a decision until today, the last day for NHL teams to make trades.

"I don't think it will be decided (Monday)," Curran said. "I think it will take some time. At some point, he will have to make a decision and the fact that the Penguins have been so good about it has made his decision even more difficult. That's a good thing. But at the same time, he has some good reasons for wanting to be in the southern Ontario area. Pittsburgh has come into the picture and is an impressive option, but it's a very difficult decision that's going to take some time."

Curran likened Roberts' situation to that of Mark Recchi, another of his clients, last season when Recchi waived a no-trade clause with the Penguins to go to the Carolina Hurricanes at the deadline. Recchi ended up winning a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes before re-signing with the Penguins.

"It's always hard to leave," Recchi said. "It's never an easy decision to make, and you have to put a lot of thought into it. You have to talk to your family and figure out what's best. I thought it was an opportunity to take one more crack at it and see what could happen, and it worked out. A lot of times things don't work out and that's what makes it harder."

The Palm Beach Post reported last week that Roberts would want a one-year extension before agreeing to any deal. But Roberts said yesterday that wasn't necessarily the case.

"I said it would be an ideal situation to go somewhere and only make one move," Roberts told reporters in Florida. "But it's never been a demand."

Roberts, who is in the last year of a two-year, $4.5 million contract, also acknowledged that meshing his family and career goals might not be possible.

"I'd like to be closer to my daughter, so that's one goal, and the other goal is to try to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "But to accomplish both those things may be difficult."

It wasn't clear what the Penguins were offering for the 6-foot-2, 215-pound forward, and neither Penguins general manager Ray Shero nor Panthers general manager Jacques Martin were commenting on the situation yesterday.

It is believed that Martin wants a young player in return for Roberts, who's been playing on the Panthers' top line with Olli Jokinen all season and has 13 goals and 16 assists in 50 games.

Several Penguins players admitted they were nervous about what today might bring.

"We don't really talk about it with each other," center Maxime Talbot said. "We all know it's (today) and we hear rumors, and for sure I think we're nervous. We realize that we might have played our last game as the team we are. But chemistry's good right now. We're just enjoying it."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495129.html

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:20 AM
Time for Therrien to stand by Fleury

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Marc-Andre Fleury gets another start in net for the Penguins tonight, eight days after his last one and fresh from a series of personal consultations with goaltending coach Gilles Meloche that revealed more of a problem between the ears than between the pipes.

"I attribute it to a little mental fatigue," Meloche said of Fleury's recent struggles.

It happens.

One of the challenges the Penguins face the rest of the way, starting tonight against New Jersey, is to prevent it from happening again, and to make certain Fleury understands he'll be granted a reasonable margin of error in the event it does.

He got a little wobbly late in the process of starting 49 of the Penguins' first 59 games. The last of those was a sloppy, 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders on Feb. 19 that snapped a 14-0-2 streak.

Coach Michel Therrien responded with repeated public scoldings of Fleury and by starting backup Jocelyn Thibault in consecutive games for the first time all season.

Meloche has since dissected Fleury's game and found no flaws in his mechanics or other holes opponents had suddenly begun to exploit.

"Just one of those stretches where things don't go your way," Meloche said Monday. "It's not physical because (Fleury's) in great shape, but after so many games you need to refresh, to start from square one again."

Meloche's recommendation?

"Don't think too much," he said. "Just react."

That may prove easier said than done given recent events and the history between Fleury and Therrien at AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Therrien benched Fleury in playoff series in consecutive seasons).

Suffice it to say Fleury's confidence has been higher than it was after that Islanders game.

"He was a little shaky, no use denying it," Meloche said. "You give up four, five goals, you start thinking too much. He's got to stop thinking and just react to the play."

Fleury gave up 17 goals in the four starts that preceded his leaky afternoon on Long Island.

But he's still the guy that was ranked fifth in the league in wins (with 29) as of yesterday morning, and still the one that will determine the Penguins' postseason fate more than any other.

Of course, the Pens have to get to the postseason first.

And Fleury has to get them there.

One of the problems is, Fleury sounds more like a guy who is merely trying to get through his next start and then go from there.

"I think Michel's mind-set is, if you play good, you're playing," Fleury said.

There's no question in Meloche's mind that Fleury remains "the guy."

"Oh, no doubt about it," Meloche said.

Therrien, too, insists he's committed to Fleury for the long haul.

"He's our guy," Therrien insisted. "I made the statement from day one that we believe in that kid. We want him to succeed."

Fleury hearing that directly from someone can't hurt. Nor would starting him again Thursday in New York, even if he gives up four or five tonight against New Jersey.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495126.html

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:28 AM
Penguins look to bounce back against Devils

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Marc-Andre Fleury is ready to start in goal tonight for the first time in more than a week when the Penguins play the New Jersey Devils.

He and his teammates are ready to not only put the disaster that was Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning behind them, but also end a stretch in which they've lost two out of their past three games.

"We're just looking forward to getting a chance to redeem ourselves," defenseman Rob Scuderi said Monday. "It's been a long time since we've been beat like that. A long time. We've lost games, but certainly not in that fashion and not with the effort that we had. We're looking forward to bouncing back against a good team."

The 5-1 loss to the Lightning was only the third time this season that the Penguins had lost by more than three goals. The other two times were losses to the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-1, in the fourth game of the season, and 6-2 on Nov. 11.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495122.html

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:29 AM
Scouting the Devils

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Today's game

New Jersey Devils (39-18-6) at Penguins (33-19-9)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. -- Mellon Arena

TV/radio: FSNP/105.9 FM

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-7, 2.93 GAA); Martin Brodeur (38-17-5, 2.10 GAA)

Notable: The Devils are coming off a 3-2 win Sunday over the Washington Capitals. It was seldom-used backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen's first win in 11 months. Martin Brodeur recorded the team's first 38 wins, the most consecutive wins for a goalie to start a season in NHL history. ... Brian Gionta missed his sixth consecutive game against the Capitals with a groin injury. ... The Devils are 9-3 in February.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495141.html

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:34 AM
Penguins Notebook: Therrien gets players to refocus

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
By Shelly Anderson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a matter of 48 hours, the Penguins have the task of going from a somnambulant performance in Sunday's 5-1 loss at Tampa to a critical home game tonight against Atlantic Division leader New Jersey.

That transition apparently was one of the topics when the Penguins held a team meeting before their workout yesterday at Mellon Arena.

"The atmosphere is a little mellow," forward Erik Christensen said after practice. "It gives us time to think about the Tampa game. We were extremely frustrated and very disappointed in the way we came out. Like [coach Michel Therrien] said, we weren't ready to play. I don't know if it was the [warm Florida] weather or what, but we just weren't ready.

"But the attitude now, and sort of the way [Therrien] approached practice was, let's put it behind us."

Several of the players said they were grateful that the schedule has them playing a game relatively quickly so they don't have to linger on the Tampa debacle -- a game in which his players' lackluster play surprised Therrien.

"I didn't see it coming," Therrien said. "I thought we were well rested. Maybe too much."

Therrien is confident his team can rebound with a strong game against the Devils -- the team that leads the division with 84 points, nine ahead of the Penguins, whose 75 points have them just five points over the cutoff line in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs.

"There's nothing we can do about it," Therrien said of the Tampa game. "Just bounce back.

"I know that group, and their focus is going to be there [tonight]. We need a strong game, and we'll have a strong game by everyone."

Fleury to start

Saying this was the plan all along, Therrien named Marc-Andre Fleury the starting goaltender for tonight.

"We wanted to give him some time to work with [goaltending consultant] Gilles Meloche, to work on different things and look at video and to make sure that he's going to go back to his A game," Therrien said.

Therrien was critical of Fleury's recent play after a 6-5 road loss against the New York Islanders Feb. 19. He then started backup Jocelyn Thibault in the Penguins' games at Florida and Tampa Bay.

Fleury replaced Thibault Sunday in the loss at Tampa.

A different scenario

It was nearly a year ago -- March 9, 2006 -- when veteran winger Mark Recchi was shipped by the Penguins to Carolina for Niklas Nordgren, Krystofer Kolanos and a 2007 second-round draft pick.

As the trade deadline approached last year and with the Penguins deep in the standings, Recchi wanted to go to a team that was a Stanley Cup contender. He got his wish when he lifted the Cup with the Hurricanes.

"It was still hard to leave," he said. "It's never an easy decision to make. You have to talk to your family and figure out what's best. I just thought it was an opportunity to take one more crack at it. Obviously, things worked out. A lot of times, they don't work out."

Recchi re-signed with the Penguins in the summer, and the trade deadline is here again, coming at 3 p.m. today.

This time, he's eager to remain with the Penguins and see if they can become a contender before he decides to retire.

"We like what's here," Recchi said. "It's been great from day one at training camp."

A changeup

The Devils got their first win without goaltender Martin Brodeur in net with a 3-2 victory at Washington Sunday, when Scott Clemmensen made his first start since Dec. 14.

There is little likelihood that Devils coach Claude Julien will follow the formula Therrien used last week and stick with the hot hand and Clemmensen for the game today.

Brodeur had started the previous 32 games for New Jersey. He leads the NHL in wins (38) and shutouts (11) and is second in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.925).

Starting from scratch

After he frequently became a regular scratch from the Penguins' lineup, forward Chris Thorburn had no problem with the team's decision to send him to its Wilkes-Barre/Scranton minor-league club for a week on a conditioning assignment.

What was more difficult was shaking off the rust.

"I had three games down there," said Thorburn, who had an assist and two penalty minutes before being recalled Sunday. "You can practice all you want, but you've got to get some games in once in a while.

"It was tough at first. That first game, the first period, until I got hit and threw a hit, my head was spinning. Then the next two periods and two games went really well."

Slap shots

Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney skipped practice because of a sore wrist, but he is expected to be available to play tonight. ... Winger Nils Ekman (elbow) no longer wears the no-contact jersey in practice but isn't quite ready to play. ... If center Sidney Crosby gets a goal or assist tonight, he will become the youngest player and second teenager to reach 200 career points in the NHL at 19 years, 204 days. Wayne Gretzky was 19 years, 347 days when he got his 200th point. ... Crosby, the league's leading scorer, also is three points away from reaching the 100-point level for the second time in as many pro seasons. ... Center Brad Richards' goal and three assists in Tampa Bay's 5-1 win against the Penguins helped him earn the league's third star for last week.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07058/765273-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:37 AM
Roberts, Penguins have mutual interest
Panthers winger might waive no-trade clause

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For weeks, Florida winger Gary Roberts told anyone who asked that there were only two teams that could tempt him to waive his no-trade clause.

And the Penguins weren't one of them.

Roberts, whose two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Panthers expires after this season, repeatedly said he was willing to be traded to Toronto or Ottawa because that would make it possible for him to be closer to his 17-year-old daughter, who attends school in Toronto.

But that didn't dissuade Penguins general manager Ray Shero from working out the terms of a trade for Roberts with the Panthers, and Roberts didn't automatically reject the idea of agreeing to join the Penguins, even though it doesn't make great geographical sense for him.

He began weighing its merits after Panthers GM Jacques Martin informed him of the potential deal yesterday and a member of the Roberts camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last evening that, "I don't see this being wrapped up until [today]."

That person acknowledged that playing in Pittsburgh "is a stretch" for someone whose stated preference is to work in Ontario, but said Roberts was willing to seriously consider joining the Penguins because "he's intrigued with the Pittsburgh situation."

It is not known if the Penguins and/or Panthers have set a deadline for Roberts to reach his decision, although both sides presumably would like to know well in advance of the 3 p.m. trade deadline so that they can move on to contingency plans if he rejects the trade.

Shero declined an interview request last evening, and what the Penguins have offered Florida for Roberts was not immediately known. The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, reported that the Penguins have agreed to part with defense prospect Noah Welch.

Roberts, 40, has 13 goals and 16 assists in 50 games this season. He did not accompany his teammates when they traveled to Washington yesterday afternoon.

Roberts once ranked among the NHL's premier power forwards and still plays with an edge. He thrives in battles along the boards and in the corners, and goes to the net with enthusiasm.

There is a physical price to be paid for his aggressive style -- Roberts missed 13 games in January and February because of a hip injury -- but his competitive approach can be contagious with teammates.

Roberts' intangibles, like experience and leadership, are at least as attractive as his talent, especially for a team such as the Penguins that relies heavily on younger players.

Roberts is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and apparently has no plans to retire. He has even said recently that he would like to get a one-year contract extension in return for waiving his no-trade clause, although that request is not believed to be a deal-killer.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07058/765247-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:48 AM
TSN is reporting that it's a done deal, and the Pens will in fact trade Noah Welch for Roberts. Ray, you have just disappointed me BIG TIME - giving up one of your top D prospects for a guy who's best years were behind him 3 years ago? Did you catch something from Craig Patrick's chair or what??? Terrible, horrible, ridiculous, senseless trade. :shake01: :thmbdown:

Panthers' Roberts waives no-trade clause

Bob McKenzie
2/27/2007 12:33:50 AM

Sources tell TSN that Florida Panthers' forward Gary Roberts has waived his no-trade clause, paving the way for the Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins to consummate a conditional deal that they agreed to on Monday.

The deal is not expected to be made official until Tuesday morning because Roberts must physically sign the no-trade waiver before the two teams can make it official.

If there are no issues, Pittsburgh will send defenceman Noah Welch to Florida and Roberts will join the Penguins for the stretch drive and playoffs. Roberts is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

The Panther forward was told by General Manager Jacques Martin on Monday morning after practice that the club had found a trade it deemed acceptable and all that was required to consummate the transaction was Roberts waiving his no-trade clause.

Roberts had made it abundantly clear that he would only waive his no-trade clause for a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ottawa Senators.

The 40-year-old did not accompany the Panthers' on their Monday afternoon flight to Washington.

Sources say the Penguins are prepared to give up a young roster player with potential in exchange for Roberts, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Roberts battled a hip injury and missed 13 games from January to early February. He has played in 50 games for the Panthers this season and scored 13 goals with 16 assists.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=197768&hubname=

HometownGal
02-27-2007, 06:35 AM
TSN is reporting that it's a done deal, and the Pens will in fact trade Noah Welch for Roberts. Ray, you have just disappointed me BIG TIME - giving up one of your top D prospects for a guy who's best years were behind him 3 years ago? Did you catch something from Craig Patrick's chair or what??? Terrible, horrible, ridiculous, senseless trade. :shake01: :thmbdown:

Panthers' Roberts waives no-trade clause

Bob McKenzie
2/27/2007 12:33:50 AM

Sources tell TSN that Florida Panthers' forward Gary Roberts has waived his no-trade clause, paving the way for the Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins to consummate a conditional deal that they agreed to on Monday.

The deal is not expected to be made official until Tuesday morning because Roberts must physically sign the no-trade waiver before the two teams can make it official.

If there are no issues, Pittsburgh will send defenceman Noah Welch to Florida and Roberts will join the Penguins for the stretch drive and playoffs. Roberts is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

The Panther forward was told by General Manager Jacques Martin on Monday morning after practice that the club had found a trade it deemed acceptable and all that was required to consummate the transaction was Roberts waiving his no-trade clause.

Roberts had made it abundantly clear that he would only waive his no-trade clause for a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ottawa Senators.

The 40-year-old did not accompany the Panthers' on their Monday afternoon flight to Washington.

Sources say the Penguins are prepared to give up a young roster player with potential in exchange for Roberts, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Roberts battled a hip injury and missed 13 games from January to early February. He has played in 50 games for the Panthers this season and scored 13 goals with 16 assists.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=197768&hubname=

All I can say here is ughhhhhhh. What the hell is Shero thinking? The guy is 40 years old and is coming off a recent hip injury! :dang: This was the best deal he could come up with?

83-Steelers-43
02-27-2007, 09:25 AM
Unbelievable.....

Roberts agrees to join Penguins: Welch to Florida
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gary Roberts is joining the Penguins.

Or at least he will after formally signing away the no-trade clause in his contract this morning.

Roberts, a 40-year-old left winger with the Florida Panthers, previously had contended that he would accept a trade only to Toronto or Ottawa, but was persuaded to come to Pittsburgh.

Team officials learned early today that the deal will go through.

The trade has not been formally announced, but defense prospect Noah Welch will be sent to Florida.

Welch had been expected to contend for a regular on the Penguins' defense next season, while Roberts will be an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any team this summer. He previously had said he would like a one-year contract extension in return for agreeing to waive his no-trade clause, but it is not clear whether the Penguins have negotiated such an agreement with him.

Roberts is scheduled to fly here later in the day, but will not be in the lineup when the Penguins face New Jersey at 7:38 tonight at Mellon Arena.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07058/765336-100.stm

83-Steelers-43
02-27-2007, 12:35 PM
Penguins Pick up Laraque....

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=197887&hubname=

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:35 PM
The only reason I could see Shero parting with Welch is because he feels Kris Letang will be ready to compete for a job next season, as he is currently their top prospect on D. Regardless, it's still a bad trade not just because of his age, but also because I don't believe he really wants to be here anyway. It just smells like a Craig Patrick deal to me.

83-Steelers-43
02-27-2007, 12:41 PM
Also just in Dominic Moore to Minnesota for 3rd round pick.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=197895&hubname=nhl

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 12:47 PM
OK, now I know Shero has been hitting the bong. Why the hell would he trade Moore? He's the best faceoff man we had, not to mention the fact that his line had been pretty damn good for a few weeks. Just friggin unbelievable!

As for Laraque...blah. I don't understand how anyone can get excited about this. Laraque ain't no enforcer anymore - why else would he fall out of favor so quickly after Gretzky went all-out to bring him to Phoenix? If he comes in and actually does the job he gets paid to do, I'll gladly eat crow. But I'm not getting my hopes up.

83-Steelers-43
02-27-2007, 01:22 PM
So up to this point IMO....

Roberts deal: Still don't like no matter how much some want to sugarcoat it.

Grade: F

Laraque deal: I'm not terribly upset over nor am I thrilled. As long as it wasn't our #1 and Carcillo. At least Laraque can hang around on this team for a few more years. I'm not sure the same can be said for Roberts.

Grade: C+

Moore to Wild: My only explanation is that we might use that #3 in a package deal for somebody else? Besides that, I have no idea why we got rid of Dominic Moore.

Grade: Still pending but if it says the way it is right now I would have to give it an F.

83-Steelers-43
02-27-2007, 04:08 PM
Penguins make two more trades
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins were wrapping up two relatively minor deals as the NHL's trade deadline approached.

They were planning to send a fourth-round draft choice to Florida for defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and a seventh-rounder to San Jose for minor-league goalie Nolan Schaefer.

Kwiatkowski, who is 29 and 6-foot, 202 pounds, has five goals and five assists in 41 games with the Panthers, and is expected to join the Penguins after the deal is finalized.

Schaefer, a 27-year-old who is 6 foot 2, 195 pounds, was 5-1 in seven appearances with the Sharks last season, but has not played in the NHL in 2006-07. He is expected to join the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07058/765373-61.stm

Fire Haley
02-27-2007, 04:52 PM
Laraque leaves Coyotes for Pens

Some in the hockey world were calling for the Pittsburgh Penguins to acquire an enforcer to help "protect" star Sidney Crosby.

Wish granted.

Phoenix's Georges Laraque waived his no-trade clause to facilitate a trade to the Penguins for forward Daniel Carcillo and a future draft pick.

"Teams know that to beat the Penguins, you have to hit Sidney Crosby, hit Evgeni Malkin, hit Jordan Staal,'' Laraque told Canada's TSN sports channel. "I'm up for the challenge to [protect them]. I'm real excited. ... I know I'm going to be a lot busier and have more responsibility. They have more than one guy to target."

The 30-year-old Laraque is signed for $1.3 million for next season, and he would have to waive his no-trade clause again for Pittsburgh to trade him.

"I'm excited to go help the Penguins," Laraque said of a much-improved team that is contending for the first time in six seasons and recently gained points in 16 consecutive games, going 14-0-2.

With two new forwards arriving, the Penguins freed up ice time for them by dealing forward Dominic Moore to the Minnesota Wild for a third-round draft pick.

Crosby, on the verge of his second 100-point season in the NHL, has been increasingly singled out for physical attention. Islanders forward Jason Blake closed out a game by spearing an unsuspecting Crosby in the stomach and Montreal's Maxim Lapierre drilled him the stomach immediately after an opening faceoff.

Laraque is best known for fighting and drawing penalties -- he has 878 penalty minutes in 546 games _ but can also score an occasional goal. He has five goals and 17 assists in 56 games this season.

The gritty Laraque has 878 penalty minutes in 546 games over nine NHL seasons.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=2781438

83-Steelers-43
02-27-2007, 05:15 PM
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Penguins Georges Laraque: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dvy36omij4

Colton Orr vs Georges Laraque on Thursday night? That would be interesting.

SteelCityMan786
02-27-2007, 05:44 PM
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Penguins Georges Laraque: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dvy36omij4

Colton Orr vs Georges Laraque on Thursday night? That would be interesting.

that's for sure. Definantly interesting.

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 08:17 PM
My feelings on today's trades?

:dang: :banging: :mad: :upyours: :shake02: :jerkit: :doh: :frustrate :huh: :wtf: :thmbdown:

That is all.

SteelCityMan786
02-27-2007, 09:44 PM
No luck scoring tonight. Down 1-0.

SteelCityMan786
02-27-2007, 09:58 PM
They FELL SHORT. 1-0.

X-Terminator
02-27-2007, 10:06 PM
Great. Another loss in another important game. Can we PLEASE get our act together here???? They can't afford to keep losing games!!!!

SteelCityMan786
02-27-2007, 10:07 PM
Great. Another loss in another important game. Can we PLEASE get our act together here???? They can't afford to keep losing games!!!!

:iagree: I just hope when Laraque and Roberts show up they enforce that they need to stay focused and a playoff chance is still in reach.

HometownGal
02-27-2007, 10:29 PM
Great. Another loss in another important game. Can we PLEASE get our act together here???? They can't afford to keep losing games!!!!

All in all, I think they played pretty well, especially Fleury. Brodeur was like a brick wall and made a couple of incredible saves, though I really thought Gei was going to score in the waning seconds the way he was firing the puck. Yes - we do need to get back on the winning track, but I'm not going to get down on them, especially in light of the fact that no one expected this young team to be where they are right now. Keep the faith!

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:20 AM
All in all, I think they played pretty well, especially Fleury. Brodeur was like a brick wall and made a couple of incredible saves, though I really thought Gei was going to score in the waning seconds the way he was firing the puck. Yes - we do need to get back on the winning track, but I'm not going to get down on them, especially in light of the fact that no one expected this young team to be where they are right now. Keep the faith!

I know, but it's just become frustrating as hell - that's now 3 losses in their last 4 games. They've come so far and have themselves in good position...the way the race is, you have to keep winning and picking up points. I just have a bad feeling that they're going to end up blowing this thing - everyone in the division got better somewhat today except us - even the Flyers. Time to get their heads out of their asses and realize what needs to be done, or the Isles will be the other team from the division going to the playoffs.

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:32 AM
Shero confident Pens can afford to lose Welch

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Noah Welch, 24, was one of the Penguins' top defensive prospects, but general manager Ray Shero said that with players in the system such as Kristopher Letang in juniors and Alex Goligoski at the University of Minnesota, they could afford to part with Welch. Shero traded him to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday for veteran forward Gary Roberts.

"We could only (trade for Roberts) if we had the means to replace Noah Welch and I think we do," Shero said.

? Shero said there were veteran defensemen available yesterday, but that some moved, some had contract years left that he wasn't interested in, and some carried a price that was too high.

"I really think that with our defense, we're one of the better teams in the league record-wise, and it's time to give these guys some credit," Shero said.

? Roberts will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Shero said that a contract extension was not something the two discussed before Roberts decided to come to the Penguins. But despite Roberts' rental player status and his previously stated desire to play for either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ottawa Senators, Shero said that Roberts assured him he'd be "100 percent committed to the team and helping the club."

? According to Shero, there was an offer from another team on the table for Georges Laraque and he chose Pittsburgh.

"With Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque choosing Pittsburgh, it's really good for us, and it bodes well for us in the future," Shero said.

? Quotable: "I guess it's like being in a relationship with a girl. Things are going pretty well. There are a couple of problems. All of a sudden, she kind of dumps you and says, 'I really like you. I like you as a person and a player, but something better's come along for me.' You believe them, but you still got dumped."
- Welch, on being traded.

Digits

878 - Career penalty minutes for Georges Laraque in 546 career games.

2,467 - Career penalty minutes for Gary Roberts in 1,137 career games.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495353.html

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:35 AM
Trades a mixed bag for Pens

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The final scoresheet won't be in for a while, but Ray Shero's plus-minus rating might have taken a hit on his first deadline day as Penguins general manager.

We'll call it minus-1 for now, with an open mind toward the rest of the season.

Break it down like this:

Plus: The acquisition of rugged forward Gary Roberts, in exchange for defenseman Noah Welch.

Minus: The failure to reel in a goal-scoring winger, when Bill Guerin was available for a decent price.

Plus: The acquisition of forward Georges Laraque from Phoenix.

Minus: The trade of Dominic Moore to Minnesota for a third-round pick.

Minus: No major upgrade on defense. That was the most disappointing development. Shero wound up with journeyman Joel Kwiatkowski, but Aaron Miller would have looked awfully nice in a Penguins sweater.

A closer look at the other moves:

? The Roberts trade. Welch will be 25 when camp opens and will have to clear waivers if sent to the minors. That means the Penguins might have been forced to keep a player they didn't value or risk losing him for nothing. Besides, big-time prospect Kris Letang will be ready to step in next season, perhaps even this year during the playoffs.

The public outcry over this trade reminded me of the protest over losing Rick Berry.

Who?

Yeah, exactly.

Roberts, meanwhile, provides a strong on- and off-ice presence. The Penguins didn't have a net-crashing, defenseman-bashing forward. At 40, he can still play.

Penguins winger Colby Armstrong absorbed a Roberts elbow to the nose (talk about an inviting target) earlier this season.

"I couldn't see for about 10 minutes," Armstrong said. "He's an old-time hockey warrior."

Roberts has 13 goals, a respectable total. Put it this way: If he'd played with Sidney Crosby this season, and Mark Recchi (22 goals) had played in Florida, their goal totals might be reversed. And if the power play ever needs a jolt, few players in the league cause a goal-mouth ruckus like Roberts.

? No dynamic winger. Guerin - a rental player -- went to San Jose for a first-round pick, Ville Nieminen and former seventh-rounder Jay Barriball.

You can understand Shero's position. He'll likely be looking this summer for a long-term solution on Crosby's wing, and losing a first-round pick now takes away a bargaining chip later.

It's just hard to envision the Penguins making a lengthy run without a pure scorer, and if the price was a first-round pick, a middling player and a low-level prospect, Shero had a golden opportunity.

? Laraque. His presence - though menacing -- won't necessarily deter somebody from targeting Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The real plus is that he can play. He had more points (22) than either Ryan Malone or Erik Christensen as of yesterday afternoon. He also was a regular on the fourth line in Edmonton last season, when the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup final.

? Moore. He was centering one of the league's better fourth lines and winning the majority of his faceoffs; good defensively, too. The Rangers miss him. So might the Penguins.

The Moore trade won't exactly shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, but others might. The New York Islanders made the biggest splash, landing Ryan Smyth. Whether they gave up too much - two former first-round picks and a future one - remains to be determined.

As does final judgment on Shero's deadline debut.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495331.html

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:41 AM
Devils assert control over Penguins

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Marc-Andre Fleury laughed twice following the Penguins' 1-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Mellon Arena on Tuesday.

His first chuckle followed a question about his boyhood idol and New Jersey counterpart, Martin Brodeur, who stopped 31 shots in recording his 91st career shutout.

"He has 12 this year," Fleury said. "That would be a good number for your career, and he has that in one year."

Fleury's second smile came when he was told that the Penguins, despite having lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since early January, held only a four-point lead over ninth-place Carolina in a tight race for a playoff berth.

The top eight teams in the Eastern Conference will qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament.

"We don't want to be eighth and just get in," Fleury said. "With the way we have played over the past two months, we want more than eighth. I'm sure we will be there, but we don't want to just be eighth."

One obvious reason the Penguins would like to finish in the top four of their conference is the home-ice advantage that comes with such a distinction.

Another is that a lower-seeded Eastern club will almost surely draw Brodeur and the Devils in the opening round. With an 11-point lead on the Penguins and only 20 games remaining, New Jersey will almost surely win the Atlantic Division.

Even the Penguins, who outplayed New Jersey for much of last night and have won two of six mostly even games this season, wish not to go running with the Devils early in the postseason.

Brodeur makes the Devils that formidable a foe.

"He's a (heck) of a goaltender," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "He was phenomenal. We put some pucks through him and they still did not go in. We did not get any breaks."

To be sure, the Penguins could not capitalize on a few prime scoring chances.

Sidney Crosby, who has now scored just three goals in 18 games, nearly tied the score three times -- just missing on a redirect attempt in the first period and failing to push a puck past a fallen Brodeur while hovering near the crease on two third-period power play opportunities.

Prior to last night, the Penguins had not lost a regulation game at Mellon Arena since Dec. 27, 2006.

Since then, they have made habit of stinging teams early -- as was the case in their previous meeting with the Devils, a 5-4 victory in New Jersey on Feb. 16. Then, they scored three opening-period goals on Brodeur.

New Jersey's stalwart goaltender was his more customary rock-solid self over the initial 20 minutes last night. He stopped each of the 12 shots that the Penguins fired his way.

"We wanted to come out and dictate the play, and we did," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "But when you have Brodeur stopping everything, it kind of makes getting that first goal tough, obviously."

Fleury made his first start since a much-criticized performance in a loss to the Islanders in New York on Feb. 19. He allowed six goals in that contest. He entered last night with 4.44 goals-against average and a .847 save-percentage over his previous five starts.

However, Fleury stopped 24 shots, including two excellent saves on right wing Jamie Langenbrunner and center Travis Zajac over the final 12 seconds of the opening period.

Those saves came on a Devils power play, the result of a holding call against Mark Recchi that carried over to the start of the second. There, Langenbrunner beat Fleury 33 seconds in with a slap shot.

Therrien dressed seven defensemen for only the second time this season, but none of them prevented Devils right wing Michael Rupp from setting a textbook screen on Langenbrunner's goal.

Evgeni Malkin nearly pulled the Penguins even in the 39th minute, but his shot chimed off the goal post to the glove side of Brodeur.

"I was really happy with our effort," said Therrien, who called his club's 5-1 loss in Tampa on Sunday the Penguins' worst game of the season. "Like I said, we didn't get some breaks tonight, but we played our game.

"Sometimes, the other goalie gets the best of you."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495333.html

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:44 AM
Pens trade for Roberts, Laraque

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hours before Penguins general manager Ray Shero completed his first trade deadline deal on Tuesday, there were already some new additions in the Penguins' locker room.

On one wall of the dressing room hung a big picture of the Stanley Cup that wasn't there on Monday, while pictures of the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup-winning teams appeared on a wall in the players' lounge.

By 3 p.m. yesterday, Shero had made several trades that he hopes will help the 2007 Penguins add their picture to the wall alongside the championship teams from the 1990s.

Chief among them were the acquisitions of 40-year-old left wing Gary Roberts, a veteran of 1,137 NHL regular-season games and 114 playoff games, from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defensive prospect Noah Welch, and tough winger Georges Laraque from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for prospect Daniel Carcillo and a third-round draft pick in 2007.

"I'm happy where we are; I believe in the group that we have and I said last week that if we didn't do anything at the deadline, this is the group that got us here and I'd be happy with that," Shero said. "But to make the couple moves we made is a real good thing for our team."

Both Roberts and Laraque, 30, waived no-trade clauses to join the Penguins. Roberts will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Laraque is signed through 2007-08 counting $1.3 million against the salary cap.

Shero also traded center Dominic Moore, 26, to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a third-round pick in 2007, acquired defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, 29, from the Panthers in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2007; and received goaltender Nolan Schaefer from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2007.

All but Schaefer will report to the Penguins, as teams can now exceed the 23-man roster limit. None arrived in Pittsburgh in time to play against the New Jersey Devils last night.

Initially, Roberts expressed a desire to go only to either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Ottawa Senators in order to be close to his teenage daughter, who's in school in Toronto.

But Shero asked Panthers general manager Jacques Martin for the opportunity to speak to Roberts anyway and had a long conversation with Roberts and his wife on Monday. That, plus phone calls from Mario Lemieux and Mark Recchi, got Roberts interested.

"I know there was a lot of speculation out there about where I wanted to be, but this is really where I'm excited to be," said Roberts, who takes the title as the Penguins' oldest player from Recchi, 39.

Shero said they targeted Roberts early on.

"Gary's a veteran player, a left winger that you look for this time of year," Shero said. "He's got real good size, plays a gritty game, his goals come from in front of the net, he's got good hands, he just plays the game the way it's meant to be played at this time of year."

Roberts, who won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989, played most of this season with the Panthers on the top line with Olli Jokinen. But coach Michel Therrien declined to say where he might put Roberts with the Penguins.

"We're going to sit down with the players and try to find the right combination," Therrien said. "There are different options. We'll take our time and make sure we're going to make the right decision with the combinations of our lines."

Shero said that Laraque's physical presence will help not just players such as Sidney Crosby, who's been the target of some cheap shots lately, but everyone on the team "feel comfortable that they're taken care of."

"I'm really proud of the group we have," Shero said. "They've done a great job with team toughness and defending themselves and stepping up for each other. But I think you ask anybody, (Laraque) is the toughest guy in the league and he'll bring some instant credibility to our team on the ice."

By trading Welch and Carcillo, who were both playing for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, Shero nearly kept intact the team that went 14-0-2 between Jan. 13 and Feb. 18. Moore was the only player traded who'd been with the team all season.

Moore was one of Shero's first acquisitions as general manager of the Penguins, and he was averaging 13 minutes of ice time as the Penguins' third-line center. He killed penalties and was the only centerman with a faceoff win percentage greater than 50 percent, at 51.62.

"(Moore's faceoff percentage) was in the back of my mind, but I had a conversation with Dominic last week about his role and his ice time was diminishing, and I don't know if he would have been a guy who would have been a factor down the stretch for us," Shero said. "I think he really helped us in the time he was here, though."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495257.html

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:49 AM
Penguins balk at 1-year extension on arena lease
Pressure builds to reach agreement on new deal

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins won't accept a one-year lease extension to stay in Pittsburgh, keeping the pressure on state and local leaders to cut a deal for a new arena or face the prospect of losing the franchise to another city.

Today is the last day for the Penguins to exercise an option for the one-year extension under an arrangement with the city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority.

But even county Chief Executive Dan Onorato, one of the politicians trying to negotiate a new arena deal with the Penguins, doesn't expect the team to take advantage of the offer. He called the pending deadline "totally irrelevant" to the larger talks.

"To us it's not a big deal because we're negotiating," he said. "We just want them to stay here long-term."

The Penguins declined comment yesterday.

The fact the team won't jump at the extension isn't surprising. It can relocate this summer after its Mellon Arena lease expires June 30. The Penguins likely would want to keep that option open in the event the arena negotiations fall apart.

In addition, accepting an extension to play another season in Pittsburgh would remove some of the leverage the team has in the arena talks. If the team can't reach an agreement here, there's a good chance it will be playing in Kansas City next season, where the rent-free $276 million Sprint Center awaits a hockey franchise.

"I think they want to have that option open to them of moving immediately if they want," said Neil deMause, co-author of "Field of Schemes," a book about stadium financing controversies.

Not accepting the one-year extension "puts the pressure on and makes it look like we're out of here if we don't get a new arena deal," he added.

The Penguins and local and state leaders have been trying to negotiate an agreement for nearly two months now.

Team-co-owner Mario Lemieux emerged from a Jan. 4 meeting to say he was optimistic about the prospects about keeping the franchise here. But talks have moved slowly since then, with the two sides stumbling over issues like development rights to the Mellon Arena site, parking revenues, and the teams' share of the arena cost.

Another issue that has surfaced is what happens if construction costs exceed the amount of money available under Plan B, the funding formula developed to finance a new arena, estimated at $270 million to $290 million.

The Penguins have agreed to cover cost overruns once a guaranteed maximum price has been established. The question is what happens if that price exceeds the Plan B financing, which includes $14.5 million a year for 30 years in slots gambling-related revenues as well as a team contribution.

Gov. Ed Rendell has said he hopes to contain the cost through the design of the building and through a no-strike agreement the city, county and state will seek from the unions to be involved in the project.

Nonetheless, Mr. Onorato said progress is being made. He said the parties are talking just about every day.

"There are constant negotiations and it's all getting closer," he said. "The items where we differ, that list gets smaller and smaller. So it's moving in the right direction."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07059/765471-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 12:51 AM
Brodeur blanks Penguins, 1-0

New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner scores a power-play goal early in the second period, and that's all New Jersey needed as Martin Brodeur bags 12th shutout of season.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Yeah, luck probably had a bit to do with it, just like Sidney Crosby suggested.

If a couple of shots had gone a few centimeters in another direction, or if a bounce had been just a bit more favorable, it might have changed everything.

Funny, though, how often all those variables seem to break New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur's way.

So often that his 1-0 shutout against the Penguins at Mellon Arena last night was Brodeur's 12th of the season, and 92nd in the NHL.

That's a lot of luck.

"He's pretty amazing," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.

Thanks in large part to Brodeur's 31-save performance, the Penguins have lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 9-10 and slipped 11 points behind the first-place Devils in the Atlantic Division. They are fifth in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Ottawa and one ahead of Atlanta.

New Jersey has become a near-prohibitive favorite to win the division, although Brodeur cautioned against writing off the Penguins just yet.

"They're going to be a good team all the way through," he said. "So, when you have a chance to gain points on them, it's a big plus."

None of the players the Penguins acquired in trades yesterday -- wingers Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski -- were available to play last night and, with center Dominic Moore removed from the mix, coach Michel Therrien dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

"I wanted to give a shot to [defenseman Alain] Nasreddine," he said.

He also wanted to give one to Fleury, who had watched Jocelyn Thibault start the previous two games. Fleury responded by stopping 24 of 25 New Jersey shots, earning recognition as the No. 3 star of the game and praise from his coach.

"I was anxious to see how he was going to bounce back, and he was really good," Therrien said. "He was square to the puck and played with a lot of confidence."

Fleury expressed disappointment about the outcome because "you always want to win," but agreed that "it was better than my last couple of games."

Although the Penguins had a 12-8 edge in shots during the first period, the Devils got the most dangerous one when Travis Zajac had a chance from the slot during a power play about 10 seconds before the intermission.

Fleury was able to throw out his right leg to stop Zajac's shot, but the reprieve was short-lived.

The Devils were on the same man-advantage 33 seconds into the second period when Jamie Langenbrunner beat Fleury with a slap shot from the left side of the slot for the only goal.

Fleury said he "didn't see it," and Langenbrunner volunteered that, "sometimes they find their way through."

While the Penguins have a volatile offense, spotting New Jersey even a one-goal lead can be lethal. The Devils are 29-7-3 when getting the first goal.

Brodeur preserved the Devils' advantage by stopping Mark Recchi twice from the lip of his crease with just under eight minutes to go in the period, and Evgeni Malkin came within inches of tying it with 1:09 left, when his shot from the left side glanced off the far post.

Fifty-five seconds into the third, Sergei Gonchar hammered a shot off the right post, and Brodeur was able to cover the rebound before Crosby could pounce on it.

"[Defenseman Colin] White poked it back under him before I got to the puck," Crosby said. "If White doesn't poke that, I bang it in the empty net. That's just the way it went."

Therrien reunited the Malkin-Crosby-Mark Recchi line with about six minutes left in regulation, and the Penguins continued to pressure Brodeur until the waning seconds, but couldn't prevent him from shutting them out for the second time this season and fifth in his career.

"Brodeur, again, was phenomenal," Therrien said.

He also is the biggest reason New Jersey likely will win the division, although the Penguins aren't ready to concede that just yet.

"You can't give up hope," Crosby said. "We have to make sure we get points, no matter where that puts us in the division."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07059/765541-61.stm

X-Terminator
02-28-2007, 01:02 AM
Penguins bulk up with Roberts, Laraque
John McGourty | NHL.com Staff Writer Feb 27, 2007, 4:38 PM EST

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a bigger, tougher more experienced team today thanks to three deals made before Tuesday?s NHL trade deadline.

Coming to Pittsburgh are forwards Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski. The Penguins surrendered defenseman Noah Welch in the Roberts trade, AHL prospect Dan Carcillo and a third-round pick in 2008 for Laraque and a 2007 fourth-round pick for Kwiatkowski. In addition, the Penguins sent forward Dominic Moore to the Minnesota Wild for a 2007 third-round pick. Pittsburgh also swapped a seventh-round pick in 2007 to the San Jose Sharks for goalie Nolan Schaefer.

At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Roberts is a dynamic and physical player who will add to the Penguins' leadership and scoring. Roberts, 40, has 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points in 50 games with Florida this season. He ranked fourth on the Panthers with a plus-5 rating. In 19 NHL seasons, Roberts has posted 424 goals and 451 assists for 875 points in 1,137 games. He is plus-248 for his career. He has also sat for 2,467 penalty minutes.

In Welch, the Panthers receive a 6-foot-4, 218-pound defenseman who was selected in the second round of the 2001 Entry Draft by the Penguins. He has a goal and an assist in 22 games for Pittsburgh this season.

Roberts, who won the Stanley Cup with the 1989 Calgary Flames in his third NHL season, waived a no-trade clause to join the Penguins.

Laraque is expected to add protection for young stars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who have operated without a bodyguard most of the season.

In Laraque, the Penguins now have the elite bodyguard in the League who can put the puck in the net as well as he can drop the gloves. In 56 games this season with the Coyotes, the 30-year-old enforcer had five goals and 22 points to go with 52 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Laraque has played in 546 NHL games and has 48 goals and 133 points and 878 PIMs. In 36 career playoff games, he has three goals, nine points and 64 minutes in the box. Laraque played in 15 games in the playoffs last year with Edmonton, a team that advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Kwiatkowski will add depth to the Penguins back line. In 41 games with the Florida Panthers, Kwiatkowski scored five goals and five assists and was a minus-5.

The Penguins were the second-worst team in the NHL a year ago, but have bonded well under the direction of new GM Ray Shero and coach Michel Therrien. They are nine points behind the Atlantic-leading New Jersey Devils and five points ahead of the third-place New York Islanders. The Islanders are one point behind Carolina for the eight seed in the East, so the Penguins don't have a big comfort zone.

Numbers alone don't tell the Gary Roberts story.

Roberts is the personification of the player you want on your side or hate to play against. He is rabid in his intensity and finishes his many, many checks. He knows a few verbal ways to get opponents off their game, as well.

Roberts suffered a broken neck during the 1994-95 season. He returned late the next year and re-injured his neck, causing him to miss the entire 1996-97 season. Roberts resumed his career with a newfound emphasis on nutrition and conditioning. He has become a guru on those subjects to his teammates as well as a willing instructor to younger players.

While the Penguins expect production from Roberts through the end of the season and into the playoffs, they're also expecting the fiery, steely eyed leadership that Roberts and Laraque provide. The Penguins, who have played the season without a designated team captain, boast a corps of young stars that includes forwards Crosby, Malkin, Colby Armstrong, Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot, defenseman Ryan Whitney and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury who can all benefit from observing Roberts' game preparation and intensity.

Roberts played for the Hurricanes from 1997-2000 and it was there that he re-established his career after the neck injury. It was also in Carolina that he added to his reputation as a leader that other players are willing to follow.

Roberts signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2000 and the North York, Ontario, native had four exciting seasons under the coaching of Pat Quinn. Although he missed the first 57 games of the 2002-03 after shoulder surgery, Roberts led the Maple Leafs into the playoffs all four seasons. They went to the Eastern Conference Final in 2001-02, where the Leafs were defeated by the Hurricanes in a six-game series that included three overtime games and two other one-goal games.

Roberts has played the past two seasons for the Panthers. He was signed along with longtime friend and Calgary Stanley Cup winner Joe Nieuwendyk. But Nieuwendyk was plagued by back problems and retired earlier this season.

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?articleid=289737&page=NewsPage&service=page

83-Steelers-43
02-28-2007, 08:36 AM
"There are constant negotiations and it's all getting closer," he said. "The items where we differ, that list gets smaller and smaller. So it's moving in the right direction."

Sounds good to me. Keep working it out guys and let's start getting this deal wrapped up. :cheers:

83-Steelers-43
02-28-2007, 08:42 AM
They FELL SHORT. 1-0.

Yeah they did. When Brodeur is on his game there isn't all that much you can do. We were getting very good opportunities, but when Marty is on his game it's not going to be easy. The Devils may just be (are in my opinion), the only team in the NHL where you have to worry about losing a game 1-0.

On a positive note, I was refereshed to see the team play ten times better than they did against Tampa Bay. I feel Fleury bouncing back from his benching and playing a solid game in net is huge.

See what we can do against NYR. :cheers:

While I'm not crazy about the trades, welcome to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization Gary Roberts, Georges Laraque, Joel Kwiatkowski and Nolan Shaefer. Good luck to you all.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/photos/2007-02-27/2007-0227newpens-f.jpg

SteelCityMan786
02-28-2007, 04:46 PM
"There are constant negotiations and it's all getting closer," he said. "The items where we differ, that list gets smaller and smaller. So it's moving in the right direction."

Sounds good to me. Keep working it out guys and let's start getting this deal wrapped up. :cheers:

Just like Larry the cable guy says.

GIT R DONE

83-Steelers-43
02-28-2007, 05:08 PM
Just like Larry the cable guy says.

GIT R DONE

Amen. I also liked this part of the article.....

"Nonetheless, Mr. Onorato said progress is being made. He said the parties are talking just about every day."

That's very good news in my opinion. Some feel just because they don't get a daily update from KDKA, WTAE, FSN, WPXI, PPG or Trib involving the negotiation talks that nothing at all is happening behind closed doors. They don't hear something for a week or two and they go in code red mode.

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 12:56 AM
Roberts joins Penguins' top line

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 1, 2007

NEW YORK - Penguins coach Michel Therrien cautioned against paying too much attention to his line combinations at practice Wednesday.

With two new forwards and a defenseman added to the team Tuesday before the NHL's trading deadline, Therrien said he'll likely do some experimenting in order to find the right blend.

But this much is certain: Gary Roberts, whom general manager Ray Shero acquired from the Florida Panthers for defensive prospect Noah Welch, will start tonight's game against the New York Rangers on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi.

"I can't believe I'm playing with those slugs, but it'll be OK," Roberts, 40, said jokingly after his first practice with the team at Mellon Arena. "Truthfully, I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to play with a kid like Crosby and obviously Recchi, I've known him and played against him for years and I know the kind of competitor he is. I'm really excited about the opportunity and hopefully I can help them out a bit."


The Penguins (33-20-9) could use some help of late.

Heading into tonight's game, they've lost three out of their past four following a torrid 14-0-2 streak. They were shut out, 1-0, by the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night and suffered one of their worst defeats of the season, a 5-1 loss Sunday to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We're having a hard time (scoring) goals," Therrien said. "We're getting some chances, but we need more contribution offensively. If you don't score at least three goals, it's tough to win and lately we haven't been scoring three goals."

Ryan Malone, who was playing on Crosby's left side, will replace Jordan Staal on the second line. Staal moves to a line with Maxime Talbot and Colby Armstrong. Newcomer Georges Laraque, who spent yesterday traveling and joined the team in New York, will play with Erik Christensen and Jarkko Ruutu.

Newly acquired defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, who also joined the team in New York, will not play tonight. Therrien said he wanted to give him a few days to practice with the team before inserting him into the lineup.

Roberts played most of the past two seasons in Florida on a line with Olli Jokinen. But whether it's Jokinen, Joe Nieuwendyk with the Calgary Flames, Ron Francis with the Carolina Hurricanes or Mats Sundin with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Roberts has a long history of playing alongside skilled players.

"I know I'm going to be in the corners, strong on the forecheck, trying to create some loose pucks, trying to get Sid and Mark the puck and go to the net," Roberts said. "Sid likes to handle the puck, he's obviously very creative, and I'm going to try to create some room for him and try to get to the net and pick up some garbage."

Crosby could use some more room on the ice.

Although he has 18 assists in his past 14 games and points in all but three of those games, Crosby has only one goal during that span.

Whether Roberts' presence will help is a question that may be answered tonight. If he's not a fit, Therrien may go back to the drawing board as early as Friday because, as he pointed out, he doesn't have that much time left to find the right combinations before the playoffs.

The Penguins have 20 games left in the regular season and play 17 games in March, more than any other NHL team.

"If we see the chemistry's not there, we don't have six months," Therrien said. "So we're going to have to make decisions really quick."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495499.html

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 01:01 AM
Finally, a decent story about the value of an enforcer...

Pens get serious about toughing it out down the stretch

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Georges Laraque is so accomplished at what he does that he can turn a hockey fight into an invitation-only affair.

The Penguins have never seen anything like this guy.

It could be that the NHL never before has, either.

But don't take my word for it.

Instead, visit YouTube.com and keep searching until you find the video of Laraque's bout with Los Angeles Kings tough guy Raitis Ivanans on Nov. 30, 2006. Laraque was wearing a microphone at the time, so there is audio, as well.

That'll reveal all you need to know about Laraque prior to his Penguins debut tonight against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Laraque, 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, and Ivanans, 6-4, 250, position themselves for a faceoff.

"Want to?" Laraque asks, as innocently as if he were asking Ivanans to go out for a drink after the game. "OK? Good luck, man."

Then, the puck is dropped and the two have at it.

Laraque wins again.

"I think he's recognized by everybody as the toughest player in the league," Pens general manager Ray Shero said upon acquiring Laraque on Tuesday. "He's got that respect."

And now the Pens will have it.

The moral debate regarding fighting in the game can rage on ad nauseam. But as things stand now, fighting is both allowed and encouraged.

Laraque serves a purpose along those lines and has all the way back to his days in the QMJHL.

He was acquired by Granby in 1995-96, and Granby went on to win the Memorial Cup.

Granby's coach was Michel Therrien, who apparently felt he needed a physical presence to give his team every chance to compete for the championship.

This season's Penguins clearly had that in common with the 1995-96 Granby Predateurs.

"When you want to build a house and you look in your toolbox, sometimes you're missing some tools," Therrien said following practice Wednesday.

The Pens are missing one less today.

The Pens have a hammer.

The Pens have a sledgehammer.

The Pens have a jackhammer.

For the first time in their history, the Penguins possess the NHL's reigning heavyweight champion.

It would have been better to land a true power forward or a top-four defenseman.

Failing that, Shero has acquired "a presence" (the unanimous characterization of Laraque).

After further review, that might be the next best thing.

Laraque figures he'll fit right in. He told the Arizona Republic that the Penguins "have a lot of young stars who are getting abused and they need somebody to address that."

The brightest of those stars, Sidney Crosby, disagreed with Laraque's assessment but did so diplomatically.

"Honestly, I never feel like I'm getting abused or anything like that," Crosby said. "In some people's eyes, maybe that's the way it seems, but to me that's the way I've grown up playing, that's the way it's always been."

Crosby's periodic verbal assaults on officials suggest deep down he believes that isn't necessarily the way it ought to be.

And he certainly isn't about to turn down whatever help he gets from Laraque as it relates to perceived on-ice muggings.

"Guys are going to do what they're going to do," Crosby said. "But to have someone there looking out for you is gonna be nice, too."

Opponents must now respect that like never before against the Penguins.

Those that don't are destined to receive a personal invitation to reconsider.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495523.html

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 01:15 AM
Pens' Therrien will start Fleury tonight

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Coach Michel Therrien said Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal tonight against the Rangers, but he didn't name a goaltender for Friday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

• With the addition of 40-year-old Gary Roberts to his line with 39-year-old Mark Recchi, Sidney Crosby is anchoring two guys who are old enough to be his dad.

"Last year was kind of like that, too," said Crosby, 19. "Age doesn't matter. It's fun to play with two guys who have that much experience."

• Newcomer Georges Laraque should act as a deterrent against cheap shots at Crosby, but while his presence will be appreciated, Crosby said he doesn't necessarily think he's been "abused" this year.

"No more than expected," Crosby said. "It's part of the game."

• Crosby remains just three points shy of 100 on the season and one point shy of 200 for his career.

• Ryan Malone said he wasn't necessarily surprised to be moved off the top line with Crosby and Recchi to make way for Roberts, but he was surprised to replace Jordan Staal on the second line with Evgeni Malkin.

"Staal's been playing great, and I thought me, (Maxime Talbot) and (Colby Armstrong) played well when we have played together in the past," Malone said.

• Defenseman Ryan Whitney did not practice again yesterday because of a sore wrist. He missed Monday's practice for the same reason.

• Quotable: "I got a lot of high-fives and hugs when I was still here for (Tuesday) night's game, so that's a good thing, I guess."
- Ryan Malone, whose name was in the rumor mill prior to the trade deadline.

Digits

1 - Games Brooks Orpik needs to get to No. 200 in the NHL.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495537.html

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 01:17 AM
Scouting the Rangers

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (33-19-9) at N.Y. Rangers (29-27-6)

When, where: 7 p.m. -- Madison Square Garden, New York

TV/radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-7, 2.93 GAA); Henrik Lundqvist (25-20-4)

Notable: The Rangers are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. ... Jaromir Jagr has dropped to 12th in the NHL in scoring with 22 goals and 52 assists for 74 points in 62 games. ... The Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak on Tuesday night with a 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Martin Straka did not play in that game because of a shoulder injury.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495538.html

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 01:24 AM
Penguins Notebook: Rangers' woes surprise Recchi

Thursday, March 01, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The New York Rangers finished with 100 points last season and came within a victory of winning the Atlantic Division.

This season, the Rangers are clinging to the outer edge of the Eastern Conference playoff race, and their tenuous grip could be loosened considerably if the Penguins beat them when the teams meet at 7:08 tonight at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm definitely surprised," Penguins right winger Mark Recchi said yesterday. "With the strides they made last year, and then they added a guy like Shanahan, a couple of good guys, in the offseason. So, I'm definitely surprised."

The Rangers are 11th in the conference with 66 points, which left them six out of a playoff berth before last night.

Closing that gap during the final five-plus weeks of the regular season hardly is out of the question, but the Rangers' margin for error is shrinking almost by the day.

"This is an opportunity for us to step up here and have a big win and push them back further," Recchi said. "This could really hurt them."

[B]A piece of Laraque

A lot of people consider Georges Laraque, a winger the Penguins acquired from Phoenix hours before the trade deadline Tuesday, to be the NHL's premier enforcer.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who coached Laraque when they were together with Granby in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, seems to think of him more as a hammer.

"When you want to build a house, you look in the toolbox and sometimes you're missing some tools," Therrien said. "We figured out that we were missing that type of tool."

Apparently, the kind with a history of pounding opponents, although Therrien was quick to point out that, "we're not expecting Georges to fight every game."

He added that Laraque is "more than a fighter" and that one-dimensional tough guys are a vanishing breed.

"These days, the way the game is played, you can't just have a [tough] guy on the bench and expect him to go on the ice and do his job," Therrien said. "He's got to be able to play."

Fun with names and age

Gary Roberts, the Penguins' newly acquired left winger, has a 17-year-old daughter named Jordan.

He also has an 18-year-old teammate named Jordan.

That coincidence did not escape his notice during his first full day with the team.

"I was talking to Jordan Staal today and told him my daughter's name was Jordan, too," Roberts said. "So it's not going to work out for him."

It also was pointed out to 19-year-old center Sidney Crosby that he now has a couple of wingers -- Roberts, who is 40, and Recchi, 37 -- who are old enough to be his father.

"That's just the way it is," Crosby said. "Age doesn't matter. It's fun to play with two guys who have that much experience."

Praise for Fleury

Therrien again praised Marc-Andre Fleury for his 24-save performance during the Penguins' 1-0 loss to New Jersey Tuesday, in what was widely viewed as Fleury's best and most fundamentally sound showing in weeks.

"He played well," Therrien said. "It's what we expected. This is what we want. He played with confidence. He was sharp. He got back to basics, and that was what he needed to do."

Slap shots

Therrien said he does not plan to use defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, acquired from Florida for a fourth-round draft choice, in a game until he has had a few practices with the Penguins. ... Rangers right winger Jaromir Jagr's next assist will be his 895th, breaking a tie with Phil Housley and giving him undisputed possession of 17th place on the NHL's all-time list. ... Jagr recently went 26 games without a power-play goal. ... New York is 12-6 in games decided by three or more goals. ... Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney is bothered by a nagging wrist injury. ... Crosby, on the chances of making up the 11-point gap separating the Penguins from first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division: "You can't give up hope. We have to make sure we get points, no matter where that puts us in the division."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07060/765950-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 01:33 AM
I knew they were going to put Roberts on the top line, but why take Staal off the second line? That line has been pretty damn good over the past month and has been one of the most consistent lines night in and night out. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Their insistance on putting Ryan Malone on one of the top 2 lines isn't doing a damn thing to help this team - he has NOT produced the way a first or second liner should. What's it going to take for Michel Therrien to realize that, and keep him on the 3rd line and on the PK? Staal has 25 goals for crying out loud, and has no business being on the 3rd line.

Therrien hopes new lines will ignite offense

Thursday, March 01, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gary Roberts is one of the oldest players in the NHL and was the first one off the ice after practice yesterday at Mellon Arena, which led to an inescapable conclusion.

The guy wanted to search out the best senior-citizen, early bird lunch specials in his new town.

A perfectly logical explanation. Turns out it wasn't the correct one.

It seems Roberts wanted to squeeze in an off-ice workout before catching the Penguins' flight to New York for their game against the Rangers at 7:08 p.m. today at Madison Square Garden.

That career-long commitment to conditioning is part of the reason the Penguins acquired him from Florida as the NHL's trade deadline approached, and why coach Michel Therrien grafted Roberts onto the No. 1 line with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi, at least for the time being.

Roberts, 40, isn't one of hockey's foremost power forwards anymore, but there are elements of his game that could help to bring out the best in his new linemates.

"He's intense," Therrien said. "He's a presence out there. He goes hard to the net. He's always around the net. He's a guy who likes to forecheck and create more space for Recchi and Crosby."

Placing Roberts on the top line had a ripple effect, leading to changes on every forward unit. Therrien cautioned that they are subject to change as he tries to come up with the most-productive combinations possible, but in practice yesterday the other lines looked like this: Ryan Malone-Evgeni Malkin-Michel Ouellet, Jordan Staal-Maxime Talbot-Colby Armstrong and Jarkko Ruutu-Erik Christensen-Chris Thorburn.

Therrien said newly acquired winger Georges Laraque, who did not practice yesterday but was to join the team in New York, will move into the spot Thorburn filled yesterday.

Reconfiguring the lines was partly a reaction to the arrival of Roberts and Laraque, partly a reaction to the Penguins' precipitous decline in goal production the past week. They have scored three -- only one of those at even-strength -- in the past three games.

"Hopefully, the line changes will help us to produce more offensively, five-on-five," Therrien said. "If you don't score at least three goals, it's really tough to win."

Roberts worked out with his new teammates for the first time yesterday -- "I tried not to be too much of a drill-wrecker out there," he said -- and already felt confident and comfortable enough to joke that, "I can't believe I'm playing with those slugs" when asked about joining Crosby and Recchi on the No. 1 line.

Roberts plays a classic straight-line game, going from where he is to where he wants to be via the most direct route possible. Any opponent who gets in his way risks being treated like a speed bump.

"When someone drives to the net that hard, they open up a lot," Crosby said. "If the [defenseman] doesn't take him, he's going to be open and able to get a chance to put rebounds in.

"And, if they go with him, it will probably open it up for me and [Recchi]. When someone goes to the net that hard, it makes it tough on other players."

Crosby said he doesn't believe it will take long to adapt to having Roberts on his wing -- "I'm a student of the game and I like to watch other guys," he said. "Watching him has helped me" -- and Roberts isn't exactly in uncharted territory when placed alongside quality linemates.

He had Olli Jokinen as a regular linemate in Florida and has worked, at various points in his career, with elite centers ranging from Joe Nieuwendyk to Ron Francis to Mats Sundin.

"I've always been fortunate to play with good players," Roberts said. "And, when you play with good players, it obviously helps your game."

Malone, who lost his place on the No. 1 line to Roberts, described him as "a warrior" who is "what a hockey player's all about."

He also said that his job description won't change significantly just because he has been nudged to the second line.

"I still have to go out there and do my thing," Malone said. "Keep it simple, throw my weight around, move my feet and get the puck to another great centerman."

Staal got bumped down the depth chart, too, but said he is "really excited" to be with Talbot and Armstrong and that he'll go about his work the same way he has in the past.

"I don't want to change anything right now," Staal said. "And I don't think the coaches want me to change anything."


New lines

The updated combinations

1. Gary Roberts
Sidney Crosby
Mark Recchi

2. Ryan Malone
Evgeni Malkin
Michel Ouellet

3. Jordan Staal
Maxime Talbot
Colby Armstrong

4. Jarkko Ruutu
Erik Christensen
*-Chris Thorburn

*--Newly acquired winger Georges Laraque will take Thorburn's spot.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07060/765951-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-01-2007, 01:39 AM
Here is the fight that was mentioned in the Prisuta story on Laraque, when he was miked-up for that night's game vs. Los Angeles. Enjoy!

5zNUTSTRnz8

83-Steelers-43
03-01-2007, 04:17 AM
ROBERTS EXCITED FOR OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY FOR PENGUINS
by Joe Sager
pittsburghpenguins.com
02/27/2007

Heading from Florida to Pittsburgh in late February may not be an ideal trip for many people.

For Gary Roberts, it’s ideal.

That’s because the opportunity to skate with a young, talented and exciting Penguins team was a very attractive one for the 40-year-old NHL veteran.

“I have never been traded at the deadline; this is the first time for me. There was a lot of talk and restless nights leading up to this. Even at 40, you are still anxious when it comes to days like this, but I really am excited and thrilled to be here and I am looking forward to the opportunity,” said Roberts, acquired from Florida on Tuesday for Noah Welch. “I know there was all this speculation out there of where I wanted to be, but this is really where I am excited to be. I am looking at the regular season and playoffs and we’ll go from there.

“You look at the talent here in Pittsburgh and having the opportunity and I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to Ray Shero and Mario Lemieux and Mark Recchi and also with my family. I was actually really thrilled after speaking with them to have the opportunity here. It was my choice to waive my no-trade clause and come to Pittsburgh,” he continued. “The main thing Mark said was how much fun he was having playing with a young group of guys. They are basically late for buses and planes because you can’t get them off the ice. That’s a good sign when your younger players are the last guys to come off the ice and are out there trying to get better every day. As an older player, that’s great to see and fun to be a part of and it actually makes you younger. That’s one of the reasons why I came to Pittsburgh.”

A veteran of 19 NHL seasons and 1,137 games, Roberts has 875 points (424+451) in his career. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder looks forward to helping the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I knew that there were some very skilled guys here. Hopefully, I can bring a little bit of grit and get those guys the puck. Hopefully I can complement them in some way,” he said. “For me, the last few years, I know why I am still playing and that’s what I do on and off the ice to prepare to play. I am not a big yeller or screamer. I just come to the rink every day and play hard and be a good pro and a good teammate. These young guys are heading in the right direction. I see how hard they work every day on the ice playing against them. This organization is definitely heading in the right direction. Hopefully I can be a part of it.”

After playing against and watching the Penguins this season, Roberts believes the team has a chance to be a force in the postseason.

“I think for sure. One thing about making it a long way in the playoffs is you need a good part of the team to be younger, so it has the drive and energy to do it. It’s obvious what I see here is that drive and determination,” he said. “Hopefully, Georges Laraque, Joel Kwiatkowski and I can add a little something and make our playoff wrong as long as we can.

“As a young group, there’s no doubt that consistency is the biggest thing, no matter where you are. To be a Stanley Cup contender, you need to be consistent day in and day out. That’s what makes a championship team. Hopefully, as we move on here, this team can be more consistent and be there every night.”

For now, though, Roberts is focusing on fitting in with his new teammates, coaches and surroundings.

“No matter what situation you are in or how old or young you are, you want to feel your way. I am going to go through an adjustment period getting to know new teammates and getting a feel for a new system and the way coaches like to do things,” he said. “Basically, I am going to be like a sponge for a while and try to absorb anything I can and find my way and hopefully be a contributor in some way.”

http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/team/features/arts/2357.0.php

83-Steelers-43
03-01-2007, 09:49 PM
Not the text book win the team wanted I'm sure, but we got the two points baby!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

On to "Unless we make the playoffs we don't show up" Hurricanes!!!!

Penguins top Rangers, 4-3, in shootout
Thursday, March 01, 2007

By Ira Podell, The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby scored the only goal of the shootout, and the Penguins used three special-teams goals in the third period to rally to a 4-3 victory against the New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Crosby, the last of six shooters, squeezed a shot between Henrik Lundqvist's pads.

The Penguins erased a two-goal deficit with back-to-back short-handed goals by NHL leader Jordan Staal and Colby Armstrong, and forced overtime with defenseman Sergei Gonchar's goal with six minutes left in regulation.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves in his second consecutive strong start following a benching. He then turned aside Michael Nylander, Jaromir Jagr and Petr Prucha in the shootout. Nylander and Jagr had both scored in regulation for the Rangers, 2-3-2 in their past seven as they try to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Jagr nearly scored in the shootout, but fell to 0-for-4 this season when Fleury stopped him with his pads. The Rangers captain was roundly criticized for declining to take part in the tiebreaker against New Jersey on Feb. 22 when New York lost.

Blair Betts scored a power-play goal to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead, but Lundqvist -- who made 30 saves -- couldn't protect it.

Betts appeared to bail out the Rangers after they blew the lead while on the power play. He got to a loose puck that bounced to him in the slot and pinballed it through traffic past Fleury at 4:43. The goal came 58 seconds after Armstrong tied it during teammate Evgeni Malkin's penalty.

Jagr and Nylander netted goals 1:09 apart late in the second to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead that was gone less than four minutes into the third.

New York had led the NHL in fewest short-handed goals allowed with one through 61 games this season, but they have given up two each in two of the past three games. The Rangers squandered a key standings point in the process.

They are 11th in the Eastern Conference, three places and five points below the playoff cutoff with 18 games remaining.

The Penguins busted out of an offensive slump in a hurry, and avoided its third loss in four games following a 16-game point streak (14-0-2). The Penguins lost 1-0 to New Jersey on Tuesday and had gone 132 minutes, 50 seconds without a goal since Gonchar scored in the second period of a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Feb. 22.

Crosby failed for the second straight game to reach 200 in his two-season career. It is only the second time this season the 19-year-old phenom has been blanked in consecutive games. He couldn't avoid it even though he had 40-year-old Gary Roberts on his line. Roberts, acquired Tuesday from Florida before the trade deadline, made his Penguins debut.

Jagr broke the scoreless deadlock with 2:24 left in the second period, getting some help from Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi. Jagr's shot hit Fleury and then Scuderi's left skate before going in.

Nylander scored his 20th at 18:45.

Staal, only 18, scored his 26th goal and increased his lead with his sixth short-handed score.

Notes: Nylander has four 20-goal seasons in the NHL, including both years with the Rangers. ... Betts has goals in two of three games after going 16 without one. ... Armstrong has two in five games following a drought of 14 games. ... The Penguins have 11 short-handed goals. ... New York played without LW Martin Straka (shoulder) and lost D Fedor Tyutin (knee).

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07060/766211-100.stm

X-Terminator
03-02-2007, 01:42 AM
Didn't see the game tonight (karate class), but it sucks that Eaton is hurt again. I hope it isn't too serious, but luckily we have Nazzy - and, in time, Kwiatkowski - ready to step in and play if he's out for any length of time.

Pens win fifth shootout in a row

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, March 2, 2007

NEW YORK - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury admitted that for the first half of the season, he hated shootouts.

No wonder.

The Penguins had one of the worst records in the league in shootouts in mid-January, at 1-5 -- 2-11 since the start of last season.

But after coming back from a two-goal deficit going into the third period and then beating the New York Rangers in a shootout, 4-3, on Thursday, the Penguins have won five consecutive shootouts.

Fleury stopped Jaromir Jagr in the shootout, and Michael Nylander and Petr Prucha missed the net. Sidney Crosby slipped the puck between goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's legs for the Penguins' win.

"It's good," Fleury said. "Now we've got (a win), so it's all right. We got the two points. That's important."

Forwards Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque, acquired at Tuesday's trade deadline, made their Penguins debuts.

Jordan Staal and Colby Armstrong scored back-to-back shorthanded goals. Sergei Gonchar scored the team's third goal with one second left on a power play to force overtime.

All three goals were in the third period.

"This was a character win," coach Michel Therrien said. "We were down by two goals and found a way to come back, and found a way to score two goals on our penalty killing. That's pretty huge. Sid scored a big goal, and Marc-Andre was really good. It's a huge win, there's no doubt about that."

The Penguins lost defenseman Mark Eaton in the win, however.

He injured his right leg on his first shift of the game after going in for a hit on Rangers center Ryan Hollweg and slamming awkwardly into the boards. Eaton took one more shift, but that was it. He will be re-evaluated today.

The Penguins (34-20-9) went into the game in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, 11 points behind the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils and just three points ahead of the eighth-place Montreal Canadiens. Pittsburgh had lost three of their last four.

The Rangers were in 11th place with 66 points and had also lost three out of their last four, including one in a shootout.

For almost two periods there was no score, but that changed quickly after the Rangers scored twice in 1:09 to take a 2-0 lead into the third period.

The first was a rebound on Jagr's shot that hit the inside of Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi's left skate and redirected into the net at 17:36. Just over a minute later, Michael Nylander beat Fleury on his right side at 18:45.

Going into the third period the Penguins, who were shut out by the New Jersey Devils in their last game two nights earlier, had not scored a goal in 131:34. Their last goal came in the second period of a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

But then with Jarkko Ruutu in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the second period, Staal scored a shorthanded goal to cut the lead to one. It was his league-leading sixth short-handed goal of the season and his 26th overall.

Then, with Evgeni Malkin in the box two minutes later, the Penguins got their second shorthanded goal after Lundqvist came out to play the puck and Armstrong banked the puck off the post, then Lundqvist, to tie it.

"These young guys play with a lot of spunk, and I can already see this is a team that doesn't give up," Roberts said. "It was fun to be part of that (Thursday)."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495731.html

X-Terminator
03-02-2007, 01:44 AM
Pens' coach Therrien, Laraque reunited

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, March 2, 2007

Coach Michel Therrien and newly acquired forward Georges Laraque go back to Laraque's junior hockey days, when the Therrien-coached Granby Predateurs traded for Laraque at the deadline and the team went on to win the Memorial Cup.

"He was a hard player to play against, on the forecheck, protecting the puck," Therrien said. "He was playing on the top three lines as a junior player, sometimes on the first line. He was part of the reason why we won the Memorial Cup that year."

Therrien said the two kept in occasional touch in the years since, and Laraque said that knowing Therrien helped him decide to come to the Penguins on Tuesday at the NHL trade deadline when he had at least one other offer on the table.

"I knew the coach and a couple guys here, and it's such a young, talented hockey team that it's a great opportunity," the soft-spoken Laraque said. "This opportunity was tough to turn down."

? Laraque, who played for the Phoenix Coyotes this season and the Edmonton Oilers in 2005-06, didn't play against Sidney Crosby often. But no one had to tell him about some of the abuses Crosby was suffering at the hands of opponents trying to get him off his game.

"You see it all the time on the news and the sports highlights," Laraque said. "This is what teams do. They have to target him if they want to have a chance to win. But now things will change, and I look forward to this challenge."

? New defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski did not play against the Rangers because Therrien wants him to get a few practices under his belt before he plays.

"We talked about it (Thursday) morning and it's one of those things that's going to take some time," Kwiatkowski said. "I understand that. I've been around for a while. And when the team's hot you don't want to change a whole lot, and I don't blame (Therrien). That's fair. I'll work hard in practice and hopefully get in the lineup, too."


Digits

2 - Number of wins the Hurricanes have against the Penguins in three games this season.

7 - Number of wins in the Hurricanes' last 18 games.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495744.html

X-Terminator
03-02-2007, 01:47 AM
Scouting the Hurricanes

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, March 2, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (34-20-9) at Carolina Hurricanes (32-27-7)

When, where: 7 p.m. ? RBC Center (Raleigh, N.C.)

TV/radio: FSNP/105.9 FM

Probable goaltenders: Jocelyn Thibault (4-6-2, 3.13 GAA); Cam Ward (25-17-6, 2.90 GAA)

Notable: As of Thursday, the Hurricanes were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot and three points behind the Atlanta Thrashers for second in the Southeast Division. They trailed the Penguins by four points going into last night. ... This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. ... Left wing Ray Whitney has earned points in 18 of Carolina's last 23 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 assists (29 points) dating to Jan. 6. ... Winger Erik Cole is out with a muscle tear.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_495759.html

X-Terminator
03-02-2007, 01:50 AM
Penguins Notebook: Laraque ready for beasts of East

Friday, March 02, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW YORK -- Georges Laraque made his Eastern Conference debut when the Penguins faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night and acknowledged that life will be a bit different now that he is working on this side of the continent.

The obvious plus is that friends and family members around Montreal will be able to see him play twice a year at the Bell Centre, compared to once every three seasons when he was with Edmonton and Phoenix.

Laraque also will have to get familiar with the teams in the East and, perhaps more to the point, with some of the conference's accomplished fighters.

Don't expect him to pore over tape of guys such as Brian McGrattan, Donald Brashear or Colton Orr in order to get insights on their fighting styles and tendencies, though. Laraque made it clear after the game-day skate yesterday that he prefers to rely on instincts and reactions when involved in a scrap.

"You can't study," he said. "Anything can happen in a fight. You can't predict."

How many of the conference's top fighters will make a point of challenging Laraque isn't clear, but he insists he's prepared for whatever -- and whoever -- comes his way.

"I've been at it for so long that whoever it is doesn't matter," he said. "I know it will happen, and I'll be ready for it."

Laraque played for Penguins coach Michel Therrien with Granby in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 1996, when the Predateurs won the Memorial Cup junior title.

Therrien said that Laraque, who was acquired during that season, was a "big part of the reason we ended up winning the Memorial Cup," and that "I really believe it's a great fit for him" to join the Penguins.

Laraque obviously agreed, since he had to waive a no-trade clause before the deal to bring him in from Phoenix could be finalized Tuesday, and there was at least one other club that he could have gone to, if so inclined.

Even so, he said, the decision to cast his lot with the Penguins was easy.

"It's such a young, talented hockey team," he said. "It's such a great opportunity to be part of something big."

Knowing their place

The Penguins entered the game knowing that, regardless of how it turned out, they were destined to spend at least one more day in fifth place in the East standings.

They began the evening five points behind fourth-place Ottawa and one ahead of sixth-place Atlanta, both of which had the night off.

And perhaps more important, they realized that they do not need outside help to hold into a spot in the Eastern playoff field.

"We control our destiny," Therrien said. "We don't count on anyone. We count on ourselves and we have to win. We don't count on other teams to lose, to make sure that we're going to be there."

New role intrigues Christensen

Erik Christensen might not be a classic fourth-line center -- he's more skilled and less physical than guys usually cast in that role -- but he doesn't seem to mind being moved there while Therrien figures out what his best line combinations are.

"We have enough guys to score goals," Christensen said.

"Yeah, I love scoring goals and contributing offensively, but this team is just loaded with that sort of [player], so someone has to fill that [fourth-line role]. ... It will give me a chance to really work on my defensive-zone [play] and playing center again, which I love. So I have no complaints."

Christensen is expected to be the only player from the Penguins' major-league roster to be included on the "clear day" roster of their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre. That roster includes players eligible to compete in the American Hockey League playoffs and is scheduled to be announced today.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07061/766303-61.stm