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03-02-2007, 06:30 AM
What an awesome win for the Pens last night! :banana: They battled back from a 2-0 deficit, Gonchar tied it up at 3 deep in the third and Sid came through in the shootout! As the article you posted above states, XT, our Pens showed a helluva lot of character last night!

I wasn't thrilled about the Pens acquiring Laraque, but I'm sure he'll grow on me. I couldn't stand Kasper when he came here from the Isles, but he became one of my favorite Pens in a very short period of time.

Here's hoping to another W tonight against the Canes! LETS GO PENS! :cheers:

03-02-2007, 12:52 PM

Rendell says arena deal 'very close' but adds caution
Governor says projected price has gone up
Friday, March 02, 2007

By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gov. Ed Rendell said today that a deal with the Penuins to build a new arena is "very close" but cautioned the team could still end up in Kansas City.

The governor also revealed that the projected price of a new arena has gone up $20 million.

Mr. Rendell made his comments before a speech this afternoon at Station Square.

"It's still somewhat precarious although I'm very optimistic that we're close," he said of the negotiations between the team and government officials.

"The attitude of the Penguins has convinced me that they want to stay here," he added.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has been involved in the talks for the past two to three weeks and has been serving as a go-between. He has been involved because he wanted "to see this brought to a head," Mr. Rendell said.

"I can only say we're making progress. We keep narrowing the issues and I think we're very close."

One continued stumbling block is the guaranteed maximum price of a new arena and how much the Penguins would pay for any cost overruns.

Mr. Rendell revealed the amount of a state bond issue anticipated to finance construction has risen $20 million to $290 million. He said all parties would have to share the pain of the increase.


03-02-2007, 01:02 PM
Deal not done, but Penguins, state agree on $290 M bond issue

By Andrew Conte
Friday, March 2, 2007

Gov. Ed Rendell said today the Penguins and state, county and city negotiators remain close to a deal for a new arena. But he cautioned that the team still could end up in Kansas City next season.

In the latest negotiations, Rendell said the two sides agreed to increase the arena bond issue to $290 million, the amount the Penguins believe is necessary to build a replacement for Mellon Arena, the oldest venue in the National Hockey League. Rendell said he believes an arena can be built for $270 million.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has joined the negotiations as a mediator. "(Bettman) would like to see this thing brought to a head, and so would I," Rendell said.

Rendell spoke to reporters before addressing the Pittsburgh Technology Council at the Sheraton Station Square.


03-02-2007, 02:56 PM

03-02-2007, 03:13 PM
Keeping fingers (and toes) crossed that a deal can get done within the next week or so. The waiting is killing me!

03-02-2007, 03:56 PM
Hmmm, maybe it's just me, but this news hasn't made me any more optimistic that a deal will be done soon or at all. At least the organization has apparently shown that they don't want to leave, and I hope that continues. Now that Bettman is involved, he becomes another very prominent individual who is putting his reputation on the line, not that he has much of one anyway. I still don't trust him one bit.

03-02-2007, 03:56 PM
From optimistic/good news to bad news.....

Penguins' Eaton has knee sprain, will miss 2-4 weeks
Friday, March 02, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton is expected to miss two-to-four weeks with a sprained right knee.

Eaton was injured early in the first period of the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night.

His place in the lineup for their game against Carolina tonight at 7:08 at the RBC Center will be taken by Alain Nasreddine, who has played in just one of the past eight games.

Eaton has no goals, two assists and 12 penalty minutes in 28 games. He missed 35 games earlier this season because of a dislocated wrist.


03-02-2007, 04:03 PM

Yep. While the deal is not complete it's better than hearing "The Penguins and goverment officials have completely disagreed with each other over the $290 M bond issue and a move to Kansas City is more than likely.". It's better than Lemieux taking his red ball and going home and Rendell taking his red ball and going home. I'll gladly take this news.

Keep working it out guys!

Keepin' the faith SCM! :cheers: :thumbsup: :banana:

03-02-2007, 08:21 PM
Let's hope the deal gets done.

03-02-2007, 08:28 PM
Yep. While the deal is not complete it's better than hearing "The Penguins and goverment officials have completely disagreed with each other over the $290 M bond issue and a move to Kansas City is more than likely.". It's better than Lemieux taking his red ball and going home and Rendell taking his red ball and going home. I'll gladly take this news.

Keep working it out guys!

Keepin' the faith SCM! :cheers: :thumbsup: :banana:

Amen Bro!

03-02-2007, 08:34 PM
Well, that's 4 losses in their last 6 games. The only place they're going is golfing if they keep this crap up.

03-02-2007, 08:37 PM
We got the team GURANTEED to go golfing in the Flyers Sunday. Let's FINISH THE SWEEP OF PHILLY! GO PENS!

03-02-2007, 11:39 PM
Crosby scores 200th point

By Rob Rossi
Friday, March 2, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C ? Sidney Crosby became the youngest player in NHL history to record 200 points with his 27th goal of the season in the first period of the Penguins? game against the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center, Friday night.

Crosby beat Carolina goaltender with a wrist shot at 14:23 of the opening period, giving him 200 points in 142 NHL games. At 19 years and 207 days, he passed all-time NHL scoring leader Wayne Gretzky to become the youngest player to reach the 200-point plateau.

The goal was only Crosby?s fourth in 20 games. He entered the game leading the NHL in points with 97.


03-02-2007, 11:41 PM
Pens powerless against Hurricanes

By Rob Rossi
Saturday, March 3, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. - A pitiful power-play performance rendered the Penguins powerless to capitalize on Sidney Crosby firing the first salvo in what could become his war on Wayne Gretzky's many NHL accomplishments.

The Penguins could not make use of seven opportunities with the man-advantage, including a critical chance with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, in a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center on Friday.

Despite Crosby becoming the youngest player to record 200 points, Pittsburgh fell for the fourth time in six games after having recorded a point in 16 consecutive contests.

"We didn't execute well on the power play. I'm not satisfied," coach Michel Therrien said. "It's all about attitude. Everything is a matter of attitude. We did not have the right attitude when we took the ice with the extra man. It's been that way a bit. We've been going into a rut."

The Penguins' power play has clicked at a rate of 16.7 percent over the past six games -- below its average of 20.6 percent prior to last night.

"We're just not doing the right things," Crosby said.

Therrien concurred with his star's assessment and promised "adjustments" to the power-play units. He would not commit to personnel changes, though the tone in his voice seemed to suggest they were coming for a game against Philadelphia at Mellon Arena on Sunday.

"We'll see," Therrien said.

Crosby had failed to beat a goaltender in six games.

At 14:23 of the first period, that funk fizzled -- and an achievement by Crosby bettered one of Gretzky's for the first time.

Taking control of a loose puck behind Carolina's cage, Crosby circled around the net then whipped a wrist shot past the stick-hand side of Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.

For Crosby, the goal was his 27th for the season but only his fourth in 20 games. However, hockey historians will likely note it more as his 200th NHL point, which he recorded in only his 142nd game. At 19 years and 207 days, Crosby surpassed Gretzky's achievement as the youngest player to reach the 200-point plateau in league history by 140 days.

Following the game, Crosby appeared unfazed by the feat. When asked if he would have preferred it to come during a win, he said only, "Yeah."

Crosby was able to reach the loose puck thanks to a successful poke check by fellow teenager Jordan Staal, who shared line duty with Crosby and veteran right wing Mark Recchi. Moving Staal to the top line was one of three offensive changes made by Therrien in an attempt to warm what had proven a cold 5-on-5 attack.

The Penguins were scoreless in such situations over the previous four games.

As part of the line alterations, new acquisition Gary Roberts played the left wing with center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Michel Ouellet and Ryan Malone took over the left side on a line with Maxime Talbot in the middle and Colby Armstrong on his right.

Malone made sure those moves paid dividends for the Penguins midway through the second period when he slapped a puck over the glove of Ward. The goal, Malone's 13th, negated two quick tallies over a span of 1:07 earlier in the period by Carolina's Scott Walker and Frantisek Kaberle.

Jocelyn Thibault, starting for the fourth time in seven games, was strong in stopping 21 of 23 shots through two periods. However, with Carolina charging midway through the third, Thibault could not prevent Walker from dumping a puck into an open net at 11:33.

"There was a lot of traffic in front, the puck was bouncing and it bounced right to him," Thibault said of Walker's winning goal. "I tried to get there, but I wasn't quick enough.

"It's tough. It's one of those games we could have won. We just didn't get any breaks."

The Penguins did not make any breaks for themselves, either.

"Against good teams we can't cut corners," Crosby said. "We just didn't do a good just sticking with our plan."


03-02-2007, 11:47 PM
Hurricanes blow past Penguins, 3-2
Crosby becomes youngest player in NHL history to register 200 points

Saturday, March 03, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jordan Staal is 18, Sidney Crosby hasn't made it past 19 and Evgeni Malkin's 21st birthday is nearly five months away.

Safe to say the Penguins' nucleus of young talent isn't aging any faster than usual.

But it also is obvious that those three -- and the rest of their young players -- have had no choice but to grow up quickly, courtesy of all the one-goal games they have been through this season.

Their 3-2 loss to Carolina at the RBC Center last night was the Penguins' 10th one-goal decision in the past 11 games, and the No. 32 in 64 games this season.

When 50 percent of a team's games are settled by a single goal -- not including any in which the final margin is bloated by an empty-netter -- the half-life of a young player's inexperience gets shorter all the time.

"You definitely learn that every play is a big play," left winger Ryan Malone said. "And those little things go a long way."

The Penguins discovered that the hard way last night, when an errant deflection by Carolina forward Cory Stillman led to Scott Walker's winning goal at 11:33 of the final period.

Stillman got his stick on a Mike Commodore shot from the right point, and steered it well wide of the net. And, quite accidentally, to Walker, who was alone along the goal line to the left of the net and had an uncontested shot at an open net before goalie Jocelyn Thibault could scramble into position to stop him.

"I didn't see the point shot," Thibault said. "It hit something or a couple of things -- I don't know what -- and went straight to [his] right. I turned my head, and the puck was right on Walker's stick for an empty net."

The loss dropped the Penguins to 34-21-9, but they remain fifth in the Eastern Conference. Carolina, meanwhile, played with an urgency it had been lacking recently and looked like it is serious about earning the right to defend its Stanley Cup championship in this spring's playoffs.

"They really needed a win, and we have to give them credit," Penguins center Maxime Talbot said. "They played a good game. They battled hard all game. They did what they had to do to beat us."

The Penguins learned before the game that they will be without defenseman Mark Eaton for two-to-four weeks because of a sprained right knee he received early in their 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Alain Nasreddine took his spot in the lineup.

Playing without Eaton will be a significant change for the Penguins, although they did it for 35 games earlier this season after he dislocated his wrist, and coach Michel Therrien hinted that there might be a few others coming for his power play, which was 0 for 7 last night and is 3 for 25 over the past five games.

"I don't think we had the right attitude out on the ice and when you don't have the right attitude, you lose your focus," he said. "That is what happened tonight to our power play tonight.

"It's been quite a bit that we've been going in that direction, and we're going to have to make some decisions. And we will make some decisions."

Therrien, aware that the Penguins didn't have a five-on-five goal in the previous four games, shuffled the left wingers on his top three lines before the game.

He bumped Staal onto the No. 1 line with Crosby and Mark Recchi, dropped Gary Roberts to the No. 2 unit with Malkin and Michel Ouellet and put Malone with Talbot and Colby Armstrong.

Coincidentally or otherwise, the Penguins got a full-strength goal at 14:23 of the opening period, when Crosby curled out from behind the right post and threw the puck inside the far post. That goal, Crosby's 27th of the season and first in seven games, made him the youngest player (19 years, 207 days) to get 200 points in the NHL. The previous mark of 19 years, 347 days was set by Wayne Gretzky during the 1980-81 season.

Walker tied the game when he collected a carom off the back boards and threw it into the net from near the right dot at 7:28 of the second. The Hurricanes moved in front 67 seconds later when a Frantisek Kaberle shot from the left point struck something -- maybe a player, maybe a stick -- on the way to the net and sailed past Thibault.

Malone countered for the Penguins at 10:24, but Walker rang up the tiebreaker at 11:33 of the third to close out the scoring and move Carolina into eighth place in the East.

"They're Stanley Cup champions," Crosby said. "They know what it takes to win."

The Penguins are still learning that and don't like it when the lesson stings the way it did last night.

"We can't be satisfied with losing one-goal games," Talbot said. "What's the difference between losing a game by one goal or by three? It's still a loss."


03-04-2007, 05:37 AM
Next up: Filthadelphia Flyers today at 12:30 PM. Will they continue to be owned by the Pens? Hopefully the Pens will come out of their rut and get a W this afternoon, as the playoff race is tightening. They have a pretty tough schedule coming up after today's game and a W today is crucial.

XT and I will be there screaming our lungs out and cheering our Pens on! :cheers:

03-04-2007, 08:17 AM
Laraque awaits first taste of rivalry with Flyers
Sunday, March 04, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The hated Philadelphia Flyers?

They might as well be the Venus Flytraps, as far as new Penguins winger Georges Laraque is concerned.

"I don't know about any rivalries yet," Laraque said yesterday after practice at Southpointe. "All I know is the type of player that I am and what I have to do, whether it's being physical or responding to anything. My job is to look after [teammates] and play physical. It doesn't matter what team we play. I'm out there to protect the skill guys."

Give him time. He'll learn. Perhaps, as quickly as today, when the Penguins and Flyers meet at Mellon Arena.

Laraque has played in two games, both on the road, since the Penguins acquired him from Phoenix at the trade deadline Tuesday. Until now, he has spent his NHL career in the Western Conference.

So, he isn't aware of the bad blood -- occasionally including blood from the mouth of Penguins leading scorer Sidney Crosby -- between the cross-state rivals.

Laraque, 30, is a behemoth at 6 feet 3, 243 pounds whose fighting skills and punishing hits make him what seems to be the consensus toughest player in the league. So, it likely is fitting that his first home game with the Penguins will come against Philadelphia.

"It's a good way for him to understand it's a big rivalry," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "Sometimes, when you're coming up from the Western Conference, you don't know the rivalries. He knows the rivalry, I'm sure, with Edmonton and Calgary, those rivalries out west."

Laraque's first NHL game was between Edmonton and Calgary, and he fought the Flames' Todd Simpson. He spent his first eight seasons with the Oilers before signing with the Coyotes as a free agent last summer.

Laraque hasn't fought in his first two games with the Penguins, although he knocked Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour into the next period with a first-period slam into the boards Friday night.

Given the history between the Penguins and Flyers, that could change today. But Laraque is just as happy to dish out leveling hits instead of punches.

"When you fight, you only hurt one guy," he said. "When you play physical, you [affect] the entire team. When you come down the stretch [of the season], there's less fighting but more physical play. And in the playoffs there's no fighting, so you can make yourself really effective with no fighting."

The Penguins haven't had many players like Laraque -- someone who is that tough, that big and who can score occasionally. He has 48 goals, 133 points in 548 NHL games.

He is also just the second black Penguins player. Darren Lowe played in eight games, which was his entire NHL career, with the Penguins in 1983-84.

Laraque, from Montreal, was singled out because of the color of his skin when he was younger. He also accused Los Angeles' Sean Avery of using a racial slur in an October 2005 game.

"Growing up was hard because there was a lot of racism," he said. "When you are in the NHL, people are men and they respect you more. Or maybe they respect me more because of the role that I have. But it's an honor to be a minority in hockey because you get to be a role model for black young kids that play."

Laraque wants to fill that role here through community service, something he became well known for in Edmonton. And it is one of the ways he hopes to become part of the city's fabric. He played football when he was younger and already is something of a Steelers fan.

"I know a lot of people when they look at me will think I'm a Steeler player and not a hockey player," Laraque said. "If I tell them I'm a hockey player, they'll be like, yeah, right. In Phoenix, everybody thought I was playing with the football team."

Once he establishes his identity, Laraque could become a fan favorite.

"In every city, it's the same," he said. "People love the tough guys.

"And I get involved in the community, which makes it easier off the ice. And, of course, I'm not the same guy off the ice. Off the ice, I'm a teddy bear. On the ice it's different."


03-04-2007, 08:19 AM
Penguins Notebook: Rivalry takes twist as 16-point season vs. Flyers is possible
Sunday, March 04, 2007

By Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Scouting report

Matchup: Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 12:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

TV, radio: WPXI, WXDX-FM (105.9).

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Marty Biron for Flyers.

Penguins: Are 2-2-1 in day games. ... Seven of their 16 wins and 14 of their 34 points vs. Atlantic Division teams have come vs. Philadelphia. ... Evgeni Malkin has 4 goals, 5 assists in 7 games vs. Flyers.

Flyers: Have earned three of possible four points since trade deadline, staging comebacks in both games. ... LW Simon Gagne has 34 points in 37 career games vs. Penguins. ... Lead NHL with 9 short-handed goals on the road.

Hidden stat: The Flyers are 2-5 in games decided in overtime.

Earning 16 points against one team during a season is some feat. Doing it against a division and intrastate rival is all the more impressive.

The Penguins have a chance to do that today when they play host to Philadelphia. Although the Flyers got a point with a shootout loss the previous time the teams played, the Penguins are 7-0 in the season series.

A sweep of the Flyers -- or anyone -- was not something many would have predicted entering the season.

"I guess I would say no, only because it's so hard to beat people consistently in this league," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "But, at the same time, it looks like we've had some luck against them, so, hopefully, it will continue."

Penguins winger Ryan Malone grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has a sense of the rivalry between the state's two NHL teams -- which, traditionally, has been dominated by the Flyers.

Philadelphia entered this season 125-64 with 30 ties and one overtime loss in the all-time series and with an 821-653 goals advantage.

This season, the Penguins hold a 38-18 scoring edge.

"It would definitely be a nice bonus," Malone said of a sweep. "It shows that, hopefully, times are changing."

Penguins and NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby, 19, is too young and grew up too removed from the rivalry to have a first-hand understanding of the 39-year history between the two clubs.

But Crosby got drawn into it last season when he learned how heated the games can be -- and how physical.

"We know what to expect. It's an emotional game sometimes, but we've gotten some breaks, too," said Crosby, who has seven goals and 16 points plus a shootout-winning goal against the Flyers this season and 30 points in 15 career games against them.

"We have a lot of respect for them, but, at the same time, we know what it's going to take."

Power-play problems

Coach Michel Therrien hinted he might juggle things on the power-play units after the team was 0 for 7 with the man-advantage in its 3-2 loss Friday night at Carolina.

"I didn't like the attitude with the power play," Therrien said. "[Today] we need to be all on the same page.

"The chemistry was not there. It was not a unit of five; it was five units of one. We've got to get back to basics. Guys should stay there a minute, they work, if it doesn't happen, they come back and another group will go."

Rest management

Only nine players -- forwards Erik Christensen, Michel Ouellet, Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky, Georges Laraque and Nils Ekman, defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Jocelyn Thibault -- participated in an hour-long practice yesterday at Southpointe.

The others were directed to stay away to get some rest after back-to-back games in two cities and with a league-high 17 games in March.

Time management

The 12:38 p.m. start today presents a challenge, Therrien said.

"It's going to be unusual, from my standpoint, to have a [pregame] team meeting at 11 o'clock," the coach said, with a grin.

Players normally are asked to arrive at least two hours before faceoff, but today the Penguins are expected earlier.

"We're going to try to have a little workout around 10 o'clock just to make sure that their minds are into it and make sure they're going to be focused so early," said Therrien.


03-04-2007, 08:22 AM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: Trip down Nightmare Lane with those players you just loved to hate
A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions
Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

No team is more despised at Mellon Arena than Philadelphia, although fans who turn up there this afternoon are more likely to boo the Flyers' sweater than any individual wearing it. OK, except maybe Derian Hatcher.

After all, it has to be tough to work up a good hatred for a bunch of guys who haven't competed for anything more meaningful than their position in the draft lottery since late October.

And while Hatcher has been a better-than-average heel since breaking three of Sidney Crosby's teeth with a high stick last season, he's nowhere near claiming a spot on the all-time list of most-detested Penguins' opponents.

The competition for that distinction would be fierce and, if the contenders actually were battling for it head-to-head, quite nasty. They are:

Barclay and Bob Plager: The Penguins' first great rivalry, in the late 1970s and early '80s, was with St. Louis, and the Plager brothers were at the heart of it, along with Penguins such as Battlin' Al Smith, the goalie, and Bryan "Bugsy" Watson.

No game between the teams was complete without at least one major fight -- like a classic between Smith and Barclay Plager at center ice -- and fans shared the ill will between the clubs. Crowds here routinely serenaded Barclay Plager with a sing-song chant of "Bar-kleeee," and his presence was the only thing that prevented fans from directing most of their venom at Bob.

Bobby Clarke: He captained two Stanley Cup champions in Philadelphia, but is best remembered here for handling his stick like a scalpel.

That Clarke's swordsmanship was worthy of d'Artagnan was enough to infuriate fans, but what cemented his place among the ultimate villains here was his penchant for provoking a confrontation, then having teammates Dave Schultz and Bob Kelly deal with the fallout.

That he was talented, hard-working and a consistent winner only compounded the disdain he inspired.

Ron Hextall: Simply pulling on a Flyers sweater does wonders for a player's unpopularity in Pittsburgh, but Hextall would have incurred the fans' wrath even if he'd shown up in a monk's robe. He made no attempt to hide his emotions and, more importantly, was highly combative.

He was willing to trade punches with just about any opponent who crossed him, although his goalie stick -- which he wielded like a broadsword -- was Hextall's weapon of choice.

Hextall probably locked up his spot on this list when he tried to chase down Robbie Brown after Brown scored against him, although it's an indictment of Hextall's foot speed -- or testimony to the power of adrenaline -- that Brown was able to get away.

The best, er, worst of the rest

Wayne Gretzky: Anyone who appreciates the game has to marvel at the instincts and abilities that made Gretzky the most prolific point-producer in NHL history, but the finely honed image Gretzky enjoys in much of North America is missing in Pittsburgh.

The obvious explanation is his rivalry with Mario Lemieux, but Gretzky did his share over the years to alienate Penguins fans. Exhibit A is when he didn't bother to show up for a public practice the day before the 1990 All-Star Game here.

Eric Lindros: He got a good start when he began his career with the Flyers, and moving to New York didn't upgrade his status. Lindros never did all that much damage to the Penguins, aside from a pretty fair showing during the 1997 playoffs, but still receives serious abuse anytime he comes to town. And no one tires of reminding him about being knocked out by that epic Darius Kasparaitis shoulder-to-chin hit.

Phil Esposito: It was impossible to detest Bobby Orr -- he was just too skilled and swift and special -- but someone on the great Boston teams of the early 1970s had to be a lightning rod for opposing fans, and Esposito was a logical choice. He didn't have the flair of some of his teammates, but was among the NHL's top scorers because of his ability to collect "garbage goals" on rebounds and deflections. What made Esposito particularly unpopular here was that he seemed to get two or three of those every time Boston came to town.

Dino Ciccarelli/Dale Hunter:

Annoying enough on their own, they formed quite a tag team during their time together in Washington. Neither was reluctant to administer a cheap shot when the opportunity presented itself, but Washington's inability to win more than one of seven playoff meetings against the Penguins prevents them from climbing higher on the list.

Adam Graves: He's an unlikely candidate for inclusion on this list -- Graves, a humble man with a long history of charitable work, was universally respected by teammates and opponents -- but breaking Lemieux's hand with a slash in the second round of the 1992 playoffs clinched his place. The boos he faced when he showed up at the Civic Arena for Game 3 of that series still echo.

Dennis Polonich: A nasty, feisty little man who could have given Clarke pointers on the nuances of vicious stick work. He didn't have a particularly high profile or long career, but few who watched him play against the Penguins will soon forget it.

Jaromir Jagr: For more than a decade, he was among the most popular players in Penguins history, but the high-decibel hostility he faces from Mellon Arena fans makes it clear that they have turned on him in a big way. Imagine how he would be treated if Jagr had ended up with Philadelphia.


03-04-2007, 08:23 AM
Chuck Finder: Flyers frequent losers these days
Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Remember the witch doctor. Remember Ross Lonsberry in nine seconds. Remember Bobby Clarke's four-tooth smirk and Bernie Parent's impenetrability and 11 consecutive losses anytime, anywhere to the dread orange and black. Remember the 15 ungodly years without a victory in the Commonwealth's other end: a streak of woe-39-3. Remember announcer Gene Hart handing out stat sheets detailing every damned game.

Today, when the Penguins strive to complete their inaugural perfect season against the rival Filthy Flyers after three decades of hostilities, remember those singular worst of times, those winters of discontent.

Mike Lange cannot forget. He has been the one Penguins constant throughout the 1974-89 Spectrum drought, the cross-state clashes, the spilled blood. "They never gave me the key to that city, for all those 42 games," the Hall of Fame announcer joked. Shoot, the Flyers' Hart once blamed that score all on Lange.

"In 1986, I did the fifth game of a five-game playoff series between the Flyers and Rangers for ESPN," Lange recalled. In the pregame, "Gene made it known to everybody, laughingly so in a way but also somewhat serious, that I was there and there was no way the Flyers could lose.

"So, uh. . . ." Pregnant pause.

"The Flyers lost."

Should the Penguins manage to vanquish Philadelphia this afternoon in Mellon Arena, it would mark their eighth consecutive victory against their longtime Goliath, doubling their previous longest streak against the Flyers and upgrading the 5-0-2 head-to-head record of their second Stanley Cup season, 1991-92. It would represent a teeny dose of karma decades in the making. It would be oh so delicious, but only an appetizer.

"That's just a modest eight," Lange said of the potential run of consecutive triumphs. "Only 34 more to go.

"That puts it into perspective. That tells you how long that streak was." To equal the Penguins' 42-game winless streak in Philadelphia, they would need to win every such meeting through early 2012.

For too long in this series, the Penguins were dead on the frozen water. They were the lesser team going so far back as to when general manager Ray Shero's dad was the Flyers' coach, the late Fred Shero. They were beaten out of the gate, Lonsberry's goal nine seconds into one affair -- still the quickest ever against the Penguins -- setting the tone for an 11-0 Spectrum loss Oct. 20, 1977. They were cow-kicked in the closing seconds Dec. 20, 1979, when some orange phantom illegally booted the puck into the net for a 1-1 tie in the days before instant replay. That was how a bunch of 1979-'80 Flyers continued a 35-game unbeaten string that remains an NHL record. That was how their franchise kept the Penguins winless in Philadelphia from a 5-4 loss Feb. 7, 1974, to a 5-3 triumph Feb. 2, 1989, with a meager three ties in between

That triumph at long last arrived the night that the witch doctor visited the City of Brotherly Love.

"It came to an end thanks to Jimmy Krenn and Scotty Paulsen with the witch doctor," Lange said of that WDVE-FM stunt in a Spectrum lot. "I don't know how in the world they decided that was the game they were going to change it. It was like the witch doctor decided, 'This was the game.' It was hilarious."

Hex sakes, it worked. For a couple of months, anyway. In the 1989 Patrick Division finals, the Flyers rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win the series in Game 7 at the then-Civic Arena.

As Lange stressed, so much of this series has been determined by the sheer might of the Philadelphia franchise, one that advanced to the playoffs the past 11 seasons and, after a five-year spell a smidgen below .500, the 15 years before that. This has been a team of Cup-frequent Flyers, reaching the finals six times since 1975. This has been a model-of-consistency club that, when it wasn't clobbering the visiting Penguins by 7-1, 8-1, 9-2, 11-0 or 13-4 inside the Spectrum where it so dominated other clubs, it was beating them in Pittsburgh, too: an 0-9-1 Penguins streak overall was followed by an 0-3-1 stretch, which was followed by an 11-game losing skid that is still their deepest rut against any Original Six or '67 expansion team.

Announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick remembers the late Hart handing him a stat sheet as well, for his team lost there 11 years in a row as New Jersey Devils, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Scouts. What a crack-up Hart was. What Broad Street Bullies they were: Detroit once was in a similar Spectrum headlock, too.

"It still is a very good rivalry between the two cities and the two teams," Lange said of Pitt-Philly. But what if 2006-07 somehow becomes the start of a decade and a half of Penguins dominance, fueled by Sidney Crosby and the chicklets he lost last year in Philadelphia? Lange laughed uproariously at that thought.

"If I live long enough, I will make up a sheet and give it to the Flyers."


03-04-2007, 08:24 AM
Tough as nails on the ice, Pens' Laraque's a gentle giant off

By Karen Price
Sunday, March 4, 2007

Put on an opposing team's jersey and take the ice with Penguins winger Georges Laraque, and there's a good chance he'll knock you into next week.

Just ask Carolina Hurricanes center Rod Brind'amour, who took such a crushing hit from Laraque in the first period of Friday night's game in Raleigh, N.C., that he had to leave the game for a while.

Meet Laraque on the street and there's a good chance he might help you carry your groceries, fix a flat tire or maybe even help you move.

The 30-year-old Montreal native has as much a reputation for being a good guy in the community as he does for being one of the toughest fighters in the NHL. He may be a heavyweight champ on the ice, but off it he's soft-spoken and usually smiling, and it doesn't take long for his sense of humor to come out.

"I know a lot of people, when they look at me, will think I'm a Steelers player instead of a hockey player," said the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Laraque. "I'll be ready for that. If I tell people I'm a hockey player, they won't believe me. They'll say, 'Yeah, right.' It'll be funny, for sure."

Laraque certainly could be a football player. In fact, he was one before he decided at 17 to pursue hockey full time. The man whom the Penguins acquired at Tuesday's trading deadline to help make the world a little safer for Sidney Crosby is a giant whose height and weight stats can't be fully appreciated until he appears in person.

"I appreciated his size when I shook his hand," said Penguins winger Erik Christensen, who's centering a line with Laraque on the right side. "My hand disappeared in his. My hand just disappeared his hand was so big."

Fellow forward Chris Thorburn agreed.

"I knew he was a big dude, but I'd never stood beside him until now," Thorburn said. "It's unbelievable how big and massive he is. Every feature. His hands are humongous, his legs, he's just a force. It's good to have him on our team."

Many of those who know Laraque have said fans in Pittsburgh will soon be glad to have him in town.

A three-time winner of the Edmonton Oilers' community service award, Laraque said that he favors no particular charity. He just tries to get involved in as much as he can.

"I'm a Christian, and I thank God for giving me the chance to be in the NHL and the way of thanking Him is not just by saying it but acting it," Laraque said. "We have a lot of power as athletes in the community and why not take advantage of the fact that by seeing one kid that's sick, you can make his day. That's what drives me, that's what pushes me to be a better person. I just love doing that stuff."

And while what Laraque does on the ice could never be mistaken for loving thy neighbor, Laraque said there's a big difference between his role on the ice and who he is off it.

"The game is a game," said Laraque, who's squared off against the likes of Todd Fedoruk, Darcy Hordichuk and Derek Boogaard already this year, to name a few. "On the ice, it's business and it's entertainment. It's not the same thing as off the ice, which is totally different."

Laraque, the second black player in Penguins history, said he had to deal with racism while growing up in Montreal, and that it wasn't easy. But in the NHL it's different, he said, and he considers it an honor to be a minority player.

"You're a role model for a lot of black, young kids who play and you can understand there's not a lot who play hockey because they don't have a lot of guys to look up to," he said. "I look forward to being a role model and having kids look up to me."


03-04-2007, 08:26 AM
Penguins' Laraque's predecessor remains a pioneer

By Joe Starkey
Sunday, March 4, 2007

Georges Laraque became the second black player in Penguins history when he was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.

The first was Darren Lowe, who greeted the news with a self-deprecating jab.

"That kind of ruins my legacy," Lowe said by phone from Toronto, where he has been coaching the University of Toronto men's hockey team for 12 years and resides with his wife, Maari, and two sons.

There have been 41 black players in NHL history. Lowe became the 10th when he played eight games for the 1983-84 Penguins. He is the only black head coach among Canada's 31 major hockey-playing universities.

An official from Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the country's equivalent of the NCAA, said he believes Lowe is the only black head coach in the history of major college Canadian hockey and was among the first black men to play on a Canadian Olympic team, in 1984.

Jackie Robinson on skates? Lowe, 46, doesn't go for that kind of talk. He doesn't have any harrowing stories about battling bigotry.

Sure, it's possible his skin color kept him from getting another shot at the NHL after he played with the Penguins, but he's not going to waste time ruminating. Nor will he worry about which professional hockey executives might rule him out as a coaching candidate.

If he works hard enough and continues to win, as he has for most of his time in Toronto, somebody will give him a shot. That is what he chooses to believe.

That approach has served him well thus far.

"There are always people who'll speculate maybe you didn't get as much of an opportunity as a player because of (racism)," Lowe said. "I never looked at it that way. Same with coaching. I'm here at one of Canada's biggest universities. If you can help an organization, it just matters if you can perform."

Lowe paused, perhaps realizing his words didn't ring true.

"l know maybe that's not the case in a lot of places," he said. "But I guess I've chosen not to look at that, which has probably given me peace of mind."

Roll call

There are 10 black players in the NHL, down from a high of 15 in 2003-04. The list:

Player Pos. Team

Jarome Iginla RW Calgary
Kevin Weekes G NY Rangers
Anson Carter RW Carolina
Ray Emery G Ottawa
Bryce Salvador D St. Louis
Georges Laraque RW Penguins
Jamal Mayers RW St. Louis
Mike Grier RW San Jose
Donald Brashear LW Washington
Trevor Daley D Dallas

Ex-Penguins general manager Eddie Johnston gave Lowe a shot in 1984, signing him to a free-agent deal after Lowe helped an upstart Canadian team finish fourth at the Sarajevo Olympics.

At the time, Johnston was doing everything he could to make sure the Penguins would finish last and clinch the top draft pick and the prize of Mario Lemieux. Maybe that's why Lowe was cut the day after he scored his only NHL goal, in Vancouver.

How'd he score?

"Went through the whole team," Lowe said, laughing. "No, I came out of the corner, slid it maybe short side against John Garrett. My kids joke that I'm the answer to a trivia question: Which player scored his first and last goal in the same game?"

Born and raised in multicultural Toronto, Lowe wasn't subjected to the sort of abuse Laraque suffered. Laraque was the NHL's first black player from French-speaking Canada. He weathered a torrent of insults from fans and opponents as he was growing up near Montreal.

Lowe faced the occasional taunt, but he didn't let it bother him. His father, Art, endured worse while playing on an all-black line in a Northern Ontario senior league years earlier.

Quality parenting, Lowe says, is what enabled him to let idiots be idiots without harming his self-esteem.

"I felt strongly about myself, that I was a good person," he said. "If somebody wanted to stoop down to that level, that was their problem, not mine."

After his short NHL stint, Lowe, a 5-foot-10 right winger, played one year in Finland and four in the minors, including one where he scored 53 goals for the Flint (Mich.) Spirits of the International Hockey League in 1987-88.

That was the year Lowe signed with an agent named Ray Shero, who would one day become the Penguins' general manager. Shero represented future Penguins star John Cullen, Lowe's linemate in Flint.

Lowe has another connection to Penguins management: One of his assistant coaches is Jim Neish, brother-in-law of Penguins assistant GM Chuck Fletcher.

If Lowe reaches his goal of becoming an NHL coach, or even a minor-league coach, he again would be considered a pioneer of sorts. There are only two black coaches in professional hockey - Paul Jerrard, an assistant with the Dallas Stars' American Hockey League farm team in Iowa, and Grant Fuhr, goaltending coach for the Phoenix Coyotes.

"I would love to be able to have the opportunity to do it someday," Lowe said. "Hopefully, someday soon."


03-04-2007, 08:28 AM
Notebook: Penguins focused on points, not opponent

By Karen Price
Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Penguins have never swept a season series against the Philadelphia Flyers, but they have a chance to do so today in a rare 12:30 p.m. game at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins are seven for seven against the Flyers this year (although the Flyers did pick up a point for getting to a shootout in the last encounter), surpassing their previous best of five wins in a season, set three times. The Penguins were 5-0-2 against the Flyers in 1991-92.

But the most important thing, coach Michel Therrien said Saturday, will be simply getting the two points.

"Our thinking is to win the game (today) and make sure that we keep going with the process of getting points at this time of year and try to make the playoffs," Therrien said. "We understand the rivalry between the two clubs, but what's most important to us is to win."

Therrien said the Penguins know what it's like to be a last-place team, with nothing to lose and looking to play the role of spoiler.

"Right now, the Flyers are playing some solid hockey, and they're surprising some people with the way they compete and the way they play," he said.

Early wake-up call

The early start begins at about the time the players are leaving the rink from the morning skate on a normal home game day. Therrien said that the Penguins are going to try something a little different today, asking the players to arrive at 10 a.m. instead of the usual two hours before game time.

"Neither team will be in their usual routine for games," Therrien said. "We're going to try to have a workout at 10 o'clock just to make sure their minds are into it and they're really focused to play that game so early."

Stay home

Only a handful of players practiced Saturday at the Iceoplex at Southpointe because the coaching staff wanted most guys to take a break.

"We have to manage the rest of the players if we want them to play with energy," Therrien said. "It's important from our standpoint to rest when we get a chance to, and (Saturday) was the day."

The only players who practiced were forwards Michel Ouellet, Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky, Georges Laraque and Nils Ekman, defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Jocelyn Thibault.

Changes on power play?

Therrien made it clear his team's 0-for-7 performance on the power play Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes was not something he cares to see repeated. Asked if there might be personnel changes today against the Flyers, Therrien said, "We'll see," which is usually his way of saying yes.

"The chemistry wasn't there," Therrien said. "It wasn't good. It wasn't a unit of five; it was five units of one. We've got to get back to basics. Guys should stay out a minute, work, if it doesn't happen, come back and another group will go. It's all about the team concept."


03-04-2007, 08:29 AM
Afternoon games......:puke:

Scouting the Flyers

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Philadelphia Flyers (17-37-10) at Penguins (34-21-9)

When and where: 12:30 p.m. -- Mellon Arena

TV/radio: NBC/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (30-14-7, 2.89 GAA); Martin Biron (1-0-0, 2.77 GAA)

Notable: The Flyers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win Thursday against the Boston Bruins. It was just their second overtime win this season. ... The Flyers have three points in their last two games, however, after an overtime loss Tuesday to the New York Islanders. ... Scottie Upshall has two game-winning goals since being acquired from the Nashville Predators as part of the Peter Forsberg trade Feb. 15. ... The Flyers have given up more goals than any team in the league (244).


03-04-2007, 01:10 PM
As a Leafs fan, I find it real funny that you Penguins fans are down on getting Gary Roberts. Welch=who cares. He hasn't developed at this point in his career. Roberts value comes through when it matter, in the playoffs. Roberts is a Sens killer.

As for Laraque, having him on the bench will prevent other teams from talking liberties at the Penguins young guns. He is regarded as one of the toughest fighters in the game. Once again, you didn't give up much for him.

03-04-2007, 05:14 PM
As a long time Penguin fan (season ticket holder before Lemieux was drafted), I find it real funny how big of complete *******s Toronto fans act like when they travel in other cities. Is it the whole "we are Canadian, we are hockey, we are better than you, everybody else is worthless type of attitude or are these morons just born straight up pricks?

The more and more I keep hearing and seeing from these Toronto *******s, the more I realize that they are just born pricks.

Get off your ****ing high horse.

03-04-2007, 05:15 PM
Anyways, nice win against the Flyers........

03-04-2007, 05:41 PM
As a Leafs fan, I find it real funny that you Penguins fans are down on getting Gary Roberts. Welch=who cares. He hasn't developed at this point in his career. Roberts value comes through when it matter, in the playoffs. Roberts is a Sens killer.

As for Laraque, having him on the bench will prevent other teams from talking liberties at the Penguins young guns. He is regarded as one of the toughest fighters in the game. Once again, you didn't give up much for him.

Well, after watching him play the last 3 games and especially today, I'm starting to change my opinion. Believe me, I know Roberts' reputation quite well - saw him play many times in the playoffs for the Leafs, and before that, the Canes and Flames. One of my most vivid memories of him was when he with the Leafs a few years back and played his heart out in the playoffs against the Sens with two bad shoulders. The man is a throwback, a true warrior and always saved his best performances for the biggest games. My whole beef was giving up a promising young player for a guy his age and his relatively modest production this season when he was in the lineup for the Panthers. It certainly wasn't because of the kind of player he is and has always been, or the intangibles he brings to the Pens that they really did need. I just would have rather had the more prolific scorer in Bill Guerin to play on Sid's line if they were going to give up a player like that.

As for Laraque, I'd have rather had someone else other than him simply because he doesn't "enforce" the way he should nor drop the gloves enough - he's only had one fight since November. But I won't complain much so long as his presence is felt in other ways, ie., physical play.

03-04-2007, 08:46 PM
Well, after watching him play the last 3 games and especially today, I'm starting to change my opinion. Believe me, I know Roberts' reputation quite well - saw him play many times in the playoffs for the Leafs, and before that, the Canes and Flames. One of my most vivid memories of him was when he with the Leafs a few years back and played his heart out in the playoffs against the Sens with two bad shoulders. The man is a throwback, a true warrior and always saved his best performances for the biggest games. My whole beef was giving up a promising young player for a guy his age and his relatively modest production this season when he was in the lineup for the Panthers. It certainly wasn't because of the kind of player he is and has always been, or the intangibles he brings to the Pens that they really did need. I just would have rather had the more prolific scorer in Bill Guerin to play on Sid's line if they were going to give up a player like that.

As for Laraque, I'd have rather had someone else other than him simply because he doesn't "enforce" the way he should nor drop the gloves enough - he's only had one fight since November. But I won't complain much so long as his presence is felt in other ways, ie., physical play.

The price tag for Guerin was a joke. Penguins would have had to given up a first round pick, a player off the roster or worse give up a better prospect like Letang in the deal. Not worth it, considering the rumour out there is that Guerin is going back to St. Louis after the season. Roberts isn't expected to stay after this season but only Welch was given up.

As for 83-Steelers-43 comments, get a life. Montreal fans are far worse. So just keep copying and pasting those web articles (in which you have no permission in doing so in the first place) to make you think your a hockey expert. Toronto is the centre of the english speaking universe for hockey. Deal with it.

03-04-2007, 09:14 PM
As for 83-Steelers-43 comments, get a life. Montreal fans are far worse. So just keep copying and pasting those web articles (in which you have no permission in doing so in the first place) to make you think your a hockey expert. Toronto is the centre of the english speaking universe for hockey. Deal with it.

Copying and pasting articles? Wow, didn't know I was the only one. You might want to check through this thread and see the others who are doing the same there junior. While your at it, check the "Steelers" section of this board, give them a lecture. Also, where does it say you are not permitted to cut and paste articles? That sounds like an issue you might want to take up with the owner of this website, not with me. Whatever get's your rocks off.

Trust me, I know what Toronto is all about. I was there for hockey tournaments when I was younger and have attended NHL games there on a number of occasions.. They were arrogant pricks then also. Doesn't seem like they have changed much since. Also, never stated I was a hockey expert, I'll leave that up to those Toronto fans....LOL.

03-04-2007, 11:13 PM
Pens overcome 'nightmare' start, beat Flyers

By Karen Price
Monday, March 5, 2007

Penguins coach Michel Therrien did not mince words when asked about the first half of his team's game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Mellon Arena.

"It looked like a nightmare," Therrien said.

The nightmare never did quite morph into the picture of perfection, but thanks to two goals from Erik Christensen in regulation plus one in the shootout and a goal and two assists from newcomer Gary Roberts, the Penguins came back for a 4-3 shootout win. Sidney Crosby scored the clincher in the shootout.

It was the Penguins' second shootout win in the past three days and their 11th one-goal game in the last 12.

"This is playoff hockey," Christensen said. "Playoffs don't start at the end of the year. They start with about 30 games left. From here down to the wire it's going to be a battle and you won't see too many blowouts."

The victory also gave them a season sweep of the last-place Flyers for the first time in franchise history.

The Penguins (35-21-9) are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 79 points, two behind the Ottawa Senators and one ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers.

But early on the Penguins looked more like the last-place team than the Flyers did, giving up a goal just 1:36 in after Brooks Orpik gave the puck away in his own end and then falling behind, 2-0, on a goal scored by defenseman Braydon Coburn from just inside the blue line.

It was Coburn's first goal of the season.

As bad as that goal was, however, Marc-Andre Fleury went on to make 11 saves on 11 shots in the second period as the Penguins finally got in the game beginning with Roberts' goal at 10:47.

The 40-year-old, who was making his home debut after being traded to the Penguins for defenseman Noah Welch on Tuesday, scored the Penguins' first goal on a rebound off Sergei Gonchar's shot three seconds after a power play expired in the second period.

That cut the Flyers' lead to one, and Roberts assisted on Christensen's first goal to tie it on the power play seven minutes later.

Christensen hadn't scored in 10 games before yesterday and had only two in his last 20 since his last two-goal game, Jan. 16 against the New York Islanders.

"Was it 10? I estimated it was about 10," Christensen said. "It's always good (to score). It's an immediate confidence booster."

But then early in the third an apparent goal by Crosby that would have put the Penguins ahead was waived off because referee Brad Watson said Crosby had knocked the puck down with a high stick before scoring.

"It didn't feel like a high stick to me," Crosby said. "I'd have to see it again. It's a tough one to call. Baseball tie goes to the runner."

Four minutes later, Fleury was called for delay of game for smothering the puck near the hash marks, despite the fact that Flyers forward Simon Gagne was bearing down on him with Scottie Upshall not far behind.

The Penguins killed the penalty, but shortly after Plum native R.J. Umberger scored to give the Flyers the lead again.

With just more than five minutes left, Christensen scored again to tie it and force overtime.

The play started with defenseman Josef Melichar making a good pass to Michel Ouellet, who dumped it into the corner. Roberts went in to chase after it and got the puck back to Christensen, who scored on another quick wrist shot.

"(Roberts) was involved physically, he threw a lot of good hits and performed really well," Therrien said. "He's the one who led that team to victory, there's no doubt in my mind."


03-04-2007, 11:27 PM
Pens' Roberts, Laraque make Mellon debuts

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, March 5, 2007

Both Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque made their Mellon Arena debuts Sunday after being traded to the Penguins at the deadline Tuesday. Roberts had a goal and two assists and was a plus-1 in 14:34, while Laraque was a minus-1 in 6:13.

"I think our line had it going a little bit," said Roberts, who started with Evgeni Malkin and Michel Ouellet but wound up with Erik Christensen and Ouellet as the game went on. "They were some nice goals by Erik and it was a big win for us."

? Sunday's game started at 12:30 p.m. because national broadcaster NBC was scheduled to show the Honda Classic golf tournament beginning at 3 p.m. But the unusual start time couldn't be entirely to blame for the Penguins' rough start against the Philadelphia Flyers, Christensen said.

"(Early starts are) different because your preparation is different, but we came out flat and they came out ready to play and jumped on us," Christensen said. "But how many times have we said we have character in the room? We've come back many times during the year from two-goal deficits."

Coach Michel Therrien also said it wasn't an excuse.

"It's the same for both teams," he said.

? Sidney Crosby entered Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers just two points shy of becoming the first player in the NHL to hit 100 points this season. He went into yesterday's game with 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 15 career games against the Flyers, including seven goals and nine assists in seven games this season. He was held off the scoresheet, but did score in the shootout (shootout goals do not count in statistics) to bring his record to 3 for 11 in shootouts. Christensen is 6 for 10.

? Yesterday was the Penguins' 21st sellout of the season. They were averaging 16,197 fans per game through 31 home games before yesterday, or 95 percent of capacity.

? The Penguins scratched defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Chris Thorburn and Ronald Petrovicky yesterday.

? Quotable

"It was the international language." - Coach Michel Therrien, on whether the language that got him an abuse of officials penalty in the first period was in English or French.


17 - Wins in one-goal games for the Penguins this season, out of 33.

7 - Wins in one-goal games in the last 12 games overall.

03-04-2007, 11:31 PM
What? Pittsburgh fans jumping on the bandwagon? Who'da thunk it?

Fans are flocking to young Penguins

Monday, March 05, 2007
By Chuck Finder, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Whether it was bandwagon-jumping, zealous conversion or the allure of youthful star-gazing, P.J. Hanna found himself joining the growing throng of Penguins fans this winter.

"I hated hockey. I did," said Mr. Hanna, 21, of New Castle, wearing a New York Yankees cap and sitting 10 rows from the Mellon Arena ice the other day while the Penguins were flying through a practice. "Never even liked hockey on TV."

Then, Dec. 5, his cousin Bob Hanna, 25, invited him to a Florida-Pittsburgh home game. Bob Hanna started out as a Student Rush ticket-buyer, regularly using his Slippery Rock University student identification to stand in line and scoop up a last-minute, price-slashed arena seat. Or, as he referred to it: "I paid $10,000 a year to get a $60 discount."

He matured into a 12-game package holder last season, when Sidney Crosby's arrival stimulated a crush of ticket sales, and into a full-bore, season-ticket holder this year. So, with the then-seesaw Penguins in the throes of a four-game losing streak, he invited his cousin P.J. to sit with him, and P.J. was hooked like a Philadelphia Flyers blade around Crosby's bicep.

Now this convert can hardly satisfy his thirst for a professional hockey team arising from the ashes of four consecutive cellar-dwelling NHL seasons.

"Once you learn the players and what icing is, it's much more fun," he said, raising titters from his cousin and their girlfriends, Mandy Masone, 21, and Kristin Ross, 23, also of New Castle.

P.J. Hanna is just one of a hard-to-quantify amount of people the past two months -- 10,000? Tens of thousands? more? -- joining the previously unwavering Penguins faithful, whether due to the team's streak of success, its youthful vigor or, most likely, the promise the club seems to be starting to deliver. These additional followers are tuning into television broadcasts at a 75 percent higher rate than last season. They are grabbing up gobs of merchandise bearing the numbers of Crosby or the other young Penguins sensations. And they are buying tickets to games at sellout rates last seen in the early 1990s.

Thanks to the presence of Crosby, at 19 acknowledged as the NHL's best player, and a bevy of rising stars, these Penguins already were the best-selling road show around the league, particularly in Crosby's native Canada. Locally, they started to pick up new interest after a 7-3 start about the same time the Super Bowl-champion Steelers were slipping rapidly from playoff contention.

But it was mid-January when the team broke loose.

Starring Crosby along with Russian emigre Evgeni Malkin, 18-year-old rookie Jordan Staal, budding defenseman Ryan Whitney and gold-pad-wearing goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins embarked on a six-week, 16-game binge in which they lost none in regulation. They won 14 games in that span and earned at least one point for a pair of regulation ties that wound up as losses, in a shootout at Boston Jan. 18 and in overtime at Montreal Feb. 4. They won two, six and then six games in succession, the final five by the slimmest possible margin of one goal. They surged from 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings to fourth.

They captured people's fancy.

At a time when Mario Lemieux and team leadership were visiting Kansas City and raising the possibility of leaving town for a new arena elsewhere, the team went boffo at the box office at 66 Mario Lemieux Place.

Fourteen of the past 16 home games have been sellouts, bringing the total to 21 of 32 home dates after the 4-3 shootout victory against the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday. A huge influx of single-game buyers means that only one remaining home game -- Buffalo April 3 -- had more than 1,000 tickets available as of early yesterday, and those aren't expected to last long. Should those go, it would give the Penguins 30 sellouts, tying the number from the 1992-93 team that won the President's Trophy for compiling the most points for victories and ties. The only three seasons with more sellouts were the 32 in 1991-92, the second Stanley Cup year, and the 34 apiece in 1988-89 and 1989-90.

More than half their season-ticket holders, in the four weeks since plans became available to them, have purchased 12-game playoff bundles ... without a single post-season spot clinched yet.

"It's a great time for Pittsburgh hockey," Ray Shero, the Penguins' executive vice president and general manager, said amid a busy day of trading Tuesday.

"If you didn't have that kind of support, you wouldn't be talking about getting a new arena around here," said Penguins winger Ryan Malone, who grew up in Upper St. Clair.

"It has been a frenzy," added Tom McMillan, the team's vice president for communications. "It's been fun. After the last four years ... it's very nice.

"We've had some unique things here: Mario's comeback. Winning the lottery with Sidney ... But this is building on not just one single event. This is building a foundation on an exciting young team that's bursting at the seams with potential. If you notice the Penguins' sellout records, they weren't the Cup years, they were before the Cup years. [Paul] Coffey came in 1987, and you could see something build, an anticipation. You can see that anticipation building now."

The trickle-down effect from Crosby and Co. has washed across the Pittsburgh in other ways, too:

Merchandising: Certainly, Crosby's presence drives sales. Not only is the second-year pro topping the league in scoring, but his jersey has been the month-by-month NHL leader all season. His All-Star jersey, barely a month after the game, also ranks No. 1 in North American sales. The Mellon Arena shop, Mr. McMillan said, has sold some 5,000 Penguins T-shirts in the past two months alone. Around the region, jerseys and T-shirts -- mostly emblazoned with Crosby's No. 87 and Malkin's No. 71 -- have paced rising sales at retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods.

Hockey beyond Mellon Arena: More adults are taking power skating and hockey classes along with kids in similar clinics at the biggest venue in the area, the three sheets of ice at the Island Sports Center on Neville Island. The increase started with the drafting of Crosby in 2005, and it continues to grow. Island Sports Center officials are preparing for an influx of youngsters to this spring's amateur-hockey tryouts, although they are feeling one negative affect already: Players ages 6 through 18 are missing more practices than ever because they're instead attending Penguins games.

The lines around the building: College students, those potential future fans and season-ticket holders, have camped out at the arena doors at noon on game days, seven hours before the opening faceoff. "Those poor kids stand out there forever," Malone empathized. Winger Colby Armstrong recalled once, maybe Nov. 28 for Fleury bobblehead night, "They were standing in the lobby of the Marriott, that's where the line ended." All in hopes of snapping up the remaining tickets as part of the Student Rush, which hasn't been left with many seats lately -- just 22 for the New Jersey Devils this past Tuesday.

The Penguins are so hot, they could sell out the occasional practice. On Feb. 17, when the team held a rare Saturday practice instead of a game, Southpointe's metal bleachers were packed with 1,000 or so fans.

"By no means do you take it for granted," said Mr. McMillan from the front office. "We're a team that's been on both sides of the spectrum. We know what it's like to have tremendous ticket demand and frenzied interest; but we also know about struggling and being in last place and trying to get people into the building. This motivates you to work harder."

For sure, young hockey fans seem enamored of a team whose age approximates theirs. If you remove golden-oldies Mark Recchi, 39, and newly acquired Gary Roberts, 40, from the current roster, the Penguins' average age is 26.5. Cut to its core of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Whitney and Fleury -- the team's first-round draft choices from the past five seasons -- and the age dips to a college-junior 20.6 years. "I think they can relate to the team," said defenseman Brooks Orpik, likewise a former first-rounder (2000) the same as Armstrong (2001). "A lot of our guys are the same age or younger."

Age identification, P.J. Hanna said from the arena seats for Penguins practice, "that's definitely it. Having Crosby here, Malkin, Staal ... It's cool watching kids two years younger than you."

"Two years?" Rob Hanna add ed, incredulously. "Sidney's six years younger than me."

Mr. Armstrong added, "It's something special we have going here."

03-04-2007, 11:34 PM
Penguins Notebook: In this case, time was factor

Monday, March 05, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins were able to overcome a bad start yesterday for a 4-3 shootout win against Philadelphia, but the early lackluster play wasn't for lack of trying to deal with a 12:38 p.m. start.

Coach Michel Therrien had the players come in at 10 a.m., half an hour earlier than usual in relation to the faceoff time, so they could try to get their bodies going.

"We tried to get in here a little earlier, get the legs going a little," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "It was preparing yourself to play at a weird time. This was one of the earliest I've ever played since turning pro.

"Guys tried to get ready in different ways. I'm just glad we got a win."

The game was set for 12:38 because NBC, which televised it, was scheduled to start coverage of the Honda Classic golf tournament at 3.

The team can get back to its familiar routine tomorrow when it plays a night game at Ottawa.

"Good thing we don't play at noon," Therrien said.

Come Saturday, though, the Penguins will have another early game, 1:08 p.m. against the New York Rangers.

Surprising confession

There's never much pride in being assessed a penalty for diving, but Penguins center Erik Christensen confessed after taking one with 20 seconds left in the third period when he banged bodies with Flyers defenseman Alexandre Picard.

"I dove a little bit," Christensen said. "I was trying to draw something. You didn't know what they were going to call [yesterday]. Alexandre Picard isn't that strong, and I'm not that easy to push over.

"So, yes, I was trying to draw something. A power play [that would carry over] in overtime, the seconds are winding down -- it would have been great.

"I probably deserved [the call]. I'm willing to admit that I embellished a bit."

Picard got a coincidental interference penalty, meaning the first 1:40 of overtime was played three-on-three.

A language of their own

Therrien declined to repeat what he said to the men in striped shirts in the first period to draw a Penguins bench penalty for "abuse of officials."

The coach would not divulge whether it was in English or French, either.

"International language," he said, with a smile.

Familiar faces

Some of the Penguins and Flyers have a rivalry that goes back to the American Hockey League, when they faced each other in games between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins and the Philadelphia Phantoms.

"The majority of us who have played in Wilkes-Barre definitely had a big-time rivalry with the Phantoms," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "My first year [2001-02], we weren't very good, and it was kind of a goonfest, to say the least.

"But the fans seemed to enjoy it, and it developed into more of a team rivalry, more playing hockey. And it's carried on to the NHL."

The coaches for those teams are now with the NHL clubs -- Therrien coached in Wilkes-Barre, and John Stevens with the Phantoms.

"They have the same coach now we played against down there for a while, and a lot of the same players have moved up," Penguins winger Colby Armstrong said. "I know a lot of guys over there. It's a big rivalry."

Slap shots

Penguins center Sidney Crosby received a standing ovation in the first period when he was acknowledged for becoming the youngest player to reach 200 career points in the NHL. ... Whitney on coming back to beat the last-place Flyers in a shootout: "We don't feel too bad giving them a point because they're not in the race." ... The crowd of 17,132 at Mellon Arena gave the Penguins their 21st sellout this season and the 14th in their past 16 home games. ... The Penguins scratched defensemen Mark Eaton (knee) and Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn. The Flyers scratched defenseman Randy Jones, forward Dimitry Afanasenkov and goaltender Robert Esche.


03-04-2007, 11:42 PM
Roberts sparks Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory
Christensen, Crosby wrap up ugly win against Flyers with big assist from Roberts

Monday, March 05, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The most pressing question before this game was about semantics, and whether the Penguins going 8-0 against Philadelphia would constitute a "sweep."

After all, the Flyers had taken their previous meeting to a shootout before losing, and thus hadn't been completely shut out in the season series.

For much of the afternoon, it looked as if the point might be moot because a Flyers victory would have soured any sweep scenario. But, even after the Penguins had salvaged a 4-3 shootout victory at Mellon Arena yesterday, the focus continued to be on words.

Like whether it was more accurate to describe their performance during the first period as a "start-to-finish embarrassment," or as a "20-minute disgrace that could be neither explained nor excused."

Not an easy call there. Both fit so well.

However it is characterized -- and, if a Penguins player had offered a truly candid assessment, the issue would not have been whether it was fit for a family newspaper, but whether it was too coarse to be part of the conversation at a table full of drunken sailors -- the reality is that the Penguins' miserable start ultimately was overshadowed by a pretty fair finish.

No matter that they didn't get their first lead until the start of the shootout; what counted was that they were in front when it ended.

"We found a way," left winger Gary Roberts said. "And that's the big thing."

Whether their 8-0 record against the Flyers in 2006-07 should be regarded as a sweep remains conjecture. The NHL does not offer a formal definition -- it was a non-issue until teams began to receive points for overtime and shootout losses -- but the considered opinion of the Elias Sports Bureau seems to be that this does not qualify because the Flyers were not held without a point.

Early on, Philadelphia seemed a decent bet to return home with a couple of them because the Penguins turned in a performance that coach Michel Therrien said "looked like a nightmare." Anyone who considered it a work of Art must have been thinking about Carney or Buchwald.

The Penguins (35-21-9) displayed little composure -- witness the abuse-of-an-official minor assessed after Therrien offered a scalding critique of the referees' work while his team was already short-handed -- and not much more commitment during the first period, when the Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead.

"I don't think we want to start too many games like that," center Sidney Crosby said.

Probably not, because if it wasn't their worst period of the season, it certainly was a medallist.

"We could have played a lot better," defenseman Ryan Whitney said.

Even if they had been wearing blindfolds and street shoes.

Erik Christensen, who scored the Penguins' second and third goals, then put another puck behind Flyers goalie Martin Biron in the shootout, said "our legs weren't into it" during the first. Nor were any of their other major body parts.

"I don't know if it was the worst [period of the season]," Therrien said. "But it was not a good one."

Starting seven hours earlier than usual seemed to cause them numerous problems -- "I haven't played a 12:30 game since [youth] hockey," Roberts said -- although the Flyers didn't look at all disoriented by playing around the time they normally would have been wrapping up their morning skate.

Mike York gave them a 1-0 lead 96 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Braydon Coburn made it 2-0 when he wristed a shot that hopped past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from just inside the blue line at 13:40.

"It just made a big bounce and bounced under my arm, I think," Fleury said.

It was Coburn's first goal in the NHL. And probably the last one he'll get like that.

"Those things happen," Therrien said. "It was not a good goal, but what can you do?"

Fleury atoned by being almost unbeatable the rest of the way -- "He made some great saves," Therrien said -- and Roberts sparked the Penguins' comeback with inspired work all over the ice. He scored their first goal, assisted on both of Christensen's and was credited with a team-high four hits.

"He's the one who led that team to victory," Therrien said. "There's no doubt in my mind."

Christensen played a significant role, too, recording his second two-goal game of the season and joining Crosby in depositing pucks behind Biron as the Penguins won their sixth shootout in a row.

And, when the standings are finalized in a month or so, this victory will count as much as any other. There will be no asterisk because it came after such a wretched start, or against the worst team in the league.

Which really should be the final word on the subject.


03-04-2007, 11:53 PM

by Joe Sager

A pair of shoulder pads hangs on a metal hook in the Penguins lockerroom.

Tattered and torn, one wonders how the piece of equipment remains held together.

The shoulder pads look like survivors of many hard-fought battles throughout the years.

Well, they are. And, that’s exactly how they define their owner – Alain Nasreddine, who at 31, is earning a regular spot in the NHL this season.

The shoulder pads represent a journey – almost like an old suitcase covered with shipping labels from all over the world.

However, the frayed and faded piece of equipment and its owner seem to have found a permanent home in Pittsburgh after an arduous 12-year journey throughout hockey’s minor leagues.

“I do appreciate [my chance] a lot, especially on the road I took to get here. I saw pretty much everything in the minors,” said Nasreddine. “Every day is a great day for me. Every day I wake up and feel grateful to be in the NHL. I don’t take anything for granted. Every day is a battle for me and every day I have to prove myself and that’s fine with me. I waited 12 years and it’s not a big deal for me to have to do that.”

Nasreddine, a defenseman, has appeared in just 18 NHL games before he got a six-game stint with the Penguins last year. He was recalled to Pittsburgh on Dec. 4 and has been here ever since, playing in 33 games and ranking second on the team with a plus-11 rating.

“It’s a nice story to be 31 years old and earning a sport in the NHL. And he earned that spot. He’s been playing well,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “He’s going to have some ups and downs like a lot of players, but it’s a great story. He was the leader in Wilkes-Barre and always worked hard there. He’s always had a great attitude and he’s always been good with the young players. He was the captain of those young guys there. A lot of our young guys are happy to see Nasreddine get a shot here.”

Indeed. Max Talbot is one of those players.

“As soon as he came to Wilkes-Barre, he was a great leader. He’s the type of guy that you know is going to be there every night,” said Talbot, who is a fellow French-Canadian. “I am so happy for him now that he has his chance in the NHL. He’s been working so hard and he always kept believing in himself. He was supposed to go to Europe a couple years ago, but he wanted to keep playing here. I roomed with him in Wilkes-Barre, so I kind of knew his situation – should I leave or should I stay – he made the right decision and it’s paying off for him.

“When he’s out there, you know he’s going to give everything he has and I think that’s what Coach Therrien wants and that’s what the organization wants. They know what to expect from him,” he continued. “He makes you realize how lucky I am and some of the other guys are to play in the NHL at 22, 20 or 18. The guy battled his entire career. Every day was a battle for him to stay and compete and try to prove himself. Hopefully, he can play more years in the league. It’s fun to have him around. He’s a very great guy.”

Nasreddine, went scoreless in his first 30 NHL games in nine seasons. However, he finally recorded his first point – a goal – in his hometown of Montreal on Dec. 16.

That’s just one of the highlights for Nasreddine this season.

Alain Nasreddine was the captain in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Getty Images

“I realize that I am in a really nice position right now to be in the NHL with one of the top teams in the league. It’s really overwhelming what’s happened to me in the last few months, but I stay focused and I have to keep that edge that I had when I first came here,” he said. “I have to keep that if I want to stay and perform in this league. I enjoy it, but at the same time, I realize I have a big job to do for this team when I am called upon.”

Another found memory came off the ice with the birth of his son, Alec, on Valentine’s Day. Nasreddine was allowed to leave the team to help his wife, Josiane, delivery.

“It’s very special for me. I was there for my wife in the delivery room. It was some experience to be there with her all along. It’s something I will never forget,” he said. “Now, we have a little baby boy at home and he’s doing well. My wife is doing a really good job helping me out. I try to help her out; she does most of the work, but she realizes that we need to make sacrifices while the season is still going on. She’s very helpful; she works hard. The baby is great and in great health, so I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Hard work seems to run in the Nasreddine family. It’s exactly what got him to Pittsburgh this year after appearing in 807 professional games in 12 years before his Dec. 4 recall.

“Sometimes, timing is just as important as talent. I got the opportunity in December. When I first came up here this year, I said I was going to make the most out of it,” he said. “I am not trying to do too much like I did in the first few years of my career, which maybe cost me at the end. I just said I was going to play my game and the way I know I can and the way I have been the last few years. If it works out, great. At least I will have no regrets. That’s what I did; I just stuck with it and worked hard and bring everything I have.”

While he battled through the minors on stops through Carolina, Indianapolis, Portland, Fredericton, Quebec, Hamilton, Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre, Nasreddine enjoyed his tours of duty.

“In the minors, it’s obviously not the NHL – you’re not traveling with charters, but you’re still playing hockey and I was making good money with the experience I had,” said Nasreddine, who had short stints with the NHL’s Blackhawks, Canadiens and Islanders. “It’s not like I had a tough job where I was working 12 hours a day. I was still playing hockey. Obviously, this is nicer, but I have no regrets. It took me a little longer to get to the NHL than what I expected when I first started. But, it’s all worth it now that I am in the NHL on a team like this one.”

Nasreddine is more than just a minor-league veteran who would up in the NHL with the Penguins. He’s played a big part in the evolution of the Penguins’ young talent. After the Penguins acquired Nasreddine from the Islanders for Steve Webb on March 8, 2004, he has taken on a leadership role with the team’s youngsters at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He was the Baby Penguins’ captain the past three seasons and helped lead many of the young Penguins on the NHL roster.

“I don’t change anything. I probably don’t assume as much leadership as I had down in the minors because that’s where I knew and that’s where I had my experience,” he said. “Leadership always comes with what you bring on the ice and the example you set every day. You look at Sidney Crosby. He’s not the most-vocal guy, but you see him working his tail off, it’d be hard for you to drift off. That’s what I try to bring here and I get along with everybody. For me, it’s all about respect. When you respect everybody, it’s probably going to be the same toward you.”

He’s having a fun time watching the young Penguins develop while playing alongside them at the NHL level.

“Just to see the guys getting older and growing into what is going to be a very big force in the NHL is something special,” he said. “I am enjoying every minute of it.”


03-05-2007, 04:02 AM
"These junior achievers aren't just ahead of schedule, they're doing the Time Warp. One year removed from a 29th overall finish, the Pens are a virtual lock to see postseason action for the first time since 2001.In the minds of some, the Pens even have a chance to come out of the East. But while their recent 14-0-2 run generated a lot of excitement, don't believe the hype. They're not there yet.

Sure, the offense is ready. Led by presumptive MVP Sidney Crosby and likely Calder finalists Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, the Pens play a freewheeling style that generates a lot of scoring chances. Now those skill players should have a little more room to do their jobs thanks to the deadline arrivals of Gary Roberts (pick him up now for your pool!) and Georges Laraque. Both players address a season-long need for toughness and should add to the group's confidence.

The Pens' offensive style puts stress on a defense that's not quite ready for prime time. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (right) has looked brilliant at times, abysmal at others. Lack of consistency is a killer in the playoffs. For the Pens to make any noise, he'll have to steal a few games."


And that is why I'm still not completely "sold" on Fleury just yet. I still don't believe he has "arrived". Coburn's goal was a perfect example. The great ones don't let those type of goals slide. Also, people bust on T-Bo (or T-Bound) for his horrible rebound control, Fleury is not looking much better in that department. There is no doubt the talent is there. He proved that during our "streak" and that's all nice and rosey. The problem is you can't just do "it" in streaks.

It's called consistency and it's still not there in my opinion.

03-05-2007, 06:33 AM
Roberts sparks Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory
Christensen, Crosby wrap up ugly win against Flyers with big assist from Roberts

Monday, March 05, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The most pressing question before this game was about semantics, and whether the Penguins going 8-0 against Philadelphia would constitute a "sweep."

After all, the Flyers had taken their previous meeting to a shootout before losing, and thus hadn't been completely shut out in the season series.

For much of the afternoon, it looked as if the point might be moot because a Flyers victory would have soured any sweep scenario. But, even after the Penguins had salvaged a 4-3 shootout victory at Mellon Arena yesterday, the focus continued to be on words.

Like whether it was more accurate to describe their performance during the first period as a "start-to-finish embarrassment," or as a "20-minute disgrace that could be neither explained nor excused."

Not an easy call there. Both fit so well.

However it is characterized -- and, if a Penguins player had offered a truly candid assessment, the issue would not have been whether it was fit for a family newspaper, but whether it was too coarse to be part of the conversation at a table full of drunken sailors -- the reality is that the Penguins' miserable start ultimately was overshadowed by a pretty fair finish.

No matter that they didn't get their first lead until the start of the shootout; what counted was that they were in front when it ended.

"We found a way," left winger Gary Roberts said. "And that's the big thing."

Whether their 8-0 record against the Flyers in 2006-07 should be regarded as a sweep remains conjecture. The NHL does not offer a formal definition -- it was a non-issue until teams began to receive points for overtime and shootout losses -- but the considered opinion of the Elias Sports Bureau seems to be that this does not qualify because the Flyers were not held without a point.

Early on, Philadelphia seemed a decent bet to return home with a couple of them because the Penguins turned in a performance that coach Michel Therrien said "looked like a nightmare." Anyone who considered it a work of Art must have been thinking about Carney or Buchwald.

The Penguins (35-21-9) displayed little composure -- witness the abuse-of-an-official minor assessed after Therrien offered a scalding critique of the referees' work while his team was already short-handed -- and not much more commitment during the first period, when the Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead.

"I don't think we want to start too many games like that," center Sidney Crosby said.

Probably not, because if it wasn't their worst period of the season, it certainly was a medallist.

"We could have played a lot better," defenseman Ryan Whitney said.

Even if they had been wearing blindfolds and street shoes.

Erik Christensen, who scored the Penguins' second and third goals, then put another puck behind Flyers goalie Martin Biron in the shootout, said "our legs weren't into it" during the first. Nor were any of their other major body parts.

"I don't know if it was the worst [period of the season]," Therrien said. "But it was not a good one."

Starting seven hours earlier than usual seemed to cause them numerous problems -- "I haven't played a 12:30 game since [youth] hockey," Roberts said -- although the Flyers didn't look at all disoriented by playing around the time they normally would have been wrapping up their morning skate.

Mike York gave them a 1-0 lead 96 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Braydon Coburn made it 2-0 when he wristed a shot that hopped past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from just inside the blue line at 13:40.

"It just made a big bounce and bounced under my arm, I think," Fleury said.

It was Coburn's first goal in the NHL. And probably the last one he'll get like that.

"Those things happen," Therrien said. "It was not a good goal, but what can you do?"

Fleury atoned by being almost unbeatable the rest of the way -- "He made some great saves," Therrien said -- and Roberts sparked the Penguins' comeback with inspired work all over the ice. He scored their first goal, assisted on both of Christensen's and was credited with a team-high four hits.

"He's the one who led that team to victory," Therrien said. "There's no doubt in my mind."

Christensen played a significant role, too, recording his second two-goal game of the season and joining Crosby in depositing pucks behind Biron as the Penguins won their sixth shootout in a row.

And, when the standings are finalized in a month or so, this victory will count as much as any other. There will be no asterisk because it came after such a wretched start, or against the worst team in the league.

Which really should be the final word on the subject.


Gawd - that was a terrible first period yesterday. The Pens couldn't seem to get the puck out of their own end and looked like they were half asleep. As the article above states, however, the Pens upped their game and got the W in a shootout and we'll gladly take the 2 points. I have to agree with Therrien - Roberts was most definitely the key to the W - he was all over that ice making plays, checking, and scored the Pens first goal. I wasn't thrilled about the Pens trading for him because of his age, but he clearly dispelled those feelings yesterday. :thumbsup:

Fire Haley
03-05-2007, 01:42 PM
That's it...they're gone......all because of corrupt local politicians



Penguins declare impasse in arena talks

Will pursue other offers aggressively, letter says
Monday, March 05, 2007
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins have declared an impasse in negotiations with government officials over construction of a new arena and will aggressively explore relocating the team to a new city.

Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle notified Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl about their decision in a letter today.

The team is declaring an impasse even though it has agreed to pay $3.6 million a year in rent, plus another $400,000 a year in capital expenses, for an annual contribution of $4 million, for a new arena.

They also have agreed to pay $500,000 for a parking garage to be built as part of the arena complex.

Despite that, the parties have been unable to reach an agreement.

"Unfortunately, we still don't have a deal and are faced with mounting uncertainty that an agreement can be reached in a time frame that is realistic for our organization," the letter states. "Therefore, we have no choice but to declare an impasse and to notify NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that we will aggressively explore relocation."

The team owners also said in the letter that Friday's appeals on the Pittsburgh slots license "cause us great concern." Don Barden, the winning casino bidder, has pledged $7.5 million a year from slots proceeds toward an arena. But with appeals filed against the award, construction of the casino could be delayed and it is not clear when arena payments could begin.

"A project of this scope, with so many complex issues, can ill afford further delays that add more risk and more uncertainty," the letter continues. "The risk has been magnified by what we perceive as a lack of collaboration from the public sector in the negotiations."

One of the last straws came Friday when public officials refused to share interest rate information with the team regarding the state's financial assumptions, according to sources close to the Penguins.

The Penguins have increased their contribution from $2.86 million per year, which was part of the original offer that was presented by state and local leaders at a meeting Jan. 4.

The team now is expected to be more aggressive in bargaining with Kansas City, which has a nearly finished new arena but no hockey team.

The declaration of an impasse doesn't mean the Penguins have definitely decided to leave, but at this point there is no indication they intend to talk any more with local officials.

The team said it had already extended its original deadline of early February because it was interested in staying in Pittsburgh. "Our good faith efforts have not produced a deal, however, and have only added more anxiety to what we thought at best was a risky proposition for us moving forward."

03-05-2007, 02:17 PM
God damn Rendell!

03-05-2007, 03:27 PM
Reminds me of why I left Pittsburgh....never has a city and region with so much potential been as consistently held back or defeated by the provincialism and in-fighting of its local and state governments as is Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania.

I know we can't be privy to what's actually going on behind the scenes, and there is always more to these situations (on both sides) than the public ever knows about, but this will be a heartbreaking loss for Pittsburgh and there will be no one to blame but the elected officials. By all written accounts, Mario Lemieux has gone way above and beyond to try to keep the team there.

My heart is heavy today for my beloved hometown.

03-05-2007, 04:15 PM
God damn Rendell!

The freaking Jackass. We should find everything that he has done against State Law and work towards his impeachment.

03-05-2007, 06:01 PM
And yet, so many fools in this region voted for that fat jackass last year. Ed Rendell does not and has never cared a wit about this region, and it's pretty damn obvious that our local officials don't either.

I had a feeling that this was going to happen, and now, it's looking like the Pens are going to leave because of selfish politicians. And it's a damn shame.

03-05-2007, 06:09 PM
And yet, so many fools in this region voted for that fat jackass last year. Ed Rendell does not and has never cared a wit about this region, and it's pretty damn obvious that our local officials don't either.

I had a feeling that this was going to happen, and now, it's looking like the Pens are going to leave because of selfish politicians. And it's a damn shame.

Just goes to show even more that the voters should have put Lynn Swann in office. A guy that hasn't held a public office is BETTER then a guy who has continually ran this state into hell.

03-05-2007, 11:59 PM
Pens' Roberts bases game on hard work

By Karen Price
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Penguins winger Gary Roberts comes with a reputation.

He finishes his checks.

He's particularly hard to play against in the corners.

He mixes a tough, physical style with a scoring touch around the net.

And Roberts, 40, also has a reputation for being one of the best-conditioned athletes in the NHL. He's considered a role model and a testament to how hard work can allow an athlete to perform at a high level as he gets older.

Ten years ago, Roberts was out of the game, retiring in the prime of his career because of recurring neck injuries that two surgeries could not repair.

"It was basically wear and tear," Roberts said Monday after practice at Mellon Arena. "I played 10 years in the National Hockey League playing in front of the net when it used to be tough to play in front of the net, and I played at about 185 pounds. My body started to break down at age 27. By the time I was 30, I had two neck surgeries and still had burners because the nerves were so irritated. So, unfortunately, I had to retire for 18 months and I really felt like I was done at that time."

That was June 1996.

Roberts, of course, wasn't done, getting a second chance with the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997-98 after they acquired his rights from the Calgary Flames. After three seasons there, Roberts went to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Florida Panthers and, one week ago today, waived his no-trade clause to join the Penguins in exchange for defenseman Noah Welch.

In his home debut Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers, Roberts had a goal and two assists to spark his team's come-from-behind victory.

While general manager Ray Shero, coach Michel Therrien and friend Mark Recchi, among others, were happy about Roberts' decision to join the Penguins, strength and conditioning coach Stephane Dube was downright ecstatic.

"What I like is the influence he's going to have on the younger guys," said Dube, who compared Roberts' training and nutrition regimen to that of an Olympic athlete. "This is something for me. Because guys can say, 'Aw Steph, it's a long season, I'm tired.' And I can say, 'I understand it's a grind, but look at this guy. Keep going.' "

When Roberts first started working out post-retirement, it was just to get back in shape after six months of doing nothing. He started working daily with Calgary-based strength coach Charles Poliquin, who changed Roberts' eating habits and training program.

As Roberts' neck started to heal, he started to think about a comeback.

"Once I got my neck healthier, the idea was if I got bigger and stronger, I'd be able to come back and play," said Roberts, who now weighs 215 pounds. "Obviously, that's what I did."

Roberts is widely regarded as an authority when it comes to conditioning and is renowned throughout the league for his dedication and routine.

"He comes to the rink on a practice day, and he's going to spend an hour, hour and a half in the gym just to get ready for practice," Dube said. "This is totally different from all the other guys."

But Roberts insists that what he does is no big secret.

"It's basically just a little extra work, and I rate it all against how much I play," said Roberts, who's also an organic foods devotee. "If I play a lot, I do less. If I play a little, I do a lot more and that's the way it has to be. I don't do a lot. I just do enough to keep my nervous system stimulated so I feel good for the games. That's really the secret."

With his neck injuries in the past and the second installment of his career still going strong, Roberts said he enjoys the daily routine that's gotten him this far.

"I guess as long as I keep enjoying the preparation part of the job, then I'll keep playing," he said. "At 40, once you stop enjoying preparing to play, that's when I'll retire because I won't be able to keep up."


03-06-2007, 12:01 AM
Pens walking the (blue) line

By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ray Shero hoped for Bobby Orr, but settled for Joel Kwiatkowski.

Orr probably was available last week. But he'll be 59 on March 20 and likely still has issues with his knees. And based on what defensemen were commanding on the open market, Shero took a pass rather than what he would have perceived to have been a big chance.

"Would everybody like to get Bobby Orr at the trade deadline? Absolutely," Shero said. "But there's lots of teams that wanted to add defensemen that couldn't get 'em that just elected to sit out because the price was too high."

The Pens were one of them, other than the Kwiatkowski addition for a fourth-round pick.

Kwiatkowski won't alter the balance of power in the Eastern Conference or dramatically improve the Penguins' blue line crew.

Shero, believe it or not, is OK with that, considering what he's seen from the likes of Rob Scuderi and Josef Melichar.

"This time last year I probably didn't know too much about those guys, but I think they've done a heck of a job for us," the Pens' GM said last week. "These guys have played really good hockey; they're NHL players."

Pens fans might disagree, but on that point Shero and coach Michel Therrien are clearly on the same page.

Scuderi, who has played in 62 of the Penguins' 65 games, and Melichar, who missed 11 recently with an injury but has still dressed 53 times, were conspicuous by their presence in Sunday's 4-3 shootout victory over Philadelphia.

Therrien played both in overtime, even at the outset in that ridiculous three-on-three scenario.

Brooks Orpik and Alain Nasreddine never saw the ice in the extra session.

One of the reasons it got that far was a simple but significant play made by Melichar that helped result in the game-tying goal with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

Melichar accepted a cross-ice pass from Sergei Goncher in the Pens' end and hit Michel Ouellet in the neutral zone.

Ouellet started the dump-and-chase that ended up in Philadelphia's net.

Erik Christensen finished the play at 14:45.

He never would have had the chance had Melichar not gotten the breakout started cleanly.

Such basic execution is what the Pens expect from their lunch-bucket defensemen.

"Move the puck well and don't put us in too much danger behind our blue line," Scuderi said. "Another big thing is the penalty kill."

The Pens opened the week 20th in penalty killing, including an NHL-worst 30th on the road.

Nobody's perfect.

Still, 79 points in 65 games in a season that has already wildly exceeded expectations suggests the Pens' defensive corps beyond Gonchar and Ryan Whitney isn't as big an Achilles' heel as many suspect.

Shero's refusal to reach for a big name (Craig Rivet) implies satisfaction as well as the high cost of a potentially significant upgrade.

"It always makes you very happy to realize what you do is appreciated," Scuderi said.

Orr couldn't have said it any better.


03-06-2007, 12:03 AM
Pens know significance of Ottawa game

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ask the Penguins' players about the importance of tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators and they're likely to respond that every game is important and has been for the past month.

"I don't think we look at this one any different," forward Sidney Crosby said Monday after the team's practice at Mellon Arena. "I don't think it changes the way we play."

Still, tonight's game is significant, given that the fifth-place Penguins trail the fourth-place Senators by only two points in the Eastern Conference standings. With the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils ahead of the Penguins by eight points and the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres ahead of the Senators by 12 points, neither team is likely to win its division. But they will likely continue to jockey for position down the stretch, with 16 games left for the Penguins after tonight and 15 for the Senators. They play each other two more times.

• The Penguins and Senators have met just once this season, resulting in a 6-3 Penguins loss at home Nov. 10.

"They're obviously a good team," forward Colby Armstrong said of the Senators. "They gave it to us pretty good the last time we played them a while ago. We're going to have to have a solid game."

• Coach Michel Therrien is still looking for chemistry on his forward lines after last week's trading deadline passed, but one line that will play together tonight is Gary Roberts-Erik Christensen-Michel Ouellet.

"We like the chemistry (Sunday), and we're going to try to keep that going, and hopefully it's going to be able to keep it up the same way," Therrien said. "But there's no doubt (Roberts and Christensen) together played really well."

Christensen had two goals, and Roberts had a goal and two assists on Sunday in the 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

• Defenseman Eric Cairns was at Mellon Arena yesterday and said he is finally starting to feel relief from the post-concussion syndrome symptoms that have plagued him since late November. There is still no timetable for his return, he said.


3 - Games out of the past four in which Sidney Crosby has not registered a point.

2 - Shootout goals Crosby has scored in the last three games.


03-06-2007, 12:05 AM
Scouting the Senators

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (35-21-9) at Ottawa Senators (38-23-5)

When, where: 7:30 p.m., Scotiabank Place

TV/radio: FSNP/105.9 FM

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (31-14-7, 2.88 GAA); Ray Emery (26-14-2, 2.49 GAA)

Notable: The Senators are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on the road Sunday. It was the Senators' second consecutive loss after going 8-0-1 in their previous nine games. In both losses, the Senators blew third-period leads. ... Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza are on 11-game point streaks. Heatley's goal streak ended at six games (eight goals) Sunday. The two were on a line Sunday with Chris Kelly. ... LW Peter Schaefer left Sunday's game in the third period because of shoulder soreness. ... RW Patrick Eaves was a healthy scratch for the third game in a row against the Blackhawks.

03-06-2007, 12:27 AM
Penguins Notebook: Next five games a playoff primer

Tuesday, March 06, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It only takes a glance at the standings to see the implications of the Penguins' game tonight at Ottawa.

The Penguins have 79 points, good for fifth in the Eastern Conference, with 17 games left. The Senators are one spot ahead at 81 points with 16 games remaining.

"It's a really big game since we have a game in hand and we can tie them with a win, and especially since there's a chance we could play them in the playoffs at some point," Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu said yesterday after practice at Mellon Arena.

"I think the bigger the game, the better we usually play. It's probably the mental preparation. It's a good thing, but we have to learn to do that on a daily basis, no matter who we play against."

This is the first of three remaining games against the Senators, two of them on the road. The Penguins lost to Ottawa, 6-3, Nov. 10 and were swept in four games in 2005-06.

"We've got to get in there and do a good job," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "They're a team over the past couple of years we really haven't played that well against. We want to really come out hard, show them that we're a different team than we have been in the past. Hopefully, we can get a win."

The Ottawa game begins a stretch in which four of the Penguins' next five opponents are ahead of them in the conference.

"Obviously, it's a measuring stick when we go into this five-game segment, but, at the same time, we have to look at each team and try to win each game," Ruutu said.

Power play changes

Penguins coach Michel Therrien had hinted there would be changes on the power play, but it came in time management rather than personnel during the 4-3 shootout win Sunday against Philadelphia.

Whitney and Sergei Gonchar no longer worked the points the full two minutes.

"The problem had been that Gonch and I had been staying on pretty much the whole time," Whitney said. "[Therrien] told me and Gonch, 'a minute-30. That's it.'"

The forwards on the first power-play unit were given less time -- one minute.

"I think it's good when you have one minute," said Sidney Crosby, who quarterbacks the power play. "You're fresh. You have a little more desperation. You want to take advantage of that minute. Two minutes is too much. You're not battling at the same level you would be at one minute."

The results weren't necessarily what the Penguins were hoping for -- they were 1 for 8 against Philadelphia -- but Whitney thought the fresher legs led to better puck movement.

"I think we moved it pretty good," Whitney said.

"It's the same basic setup every time with every team: You've got a guy at the net, you have a guy in the slot, and it's about moving the puck quick and keeping it easy. You can't try to do too much, just get shots on the net and simplify it. That's what you've got to do when your power play is struggling."

Cairns cleared to work out

After months of inactivity, Penguins defenseman Eric Cairns recently got clearance to begin working out, but he said there is no timetable for when he can skate or play again.

Cairns has been on injured reserve since Nov. 22 because of post-concussion syndrome.

He played just 42 seconds of one game this season, the 6-3 loss against Ottawa. He fought the Senators' Brian McGratton in the first period.

Cairns said doctors are being extra-cautious because he had blurred vision with the concussion.

Slap shots

Winger Mark Recchi and defensemen Gonchar and Alain Nasreddine were given the day off from practice. ... Crosby and teammate Evgeni Malkin are among the 10 players and the Penguins' logo is one of 10 that are part of a new NHL line of Fathead products. Fathead makes 3-D vinyl images.


03-06-2007, 12:29 AM
Christensen celebrates success, but just barely

Tuesday, March 06, 2007
By Shelly Anderson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After each of his two goals Sunday, Penguins forward Erik Christensen's only acknowledgement was a subtle arm pump about waist-high.

"That's me being excited -- the blank stare on my face, the little [arm] move," Christensen said after practice yesterday. "I'm not going to do an [Alex] Ovechkin and slam myself into the boards."

The cool celebration earned Christensen a lot of grief from his teammates, which was just enough to draw a shy grin from the 23-year-old.

Smiles, or any kind of emotion, have been difficult to pull from Christensen, who broke into the NHL last season with 33 games with the Penguins between demotions to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

Last season was tough on Christensen's psyche, and so were the six games without a point and 10 games without a goal he endured before Sunday, when he also beat Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Biron in the shootout portion of the Penguins' 4-3 win.

Christensen was elevated during the game from the fourth line to the third line, centering for newcomer Gary Roberts and right winger Michel Ouellet. That and his success in the game were enough to pull him out of his shell, at least a little bit and for a little while.

"I love scoring goals and I love producing offensively," Christensen said. "There's only so much opportunity to go around for everyone, and we have a couple of the best players in the world right now. To have a game like that really, really feels good. My confidence is sky high."

Christensen's confidence dipped and he kept things bottled up last season, when a chart of his promotions and demotions would have looked like an earthquake on a Richter scale. He began the season in Wilkes-Barre, got called up Oct. 31, went back Jan. 9, got called up Feb. 9, went back Feb. 12, got called up Feb. 28, then got sent back for good one year ago today.

He had 14 goals and 27 points in 77 games in the minor leagues, six goals and 13 points with the Penguins.

He opened this season with Wilkes-Barre before being promoted Nov. 22. He has 13 goals and 22 points in 44 games with the Penguins.

"I'm happy. I've managed to sustain a bit of consistency," Christensen said. "Last year at this time, I was in the minors after being here for 30-some games and my play sort of going in the toilet.

"Part of it last year was just not believing in myself and believing I could play at this level. This year, I've got that belief. I believe that I belong here."

So does his coach.

"He's got a lot of skill, that kid," Michel Therrien said. "He can shoot the puck. He's got a quick release. He's got great speed. I want to make sure he keeps competing that way."

So Therrien plans to keep Christensen between Roberts and Ouellet when the team plays tonight at Ottawa.

Christensen, a natural center, has also played left wing for the Penguins, but Therrien likes the chemistry with Christensen centering a savvy veteran such as Roberts, who was acquired from Florida last week at the trade deadline.

"The way Gary Roberts forechecks gives Christensen more space with the puck," Therrien said.

Although he never complained about being part of a checking line -- he was recently with wingers Georges Laraque and Jarkko Ruutu -- Christensen has many qualities of a skill player.

It's just that there are a lot of skill players on the team.

"I just want to be considered an NHL player," said Christensen, who was selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 2002 draft.

"I was playing with Georges and Jarkko for a while and having some success. We were keeping the puck out of our own end and cycling the puck. That's what we need to do to keep our momentum. That's my job.

"If I can get a goal every couple of games, that's my job. Do I wish I was scoring 50 goals? Sure. I've done that before [in junior hockey]. I love being the go-to guy. But that's not the case here."

It might be when games go to a shootout.

Christensen's shootout goal Sunday was his sixth this season, tied for third-most in the NHL. He is 6 for 13 this season, the best on the team, and 7 for 14 in his career.

Against Biron, Christensen drove deep and got Biron to commit to his right, then deposited the puck to his left.

"It's about getting him to move to one side, getting him on his knees, so he can't trap me back when I pull the puck back," Christensen said.

Christensen was the first shooter in the shootout. It was Sidney Crosby's goal a minute or two later that won it for the Penguins.

Which is just as well. Christensen probably would have celebrated with a nod.


03-06-2007, 12:32 AM
Ron Cook: Youthful Penguins look up to Roberts

Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Penguins center Erik Christensen called new teammate Gary Roberts a "maniac" and a "beast" after Roberts had a King Kong-sized role in the team's 4-3 shootout win Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Lovingly, of course.

It was fairly predictable coming from a young guy, seemingly in awe of Roberts. Though 40 and with boxer shorts older than Christensen and the even younger, teen-age Penguins, Roberts was spry enough to throw his body at everything in a Flyers' uniform, score the goal that awoke the Penguins from their ill-timed, late-winter afternoon nap and set up the other two goals by Christensen, all while fighting off a bad case of nerves as he tried to make a good first impression on the throbbing Penguins Nation. It's safe to say everyone in the team's dressing room was in awe.

But you're never going to guess what coach Michel Therrien called Roberts.

Would you believe Reggie Jackson?

"Mr. October," Therrien said, grinning.

It sounded so cool in his thick French accent.

It also was cool because Roberts is one of the few players on the Penguins old enough to know who Reggie Jackson is.

"Some guys have the capability of upgrading their game when it's crunch time," Therrien said. "Gary Roberts is that player. He plays for real. He doesn't play for fun. He plays for real."


I mean, Reggie Jackson?

Roberts is flattered, but, really, he, Therrien and everyone else in the Penguins' organization will be thrilled if he's just Gary Roberts in the days ahead.

"You just want to fit in and not disrupt a good thing," Roberts said of his approach to joining the Penguins last week in a trade for defenseman Noah Welch.

It's never easy, not even for a guy who has been through it before, three times actually. Roberts conceded to "fighting the puck" in his first two games with the Penguins and had the stats to prove it: No points in a road win against the New York Rangers, none in a loss at Carolina and a combined minus-3. The game Sunday was his first with the team at Mellon Arena, which elevated the pressure. Yes, the sellout crowd -- the 14th in the past 16 home games -- came mostly to see the Penguins put another licking on the hated Flyers. But the masses also came to see what the old guy could do.

Plenty, as it turned out.

"You talk about leadership, that was leadership," Therrien said. "He's the one who led that team to victory. There's no doubt in my mind."

It wasn't just Roberts' goal, which started the Penguins on their climb out of a 2-0 second-period hole, and his two assists, which helped make for a terrific first impression on the home fans. It was his team-high four hits. They didn't just jar the Flyers. They shook the Penguins out of their "nightmare" -- Therrien's word -- of a first period.

Christensen, for one, couldn't believe a middle-aged man could be so physical, especially one who overcame serious neck problems earlier in his career.

"His muscles have muscles," Christensen gushed.

Added Sidney Crosby, the real Reggie Jackson of these Penguins, certainly the straw that stirs the drink: "He battles every shift. This time of year, you need guys like that."

This Penguins' team, especially.

Much of its passionate fan base seems to be taking a playoff spot for granted, probably because of the team's phenomenal 14-0-2 run in January and February. Here's a clue for you: It's anything but guaranteed. Look at the standings.

Roberts figures to keep delivering that message in the Penguins' room. He can't guarantee three points every game -- "Let's not get carried away," he said with a big smile -- but he can promise the same intensity he brought to the ice Sunday. That is easy for him because he knows how precious points are in March. "I look at the standing every day. ... You can't afford to lose a game because someone is going to be crawling up your backside." The man knows a little something about winning. He played for the Stanley Cup champions in Calgary a lifetime ago in 1989. His 114 career playoff games are 114 more than 14 of the 20 Penguins players who dressed against the Flyers, including the team's biggest stars: Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury.

It's no wonder Christensen said, "We all look to him" -- not to mention playoff veterans Mark Recchi (135 games) and Sergei Gonchar (58) -- "for leadership."

"You pick your spots. You talk too much, and people stop listening," Roberts said.

"We're going to need everybody pulling the rope in the same direction. This is a group of guys that will do that. They're young, but they're mature. I saw that right away."

Roberts laughed.

"We can say they're young, but maybe that's a good thing. They might be so green that they don't feel [the pressure]. You go through it and lose a few times, that's when you feel it."

Spoken like an old pro.

A very old pro.


03-06-2007, 02:22 AM
Atlantic: Veteran savvy, muscle a boost to Pens
Chuck Gormley | NHL.com correspondent Mar 5, 2007, 11:19 AM EST

Georges Laraque understands his role with the Penguins and is happy to be embraced.
While rookie GM Garth Snow and the New York Islanders stole headlines with their gutsy acquisition of Ryan Smyth in the 11th hour of last week's NHL trade deadline, the rest of the Atlantic Division's general managers were either purging or fortifying their rosters.

Aside from the seismic moves on Long Island, there was some interesting maneuvering going on in Pittsburgh, where GM Ray Shero might have provided smelling salts for his playoff dark horse.

The first-year GM ignored Gary Roberts' request to be traded to either Toronto or Ottawa, so that he could be closer to his 17-year-old daughter who's attending school in Ontario. He went after the 40-year-old left wing anyway and convinced him that with a little luck, the Penguins could run the table in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien then dangled a carrot in front of Roberts, allowing him to play on a "Two Men and A Baby" Line with 39-year-old Mark Recchi and 19-year-old Sidney Crosby.

"I can't believe I'm playing with those slugs," Roberts joked after his first practice with Recchi and Crosby.

Roberts recorded his first goal in black and gold Sunday against the Flyers and held his own in a fight with Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason in a 3-2 loss to the Canes.

Ironically, it was supposed to be another player acquired at the trade deadline, Georges Laraque, who provided the Penguins with some punch. At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds Laraque is arguably the toughest and most feared man in the NHL. Laraque arrived in Pittsburgh with 878 penalty minutes in 546 games for the Oilers and Coyotes. But in his first two games he was extremely well behaved, failing to record a single penalty minute. Fear of retribution, perhaps?

"My job is to look after (my teammates) and play physical," said Laraque, who slammed Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour into the boards in his second game as a Penguin. "It doesn't matter what team we play. I'm out there to protect the skill guys."

Laraque is sure to pick up some fighting majors before the curtain falls on the regular season, but when the playoffs arrive, he'll need to adapt.

"When you fight, you only hurt one guy," Laraque told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "When you play physical, you (affect) the entire team. When you come down the stretch, there's less fighting, but more physical play. And in the playoffs there's no fighting, so you can make yourself really effective with no fighting."

A fan favorite in Edmonton and Phoenix, Laraque expects the same reception in the Steel City.

"In every city, it's the same," he said. "People love the tough guys."

The arrivals of Laraque and Roberts triggered a change in all four forward lines and it might take some time before the Penguins show some chemistry up front.

Roberts is a north-south winger he drives hard to the net and should compliment the playmaking abilities of Crosby and Recchi.

"I'm a student of the game and I like to watch other guys," Crosby said. "Watching him has helped me. … If (opposing defensemen) 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."

With Roberts on the top line, Therrien has gone with a second line of Evgeni Malkin between Ryan Malone and Michel Ouellet; Maxime Talbot between Jordan Staal and Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen between Jarkko Ruutu and Laraque.

With 17 games in the month of March and nine of them on the road, the Penguins are going to need production from all four lines if they hope to hold the fifth seed in the conference and challenge the Devils and Sabres as a true Cup contender.

Here's a quick look at the other Atlantic Division deals that were dwarfed by the Ryan Smyth trade.

* The Devils were predictably quiet, moving extra defenseman David Hale to the Flames for a third-round pick.

* The Rangers, whose high hopes in December have been tempered by a sub-par January and February, flipped veteran defensemen with the Bruins, sending Aaron Ward to Boston for Paul Mara after a highly publicized tiff between Ward and Jaromir Jagr.

* The Flyers paid a high price for goaltender Martin Biron (a second-round pick), hoping it will allow them a chance to sign the 29-year-old goalie before he becomes a free agent on July 1. They also picked up Finnish defenseman Lasse Kukkonen, whom they immediately paired with childhood defense partner Joni Pitkanen.

Who's hot -- After having his seven-game point streak (one goal, 10 assists) ended, Sidney Crosby was backing business with a goal against Carolina last week. Teammate Evgeni Malkin, who also had a seven-game point streak halted, was held pointless in his next three games.

Rumor mill -- There is talk that by the end of this week the Flyers will reward Paul Holmgren with a contract extension that will allow him to continue the team's rebuilding project into next season and beyond.

Shootout summary -- Who are the best shootout specialists in the Atlantic? The Devils' Brian Gionta is 7-for-12; the Penguins' Erik Christensen is 5-for-9; Jersey's Zack Parise is 5-for-10; the Rangers' Michal Nylander is 4-for-9; and the Isles' Viktor Kozlov is 4-for-10.

The week ahead

Tuesday: Devils at Flyers -- The Flyers have been energized by their recent trade deadline acquisitions and this could be Martin Biron's first chance to face the Devils in a Flyers uniform.

Thursday: Rangers at Islanders -- The Isles are brimming with confidence after their deadline dealing while the Rangers are trying to convince themselves they are not yet in the spoiler mode.

Devils at Penguins -- By the end of the week the Penguins would like to know if they'll have a new place to call home. Until then they'll need to prove they can beat the Devils in what may be a playoff preview.


03-06-2007, 06:11 PM
Ekman in the lineup tonight.......

03-06-2007, 07:33 PM
Sens third goal tonight was my point about Fleury.......

03-06-2007, 07:39 PM

03-06-2007, 07:43 PM
Another pathetic performance in the making. I think what we're seeing now is the Pens' lack of experience shining through - virtually all of them have never been in a playoff stretch run and are not picking up their intensity at all. On top of that, their goaltending has been atrocious. All of this equals no playoffs for the Pens this season.

03-06-2007, 08:11 PM

When your defense can't clear the puck and when you turn it over in the neautral zone on a regular basis and your goalie is giving up cheap goals, your going to lose.

This is NOT the same team that we saw after X-Mas break. We are playing sloppy hockey. Tonight though, we are getting beat by the better hockey team. It's not as if we are getting beat by a bunch of stiffs. At times you get beat by the better team. So not only are we looking sloppy, but this is a damn good hockey team we are playing against tonight.

03-06-2007, 08:43 PM

03-06-2007, 08:45 PM
Yep, keep Jordan on that third line, real smart. As long as Therrien's love child is secure.......

03-06-2007, 08:47 PM
Another one........Christensen making one helluva play for our #3. But as I stated above...

03-06-2007, 08:48 PM
Pens TIE IT UP!!!!!! HA HA!!!

03-06-2007, 08:50 PM


03-06-2007, 08:50 PM
Man, it took them 3 Periods, BUT THEY WOKE UP!

03-06-2007, 08:51 PM

03-06-2007, 08:52 PM
They grab two tonight and I will tip my hat. Spezza or no Spezza, that's one helluva hockey team to beat.

03-06-2007, 08:53 PM
They grab two tonight and I will tip my hat. Spezza or no Spezza, that's one helluva hockey team to beat.

:iagree: This team is no walk in the park.

03-06-2007, 08:58 PM
:iagree: This team is no walk in the park.

We take a point out of there tonight and I'll be very happy. .500 hockey.

03-06-2007, 09:01 PM
We take a point out of there tonight and I'll be very happy. .500 hockey.

We're guaranteed a point. Let's see if we can get that extra point.

03-06-2007, 09:02 PM
Nice, we got the point on the road after being down three. I'll take it. Two points is just the icing on top.

03-06-2007, 09:10 PM

03-06-2007, 09:16 PM
make that save!

edit: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

03-06-2007, 09:17 PM

03-06-2007, 09:21 PM
WOW, shame on me for doubting them tonight. At least I can admit it, but damn, that's a tough team to beat on the road after being down three.

03-06-2007, 09:39 PM
I just got to see the 3rd period, the OT and the shootout - what a comeback!!! The Heart Attack Kids strike again! :banana: :cheers:

Therrien and the coaching staff have a tough decision to make as to who to start in goal on Thursday night against the Devils.

03-06-2007, 11:34 PM
I just got to see the 3rd period, the OT and the shootout - what a comeback!!! The Heart Attack Kids strike again! :banana: :cheers:

Therrien and the coaching staff have a tough decision to make as to who to start in goal on Thursday night against the Devils.

Now you'd think I'd have learned my lesson after leaving Mellon Arena with egg on my face on Sunday, but nooooo...I had to doubt them again. When will I ever learn? :dang:

03-06-2007, 11:59 PM
Pens' Recchi worried about 'impasse'

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Penguins' charter flight to Ottawa left Pittsburgh around 2 p.m. Monday, and by the time they touched down in Ottawa, the news of the impasse declared by team officials in the arena negotiations had broken. The players became aware of the developments after turning their cell phones back on and finding messages left by concerned friends and family members.

"I don't think this is a bluff," said Mark Recchi, who makes his offseason home in Pittsburgh, on Tuesday morning. "This is something where they need a deal within the time frame they feel is necessary and if they don't then they're going to have to move it. It's a sad day that it's even back to this point."

Recchi said the news made him a little more worried about the team leaving Pittsburgh.

"It's definitely a concern right now," he said. "Obviously, things aren't going well. We all hope the team stays. Pittsburgh is a great city, and it would be a terrible loss."

? Left winger Nils Ekman made his return to the Penguins' lineup last night after missing 28 games because of a dislocated left elbow suffered on Dec. 29 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I'm pumped," Ekman said before the game.

He was told yesterday morning that he would play, and he appeared on a line with Gary Roberts and Erik Christensen. Ekman said he'd never missed more than two or three games in a row before injuring his elbow.

? Forwards Michel Ouellet, Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski were scratched against the Senators.

? Survey the Penguins players on who has the hardest shot in the NHL, and most will be quick to say it's defenseman Sheldon Souray of the Montreal Canadiens. That's definitely defenseman Ryan Whitney's answer. Whitney took a shot from Souray off the laces of his skate on Feb. 4, and a month later, it still hurts.

"I can still feel it, even walking around," said Whitney, who now has a flap of padding that's stitched into the bottom of his shin pads to cover the unprotected area on the top of the foot.


9 - Points by which Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis trailed leader Sidney Crosby in scoring going into last night.

10 - Points by which Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier trailed Crosby in scoring going into last night.


03-07-2007, 12:03 AM
Expatriate fans want Penguins to stay

By Andrew Conte
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Chris Reilly's family had to "aggressively explore relocation" from Plum more than two decades ago when his dad lost his job as a steel worker.

He has since lived in Florida, Virginia and, recently, North Carolina, but Reilly, 32, remains a diehard Pittsburgh sports fan -- and cannot bear the thought of the Penguins following his exodus.

The team announced Monday it would court offers to move elsewhere.

"Even though I haven't lived there since 1985, I still am totally loyal to the sports teams and city," Reilly said. "I can't explain why. It is so ingrained in my psyche."

A tiny Liechtenstein compared to the sprawling Steelers Nation, the Penguins diaspora of fans nevertheless remains just as loyal and follows similar lines of dispersion. Though they moved on -- for work or warmer weather -- the fans blanch at talk of the hockey team's relocating to Kansas City or any other place.

"(Pittsburgh) will always be 'home' in some way," said Joseph Kisner, 52, of northern Virginia. "It's not perfect, but a city like no other."

Although he has lived in suburban Washington since the mid-1980s, Kisner bought a partial season-ticket package to see the Penguins at Mellon Arena last year. He watches Stan Savran nightly on FSN Pittsburgh's "SportsBeat" show via satellite.

Richard Brown said he, too, watches Savran and reads the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review online every day. Brown, 42, grew up in Washington County, but has lived more than half his life in Islamorada, Fla.

He moved there for work as a landscape architect. That he still drives around with a Steelers license plate on his truck comes naturally -- a reflex of ingrained loyalty, he said.

"We are largely a product of how and where we are raised, and the culture and makeup of the region are still my foundation to this day," Brown said. "That connection is a big part of why I care that the Penguins stay where they've always been, and belong, to me."

Reilly recently attended a Penguins road game against the Carolina Hurricanes. It seemed about 20 percent of the crowd was cheering for Pittsburgh, he said.

"It's almost like a huge family coming together at these games," he said. "We all have each others' backs."


03-07-2007, 12:13 AM
Pens' fierce comeback brings shootout win

By Karen Price
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

OTTAWA - If Tuesday night was a preview of a first-round playoff matchup between the Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, the series is going to have to come with a warning label.

Not for the faint of heart or those who suffer from nervous disorders or anxiety.

After trailing by three goals for most of the game, the Penguins scored three times in three minutes in the third period to force overtime before Sidney Crosby scored the winner in a shootout for a 5-4 win.

Jordan Staal scored a shorthanded goal -- his league-leading seventh and 27th overall goal - to kick off the comeback at 9:22 of the third period, making the score 4-2.

"I think when (Staal) scored that goal, we knew we had a chance," Crosby said. "We definitely put ourselves in a better position. I think that goal really led the way for us to get back in it."

The Penguins (36-21-9), who were in fifth place and two points behind the fourth-place Senators going into the game at Scotiabank Place, picked up two points in the unlikely win. The Senators, who dominated for 40 minutes and had a 4-1 lead going into the third, got a point.

The No. 4 team will host the No. 5 team in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at season's end.

"You can't afford to let up now, no matter what the score is," Crosby said. "I think in the third we really just gave ourselves a chance to really play our game and hopefully get rewarded for it."

It was the third time in the last four games that the Penguins have needed a shootout to win, and it was their seventh straight shootout victory after going 1-5 to start the season.

Jocelyn Thibault allowed one goal in the shootout, while Erik Christensen also scored for the Penguins.

"I don't know if we were thinking comeback at all," Staal said. "After my goal, we got a little more confidence, and I think everyone knew we could win if we just kept chipping away."

Less than two minutes after Staal's shorthanded goal, Gary Roberts - who initially wanted to be traded to either the Senators or the Toronto Maple Leafs before coming to the Penguins last week -- scored to pull within one at 11:02.

One minute later, Ryan Malone scored. The Senators' collapsed was complete, and the Penguins had tied the game.

"It would be nice (to stop playing from behind)," Staal said. "It's a thriller for the fans, but it's obviously not what we want."

The Penguins trailed, 2-0, in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers before coming back and winning in a shootout. They also came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period against the New York Rangers on Thursday and won in a shootout.

But even getting to overtime - let alone winning - seemed impossible at times last night.

Colby Armstrong scored the first goal to give the Penguins a lead five minutes into the game.

But two quick goals from the Senators in front of the net and a long shot from Chris Kelly trailing the play while shorthanded made it 3-1 going into the second period.

That led to a goalie change to start the second period, from Marc-Andre Fleury to Thibault.

The Penguins spent almost the entire period in the penalty box, and the Senators scored on one of their power plays for a 4-1 lead going into the third.

The Senators were 2 for 8 on the power play after just 40 minutes, while the Penguins had only two power plays of their own and nothing to show for either one.

"If I knew the answer I'd tell you," Staal said when asked what happened the first two periods. "Just lack of focus, I guess. We really just weren't working hard enough."


03-07-2007, 12:39 AM
Crosby, Penguins shootout winners
Sidney Crosby gets another winning goal as Penguins rally for three goals in last 11 minutes of regulation to stun Ottawa

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

By Dave Molinari
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- They read the newspapers and watch the highlights shows so, yeah, the Penguins knew all about the problems Ottawa has had in the third period lately.

They just never expected to be able to add to them.

Not when they were trailing by three goals with less than 11 minutes left in regulation and hadn't been able to do much well with any sort of regularity -- except maybe to take penalties.

But the Penguins ran off three unanswered goals in a span of two minutes, 48 seconds midway through the third to transform a 4-1 deficit into what became a 5-4 shootout victory at Scotiabank Place.

The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak against Ottawa and raised the Penguins' record to 36-21-9. They trail the fourth-place Senators by one point in the Eastern Conference.

Sidney Crosby, who was shut out during regulation and overtime for the for the fourth time in the past five games -- that matches the worst dry spell of his pro career, set Nov. 27-Dec. 8, 2005 -- got the shootout-deciding goal when he beat Ottawa goalie Ray Emery with a backhander.

Erik Christensen also scored for the Penguins, while Evgeni Malkin was stopped by Emery. Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault stopped Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette during the shootout, but was beaten by Dean McAmmond.

Nonetheless, his two shootout stops gave Crosby the chance to lock up the victory, which he did.

"We're getting that big play, that big save, whatever it is," Crosby said. "We're finding a way, and that's important."

The game began well enough for the Penguins, as Colby Armstrong put them on top at 5:56 with a backhander from along the goal line to the right of Emery.

Mike Fisher countered for Ottawa with a power-play goal at 9:27, when he beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from in front, and Christoph Schubert put the Senators in front, 2-1, at 11:22.

The Penguins had a 39-second power play late in the period. That wasn't enough time for them to manufacture a goal, but it was enough for them to allow one as Chris Kelly put a 50-foot shot off Fleury's pads and into the net at 18:38.

Kelly's goal was marshmallow-soft -- not exactly what Ottawa coach Bryan Murray had in mind a few hours earlier when he said, "Fleury has obviously become the type of goaltender everyone thought he was going to be" -- and convinced coach Michel Therrien to replace Fleury with Thibault for the start of the second.

The switch didn't trouble the Senators much, though, because Heatley made it 4-1 with a power-play goal at 4:32 of the second. That was one of eight chances Ottawa had with the extra man during the first 40 minutes.

"At this time of the year, we can't be coming out with efforts like that," Armstrong said. "We knew it was a big game, so there were no excuses."

In the end, though, they wouldn't need any.

The Senators had failed to protect third-period leads in each of the previous two games and no doubt had a flashback or two when Jordan Staal got his seventh short-handed goal of the season at 9:22 after stealing the puck in the neutral zone.

"That really set the tone," Crosby said. "Led the way for what was to come."

The entire Ottawa bench no doubt winced at 11:02, after Christensen stole the puck from Mike Comrie and set up Gary Roberts near the left hash for his second in two games.

But the Senators' nightmare did not truly recur until 12:10, when Staal set up Ryan Malone, who tossed a shot behind Emery from below the left dot to guarantee the Penguins a point that was absolutely unthinkable just a few minutes earlier.

"We came together there in the third, really focused on just playing the way we could and seeing where that brought us," Crosby said. "We have to be happy with that, but we don't want to dig ourselves those kinds of holes."

Whatever offensive problems Crosby has had -- "I've created a few plays, and they're just not going in," he said. "I'm going to break out here soon" -- his touch in shootouts is platinum-plated lately.

So, when the game was on his stick at the end of the shootout, there wasn't much uncertainty about the ending. Or about how fortunate the Penguins were to get to that point.

"We can't leave it to chance like that, especially right now," Armstrong said. "We got lucky."


03-07-2007, 12:46 AM
Penguins Notebook: Ekman returns to fill RW spot on No. 2 line

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Nils Ekman went directly from injured reserve to the No. 2 line.

Ekman, out since his left elbow was dislocated Dec. 29, was on right wing with Gary Roberts and Erik Christensen when the Penguins faced Ottawa at Scotiabank Place last night.

That was part of a major overhaul of the Penguins' forward combinations by coach Michel Therrien, who also assembled these units: Evgeni Malkin-Sidney Crosby-Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone-Jordan Staal-Colby Armstrong and Jarkko Ruutu-Maxime Talbot-Georges Laraque.

"Like I said ...when we acquired [Roberts and Laraque], we're going to try different combinations, and that's exactly what we're doing," Therrien said. "I really like the way Christensen and Roberts played together in the last game, and I wanted to see what that combination is going to bring us.

"And every time we need a lift with Crosby and Malkin, they're always able to upgrade their game. And Jordan Staal is playing really well. Jordan's capable of playing center or left wing."

Michel Ouellet, a fixture on the No. 2 line while failing to score a goal in the previous nine games, was a healthy scratch, as were Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn.

Therrien described Ekman as "a guy we count on," even though he had just one goal and four assists in the 19 appearances that preceded his injury, and underscored that by placing him in a prominent role in his first game in more than two months.

"I'm glad he's challenging me, and glad that he's giving me some confidence," Ekman said. "I just want to make the best out of it, do something good for the team."

He wore a brace to protect his elbow, and said he had no concerns about reinjuring it.

"I'm pumped up, so excited," Ekman said. "It's great to be back."

New team thrills Roberts

In the weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline, Roberts cited Ottawa as one of the teams -- Toronto was the other -- for which he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause.

The Penguins, however, sold him on the merits of joining them and sent defenseman Noah Welch to Florida for him. But for all the talk a few weeks ago about how Ottawa could benefit from Roberts' grit and leadership, several Senators said yesterday that losing out on him should not be a mortal blow to their playoff prospects.

"A player like that is obviously a very wanted player by many teams," center Mike Fisher said. "But, at the same time, we have a lot of capable guys in here. We're confident with our team, with the way we're playing, and we can't worry about that."

Roberts described himself as "thrilled" to join the Penguins, and nothing that happened during his Mellon Arena debut, a 4-3 shootout victory against Philadelphia Sunday, changed that.

"It's a real fun hockey city," he said. "The place was jammed, and it's just a real fun environment."

Senators coach praises Crosby

Crosby entered the game last night with just two goals in his previous 17 games and one point in the previous four.

"He's going to have to work through it," Therrien said. "He has to play against top players every night. ... The last month and a half, they've checked him really well, but that's part of his development. He's going to have to fight through those things."

Senators coach Bryan Murray, for one, apparently won't bet against it, based on his assessment of the progress Crosby has made since last fall.

"He's become a real outstanding player," Murray said. "He's made huge strides in this year alone, from the beginning of the year until now.

"He's obviously a great character for our game right now, the way he plays and the way he uses his linemates. He's going to be worth the price of admission for the rest of his career, probably."

Slap shots

Senators winger Oleg Saprykin wore No. 91 in Phoenix and claimed it for his first morning skate with Ottawa after it acquired him, but switched to No. 61 a few hours later. That probably wasn't an accident because No. 91 will forever be associated in Ottawa with Alexandre Daigle, the first draft choice in team history and an unabashed flop. ... The NHL reported that sales of Penguins merchandise in February was up 237 percent from the same month a year ago.


03-07-2007, 06:29 AM
What a game last night. Those Cardiac Kids pulled it off!

03-07-2007, 07:23 AM
Now you'd think I'd have learned my lesson after leaving Mellon Arena with egg on my face on Sunday, but nooooo...I had to doubt them again. When will I ever learn? :dang:

You must like the feel of that egg sliding down your face or somethin'. :wink02: As you well know, I am the eternal optimist and always believe they can come back, as they did last night. Have some faith brother! :cheers:

03-07-2007, 08:54 AM
"but we don't want to dig ourselves those kinds of holes." - Sid

"We can't leave it to chance like that, especially right now," Armstrong said. "We got lucky."

Good attitude and right on the money. It's comforting to know that they are not resting on "a win is a win" type of attitude at this point in the season. Fleury needs to get his head back on straight. This goes back to the last five games of our winning streak. Between rebound control and letting the cheap goal in I'd have to believe Therrien is not exactly comfortable with Fleury at this point in time.

While Fleury is giving up the rebounds and the cheap goal, our defense is nothing to write home about. Between being unable to clear the puck and coughing it up in their own zone they are not helping Fleury's cause. We are missing Eaton and maybe that possible trade for a solid RH DD.

On offense (and I can't believe I'm saying this), but Sid and Malkin need to start netting some goals. I don't think it's helping when Therrien pairs Sid and Malkin on the same line. I'd prefer those two on separate lines. Thankfully, I don't see it lasting. I think Therrien is just trying to give them both a spark in order to get them out of their scoring droughts.

Also, Christensen has no business being on a third for fourth line and I loved seeing him play on that second line last night with the healthy scratch being Omelette. Christensen can't score when he doesn't have the players to feed him the puck. Put him on a line with talent and he put's the puck away. Unfortunately though, I wouldn't put it past Therrien to fall back on his secret man-love crush for Omelette and putting him back on that second line while putting Christensen back on the third when we meet Jersey this upcoming Thursday.

Anyways, here's to hoping we start playing better hockey in the weeks to come. Yesterday's game won't do it. That poo-poo won't fly come playoff time.

03-07-2007, 11:48 PM
Pens' victory eases Fleury's disappointment

By Keith Barnes
Thursday, March 8, 2007

Marc-Andre Fleury spent more time on the bench than he did on the ice Tuesday during the Penguins' 5-4 shootout win at Ottawa.

What he did in his limited action was fish three pucks out of his own net in the first period, turning a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 deficit. After he was yanked for the first time since Dec. 19, Fleury witnessed a stellar performance by backup Jocelyn Thibault, who stopped 15-of-16 shots in regulation and overtime, then 2 of 3 in the shootout.

"It's always frustrating when you get pulled like that, but it was good to see my teammates come back and get the win," Fleury said Wednesday after practice at Mellon Arena. "I felt all right, and the first goal was a bad bounce. And that's what's frustrating a little bit."

Fleury is becoming known as an enigma, a goaltender who can make a spectacular save on one shot, then give up a weak goal on the next.

His inconsistent play forced coach Michel Therrien to start Thibault during a recent two-game road swing to Florida. Though Thibault stood out against Florida, when he stopped 32-of-33 shots, he was pulled in the second period of a Feb. 25 loss against Tampa Bay.

He knows exactly what it feels like.

"It's never fun. It's the worst feeling when you get pulled from a game," Thibault said. "It's happened before, and it's going to happen again. And that's just the way it is. You're going to have nights where it's going to be harder and you have to bounce back."

Even during the Penguins' recent 14-0-2 streak, Fleury's play went to extremes. After a brilliant 30-save performance Feb. 3 at Washington, he came back the next night and gave up four goals on 29 shots in an overtime loss to Montreal.

In his last four games during that streak, all regulation wins, Fleury allowed at least four goals in each game.

In the start that ended the run, the 22-year-old was touched up for six goals in a loss to the New York Islanders, a defeat that sent Fleury to the bench for Thibault and started him on a week of intensive practice with goaltending coach Gilles Meloche.

For three starts, it appeared to work, as Fleury was refocused and back on top of his game. He was 2-1-0 in those games and surrendered only seven goals on 87 shots for an outstanding .966 save percentage.

That was before he was lit up for three goals on seven shots in the first period against Ottawa. The one that got Fleury pulled was a 55-foot slapshot from Chris Kelly that beat Fleury for a shorthanded goal.

"It's tough because I still have to learn and I still make mistakes," Fleury said. "I'm sure, with maybe a little more experience, I'll cut down on those, and that will make me more consistent."

Though Fleury has had his ups and downs, his teammates are quick to point out that, many times, the puck hitting the twine has more to do with what they're doing -- or in some cases not doing -- in front of him.

"There's probably certain situations where we didn't backcheck as hard or had a miscommunication or a missed check in our zone or something like that," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "For people watching, sometimes they don't see the little details of the game where, 10 seconds earlier, if you get a puck deep instead of turning it over, they don't get that opportunity. So, it's not always that exact moment of a play."

Still, seeing a goaltender get pulled isn't an easy thing for the player or his teammates.

It was especially difficult for the Penguins after the first period in Ottawa, considering the way the team came back and won.

"You don't want to see it come to that," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "There's some plays that we definitely could have helped him out on, clearing guys in front, playing the man and breaking the puck out so they didn't have it in our zone as much. By no means was this all on him ...

"You need your teammates to support you out there, and I think we could have done a better job helping 'Fleur' out there."


03-07-2007, 11:50 PM
Amid uncertainty, Penguins play on

By The Associated Press
Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to keep the franchise's uncertain future from infringing on a tight playoff race.

The lack of a deal with government officials to finance a new arena is clouding the issue of where the Penguins will play next season. But team members are trying to forge ahead with this season and keep their focus squarely on the Eastern Conference and a busy March schedule.

"Guys have been following (the arena situation), but we've just had so many games we just concentrate on hockey," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

"I know the majority of the guys here want to stay here. Guys like playing here. But as much as we want to stay here, if the team has to leave, it's out of our control. It's tough to get too high or too low even when a deal comes or doesn't come."

Winger Colby Armstrong says the Penguins need to concentrate on what they can control, and that's anything on the ice.

"We're not politicians or owners or anything like that in this room," Armstrong said. "So we just have to worry about winning games right now."

Players said management does not update them about the situation, and they get their information from news outlets the same way fans do. Even star Sidney Crosby, who lives with Lemieux ? the team's former superstar ? is out of the loop.

Armstrong and many teammates said they would prefer to remain in Pittsburgh, which is one of the NHL's strongest American markets.

Sellouts are the norm at Mellon Arena ? the league's oldest facility ? and local television ratings are among the highest of any American NHL market.

But team officials Monday declared an impasse in negotiations after they said they met Gov. Ed Rendell's demand of a $4 million per-year contribution to a new facility, and said they would aggressively pursue a move to a different market.

Kansas City already has made an offer to lure the team, and some members of the Penguins' brass met with Las Vegas officials Wednesday.

Co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, Rendell and other political and NHL officials were expected to meet Thursday in Philadelphia to continue discussions aimed at keeping the team in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, the Penguins ? one of the league's hottest teams since January ? play on.

"We all want to stay here," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "We're just hoping it can get worked out."


03-07-2007, 11:51 PM
Penguins not playing over their heads

By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Penguins were fortunate in Ottawa, but what they achieved was nonetheless revealing.

It had been since Oct. 15, 1991, that the Pens found themselves trailing by three or more goals in the third period on the road and came back to win a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Back then, the deficit was 6-2 on Long Island, before goals from Mario Lemieux (two), Mark Recchi, Jaromir Jagr and Phil Bourque decided it in favor of the then-defending champions.

"Mine was the game-winner in OT," Bourque recalled Wednesday.

Bourque is a radio analyst these days.

And Recchi is 39.

So, yeah, it had been awhile.

The current Penguins are a lot closer to relocation than they are defending a Stanley Cup championship, so let the comparisons end there.

But the Pens also are starting to look like more than merely a playoff team. They're beginning to suspiciously resemble a collection capable of inflicting some serious damage in the postseason.

That charge back from a 4-1 deficit with less than 11 minutes remaining in regulation Tuesday night produced the Penguins' 18th victory in their past 24 games.

They've picked up points in 20 of their past 24 (18-4-2 --, a stretch that represents 29.3 percent of their schedule.

At some point, such production goes beyond identifying a team as "hot" and instead reveals one that's come together.

The Pens have done well enough as a unit to be able to stay together and win a game in which they had to pull their goaltender early, as they did against the Senators.

They've become a team that can win without its power-play dominating and without Sidney Crosby -- no points in regulation in four of the past five games -- putting up numbers at a league-leading pace.

The Pens can win when Evgeni Malkin looks like only the second-best rookie in the NHL, in part because there are times when Jordan Staal looks like the best.

They can win when they bench a second-line winger -- Michel Ouellet against the Senators. Such is the extent of the quality depth -- Nils Ekman.

They can win with the lines and the defense pairings seemingly in a constant state of change, in part because it's become more important to play the system than it is to play in consistent combinations.

They can roll four lines and play almost everyone in overtime. Eight of 12 forwards and all six defensemen saw extra-session ice time in Ottawa, and Crosby skated two shifts in five minutes.

They haven't gone 18-4-2 by accident, not that they're taking 18-4-2 for granted.

"It's one-goal games, shootouts, overtimes, differences of third periods," Crosby said. "Twenty of our games could have gone the other way."

Could have, yes.

But they didn't.


03-07-2007, 11:53 PM
Pens's Christensen becoming shootout ace

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 8, 2007

In 11 shootout attempts, Erik Christensen has scored seven goals, which ties him for the second-most in the NHL behind Minnesota's Mikko Koivu, who has scored eight in 15 tries. Most surprising is that even he doesn't know how he's doing it.

"I can't explain it," Christensen said. "I just try to have fun with it, have something planned before I go down and pick up the puck and try to enjoy it."

The Penguins have won seven consecutive shootouts, the second-longest current streak in the NHL behind Tampa Bay's eight. Christensen has scored on three of his past four attempts as the team's first shooter. It's certainly a far cry from the early part of the season, when the Penguins were 1-5 in their first six shootouts.

"I've been fortunate to be a part of it," Christensen said. "I think getting that first lead is a crucial thing. It's good for your psyche, and I think the best thing is that everyone has left us alone now that we're scoring."

Universal Crossword

• Only 13 skaters and two goaltenders took part in the team's optional practice Wednesday at Mellon Arena. That may not seem like a lot, but considering that the players didn't get back from Ottawa until the wee hours of the morning, it was fair turnout. Coach Michel Therrien allowed his assistants to run practice.

"It's just a young team and a group that's eager to learn," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "That's probably the biggest thing: Guys want to make sure they're sharp, and being younger, there's probably a little more energy to us."

• Among the players who didn't attend were forwards Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi and Georges Laraque, three veteran players whose combined age is 109.

"You have to take care of your body, especially with the second half being a little more intense and a little bit harder on your body," Crosby said. "Throw on the schedule that we have remaining, it's pretty demanding and you have to make sure you manage that well."


1 - Points for Crosby in his past five games.

2 - Points Crosby needs for his second consecutive 100-point season.

4 - Points for Crosby in six games against the New Jersey Devils this season.

03-07-2007, 11:54 PM
Scouting the Devils

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 8, 2007

Today's game

New Jersey Devils (40-19-8) at Penguins (36-21-9)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. ? Mellon Arena

TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Martin Brodeur (39-18-7, 2.14 GAA); Marc-Andre Fleury (31-14-7, 2.92 GAA).

Notable: This will be the seventh of eight meetings this season, with the Devils holding a 4-2-0 edge. ... Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has started every game against the Devils this season, but he is coming off one of his worst starts of the year; he was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period of a 5-4 shootout win over Ottawa. ... Fleury was knocked out once against the Devils this season when he allowed four goals on eight shots in a 5-2 loss Dec. 1. ... Evgeni Malkin still leads all NHL rookies in scoring, but he has been held without a point in five consecutive games. ... Penguins center Jordan Staal set a league rookie record Tuesday with his seventh shorthanded goal this season. Mario Lemieux has the overall record with 13. ... New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is coming off his worst start since a 5-4 loss to the Penguins on Feb. 16. He allowed five goals in an overtime loss Tuesday to Philadelphia.

03-07-2007, 11:57 PM
Penguins' players try to ignore off-ice drama

Thursday, March 08, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins keep winning. Their comeback, 5-4 shootout win at Ottawa Tuesday night kept them solidly in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and moved them to within seven points of the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils, who will haul a three-game losing streak into Mellon Arena tonight.

In a world with fewer distractions, that would make for a great story line.

But, with the team's future in the air and negotiations for a new arena apparently coming to a head, the players can't help but get caught up some in the off-ice news -- especially the development this week that Penguins owners believe they are at an impasse with state and local politicians and are stepping up their interest in relocating the club.

"We haven't really discussed it much. We've been pretty busy with playing," Penguins winger Colby Armstrong said yesterday after practice at Mellon Arena.

"But, at the same time, the new news kind of popped up. We'll see what happens with the new rink. It's out of our hands, but it's obviously of interest to us because it's the future of this team and everybody in this room."

Several players said they do not get updates from upper management and follow the efforts to get a new arena mostly through the same news reports as fans.

"It's getting tough at times [to ignore]," forward Jordan Staal said. "I don't think anyone in this dressing room wants to move. I think it's getting pretty close to crunch time, or maybe it's been like that for a while.

"It's upsetting. I know the fans really want us to stay."

The Penguins' future has been cloudy for some time. The club was for sale most of last year, but a transaction didn't materialize. Their lease at Mellon Arena expires in June, meaning they will be free to move to another city if there is no lease agreement and financing in place for a new local venue.

That has been a difficult juxtaposition for a team of young players that has exceeded expectations after finishing second-to-last in the overall NHL standings last season.

They are left chugging toward the light at the end of the tunnel on the ice and toward the darkness of an uncertain future away from the rink.

"I think the better we do, the more excitement it draws from the city and there's a bigger push for everyone to want to keep the team here and get a new rink for us," Armstrong said. "There's a lot of behind-closed-door stuff that needs to be done to straighten it out. We're not politicians or owners or anything in [the locker] room. We just have to worry about winning games.

"I guess if we had to do our part, it would be winning games. We've had great fans all year long. We just have to keep winning and playing well."

If the team does that, it no doubt will make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Postseason games at Mellon Arena always have been raucous, but there is a chance that it could be a lame-duck team by then.

"That would be tough," Staal said. "This town is ready to erupt pretty soon, especially if we make the playoffs. I definitely don't want to move. I love it here."

For some, the drawn-out process of deciding the team's future has gotten to the overload point.

"You hear little bits and pieces," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Everybody is getting kind of tired about hearing about everything without anything happening.

"Guys are still interested, obviously, but we've had so many games that it's gotten kind of pushed aside in our locker room."

Center Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL in scoring and has become the face of the league in many ways, is another player who does not invest too much emotion into the team's off-ice plight.

"It's been such an up-and-down thing the whole year. It seems like it's always changing, always different stories," he said. "I don't really look into it that much. When the day comes to make a decision, you take that decision and move on. Hopefully, it will be to stay here, but it's out of our control.

"The fans have shown their support and done everything they can. It's up to certain people, and we'll see what happens."

When a decision is made, Penguins players can't count on Crosby for the news, even though he lives with the family of team owner Mario Lemieux.

"You would think Sid would be on top of it, living at Mario's house, but he's the one that's always asking the questions," Orpik said.


03-08-2007, 12:01 AM
Penguins Notebook: Staal torments goalies with huge wingspan

Thursday, March 08, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's no cliche. Penguins forward Jordan Staal speaks softly and carries a big hockey stick.

"Everyone says it's real long, but I don't think it's that long," Staal said yesterday.

Teammate Maxime Talbot, sitting nearby, shot Staal an incredulous look.

"I think it just looks long with my reach," Staal said.

That reach has helped Staal, 18, have a sensational rookie season.

Going into the home game tonight against New Jersey, he leads the league with seven short-handed goals and a .287 shooting percentage and is second among rookies with 27 goals.

His short-handed goal in the third period Tuesday night sparked the Penguins' comeback from a 4-1 deficit to a 5-4 shootout win at Ottawa.

His seven short-handed goals are an NHL rookie record, topping the mark of six shared by Gerry Minor (Vancouver 1980-81) and John Madden (New Jersey, 1999-2000).

Staal, who is 6 feet 4, guesses that with his arm and stick length, the distance he can sweep the puck from one side of his body to the other might be as much as 10 feet.

"I have a lot of width there," Staal said. "I guess it's kind of tough to contain that kind of reach. I'm just trying to use it to the best of my ability. I saw some great players, like Mario Lemieux, who had a great reach and really used it well."

Staal has control at the end of that reach. He has found that goaltenders are confounded that he is able to get off a shot with the puck so far from his body.

"I think it kind of fools goalies when I have it stretched out and I just let it go. They're not expecting a shot," he said.

"It seems to be working for me."

Fleury expects to start

Penguins No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who expects to start tonight against the Devils, was yanked in favor of Jocelyn Thibault after the first period at Ottawa and was a spectator while his teammates staged the comeback to win.

"It's always frustrating when you get pulled like that, but I was really happy to see my teammates come back and get the win," said Fleury, who allowed three goals on seven shots.

Optional skate draws 15

Despite a busy schedule of 17 games this month, 15 players participated in the Penguins' optional practice, which was run by the assistant coaches.

"It's just a young team and a group that's eager to learn, eager to get better," center Sidney Crosby said. "Guys just want to make sure they're sharp."

Those who did not practice were defensemen Josef Melichar, Alain Nasreddine and Sergei Gonchar and forwards Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, Georges Laraque, Evgeni Malkin and Talbot, although Talbot skated earlier in shorts and a T-shirt.

Forward clutch in shootouts

Penguins forward Erik Christensen believes the introduction of the shootout and the extra point awarded to teams that lose in overtime or a shootout has helped to clog the standings.

But he understands why the NHL made the change.

"After the lockout, they wanted to do something for the fans," Christensen said. "After the fans put up with the winter with no hockey, they wanted to give them something like the shootout. They obviously enjoy it.

"No matter how it plays out in the standings, it's an exciting part of the game."

And a part of the game that has made Christensen indispensable to the Penguins. He has scored seven shootout goals, tied for second in the league, on 11 shots this season. Three of them have clinched victories.

Slap shots

Crosby on the team's recent habit of falling behind then scrambling back: "It's tough to play like that. It's tough on everyone's nerves." ... New Jersey winger Brian Gionta reinjured his groin Tuesday in his second game back. His status for tonight is unclear. ... Devils winger Cam Janssen will be serving the third game of a three-game suspension.


03-08-2007, 11:37 AM
Penguins' coach to miss game because of father's death
Thursday, March 08, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Coach Michel Therrien will miss the Penguins game against the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon because of the death of his father.

Gerry Therrien, 77, died in Montreal this morning after a lengthy illness.

Michel Threrrien will coach the Penguins in their game against New Jersey tonight. He will return to Montreal tomorrow morning and will miss Friday's workout as well as Saturday's game.

In his absence the team will be coached by his assistants, Andre Savard and Mike Yeo.


03-08-2007, 12:13 PM
I dont think he should coach this game, he has to be feeling very emotional about it and dosnt need to be put under extra pressure.

Gerry Therrien

03-08-2007, 05:47 PM
It's not going to happen. He's coaching tonight but he will not coach on Saturday.

03-08-2007, 05:50 PM
I just heard that on the news. May Mr. Therrien rest in peace. My prayers go out to Michel and his family.

Thanks for the info.

03-08-2007, 05:53 PM
RIP Mr. Therrien, and my condolences to the family.

03-08-2007, 06:43 PM
RIP Mr. Therrien. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

03-08-2007, 08:13 PM
2-1 Devils after two. Omelette with two penalties. One costing this team a goal in a expected closely fought game. Great to have him back! :thumbsup:

On a positive note, Fleury seems to have bounced back and is looking solid. Nice to see Malkin get out of his little scoring slump and Talbot remains the hardest working Penguin (IMO) on this roster.

On to the third!!!!!

03-08-2007, 08:59 PM
Omelette scores on a clear cut shot to the net after a Malkin INT and a perfect feed. Tie game.

Apparently, high sticks to the face, holding and raping is now permitted....OT passes and we have ourselves a shootout.

03-08-2007, 09:14 PM
No deaks, all shots. Good luck with that against Marty. Pens lose in the S.O. I'm content with the point.

03-08-2007, 09:19 PM
This is one of those games you have to be happy with getting at least 1 point. They played they're hearts out to get to the Shootout. It's just unfortunate they couldn't finish.

03-08-2007, 09:21 PM
It just stinks when your playing a depleted Jersey team and you can't grab the two.

Hats off to Fleury, Talbot and Malkin tonight. I thought they played hard all night.

03-09-2007, 12:08 AM
Pens lose to Devils in shootout

By Karen Price
Friday, March 9, 2007

Another Penguins game, another Penguins shootout.

At least that's how it's starting to feel after Thursday night, when the Penguins went to a shootout for the third game in a row, the fourth out of their last five and the 14th overall (8-6). Only the Minnesota Wild have had more games decided in shootouts (16).

But after seven straight shootout victories, the Penguins were on the losing end last night against the New Jersey Devils at Mellon Arena, 4-3.

It came down to the Devils' third shooter, Patrik Elias, who circled far to the right before cutting back in to beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

"Usually, guys don't go that far that way, but I still have to save it if we want to win, though," Fleury said.

The Penguins (36-21-10) at least got a point in a game they trailed, 2-1, going into the third period.

Fleury was one of the biggest reasons for the point.

After being pulled after the first period against the Ottawa Senators two nights earlier, Fleury made 36 saves in regulation and overtime.

The Penguins needed third period goals from Sergei Gonchar and Michel Ouellet to make it to overtime. Evgeni Malkin played one of his best games of late and had a goal and an assist on the tying goal.

Gonchar scored a shorthanded goal after throwing the puck at goaltender Martin Brodeur from the corner. Somehow, it found its way into the net.

"We were shorthanded, and I'm sure he didn't expect me to shoot," Gonchar said. "That's probably why I did it, to catch him by surprise."

Devils center Travis Zajac scored to give his team the lead again, but with just over two minutes left, Malkin stole the puck from Scott Gomez next to the Devils' net and threw it up to Ouellet for a one-timer to tie it, 3-3.

"It's a one-goal game," said Sidney Crosby, who got an assist for his 99th point of the season. "We want leads. It's a lot easier to play that way, especially against (the Devils). They're a different team without the lead. It's not a good habit (to fall behind), but we still have to find ways. It's going to happen. It's one goal."

The Devils had lost three in a row (0-1-2) going into the game, including a 5-4 overtime loss to the last-place Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. They held a seven-point lead over the Penguins in the Atlantic Division going into the game.

They also utilized only 16 skaters in the game, after winger Brian Gionta was scratched because of a groin injury and defenseman Colin White was hurt in warm-ups.

Malkin gave the Penguins the lead at 6:48 of the first period on the power play.

Mark Recchi was stationed to Brodeur's right and Malkin to his left. When Crosby sent a crossing pass to Recchi, Brodeur committed and left Malkin open to get the puck from Recchi and score.

Malkin leads all rookies in goals (30) and points (70).

Devils defenseman Andy Greene scored his first NHL goal to tie it early in the second period on a power play with a rising slapshot on which Fleury was screened, and Sergei Brylin gave them the lead before the period was over.

The game nearly got out of hand in the final two minutes of the third period, beginning with Malkin and Brian Rafalski going at it along the boards, followed by a late hit on Recchi and ending with a gigantic hit by Colby Armstrong on Brad Lukowich that left him lying on the ice for several minutes.

Neither referee Paul Devorski nor Chris Rooney made a single call throughout.

"I thought we deserved a power play at the end, but for some reason they didn't give it to us," Gonchar said. "In my opinion, we should have gotten one."


03-09-2007, 12:15 AM
Penguins Notebook: More at stake for Malone, Recchi if team moves

Friday, March 09, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Every Penguins player had at least a minor stake in the arena negotiations between team executives and various elected officials yesterday, but none had more on the line than forwards Ryan Malone and Mark Recchi.

Malone is a Western Pennsylvania native and the first player trained in this area to play for the Penguins, while Recchi put down permanent roots here several years ago.

Malone describes himself as "a huge Penguins fan growing up," and noted yesterday that he is part of a wave of players from the region who have turned up in NHL rosters and draft lists in recent years.

"A lot of us are making it to the NHL now," he said.

Despite his strong, long-standing emotional ties to the team, Malone said he understands the position in which primary owner Mario Lemieux and his partners have found themselves in recent months.

"Mario, I think, has been patient enough," he said. "We all see that.

"He's got to do what's right for the team."

Recchi said he intends to play next season, regardless of where his current club is based.

"[Even] if the team leaves, I'll definitely want to play," he said.

"This is what I do. It's my job. It's what I like to do. I'm not quite ready to pack it in yet."

Therrien's father dies

Penguins coach Michel Therrien's father, Gerry, died yesterday in Montreal after suffering a series of strokes. He was 77.

Therrien was behind the bench for last night's game against New Jersey but is returning to Montreal and will miss today's practice as well as tomorrow afternoon's game against the New York Rangers.

Assistant coaches Andre Savard and Mike Yeo will oversee the team in his absence, with Savard designated as the assistant-in-charge.

Therrien drove from Ottawa to Montreal after the Penguins' 5-4 shootout victory Tuesday against the Senators to visit with his father but returned Wednesday to Pittsburgh.

Eighteen is enough

Devils defenseman Colin White was a late scratch after being injured in the pregame warmup.

His absence, coupled with that of right winger Brian Gionta, who did not play because of a groin problem, forced New Jersey to get by with 18 players.

That presumably didn't create a major headache for New Jersey coach Claude Julien, who had said after the game-date skate that he wasn't concerned about being down one man.

"You just have to deal with the players you have at hand, and not worry about what you haven't got," he said. "That's all I can do, and that's all the players can do.

"They have to go out there and perform. I don't see any [reason] why you can win with 18 [skaters] and not with 17."

Gionta missed eight games because of his groin injury, then aggravated it in a 5-4 overtime loss Tuesday in Philadelphia. Because he is so valuable to the Devils, they are not likely to rush him back into the lineup.

"It's important for us to make sure he's 100 percent for the stretch run," Julien said.

Gomez's drop off

New Jersey center Scott Gomez stunned a lot of people when he scored 33 goals in 2005-06 -- he had gotten more than 14 only once in any of his previous seasons -- but has reverted to form since last fall. He entered last night with 10 goals in 59 games, and none in his previous 11.

Slap shots

Michel Ouellet, who sat out the Ottawa game, returned to the lineup last night, while defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski made his Penguins debut. Forwards Nils Ekman, Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn and defenseman Alain Nasreddine were healthy scratches. ... Devils winger Cam Janssen completed his three-game suspension for a hit on Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle. ... Penguins all-star center Sidney Crosby, on whether he's been thinking about where the franchise will be based next fall: "Obviously, I want to stay here, but you can't afford to let your mind wander [to] what's going to happen next year. It's not going to help."


03-09-2007, 12:39 AM

by Joe Sager

Mike ?Doc? Emrick logs more frequent flyer miles than some small birds.

As the lead television play-by-play analyst for the New Jersey Devils, Versus and NBC, the NHL?s 30 arenas become homes away from home for Emrick.

Mike 'Doc' Emrick lived in Beaver Falls and was a Geneva College professor.

It?s been that way for more than 25 years for the legendary broadcaster.

He doesn?t mind it, though. But, when the league and televisions schedules are released, there are a handful of dates every year he circles on the calendar ? the games in Pittsburgh.

That?s because Emrick, who lived in Beaver Falls from 1969-1971, got his start in hockey here. As a professor of speech and broadcast at Geneva College from 1969-71, Emrick got his first experience of the NHL covering the Penguins as an unpaid correspondent for the Beaver County Times newspaper.

?At the time I covered them, Red Kelly was the coach and it was 1970-71 and they had a player named Glen Sather. That and I think Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President,? he said with a laugh. ?First of all, there aren?t many people I have talked to in the broadcast circuit who don?t like coming here. A lot of it has to do with the tradition of having good teams is back. That went away for a while, but now it?s even more reason to come.

?The other side of it that has nothing to do with hockey is that there?s no more scenic city in the United States,? he continued. ?And, this is a like a Midwestern town even though it?s in an Eastern state. I grew up in the Midwest in a town of 600 people. Pittsburgh has a friendliness that most Eastern big cities don?t have just because of the nature of putting so many people in such a tight area. That?s not to trash the other cities; it?s just that Pittsburgh is special that way.?

While the area will always have special meaning for Emrick, also a Pirates fan, he is excited about watching the young Penguins continue to improve on the ice.

?This team has been better than I ever imagined,? he said. ?I thought they would be good. I didn?t know they?d be real good, projecting down they road they?d be really great. I have been pleasantly surprised. I can?t speak for the NHL, but franchises around the league are paying attention to Pittsburgh now.

?Unless you?re anti-Pittsburgh, and I don?t know many of those people, I think many people ? even if they are neutral ? have to be thrilled about what?s going on,? he continued. ?But, if you have any feeling in your heart for Pittsburgh or for the trials this franchise has been through, it must make you feel so much better to have seen now what they are on the threshold of becoming. These guys are going to do nothing but succeed.?

Emrick believes the Penguins got even better at the NHL trade deadline with the addition of Gary Roberts, Georges Laraque and Joel Kwiatkowski to their roster.

?To have somebody like Roberts come in, who won [the Stanley Cup] in Calgary in 1989 and has been a playoff-type player is huge. It?s a different game at playoff time. The games are rougher and you?re starting to see that now,? he said. ?Georges Laraque is a guy who can play as well as fight. His problem is that he?s a heavyweight fighter and can?t get many fights. Guys don?t want to mess with him. As a result, if you watch a game that he?s playing, he?d go in the corner and guys would give him at least three feet of room. So, he could play along the boards and nobody would knock it away from him. That is another advantage ? Georges not only could fill a lineup, but he could play a shift and he could play regularly.

?I think, in the long run, the more-important thing to me is, not only is the team better and potentially great, but the franchise hasn?t been on this solid of ground with its assets since Jagr, Lemieux, Francis and all those guys were here 15 years ago,? he continued. ?At a time that is so critical to the franchise?s future, to have assets that anyone can recognize are terrific is outstanding.?

The Penguins? biggest asset ? Sidney Crosby ? continues to amaze Emrick as well.

?You hesitate to go overboard [in talking about him], but he is worthy of going overboard,? he said. ?That?s the thing about Sid that is remarkable. Not only can he play, but he?s a better person than he is a player.

?And, now I am not speaking officially for the NHL, but recognizing what the NHL desperately needed. We needed somebody because, from the time Wayne [Gretzky] handed over his stick in 1999 at Madison Square Garden, we have not had anybody. To not have an ambassador and to not have someone people can identify with and who they perceive as being friendly because he is ? we had that for half a century before Wayne retired because we had Gordie Howe from the late 1940s-on. Then we had Orr and then we had Gretzky. We had them all and then we had nobody,? he continued. ?It?s been a long absence, but we have that person now. If we get more ? great. There are all kinds of debates about who the best young player is. Great. I am glad there are debates because that means we have more than just one of them. I remember sitting here 20 years ago and the debate was who was better ? Gretzky or Lemieux. Who cares as long as we have them both to watch. They are both great satellites in the same solar system.?

Emrick has been impressed with the Penguins? two young rookies, too ? 18-year-old Jordan Staal and 20-year-old Evgeni Malkin.

?And they are such old players, too,? he said with a smile. ?Malkin is great. He?s young and you can?t teach size, which he has. Staal is well-skilled and certainly big. He comes from a great family. The Penguins are going to have these guys for a while and that?s terrific.?


03-09-2007, 07:43 AM
That was one helluva game last night against the Devils, but the Pens fell short unfortunately. I thought when Ouelette tied the game, we were going to win it with how fiercely the Pens were battling for the puck as the third period ticked away. I'll take the point though I would have much preferred the two against the division leader. The Rangers and Faaaaagomir are next up - hopefully the Pens can win at home tomorrow afternoon and we can pick up a couple of much needed points with that race still being so tight. :cheers:

03-09-2007, 07:47 AM


2 of the same......hmmm.

Anyways, nice to get the point but still hurts to lose to a weak Devil team. Time to bounce back against the Rangers and grab two. Still waiting for that Laraque vs Orr fight. I wonder if Hollweg will play after Chris Simon's chop to the throat last night?

03-09-2007, 09:01 AM


2 of the same......hmmm.

Thank you for calling this to my attention. I deleted the second thread on the same topic.

03-09-2007, 11:09 PM
Erratic Penguins in search of 60 solid minutes

Saturday, March 10, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jarkko Ruutu probably hasn't done the math.

That means he might not realize the Penguins have taken 39 of a possible 50 points out of their past 25 games. That they've lost consecutive games just once since Jan. 9-10. That, before last night's games, their magic number for clinching the franchise's first playoff berth since 2001 had shriveled to 20.

What Ruutu does know -- and what he knows matters most -- is that, going into their game against the New York Rangers at 1:08 p.m. today at Mellon Arena, the Penguins haven't put together 60 minutes of quality hockey in weeks.

And that if they don't correct it, the Penguins shouldn't assume they'll hold onto a spot among the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference, let alone stick around the playoffs long enough for anyone to notice them.

"You can't fool yourself," Ruutu said yesterday. "You have 15 games left and if you think you're in, you're wrong. You have to win games."

That actually hasn't been much of a problem for the Penguins, who are 18-4-3 in their past 25. Those numbers don't reflect the inconsistency in their play of late, however, how they haven't played three strong periods since a 4-1 victory against Nashville on Feb. 6.

"We realize we have to be better," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "It comes down to winning battles and stuff like that. Basically outworking the other team, which is what we've really gotten away from."

Although the Penguins regularly have shown remarkable resilience and ability to perform under pressure -- they overcame two- and three-goal deficits, respectively, in their two most recent victories -- some of their most severe problems have been self-inflicted.

The focus and attention to detail that figured so prominently in much of their 14-0-2 run from Jan. 13 to Feb. 18 have been missing a lot of the time, often returning only when the Penguins need a surge to get back into a game.

"We've been sloppy," Ruutu said. "Sometimes, you get the feeling that because we have so much skill, we just rely on the skill and don't really play as a team. That's one of the things we have to get better at."

Many of the Penguins' failings have had a ripple effect, with an impact that goes far beyond the obvious. For example, when they take needless penalties, it not only puts a strain on the penalty-killers, but impedes the coaching staff's ability to roll four lines and keep all 12 forwards involved in the game.

Whether some of the Penguins' issues are a byproduct of these being the "dog days" of the season, as one player suggested, or evidence that their game has slipped significantly out of sync isn't clear.

"For whatever reason, we're just not playing with the same intensity we did for that [14-0-2] stretch," right winger Mark Recchi said. "We have to get it going now.

"We can't sit there and say, all of a sudden, 'It's the playoffs. We have to play 60 minutes.' You have to do it now."

Center Sidney Crosby believes that regaining the proper mind-set is critical -- "It starts with discipline, then it's just attitude," he said. "You have to make sure that the want is there, and the desperation is there" -- and that there are pluses and minuses to the way the Penguins have continued to pick up points even when the caliber of their play has slipped.

"For sure, you never want to lose, or lose points," he said. "But at the same time, sometimes it takes that to learn a lesson. Hopefully, we're responsible and show enough maturity to not have that happen."

Ruutu, meanwhile, is adamant that the Penguins should not expect their regular-season success to carry over into the playoffs unless they make a renewed commitment to responsible two-way play.

"It's always great to get points even though you're not playing well, but I don't think you can get fooled by it," he said. "If you think it works in the playoffs, you're wrong.

"You're not going to get anywhere with that. That's one of the things we have to understand, that the playoffs are a different game."

Many of the Penguins don't have firsthand knowledge of that reality, at least at this level. And while Whitney contends his teammates recognize the challenge facing them, he sounded as if they are candidates for a 12-step program to rehabilitate their game. ("My name's Sergei, and I'm a hookaholic ...")

"When you have a problem, you first have to admit it," Whitney said. "That's something I think we've done. We just have to start going out and fixing it."

Today's game

Who: Penguins vs. Rangers.

When: 1 p.m. Mellon Arena.

TV: FSN Pittsburgh.


03-09-2007, 11:10 PM
Penguins Notebook: Teammates join Crosby in scoring slump

Saturday, March 10, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Much has been made of Sidney Crosby's goal-scoring struggles in recent weeks, and understandably so.

When a player who is leading the league in scoring and is just one point shy of 100 -- as Crosby is going into the Penguins' game against the New York Rangers at 1:08 p.m. today at Mellon Arena -- has only two goals in his past 19 games, it's tough to overlook.

Crosby, though, is not the only Penguin whose scoring touch has deserted him lately.

A couple of his teammates broke out of extended dry spells during the Penguins' 4-3 shootout loss to New Jersey on Thursday -- Evgeni Malkin got his first goal in nine games, Michel Ouellet his first in 10 -- but a number of others, including one in a prominent role, haven't found in the net in a while.

The most conspicuous slump belongs to first-line right winger Mark Recchi, who doesn't have a goal in eight games.

Some blue-collar forwards have had problems, too. Maxime Talbot, for example, has gone nine games without scoring, Georges Laraque's streak has reached 17 and Jarkko Ruutu is up to 10.

The Penguins don't seem to be panicking about the lack of offensive output by some players, mostly because their record hasn't suffered much.

"As long as the team's winning, we're happy," center Jordan Staal said.

Assistant coach Andre Savard said he isn't worried that high-profile guys like Crosby and Malkin haven't scored much lately.

"You see that often with skilled players, where they get hot and sometimes they're not as hot," he said. "I don't think you can stay hot where you're scoring almost all the time"

Recchi agreed there's no need to panic.

"We're playing a lot of hockey," he said. "Sometimes, it just keeps escalating a little bit when you haven't scored. Guys get one, and they settle down."

Line changes

The Penguins broke out some new -- and some old -- forward combinations during practice yesterday.

They were: Ryan Malone-Crosby-Recchi, Staal-Malkin-Ouellet, Ruutu-Talbot-Laraque and Gary Roberts-Erik Christensen-Colby Armstrong, with Ronald Petrovicky, Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman as spares.

Savard said coach Michel Therrien finished the New Jersey game with "pretty much these combinations," and that they will remain intact against the Rangers. Early in the game, anyway.

Rangers surging without leader

New York is making a strong bid to sneak into the playoffs, and the Rangers' recent surge is all the more impressive because they're doing it without all-star left winger Brendan Shanahan.

He had a concussion after a Feb. 17 collision with Philadelphia forward Mike Knuble , and has not been given a timetable for returning to the lineup.

"I always felt our team would have to scratch and claw to get into the playoffs," Shanahan told the Rockland Journal. "And I always believed we would then be a more resilient, tougher team to face come playoff time. So here we are, and I'm not allowed to be a part of it. Now I'm a spectator. It's awful.

"I understand [the inability to set a target date for his return] and respect that these guys know what they're talking about. It just doesn't sit well with me sitting when I could be helping. It's not something I've ever done or had in my career. I've always been the guy when they say six weeks, I'm back in three."

While the Rangers obviously miss Shanahan, Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney believes his absence has had a positive impact on his teammates.

"They've kind of rallied around that," he said. "It's pretty impressive."

Slap shots

Savard said defenseman Alain Nasreddine likely will return to the lineup today. Joel Kwiatkowski took his place against the Devils. ... Therrien, in Montreal for his father's funeral, will miss today's game, but Savard said the assistants' duties will not be affected. He will continue to change the defensemen, while Mike Yeo handles the forwards. ... Crosby, on the baseball-style blow New York Islanders winger Chris Simon delivered to the jaw of Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg on Thursday: "It was pretty vicious. You see a stick across a guy's face like that, that's pretty startling."


03-09-2007, 11:13 PM
Pens' Crosby's pace slows down

By Keith Barnes
Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sidney Crosby has been the NHL's scoring leader since Dec. 13, when a career-best six-point night against Philadelphia vaulted him to the top of the race for the Art Ross Trophy.

That night he became the youngest player to lead the league in scoring and, with 99 points on the season, the 19-year-old is poised to become the youngest player to have two 100-point seasons under his belt.

It's not a question of if Crosby pushes his scoring total into triple digits but when. The way things have been going for him lately, however, it may take a longer than earlier projected.

Crosby has been in a scoring slump for the last few weeks. Heading into today's game against the New York Rangers, he has only one goal in his last 10 games and two in his last 19, while being held without a point six times in that span.

"You have to keep doing the same things and, obviously I have to finish my chances when I get them, but I'm not going to change anything," Crosby said. "That's the way it goes. That's hockey, and sometimes it's not always perfect and it's not always fair in the way it goes, but you have to deal with it and play through it."

Crosby has never gone longer than three games without a point in his two-year career, and that happened only once, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 2005. But over the last six games, he has gone scoreless in back-to-back games twice and has only one goal and an assist.

"I don't think it's going to take much to snap out of it if he keeps working hard and doing the things he's doing," Penguins right wing Mark Recchi said. "He's getting a lot of great chances right now, and they're just not falling in the net. If he keeps doing those things, driving the net and being aggressive, things change and it's just a little burp in his young career."

While Crosby has slumped, his lead in the NHL scoring race has dwindled. He still holds an eight-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning tandem of Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, but Ottawa's Dany Heatley (87), Atlanta sniper Marian Hossa (87) and defending scoring champion Joe Thornton (84) of San Jose have clawed their way back into the race.

"He's the leading scorer in the league, he's on a pretty good track, and you're not automatically going to get points every game," Penguins assistant coach Andre Savard said. "There are great players who go through stretches where they don't get as many points, but that's the way it is. Sid competes so hard, and it's going to come back."

In the Penguins' game Thursday against New Jersey, Crosby may have been trying a little too hard to force the play and jump-start his scoring. In the third period, he tried to make a move between the circles in the Devils zone. When he was shut down, he threw a blind pass backward toward the blue line that was intercepted and turned into a breakaway chance for John Madden.

Though the puck rolled off Madden's stick before he could get a shot on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, that play is a microcosm of how Crosby is forcing the play.

"Maybe a bit, and I think it's only human to want to do good, especially when things are a little bit difficult," Crosby said. "I think the competitiveness in me wants to make something happen and maybe I'm pressing a little too much instead of just keeping it simple."


03-09-2007, 11:15 PM
Penguins startled by stick-swinging incident

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Penguins right wing Georges Laraque has a reputation as one of the toughest players in the NHL. But even he was appalled by what he saw from New York Islanders tough guy Chris Simon on Thursday night.

"He's lucky he didn't do more damage," Laraque said Friday after practice at Southpointe. "I wouldn't be surprised if he was suspended for the rest of the year."

Late in the game against the New York Rangers, Simon was checked heavily into the boards by the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg. Simon appeared stunned for a moment, but looked around the ice and, when he saw Hollweg, he swung his stick like a baseball bat and hit the 23-year-old in the head at 13:29 of the third period.

Hollweg went down and received stitches while Simon was ejected from the game and dealt a five-minute match penalty for intent to injure. Not only did the Islanders lose the game on the subsequent power play, Simon received an indefinite suspension from the NHL yesterday.

"It was pretty vicious," Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said. "Obviously you watch it and you don't want to see a stick go across a guy's face like that. That's pretty startling, but you've seen incidents like that happen before, and it happens in every sport."


03-09-2007, 11:19 PM
Notebook: Pens' Therrien heading to Montreal for father's funeral

Saturday, March 10, 2007

• Andre Savard is used to looking down the bench at fellow Penguins assistant coach Mike Yeo. But when he does so today during the Penguins' game against the New York Rangers, he won't have the familiar face of coach Michel Therrien in his way. Therrien will be in Montreal attending his father's funeral over the weekend. Gerry Therrien had suffered a series of strokes in recent years that left him blind and, for the most part, bedridden. Because of the funeral, Therrien will miss his first game since taking over for Eddie Olczyk on Dec. 15, 2005. "It's strange, to be sure, when the head coach is not there," Savard said. "But let's hope the players respond well."

• Joel Kwiatkowski spent his first two weeks with the Penguins sitting in the stands and watching games while trying to acclimate himself to the atmosphere of his new team. After biding his time, however, the former Florida Panthers defensemen, who was acquired at the trade deadline, finally saw his first game action on Thursday against New Jersey. Paired with Rob Scuderi, the 29-year-old blueliner was held scoreless and was a minus-1. He played 18 shifts and spent 11:59 on the ice. "It was good to get in and everything, and, obviously, I hadn't played in a while," Kwiatkowski said. "It's tough, but you expect that. But overall, it's an exciting team, and I'm glad to be a part of it."


28 - Points scored by Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr in 25 games against the Penguins.

39 - Games Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton has missed because of injury this season.


03-09-2007, 11:21 PM
Scouting the New York Rangers

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New York Rangers (33-27-7) at Penguins (36-21-10)

When and where: 1 p.m. -- Mellon Arena

TV/radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist (28-20-5, 2.48 GAA); Marc-Andre Fleury (31-14-8, 2.92 GAA)

Notable: The Penguins are 3-0-2 in their five meetings this season against the Rangers, who are one of the hottest teams in the league. New York is 8-3-2 in its past 13 games and has moved into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. ... Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg, the recipient of the two-handed chop from New York Islanders veteran Chris Simon, is expected to play. ... Four of the Penguins' last five games have gone to a shootout. ... The Penguins had won seven straight shootouts before losing to New Jersey on Thursday. ... Erik Christensen is second in the NHL with seven shootout goals. ... Center Jordan Staal leads the league with a rookie record seven shorthanded goals, including two in his last five games. ... With three goals, Staal and Evgeni Malkin (30) would be the first Penguins rookies to have 30 goals in the same year since Mario Lemieux (43) and Warren Young (40) in 1984-85.


03-10-2007, 01:42 PM
we need GOALS.

03-10-2007, 02:14 PM
TIED AT 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CROSBY AND MALKIN!

03-10-2007, 02:42 PM
What a win by the Pens!

03-10-2007, 02:51 PM

03-10-2007, 02:52 PM
What a win by the Pens!

Amen to that Prosdo. They just DON'T GO AWAY EASY!!!!!


03-10-2007, 05:06 PM
You know, wearing this egg on my face is really getting annoying. Think I might have to stop giving up on them so early - you'd think I'd have learned my lesson after the Philly and Ottawa games :dang:

BTW, here's a clip of Laraque vs. Orr - easy win for Laraque in his first scrap as a Pen :thumbsup:


03-10-2007, 10:19 PM
I'm not uttering a word there, XT. :flap: :flap: :flap: Just let me know how you would like your egg - poached, scrambled or fried. :wink02:

What a comeback! I always tell XT you can't ever count these guys out of a game. They somehow manage to find a way to bounce back. I would, however, like to see them play as intensely in the first two periods as they have seemed to play in the third period as of late. It wasn't the prettiest win, but it is two points nonetheless, which I'll gladly take.

Laraque opened up a can of whoop a$$ on Orr! I think most of us in attendance knew they were going to drop the gloves - you could just feel it. Slam dunk by the Pens' linebacker on skates! :cheers:

03-11-2007, 07:33 AM
I'm not uttering a word there, XT. :flap: :flap: :flap: Just let me know how you would like your egg - poached, scrambled or fried. :wink02:

What a comeback! I always tell XT you can't ever count these guys out of a game. They somehow manage to find a way to bounce back. I would, however, like to see them play as intensely in the first two periods as they have seemed to play in the third period as of late. It wasn't the prettiest win, but it is two points nonetheless, which I'll gladly take.

Laraque opened up a can of whoop a$$ on Orr! I think most of us in attendance knew they were going to drop the gloves - you could just feel it. Slam dunk by the Pens' linebacker on skates! :cheers:

:iagree: You can NEVER, I repeat, NEVER PUT THE PENGUINS OUT! Remember it's like Bobby calls the Penguins. They're the cardiac kids.

03-11-2007, 08:37 AM
Cook: Crosby gets to work on putting end to his slump
Sunday, March 11, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The one stat was awful enough.

Do you believe yesterday was the first time that Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored a goal for the Penguins in the same game since the Steelers still were in playoff contention?

All the way back to Dec. 11, to be exact.

But it was the other stat that almost was too much for the hyper-competitive Crosby to handle.

Do you believe his third-period, power-play goal in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena was just his third goal in the past 20 games?

"If I score three goals every 20 games, I'm not doing my job," Crosby said, biting off his words and nearly choking on them.

It was starting to wear on Sid the Kid. All you had to do was see his joyous celebration after his goal to know that. Yes, it pushed the Penguins into a 2-2 tie in a game they seemed destined to lose after they trailed, 2-0, after two periods. And yes, it gave Crosby -- still nearly five months from his 20th birthday -- the staggering feat of 100 points for a second consecutive season at the start of his NHL career.

But you know what?

This goal felt so good because Crosby almost had forgotten how terrific it is to score one.

"Obviously, there's frustration when things aren't going well for you," he said. "You just have to make sure it's the right type of frustration. You can't let it take the wind out of your sails. You have to make sure it pushes you harder."

So it was with Crosby yesterday.

He wasn't just the best player on the old building's big slab of ice. He was the hardest-working. His all-out, all-the-time performance made for quite a contrast with that of the game's other big star -- the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr -- who did nothing for two periods before begging off of the third period and overtime because of some sort of right leg injury.

Crosby finished with seven shots, most of them good scoring chances.

It would have been a crying shame if he hadn't gotten one past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"You just keep going," Crosby said. "You focus on getting better. You know you've had success in the past. You stay with what has worked for you ...

"When you do the right things, a lot of times the puck finds you."

That's what happened to Crosby in the third period. He was hovering alone near the net to Lundqvist's right when he snagged Malkin's shot through the goal crease with his left hand, quickly dropped it at his skates and swatted home a backhander.

Malkin's power-play goal earlier in the period was just as pretty. His blast through Lundqvist got the Penguins started and pushed them hard toward their 20th comeback victory of the season. It was his second goal in two games after an eight-game goal drought and was important for reasons that go beyond the fact it and Crosby's goal gave teammate Colby Armstrong a chance to win the game in overtime.

"This is the time of year," Crosby said, "when your offensive guys have to do something."

It truly is amazing that the Penguins are in such fine shape for the playoffs despite getting so little from their two biggest stars the past couple of weeks. Crosby hasn't just had a hard time scoring goals. He has had a hard time setting them up. He went into yesterday with just one goal and one assist in six games.

One reason is Crosby's right winger, Mark Recchi, 39, who, lately, has played as if he's 49 after looking 29 most of the season. He hasn't scored a goal in nine games. Another reason is Crosby's never-ending parade of left wingers. Ryan Malone was there yesterday. Before him, it was Malkin and Gary Roberts and even Recchi for one game when Malkin lined up at right wing.

Not that Crosby would ever point out either.

The Kid doesn't make excuses, you know?

The great ones never do.

They just find ways to get it done, no matter what.

"Goals like the one Army had today are huge," Crosby said. "You see a lot of those goals in the playoffs.

"But when you get to this time of year, the guys you count on to create things have to lead the way."

On the Penguins, that's Crosby and Malkin.

It's nice to think this day was just the start of big things ahead.


03-11-2007, 08:38 AM
Penguins Notebook: Yeo, Savard take over for Therrien
Sunday, March 11, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With Mike Yeo handling the forward rotation and Andre Savard overseeing the defensemen, the Penguins reported no snags on the bench yesterday as they came back to beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, in overtime.

Head coach Michel Therrien was in Montreal because of the death of his father, Gerry, so the two bench assistants worked the game.

"Obviously, Michel's a great coach and he's been wonderful for us, but Andre has been with us all year, and [Yeo] has been with us for a year and a half," winger Mark Recchi said. "We have great respect for all of them."

Sidney Crosby, who tied the score, 2-2, in the third period, said Therrien still had a presence.

"Our game plan doesn't change," Crosby said. "Guys know what we can do.

"And probably in the back of everybody's mind is the fact that we know coach is watching somewhere or going to watch. I don't think they were trying to slack or anything."

Yeo had a challenge when Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who had the Penguins' other regulation goal, got caught off the ice trying to get skate repairs made between the end of the third period and overtime.

Recchi said there was no panic or second-guessing without the two top forwards.

Yeo opened the four-on-four overtime by sending out Jordan Staal and Gary Roberts, then went to Maxime Talbot and Colby Armstrong, who scored the winner.

Jagr injured

While the Penguins played in overtime without Crosby and Malkin, the Rangers also were short-handed.

Captain and leading scorer Jaromir Jagr missed his former team's third-period comeback and win in overtime. He did not return after the second period because of a right leg injury.

Jagr, who skipped practice Friday, said he first felt pain in the Rangers' 2-1 win Thursday against the New York Islanders. He said he hopes to be back today against Carolina.

Laraque gets punchy

Georges Laraque, acquired at the trade deadline last month and labeled by general manager Ray Shero as the "toughest guy in the league," got into his first fight as a Penguins winger, in his sixth game.

It was a multi-punch display against Rangers heavyweight Colton Orr in the first period.

"As you get to the playoff mode, not every team dresses their tough guys, so you don't have that opportunity every game," Laraque said. "So after four or five games, I was kind of getting anxious."

Laraque played 4 minutes, 34 seconds, less than the 5 minutes he spent in the penalty box for his major fighting penalty.

Playoff tickets going fast

Because of the high volume of sales, 12-game playoff ticket packages are no longer available, but about 2,000 individual-game tickets for the first two home playoff games go on sale March 26.

Fans are limited to four tickets per game. Pricing will be announced at a later date. They will be available at the Mellon Arena Gate One box office, at TicketMaster locations, by phone at 412-642-7367 or 1-800-642-7367, and online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Slap shots

Before yesterday, the previous time Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins' top two scorers, had a goal in the same game was Dec. 11, a span of 38 games. ... The standing-room crowd of 17,132 gave the Penguins their 16th sellout in their past 18 games at Mellon Arena and 23rd sellout this season. They are averaging 16,279 or 96 percent of capacity.


03-11-2007, 08:40 AM
Dave Molinari On the Penguins: A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Heart to Hart: If not Sid, then Who?

No one is ready to give Sidney Crosby the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.

Not yet, anyway.

And they shouldn't be.

Too much can happen -- slumps and injuries and hot streaks -- in the final four weeks of the regular season for anything to be guaranteed at this point.

Nonetheless, if Crosby can become the youngest scoring champion in league history and lead the Penguins into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2001, it's reasonably certain that he will be the favorite to be named MVP.

Should Crosby or the Penguins falter, however, there are several other highly qualified candidates worthy of serious consideration in the Hart balloting. They include:

Martin Brodeur: New Jersey goalie ... He has won 40 games for the sixth time, an NHL record, and ranks among the league leaders at his position in every statistic of consequence. He has 12 shutouts, just three shy of the NHL record held by Tony Esposito, and entered the weekend second in goals-against average (2.15) and save percentage (.924). Anyone questioning his impact need only refer to how Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Erik Christensen altered successful shootout strategies when pitted against him Thursday; he was in their heads long before any of them touched the puck.

Vincent Lecavalier: Tampa Bay center ... He had a league-best 45 goals and was tied with linemate Martin St. Louis for second in the league scoring race before the Lightning played in Calgary last night. A difference-maker and a game-breaker whose synergy with St. Louis makes him even more dangerous.

Roberto Luongo: Vancouver goalie ... The Canucks were supposed to be lucky to compete for a playoff berth; Luongo has them in position to win a division championship. He came into the weekend with 38 victories, second only to Brodeur's 40, and had a save percentage (.920) and goals-against average (2.34) that were among the NHL's best.

Martin St. Louis: Tampa Bay right winger ... Lecavalier's tag-team partner already has a Hart on his mantle and might be worthy of another. Having a teammate in contention for the same award likely will work against him in the voting, however, unless St. Louis manages to pull away from the pack in the stretch drive.

Although Crosby is the only non-Francophone among the five, there's no reason to think that would be a factor in the voting. Besides, he's capable of delivering an acceptance speech in both of Canada's official languages, having made a point of learning French while playing junior hockey in Rimouski, Quebec.

The other kid: More power to him

A week or so ago, Penguins coach Michel Therrien threatened changes to his power play.

Most of the tinkering done, however, involved ice time, not personnel. The results haven't changed significantly; they entered yesterday's game against the New York Rangers with two goals in their previous 22 power plays.

The Penguins, of course, have individuals capable of getting three or four man-advantage goals in a game by sheer virtue of their talent, but it still might be time to consider a few tactical adjustments.

Like putting rookie center Jordan Staal -- all 6 feet 4, 220 pounds of him -- on the No. 1 unit and sticking him in front of the opposing net to set screens, deflect shots and collect rebounds.

The Penguins have used him in such a role during five-on-three power plays, but not when they're up just one man. In fact, Staal says he rarely drew such duty with his junior team in Peterborough, but has no objection to doing it.

"Not a problem," he said. "I don't mind getting a few 'dirty' goals here and there."

Therrien's rationale for not deploying Staal with the No. 1 unit isn't known, because he has not spoken with reporters since the Penguins' 5-4 shootout victory in Ottawa Tuesday.

He visited with his gravely ill father, Gerry, in Montreal the next day, and flew back to Montreal Friday after his father died.

There would seem to be at least two possibilities, however.

Therrien, predictably and wisely, has increased Staal's workload slowly over the course of the season, and might be reluctant to give him another responsibility just yet. That's a perfectly reasonable approach when dealing with the youngest player in the league.

But even though Staal played as many as 19 minutes just twice during the Penguins' first 67 games, he still has been able to establish himself as a reliable even-strength player and an exceptional penalty killer.

Couple Therrien's apparent interest in keeping Staal's ice time at a manageable level with Staal's proficiency in those roles, and Therrien might be wary of giving him new duties if he fears they would detract from his effectiveness in the ones he already has.

Gary Roberts: Professor of mixology

There is, Gary Roberts insists, nothing terribly exotic about the concoction he consumes during games.

"Truthfully," he said, "there's no secret to it."

Well, except for the details he won't divulge, anyway.

Like what goes into it.

He described the recipe as "a little bit of powder, and a little juice," but wouldn't elaborate about precisely what makes up what he called the "top-secret" powder. Roberts does allow that he came up with the recipe himself, but added that he's not responsible for "the actual ingredients that go into it."

And, alas, his beverage of choice -- which he turns to after morning skates and during games -- doesn't have a mystical purpose.

"It just helps keep me hydrated, basically," he said. "At 40 years old, you're looking for any edge to keep you hydrated."

As for the flavor, well, Roberts has no complaints.

He joked that it "doesn't mix well with vodka or anything" -- there's nothing to suggest he's actually done research on that, by the way -- but did volunteer that "it tastes really good."


03-11-2007, 08:42 AM
Penguins beat Rangers 3-2 in OT after lackluster start
Sunday, March 11, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If the Penguins had been able to script this moment, Colby Armstrong and Maxime Talbot would have been in the middle of their bench, wondering when -- or if -- they'd make it onto the ice.

Probably watching Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin -- maybe both -- try to work a little overtime alchemy. To give their team a victory it had done so little to earn for much of the afternoon.

But Crosby and Malkin were in the locker room, having adjourned there for skate repairs at the end of regulation. And by the time they were able to return, it was too late.

Too late to do anything except congratulate Armstrong on scoring the goal that gave the Penguins a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena, that is.

So it didn't matter that the Penguins (37-21-10) had spotted yet another highly motivated opponent a multiple-goal lead. That they again wiped their feet on the axiom about the importance of playing 60 strong minutes. That their top two talents were stranded on the wrong side of the glass when the outcome was decided.

There's not a lot of logic there. Just a couple more points that could look pretty nice when the regular season ends in four weeks.

"Don't ask questions," Crosby said. "Sometimes, things just happen for a reason."

One of the main reasons this time was that the Penguins' power play -- as menacing as a sedated kitten during the first two periods, when it went 0 for 6 -- scored twice in a span of three minutes, 24 seconds early in the third to transform a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 tie.

Malkin made the score 2-1 when he beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on the short side from above the right dot at 3:32, and Crosby jammed in a backhander from the right side of the crease at 6:56 for his 100th point of the season.

Just that quickly, everything the Penguins had done so poorly -- or not done at all -- during the first 40 minutes was wiped away.

"The power play got us going," Armstrong said. "We got the first one and that got the building rocking, and the guys fed off that."

The Penguins' comeback coincided with the departure of Rangers right winger Jaromir Jagr, who did not play after the second intermission because of an unspecified injury to his right leg.

Jagr had accounted for six of New York's 21 shots in the first two periods, and provides the most volatile dimension in its offense.

"The one thing Jagr can do for you is create offense," New York coach Tom Renney said. "He can score the winning goal or set it up."

While Armstrong doesn't have Jagr's pedigree, he certainly can score winning goals. Does it pretty often, actually. Especially when games stretch beyond the third period.

The goal yesterday was just his 10th of the season, but his third in overtime, tying a franchise record.

It also was entirely accidental, for when Armstrong threw the puck toward the Rangers net from inside the right circle, having it fly past Lundqvist's glove wasn't part of the plan.

"I just tried to pass it to [Talbot]," he said. "Fake a shot and hopefully get the goalie to bite and try to put it through. I just got lucky."

And New York defenseman Marek Malik didn't. Armstrong's shot glanced off his stick blade, which altered its trajectory and caused it to sail past Lundqvist at 1:19.

"I calculated that [angle] in my head," Armstrong said.

He was kidding, of course. Which is probably what his teammates will think coach Michel Therrien is doing the next time he lectures them on the importance of playing three solid periods.

It's true that some, if not most, teams must produce close to 60 minutes of good hockey if they want two points. The Penguins, though, have been getting away with spreading 60 over three or four games, and picking up six or seven or eight points for their trouble.

"It's a bad habit," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.

One the Penguins haven't come close to breaking, even though discussing its perils -- and how they consistently find a way to dodge them -- is pretty much part of their postgame routine by now.

"It's harder and harder to explain," Crosby said. "It just seems to happen."

No matter how it's been scripted.


03-11-2007, 08:43 AM
Laraque finally a big hit for Penguins

By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Newly acquired Penguins enforcer Georges Laraque has been known to offer polite invitations prior to dropping his gloves, but before he engaged the Rangers' Colton Orr in a fight Saturday afternoon no words were necessary.

"We knew as soon as we saw each other in front of the faceoff we were gonna do it," Laraque said.

Laraque did most of the doing, besting Orr to the absolute delight of 17,132 at Mellon Arena in a precursor to the celebration that erupted following the Penguins' 3-2 win in overtime.

"To be honest, I kinda was anxious," Laraque said. "A lot of people, obviously, couldn't wait to see it."

Laraque, who's almost universally recognized across the NHL as the league's reigning heavyweight champ, had been acquired by the Penguins from Phoenix at the Feb. 27 trade deadline for minor-leaguer Daniel Carcillo and a third-round draft pick in 2008.

Laraque played his first game for the Penguins against the Rangers on March 1 in New York. By Saturday afternoon's rematch, Laraque had appeared in five games for his new team and had collected his first point with the Penguins (an assist on March 6 in Ottawa), but had yet to drop the gloves.

"After interacting with a lot of fans outside the rink, people were anxious to see the first one," Laraque said. "And I was actually nervous for the first one at home in front of all the fans. For four or five games I was kind of getting anxious, because also, when it's been a while, you get rusty. So who knows what the result could be?

"When you get to a new team, you always want to show your teammates and the guys that you can do a job. But now that you're kinda into a playoff mode, not every team is dressing tough guys, so you don't have that opportunity every game."

Opportunity knocked this time with 9:18 remaining in a scoreless first period.

Laraque, 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, lined up opposite Orr, 6-3, 220, for a faceoff outside the Penguins' blue line.

As the puck dropped between Maxim Talbot and Blair Betts, Laraque and Orr squared off.

Laraque began pounding away with lefts and got in five before slipping to the ice with Orr on top of him.

Laraque quickly regained his skates and began pounding away again, connecting repeatedly with the back of Orr's helmet as Orr tried to hang on with both hands.

Laraque's eighth left knocked Orr's helmet from his head.

The ninth caught Orr flush in the face.

The 10th left sent the two sprawling to the ice again, this time with Laraque on top.

The unofficial punch count was Laraque 10, Orr 1.

The fans erupted in voicing their approval.

Orr smiled in the penalty box.

Laraque iced his left hand, as is his habit following bouts, he said, to prevent swelling.

"Some games you know it will happen," Laraque said. "It's the toughest job in the league, right? So we respect each and we just do it in a manly manner.

"When it's clean like this, it's just awesome to watch."


03-11-2007, 08:44 AM
Notebook: Penguins co-owner attends game

By Rob Rossi
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Perhaps more confirmation that the Penguins' latest meeting with public officials brought the sides closer to securing the team's long-term future in Pittsburgh came Saturday when co-owner Ronald Burkle watched his team's 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers from a luxury suite at Mellon Arena.

Burkle, a California multi-billionaire, is co-owner of the Penguins along with former Hall-of-Fame player Mario Lemieux.

According to newspaper reports earlier this week, Burkle was scheduled to meet yesterday in Los Angeles with officials from AEG, which will run the new Sprint Center in Kansas City. However, the Penguins have made no contact with AEG since meeting Thursday with public officials to negotiate funding for a new Uptown arena that team owners say they need to remain in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins' lease at Mellon Arena expires in June. The team declared an impasse in arena talks last Monday, but agreed to meet again with public officials after a positive meeting Thursday.

Burkle and Lemieux are scheduled to meet Wednesday with Gov. Ed Rendell, County Executive Dan Onorato and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to mediate the meeting, as he did Thursday.

Perfect timing

Neither Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin was available when Colby Armstrong tied a franchise-record with his third overtime goal of the season. Crosby and Malkin started the extra period in the locker room attempting to deal with equipment issues.

"Our skates were just messed," Crosby said. "We thought we had a minute to get them fixed. I was just about to come out when they dropped the puck. We had to wait and hope to get a whistle, but (Armstrong scoring at 1:19 of overtime) was definitely a better result."

Armstrong's goal helped the Penguins improve to 6-0 this season when Crosby and Malkin score in the same game. Prior to yesterday, Crosby and Malkin last scored in the same game Dec. 11, 2006.

Therrien misses game

Coach Michel Therrien was not behind the bench for the Penguins against the Rangers. He was in Montreal attending the funeral for his late father, Gerry, who died Thursday.

Therrien is expected to run the team's practice Monday. After playing four games in seven days, and winning three of them, the Penguins were rewarded with an day off today. They will play 17 times over 31 days this month.

Limited playoff seats available

The Penguins have not officially qualified for the postseason. If they do, chances are they will play to full crowds at Mellon Arena.

About 2,000 tickets will be available to the public for each of the first two home playoff games. Individual playoff game tickets will go on sale March 26. Cost of the tickets has yet to be announced.

The 12-game playoff packages are no longer available.


03-11-2007, 08:54 AM
The Penguins' comeback coincided with the departure of Rangers right winger Jaromir Jagr, who did not play after the second intermission because of an unspecified injury to his right leg.

I wondered what happened to Fagomir in the 3rd period. I noticed the first couple of shifts, he wasn't on the ice or the bench and mentioned it to XT. Funny thing - the Rangers fans in front of us, one of them sporting a Jagr jersey, had no idea he wasn't anywhere to be found. :sofunny:

03-11-2007, 08:55 AM
Another cheap goal by Fleury (it's becoming a habit) and another horrible start. Thankfully Jagr went down with a leg injury after the second period or that third could have turned out for the worst.

I'm all for a "W" is a "W", but I just hope we don't look like this come the first round of the playoffs. Grabbing these type of wins a month or two ago is not a bad thing at all. Grabbing them when your team is fighting for a playoff spot or even worse while in the playoffs is not a good thing. Hopefully they can turn their play around before the playoffs start. Or how about before we play Buffalo, NJ and Montreal in a row? That would be nice.

Fire Haley
03-11-2007, 09:59 AM
Fleury is a God...without him flopping and acrobating his way around the goal we wouldn't even be close. Yes - it would be nice to win in regulation, but, the Pens are providing loads of pant-peeing drama and entertaining the fans....it's all good.

03-11-2007, 10:02 AM
Considering where we are and where we were picked, I'm thrilled.

03-11-2007, 10:40 AM
When Fleury becomes more consistent, I'll give him all the props in the world. As long as he's giving up 40 foot wrist shots (while not being screened) once every other game and as long as his rebound control remains shady, I'll still consider him a work in progress who has not yet arrived. Consistency, consistency, consistency. It's what you need out of your #1 overall pick goaltender. We are not getting that at this point in time. In my opinion, "GOD" (when dealing with goalies) wears #30 for the New Jersey Devils.

As for the team in general. I'll take what they have accomplished this season in a second. All I'm saying is that if they want to last in the playoffs, the way they are playing at this point in time is not going to get it done. Hypothetically if they win the cup we would probably end up talking about how well they played and how amazing it is to win a cup with this team. I think it's safe to discuss what they need to do better in order to win that cup this year. Afterall, that's why Shero grabbed up Roberts from my understanding. To win a cup this year. If they can find a way to play the way they did after the break I see no reason why this team can't make the finals and once your in the finals who knows what can happen?

03-11-2007, 11:50 PM
Penguins newly acquired defenseman ready for action

Monday, March 12, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins weren't looking to alter the balance of power in the Eastern Conference when they acquired Joel Kwiatkowski from Florida last month.

They didn't trade for him because they wanted to revamp the No. 1 power-play unit, overhaul their top two defense pairings or add an element that had been conspicuously absent on their blue line.

He was brought here to add depth, not to be a difference-maker.

Fact is, Kwiatkowski's arrival might affect headline-writers more than just about anyone else -- imagine trying to squeeze all those letters into a tiny space -- unless you count the public-address guys who routinely announce him as one of the Penguins' healthy scratches.

The Penguins have played seven games since trading for Kwiatkowski, and he has spent six of those in street clothes. The lone exception was their 4-3 shootout loss to New Jersey Thursday, when Kwiatkowski got an 11-minute, 59-second audition with his new club.

He took a fairly regular shift alongside Rob Scuderi and was on the ice for the Devils' third goal. The coaching staff didn't offer a public assessment of his performance after that game, but he did not dress for the one that followed, a 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers Saturday.

Kwiatkowski had been scratched for his final few games in Florida, too, so it's far from certain that his work against New Jersey constituted a reasonable opportunity to show what he's capable of. Especially when he had a new partner and was playing in a new system.

Fair or otherwise, however, Kwiatkowski recognizes that moving in and out of the lineup -- including when it means spending more time out than in -- is part of the job description for guys who reside near the bottom of the depth chart.

"It's tough, but it's part of the game," he said. "I've been around for a while, and you have to adjust. That's part of being a professional."

So is putting the time during games to good use, even for a guy who isn't playing. That's why Kwiatkowski, like most scratches, doesn't spend home games in the press box, but in and around the locker room.

"After warm-ups, you just go into the weight room," he said. "You do a workout, at least up until the end of the first [period]. You just kind of watch the game and learn and go from there."

Watching games can offer insights on the Penguins' system and the responsibilities of his position, but is a poor substitute for actually being involved. Knowing what to do is not the same as being able to do it in game situations, and the challenge of performing efficiently is compounded when a player gets most of his on-ice work in practices.

"You can practice all you want, but it's such a fast game out there," Kwiatkowski said. "Besides that, it's the new faces.

"You're trying to read off each other, and you don't really know each other that well. ... It's a tough adjustment, but you have to put that aside and just play your game."

Kwiatkowski said he began to get comfortable with Scuderi "toward the end of the game," and suggested it happened more quickly than usual because both stick to a basic style.

"We started reading off each other a bit more [as the Devils game progressed]," he said. "We play a pretty simple game, so it's a bit easier to adjust."

Whether the coaching staff will pair Scuderi and Kwiatkowski in the future isn't clear, just as there's no way of knowing when Kwiatkowski will get back in uniform.

It could happen when the Penguins play Buffalo at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow at Mellon Arena if another defenseman is injured, or has displeased the coaching staff, or it could be weeks from now.

Whenever it happens, Kwiatkowski knows what he'll be looking to contribute.

"I want to bring some speed and quick puck movement," he said. "When you have such good, fast, young forwards, as a defenseman, it's easy for us. If you can get the puck in their hands, that's more benefit for our team, and for us."

Until he's called upon to do that, Kwiatkowski plans to put in extra time in the weight room and on the stationary bike, so that he'll be able to concentrate on executing his duties when he does get back on the ice.

"If you have two things to worry about -- the mental and physical parts -- it's tough," he said. "If you can just worry about the mental part of it and you're in good shape, usually things work out."


03-11-2007, 11:52 PM
Penguins saving best for last

By Karen Price
Monday, March 12, 2007

If it seems like it's been a long time since the Penguins had a lead going into the third period, there's a reason.

It has been.

The last time the Penguins led going into the third period was Feb. 18, when they were ahead of the Washington Capitals, 2-1, and won the game, 3-2.

That was also the last time they won a game in regulation.

Their 14-0-2 streak came to an end the next day against the New York Islanders, 6-5. During the 16-game stretch they never trailed going into the third period, and led 11 times.

Including that loss to the Islanders, the Penguins have trailed going into the third period six times and have been tied four times with an overall record of 5-4-1.

"That's the difference, exactly," Colby Armstrong said. "You can tell by the way we play. I think the fans can even tell. I think they're getting frustrated with the way we come out the first two periods. We can't hang around like that all game. Teams are going to kick us when we're down and we leave it to chance like that, we're going to get burned. It's something that has to stop."

The positive spin is that the Penguins are finding ways to come back and earn points.

"It's a habit we don't want to get into, but I love the way we play when we have to come back," Mark Recchi said. "We should probably play with that desperation right away, but I love our character. No one ever says quit in this dressing room."

The 5-4-1 stretch also hasn't hurt the Penguins' place in the standings.

Through Sunday's games they were in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Ottawa Senators and eight ahead of the eighth-place New York Rangers.

But six of their last 10 games have needed either overtime or a shootout to be decided. While in several cases, including Saturday's overtime win against the Rangers, the Penguins have been able to come back and win when trailing after 40 minutes, it's not a position the players want to put themselves in night in and night out.

"If we played three periods like we played in the third we could beat any team and be more successful," center Maxime Talbot said. "It's positive to come back and win some games, but that's not the way we want to win them."

The Penguins erased a 2-0 deficit against the Rangers on Saturday by scoring twice on the power play in the third period before Armstrong netted the winner in overtime. The game before against the New Jersey Devils didn't go quite as well. The Penguins at least got a point for coming back from a 2-1 deficit after two periods to tie the game twice in the third and force overtime, but they lost in a shootout.

And last Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators, they overcame a third-period deficit of three or more goals on the road to come back and win for the first time since Oct.15, 1991.

The Penguins had the day off Sunday, and will practice today when Michel Therrien, who was in Montreal this weekend to attend his father's funeral, is expected to return to the team.

Armstrong said today's session will be a chance to refocus before the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres come to town on Tuesday.

"We'd rather (win in regulation); it's just something we're going through right now," Armstrong said. "We definitely have to pick it up. We have to start playing the way we can here."


03-12-2007, 11:47 PM
Back spasms bother Penguins' Laraque

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Penguins tough guy Georges Laraque did not practice Monday because of back spasms, and he may not play tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Doesn't look like it from what I've been told," assistant coach Andre Savard said. "I don't know. This is a first for us. We don't know; does he recover quickly? Does he not recover quickly? Is that an old injury? We don't know much. But he wouldn't have played (Monday), that's for sure."

? The Penguins acquired Laraque at the trade deadline Feb. 27, and he got into his first fight Saturday against the New York Rangers' Colton Orr. Savard said he did not believe the back spasms were related to the fight.

"He looked pretty good in the fight, so I wouldn't think so," Savard said. "He looked pretty much under control there."

? Coach Michel Therrien did not make it back to Pittsburgh in time for yesterday's practice, with those duties falling to Savard and Mike Yeo for one more day. Therrien, who was in Montreal to attend his father's funeral, was expected to return to Pittsburgh last night and be at today's morning skate.

? Savard said he expects goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to start tonight, but he wanted to wait for Therrien's return before giving a definitive answer. The Penguins play Wednesday on the road against the New Jersey Devils.

? The Sabres enter tonight's game having lost three consecutive games. Their lead over the New Jersey Devils for the top seed in the Eastern Conference is down to just one point. Tonight's game is their first of a four-game road trip.

"You know a team like that's going to be really hungry (tonight)," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "They're going to be playing desperate. They're well-coached, and they have some older guys who are solid veterans. They'll be ready, so we really have to be better than we were Saturday."


21 - Number of road wins for the Buffalo Sabres this season out of 32 games.

03-12-2007, 11:48 PM
Pens' Staal developing into top defensive forward

By Karen Price
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Penguins forward Jordan Staal will probably get his share of rookie of the year votes when the NHL regular season ends in three and a half weeks.

While teammate Evgeni Malkin is favored to win the award, Staal certainly has turned heads this season by coming in as an 18-year-old and scoring 27 goals - third-highest on the team and second among all NHL rookies - in 67 games.

But there's another award for which Staal likely will be considered in the not-too-distant future -- the Selke Trophy given to the NHL's best defensive forward.

"We're already using him in defensive situations and, as far as our young forwards go, he certainly looks like he has a chance to develop into our top defensive forward," Penguins assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday. "It's unusual to see a young player come in with the defensive awareness and the ability to step in and take a regular shift on a penalty kill unit on a good team at the age of 18. I can't recall anybody like him; I can't recall anybody with those types of defensive instincts and having that type of success defensively at the same age."

Staal leads the Penguins and all NHL rookies in plus/minus rating with a plus-15. He went 25 consecutive games even or better between Dec. 15 and Feb. 10, when he was a plus-15.

Staal has been a minus in only 11 games out of 67 this season.

One of the team's top penalty killers, Staal also leads the league in shorthanded goals with seven.

His seventh shorthanded goal came a week ago -- and set an NHL rookie record -- when he sparked the Penguins' improbable comeback against the Ottawa Senators. The previous record of six shorthanded goals as a rookie was held by two players, Gerry Minor with the Vancouver Canucks in 1980-81 and John Madden with the New Jersey Devils in 1999-2000.

"(Staal's) not just one of those offensive guys," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "He can really play on the other side of the puck. He does a great job of always picking up a guy, picking up sticks, he's so big and he uses his body a lot to get pucks out of the zone. It's pretty impressive, too, that he switched to wing. He'd never played wing, and he's been getting those wraparounds that are tough for new forwards to get out. He's doing a great job."

Staal also is giving teammate Malkin a run for his money in the league's rookie goal-scoring race, with 27 to Malkin's league-leading 31. Staal also has 10 assists for 37 points.

Staal has long since passed brother Eric's rookie goal total of 11 in 81 games in 2003-04 with the Carolina Hurricanes. The younger Staal also could surpass his oldest brother in goals scored this season, too. Eric Staal, 22, who scored 100 points with the Hurricanes last season, has 26 goals and 35 assists in 70 games.

In yet another interesting twist, Jordan Staal is only one goal shy of his total from last season when he was playing in junior hockey. Staal had 28 goals and 40 assists for 68 points in 68 games.

"He's a player who growing up was always more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, so this year's certainly been a revelation," said Fletcher, who compared Staal's prowess on the penalty kill to that of a cornerback in football.

Staal said he hasn't given much thought to his future as a possible Selke candidate.

"I'm not really looking into the future that much," Staal said. "Obviously, guys like Rod Brind'Amour are great hockey players who are good on both sides of the puck, and I'd love to be a player like that. Whenever the team needs me, I'd love to be out there and play that last minute. We'll see how it goes from here."


03-12-2007, 11:50 PM
Scouting the Sabres

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Today's game

Buffalo Sabres (44-19-5) at Penguins (37-21-10)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. -- Mellon Arena

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (32-14-8, 2.90 GAA); Ryan Miller (32-15-4, 2.52 GAA)

TV/radio: Versus/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Notable: The top-ranked Sabres are coming off a 3-2 loss Saturday to the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Devils. ... The Sabres have the 18th-best power play on the road at 16 percent. Their penalty kill is ranked seventh on the road at 84 percent. ... Thomas Vanek has the second-best plus/minus rating in the league at plus 33. ... The Penguins last won a game at home against the Sabres on Dec. 16, 2003, (0-1-2 since). This is the Sabres' first trip to Pittsburgh this season. They visit again on April 3 in the third-to-last game of the regular season.


03-13-2007, 12:34 AM
Next two games a test for Penguins

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's tempting to think of these two games as a 27-hour litmus test for the Penguins, an opportunity to gain some insight on their playoff pedigree.

Buffalo, the top team in the Eastern Conference, visits Mellon Arena at 7:38 p.m. today.

Twenty-four hours later, the Penguins will face New Jersey, which sits one point behind the Sabres in the East, at Continental Airlines Arena.

Doesn't seem like a reach to suggest that if the Penguins, who are fifth in the conference, could battle evenly with, or even beat, those clubs, it will bode well for their chances of having an impact -- and perhaps a protracted stay -- in the playoffs.

Conversely, if they get bludgeoned by the Sabres and Devils, it could be construed as evidence that the Penguins should settle simply for sneaking into the postseason, and not expect to stick around for long.

The reality, however, probably is that the next couple of games will provide nothing more than a two-night snapshot, and proving nothing except which was the better team on a particular evening in mid-March.

"If you want to look at how you stack up with certain teams, you look at a season series," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said yesterday. "I don't think you look at one game."

The Penguins, for what it's worth, have split two games with the Sabres -- the teams will meet at Mellon Arena again April 3 -- and are 2-4-1 against New Jersey.

Buffalo, which leads second-place Ottawa by eight points in the Northeast Division, has lost three games in a row, matching its worst slide of the season.

Penguins center Maxime Talbot predicted the Sabres "are definitely going to play desperate," and Crosby said the Penguins should assume Buffalo has worked out the snags that led to its skid.

"Whenever you play a team, you expect their best," he said. "They have a lot of firepower, they're a deep team, they have a strong goalie.

"There's no reason for us to think they're not going to come here and play strong, because the makeup of their team just doesn't call for that."

Impressive as the Sabres are, the Penguins' emphasis tonight figures to be on upgrading their own performance. And there's ample room for improvement, despite their 19-4-5 record in the past 28 games.

"We haven't played a solid 60 minutes in a long time," left winger Ryan Malone said.

That lack of consistency has forced the Penguins to play from behind in almost every game of late, and they've managed to defy the odds and escape with a point or two most of the time.

Precedent makes it clear they shouldn't expect to pull that off against the Sabres, however. Buffalo is 31-0 in games in which it has a lead of two or more goals.

"We have to play better than we've played if we think we're going to win some games this week," left winger Gary Roberts said. "We've been fortunate these past couple of weeks to win some games that we shouldn't have."

Part of the reason the Penguins have made improbable comebacks almost routine is that they've had so much practice at it. Sluggish starts have regularly put them behind during the latter stages of games.

"We haven't had high energy early in games," Roberts said. "We have to get our energy up."

And give the referees reason to keep their arms down. The Penguins have been short-handed 14 times during the opening period in their past five games.

The most obvious danger of that is giving the other team so much time with an extra man, but it also impedes a coach's ability to keep his forward units intact and to get four lines involved in the game.

"When you take a lot of penalties in the first period, it takes a lot of flow away from your five-on-five game," Roberts said.

Killing penalties is draining work, physically and mentally, and staying as fresh as possible will be critical for the Penguins.

Tonight's game is the first of five in seven days, with home dates against Montreal Friday and Ottawa Sunday before the Penguins visit the New York Rangers Monday.

Roberts said he can't recall playing five times in seven days since breaking into the NHL two decades ago, and Crosby believes this stretch could provide a read on where the Penguins stand as the playoffs approach.

That's noteworthy, considering he cautioned against overstating the significance of the Sabres and Devils games.

"Five in seven nights, that's a true test," Crosby said. "You get a good sense of your team."


03-13-2007, 12:41 AM
Penguins Notebook: Sabres goalie trained to succeed

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ryan Miller arrived in Buffalo by way of Michigan State, home to one of the nation's better college hockey programs.

But the on-ice training he received there aside, Miller credits conversations with Tom Izzo, coach of the Spartans' basketball team, with helping him to develop into a high-quality goaltender.

"Tom Izzo helped me a lot with expectations," he said. "We sat down in his office from time to time on my way into the rink. Basketball was next door, and I'd just stop in."

Miller, 26, enters the Sabres' game against the Penguins at 7:38 p.m. today at Mellon Arena with a 32-15-4 record, 2.72 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.

He played in the NHL All-Star Game in January and is the first goalie since Evgeni Nabokov of San Jose to record 30 victories as a rookie, then do it again the following season. Miller also is the first Sabres goalie to win 30 in consecutive seasons since Dominik Hasek did it in 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said he believes Miller is "building on last year," and Miller doesn't disagree.

"It's been a continuation," he said. "I don't think I've changed too much. I've obviously learned some stuff, being a fifth-year pro."

Other stuff, he apparently picked up before he ever left East Lansing.

[B]Laraque could sit

Penguins right winger Georges Laraque is expected to sit out tonight's game because of back spasms.

Laraque did not practice yesterday, and assistant coach Andre Savard was not optimistic about him being ready to face the Sabres.

"It doesn't look like it, unless he recovers quick," Savard said. "He wouldn't have played [yesterday], for sure."

Drive for 4th place

Overtaking Ottawa for fourth place in the Eastern Conference remains a viable objective for the Penguins, considering they trail the Senators by just two points and have a game in hand.

It would be significant, too, because the team that finishes fourth will have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Nonetheless, defenseman Brooks Orpik said the Penguins have not made it a specific goal.

"We wouldn't reject it, but it's not something we've really talked about or focused on," he said. "From the start of the year, just making the playoffs was one of our goals.

"If we just keep concentrating on that, everything else will take care of itself. If that does happen, great."

Speed game

After losing consecutive games to New Jersey and Minnesota, both of whose success is predicated on stingy team defense, some in Buffalo believe the Sabres will benefit from playing a club like the Penguins, who put a little more emphasis on offense.

Certainly, the Sabres' speed and skills make scoring goals their forte, and Ruff made no apologies for it before his team's most recent game against the Penguins.

"We're not one of those lock-it-down-real-tight defensive teams," he said. "We'll trade you some rushes. Part of our strength is our transition game, which comes from letting these guys be creative."

Slap shots

Penguins coach Michel Therrien missed practice yesterday while attending his father's funeral in Montreal, but was scheduled to return to Pittsburgh last night and rejoin the team today. ... Fourteen of the Penguins' past 15 games have been decided by one goal, including three that went to overtime and six that ended in a shootout. ... The Sabres are 8-1 on Tuesdays. ... Buffalo and Calgary are the only teams that haven't been shut out this season. ... Sabres center Tim Connolly's return from a severe concussion he got in the playoffs last season suffered a major setback when he got a stress fracture below his right knee. "He was coming along nice," Ruff told the Buffalo News. "This has definitely slowed that [process] down."


03-13-2007, 09:54 AM
"We haven't played a solid 60 minutes in a long time," left winger Ryan Malone said.

Ryan Malone says it best above. The Pens have got to get their mojo at the first drop of the puck and keep it going throughout the game. We're up against some darned good teams in the coming weeks, with them playing Buffalo and the Devils in a 24 hour time span, both of whom have excellent goaltenders.

This is the first I've heard of Laraque's back spasms. I think he'll play tonight and most definitely tomorrow night against NJ.

We're coming down the stretch and we've got to keep ringing up those points! :banana:

03-13-2007, 08:39 PM

03-13-2007, 08:54 PM

03-13-2007, 09:29 PM
What a great game! This is what the NHL is all about. Congrats to the Pens on another tight win.

There seemed to be an awful lot of Buffalo fans there.

03-13-2007, 09:32 PM
I wasn't able to see the game, unfortunately. But this is a great win for the Penguins over one of the top teams in the conference. :thumbsup:

03-13-2007, 09:36 PM

Hey I just came up with something. This could piss off the KC people who acted like the Pens were moving there when they knew they weren't.

Price Of Mellon Arena:$22 Million
Price of New Penguin Arena:$290 Million
Keeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh while saying NO PENGUINS FOR YOU KC and Vegas and beating Buffalo in the same night:PRICELESS

03-14-2007, 12:20 AM

Hey I just came up with something. This could piss off the KC people who acted like the Pens were moving there when they knew they weren't.

Price Of Mellon Arena:$22 Million
Price of New Penguin Arena:$290 Million
Keeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh while saying NO PENGUINS FOR YOU KC and Vegas and beating Buffalo in the same night:PRICELESS

Damn straight, SCM! :thumbsup: :jammin: :cheers:

03-14-2007, 12:21 AM
Pens win on historic night

By Karen Price
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The lights went down at Mellon Arena in the minutes before Tuesday's game between the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres, and a spotlight fell on the ice just outside the Zamboni tunnel.

The roar grew louder and louder until it hit a deafening pitch as the sold-out crowd of 17,132 realized it was Mario Lemieux standing in front of them.

"I'm proud to announce your Pittsburgh Penguins will remain here in Pittsburgh where they belong," Lemieux said hours after a news conference announcing a new arena deal.

Two-and-a-half hours later, the crowd was on its feet in celebration once again after the Penguins knocked off the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres in a shootout, 5-4.

Erik Christensen and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins in the shootout, and Marc-Andre Fleury allowed one goal but made the final save after Crosby scored for the victory.

The Penguins (38-21-10) have gone to overtime in their last five games and six out of the past seven.

"We deserved to win this one," Crosby said. "A few of the other ones we didn't play 60 minutes, and we didn't deserve to win maybe in some cases. But (Tuesday) we really limited their shots, and I think we deserved to win this one."

Crosby had a goal and two assists in regulation for his first multi-point game in 10 games. Ryan Malone, Maxime Talbot and Sergei Gonchar scored the other three for the Penguins. Ryan Whitney had three assists, and Gonchar also had an assist.

Fleury made 15 saves as the Penguins outshot the Sabres, 38-19.

The Penguins did let a two-goal lead in the third period slip away, but it was the first game of late in which they haven't had to mount a furious comeback in the third period in order to get a win.

"I look at this game as a positive -- we got two points," Penguins forward Mark Recchi said. "We took the battle to them. That's the first real solid game we have played in a while."

Crosby said the win was even nicer when coupled with the news of the day that the team is staying in Pittsburgh.

"It's exciting when you skate on the ice with the energy in the building (last night)," Crosby said. "I think everyone's relieved including us. We can put it past us and move forward, and I think we're all happy for that."

Crosby and Gonchar scored in the third period to open a tie game and take a 4-2 lead, but Daniel Briere scored after getting open on a 2-on-1 with eight minutes left and Chris Drury tied it with seven seconds left to force overtime.

Drury's goal came after the Sabres called a timeout and pulled goaltender Ryan Miller out of the net for an extra skater.

Crosby won the faceoff, and the Penguins took the play to the Sabres' end, where Recchi hit the post and Malone hit the side of the net before the Sabres got control with 20 seconds left in regulation.

Defenseman Josef Melichar actually got to the puck behind the Penguins' net but couldn't clear it on a wraparound attempt, and Drury was in front of the net to convert a pass from Briere.

"They got a little bit lucky near the end, but I was pleased with how we played," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who returned to the team following a four-day absence to attend the funeral of his father, Gerry, in Montreal. "That was maybe our strongest game in a long time."


03-14-2007, 12:22 AM
Pens' Laraque sits with back spasms

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Georges Laraque did not play in Tuesday's game against the Buffalo Sabres because of back spasms that started after Saturday's game against the New York Rangers.

"I've never had them before, so hopefully it's just a couple of days," Laraque said. "It's frustrating because I obviously just got here, and (Tuesday) is such a big game, with the announcement that the team's staying here. The crowd's going to be pumped. But with my back, I can't do anything."

? Coach Michel Therrien was back in town but still not with the team yesterday morning following the death of his father in Montreal this past Thursday. He did coach the game last night, however, as of yesterday morning, assistant Andre Savard said they still had not decided on whether Marc-Andre Fleury or Jocelyn Thibault would get the start tonight against the New Jersey Devils.

? Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has the second-lowest goals-against average in the NHL at 2.14 and the most wins at 41. He has played in 66 games this season, and this is his NHL-record sixth 40-win season in his 13-year career.

"His consistency is what impresses me the most," Thibault said of Brodeur. "Everybody can play a good game once in a while, but he does it game in and game out. Obviously, you can't play 72 great games, but he's not far from that. He's very consistent and he's durable."

? Right wing Ronald Petrovicky got back in the lineup with Laraque out. The Penguins scratched forwards Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski.


157 - Number of goals the Devils have allowed this season, the fewest in the East.

213 - Number of goals the Penguins have allowed this season, seventh-fewest in the East.


03-14-2007, 12:24 AM
Scouting the Devils

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (38-21-10) at New Jersey Devils (42-19-8)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. - Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV/radio: FSN/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Jocelyn Thibault (5-7-2, 3.03 GAA); Martin Brodeur (41-18-7, 2.14 GAA)

Notable: The Devils are 5-2 against the Penguins in the season series, including four one-goal decisions. They beat the Penguins in a shootout last week at Mellon Arena. ... The Devils are 13-5-3 in 21 games since the All-Star break following a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. They are 25-7-6 in their last 38 games and 30-10-6 in their last 45. ... Patrik Elias leads the team in scoring with 21 goals and 44 assists in 65 games.

03-14-2007, 10:52 AM
What a great game! This is what the NHL is all about. Congrats to the Pens on another tight win.

There seemed to be an awful lot of Buffalo fans there.

There were. They were cool fans (unlike the Toronto jagoffs). The Buffalo fans I spoke with congratulated us on our new arena. Buffalo fans and Pittsburgh fans can relate to a degree. Both support small market teams and if I recall correctly there were strong rumors out of Buffalo before the lockout that they may have been relocated.

As for the game. We looked alot better than we have been looking over these past 8-10 games. We put 59 minutes together and came away with two points. I was very happy to see this team come out of the gates and play physical. We went down a goal and struck back immediately. We did not lay down for the first two periods while giving up two or three more goals. Fleury played solid. No cheap goals and he controlled his rebounds.

Now on to NJ. We need to come out and play the way we did last night. Physical from the start, get the puck down low, cycle it and take advantage of the very few PP chances NJ will give us. We can ill afford to go down by two or three goals against this team. They play boring but effective drain the clock type of hockey when they have a lead. While I would love to grab two points tonight, I'll be content with taking one point on the road against NJ.

03-14-2007, 12:09 PM
That's good to hear that the Buffalo fans aren't a bunch of jag-offs. If the Pens don't make the finals I'll be pulling for them.

I'm looking forward to tonights game. It's not often I get to see the Pens 2 games in a row. I think they will play hard the whole game. Crosby has broken out of his slump. (if that's what you want to call it) The thing that scares me is Thibault vs Brodeur. Let's hope we can keep their shots down.

03-14-2007, 12:29 PM
IMO, shooting the puck should be particularly stressed tonight. Every chance they get they should put bodies in front of Marty, bring it back to the point and shoot. At times this team tries to setup the "perfect goal". Against the Devils (Brodeur) your better off putting traffic in front of the net and letting it rip from the point.

Three examples from last night:

1) Ryan Malone goal: Deflected it off a Gonchar shot.

2) Sidney Crosby goal: Deflected it off a Recchi shot.

3) Sergei Gonchar goal: Deflected it off a Buffalo defenseman (Lydman).

Just my opinion when it comes to offense tonight.

03-14-2007, 12:43 PM
There were. They were cool fans (unlike the Toronto jagoffs). The Buffalo fans I spoke with congratulated us on our new arena. Buffalo fans and Pittsburgh fans can relate to a degree. Both support small market teams and if I recall correctly there were strong rumors out of Buffalo before the lockout that they may have been relocated.

As for the game. We looked alot better than we have been looking over these past 8-10 games. We put 59 minutes together and came away with two points. I was very happy to see this team come out of the gates and play physical. We went down a goal and struck back immediately. We did not lay down for the first two periods while giving up two or three more goals. Fleury played solid. No cheap goals and he controlled his rebounds.

Now on to NJ. We need to come out and play the way we did last night. Physical from the start, get the puck down low, cycle it and take advantage of the very few PP chances NJ will give us. We can ill afford to go down by two or three goals against this team. They play boring but effective drain the clock type of hockey when they have a lead. While I would love to grab two points tonight, I'll be content with taking one point on the road against NJ.

Not only the relocation rumors, but Buffalo has had a lot of down seasons in the past few years. I still won't cheer for a Buffalo team anytime soon, but at least they were cool.

I think Pittsburgh/Toronto has a chance to become a very marketbale rivalry for the NHL. You can bet Don Cherry would push for that to get some more TV time.

03-14-2007, 12:45 PM
You can bet Don Cherry would push for that to get some more TV time.

Mark Madden...whoops!...I mean Don Cherry would kill his own mother in order to be heard.

03-14-2007, 04:39 PM
Confirmed: Laraque will not play tonight and Thibualt will get the start: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_497691.html

03-14-2007, 04:43 PM
Mark Madden...whoops!...I mean Don Cherry would kill his own mother in order to be heard.

True. But it makes them that much more fun to listen to. Their bluster and ego make them such tools that it's actually fun to hear them talk.

03-14-2007, 04:51 PM
True. But it makes them that much more fun to listen to. Their bluster and ego make them such tools that it's actually fun to hear them talk.

Well I guess it comes down to personal preference. I'll take contructive sports talk over his worn out shock value/shtick. Just my opinion/preference. To each their own.

03-14-2007, 05:29 PM
Well I guess it comes down to personal preference. I'll take contructive sports talk over his worn out shock value/shtick. Just my opinion/preference. To each their own.

No such thing. Evereyone from ESPN to Mark Madden are nothing but a drain on our collective IQs in this country. Our obsession with sports is very unheathly.

03-14-2007, 07:42 PM
No such thing. Evereyone from ESPN to Mark Madden are nothing but a drain on our collective IQs in this country. Our obsession with sports is very unheathly.

Once again, I'll take constructive sports talke over some fat slob hanging up on callers if they do not agree with his opinion while making idiotic comments. I'm not stating I agree with the folks I listen to, but it's better than listening to Madden scream, degrade and then hang up on every other caller. Then again, the morons who actually call in are no better. They are lacking just as much class and self respect as Madden. Go figure.

Like I said, it's a preference.

03-14-2007, 07:43 PM
Wow, after the first both Talbot and Bob stated that this team should put traffic in front of the net and shoot away against Marty. We are not doing that right now.

03-14-2007, 07:56 PM
Penguins Ruutu throws it at the net and scores on the deflection. Pens up 1-0.

03-14-2007, 08:09 PM
1-0. Let's get a goal here early in the 3rd for a little cushion.

03-14-2007, 08:10 PM
Getting that first goal is huge, and if they can protect (or add to) the lead long enough into the 3rd period, it may force the Devils to play a little more loose, which would open up the ice for the Pens to get good scoring chances. What can't happen is the Pens giving up the tying goal early in the period and give the Devils the momentum. Let's see how it plays out.

03-14-2007, 08:32 PM


03-14-2007, 08:51 PM
STAAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THE PENGUINS LEAD 3-0. HE SMOKED IT LIKE A CIGAR!

03-14-2007, 08:55 PM
AND THE PENGUINS WIN 3-0!!!!! GREAT GAMES FOR THE PENGUINS!!!! Hey New Jersey what's that behind you? Oh Yeah


03-14-2007, 08:59 PM
I have to say that this is their most impressive win of the season, better even than the Nashville game. Superb performance all around. And now, we're within 4 points of the Devils with a real shot at winning the division.

Way to go guys! :cheers:

03-14-2007, 08:59 PM
Now that is a helluva win. You beat the Devils 3-0 on the road. No faults tonight. The team as a whole played an excellent game. They put three periods together. Thibault played a damn good game. Defense did not let them get comfortable and they cleared the puck when they had to.

Overall just a damn good effort by this team. Hats off to this team tonight. KEEP IT UP. They keep playing like they are right now and they are set.

On that note, I will stick by this opinion until the end of the season. Ouellete playing on the second line is a complete joke. One name........Erik Christensen. Give him somebody to play with or Therrien can continue pimping him to no end?

03-14-2007, 10:55 PM
I have to say that this is their most impressive win of the season, better even than the Nashville game. Superb performance all around. And now, we're within 4 points of the Devils with a real shot at winning the division.

Way to go guys! :cheers:

Most definitely! Wow - everyone contributed tonight in some way and Thibault was outstanding in goal! Great division and road win for our Pens! :thumbsup: Did you enjoy watching Roberts dump Rupp into the Devils' bench? LMAO! :toofunny: That guy has the toughness of players 20 years his junior. :cheers:

What the hell is with the ice in that place? Steigerwald was talking about it and said they keep the temp too warm in there - that ice looked extremely choppy.

P.S. Have you decided yet how you would prefer your egg? :egg: And no - I'm NOT letting you live it down. :flap: :wink02:

03-14-2007, 11:58 PM
Most definitely! Wow - everyone contributed tonight in some way and Thibault was outstanding in goal! Great division and road win for our Pens! :thumbsup: Did you enjoy watching Roberts dump Rupp into the Devils' bench? LMAO! :toofunny: That guy has the toughness of players 20 years his junior. :cheers:

What the hell is with the ice in that place? Steigerwald was talking about it and said they keep the temp too warm in there - that ice looked extremely choppy.

P.S. Have you decided yet how you would prefer your egg? :egg: And no - I'm NOT letting you live it down. :flap: :wink02:

I can see that - LOL! Hey, I deserve it after all of the pessimism I've been spewing lately, and will take my lumps like a man. :wink02:

That ice was some of the worst I've seen this season - I agree with Steigerwald's theory that the Devils' brass deliberately keeps the ice choppy against teams like the Pens to give them an advantage. Unethical, maybe, but certainly not illegal. Meanwhile, the ice in our old barn has been rated among the best in the league. Go figure.

Speaking of Roberts vs. Rupp - here's a clip of the fight. You just gotta love Roberts - old school in every sense of the word, plays his tail off on every shift and is as tough as shoe leather. Can't wait to see the old warrior perform in the playoffs!


03-15-2007, 12:14 AM
Penguins Notebook: Even Devils like a feel-good story

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

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's less than a month until the end of the regular season, and the Penguins are still hanging around -- not only in contention for a playoff spot, but also for home ice to start the playoffs and possibly for the Atlantic Division title.

The New Jersey Devils, who hold that division lead and faced the Penguins for the eighth and final time of their season series last night, are impressed.

"I guess everybody's kind of surprised just how well the young guys have stepped up and how they've played so consistently all year. It's great," said defenseman Colin White.

"We knew they were going to be a danger eventually, but they did come up quick."

Devils coach Claude Julien said the fact that there hasn't been a dropoff heading into the stretch drive of the season makes the Penguins' story even better.

"For the most part, they've really turned it on in the second half," he said. "They're a team that's got a lot of skill -- exceptional skill, if I may say so. They're gaining experience and they're learning to play together."

Eaton takes another step

After skating on his own Tuesday, Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton participated in the team's morning skate yesterday. He has been out because of a sprained right knee since March 1 and hopes to stick to the original projection of getting back in less than four weeks.

"I'm on the ice earlier than I thought I would be," Eaton said. "Hopefully, it feels better every day and I can increase the workload daily. I did a little more [yesterday than Tuesday]. There are still a few things that hurt it and aren't up to snuff, so I guess I just have to be patient."

Eaton earlier this season missed 21/2 months after wrist surgery.

Backache a pain

Penguins winger Georges Laraque also was back on the ice. He has been dealing with back spasms this week and missed his second game in a row last night.

"I'll probably be ready [tomorrow against Montreal]," Laraque said. "It's getting better every day, but not enough to play a physical game."

Laraque had never had back spasms and was surprised at how debilitating they can be.

"The last couple of days I couldn't even move, and the trainers did a great job loosening it up," he said. "It's much better than it was."

The game plan

During the Devils' morning skate, there was a handwritten sign the size of copy paper in the hallway around the corner from the home locker room. Written in black marker:

Win, adversity

Subs play well (Rupp, Dowd)

Aiming for?

Beating Pens

Stop Crosby and Malkin

Michael Rupp and Jim Dowd are seldom used forwards who are playing more recently because of injuries. Sidney Crosby had 17 points in 15 career games against New Jersey going into last night, and Evgeni Malkin had eight points in seven games.

The note was gone before the Penguins' morning skate.

Slap shots

Eaton and Laraque were two of just seven players who took part in the morning skate, which was overseen by conditioning coach Stephane Dube. The others who skated were defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, forwards Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman -- all of whom have played little lately -- and goaltenders Jocelyn Thibault and Marc-Andre Fleury. ... Fleury took an Eaton shot off of an unprotected area of the outside of his right thigh during the skate. He was attended to, but stayed on the ice and continued to face shots. ... The Penguins' staff sometimes instructs certain players to skip practice as a way to conserve energy during busy stretches, often getting resistance from those players. It's the same in New Jersey, where Julien had winger Jamie Langenbrunner and defenseman Paul Martin skipped the morning skate. "I have veto power," Julien said.


03-15-2007, 12:17 AM
Devils glad Penguins are staying put

By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, March 15, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Include the New Jersey Devils among those who are elated the Penguins' long-term future in Pittsburgh has at long last been resolved.

"It's a great hockey city, a great town, and the league needs these guys to be good," Devils center Scott Gomez said Wednesday.

"That's the future of the NHL over there, definitely."

The Penguins and public officials announced Tuesday they had reached an agreement on a $290 million deal for a new arena.

"We all grew up with (Mario) Lemieux," said Gomez, a native of Anchorage. "We don't want to see that tarnished. It just wouldn't be right, one of the greatest of all time, 'He used to play in Pittsburgh.'

"Especially being a U.S. kid, that's a sports city. In the 1990s with the Pirates, and then the Steelers stuff, you need the Penguins there. Yeah, I'm a hockey fan. I'm relieved. It's good people, a blue-collar town, and, hey, they deserve to have the Penguins, especially because they're going to be so good.

"They're good right now, and who knows what the future's going to hold?"

Veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur was as enthusiastic as Gomez upon learning the Penguins wouldn't be relocating.

"Hockey means a lot to us," Brodeur said. "Pittsburgh's a great hockey town. I've played a lot in Pittsburgh. I know what people think about hockey and how they feel, the support. For a team to leave a city like that would have been stupid. It's nice that everybody got together and figured it out and made something happen.

"There are enough markets with no support. When you have one (that supports its team), you have to try to keep it."


03-15-2007, 12:19 AM
Penguins top Devils 3-0, move into fourth place

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

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Back-to-back games can be tiring. And inspiring.

The Penguins found that out by beating the top two teams in the Eastern Conference in a 27-hour span.

They got a shutout from backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault to beat the New Jersey Devils, 3-0, last night at Continental Airlines Arena in a tight, defensive game.

Tuesday, the Penguins survived a third-period comeback by Buffalo for a 5-4 shootout win in an open, speed-driven contest.

"These are important games," center Sidney Crosby said. "They were two totally different hockey games."

With one large upside.

The Penguins, with 88 points, moved ahead of Ottawa into fourth place in the conference, four points behind the Devils, who sit atop the Atlantic Division, and six points behind the conference-leading Sabres.

"It's awesome," Thibault said in a postgame locker room that had a party atmosphere, complete with blaring music and whooping players.

"The reason I'm very happy about this game is we played [Tuesday] night, then we came in here, playing in Jersey, and we played a very tight-checking game, a grinding game, it was bad ice, it was warm. It was a character win tonight, it really was."

Jarkko Ruutu, Erik Christensen and Jordan Staal scored for the Penguins.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle was the ice, which had been made less than 24 hours earlier and made skating treacherous.

"There were chunks out of it," Crosby said. "It's not fun to play on that."

The feeling afterward wasn't bad.

"It's like I told the team [Tuesday] -- we need to start to get in the playoff mood," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "Again [last night] we had the right attitude to approach that game.

"Those young guys, they keep surprising a lot of people."

Thibault, playing in his 19th game of the season and making his sixth appearance in the past 13 games, picked up the 37th shutout of his career, his first since 2003-04 when he was with Chicago.

"He had a great effort, and everyone kind of followed his lead," defenseman Ryan Whitney said.

The win halted a Penguins streak of five games that were decided in overtime or a shootout. Five of their previous seven games had been decided by shootout.

The Penguins, who finished 3-4-1 in their season series with New Jersey, picked up where they left off Tuesday night, playing a strong first period. They couldn't beat goaltender Martin Brodeur, who, as usual, got plenty of help from teammates clearing the front of his net. But neither could the Devils get a puck past Thibault as each team collected 11 shots.

The shots evaporated for most of the second period.

The Penguins got the first power play of the game when defenseman Brad Lukowich was called for holding at 11:49. It was eventful, if not fruitful.

Early in the power play, point man Sergei Gonchar had the puck at the blue line but lost his balance and landed on the ice. New Jersey center John Madden scooped up the puck for a long breakaway, but his shot from the slot sailed wide to Thibault's left.

Later on the same power play, Crosby took a clearing attempt by Devils winger Jay Pandolfo in the face. Crosby was bloodied on the right side of his mouth, but he remained in the game.

The game's first goal came on the Penguins' third shot of the second period and on an unlikely play.

Crosby got the puck to Ruutu in the right corner. Ruutu one-timed it toward the net. It clipped the stick of New Jersey center Travis Zajac, changed directions and wobbled over Brodeur's glove at 17:18.

It was Ruutu's seventh goal and his first since he had a two-goal game Feb. 16, the Penguins' previous game at New Jersey, a 5-4 win.

The assist was Crosby's 75th of the season and his 104th point.

Christensen increased the lead to 2-0 at 9:31 of the third period when his shot from the left point, a one-timer from Ruutu, rocketed over Brodeur's shoulder.

New Jersey got a prime opportunity with a power play at 14:35 of the third.

Just after a faceoff in the Devils' end, Crosby got clipped in the face by linemate Mark Recchi's stick. He spit out his mouthpiece and skated to the bench. When the puck found its way to Crosby's skates, he kicked it, drawing a penalty for too many men on the ice because another forward had left the bench to replace him.

"My head was down and the puck came right into my skates, so I just kicked it," Crosby said.

The Devils, though, could not score, and Crosby was off the hook.

"It was good we were able to kill that off," he said. "That was a big kill."

The Penguins put it away at 17:24 when Staal got his 28th goal by converting a backhand pass from Evgeni Malkin to make it 3-0.

"It's good to see the team play games like that because we're going to play a lot of those games in the playoffs," Thibault said.


03-15-2007, 07:47 AM
I've never been a huge fan of the Devils (other than Brodeur), but it is great to see how much respect they are giving the Pens as a team and Pittsburgh as a city! Thanks for the great reads, XT! :cheers:

03-15-2007, 08:24 AM
that was a good hame played by the pens last night. Im probably one of the biggest devils hooligans in jersey and ill even admit what sloppy play by my guys last night.

03-15-2007, 10:00 AM
that was a good hame played by the pens last night. Im probably one of the biggest devils hooligans in jersey and ill even admit what sloppy play by my guys last night.

Thanks Joey - the Pens totally dominated that game from start to finish. You've got 4 points on us for the division lead - anything can happen! :cheers:

03-15-2007, 11:31 PM
Who'da thunk it? The Pens with a shot at the #1 overall seed in the East, when all we were hoping for at the beginning was to maybe sneak into the postseason. Simply an amazing season our Pens have had! :jammin: :cheers:

Once on playoff bubble, Penguins set sights on top seed

By The Associated Press
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Back in October when the season began, the Pittsburgh Penguins were coming off a last-place finish and looking to reclaim mere respectability.

Come December when the team was near the .500 mark, players shifted their focus to qualifying for the NHL postseason.

Now, the Penguins are within four points of the Atlantic Division lead and six points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres.

"That shows what kind of turnaround we had," said backup goalie Jocelyn Thibault, who shut out the division-leading New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night. "We've pushed it into second gear. It's great."

The win over New Jersey came 24 hours after a 5-4 shootout win over the Sabres to give the Penguins the third-most points in the conference. (Pittsburgh, however, holds the No. 4 seed because the top three seeds go to division leaders.)

With an 11-point lead over ninth-place Toronto with 12 games to play, it would take quite a collapse for the Penguins to miss the postseason. So now the bar has been set higher.

"It's always better to shoot high," winger Georges Laraque said. "If you miss the playoffs, that's it. But if you shoot for first in the division, then at least you know you're still in. Now we're close to finishing first, and that's always the goal. It's a big difference trying to go for first (as opposed) to trying to make the playoffs."

With a cushion between it and the eighth and final playoff spot, Pittsburgh is able to shift its focus from merely qualifying for the postseason to getting ready to make a run once it gets there.

The Penguins, who haven't made the playoffs since 2001, are in the midst of playing a league-high 17 games in March. That game-on-every-other-night schedule is similar to how the playoffs are conducted.

"We want to make sure we're well-prepared for the playoffs," coach Michel Therrien said. "It's important for us to play solid hockey. I'm very optimistic about the way we played against the top two teams in the conference."

The Penguins recently had a string of 15 games out of 16 that were decided by one goal. For a team with one of the youngest cores in the league, experience in that type of pressure-cooker will only help.

"It's not like there's a light we open on and off, saying, 'It's April 11, it's playoff time. We're ready,"' Therrien said. "I think you need to have the right attitude to prepare yourself a month before the playoffs and make sure we're on the right track. I think our team has started to get in that mode with the way we're battling and the way we're preparing ourselves."

Notes: Laraque, who missed both games this week due to back spasms, said after practice Thursday he is available to play Friday. ... D Mark Eaton, out since March 1 with a sprained knee, practiced for the second consecutive day but said he would not be ready to play until next week at the earliest.


03-15-2007, 11:34 PM
Versatility major part of Penguins' success

By Mike Prisuta
Friday, March 16, 2007

The Penguins weren't trying to beat the New Jersey Devils at their own game by cycling and grinding and checking them into submission.

It just worked out that way.

"No, we gotta play our game," center Sidney Crosby said in a boisterous visitors locker room Wednesday night at Continental Airlines Arena. "They've done that for a lot of years, and they're good at it. By no means were we trying to slow them down or anything like that.

"We were trying to skate ourselves. We're a lot better team when we have the puck. We just tried to control the puck down low and dictate the play."

On a night when the Penguins found the ice quality to be sub-standard, there really wasn't any other way to play it.

Their 3-0 victory stands as evidence that they might be as versatile as they are surprising.

On Tuesday night at Mellon Arena, the Penguins hosted the Buffalo Sabres, with their NHL-leading 256 goals, and won in a shootout, figuratively and literally, 5-4.

On Wednesday night in New Jersey, the challenge was to dent the NHL's second-stingiest defense (the Devils' 167 goals against trailed only the Dallas Stars' 166), and it was the Devils who ultimately came up empty.

Two games in two nights in two cities against two teams with drastically different approaches.

The one constant?

The Penguins won both games, beating the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Eastern Conference.

"Probably two totally different hockey games," Crosby said. "We had to play more of a speed game (against Buffalo). It was more up-and-down, a lot of chances, a quick game. This one (against New Jersey) we had to be solid on positioning the whole night because the ice was so bad, and we couldn't really move."

Coach Michel Therrien might have opted for a more conservative defense-first approach had the ice been perfect in New Jersey.

"It was a different game than (Tuesday) night, for sure," Therrien said. "When we play the Devils, we know what to expect. We were really cautious with our decisions with the puck. We didn't want to turn the puck over. This is a team that has a really good counter-attack. Every time they got the puck, we were gonna make sure where they were going to get that puck.

"We were patient, and when there was a chance we tried to attack the net."

Apparently, the Penguins are comfortable playing it either way.

"Those young guys, they keep surprising a lot of people," Therrien said.

Added Crosby: "These are important games. They're all important from here on in. We definitely have some games the next little while against some teams that are high up there in the league. We have to be ready for that challenge every night and really make sure we're on our game.

"When you're playing strong teams like that there are nights you can go out and play well and still not win. If you want to give yourself a chance, you have to play well and hope it goes right. We're giving ourselves a chance right now."


03-15-2007, 11:42 PM
Good news here on Laraque and Eaton, and I hope Laraque ends up being in the lineup so that a punk like Francis Bouillon will have to answer to him if he pulls the same crap on Crosby that he did in their last meeting.

Pens' Laraque ready to play

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, March 16, 2007

Georges Laraque declared himself "100 percent" after the Penguins' practice Thursday. He had missed two games because of back spasms. Since the Penguins won both games, knocking off the Eastern Conference's two best teams, and coach Michel Therrien generally doesn't like to change his lineup after a win, Laraque said he didn't know if he'd play tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I'd be OK to wait," Laraque said. "I'm a team guy. Whatever it takes to win."

? Most of the Penguins players were told to stay off the ice yesterday after back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. Those who participated were Laraque, Mark Eaton, Joel Kwiatkowski, Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky, Nils Ekman and goaltenders Jocelyn Thibault and Marc-Andre Fleury.

? Eaton skated for the second time after spraining his knee March 1. There is no timetable for his return.


03-15-2007, 11:44 PM
Scouting the Canadiens

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, March 16, 2007

Today's game

Montreal Canadiens (35-30-6) at Penguins (39-21-10)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. - Mellon Arena

TV/radio: FSNP/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (33-14-8, 2.92 GAA); David Aebischer (13-11-3, 3.10 GAA)

Notable: The Canadiens have won two games in a row following a 5-2 victory Tuesday over the New York Islanders. Heading into Thursday's games, they were two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. ... Former Penguins winger Alex Kovalev has been suffering from vertigo and is questionable. Forward Radek Bonk missed Tuesday's game with an illness. ... Sergei Samsonov, the team's third-highest-paid player, was scratched for the second game in a row and the seventh time this season Tuesday despite the injuries to Kovalev and Bonk. Samsonov said last weekend that he regretted signing a lucrative two-year deal with the Canadiens last summer, although he later apologized and took back what he said.

03-15-2007, 11:52 PM
Staal a thriller as a penalty killer

Friday, March 16, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jordan Staal is not entirely new to this line of work, you know.

He actually spent quite a bit of time killing penalties while playing junior hockey in Peterborough, Ontario, last winter.

Went fairly well, too, as he recalls.

"I did a pretty good job of it, I think," Staal said. "And it kind of carried over here."

Yeah, kind of. The same way that whole singing thing worked out OK for Mick Jagger.

Never mind that it's quite a feat for a guy who's nearly six months shy of his 19th birthday to be cashing a professional paycheck, let along holding down a spot in an NHL team's penalty-killing rotation.

For as effective as Staal, who teams with Ryan Malone on one of the Penguins' two penalty-killing units, has been at preventing goals in short-handed situations, it's the success he has had scoring them that's so remarkable.

He enters the Penguins' game against Montreal at 7:38 p.m. today at Mellon Arena with seven short-handed goals. That's a record for NHL rookies, and three more than the rest of the first-year players in the league had combined to score before last night's games.

In fact, Staal had produced more short-handed goals than 13 teams had before last night. Indeed, even though Staal has appeared in only 69 games at this level, he needs just one short-handed goal to tie Malone for ninth place on the Penguins' all-time list.

Even though the Petes gave him regular work as a penalty-killer, Staal allowed that "I don't remember getting a whole lot [of short-handed goals] during the [regular] season."

There's a good reason for that. His seven short-handed goals are five more than he got in 68 games in 2005-06, which makes what Staal has done during his first five-plus months in the NHL all the more amazing.

Therrien, cognizant of Staal's penalty-killing experience in the Ontario Hockey League and the Memorial Cup junior championships, said yesterday that he initially plugged Staal into that role primarily "to find him some more ice time."

It didn't take long for Staal to settle in, however, and it quickly became apparent that his size, skills and instincts made him a natural for the job.

"He's got such a good stick, and he's always in good position," Therrien said. "The way he sees the game, the way he angles the play, the way he uses his stick, the way he reads the game, you could see [that he could kill penalties effectively]."

Of all Staal's assets -- and there are many -- none is more striking than his reach. Watch him extend his arms to block a pass or keep the puck away from an opponent, and you get the impression that he could stand on top of a 747 and touch the tips of both wings. Without stretching.

Couple that with his hockey sense, and it translates to a lot of frustration for opposing players.

"He puts himself in positions to use his reach or intercept passes," Malone said. "That's something you really can't teach. It's just something that he's got."

And when he has the puck, the value of Staal's reach is compounded by the way he's able to use his strength and his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to shield it from opponents. That's a common thread in many of his short-handed goals.

"When he has a step on players, he's tough to contain," Therrien said.

Staal's hands are pretty special, too. He has 28 goals -- that matches his total in Peterborough last season -- on 108 shots, a conversion rate of 25.9 percent that is, by far, the best in the NHL. Alex Tanguay of Calgary and Ottawa's Jason Spezza were tied for second before last night's games at 21.1 percent.

He has at least an outside chance at claiming a place in the NHL record book as the most accurate rookie shooter in league history. That mark belongs to Penguins alum Warren Young, who converted 30.8 percent of his shots in 1984-85, while ex-Penguin Rob Brown ranks second at 30 percent during 1987-88.

If he doesn't get that record, Staal might be able to make a run at another -- Mario Lemieux's single-season mark of 13 short-handed goals, set in 1988-89 -- someday if penalty-killing remains part of his job description.

"That's always going to be there [as a target] for him," Malone said. "Thirteen, that's a lot. ... But you never know."


03-16-2007, 12:06 AM
Penguins Notebook: Laraque ready, may still sit

Friday, March 16, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Right winger Georges Laraque, bothered by back spasms for most of this week, said he is fully recovered and ready to return to the lineup.

Whether there will be a place for him there when the Penguins face Montreal at 7:38 p.m. today at Mellon Arena isn't clear, however.

Coach Michel Therrien was noncommittal yesterday about dressing Laraque against the Canadiens, and it's likely that Laraque's medical status won't be the only factor considered before a decision is rendered.

Therrien might be reluctant to alter the lineup -- which had Ronald Petrovicky filling in for Laraque -- that produced victories against Buffalo and New Jersey, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Laraque wants to play, regardless of the circumstances, and said having tonight's game be against his hometown team isn't really an issue for him.

"Obviously, it's always special, but not as much as it was the first time," he said. "Or if it was in Montreal."

With the Penguins in the midst of a stretch of five games in seven days, Therrien gave most of his players yesterday off.

The only ones who joined Laraque and Petrovicky on the ice at Mellon Arena were forwards Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman, defensemen Mark Eaton and Joel Kwiatkowski and goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Jocelyn Thibault.

Vertigo sidelines Kovalev

Montreal right winger Alex Kovalev will miss tonight's game because of vertigo, a condition that affects a person's sense of balance.

He first noticed a problem early Monday morning, and it was severe enough to force him to sit out Montreal's 5-3 victory against the New York Islanders the next night.

Although Kovalev returned for an optional workout Wednesday, he said he still was feeling some effects of the condition and was candid when speaking with Montreal reporters about his health concerns.

"First, I thought something was going on with my brain," he said. "Definitely, when you don't know what it is, it makes you scared."

Kovalev, who did not accompany his teammates, is the Canadiens' No. 4 scorer, with 14 goals and 28 assists in 63 games.

Diving leaders

It's no secret that the Penguins and Canadiens have much in common -- both teams are fighting for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, and Therrien used to coach in Montreal -- but they share at least one distinction few realize. And of which neither side likely is very proud.

Going into last night's games, they were the only teams in the NHL with two players who have received more than one diving minor this season.

Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong of the Penguins have been assessed two, as have Canadiens forwards Michael Ryder and Tomas Plekanec.

New York Rangers center Sean Avery has a league-high four diving minors.

Power-play success

Montreal's power play is among the most dangerous in the NHL -- the Canadiens have scored on 22.2 percent of their chances with the extra man, tying San Jose for first place in the efficiency ratings before last night's games -- and defenseman Sheldon Souray has been particularly productive during man-advantages.

Of his 57 points, 41 have come during power plays. Sixteen of those have been goals, leaving Souray two shy of the league record shared by Denis Potvin (1974-75) and Adrian Aucoin (1988-89).

Souray's total of 23 goals is the most by an NHL defenseman since Sergei Gonchar of the Penguins had 26 in 2001-02, when he played for Washington. Conversely, Souray's plus-minus rating of minus-20 is the worst among the league's 20 highest-scoring defensemen, while Gonchar's minus-7 is third worst.


03-16-2007, 06:49 PM
1-0! Crosby with his 30th.

03-16-2007, 07:48 PM

But Higgins Makes it 2-1.

03-16-2007, 11:37 PM
Great game by the Pens tonight! A 6-3 win, and more importantly, shut up all of those stupid Habs fans in the crowd! Actually, the Habs fans weren't bad, but I still enjoyed seeing them get real quiet after the Pens got the lead. Crosby with 2 goals, Christensen with a pair, Malkin with 2 assists and Ouellet with a goal and assist to pace the team tonight. They leapfrog the Sens back into 4th place and pull back within 4 of the Devils for the division lead. It's nice to see the Pens starting to play good hockey as they get closer to the playoffs - it will definitely serve them well because it will give them plenty of confidence.

03-16-2007, 11:44 PM

by Joe Sager

Georges Laraque gives plenty of substance to his nickname ?The Rock.?

At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds of pure muscle, he is tough and menacing ? someone to avoid on the ice if you?re not wearing a Penguins jersey.

Yet, away from the rink, Laraque is charismatic, outgoing, giving and well-spoken ? frequently walking around with a smile on his face.

Quite a difference to his on-ice reputation as the NHL?s heavyweight champ.

?The fact that I fight for a living and all that stuff, it?s not my personality off the ice,? he said. ?When people get to know me off the ice, they know that?s not who I am. I am a sociable person; I try to talk to everybody and help out as much as I can.?

And, helping out he does. While Laraque may be the toughest player in the NHL, he may be the most giving, too. For every hit he?s thrown on the ice throughout his career, he?s caused far more smiles.

?With the Oilers the previous five years, I won the community award. I won it in Phoenix, too, even though I got traded [to Pittsburgh on Feb. 27]. It?s not about winning. I just want to be active wherever I am and make a difference in every city I am in and have an impact,? he said. ?I want people to remember, yeah, athletes make a lot of money, but some actually try to make a difference and I try as much as I can. The team knows I will do as much as I can here and I don?t say no to anything. There are no bad charities. Everything is good and every cause is good and I will try to be involved as much as I can.

?I try to do as much as I can because I feel fortunate enough to be in the NHL. I thank God for giving me that chance. One of the ways to thank God is by acting and giving back,? he continued. ?The great thing about being a professional athlete is that we have the power of making a sick child happy or changing people?s lives by a simple visit or shaking their hand or talking to them. This is unreal; it?s one of the most rewarding things in hockey ? for me, anyway.

?When I do retire or whatever happens, I will be more proud of the lives I?ve touched through my entire career.?

The Penguins have always been active in the community and Laraque can?t wait to be a part of that ? and more.

?Every team takes time to give back. I just like to go above and beyond that because you can always do more. The more I do, the better I feel,? he said. ?Hockey has given me that opportunity and it?s so easy. It?s so easy to do, so why not take advantage of that? That?s why I feel fortunate and why I want to thank God by showing it.?

Laraque is more proud of the time he?s invested in visiting children in hospitals or reading books to students at elementary schools than the minutes he?s spent in the penalty box.

?What I do on the ice is my job. I don?t do it because I like it; I do it because that?s what got me to the NHL and it?s what I have to do to stay,? he said. ?Off the ice, I don?t fight. It?s totally not my character. You?re not a role model if you go out there and cause trouble and fight.?

Laraque prides himself in being a good role model.

?It?s important ? you have to conduct yourself well off the ice so people will look up to you and realize you?re a good person to be around or a good person to be a spokesperson for a charity or something like that,? he said.

The Penguins offer a solid environment, which is one of the reasons why Laraque waived his no-trade clause in order to be dealt here at the NHL trading deadline.

?It was my decision to come here. This is such a young, talented and up-and-coming team,? he said. ?It?s like a big family here. Everybody hangs out together. There are no cliques. They play with such enthusiasm. It?s really fun to be a part of a team that cares and wants to win. It?s awesome to be able to be one of the veterans who can show hard work, but at the same time, perform the job that I have, which is to look after them.?

Laraque enjoys socializing with his fans. People may send him email at letsrock27@hotmail.com. He looks forward to what his fans have to say.

?I get like 1,500 emails a day and I try to respond to them all. I have a laptop so I take it with me on the road, too. I love it,? he said. ?Those are the people who pay our salaries; those are the people who pack the building; those are the people that give us the energy to get off the bench and want to score or do something on the ice. These are the people who give us shivers when they scream and, when we?re down by a goal, they give us energy when we?re tired. So, the least I can do is show them some appreciation by replying to an email or anything. They give us energy and I give them energy by writing back because they get excited ? it?s a circle. I love that stuff.?

After his first couple weeks in Pittsburgh, Penguins fans love him, too.


03-16-2007, 11:47 PM
Notebook: Pens' Ruutu wants another chance in shootout

Saturday, March 17, 2007

• Winger Jarkko Ruutu didn't score when he took part in the Penguins' shootout Tuesday night, but Ruutu said he was 5 for 7 last season with the Vancouver Canucks. "It didn't work last time, but we'll see next time if I get a chance," Ruutu said Friday. "I know the things I'm good at and things I'd like to do. It depends on the goalie and how he reacts. I think the goalie last time knew what I was going to do, so I'll have to switch it up." Ruutu took the place of Evgeni Malkin, who is 3 for 12 in shootouts this season. Erik Christensen is tied with Mikko Koivu for the most shootout goals in the NHL with eight (on 13 attempts).

• Defenseman Sergei Gonchar had to break in a new pair of skates last night after his old ones fell apart during the middle of Wednesday's game against the New Jersey Devils. The rivets in Gonchar's skate broke, causing the blade to separate from the boot, and that allowed John Madden to get a breakaway on goaltender Jocelyn Thibault. "Imagine how I felt," Gonchar said. "Guy gets a breakaway, I couldn't skate. I had to just look at him."

• Penguins goaltending prospect David Brown was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year. Brown, whom the Penguins drafted in the eighth round (228th overall) in 2004, led the NCAA in goals-against average (1.64) and posted a .928 save percentage with a 27-5-3 record. Notre Dame won its first CCHA regular season title and finished the year as the No. 1-ranked team in the country. He also is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award for college's best player.

• The Penguins scratched forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski last night against Montreal.


18 - Wins the Penguins had through 71 games last season.

48 - Points the Penguins had through 71 games last season.


03-16-2007, 11:49 PM
Christensen, Crosby spark Penguins' victory

By Karen Price
Saturday, March 17, 2007

There aren't too many players in the NHL who can take the puck and go up against four opposing players and have a chance to score.

But Sidney Crosby is a one-in-a-million type of player, and he proved it again with another highlight-reel goal in a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday at Mellon Arena.

The 19-year-old center got the puck in the Penguins' end with the game still scoreless, and just after he hit the offensive blue line, he faced a 1-on-4 situation. Crosby went down the middle and angled toward Sheldon Souray, who was minus-20 going into the game, and jumped to the outside of the 6-4, 227-pound defenseman.

He let the shot go just as he cleared Souray and scored his 30th goal and league-leading 105th point of the season.

Since scoring only twice in 19 games, Crosby has four goals in the last four games.

"I just tried to split the 'D' and get a shot off," Crosby said. "I was just trying to drive through the middle. That was basically it. There wasn't much else going through my mind."

Like the sellout crowd at Mellon Arena, teammate Erik Christensen was a little more impressed with Crosby's goal than Crosby seemed to be.

"He's performing miracles," Christensen said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he walked on water one of these days."

Christensen scored twice for his second two-goal game of the season. Gary Roberts and Michel Ouellet also scored, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves.

After going to overtime in five straight games, last night was the Penguins' second consecutive win in regulation.

It was the Penguins' fourth victory in a row after defeating Buffalo and New Jersey -- the two best teams in the Eastern Conference -- earlier in the week, and their seventh win in the last nine games. They traded places with the Ottawa Senators again, moving one point ahead of them for fourth place in the East.

Crosby, who added an empty net goal with a minute left, was hit in the foot in the first period by a shot from teammate Brooks Orpik and again in the same spot in the third period by Canadiens defenseman Michael Komisarek.

He missed a shift in the third period but said afterward that he was OK.

"It's a little sore, but it will be all right," Crosby said. "It's been a tough couple games, but it's that time of year. I'll be fine. It's just too bad it had to hit me twice there. Once was enough."

The game was tied after two periods on goals from Crosby and Christensen for the Penguins in the first period and Chris Higgins and Souray -- both on power plays -- in the second period.

Christensen and Roberts scored two goals within 40 seconds to reclaim the two-goal lead.

But Mark Recchi high-sticked Danny Markov on the next shift, and the Canadiens, who have the second-best power play in the league, scored their third goal on the advantage to make it 4-3.

The Penguins had only one power play, and it came 10 seconds into the first period.

The Canadiens went into the game in 11th place in the Eastern Conference but only two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

"They're desperate," Crosby said. "There's a lot of teams battling for the last few spots. Every game's going to be like that."

Ouellet made it 5-3 at 13:47 of the third after another nice pass from Malkin, who assisted on Christensen's second goal of the game.

"In the third period, they really pushed us hard," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We gave the puck away on the third goal and the fifth goal. When you have a talented team like they have, they make you pay."


03-16-2007, 11:54 PM
Penguins Notebook: Fans add to playoff pressure for Canadiens

Saturday, March 17, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With less than a month before the end of the regular season, the Montreal Canadiens were on the outside looking in for the Eastern Conference playoff race going into their game against the Penguins last night.

That's an uncomfortable position for a team with one of the richest histories in professional sports. Montreal has won 23 Stanley Cups and has made the playoffs all but 12 seasons since 1917-18.

Since they last won the Cup in 1993, though, the Canadiens have missed the playoffs five times and been ousted in the first round three other times, including last season.

The French-Canadian Penguins know the kind of expectations and emotion Montreal's playoff quest elicits in Quebec province.

"People expect every year that they will make the playoffs," Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said yesterday. "Sometimes maybe it's more relaxing to play on the road."

Canadiens winger Guillaume Latendresse refuted that last point. He said it's more a case of the fans experiencing each win and loss -- and the cumulative results -- as if they were skating alongside the players.

"They're going to be frustrated for sure [if the Canadiens miss the playoffs]," Latendresse said, "but they know that we work hard every night to try to get in the playoffs."

"I have the French TV at home, with a dish, and it's crazy how much the media and the fans are putting pressure on this team," Penguins winger Maxime Talbot said.

Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said the parity that has come with a salary cap and rules changes makes it difficult for any franchise to dominate or build a dynasty.

"Look at the two teams that made it to the finals last year -- they're struggling to make the playoffs this year," Carbonneau said.

That would be defending champion Carolina, which was barely above the playoff cutoff in the East, and Edmonton, which was 18 points out of a playoff spot in the West.

Pair of prospects shine

Notre Dame senior goaltender David Brown, an eighth-round draft choice by the Penguins in 2004, was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year.

Brown led the NCAA with a goals-against average of 1.64 and tied for sixth with a .928 save percentage for the No. 1 Fighting Irish.

Brown is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

Another of the finalists is St. Cloud State goaltender Bobby Goepfert, a Penguins' sixth-round draft pick in 2002.

He had a 2.08 goals-against average.

Spreading the wealth

Going into last night, 10 players had at least one shorthanded goal for the Canadiens, including three defensemen.

Carbonneau said it's just a product of spreading the responsibility of killing penalties.

"We had so many penalties earlier this year that I had no choice but to use a lot more guys," Carbonneau said.

Slap shots

The Penguins scratched defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman, with winger Georges Laraque returning to the lineup after he missed two games because of back spasms. ... Montreal scratched goaltender Michael Leighton and forwards Sergei Samonsov, Radek Bonk (flu), Alex Kovalev (vertigo) and Alexander Perezhogin.


03-17-2007, 03:51 AM
They game wasn't on here. Can someone post Sid's first goal please?

03-17-2007, 08:11 AM
They game wasn't on here. Can someone post Sid's first goal please?

Here you go, Larry. It's the first on the highlights clip. It was a work of art - enjoy! :smile:


It was one helluva game and if the Pens had stayed out of the sin bin, the Habs wouldn't have scored at all. Great effort by the guys again - here's hoping they can continue in like fashion against the Sens tomorrow. LETS GO PENS! :cheers:

03-17-2007, 09:39 AM
To keep it short and sweet.....now they are putting 60 minutes together and getting solid goaltending. If they continue to play like this I would not want to be the team to face them in the first round.

Sid with the unbelievable goal.

Malkin with the beautiful saucer pass to Omelette.

Omelette played a good game. Even if he didn't score he was hustling non-stop. Something I hardly ever notice. From the drop of the puck to the final horn.

Erik Christensen played another great game. Proving what he can do when you actually play him along side talent (Malkin).

Defense playing solid overall even though Melichar still scares the hell out of me. When Eaton returns it will only make that defensive unit that much better. That's if Eaton can stay healthy for a straight week. That is starting to concern me just a bit.

Bring on Ottawa!!

03-18-2007, 03:04 AM
Goaltenders are a good 1-2 punch on and off the ice
Sunday, March 18, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Marc-Andre Fleury already had his pads off and was unlacing his skates yesterday at Southpointe when Jocelyn Thibault lumbered by in full gear, fresh off the ice. Fleury extended an arm and got a knuckles-to-blocker greeting.

The two goaltenders smiled and began chatting in their native French. It's like that most days after Penguins practice.

Fleury, the young starter, and Thibault, the veteran backup, have developed a strong rapport.

"He's such a good off-ice guy. He's always there for me. He always tries to help me out," said Fleury, 22, who will start tonight against Ottawa but probably will sit out tomorrow night on the road against the New York Rangers while Thibault makes just his 16th start of the season.

A big brother. That's the way Penguins coach Michel Therrien describes Thibault's relationship with Fleury.

Thibault, 32, doesn't disagree, but he's not so altruistic that he's willing to be a quasi-coach to Fleury first -- the Penguins have assistant Gilles Meloche for that -- and a goaltender second.

"I think Marc-Andre is a great kid. I treat him almost like my brother. He's very receptive," said Thibault, whose playing time is increasing late in the season.

"Obviously, I'm here to do a job. If I don't play well, they won't keep me around just to be with Marc-Andre. I have to perform and do my thing. But if I can perform and do my thing, and I can help him out a little bit, great."

A little bit is about all that Thibault has been asked to do most of the season as the team grooms Fleury, the first overall pick in the June, 2003 draft, to be its No. 1 goaltender for years to come.

This season, his first full term in the NHL, Fleury is 34-14-8 with four shutouts, a 2.92 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. He is tied for fourth-most wins in the NHL.

Although Thibault won't take credit for it, he sees positioning -- particularly squaring up on opponents -- as Fleury's biggest improvement over the course of the season.

"We can talk about technique a lot," Fleury said.

Thibault is 6-7-2 with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage and is coming off of a 3-0 shutout of New Jersey Wednesday.

He came into this season mostly hoping to regain his form after hip injuries and the season-long NHL lockout wiped out most of three seasons. He's done that, and then some.

"I think I've improved as the year's gone along. I feel much better now," Thibault said. "I kind of feel lucky to be a part of this team. We have a special chemistry. It's very refreshing for an old guy like me to be with those kids every day. We're really having fun and working hard.

"The last couple of years have been kind of hard, tough mentally, for me. This year, I'm really enjoying my year."

Even if that means playing sparingly at times and adding the role of mentor for Fleury.

Fleury was nearly Martin Brodeur-like much of this season. He started the team's first 11 games -- with Thibault playing in just 29 minutes, 37 seconds in one relief appearance during that time.

Through Feb. 16, Fleury had 47 decisions in the Penguins' 56 games. Thibault had appeared in 12 games.

It has been a little different the past month. With 17 games in March and the team pushing for a favorable playoff position, Thibault's value and ice time have increased. Tomorrow night would mark his seventh start in 14 games. That's fine with Fleury, who likes to play a lot but understands the demands of a stretch like the Penguins are in now.

"That's a lot of games, five games in seven nights," Fleury said. "I think it's better to have Jocelyn in net in one or two of those games. Then I can have some rest and come back fresh the next game."

There's every reason to believe Thibault will get into a few more games approaching the playoffs. After this five-in-seven stretch, the Penguins have two open dates, then play their final nine games over 17 days.

"It's nice for the team to be playing every second day," Thibault said. "We're starting to get into the playoff mode, myself included."


03-18-2007, 03:06 AM
Penguins Notebook: Penguins are happy at home
Sunday, March 18, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins' record at home -- 22-9-5 for 49 points -- puts them in a five-way tie for seventh-best in the NHL going into last night's games.

Look at what they've done at Mellon Arena since the beginning of January, and it gets more impressive.

Going into their game tonight against visiting Ottawa, the Penguins are on a 13-2-1 stretch at home. Five of their last 11 games are at home.

"The last two months and a half, we're pretty solid," coach Michel Therrien said after practice yesterday at Southpointe. "Early in the season, we were kind of fair. Then we really picked it up. It's important if you want to make the playoffs, to play well at home.

"This is something we did talk about, our home record."

Another big game

The game tonight against the Senators could help determine home-ice advantage in the playoffs, which goes to top four teams in the conference. Ottawa went into its game against Philadelphia last night one point behind the fourth-place Penguins in the Eastern Conference.

Last week, playing the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins came away with wins against Buffalo and New Jersey. Therrien expects his team to compete just as hard against Ottawa.

"We always seem to raise our game when the challenge is there," he said. "We proved it against Buffalo. We proved it against Jersey."

Shooting for 100

With 11 games and a potential of 22 points left in the regular season, the Penguins have a shot at 100 points just one year after they finished second-to-last overall in the NHL with 58 points.

The Penguins hit 90 points Friday with their 6-3 win against Montreal.

No language barrier

When the Penguins play Montreal or Ottawa, Penguins leading scorer Sidney Crosby pulls some double-shifting off the ice. He does interviews in English and French.

"I think I do all right," said Crosby, a native of English-speaking Nova Scotia who learned French as a second language when he moved to Rimouski, Quebec, to play junior hockey.

"It's just something that I picked up and am able to do, but I'm not really bilingual to a great point."

From the sounds of it Friday when Montreal and its French journalists were in town, Crosby keeps his answers pretty simple. He said he hopes if he makes a faux pas and something goes wrong in translation, people will understand.

"I don't really think about that a whole lot," he said.

Slap shots

Winger Gary Roberts was given the day off from practice, although he worked out off the ice. ... Defenseman Eric Cairns, who has been on injured reserve since Nov. 22 because of post-concussion symptoms, has resumed skating but has not been cleared to join the team at practice.


03-18-2007, 03:07 AM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Climbing this hill will prove to be well worth the view (for everyone)

Even those who think Peter Tchaikovsky is a shooting guard from Kiev can appreciate the value of having a world-class symphony in this city.

Just as folks whose only experience with air travel came when they rode off a bike ramp as kids should be able to understand why it's important to have a modern airport.

It's all about maintaining, and ideally improving, the overall quality of life in the region, and retaining the assets that make that possible. Do that often enough and perhaps the population drain that's gone on for more than three decades can be slowed, if not stopped.

That's why last week's agreement that will keep the Penguins here for at least three more decades wasn't good news only for hockey fans. Or even people who are partial to truck pulls, hip-hop concerts or skating shows, for that matter.

The multi-purpose facility that will open near Mellon Arena in a few years won't just be Western Pennsylvania's premier entertainment venue; it will serve as high-profile proof that members of the private sector and elected officials can find creative solutions to complex problems, and forge deals that work to the benefit of all concerned.

That's a critical message to convey to the young people who will be the future of this area and who, coincidentally, make up a growing portion of the Penguins' fan base. Having a pro hockey team isn't as important as having a quality job, but it is a significant part of the puzzle for a lot of twenty- and thirty-somethings who might be looking to put down roots.

The Penguins, like the arena in which they will play, are an asset for a region that has lost far too many of them in recent years. The steel industry all but vanished, numerous corporate headquarters relocated and even USAirways, the company for which the aforementioned airport was built, downgraded Pittsburgh from a hub to a "focus city."

(The literal translation of "focus city," by the way, is, "Fly non-stop to anywhere you want, as long as it's Philadelphia.")

That's why the arena deal is a victory for everyone in the city and region, whether they realize it, or not. It doesn't matter if they've been to a hockey game, or ever plan to go to one.

Or even if their interest in sports is confined to wondering whether Tchaikovsky can still make a 3-point jumper.

As Eaton goes, so goes Gonchar

There's still no firm word on when Mark Eaton will be back in the Penguins' lineup.

He has been skating for a while, so it's obvious that his sprained knee is improving, but he hasn't set a target date for being back in uniform.

That's no big deal; it's far more important that Eaton recover completely and get a few games in to regain his edge before the playoffs than it is for him to rush back and risk reinjuring his knee.

Eaton's value probably isn't as great as the Penguins' 19-6-1 record in the 26 complete games in which he has appeared might suggest -- if it is, he's a candidate to receive the highest salary allowed by the league's labor agreement in his next contract -- but the success they've had with him in the lineup isn't entirely coincidental, either.

And it's not a fluke or quirk that Sergei Gonchar has played most of his best hockey this season when he has had Eaton for a partner, which is why it's imperative that they be reunited for the playoffs.

That pairing was broken up during the Penguins' 5-1 loss in Tampa Feb. 25, a reasonable reaction to a pretty miserable showing by both players. Then again, if that game against the Lightning had been used as the sole criterion for making major decisions about the franchise, it probably would have been disbanded the next day.

And the Tampa Bay game aside, Eaton has consistently helped to bring out the best in Gonchar, who can be among the NHL's better defensemen when he's on top of his game.

The Penguins will enter the playoffs fully expecting Eaton to give them solid defense and quality penalty killing every time he plays. Gonchar's performance, meanwhile, will be one of the key variables that will go a long way toward determining how long their run lasts.

Gonchar has the talent to be a true difference-maker. Playing him with Eaton gives him the best chance to prove it.


03-18-2007, 03:08 AM
Smizik: Like former owner, Penguins can finally move on
Sunday, March 18, 2007

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The final page of the Penguins' eight-year nightmare was turned last week and the team and its fans finally can look to the future with hope instead of grave concern. With agreement on construction of a new arena and the 30-year lease that comes with it, the team's prospects on and off the ice are excellent.

It was a long and despairing slog that began with bankruptcy in 1998 and proceeded through a serious shortage of funding, a season-long work stoppage, four consecutive last-place finishes and horrific personnel decisions, often, but not always, forced by financial reasons.

The person most responsible for this eight-year long misadventure has understandably become, beyond doubt, the most reviled man in the history of the franchise. No player, coach, general manager or other owner stands close to Howard Baldwin in the Penguins hall of infamy. His reckless overspending propelled the team to bankruptcy court, which led to the plethora of other tribulations.

Baldwin was on the phone the other day, recalling what went wrong with the Penguins and talking about what he's doing today. He hasn't exactly gone underground. His unsound and unsafe business practices with the Penguins did not make him a pariah in other fields.

Baldwin dabbled in "B" movies in his days with the Penguins. Who can forget "Sudden Death," with Jean-Claude Van Damme, which was partly filmed at Mellon Arena and included some members of the Penguins? He's gone well beyond that. He has achieved a level of success and respect in the film industry that he never approached in hockey.

It's hard to imagine another person who can put this on their resume: owner of Stanley Cup champion; Oscar nominee.

Baldwin was one of the producers of "Ray," the story of Ray Charles, that was nominated for the best picture Oscar in 2004. If Ray had won, -- "Million Dollar Baby" did -- and it had a chance, Baldwin would have been on stage delivering the acceptance speech.

His latest projects show just how far he has come. He's involved with a movie about Jackie Robinson in which Robert Redford will play Branch Rickey; He's making "Atlas Shrugged," the Ayn Rand classic, into a movie that will star Angelina Jolie; he has Keira Knightley ("Pride & Prejudice" and "Pirates of the Caribbean") starring in "1:30 Train."

Baldwin is a major Hollywood player. He's busy with his movie projects but keeps an eye on the Penguins and was pleased the team's troubles had a happy ending. As always, he was courteous and classy.

"I'm thrilled the team is staying. The fans support always has been great."

It bothers Baldwin that his tenure is remembered with such disgust. "I am proud of what I did there," he said. "We were in an economic environment that I couldn't afford. I'm not a big money guy."

Baldwin, though, did not allow that to stop him from paying high salaries and placing the Penguins at or near the top of team payrolls in the NHL. To cover payroll he wheeled and dealed -- spinning off one revenue stream after another to cover his expenditures. Not unexpectedly, such financial maneuverings caught up with him.

At one point, Baldwin had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr both under more than $40 million contracts, when, in truth, he could barely afford one such deal.

"In hindsight, one of the dilemmas we had was the unpredictability of whether Mario would play from year to year. We knew we couldn't afford both Mario and Jagr. But how do you, with Mario maybe not playing, not sign Jagr? We were kind of trapped and we ended up signing both."

Baldwin wasn't just a poor businessman, he was too nice a guy. He hated to displease anyone, least of all his superstars. It was a time when tough decisions had to be made and Baldwin couldn't make them.

But let's not be so quick to denigrate Baldwin. He is easily the most successful owner in Penguins history. His teams made the playoffs and had a winning season every year of his tenure -- 1991-98. The team's ownership history is so convoluted that it's hard to tell, but it's possible he is the only owner with an overall winning record.

No one, not the media, not the fans, complained when Baldwin was signing all those future Hall of Famers and All-Stars. We loved it when year after year the Penguins were a leading contender to win the Stanley Cup. The 1992-93 team, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions which lost in a stunning upset to the New York Islanders in the playoffs, had a franchise-best 56-21-7 record and was poised to deliver a third title. Baldwin's team made it to the conference finals a third time in 1996 before losing to Florida.

It was a fun run, one in which an almost laughable franchise turned into one of the best in the NHL.

"I felt my position was misunderstood," Baldwin said. "It's long behind me. You get on with your life."

Baldwin has done just that. And, at long last, so have the Penguins.


03-18-2007, 03:09 AM
Penguins' Christensen boosts production

By Rob Rossi
Sunday, March 18, 2007

With three goals in his past two games and five in his previous seven, second-year center Erik Christensen is seemingly catching fire at the right time for the Penguins.

Prior to this stretch, he had averaged just 2.35 shots per game. However, over the previous two games, in which he has recorded three or more shots, Christensen has posted two-goal games.

"'Get it and shoot it whenever you can!' I hear that all the time," Christensen said. "In minor hockey, you're trying to be accurate all the time. But last year, I got some great advice from Joey Mullen. He said, 'It's not always how accurate your shot is but how quick it is.' And he's right. If you just put it on net, you never know what can happen. I probably need to do that a little more."

Mullen scored 502 goals in the NHL, and such a total was reason enough for Christensen to seriously listen.

"You're going to take advice from somebody like him," Christensen said. "It's not like anybody can argue with what he accomplished."

Christensen, with one of the quicker releases in the league, credits his recent strong play to thinking less when he's on the ice.

"There's definitely times when you overthink and grip your stick too tight, and I've definitely gone through that," Christensen said. "If you're trying to accomplish too much, you won't have as much success as you can. For me, it's just doing the simple things: Get it, shoot it, and do what I can."

Behind the numbers

Only five teams in franchise history have amassed more regular-season points than the Penguins' 90 this season. Of course, not one of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Then again, in terms of regular-season success, these Penguins actually closely resemble the Cup-winning clubs.

The Penguins earned 88 points in 1990-91 and 87 in 1991-92. Both of those totals were achieved over the course of an 80-game regular season.

These Penguins will play 82 games. They have also earned 13 points not available to the Cup-winning clubs due to teams earning a point for overtime losses and shootout victories under the current league rules.

By adjusting the Penguins' point total to exclude points received from overtime losses and half the total of shootout victories, this team would be on pace to earn 89 points under the old league format.

Instead, under the current system, they are on pace to record 104 points, a total that would be the second most in franchise history, behind the 119 earned by the President's Trophy-winning Penguins of 1992-93.


03-18-2007, 03:11 AM
Scouting the Senators

By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Today's game

Ottawa Senators (42-23-7, 91 points) at Penguins (34-26-10, 90 points)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. -- Mellon Arena

TV/radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (34-14-8, 2.92 GAA); Senators: Ray Emery (29-14-4, 2.49 GAA)

Notable: The Penguins have split two games against the Senators this season. They lost, 6-3, on Nov. 10 at Mellon Arena and won in a shootout, 5-4, on March 6 in Ottawa. The Penguins have won just twice at home against the Senators since the 2001-02 season. The teams meet again in Ottawa on April 6 -- the Penguins' penultimate game of the regular season. ... Center Sidney Crosby has recorded just an assist and is a minus-3 against Ottawa this season.


03-18-2007, 03:15 AM
Penguins battling for fourth playoff spot

By Rob Rossi
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Over their previous 21 playoff appearances, the Penguins have held home-ice advantage for 19 series. They have made successful use of it 12 times.

In other words, Mellon Arena to the Penguins has not exactly resembled the old Montreal Forum to the Canadiens. In fact, the Penguins have won just two of six decisive Game 7s played on their home ice.

Despite that lack of home dominance in the playoffs, there is no place the Penguins would rather begin the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs -- but not necessarily because they have won 10 of their past 12 games at Mellon Arena.

"Obviously, we have played well at home," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said of the Penguins, whose 22 home victories rank third in the Eastern Conference. "But in the playoffs, every little thing is important. When you are at home, the routine is more comfortable."

For Gonchar, sleeping at home as opposed to a hotel counts a lot at this point in a long hockey season.

Also, for every Gonchar, Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts -- veterans with proven playoff pedigrees -- there are Ryan Whitney, Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby, to name a few key components, who have never skated in a pressure-packed postseason environment.

Before the first puck drops in the playoffs, the media scrutiny will intensify. A faceless mass of reporters rarely seen by the Penguins' young core of Crosby, Staal, Whitney, Evgeni Malkin and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will turn locker room space into a prized commodity.

"It's different, that's for sure," Recchi said. "But our guys have been getting a lot of attention all year. The kind that comes with the playoffs won't faze them."

Perhaps not, but as Gonchar said, "You never know how you're going to handle the pressure until you experience it for yourself."

To that end, the Penguins have turned their focus from merely qualifying for the playoffs to at least securing home-ice for the first round -- if not longer, pending whether they can catch Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey.

A win at Mellon Arena tonight against the Ottawa Senators, who also are contending for fourth place in the conference, would make the home-ice advantage the Penguins' to lose with 10 games left.

"It would definitely help," Crosby said of the home-ice possibility. "You want to start off well in any playoff series, obviously, and being at home would help. We really feed off our crowd and play with a lot of energy at home.

"Usually when teams are on the road, they simplify things more. When we're at home, we kind of open it up. And we've had success doing that. I'm sure other teams have noticed."

The Penguins have averaged 3.39 goals-per-game at Mellon Arena. However, the statistic that truly speaks to the advantage that home-ice has provided them is goal-differential: At Mellon Arena, the Penguins' are a plus-1.28; the league average is plus-1.11.

"The way we've played at home ... it'd be a plus to start there," Recchi said. "But the bottom line is that you're probably going to have to win on the road at some point if you're going to win the series.

"If we don't get the home ice, we still feel as though we can win. But we're definitely looking at it, because it would certainly help."


03-18-2007, 07:00 PM
Tied at 1.

03-18-2007, 09:12 PM
3-3. RUUTU gets the first shootout goal.

03-18-2007, 09:14 PM

Fire Haley
03-18-2007, 10:29 PM
RUUTU with the gamewinner!!!...and Fleury shuts them down...suh-weet!

Gotta learn to protect the lead better though, there's no shoot-outs in the play-offs!

03-18-2007, 10:41 PM

I don't like the Cardiac Kids moniker,makes me think of the Cleveland Browns.

03-18-2007, 11:25 PM
Penguins, Ruutu shoot down Senators

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

Penguins coach Michel Therrien surprised a lot of people when he plugged Jarkko Ruutu into Evgeni Malkin's spot in the shootout rotation Tuesday.

At least that many likely were surprised when he did it again in the Penguins' 4-3 victory against Ottawa last night at Mellon Arena.

Ruutu wasn't one of them.

Not because he was taking anything for granted, but simply because the whole issue hadn't crossed his mind.

"I never thought about it," Ruutu said.

Well, Therrien did. And, after Ruutu was the only shooter on either side to score, it's safe to assume he'll be there again the next time the Penguins have a game stretch beyond overtime.

"He'll get another shot, that's for sure," Therrien said.

So will goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who turned aside Mike Comrie, Dean McAmmond and Antoine Vermette in the shootout to run his current streak to 22 saves in the past 25 shootout chances he has faced.

"When you don't give up goals, you have a pretty good chance to win," Therrien said.

Fleury attributed his success to some unspecified advice he has received from goaltending coach Gilles Meloche and a willingness to avoid being the first to commit when a shooter approaches.

"I just try to be patient, and wait for the guy," Fleury said.

He might have to take the same approach to finding out who the Penguins (41-21-10) will meet in the first round of the playoffs, although it's looking more and more as if last night's game was a preview of that series.

While much can change the final three weeks of the regular season, the Penguins and Senators are tied and holding down second place in their respective divisions.

The Penguins are two points behind first-place New Jersey and 13 ahead of the third-place New York Rangers -- who they will face at 7:08 p.m. today at Madison Square Garden -- in the Atlantic, while Ottawa trails first-place Buffalo by six points and leads Toronto and Montreal, which are tied for third in the Northeast, by 14.

"There aren't too many teams close to us, so that's probably one of the teams that we'll end up playing," Ruutu said. "But we'll see. We might even catch New Jersey. Who knows?"

The Penguins and Senators will meet again April 4 in Ottawa.

There was a little spice added to a potential matchup when Therrien and Senators coach Bryan Murray exchanged words during and after the first period, apparently because Murray was yapping at Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

"I don't like other coaches to talk to my players," Therrien said. "I'm going to stick up for my players every time."

Maxime Talbot put the Penguins in front, 1-0, at 10:44 of the opening period, but just 26 seconds later, Vermette tossed a shot past Fleury from in front to tie the score.

Ottawa finished the first with a 14-6 edge in shots -- "I don't think we had the best first period," Crosby said -- and Fleury had to make an excellent stop on Senators defenseman Chris Phillips from low in the right circle on No. 15 35 seconds into the second period to preserve the tie.

Crosby gave the Penguins another lead on a power play at 4:03, when he backhanded a shot past Ottawa goalie Ray Emery from inside the right circle for his 32nd of the season and fifth in the past five games, but Ottawa bounced back 61 seconds later when Daniel Alfredsson tipped in a Joe Corvo shot.

Therrien reunited the Malkin-Crosby-Mark Recchi line in the second half of the period in an effort to regain the lead. That didn't work, but the Penguins' power play did, as Ryan Whitney put the Penguins back in front at 17:05.

Whitney got a pass from Crosby and beat Emery on the short side from near the left dot for his 11th, and that lead held up until 15:07 of the third, when Wade Redden beat Fleury through traffic from the left point on a power play.

That put the game into overtime, but the Penguins were again able to survive a shootout, running their record in them to 10-6. And, in the process, pull even with a team they might face in a best-of-seven next month.

"There's a lot of hockey left," Crosby said. "We'll see what happens."


03-18-2007, 11:33 PM
Penguins Notebook: Gonchar offensive weapon on power plays

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

Perhaps quietly, Penguins veteran Sergei Gonchar has been hanging with the top-scoring defensemen in the NHL. Going into last night's games, his 59 points had him tied for third, three behind Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer.

Gonchar isn't surprised he hasn't gotten more notice for his offense -- a key to his game throughout his career -- because he's not racking up a lot of even-strength points. All but 17 of those 59 points have come on the power play.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien this season has regularly matched Gonchar and his defense partner against each opponent's top line.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing," Gonchar said yesterday before the Penguins played Ottawa. "My role has changed a bit. I have to play against the top lines. I'm proud the coach trusts me in that role and I'm happy to do it."

Now that he's got his refined role down, Gonchar is making another adjustment -- one players hate to make during the season.

He was having problems with the skate model he used most of the season, but the last straw was when the rivets on one of his skates failed while he was handling the puck at the point during a power play at New Jersey last week.

With one blade dislodged, he fell, allowing the Devils' John Madden to have a long breakaway. Madden missed the net while Gonchar struggled to get back to the bench on one foot.

Now he's wearing a different type of skates each game.

"I ordered five pairs from different companies, and I have to decide which one I'm going to wear in the playoffs," he said.

Rangers hobbled

The banged-up Rangers won't be getting Brendan Shanahan back tonight. The veteran winger and 2006-07 all-star told the New York Daily News he hopes to be allowed to have contact tomorrow and play Wednesday against Philadelphia.

It was against the Flyers on Feb. 17 that Shanahan got a concussion in a horrific collision with Philadelphia's Mike Knuble. Shanahan was taken from the ice on a stretcher.

The list of those out for the Rangers includes Fedor Tyutin, Marcel Hossa and Karel Rachunek, all of whom have knee injuries.

Former Penguins forward Martin Straka, who plays alongside leading scorer Jaromir Jagr, is day-to-day after leaving Saturday's 7-0 win over Boston with a knee injury that Rangers coach Tom Renney described as less severe than the others on the team.

Milestone for Melichar

Defenseman Josef Melichar played his 300th NHL game last night, all with the Penguins.

Melichar, a third-round pick by the Penguins in 1997, is the longest-tenured member of the team. He broke into the league in 2000-01 with the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Stevens.

Melichar, who has been paired with different defensive partners this season but right now is playing with Gonchar while Mark Eaton is hurt, is aware that fans have been unhappy with his play.

"It's not very fun to hear people criticize you, but they have the right to do that," he said. "I've been struggling the past few games, but [Friday against Montreal] I played a little better. I'm hoping to get my confidence up. That's what I need."

Slap shots

Eaton (sprained right knee) is skating with his teammates but is not cleared for contact, so it could be several more days before he can play. ... Gonchar said of Russian rookie Evgeni Malkin's grasp of English, "He understands more and more, but he's shy to speak it. Hopefully, he'll break that barrier and be all right." ... Mark Johnson, a former Penguin and the son of late Penguins coach "Badger" Bob Johnson, led the Wisconsin women's team to its second consecutive NCAA title. The Badgers beat Minnesota Duluth, 4-1, yesterday in the Frozen Four final at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.


03-18-2007, 11:35 PM
LeClair should be Penguins' MVP

By Guy Junker
Monday, March 19, 2007

The Penguins' incredible and unexpected run toward the top of the Eastern Conference can be attributed to a lot of things -- a great sophomore year from Sidney Crosby, a terrific freshman year from Evgeni Malkin and the improvement of Marc-Andre Fleury, to name a few. But my vote for team MVP this year goes to John LeClair. That's right: John LeClair.

LeClair scored two goals for the Penguins before getting the early Christmas present of an unconditional release after he refused a demotion to Wilkes-Barre in December. He was an aging power forward that just didn't produce enough in the new NHL and who couldn't keep pace with the young Penguins.

But way back in September, it was LeClair who collided with Evgeni Malkin during the Penguins' first preseason game and caused Malkin to hurt his shoulder. It was Malkin's first game of any kind in a Penguins uniform and the injury caused him to miss all of training camp and the first two weeks of the season.

That allowed rookie Jordan Staal to get a lot of ice time during the preseason, impressing the team enough to keep him on their opening night roster despite the fact that he was 17 years old when training camp started. He played so well that thoughts of ever returning him to his junior team quickly disappeared and he has been the biggest individual surprise in a season full of collective surprises for this hockey team.

You knew Crosby would be great again. You figured Malkin would be an immediate star. You hoped Fleury would mature. But nobody, not even Staal's mom and dad, could have expected this out of the fresh-faced kid that entered last night's game with 28 goals. Those include a league-leading seven short-handed goals, the most ever by a rookie.

In the process he's become the youngest player in league history to record a hat trick, the youngest to score two short-handed goals in the same game, and the youngest to score on a penalty shot.

All of those are statistical ways to measure Staal's success. But the fact that coach Michel Therrien even trusted him to kill penalties, nearly three full years before he can buy his first legal beer here in Pittsburgh, is a story in itself.

We've all seen teenagers who can perform incredible physical feats in their respective sports. But even they usually take a while before truly knowing and understanding the nuances of their particular sport. Not Staal. His physical skills are dwarfed by his hockey sense. He's a crafty veteran at age 18 using his long reach and long stick to have a legendary rookie season. His season has helped propel the Penguins to their unlikely quick rise.

It sounds crazy, but if Malkin doesn't get hurt in Moncton in his first appearance in a Penguins uniform, there is a good chance Staal is sent back to Peterborough if not before the season, then before he played 10 games, so this year wouldn't count as a full season contractually.

So John LeClair, wherever you are, as you come to grips with retirement, know that even in your partial, final season, you played a major role in helping the Pittsburgh Penguins.


03-18-2007, 11:37 PM
'Badger' Bob's son coaches Wisconsin women to title

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, March 19, 2007

The Penguins have separated themselves from the pack of teams vying for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, but the New York Rangers are right in the thick of it. Going into Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins, they were in 10th place but a 7-0 win put them a point ahead of the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs and into the East's eighth and final spot. The Rangers are 6-2-3 in their last 11 games and have picked up points in 14 of their last 18 games (9-4-5). They are 5-1-1 in their last seven home games.

? The Mark Johnson-coached Wisconsin women's hockey team won its second consecutive NCAA title on Sunday with a 4-1 win over Minnesota Duluth. Johnson played 136 regular-season games for the Penguins from 1980-82, and his father was the late "Badger" Bob Johnson. The game was played at Herb Brooks Arena.

? Sidney Crosby went into last night's game against the Ottawa Senators with 106 points (31 goals, 75 assists), the most in the NHL. With 11 games left in the season, including last night's game, he was 10 points ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier, holding the second spot in the scoring race, and 19 points behind last year's winning total of 125 set by the San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton (29 goals, 96 assists).

? Defenseman Josef Melichar played in his 300th career NHL game last night. They have all been with the Penguins.

? The Penguins scratched defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman. The Senators scratched defenseman Lawrence Nycholat and forwards Brian McGrattan and Oleg Saprykin.


45 - The Penguins' combined number of wins in the 2005-06 and 2003-04 seasons.

1.88 - The Rangers' goals-against average since Jan. 13, lowest in the NHL.


03-19-2007, 02:05 AM
What a game! Those Pens always have to give you a heart attack!

03-19-2007, 02:41 AM
Just think...tonight vs. the Rangers, the Pens have a chance to tie the Devils for the division lead. Who would have ever thought they'd be in this position at the beginning of the season???

03-19-2007, 04:56 AM
Come playoff time, we will not have the luxury of shootouts. Ugh...

On that note, good job grabbing two points against Ottawa. Hats off to the Pittsburgh Penguins unsung hero of the season, Maxime Talbot. The guy never stops skating, makes plays and is always getting his nose dirty. It would be nice to replace some guys on this roster with a few Maxime Talbot's.

Bring on the Rangers!

03-19-2007, 05:16 AM
That would be awesome. Let's go Pens! Keep on marching forward!

03-19-2007, 07:26 AM
Just think...tonight vs. the Rangers, the Pens have a chance to tie the Devils for the division lead. Who would have ever thought they'd be in this position at the beginning of the season???

I sure didn't. I thought it might be next or the following season, but I'm damned proud of these young guys, the vets who have stepped up their game this season to get the team where they are - sitting pretty 2 points behind the Devils, as well as the coaching staff (particularly Therrien who should win coach of the year honors hands down) and Shero, who knew exactly what he was doing when he acquired Roberts and Laraque. :thumbsup: That is why I get so torqued off when I hear anyone getting upset because they are behind in a game or look a little off their game in the first period or two - I don't think any of us expected them to be where they are right now!

Bring Fagomir and those Rangers on! :jammin:

03-19-2007, 07:50 AM
That would be awesome. Let's go Pens! Keep on marching forward!

If they can find a way to play 60 minutes of hockey on a consistent basis I pitty the team who plays us in the first round. Hell, I pitty the teams who play us in the playoffs. I would feel more comfortable if this team could avoid OT's come playoff time. They put 60 minutes together and this team can beat any team in the NHL with the strong possibility of winning the cup this year (which is the goal of any NHL team last I checked).

Eitherway, if they win the cup, great. If they don't, there's always next season. But I like our chances this season.

It's going to be a fun ride Prosdo! :thumbsup:

03-19-2007, 02:00 PM
Nice read on Gonchar, XT! :thumbsup:

Milestone for Melichar

Defenseman Josef Melichar played his 300th NHL game last night, all with the Penguins.

Melichar, a third-round pick by the Penguins in 1997, is the longest-tenured member of the team. He broke into the league in 2000-01 with the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Stevens.

Melichar, who has been paired with different defensive partners this season but right now is playing with Gonchar while Mark Eaton is hurt, is aware that fans have been unhappy with his play.

"It's not very fun to hear people criticize you, but they have the right to do that," he said. "I've been struggling the past few games, but [Friday against Montreal] I played a little better. I'm hoping to get my confidence up. That's what I need."

I hope his next 300 games are played elsewhere.

He needs to get his confidence up? He's teamed with Sergei Gonchar - one of the best defensemen in the league. :dang: Give him a :cookie: and send him on his merry way.

03-19-2007, 02:42 PM
ESPN has the Pens at the top of the power rankings this week! :cheers:


Fire Haley
03-19-2007, 04:45 PM


03-19-2007, 05:07 PM
Killer--awesome pic!:thumbsup:

03-19-2007, 05:55 PM
Killer--awesome pic!:thumbsup:

I agree!!! Excellent Killer - rep to you. :thumbsup:

03-19-2007, 08:46 PM
And the Pens lose in regulation 2-1.

03-19-2007, 08:50 PM
This game should be contested. You can not possibly make the goal judgement. Yes, the puck was over, but you can NOT tell how it got over.

03-19-2007, 08:53 PM
EDIT: Took picture down to avoid trouble even though I don't see the difference between the picture and :flipoff: :upyours: :fingers:

Three different ways to say **** you....

03-19-2007, 10:14 PM
I second that F the Rangers!

03-19-2007, 11:06 PM
No comment for fear of being infracted for foul language...

03-19-2007, 11:09 PM
Hey - a loss was gonna come sooner or later - they've played 3 games in 4 nights, but it sucks that it came against those arsehats. Fagomir gets the very questionable game winner which adds insult to injury.

Thibault was just outstanding in goal again - I didn't see the final numbers on how many saves he had but it had to be close to 40.

On to play the Isles on Thursday night. They could use the 2 day break.

03-19-2007, 11:55 PM
Hey - a loss was gonna come sooner or later - they've played 3 games in 4 nights, but it sucks that it came against those arsehats. Fagomir gets the very questionable game winner which adds insult to injury.

Thibault was just outstanding in goal again - I didn't see the final numbers on how many saves he had but it had to be close to 40.

On to play the Isles on Thursday night. They could use the 2 day break.

Yeah, that's true - 3 games in 4 nights and 5 in 7 against some pretty stiff competition will start to take it's toll on you, and you saw some of that tonight. The guys just looked tired out there and as a result, didn't put forth their best effort. Thibault ended up with 40 saves and was the #3 star, which he definitely deserved. This was their chance to pass Ottawa and tie the Devils, though, so the loss hurts in that regard. As for the game winning goal, well...again, no comment. :banging:

03-19-2007, 11:57 PM
Pens' winning streak ends in final seconds

By Karen Price
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NEW YORK -- Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi was making a play he probably makes 10 times per game, sweeping his stick to try to block the lane to the front of the net.

New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr was behind the net with the puck, and with one minute left in regulation in a tie game, Scuderi wanted no part of him or anyone else getting a shot on goaltender Jocelyn Thibault.

Only this time, when Jagr tried to pass the puck to Michael Nylander, it hit Scuderi's stick and deflected into his own net.

With 33.8 seconds left in regulation, the goal opened up a tie game and the Rangers won, 2-1, on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

"We were trying to go for first place (in the Atlantic Division), so I felt pretty responsible," Scuderi said. "I kind of let the guys down. But I'd probably play the same way tomorrow, so there's not too much I can do about it."

It was the Penguins' second game in two nights and their fifth in seven.

They were on a five-game winning streak and had an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games, with seven of those games going to overtime or a shootout. They were only seconds away from making that eight of 11 and getting a point.

Thibault said he was just trying to squeeze his pads together because he didn't know where the puck was.

"For a second I thought I had it," Thibault said. "On the replay you couldn't see the puck going in until I picked up my pads. Knowing that now, I would have turned my pad the other way and you probably wouldn't have been able to see the goal. But it was one of those deflections where you're just trying to hold on."

Outside of the performance by Thibault, who made 40 saves in the loss, it wasn't one the Penguins' strongest games.

It was an important one, however.

The Penguins (41-22-10) entered the game in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Ottawa Senators with 92 points and just two points behind the New Jersey Devils for the lead in the Atlantic Division.

The Rangers had just gotten themselves back in the playoff picture on Saturday and were desperately trying to move from eighth into the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I don't think we played that well (Monday)," said Mark Recchi, whose goal drought reached 14 games, his longest ever in a Penguins uniform. "They played better. They were more desperate than we were and they came out with the win."

With so much at stake for both teams, the first penalty of the game wasn't called until three minutes into the second period and the game was scoreless going into the third.

Thibault took a shutout streak of 140:28 into the third period. His last start was a 3-0 shutout win over the Devils in New Jersey on March 14.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was also riding a shutout streak, coming off a 7-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday in which he made 30 saves.

Thibault's streak ended 47 seconds into the third period after the Rangers won a faceoff to the left of the goaltender, got the puck back to the point and defenseman Daniel Girardi chipped a shot on net. It bounced and was redirected by Blair Betts to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

The game remained that way until 14:18 when the Penguins tied it on a goal by Michel Ouellet.

Evgeni Malkin had a nice touch pass in the neutral zone to Erik Christensen coming down the left side. Christensen's shot was blocked, but Lundqvist couldn't adapt quickly enough to the change and Ouellet came flying down the right side to tie the game, 1-1.

"It's just the way we lost," Christensen said. "We were just battling the whole game and not playing great. We were in the game and Jocelyn stood on his head all night. Just the way it ended is sort of bitter. ... We just needed one more shot."


03-19-2007, 11:58 PM
Goaltending will speak loudest in potential Sens-Pens series

By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Penguins took the ice Monday night at Madison Square Garden much more interested in securing the two points at stake than they were about sending any messages to the New York Rangers.

That hadn't been the case the previous evening against the Ottawa Senators.

"We're looking to catch (New) Jersey and Buffalo, but as it looks right now we're kinda headed for them in the first round, so it's kinda about setting the tone," defenseman Ryan Whitney said after the Penguins' second shootout victory over Ottawa in 13 days had continued to constrict the standings in the Eastern Conference.

The Senators were idle last night and presumably still stewing over the turn of events that led to their outshooting the Penguins, 35-19, through 65 minutes but losing a shootout, 1-0, and the game, 4-3, on Sunday night at Mellon Arena.

"If you watched the game, it was pretty one-sided, but the referees gave them too many opportunities," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson told the Ottawa Citizen. "They were the only ones who kept (the Penguins) in the game. We outplayed them five-on-five."

Consider that a message to the Penguins as much as an expression of the Senators' frustration.

The Senators can apparently decipher the standings as well as Whitney.

They realize that while the Penguins are still in a position to potentially overtake the Devils in the Atlantic Division and the Sabres in the Eastern Conference, the more likely scenario to be played out in the regular season's remaining weeks is one that ultimately positions the Sens and Pens to open the postseason against one another.

Both may be playing the rest of the way to determine which team will host Game 7 of their eventual first-round meeting.

Perhaps that's why the Senators came at the Penguins with such energy after having played the night before against Philadelphia.

That sent a message, as did Ottawa's ability to score 26 seconds after the Penguins' first goal and 1:01 after their second.

The Senators were also able to scrap back for a third tying goal at 15:07 of the third period against a team that had been 22-0-5 when ahead after two.

The Penguins were equally expressive in deed and word.

They let Ottawa know their special teams can be a lethal alternative when the breakout and the forecheck aren't up to snuff.

They reminded the Senators that one of the reasons Gary Roberts was acquired was to deliver crushing hits such as the one he dished out on Joe Corvo, and they informed them that Georges Laraque can backcheck as well as bust heads.

And coach Michel Therrien personally educated counterpart Bryan Murray as to his position on opposing coaches engaging Penguins in conversation.

"I don't like other coaches talking to my players," said Therrien, who told Murray as much during and after the first period.

More is likely to be said between the Sens and Pens on April 5 in Ottawa and beyond.

The last word is destined to be had by either Ray Emery or Marc-Andre Fleury.

It'll be all about the goaltending in the postseason, particularly when the teams are as evenly matched as the Sens and Pens.

Get the message?


03-20-2007, 12:00 AM
Notebook: Penguins make most of overtime

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Going into Monday's games, the Penguins had gone to overtime 26 times this season, more than any other team in the NHL. They also had the second-most wins in overtime (including shootouts) at 16, with four overtime losses and six shootout losses. Only the Minnesota Wild had more overtime wins at 17. Seven of their last 10 games going into last night against the New York Rangers went to overtime and 16 of the 26 have come since Jan. 1. Since Jan. 18, the Penguins haven't had more than three games in a row decided in regulation, and that happened only once, from Feb. 16-Feb. 19.

? A couple of months ago it seemed that the Penguins were scoring power-play goals on the backdoor play to defenseman Ryan Whitney at least once a game. The designed play has worked less often lately, but Sidney Crosby said it's just a play that requires patience. "You have to switch it up," Crosby said after the Penguins scored on the play against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. "I think we didn't really look to that the whole game until that one play. Sometimes, when we don't connect on it, too, some people think it's not there, but we had probably five or six chances in the last few weeks on the same play; it just didn't go in. Everyone doesn't really pay attention to it, but it's just a play we try. If it's there, we try to take advantage of it, and (Whitney) does a great job of putting it in from there."

? The Penguins scratched defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman. The Rangers scratched defenseman Karel Rachunek and Fedor Tyutin and forwards Marcel Hossa and Martin Straka.

? The Penguins will have the day off today in New York before resuming practice Wednesday at the New York Rangers' practice facility in Rye, N.Y.


32 - Number of hits winger Gary Roberts registered in his first 10 games with the Penguins

153 - Number of hits defenseman Brooks Orpik has in 60 games this season, leading the team


03-20-2007, 12:11 AM
Penguins Notebook: Murray-Therrien feud simmers

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW YORK -- The verbal hostilities between Michel Therrien and his Ottawa counterpart, Bryan Murray, didn't end when the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory at Mellon Arena wrapped up Sunday night.

They had several animated exchanges late in the first period and while leaving the ice for the first intermission after Therrien accused Murray of yelling at Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

"I don't like other coaches to talk to my players," Therrien said.

Murray told Ottawa reporters yesterday that, in fact, he hadn't been directing his words at Crosby -- who he said embellished an interference minor against Senators forward Mike Comrie -- but at referee Don Koharski.

"Mike Comrie put a stick on Crosby and Crosby went down, and we know full well he's one of the more powerful skaters in the league," Murray said. "I thought it was a very incidental call, and that Crosby kind of dressed it up a little bit.

"So I was yelling at [Koharski] and I guess Crosby turned and yelled at me from the bench and then Therrien got excited. That's his nature.

"Crosby is one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is promoting as the example of the new NHL and that, and when he turns -- I'm sure he's on camera quite often -- using the language he does, I don't think it's something you should do, that's all."

Therrien flatly rejected Murray's explanation a couple of hours before the Penguins' game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night.

"He was yelling at Sid," Therrien said.

So when the Penguins and Senators meet for the final time in the regular season April 5 at Scotiabank Place, chances are Murray will be yelling at Therrien again, too.

Surprise starter

Jocelyn Thibault was something of a surprise starter in goal for the Penguins last night.

Not so much because Therrien opted to give No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury the night off after the shootout victory against Ottawa, but because Thibault had to survive a shot to the left side of his throat during the morning skate just to make it to the opening faceoff.

Thibault went on the ice with forwards Ronald Petrovicky, Nils Ekman and Chris Thorburn and defensemen Mark Eaton and Joel Kwiatkowski because he wanted to face some shots to get ready for the Rangers.

Working on stopping shots with his neck wasn't part of the plan, but that's what happened when Eaton, using a new stick, got off a shot that managed to sneak under Thibault's mask and catch him in the throat.

"[The shot] didn't follow the same pattern as his usual shot," Thibault said. "It kept going up."

Thibault craned his neck as the puck approached -- "That's a bad reflex to have," he said, smiling -- and dropped to the ice after it struck him. He obviously was shaken up, but returned to face some more shots with no apparent problem before adjourning to the locker room.

"I'm OK," he said. "It's just one of those things."

Eaton said he "felt bad" about injuring Thibault, and noted that he dropped Fleury with a shot on the side of his knee during the game-day skate before the Penguins' 3-0 victory Wednesday at New Jersey.

Learning experience

The Rangers were one of the surprise teams in the NHL last season, when they nearly won the Atlantic Division and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Their place in the postseason this time is far from secure, but New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist sounds as if he is enjoying the challenge of trying to get in.

"It's a learning experience, for sure, and it's a lot of fun, too," he said. "Every game means a lot. It feels like you're already in the playoffs, actually; every game is huge and it's intense.

"When you look back at the record here from maybe the All-Star break, we haven't won as many games as we wanted to, but we definitely played a better game and a more disciplined game than we did before Christmas."


03-20-2007, 08:43 AM
"Crosby is one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is promoting as the example of the new NHL and that, and when he turns -- I'm sure he's on camera quite often -- using the language he does, I don't think it's something you should do, that's all."

Right buddy. So because Sid is the best player in the league he's not permitted to get a little heated under the collar and let a f-bomb loose from time to time? If I was receiving a cheap shot once a month and held on a regular basis I would also be letting a few f-bombs loose from time to time.

Just another example of some idiot experiencing jealousy.

03-20-2007, 11:09 AM
"Crosby is one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is promoting as the example of the new NHL and that, and when he turns -- I'm sure he's on camera quite often -- using the language he does, I don't think it's something you should do, that's all."

Right buddy. So because Sid is the best player in the league he's not permitted to get a little heated under the collar and let a f-bomb loose from time to time? If I was receiving a cheap shot once a month and held on a regular basis I would also be letting a few f-bombs loose from time to time.

Just another example of some idiot experiencing jealousy.

Agreed its ice hockey not cricket!

03-20-2007, 04:12 PM
"Crosby is one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is promoting as the example of the new NHL and that, and when he turns -- I'm sure he's on camera quite often -- using the language he does, I don't think it's something you should do, that's all."

Right buddy. So because Sid is the best player in the league he's not permitted to get a little heated under the collar and let a f-bomb loose from time to time? If I was receiving a cheap shot once a month and held on a regular basis I would also be letting a few f-bombs loose from time to time.

Just another example of some idiot experiencing jealousy.

Amen to that brother!

03-20-2007, 06:08 PM
What's even more ironic about Murray's comments.......

While waiting for a delayed penalty you could clearly hear Daniel Alfredsson yell "Blow the f-ing thing" at one of the officials.

Here's an idea Bryan, worry about your own team.

03-21-2007, 12:26 AM
Ekman fizzles, while Penguins sizzle

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW YORK -- The Penguins brought in Nils Ekman last summer to be a top-six forward, and he was on Sidney Crosby's left wing when the regular season began.

The Penguins clearly expected very good, if not great, things from him after sending a second-round draft choice to San Jose for Ekman and goaltending prospect Patrick Ehelechner July 20.

But, in a season in which the Penguins -- and many of their players -- have exceeded all reasonable expectations, Ekman has been a major disappointment. And, more to the point, become pretty much of a non-factor.

He has dressed for one of the past 36 games (he missed the first 28 of those because of a dislocated elbow) and, heading into the Penguins' game against the New York Islanders at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum, has six goals and nine assists in 33 games.

That puts him 15th in the team scoring race, a four points ahead of defensive defenseman Rob Scuderi and still comfortably in front of goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Jocelyn Thibault.

His most eye-catching stat, though, is a plus-minus rating of minus-14, easily is the team's worst and a surprise for a player regarded as a solid two-way performer.

Ekman's personal statistics undoubtedly have suffered because he has not been involved in the Penguins' surge toward the top of the Eastern Conference during the past few months, but the fact that they have done it without getting anything from Ekman says something, too.

Coincidentally or otherwise, the Penguins are 13-14-6 when Ekman plays. His is the only player whose presence in the Penguins' lineup is linked to a losing record (aside from defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, who has dressed for one game since being acquired from Florida).

Ekman acknowledged that he had hoped to have a more productive season, but focused mostly on the elbow injury he got Dec. 29.

"You can't help that you get injured," he said. "It's part of the game."

So is losing your place in the lineup when you don't perform to expectations, which means Ekman is a near-lock to spend the Islanders' game in street clothes.

The Penguins have won five of their past six games and, even though some players' games aren't fully in sync -- first-line right winger Mark Recchi, for example, does not have a goal in 14 games -- there is no obvious candidate to lose his spot to Ekman.

"He's in a position right now where other guys are getting a chance and they're doing the job," assistant coach Mike Yeo said.

Ekman's only appearance since he was injured came March 6 during a 5-4 shootout victory in Ottawa. He played seven minutes, 58 seconds, did not record a point or a shot and was a minus-1.

Until coach Michel Therrien decides to reconfigure his lineup, Ekman's time on the ice will be limited to practices and game-day skates. He and a handful of other rarely used players such as Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Kwiatkowski, along with Thibault and injured defenseman Mark Eaton, were the only players to skate the morning of the Penguins' 2-1 loss at Madison Square Garden Monday.

"He's out of the lineup, but I have to say that I'm very impressed with his attitude out on the ice," Yeo said. "He works hard every day, and I know that if he continues that and gets his chance, he'll get a good shot."

Ekman isn't just trying to keep an edge on his game with his work during practices; he's looking to shake the lingering effects of the injury he got when he went into the boards awkwardly after a collision with Toronto forward Matt Stajan.

"I still have work to do to get my arm stronger," Ekman said. "I consider myself healthy [enough] to play, and I am healthy to play, but I'm not where I should be."

Whatever else might be motivating him, Ekman, who is 31 and being paid $1.1 million this season, has a financial incentive to claim a spot in the lineup, because he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The Penguins have given no hint of their plans for him, but it's far from certain that they'd invest a seven-figure salary in someone who can't crack the lineup.

Especially one who was expected to contribute so much, but has done so little.

NOTES -- The Penguins, who had yesterday off, will work out at the New York Rangers' former practice facility in Rye, N.Y., today and will conduct their game-day skate at the Islanders' practice rink tomorrow morning. Nassau Coliseum will not be available then because of a Justin Timberlake concert there tonight.


03-21-2007, 12:29 AM
Pens enjoy home away from home thanks to Heinze

By Karen Price
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

NEW YORK - There's no place like home, especially for an NHL team that plays as many games on the road as it does at home over an 82-game season.

As old as Mellon Arena is, it's still home.

Visitors' accommodations in road arenas, meanwhile, vary from roomy and fairly comfortable to claustrophobic closets with stark, cinder-block walls.

Enter Dana Heinze, the Penguins' equipment manager who replaced longtime manager Steve Latin over the summer after general manager Ray Shero took over.

Heinze, a Johnstown native, makes it his personal mission to make sure that the Penguins players feel as at home on the road as possible.

So, everywhere the team goes, Heinze spends at least a half hour hanging signs with Penguins logos everywhere he can -- on the doors, on the walls in the hallway, on the walls of the dressing room, everywhere. Most NHL teams don't hang their players' names above their stalls on the road.

Not only will the Penguins players have their names over their stalls, but the coaches' room will have a label on it with a Penguins logo, as will the training room and the video room.

Heinze also hangs signs bearing the slogans that are prominent around Mellon Arena; sayings such as "Attention to detail," "Pride," "Respect," "Commitment," and "Together Everyone Achieves More."

"When we go on the road, I try to make their experience as comfortable as possible," Heinze said. "I want them to walk in and see the Penguins logos everywhere. It really does dress up all the visiting locker rooms and I like it. I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it."

Heinze has been hanging signs and trying to make visiting rooms a little homier since he was the equipment manager for the East Coast Hockey League's Johnstown Chiefs, with whom he got his start in 1988.

"I'm proud of it," Heinze said. "I've never had my own team guys say, 'This is stupid,' but some of the other trainers always thought I was crazy for doing it. It bugged me at first, but now I just think they're jealous. I don't care because we have such a nice set-up. You walk down the hall (in Philadelphia), and they have a big Philadelphia Flyers logo on the wall. Who wants to look at that? So, we cover it up. And the players walk in and see their name in their stall and that's big for them. It's all about treating them first class."

On game days on the road, Heinze and assistants Paul DeFazio and Danny Kroll are usually at the rink by 6 a.m.

"I just like to have everything the Pittsburgh way, the way we do it," Heinze said. "I just like the time before the players get here to have everything right."

That dedication does not go unnoticed by the players, who have only five fewer wins on the road (18) than at home (23) this season.

"Dana, Paulie and Danny are workaholics. They don't stop," Mark Recchi said. "Guys don't have to think about anything but playing. They make it that easy for us, and it's great. I don't know how they do it."

Heinze also renovated the Penguins' dressing room over the summer. He's still making improvements to the room, including hanging photos of every Penguins team over the years and highlighting the teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992.

"It was a fresh start, that's kind of the way we looked at it," Sidney Crosby said of the changes to the home room. "We had a tough year last year, but we were coming into some new renovations, a new look on the team and a new look in the room. It's about pride and respect and that showed a lot. It's everybody in the organization, it's not just the players, it's everyone involved. They're a part of that and they do a great job."


03-21-2007, 12:31 AM
Penguins rest after grueling stretch

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Penguins had the day off Tuesday after finishing a stretch of five games in seven nights, including back-to-back games Sunday at home and Monday on the road. Seven of their last 10 games before Monday night went to overtime.

"We've played a lot of hockey, but we're all in great shape and it's really not an issue," Mark Recchi, 39, said. "We've got a couple good days before we play three (games) in four (nights) again and we've got to take advantage of these couple days. Have a good practice (today) and make sure we have a good attitude going into these last nine games and really make a good run here and go into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves."

? Jaromir Jagr's game-winning goal Monday night ended a drought of eight games without a goal. Jagr earned five scoring titles while playing for the Penguins. Now 35 years old, Jagr is ranked 11th in the league with 85 points this season (25 goals, 60 assists), 23 points behind league-leader Sidney Crosby.

"I'm not 24 (years old) chasing records anymore," Jagr said after the game. "My goal is to make the playoffs. Right now, it doesn't matter as long as we win."

? Evgeni Malkin ended a season-long eight-game goal drought March 8, when he scored in two games in a row. He's now on a five-game goal drought, his second-longest of the season.

? The Penguins gave up 42 shots-against Monday night, making it only the seventh time this season they've given up more than 40 shots in a game and the first time since Feb. 1 against the Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins are 3-2-2 when allowing more than 40 shots-against in a game.


41 - Total number of shots for the Penguins in the past two games.

77 - Total number of shots against the Penguins in the past two games.


03-21-2007, 07:51 AM
Jaromir Jagr's game-winning goal Monday night ended a drought of eight games without a goal. Jagr earned five scoring titles while playing for the Penguins. Now 35 years old, Jagr is ranked 11th in the league with 85 points this season (25 goals, 60 assists), 23 points behind league-leader Sidney Crosby.

"I'm not 24 (years old) chasing records anymore," Jagr said after the game. "My goal is to make the playoffs. Right now, it doesn't matter as long as we win."

:yuck: :yuck: :yuck: :upyours:

His "game winning goal"? :toofunny:

03-21-2007, 09:30 AM
"Ekman Fizzles"

November 8 against Tampa Bay was the last time Ekman showed up. Pretty disappointing for the most part.

"He's in a position right now where other guys are getting a chance and they're doing the job," assistant coach Mike Yeo said.

Enough said.

03-21-2007, 11:36 PM
Jealousy really is an ugly emotion. Instead of praising Crosby for his sensational play and hard work on the ice, they want to try and tear him down at every opportunity. Kudos to Sid for not allowing this crap to get to him, and continuing to wreak havoc on opposing teams.

Pens' Crosby denies swearing at Ottawa's Murray

By Karen Price
Thursday, March 22, 2007

RYE, N.Y. - Penguins star Sidney Crosby doesn't want to get into a war of words with Ottawa Senators coach Bryan Murray.

But Crosby was emphatic Wednesday when he said he did not swear at Murray during the game between the two teams Sunday, an accusation made by the Senators coach.

"He should get his facts straight," Crosby said after the Penguins practiced at the Rye Playland ice arena. "I wasn't even talking to him. If he's going to say anything, he should be honest and say what he said and move on. If he doesn't want to do that, if he wants to start something with me, I'm not going to be a part of it. If he wants to say stuff, he should get his facts straight."

In published reports Tuesday out of Ottawa, Murray was quoted as saying, "He's one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is really promoting as the example of the new NHL. When he turns, and I'm sure he's on camera quite often, using the language he does, I don't think that's something he should do. That's all."

Murray told reporters he was yelling at referee Don Koharski, saying that Crosby took a dive on a play in which Mike Comrie was penalized. Murray said Crosby then turned and yelled at him.

Crosby doesn't deny exchanging words with one of the Senators players on the bench. The 19-year-old star and leading scorer in the NHL said that perhaps Murray heard that exchange and was sticking up for his player. But Crosby said he wasn't even looking at Murray when the incident happened.

"Why would I yell at Bryan Murray?" Crosby said. "That's what I want to know."

It's not the first time an opposing coach has criticized Crosby.

Last season, it was then-Philadelphia Flyers head coach Ken Hitch****, who called Crosby a diver. This season, New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan accused Crosby of the same thing.

The Penguins play the Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum.

Although criticism of Crosby is nothing new, it still surprised teammate Mark Recchi that it came from Murray.

"Obviously, we know Sid's a top player in this league, and he's going to be a focal point, but when people keep attacking the person, it doesn't make any sense to me at all," Recchi said. "Especially when it's a person like Bryan Murray, who's been around a long time and should know better than that. It's pretty sad when stuff like that happens.

"I know Bryan. He's a nice man. I don't know why he would even start something like that."

One theory, of course, is that it's almost time for the playoffs, and for the last month the Penguins and Senators have been lined up to play each other in the first round.

The Penguins, who occupy fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and the Senators, who are in fourth, play one more time before the regular season ends. The April 5 game in Ottawa could determine home-ice advantage.

"People are always trying to get an edge," Recchi said. "Up in Canada, everything's a focal point and, for whatever reason, things get blown out of proportion."

Penguins coach Michel Therrien defended Crosby, saying Murray yelled at Crosby.

"I'm sure we're going to have enough time to talk about Bryan Murray in the next week or so," Therrien said. "I'm never going to appreciate a coach talking to one of my players. Let the players get emotionally involved in a game. Coaches have to coach. When I see a coach trying to get involved emotionally with one of my players, I'm going to step up. ... Let the players play. Let the coaches coach."


03-21-2007, 11:41 PM
Penguins would be wise to sink Islanders

By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Penguins remain in hot pursuit of Ottawa, New Jersey and Buffalo, but tonight on Long Island, the idea will be to deny the guys behind them.

At least it ought to be.

For while the relative merits of a potential playoff series against the Senators, Lightning, Hurricanes or Rangers could be debated from now until the series actually starts, this much the Penguins know for certain:

They can't beat the Islanders in the postseason.

At least they ought to have that figured out by now.

The Penguins tried that in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s.

The Penguins lost all three series in agonizing fashion.

It doesn't matter that Sidney Crosby wasn't even born for the first two and was 6 years old at the outset of the third.

Enough's enough, already.

The Penguins need to avoid the Islanders at any and all costs.

The Islanders were cooperating, sort of, as of yesterday. They stood 11th in the Eastern Conference overall, but where just two points shy of tying the seventh-place Rangers.

That's too close for comfort.

And that's why the Penguins need a regulation victory tonight.

Otherwise, they're just asking for trouble, the kind they found in ...

? 1974-75: The Penguins bolted to a three-games-to-none lead over the Islanders in the quarterfinals before becoming just the second team in NHL history to blow such a seemingly insurmountable advantage (joining the 1942 Detroit Red Wings). The collapse was completed when the league's No. 3 scoring team lost Game 7, 1-0, at home.

Ed Westfall scored the series-winning goal with 5:18 remaining in regulation.

The Islanders eventually went on to win four Stanley Cups.

The Pens went on to declare bankruptcy immediately.

? 1981-82: The heavily-favored Islanders won the first two games of the best-of-five at home, 8-1 and 7-2, prompting Pens owner Edward J. DeBartolo to offer refunds to anyone who had purchased a ticket to Game 3 but no longer cared to attend. The Pens made amends by winning Games 3 and 4 at home and led, 3-1, late in Game 5 back on Long Island before goals by Mike McEwen (at 14:37) and John Tonelli (at 17:39) forced overtime.

Tonelli won it at 6:19 of OT, and the Isles went on the win their third of four consecutive Stanley Cups.

The Pens went on to consecutive sub-50-point seasons.

? 1992-93: The heavily favored Pens won an NHL-record 17 straight games to close the regular-season defense of their second straight Stanley Cup. But in the second round, the Islanders staved off elimination in Game 6 and then stunned the Penguins by winning Game 7, 4-3 in OT.

Considering all of the above, the Pens should just as soon not risk positioning themselves to find out who might become this year's David Volek.


03-21-2007, 11:43 PM
Pens can tie for division lead tonight

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Penguins players may not be Toronto Maple Leafs fans, but the Leafs did them a favor Tuesday night by beating the New Jersey Devils. That means that the Penguins have another chance to tie the Devils for the lead in the Atlantic Division with 94 points if they beat the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum.

"There's no doubt we know (today)'s a big one." forward Sidney Crosby said.

? At practice in Rye, N.Y., the Penguins players got a visit from members of the Army hockey team and First Sgt. J.B. Spisso, who led the Penguins players through "boot camp" at West Point in September.

"It seems that they're Penguins fans," coach Michel Therrien said. "They like the way we play, and we discussed our team and discussed their team. They did really well this year from what we hear. It's nice to see those guys are following our team and want us to have success."

Spisso also has attended other Penguins games this season, including games in New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

? For the second time in three days, Penguins goaltender Jocelyn Thibault caught a puck in the neck during practice. The first was Monday in the skate before the game against the New York Rangers. Yesterday, a shot from Colby Armstrong hit him in the throat, causing team doctors to come on the ice and check on Thibault. He soon got up and resumed practice.

"It's fine," Thibault said. "It's a little tough to swallow, but it's OK." Many goalies wear pieces of plastic that hang from their helmets for the purpose of protecting their throats. Thibault doesn't because he said he doesn't like to. "I haven't gotten (any pucks in the neck) all year, and I got two the last two practices," he said. "I guess they come in a bunch. But I'm OK."


4 - Penguins wins over the Islanders in seven games this season.

120 - Goals scored by the Penguins on the road this season, third-most in the NHL.


03-21-2007, 11:53 PM
Opposite styles make Orpik, Whitney good partners

Thursday, March 22, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It's not that Brooks Orpik and Ryan Whitney don't have a lot in common.

There are plenty of parallels in their private and professional lives.

They attended the same prep school. Played big-time college hockey in Massachusetts, make their offseason homes there and entered the NHL as first-round draft choices of the Penguins.

But for all the traits they share, it is their differences that make them an effective defensive pairing for the Penguins, who will face the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum.

Orpik plays a physical game with a strong emphasis on being effective in his own zone. He finishes most nights with more hits than shots, let alone points.

Whitney has a more offense-oriented, finesse style, as evidenced by the 11 goals and 42 assists he has put up in 73 games. That was good for a tie with Anaheim's Chris Pronger for seventh place among defensemen going into last night.

"We obviously bring different things to the table," Orpik said. "That's what they were hoping for."

While coach Michel Therrien could have matched Orpik with another stay-at-home type in an attempt to create a shutdown pairing, or Whitney with another skilled defenseman such as Sergei Gonchar -- his partner on the points of the No. 1 power play -- to create a menacing offensive tandem, he opted for the synergy that comes from contrasting styles.

"It's a good combination," Therrien said yesterday. Similar thinking, he added, prompted him to play Mark Eaton, and later Josef Melichar, with Gonchar.

Therrien's thinking reflects the conventional wisdom among most coaches, who like to have balance in their defensive tandems.

When a team puts two offensive defensemen on the ice together, there's a decent chance there will be a goal scored -- at one end or the other. Deploy an offensive guy with a partner who's content to hang back, however, and the latter can get involved in the attack without worrying about leaving his goaltender exposed.

"We complement each other pretty well," Whitney said. "He's a defensive guy, so I can hop into the play."

Good thing Orpik isn't often tempted to try that.

"He's thinking offense first all the time, so, if I jump into the play, I can't really know that he's going to be behind me all the time," Orpik said. "Whereas when he jumps in there, he knows I'm going to be back."

The Orpik-Whitney partnership has been intact for quite some time, so even though Therrien isn't shy about reconfiguring his forward combinations or defense pairings, it's likely they will be together when the playoffs begin.

Orpik said it's critical for defensemen to be comfortable with their partners, and that learning the nuances of another defenseman's game takes time.

"You develop a chemistry where it's even more important than with forwards," he said. "You can mix and match the forward lines. With defensemen, it's a lot more important to have more consistent pairings.

"He and I have gotten to a point where you don't even have to talk as much as you would with someone else. You just read off each other, know each other's tendencies."

Orpik and Whitney have known each other for years -- Whitney was a freshman at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass., during Orpik's senior season there -- and they were teammates briefly when Whitney joined the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre for its playoff run in 2004.

Although both played in Hockey East -- Orpik attended Boston College, and Whitney went to Boston University -- they never crossed paths in college, because Orpik left after his junior season to turn pro, which means he departed the conference just as Whitney was about to arrive.

The lack of head-to-head confrontations in college doesn't detract from the passions that flare when the Golden Eagles and Terriers share a slab of ice.

"They play each other quite a few times all year," Whitney said, "so we'll give it to each other here and there."

College rivalries aside, they have obvious respect for each other's style. Orpik allowed that "maybe sometimes it would be nice to be a little more offensive," the way Whitney is, and Whitney volunteered that he has high regard for Orpik's skating and hard hitting.

"Obviously, he's a different player," Whitney said. "And that's why it works."


03-21-2007, 11:57 PM
Scouting the Islanders

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 22, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (41-22-10) at New York Islanders (34-27-11)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. -- Nassau Coliseum

TV/radio: FSN Pittsburgh/WXDX-FM (105.9)

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (35-14-8, 2.92 GAA); Rick DiPietro (30-19-8, 2.61 GAA)

Notable: DiPietro returned from a head injury suffered a week earlier to play Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Islanders fell, 4-3, in overtime. That dropped them to 11th in the Eastern Conference. ... Captain Alexei Yashin was demoted to the fourth line during the game against the Lightning. The Islanders went 10-2-4 without him in the lineup while he recovered from a knee injury and are 1-4-1 since. ... The Islanders have lost seven of nine games in March, including two in overtime and one in a shootout.


03-22-2007, 07:49 AM
Bring on those pesky Islanders!!!! :banana:

I don't believe in that superstitious stuff regarding our playoff history with the Isles. Different era, different team.

03-22-2007, 11:59 AM
"Let the players play. Let the coaches coach."

That pretty much sums the Crosby/Therrien/Murray incident.

On that note, I can't wait to put the Ottawa Senators in the ground on the 5th. Out of all the games remaining on our schedule, I hope Sid get's a HT during that meeting.

Murray can keep talking all he wants, just ask Philly what happens when you piss Sid off....


03-22-2007, 04:39 PM
Got to worry about the Islanders first. Speaking of, let's sink the islanders ship!

03-22-2007, 07:10 PM
ARMSTRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1-0 PENS!

03-22-2007, 07:37 PM
Trent Hunter ties the score at 1-1 early in the 2nd. C'mon Pens - let's get a couple more scores!

03-22-2007, 07:40 PM
DAMN IT!!!!! Down 2-1. Come on guys. PULL IT TOGETHER AND SCORE!!!!!