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83-Steelers-43
03-22-2007, 08:12 PM
Bob Errey along the lines: "They want to make you think they are still calling the same penalties as they were in the beginning of the season but they are not.".

Thank you Bob..............http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=12221&page=8 #72

X-Terminator
03-22-2007, 08:32 PM
And it's now 3-1. Game over folks.

Hey guys...there's 10 games left in the season. Think maybe you want to pick it up a bit? Thanks. Finishing 4th is a hell of a lot better than finishing 5th, but more importantly, they have NOTHING wrapped up yet.

In other news, with 6 points in the past 2 games, Joe Thornton now trails Sid by just 6 points in the scoring race.

HometownGal
03-22-2007, 08:46 PM
And it's now 3-1. Game over folks.

Hey guys...there's 10 games left in the season. Think maybe you want to pick it up a bit? Thanks. Finishing 4th is a hell of a lot better than finishing 5th.

In other news, with 6 points in the past 2 games, Joe Thornton now trails Sid by just 6 points in the scoring race.

Haven't you learned your lesson XT? The Pens are down 2 goals with 8 minutes left in the game. Have some faith, will ya? If they go on to lose this game, Therrein will work their a$$es off to get them back to where they were just a couple of games ago.

There's a lot of hockey to be played in the regular season - they'll be OK.

What does it matter finishing 4th or 5th? They'd still have to most likely play the Sens, though home ice would be preferable. The Pens have a decent road record this season.

P.S. That power play SUCKED. That's my negativity for the night - LOL!

83-Steelers-43
03-22-2007, 09:00 PM
Bottomline........

The Islanders were playing for a playoff spot tonight and the Penguins were playing as if they already had a spot locked.

Eitherway, the fellow pizan looked damn good tonight in net for the Islanders. Nothing new there. The guy is consistent on a nightly basis.

Oh well. Nothing you can do now. Put it behind us and move on to the Thrashers.

SteelCityMan786
03-22-2007, 10:01 PM
They need to play day in and day out. This will hurt them at playoff time if this keeps up.

BettisFan
03-22-2007, 10:07 PM
OH BABY PENGUINS ARE GOING TO GO ALL THE WAY THIS YEAR GO CROSBY!!!!!! THE NEXT GRETZKY

83-Steelers-43
03-22-2007, 10:21 PM
PENGUINS SIGN COLLEGE FREE AGENT MARK LETESTU
03/22/2007

Center Mark Letestu has agreed to the terms of a two-year, entry-level contract with the Penguins, it was announced Thursday by Pittsburgh Penguins Assistant General Manager Chuck Fletcher.

Letestu, 22, recently completed his freshman season with the Western Michigan Broncos, leading the team with 24 goals, five shorthanded goals and 46 points. He also ranked tied for first on the team with seven power play goals and three game-winning goals.

The 5-11, 195 pound native of Elk Point, Alberta, placed tied for sixth among all NCAA skaters in goals and tied for 14th in points, while his five shorthanded tallies led the entire nation. Letestu led all freshmen scorers across the NCAA in points, and was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Year.

Letestu played four seasons with the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Albert Junior Hockey League, leading league in scoring with 105 points (50+55) in 58 games during the 2005-06 season. That performance led him to be named the AJHL.

http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/team/press/arts/2410.0.php

X-Terminator
03-22-2007, 11:44 PM
Haven't you learned your lesson XT? The Pens are down 2 goals with 8 minutes left in the game. Have some faith, will ya? If they go on to lose this game, Therrein will work their a$$es off to get them back to where they were just a couple of games ago.

There's a lot of hockey to be played in the regular season - they'll be OK.

What does it matter finishing 4th or 5th? They'd still have to most likely play the Sens, though home ice would be preferable. The Pens have a decent road record this season.

P.S. That power play SUCKED. That's my negativity for the night - LOL!

Therrien had better get on their asses and let them know RIGHT NOW that they do not have a playoff berth sewn up, and they better start matching other teams' intensity if they want to ensure their spot in the post season. Once again, they're getting no production from their star players, and it's costing them games. Sid has been hot and cold for about 6 weeks now and so has Malkin, and if this team is going to win consistently, they MUST produce regularly - and that goes for Recchi (who hasn't scored a goal since the 8th grade picnic), Malone and Staal. The entire team looked like they were just going through the motions, with the exception of the 3rd line. Completely unacceptable at this time of year. On top of that, it was another missed opportunity to tie the Devils for first place, as they lost tonight to Tampa Bay (who coincidentally is now just 6 points behind the Pens for 5th). There are 8 games remaining, and 6 of those 8 games are against teams that are either jockeying for position or fighting to get in. Some of those teams (TOR, CAR, NYR, OTT) are picking up their games. It's time for the Pens to do the same, starting with Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, I was NOT happy with their performance tonight.

X-Terminator
03-22-2007, 11:59 PM
Pens' offense sputters in loss

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, March 23, 2007

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Penguins coach Michel Therrien agreed that New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro was good in the Islanders' 3-1 win on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.

The Penguins had 36 shots on goal and only scored on one.

Among DiPietro's saves were a stop on an Evgeni Malkin breakaway while the game was tied and another on a Malkin penalty shot after the Islanders went ahead by one in the second period.

Still, DiPietro's play didn't matter to Therrien.

All that mattered was that in the past two games, when his team had a chance to catch the New Jersey Devils for the lead in the Atlantic Division, the Penguins have lost both games and scored two goals.

"We have to find a way to score more goals," Therrien said. "We didn't score enough goals to deserve to win the hockey game. I thought DiPietro was great (Thursday); he played an excellent game and we got a lot of shots. But at the same time, that's not good enough. Our philosophy has always been the same: that you have to score at least three goals to deserve to win. We're not scoring enough goals."

Colby Armstrong scored the only goal for the Penguins (41-23-10), who remain two points behind the Devils after their loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, now within six points of fifth place. The Penguins also fell four points behind the Ottawa Senators for fourth place.

The Islanders, meanwhile, were in 11th place with 79 points heading into the game and looked to leapfrog three teams log-jammed at 80 points. They were leading, 2-1, when Malkin was awarded a penalty shot and put the puck into DiPietro's leg pad.

The Penguins had consecutive power plays, including 37 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage before the second period was over. They didn't score, and the penalty kill energized the Islanders and the crowd of 14,457 at Nassau Coliseum.

Therrien blamed the missed penalty shot for the outcome of the game more than the performance on the power play.

"The penalty shot, if we could have scored, it would have been a different game," Therrien said. "We didn't score."

Therrien moved Malkin up to the top line with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi, and he moved Erik Christensen to a line with Jordan Staal and Michel Ouellet. Those were done to spark the offense, but the moves didn't work.

The Islanders scored their third goal just 1:42 into the third period after Maxime Talbot turned the puck over heading into the Islanders' end. The Islanders gained control along the boards, and that led to a 3-on-2 rush.

Viktor Kozlov scored from the middle to make it 3-1.

The Penguins received another chance on the power play, but the Islanders controlled the puck almost the entire advantage.

Crosby said the Penguins managed to get a lot of pucks behind DiPietro but could get just one to cross the goal line.

"There were probably three or four that were sitting behind him, and we didn't get a guy in there to bang it home," Crosby said. "They were solid around their net, but at this time of year, you have to score ugly goals and we have to find a way to do that."

The eighth and final installment of the season series between the two teams was as hard-hitting and chippy as one might have imagined from two division teams fighting for two points.

"We were definitely expecting something like that," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "They have a physical team, and they were really battling for their playoff lives. We had a good first (period), but after that they kind of took it to us."

Whitney didn't take much solace in the fact the Devils also lost.

"That's good, but at the same time that's twice we could have been in first place," Whitney said. "We would have been in first by ourselves if we'd won those two games here in New York. We're still right there for the division, but Saturday (against Atlanta) we have to be better."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499166.html

X-Terminator
03-23-2007, 12:01 AM
Good. Now if we can keep his ass healthy for longer than 2 weeks, that'll be great.

Notebook: Eaton might return this weekend

Friday, March 23, 2007

? Defenseman Mark Eaton, who's recovering from a knee sprain suffered on March 1 against the New York Rangers, said that he "optimistically" might be ready for one of the Penguins' two home games this weekend, either Saturday against the Atlanta Thrashers or Sunday's featured national game against the Boston Bruins. Eaton has been skating with the team for more than a week and said that if he's unable to play this weekend, he'll almost certainly be ready for Tuesday's game at the Washington Capitals. The 29-year-old defenseman led the team in blocked shots with 36 before he suffered a wrist injury on Nov. 4 at San Jose, and then recorded 33 more between his return on Jan. 26 at the Dallas Stars and March 1.

? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sidney Crosby had 17 points in six games against the New York Islanders going into Thursday's game, with at least two points in each game (three goals, 14 assists). The only two players who have scored more than 17 points in one season against the Islanders are Mario Lemieux in 1988-89 (18 points in seven games) and Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06 (18 points in eight games).

? The Penguins scratched forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski. The Islanders were without Chris Simon (suspended), Shawn Bates (hernia), Joel Bouchard (hamstring), Radek Martinek (leg) and Bruno Gervais (ankle).

? "I don't know; we'll see when that comes around." Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, laughing at a suggestion that he might try for a contract like Islanders' goalie Rick DiPietro's 15-year deal the next time he comes up for free agency.

Digits

4 - Games in which Evgeni Malkin has registered an assist (five total) for the only scoring streak on the team going into Thursday.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499150.html

X-Terminator
03-23-2007, 12:07 AM
Doing more than scoring goals? Well OK...but the Pens pay you to put the puck in the net, so it would be nice if you would start doing it. 15 games without a goal? Feh.

Penguins Notebook: Slumping Recchi won't panic

Friday, March 23, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Mark Recchi knows a little about scoring goals at this level. He had 506 of them before the Penguins faced the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum last night.

But he also has been in the NHL long enough -- 1,330 games, and counting -- to understand that slumps are inevitable, that even reliable goal-producers go through stretches when the puck simply won't go in the net.

Which is why he wasn't panicking about failing to score in the 14 games that preceded the one last night. And, more important, wasn't letting the dry spell sabotage other elements of his game.

"When you're younger, it's a little harder, but, at this point, I know I'm [doing] more than just scoring goals," said Recchi, 39. "I have to play physical, I have to hit, I have to create energy. I still have to make plays, and you have to try to be as good as you can defensively."

He said he has not felt the need to change anything, be it equipment or his game-day routine, because of his goal drought.

"No, because I'm getting three or four good chances a night," he said. "It's one of those things where it's not going in.

"You're going to go through stretches like this. You just have to make sure you keep doing things that are going to help."

Yashin update

Islanders general manager Garth Snow and coach Ted Nolan had a lengthy meeting with captain Alexei Yashin after the team's morning skate yesterday, and it wasn't to discuss terms of a contract extension.

"We wanted to talk to him and tell him how important he is to our team and how vital it is for him to play well," Nolan said.

He demoted Yashin to the fourth line after a blown defensive assignment cost New York a goal during its 4-3 overtime loss in Tampa Tuesday and made no secret of his displeasure with Yashin's work.

That led to what Nolan described as "about a two-hour conversation" Wednesday, and the likelihood of another chat today as the Islanders try to get their most-talented forward to play to his potential.

"What I need from him is for Yashin to play the way Yashin is capable of playing," Nolan said.

"He needs to be Yashin-caliber. He has to make good plays for us, he has to make intelligent plays for us because he's a very intelligent player. I just want him to play the way he's capable."

Tiebreaker disadvantages

The Penguins have made up considerable ground on first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division lately and were just two points behind the Devils before last night.

They aren't quite as close to New Jersey as it might seem because the Devils have an edge in the tiebreakers that would be used to determined the Atlantic champion if they end up tied with the Penguins in points.

The first is victories and New Jersey, which played in Tampa last night, began the night with a 43-41 edge.

No. 2 is head-to-head competition, and the Devils come out on top there, too. New Jersey earned 10 points in its eight games against the Penguins this season, while the Penguins took seven points out of those games.

Because the second tiebreaker goes to New Jersey, the third would not apply in this instance, but it is based on goal-differential over the course of the season. That's too bad for the Penguins, because they were plus-26 before facing the Islanders, while New Jersey was plus-11.

Busy prospects

Six Penguins prospects will be involved in the NCAA's Division I hockey tournament, which begins today.

They are goalies David Brown (Notre Dame) and Bobby Goepfert (St. Cloud State), defensemen Alex Goligoski (Minnesota), Carl Sneep (Boston College) and Brian Strait (Boston University) and right winger Tim Crowder (Michigan State).

The tournament will conclude with the Frozen Four in St. Louis April 5-7.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07082/771939-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-23-2007, 11:02 AM
"Slumping Recchi won't panic"

And that's the price you pay when you bring in a 39 year old hockey player. It's all good from October to February, but come mid to late March age starts catching up to you. For me, this was to be expected.

Eitherway, they should take him off that first line and the #1 PP unit. He doesn't go in front of the net...........at all. I'd much rather see Staal, Roberts or even Malone in front of the net at this point. I just find it odd that Therrien has moved everybody and anybody off that first line except Recchi. Maybe it's time to shake it up big time?

They need to do something in order to get that first line clicking. Recchi going fifteen games without a goal is not going to cut it come playoff time. I think you could make a strong argument that at this point in time our best offensive line is the Talbot line. They cycle the puck beautifully and are getting the scoring opportunities.

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 12:43 AM
Pens' young guns feeling the grind

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Since inviting Jordan Staal to share his house a few months back, Mark Recchi has tried to give his heralded young teammate some space. Lately, though, Recchi has likely sounded a lot more like a parent to Staal than a teammate.

"We've talked a lot about eating right and getting enough rest," Recchi said. "We're kind of getting into that grind where before you know it, the games are going to be coming every other night in the playoffs. You've got to take care of yourself."

Recchi was 20 when he made his NHL playoff debut with the Penguins during their Stanley Cup-winning 1990-91 season. By then, though, he was already 167 games into his NHL career.

If these Penguins hit the playoff ice next month, Staal likely will have played only 81 NHL games.


Also, he is just 18.

"That's not a small point at all," Recchi said. "For an 18-year-old young man with really only two years of junior hockey under his belt -- to come to the NHL and make that adjustment is really a tough task. He's done remarkable. I'm sure he's been a little tired lately, but he'll catch his second wind when the playoffs start. We all will."

If the promise of the silver-lined opportunity that will await the Penguins in the playoffs is to be realized, chances are Staal and fellow rookie Evgeni Malkin, 20, will play key roles.

With 31 and 28 goals, respectively, Malkin and Staal are the league's leading rookie snipers. Their 59 combined tallies represent roughly 23 percent of the Penguins' production this season.

However, with their club involved in a grueling stretch of 17 games over 31 days in March, neither Staal nor Malkin has made a routine habit of lighting the lamp of late.

Staal has scored only three goals this month and failed to record a point in four consecutive games. Malkin's four-game point streak ended in a loss to the Islanders in New York on Thursday. He has gone six contests without a goal, of which he has scored only two in 12 games.

"It's been tough, definitely. I'm feeling the grind," Staal said. "You can't really think of the whole picture. You've got to take it day-by-day and keep going. Every player goes through this."

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did last season -- his first in the NHL as a workhorse goaltender.

Compared to Staal, Fleury is a middle-aged man despite his tender age of 22. Still, Fleury can relate to the physical and mental fatigue that occasionally keeps Staal from performing at his peak.

"There is not a lot of time to recover, not right now," Fleury said. "You're always tired."

To stay energized, Fleury has cut back this season on late-night revelry in order to maintain the stamina necessary to help the Penguins chase their first playoff berth since 2001.

"We don't think about it like we're giving something up because you have to be professional and treat this like a job," Fleury said.

Playing in the NHL is a job that Recchi joked requires "cutting back on beer," and Fleury admitted to eating vegetables on their own, "instead of just getting them on pizza."

Besides, if the Penguins' young core of stars such as Fleury, Staal, Malkin and Sidney Crosby -- still only 19, by the way -- doesn't tucker out over the coming weeks, they could have plenty of time to live the sweet life of a Stanley Cup champion this offseason.

"You're tired, exhausted, running off fumes ... and, somehow, when the playoffs start you have still got all this energy," Recchi said. "You get there, and I'm not sure how, but guys suddenly know what it takes to play in that atmosphere.

"The playoffs truly really are a second wind, and everybody will say that they could not come at a better time."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499305.html

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 12:46 AM
Penguins confident two-game slump is aberration

By The Associated Press
Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Pittsburgh Penguins haven't fared well in a small sampling of playoff-style hockey.

Still one of the NHL's best teams since the New Year, the Penguins say they aren't concerned after losing consecutive games to the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

Pittsburgh has lost just six games in regulation since Jan. 10 and had consecutive pointless games this week for just the second time in that span. And, the Penguins managed just two goals in those games.

"You can't push the panic button," Sidney Crosby said. "It happens sometimes that you have trouble scoring. This time of year goals are always down and it's always tougher to score."

The Penguins players and coaches believe they played well, and insist they ran into desperate teams playing for their playoff lives with hot goalies.

"This is playoff hockey," coach Michel Therrien said. "And I like our intensity. I think the guys' work ethic was there. I thought we worked hard, and we battled. We just couldn't finish on scoring chances."

Pittsburgh, which lost 2-1 to the Rangers on Monday and 3-1 to the Islanders on Thursday, plays afternoon home games this weekend, starting with the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday afternoon.

The Penguins insist their confidence is not fragile enough to let a two-game slump make them forget about what they had accomplished the previous two-plus months, when the team climbed from out of the playoff race to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"I don't think we've played as we can the last few games," winger Colby Armstrong said. "We were a little sloppy in some areas. But we've got so many games we can't just dwell on that. We have a chance this weekend to bounce right back."

The most alarming aspect of the two-game skid is the fact the Penguins only scored a goal in each contest. That has happened only twice before this season and only once since Oct. 18.

"Obviously, only scoring two goals in two games is not going to win hockey games," forward Erik Christensen said. "(Goalies Jocelyn Thibault and Marc-Andre Fleury) played well, and we played well in stages as a team. But we know we have to generate more offense for us to win."

The team experimented with line combinations during practice Friday. Late in the loss on Long Island, Therrien also juggled his lines in an effort to spark the offense.

Entering the weekend, Pittsburgh has 92 points with eight games left and is two points behind Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey, four behind current No. 4 Seed Ottawa and six ahead of sixth-place Tampa Bay.

Center Maxime Talbot admitted all the jockeying for position has the Penguins eager to check the scores of other games. That hasn't yielded too much bad news recently.

"We're still only two points behind Jersey for the division lead, and it think that's what we're looking for right now," Talbot said. "But you have to take them one game at a time and not play how we did the past couple games.

"We need to get prepared for the playoffs because you can't just turn the switch when the playoffs start. These last eight games are pretty important for us."

NOTE: Therrien said D Mark Eaton, out since March 1 due to a sprained right knee, will return to the lineup this weekend.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499370.html

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 12:54 AM
I still don't think Staal should be centering the 3rd line, but I can't argue with these new line combos. Pairing Christensen with Crosby could turn out to be a golden move, and Armstrong has earned the promotion - at least for now. Putting Gary Roberts with Malkin and Ouellet I think is a wise move as well - Roberts' relentless forechecking and willingness to go to the net should create some room for Malkin to work his magic. We'll see how it pans out.

Penguins shuffle lines for more offense

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Having produced just a goal in each of their previous two games, both losses, the Penguins likely will open their game against the Atlanta Thrashers today at Mellon Arena with across-the-board changes to their usual lines. During practice Friday, coach Michel Therrien provided league-leading scorer Sidney Crosby with new wings in the form of Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong. Therrien also replaced rookie Jordan Staal with veteran Gary Roberts on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Michel Ouellet. Staal centered a line with Ryan Malone and Mark Recchi, which resulted in Maxime Talbot moving between Georges Laraque and Jarkko Ruutu.

"Part of my responsibility is to give this offense a little lift," Therrien said. "Colby has been playing pretty well and he's a tough kid to play against, so we're hoping this can give us a little lift."

Armstrong has scored four goals in his past 12 games. Over the same span, Crosby and Christensen have tallied six and five goals, respectively.

? Defenseman Mark Eaton said he could return to the Penguins' lineup for a game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday at Mellon Arena. Eaton has not played in a game since spraining his right knee early in a victory against the New York Rangers on March 1. He has spent the past week skating with the team.

"The more games I can play before the playoffs, the better, because I need to get re-acclimated with the speed of the game and the physical part of the game," Eaton said.

After missing almost three months with an injured wrist from early November through late January, Eaton was able to use the past three weeks to regain some previously lost upper-body strength.

"I'll take the positive out of it that way," Eaton said. "I feel a lot stronger now than when I came back the first time."

? Despite coming out of a swing through New York without having recorded a point against either the Rangers or Islanders, Therrien was not down on the Penguins' effort over the past few days.

"I like our intensity," Therrien said. "We haven't backed down, and that's a good sign. The work ethic was there. It's just a matter of finishing on the chances we're getting."

Digits

2 - Occasions on which the Penguins have dropped consecutive decisions in regulation since the All-Star break.

15 - Consecutive games right wing Mark Recchi has gone without scoring a goal.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499317.html

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 12:55 AM
Scouting the Thrashers

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Today's game

Atlanta Thrashers (39-26-10, 88 points) at Penguins (41-23-10, 92 points)

When, where: 1 p.m. - Mellon Arena

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

Probable goaltenders: Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (35-15-9, 2.92 GAA); Thrashers: Kari Lehtonen (32-22-8, 2.85 GAA)

Notable: The Penguins have not faced the Thrashers since December, when they lost two of three games over a three-week stretch. ... The Penguins have never failed to win at least one home game against Atlanta since the Thrashers' debut in 1999-2000. Pittsburgh dropped a 4-2 decision to the Thrashers at Mellon Arena on Dec. 27, 2006. ... Center Evgeni Malkin has scored a goal and recorded four points against Atlanta this season.

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 01:12 AM
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - you take fighting out of the league, and the league will lose fans hand over fist. Not only that, but Michel Therrien is absolutely right - there will be more people taking Chris Simon-like swings at other players' heads. Does anyone REALLY want to see some jabroni like, say, Maxim Lapierre or Brendan Witt, take out Sid with a two-handed chop across the face - with NO chance of repercussion on the ice? I didn't think so. And when the league loses fans, it will fold - not that the anti-fighting pansy asses care. Fighting is part of the game. Deal with it.

BTW, I strongly support getting rid of the instigator rule, and allowing the game to go back to the way it used to be played - by letting the players police themselves.


Penguins don't fall into anti-fighting camp

Saturday, March 24, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Penguins winger Georges Laraque did not make a fuss over the latest and perhaps most serious suggestion that fighting be eliminated from the NHL, even though such a move likely would end his career.

"If they do take it out of hockey, I was fortunate enough that I was there for 10 years and at the right time," Laraque said yesterday after the Penguins practiced at Southpointe in preparation for their game today against Atlanta.

That does not mean Laraque -- dubbed by general manager Ray Shero as the toughest player in the NHL when the Penguins acquired him in a trade last month -- agrees with Colin Campbell, the league's senior executive vice president and director of hockey operations.

Campbell, who dishes out discipline, told the Canadian Press this week that the league might finally need to address fighting in light of some injuries from fighting as well as violent acts that have stemmed from flared tempers.

"I think it's time to ask the question," Campbell said. "I think you have to ask the question because of what's happening out there. It's incumbent on me, because of my position, to ask the question."

Asked if he was aware of Campbell's comments, Laraque said, "I didn't know and I really don't care."

Laraque has been involved in one fight in his 10 games with the Penguins.

In general, the idea of banning fighting, which could be done with severe penalties such as suspensions, was not met with support in the Penguins' locker room.

"I think [fighting] is a part of it," leading scorer Sidney Crosby said.

"Sometimes, the game has to police itself. If not, things can get out of hand. You don't like to see guys get hurt like they have, but it's been like that for a long, long time."

Coach Michel Therrien sticks to a widely held belief that if players can't take out their frustrations in a fight and if players know they won't face being engaged by an opponent's enforcer, they will be more bold in raising their sticks and using other dangerous moves.

"I'd rather see two guys get involved physically than take dirty shots," the coach said.

Campbell played in a time when the NHL had a "Slap Shot" aspect, with players sometimes jumped by more than one opponent, and he was a part of it. He accumulated 1,292 penalty minutes in 636 games, including a fair number in four seasons over two stints with the Penguins in the 1970s.

With the more recent instigator penalty, most NHL fights now are between two willing players, and there are fewer brawls. What worries Campbell is that injuries still occur, perhaps because players are bigger and stronger.

"This year, we've had two players carried out on stretchers because of fair, consenting fights that had taken place. ... It scares you," he said.

One of those injured players was Philadelphia's Todd Fedoruk Wednesday. The other was Toronto's Kris Newbury after a Feb. 10 fight with Penguins winger Ronald Petrovicky.

One of Petrovicky's punches appeared to knock Newbury unconscious, and he hit his head as he fell to the ice.

Petrovicky apologized at the time but also pointed out that fighting was part of the game. Yesterday, he elaborated.

"When you go into a fight, you lift up your team, lift up the energy," he said.

"It's been a big part of hockey for a long time over here in North America. I guess since a couple of guys got hurt, it's an issue now. But it's part of the game."

Petrovicky, a native of Slovakia, didn't grow up around a culture of fighting but understands its place on this side of the Atlantic.

"Fighting in Europe is pretty much prohibited," he said. "But, over here, it's been a nature of the game."

Laraque agrees wholeheartedly.

"When it's a goal, the fans of that team stand up," he said. "But, when it's a fight, the fans from both teams are on their feet. Everybody gets excited. There's a reason why there's a tough guy on every team, and he's usually a fan favorite."

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik has long been aware of the factions on both sides of the fighting issue. What struck him about the latest public look at it is the source, Campbell.

"I think you tend to pay a little more attention when he says that, especially the way he played," Orpik said.

"I personally think it's something you have to have just to keep guys accountable, but I'm sure it's something that will get a lot more debate in the weeks to come."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07083/772218-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-24-2007, 05:28 AM
Christensen with Crosby? But, but, but.....the Recchin' Ball IS PITTSBURGH. We love him. Who cares if he's not scoring goals? That's not his job! His job is to give us sweet and warm memories of the late 80's and early 90's. Change bad. Big hair, 80's rock bands, mullets and pegged jeans good.

On that note, thank you for the Christensen change coach Therrien.

83-Steelers-43
03-24-2007, 07:35 AM
"Sometimes, the game has to police itself. If not, things can get out of hand. You don't like to see guys get hurt like they have, but it's been like that for a long, long time."

Here's another idea. Start off by having the officials call penalties again. That is the reason why they are out there last time I checked. They had no problem calling the hooks and holdings in the beginning of the season, why stop now? Who in the hell do these officials think they are? They have no right to determine how a game "should be" called or managed. You call what you see no matter what. That would help. It's a step in the right direction.

Here's another idea. Instead of looking the other way when a complete bum like Brashear cheap shots a player or giving out a miniscule fine to Blake for spearing or handing out a pathetic suspension to Simon for almost killing a guy maybe you can start coming down a little harder? That's another step in the right direction.

Clean, toe to toe fighting is part of hockey. Cheap shots, putting the whistle away whenever it suits you and all out brawls are not. For those fans who don't like fighting in hockey and complain when they are at a Penguin game and it occurs, go watch the Pirates. They have no fight in them at all. These are probably the same morons who are all of a sudden showing up at Mellon Arena and act as if they were there all along. F-them.

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 02:17 PM
Penguins confident two-game slump is aberration

Yeah right. Absolutely amazing that a team with this much talent can't score goals. If they lose this game, they can chalk it up once again to their inability to put the puck in the net. One goal AGAIN? Ridiculous.

OK, 2 goals now, but that was pure, blind luck.

HometownGal
03-24-2007, 02:48 PM
Penguins confident two-game slump is aberration

Yeah right. Absolutely amazing that a team with this much talent can't score goals. If they lose this game, they can chalk it up once again to their inability to put the puck in the net. One goal AGAIN? Ridiculous.

OK, 2 goals now, but that was pure, blind luck.

OMG will you stop it please????? I love ya dearly, XT, but you're pissin' me off with all of the negativity all of a sudden. It's not like they are playing the slouches of the league. Again - NO ONE EXPECTED THIS TEAM TO GO AS FAR AS THEY HAVE THIS SEASON!!!!!!!!

PENS WIN 2-1 in a physical and hard fought matchup against the Thrashers. Great job guys! :cheers:

83-Steelers-43
03-24-2007, 03:14 PM
To keep it short and sweet. Nice win by the Penguins. Completely controlled the Thrashers for the most part. The Geico Caveman grabbed his signature garbage goal (Malkin and Roberts made the play) and Staal got the other garbage goal. Good hustle by the whole team and hats off to T-Bo.

The score was pretty deceiving. Lehtonen played one hell of game. Nice way to take two points. Bring on Baaaaaaaaaaston.

X-Terminator
03-24-2007, 06:06 PM
OMG will you stop it please????? I love ya dearly, XT, but you're pissin' me off with all of the negativity all of a sudden. It's not like they are playing the slouches of the league. Again - NO ONE EXPECTED THIS TEAM TO GO AS FAR AS THEY HAVE THIS SEASON!!!!!!!!

PENS WIN 2-1 in a physical and hard fought matchup against the Thrashers. Great job guys! :cheers:

I know that, but I'm just frustrated by their lack of scoring right now - they've scored just 4 goals in their last 3 games. Yes, they've faced some quality goaltenders lately, but it's still not making me any less frustrated. Let's face it, they're in a goal-scoring slump, and not at a particularly good time. There is so much talent out there that it's tough to sit by and watch them only get a goal or 2 a game when I know what they're capable of. It's not negativity, it's concern - that's all. I give them full marks for playing a solid defensive game, Thibault played great, and I was particularly impressed with the way they kept the pressure on the Thrashers with their forechecking late in the game, rather than sit on the lead.

I guess I just won't be satisfied until I see that "X" next to their name, and they've officially clinched a playoff berth..

EDIT: 2 more points for Joe Thornton tonight, so now he trails Sid by just 4 for the scoring title. Looks like he's going to repeat as scoring champ if this keeps up.

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:01 AM
Excellent read by Ron Cook. Glad somebody said it instead of living in La-La Land.

Cook: Penguins' scoring slump must end before playoffs
Sunday, March 25, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The goal was nice. It was nothing less than a gift from the hockey gods.

The 2-1 win against the Atlanta Thrashers yesterday was better. It stopped the bleeding from a two-game losing streak before it could become debilitating.

But neither could mask the fact that the Penguins are having a wicked time trying to put the puck in the net.

There are valid excuses, for sure. The schedule has been brutal. Every game it seems the Penguins are playing a team in playoff contention, which makes for high-stakes, pressure-packed hockey. Rookies Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal have never played so many games with so much travel mixed in. It's obvious it has hurt Malkin's performance -- no goals in seven games, two in 17 -- although he did show more life yesterday, twice being robbed on point-blank shots by goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Superstar Sidney Crosby played a full schedule last season, but the Penguins were also-rans and the intensity of the games was nothing. This is all new to him, as well. Then, there's Mark Recchi at the other end of the spectrum. He's 39 and appears to be feeling the full impact of March madness -- 17 games in 31 days.

But no one wants to hear excuses.

The Penguins have to find ways to get past this.

They scored just one goal in each of the past three games, excluding Staal's winner yesterday, which wasn't even a shot, yet somehow managed to take a couple of crazy bounces on its way past Lehtonen. Malkin isn't the only key player struggling. Staal has only one legitimate goal in his past eight games. Recchi has gone a staggering 16 games without a goal. Even the great Crosby had no points in the past three games -- the first time that has happened this season -- although almost all of his scoring troubles can be blamed on his wingers, not him.

The power-play numbers are just as grim. The Penguins went 0 for 5 against Atlanta and looked bad doing it. They've had no power-play goals in five of the past six games, a dismal stretch during which they are 2 for 25 with the extra man.

This is not the time of year to be having goal-scoring issues, not with the playoffs a mere fortnight-and-change away.

It's not as if coach Michel Therrien hasn't tried just about everything. From day one, he has had to deal with not having a high-quality winger -- a finisher, so to speak -- to play with Crosby, a problem that won't be solved until the offseason when general manager Ray Shero gets to do his thing with a trade or a free-agent signing. Therrien has used virtually everybody on Crosby's left wing and yesterday -- finally -- replaced Recchi as the top-line right winger. It's a delicate matter to demote a team leader, long one of the sport's great warriors, but as Therrien said, "We've never been afraid to shake things up when we're not quite satisfied."

Left winger Erik Christensen -- a much better center than winger -- and right winger Colby Armstrong played with Crosby yesterday, but that line didn't get a point.

"We've got to give those guys some time," Therrien said.

If it doesn't work out, Therrien should think about going back to left winger Nils Ekman, who was brought in by Shero last summer specifically to play with Crosby. It's true, Ekman didn't play well early -- six goals in 32 games before his elbow was dislocated in late-December. Therrien clearly isn't a big fan -- he used Ekman against Ottawa March 6, then scratched him the past nine games -- but it might be time to give Ekman another shot. It couldn't hurt, could it?

Therrien also fidgeted with his power play yesterday, dropping Malkin from the top group and replacing him with Christensen. The surprise was that he kept Recchi with that unit. Therrien's respect for a pro's pro is admirable, but the Penguins need more than Recchi is giving them in such a key spot. Crosby is too fabulous as a playmaker for a winger not to score a goal or two with him.

Since we're passing out free advice to Therrien, here's something else he should consider:

Staal on the top power play.

It's understandable why Therrien doesn't want to ask even more of Staal, who's just 18. But the kid has shown he can handle everything thrown at him. Why not give him a shot on the power play and take advantage of his size, reach and skills, all of which are formidable?

And if not Staal, how about Gary Roberts?

Just a thought.

"These are tight games," Therrien said, stressing patience again as his mostly young team goes through the playoff-drive grind for the first time, learning a little more each day.

"This is what we're going to be facing in about three weeks. We're not going to be able to score five or six goals when we get to the playoffs."

No, but the Penguins are going to have to score two or three. One won't get it done.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07084/772385-87.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:02 AM
Staal ends Pens' skid at 2 games

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Had Penguins center Jordan Staal carried out his plan the way he wanted Saturday, he would have stopped the puck that came to him in the corner and carried it in for a shot on

Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen.
It didn't work out that way, and that turned out to be the best thing for the Penguins in their 2-1 victory at Mellon Arena.

The puck bounced off the toe of his blade, Staal explained, and somehow had enough spin on its way to the net that it got past Lehtonen to break open a tie score with 10 minutes remaining in the third period.

The goal enabled the Penguins to end their two-game losing streak.

"I was actually mad that I missed, and then it ended up going in," said Staal, who has 29 goals on the season. "What are you going to do? ... It was definitely a lucky bounce, but I'll take it for sure."

Goaltender Jocelyn Thibault made 25 saves for his third win in his past four starts, and Michel Ouellet scored the Penguins' other goal.

With the win, the Penguins (42-23-10) moved into a tie with the New Jersey Devils for the Atlantic Division lead with 94 points. The Devils, however, won in a shootout last night against the Florida Panthers to reclaim the lead by two points.

The Penguins play again this afternoon against the Boston Bruins.

"We needed that game (yesterday)," Thibault said. "The standings are one thing, but just for us, the last couple games we didn't play as well as we were supposed to or we should at this time of year. It was a big game, a game we can build on."

Lehtonen said the puck just "kind of climbed up the side of the net and then behind my pad."

"It was just a funny goal," he said. "I saw it was coming. I always keep my skate there, but I guess it was bad ice, and it jumped up and hit my pad, not my skate like I was hoping. It was just a bad way to end the game."

In each of the Penguins' previous two losses, they had scored only one goal.

That led coach Michel Therrien to shuffle his lines against the Thrashers. He moved Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong onto Sidney Crosby's left and right wings, respectively. He also moved Staal back to center with Ryan Malone and Mark Recchi on his wings. Gary Roberts played the left side with Evgeni Malkin in the middle and Ouellet on the right, and Maxime Talbot centered Jarkko Ruutu and Georges Laraque.

Ouellet scored 7:55 into the first period for a 1-0 lead, whacking at a loose puck after a scramble in front of the net.

Neither team could find the net after that, and the score remained 1-0 heading into the third period.

The Penguins' slim lead vanished at 6:18. Thibault couldn't smother the puck after a shot on goal. Although the Penguins got control, defenseman Ryan Whitney threw a blind, backhand pass across the ice right to Thrashers defenseman Greg deVries.

Thibault stopped deVries' shot, but the rebound popped out to the goaltender's left, where Scott Mellanby was all alone. He knocked it into the net to make it 1-1.

Despite the modest goal total produced by his team, Therrien didn't seem concerned with the still-anemic offense.

"We've been playing a lot of tight games lately, and it's good that finally we're able to win in such a tight game like this, such a defensive game," Therrien said. "There's not much room, and this is what we're going to face in about three weeks (in the playoffs).

"We have to learn to play those tight games. We're not going to be able to score five, six goals when we get to the playoffs, and it's good for the confidence."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499461.html

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:03 AM
Pens' Laraque sets example for diversity

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Georges Laraque is an example as well as an enforcer.

"He really epitomizes what the NHL Diversity Program has said over the years, that hockey is for everyone," said Howard Smith, the program director and head coach for Hockey in the Hood's Pittsburgh chapter.

Laraque, a native of Montreal, is of African-Canadian decent.

He met the kids from Hockey in the Hood following their March 8 appearance at Mellon Arena, where they skated following the first period of the Penguins game against the New Jersey Devils.

"For us, the opportunity to meet Georges Laraque was fantastic," Smith said. "He spent about 15 minutes talking and taking photos with the kids. We presented him with an autographed team jersey and explained what the program is all about, to give city kids an opportunity to learn to skate and play hockey.

"He suggested coming to one of our practices. We welcomed that idea with open arms."

Smith, a South High School graduate and a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, has been involved with the Pittsburgh Hockey in the Hood chapter since its inception in December 2000.

He said about 60 to 70 kids have been participating twice a week in this year's program, which also includes a traveling team of about 20.

"We probably have one of the more diverse chapters," Smith said. "We have a lot of city kids, black kids, white kids, one from West Africa, one who's Asian; it really doesn't matter. We tell them, 'When you lace up the skates, we really don't care where you're from.' The kids that are out there are, one, they're hockey players. That's what we want these kids to take away from the program."

Seeing Laraque on TV or at the arena reinforces that message, Smith said.

"They're actually seeing a black hockey player," he said.

Smith credited the Penguins for their assistance in helping to make the group's get-together with Laraque possible.

"We've gotten tremendous support from the Pittsburgh Penguins," he said.

The program is also achieving its goal, Smith believes.

"When these kids come in here, they don't say, 'Oh, there are a lot of black kids in here,' or, 'Oh, there are a lot of white kids in here,' " Smith said. "What they're saying is, 'Wow, I get to play hockey.' "

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499494.html

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:05 AM
Crosby's scoring lead slipping

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sidney Crosby still leads the NHL in scoring with 108 points, but his advantage over San Jose's Joe Thornton was down to just four points after the Sharks' game Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Thornton, who won the Art Ross Trophy last season for the most points in the NHL with 125, had registered two consecutive three-assist performances before recording a goal and an assist last night. He is on a 10-game scoring streak with 29 points in his past 16 games.

Crosby, who's led the NHL in scoring since mid-December, is pointless in his past three games and has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past 16 games.

The 19-year-old center has gone three games without scoring just one other time in his career -- Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 2005.

No goalie controversy here

Coach Michel Therrien smiled when asked if his decision on which goaltender to use during the playoffs is becoming more difficult the better Jocelyn Thibault plays.

"There's still a long way," he said.

When pressed further, Therrien said, "I like Marc-Andre (Fleury). He's been our No. 1 guy, and he's got our confidence. And he's playing well. We're not in a position to make those decisions right now, but it's important for us that guys are performing well. It's important going into the playoffs. We'll see at that time, but Fleury's playing really well for us, and Thibault's playing well for us."

Staal approaching 30 goals

Jordan Staal is one goal shy of No. 30 after his game-winner yesterday against the Thrashers. If Staal reaches 30 goals, it will be the first time since 1984-85 that the Penguins had two rookie 30-goal scorers in one season (Evgeni Malkin leads all rookies with 31 goals).

In 1984-85, Mario Lemieux had 43 goals and Warren Young had 40.

Dropping like flies

It was a rough first period for several Penguins players. First, center Maxime Talbot was high-sticked across the face by Thrashers defenseman Andy Sutton and left the ice bleeding with a broken nose.

No penalty was called on the play. Talbot returned shortly thereafter, but then winger Colby Armstrong was hurt when he turned his leg to block a shot by defenseman Alexei Zhitnik and was hit in the unprotected area on the inside of his right knee.

Armstrong went to the dressing room but also returned before the period was over.

Playoff tickets on sale Monday

A limited number of individual game tickets for the first two games of the Stanley Cup playoffs will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. About 2,000 tickets will be available for each game, and purchases will be limited to four tickets per person. Tickets will be available at Mellon Arena at the Gate One box office and through Ticketmaster.

Scratches

The Penguins scratched defensemen Mark Eaton and Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman. Eaton is expected to play today against the Boston Bruins after missing 11 games with a knee sprain. The Thrashers scratched Steve McCarthy, Jon Sim and Derek MacKenzie.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499489.html

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:06 AM
Penguins Notebook: 2 games vs. Bruins big hurdle
Sunday, March 25, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins' regular season has been reduced to seven games, and their next three -- beginning with one against Boston at 12:38 p.m. today at Mellon Arena -- are against opponents assured, mathematically or realistically, of sitting out the Stanley Cup playoffs.

While having two games against the Bruins sandwich one in Washington would seem to give the Penguins an opportunity to make a bid at claiming first place in the Atlantic Division, assuming they'll pile up points at will in the next five days could be an error.

"They're not going to be easy games, at all," right winger Colby Armstrong said. "The second you start to think that is when you're in trouble."

That's particularly true of the two they will play against the Bruins, who have given them fits in recent seasons. The Penguins have lost five games in a row, including a 5-4 shootout loss Jan. 18, at the TD Banknorth Garden, which they will visit Thursday night, and they have not fared much better at home. They are 1-6-2 in their past nine games against Boston at Mellon Arena and dropped a 4-3 shootout loss there Nov. 22.

Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney noted that the Bruins have a solid power play and some quality forwards -- guys such as Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron -- and, speaking from experience, added that a team does not necessarily lack motivation because it is out of playoff contention.

"They'll be ready to play, I'm sure," he said. "We gave teams trouble last year when we were out of it."

Playing with pain

Maxime Talbot understood there was nothing malicious about it, that he was just a victim of circumstances.

Not that it was much consolation after his nose was broken yesterday when Atlanta defenseman Andy Sutton smacked him in the face on the follow-through of a pass less than three minutes into the first period of the Penguins' 2-1 victory. Talbot immediately went to the locker room -- "It was pretty bad," he said. "It was bleeding a lot" -- but was back in the game a few minutes later.

Armstrong knows a bit about having his nose broken, but said there was no precedent for the pain he experienced after being struck on the inside of the right knee by a shot about nine minutes into the game.

"It hurt more for the first couple minutes than any other pain I've had before," he said.

That would explain why he stayed in the locker room for nearly four minutes of playing time. He assumed all his normal duties upon returning, however, and reported no major problems.

"I played the rest of the game," he said, "and felt fine."

Slap shots

The game yesterday attracted a standing-room crowd of 17,132, the Penguins' 27th sellout of the season and 20th in the past 22 home games. ... Approximately 2,000 individual game tickets for the Stanley Cup playoffs will go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Fans may purchase a maximum of four per game. The 12-game playoff packages are no longer available. ... Here's a nugget the Penguins hope they can ignore: The NHL will conduct its draft lottery, which determines the order of selection for the 14 non-playoff teams, April 10 in its New York office.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07084/772411-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:08 AM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sometimes finding the hot shooter about more than blowing on the dice

There was a point, Michel Therrien says, when Sidney Crosby questioned his place in the shootout rotation. When he wondered if it really was in the team's best interest to have him involved.

"At one time, he was not sure if he wanted to keep going," Therrien said.

Considering that Crosby failed to score on his first seven shootout tries in 2006-07, it was only natural that he experienced a crisis of confidence.

Fortunately for the Penguins, it also was only natural that Therrien would have unwavering faith in Crosby's ability and wouldn't consider removing him from the mix.

"Like I told him," Therrien said, "even if you're 0 for 100, you're still going to be there."

And so Crosby stayed and promptly converted on five of his next seven tries.

His most recent shootout goal came March 13 immediately after Jarkko Ruutu, filling a spot usually manned by Evgeni Malkin, had been denied by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.

Ruutu's presence in that shootout surprised some, but not those who knew he was 2 for 4 in shootouts last season with Vancouver, had scored on a penalty shot against Toronto Jan. 20 and routinely fares well in post-practice shootouts.

"I don't regret [using Ruutu] because you have to reward guys who work hard," Therrien said. "I thought it was the right time to try it."

Ruutu got another chance against Ottawa a week ago and paid back Therrien's confidence by being the only player on either team to score.

That probably locked up Ruutu's spot in the rotation, at least in the short term, but he can't dream of matching Erik Christensen's job security. Christensen has staked out a spot as the Penguins' leadoff hitter in shootouts, by converting eight of his first 15 tries.

"I've been coaching that kid for three years, and I was impressed with him in the [AHL]," Therrien said. "You like to get that lead. That's the reason I like to put him first."

Although 16 of the Penguins' first 74 games went to shootouts, only one made it past the third round. Next time they're in one that does, guys such as Jordan Staal, Mark Recchi, Ruutu and Sergei Gonchar will be high on the list of candidates to take a shot.

Laraque can't scrap the league by himself

The easiest way to measure the progress the Penguins have made this season is to check their point total. They had 94 after beating Atlanta yesterday, an increase of 36 from the 58 with which they finished 2005-06.

But a more telling figure might be five.

That, barring new injuries, should be the number of NHL-caliber players who will be on the roster -- but not in the lineup -- when the Penguins open the Stanley Cup playoffs.

None will be a game-breaker or difference-maker; the advent of the salary cap eliminated any chance of a team having that luxury. The forwards will be third- and fourth-liners, the defensemen qualified to fill the role of a No. 5 or 6.

And while the precise makeup of that group won't be determined until the waning days of the regular season, a good case can be made that right winger Ronald Petrovicky should be in the lineup.

The acquisition of Georges Laraque at the trade deadline led to Petrovicky being bumped off the fourth line; he entered the weekend having dressed for just two of the previous 13 games, and those came when Laraque was unable to play because of back spasms.

Much was made before the deadline of how Laraque could deter opponents from taking liberties with some of the Penguins' skilled players. Regardless of whether that actually has been the case, there's no question that he is a force.

But there also is no question that putting Petrovicky in street clothes denies the Penguins the services of a blue-collar winger who skates well, is abrasive and forechecks vigorously.

Petrovicky made only a token contribution in the first half of the season, when he was getting over the effects of hip surgery, but has done some quality work when given a chance since the All-Star break. And in case anyone had forgotten, Petrovicky reminded them of what he can do while filling in for Laraque.

"All he did was help himself," assistant coach Mike Yeo said. "We know that if things don't go well, we have him there to put him in."

Petrovicky is predictably eager to get some game work, but declines to make an issue of the role in which he has been cast lately. "[Laraque] got sore for a couple of days, and I jumped in," Petrovicky said. "But that's part of it. When he got back, he got back in the lineup, and you leave it at that. It looks like that will be my role for the rest of the season."

That's far from certain and shouldn't be the case, anyway.

Any team that sticks around the playoffs for more than a few games is likely to suffer some lost-time injuries, so guys who are spare parts when the playoffs begin can be thrust into significant roles in a matter of days.

Petrovicky, though, shouldn't have to wait for that. He deserves a place in the lineup now, and the opportunity to stay unless he plays his way out.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07084/772392-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:09 AM
Scouting the Bruins

By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today's game

Boston Bruins (34-34-6) at Penguins (42-23-10)

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

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

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (35-15-8, 2.92 GAA); Tim Thomas (30-25-4, 3.03 GAA)

Notable: The Bruins are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss Saturday at home to the New York Rangers. It was their fourth loss in a row. Their previous game was a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in which the Canadiens scored five unanswered goals in the final 22 minutes. Following the loss, the Bruins brought up defenseman Mark Stuart and forward Petr Kalus from Providence. ... Marc Savard leads the Bruins with 21 goals and 70 assists for 91 points in 73 games. Rookie Phil Kessel, who earlier this season was diagnosed with testicular cancer, has 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points in 62 games. ... The Penguins and Bruins have met twice this season, with the Bruins winning in a shootout both times.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499487.html

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 08:24 AM
The surprise was that he kept Recchi with that unit. Therrien's respect for a pro's pro is admirable, but the Penguins need more than Recchi is giving them in such a key spot. Crosby is too fabulous as a playmaker for a winger not to score a goal or two with him.

That move had me shaking my head yesterday. You take him off the first line which I completely agreed with yet you keep him on the #1 PP unit. Roberts as least parks himself in front of the net. Granted, Roberts is bigger than Recchi but that's no excuse to not go to the net and make hell in front of the goalie.

The respect and admiration for Recchi is cute, but it's not going to win you games come playoff time. Therrien shook up the lines yesterday, he could have done so by just moving Recchi, not the Roberts-Talbot-Armstrong line which has played great. But we don't want to make it look like the decision was made purely because Recchi is conking out come late March.

IMO, Therrien went a little overboard with the line changes. While I stated I wanted a big shake up, I didn't want the whole damn line-up overhauled. My big shake up simply meant taking off a veteran who was never pulled from that first line for the last 15 games and simply replacing him with another player (Staal, Christensen).

Once again, thank you Ron Cook. It's good to hear somebody speaking up and not simply sitting back and making excuses for this team. I strongly doubt Therrien, Shero and every player on that roster are making excuses for this teams scoring problems. It would be a completely different story if they did not have the talent to net goals. But they do and that's what makes this whole situation frustrating.

Now let's break out of this little slump against Boston. :cheers:

SteelCityMan786
03-25-2007, 12:26 PM
Who needs full strength? Let's play power play hockey. Honestly. almost the entire first period was played Short handed on both sides. But the Penguins must know how to actually play on Power Plays. They're 3 for 3 today and up 3-0 at the Intermission.

SteelCityMan786
03-25-2007, 12:44 PM
4-0 Penguins. HEY BOSTON THE GAME STARTED AT 12:30!

HometownGal
03-25-2007, 01:45 PM
Sid the Kid makes it 5-0 Pens with 8 minutes left! :banana: I think it's safe to say this one is in the bag! We will be officially tied with NJ for the lead in the Atlantic Division (though technically, NJ would win the tiebreaker if it came down to that). :thumbsup:

Great work by the line of Ruutu, Talbot and Laraque in the waning minutes to keep the puck in the Bruins' end!

WAY TO GO PENS!!!!!

SteelCityMan786
03-25-2007, 02:08 PM
5-0 and the Bruins are out of the playoff contention offically. LET'S GO PENS!

X-Terminator
03-25-2007, 02:15 PM
Well, I have nothing to say, except I swear that all I was doing was showing concern over the team's scoring problems. It was nice to see/hear the team finally break out of their slump in a big way, and I hope it continues!

SteelCityMan786
03-25-2007, 02:35 PM
Well, I have nothing to say, except I swear that all I was doing was showing concern over the team's scoring problems. It was nice to see/hear the team finally break out of their slump in a big way, and I hope it continues!

:jammin: It's good to see they can get this kind of game.

Prosdo
03-25-2007, 02:41 PM
Great game by the Pens. Crosby also adds to his lead in the points race.

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 02:57 PM
Hey! Who was on the PP?

Thank you.

SteelCityMan786
03-25-2007, 03:39 PM
Great game by the Pens. Crosby also adds to his lead in the points race.

He's driving away with it.

HometownGal
03-25-2007, 04:53 PM
Well, I have nothing to say, except I swear that all I was doing was showing concern over the team's scoring problems. It was nice to see/hear the team finally break out of their slump in a big way, and I hope it continues!

Hey - we all have different ways of viewing a win - doesn't make any of us right or wrong - just a difference of opinion. If we were deemed experts, we'd be making the big bucks coaching an NHL team instead of sitting behind a computer screen. :cheers: All teams hit scoring slumps, no matter what sport. Right now as we wind down the regular season, though, and are jockeying for position, I'm happy with the wins. I have no doubt Therrien and crew will have them ready for the playoffs and they'll continue to wow us as well as the naysayers. :thumbsup:

83-Steelers-43
03-25-2007, 05:06 PM
It's amazing what a team can do when they put forth the full effort. Thankfully Therrien is not making excuses for this team or we woudln't even be talking about the playoffs.

Nice win today.

SteelCityMan786
03-25-2007, 05:42 PM
It's amazing what a team can do when they put forth the full effort. Thankfully Therrien is not making excuses for this team or we woudln't even be talking about the playoffs.

Nice win today.

That's something that has held us back previously with excuses. Therrien has not made excuses for this team, and they're doing well.

X-Terminator
03-25-2007, 08:25 PM
Hey - we all have different ways of viewing a win - doesn't make any of us right or wrong - just a difference of opinion. If we were deemed experts, we'd be making the big bucks coaching an NHL team instead of sitting behind a computer screen. :cheers: All teams hit scoring slumps, no matter what sport. Right now as we wind down the regular season, though, and are jockeying for position, I'm happy with the wins. I have no doubt Therrien and crew will have them ready for the playoffs and they'll continue to wow us as well as the naysayers. :thumbsup:

Don't get me wrong, I am happy with wins however we can get them, especially at this time of year when the team's trying to nail down a playoff spot as well as gain home ice advantage. I just thought it was an inopportune time for them to hit a goal scoring slump, but after today's game (which I just watched the recording of), I can see their confidence coming back to them. Playing Washington on Tuesday shouldn't hurt that either with their sieve-like defense. And I have no worries whatsoever about Therrien having them ready to play in the playoffs. They will be ready, and they will be a very difficult team to beat. :cheers:

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 12:02 AM
Penguins blow past Bruins in 5-0 shutout
Penguins take advantage of a rare easy game in late March for a victory that pushes the team into a first-place tie in the division

Monday, March 26, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins have been learning what hockey at this time of year is all about.

What it's like to fight for every square centimeter of open ice. To compete for loose pucks like an angry badger. To work so hard along the boards that the ads rub off on your uniform.

That's standard-issue stuff in late March.

Occasionally, though, there is a game in which the outcome does not teeter on every shift. When the stress level is considerably lower than usual, if only because the stakes are for at least one of the teams.

A game like the Penguins' 5-0 victory against Boston at Mellon Arena yesterday.

"It was a fun game to play," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "It wasn't too tight."

That was particularly true after the Penguins scored on four of their first 10 shots, at which point the game became only slightly more intense than a quilting bee.

For a team like the Bruins, whose elimination from playoff contention is nothing more than a mathematical formality at this point, falling behind by four on the road is ample reason to shift one's focus to what kind of food will be served on the flight home.

And so it was that, after the Penguins ran their lead to 4-0 little more than a minute into the second period, the rest of the afternoon was not so much a game as a dress rehearsal for the half-dozen that remain.

And the Penguins, to their credit, continued to perform efficiently long after the outcome was decided.

"We know they're out of it," right winger Mark Recchi said, "and we were trying to make sure we kept doing the right things."

The Penguins (43-23-10) did enough of those to climb into a tie with New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic Division, although the Devils have a game in hand. They also moved to within two points of Ottawa, which is fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots to record his fifth shutout of the season and Crosby snapped a three-game scoring drought with two goals and an assist. That gives him a 111-104 lead over San Jose center Joe Thornton in the NHL points race.

"He was on fire," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. "Sidney's been an amazing player to watch."

Crosby got his first goal when he knocked a Sergei Gonchar rebound out of the air and past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas during a power play at 16:14 of the first period, his second at 4:29 of the third, off an inadvertent set-up by linemate Colby Armstrong.

Armstrong, who was on the right side, had a shot at an open net, but sent the puck through the crease. When it reached the other side, Crosby was waiting and flipped a backhander past Joey MacDonald, who had replaced Thomas after the first period.

"I got a little too much stick on it," Armstrong said. "But Sid was obviously in the right spot at the right time."

Armstrong acknowledged that only after putting forth a vigorous defense of his work during that sequence, when he vowed his primary objective was to pad Crosby's personal totals.

"I had to get him involved in the play," Armstrong said, smiling. "I felt bad for him."

Crosby's second goal was the only one the Penguins got at even strength. Their first three came during power plays in the opening period, as Gary Roberts moved into Recchi's spot on the No. 1 unit, and Ryan Malone got the other while the Penguins were short-handed at 1:09 of the second.

"The [power-play] execution was there," coach Michel Therrien said. "We tried a different combination, and it worked."

The power play, which scored on its first three chances, was impressive, but so was the penalty-killing. It not only denied the Bruins on five tries with the extra man, but allowed the Penguins to get away with being short-handed three times during the first half of the opening period.

"That's not the start you're looking for, to take so many penalties," Therrien said.

The Penguins survived that stretch, though -- "Our penalty-killers were great early," Roberts said -- and Evgeni Malkin gave them the only goal they needed when he pounded a slap shot past Thomas during a 4-on-3 power play at 11:54 of the first.

The goals Crosby (two), Roberts and Malone contributed added to their margin of victory and, in the process, helped to reaffirm that the Penguins are a legitimate threat to win the Atlantic.

"We're right there," Crosby said. "We'll just keep going and see what happens."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07085/772603-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 12:04 AM
Notebook: Penguins' power-play moves pay off

Monday, March 26, 2007

? With an 0-for-15 mark on the power play in the last three games and a 2-for-25 record in the last six, the Penguins' coaching staff sat down Sunday morning and decided to make some changes. Their solution was to take slumping Mark Recchi off the first unit and put Gary Roberts with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The move paid off. Each of the three scored a power-play goal in the first period to jump out to a 3-0 lead over the Boston Bruins. "There's no doubt that the power play lately didn't get the results we were looking for," coach Michel Therrien said. "With the new combination that we tried with forwards, I thought the guys did a great job. They made the right decisions when moving the puck, when attacking the net and in traffic. The execution was there."

? Bruins goaltender Joey MacDonald, who hails from Pictou, Nova Scotia, and whose host family in junior hockey lived next door to Crosby, robbed his former neighbor in the second period after Crosby blew through three Bruins players for a shot on goal. He also robbed Malkin in the second period. "Guys from Nova Scotia don't give up on plays, you know?" Crosby said. "They know how to battle." Crosby got the best of MacDonald 4:29 into the third period, however, as the 27-year-old goaltender gave up a goal to the 19-year-old kid who used to watch him play junior hockey growing up.

? Defenseman Mark Eaton returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a sprained knee suffered on March 1 against the New York Rangers.

? The Penguins scratched defensemen Joel Kwiatkowski and Alain Nasreddine and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman. The Bruins scratched defensemen Jason York and Bobby Allen and forward Stanislav Chistov.


Digits

76 - The number of games played by Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney and Mark Recchi out of 76 this season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499567.html

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 12:18 AM
Penguins Notebook: Eaton makes mark in his return

Monday, March 26, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mark Eaton did not return to the Penguins' lineup yesterday with a multiple-point game, or a series of crushing checks.

Fact is, nothing about his personal linescore from the Penguins' 5-0 victory against Boston at Mellon Arena --17 minutes, 43 seconds of ice time, two blocked shots, a hit, the second assist on Ryan Malone's short-handed goal and a plus-minus rating of plus-1 -- was spectacular.

Then again, not much about Eaton's game is. The Penguins count on him for solid defensive play, and Eaton produced that while working alongside Rob Scuderi in even-strength and short-handed situations in his comeback from a sprained knee that forced him to sit out 12 games.

"There was a little rust factor, but I felt pretty good, felt strong," Eaton said.

Eaton, who replaced Alain Nasreddine in the lineup, showed few signs of his time off, and made a heady play while killing a slashing penalty to Sergei Gonchar early in the second period. When goalie Marc-Andre Fleury lost sight of a loose puck in the crease, Eaton backhanded it between his own legs and out of danger.

"Any time you're off for an extended period of time, there's a little adjustment to get [used] to the speed of the game and making plays out there," he said. "I just look forward to getting better."

Magic number

The Penguins' magic number for clinching their first playoff berth since 2001 is three.

Probably.

Any combination of points that they earn and/or the New York Islanders fail to earn that adds up to three will guarantee that the Penguins, who have 96, will finish ahead of New York, which would end up with 98 if it wins its remaining seven games.

However, if that total is reached strictly by the Islanders losing three points, Montreal theoretically would be able to remain alive, because the Canadiens can earn up to 96 points and still could overtake the Penguins in the victories tiebreaker, where the Penguins hold a 43-39 edge.

As soon as the Penguins pick up one more point -- or Montreal fails to get one -- they will be assured of finishing ahead of the Canadiens.

The Penguins' victory yesterday guaranteed that Toronto, which could finish with 96 points, can do no better than to match their total of 43, and the Penguins have an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the second tiebreaker, head-to-head competition.

Bottom line: If the Penguins win in Washington tomorrow and the Islanders fail to defeat New Jersey at Nassau Coliseum, the obvious becomes official, and the Penguins are in.

No quit in Ference

The Bruins didn't just get a defenseman when they acquired ex-Penguin Andrew Ference from Calgary in February. They got a conscience.

And even though mathematical elimination from playoff contention is pretty much imminent, Ference told the Boston Herald that it's imperative for the team to establish an identity -- and accountability -- during the balance of this season.

"We have a lot of new guys and a lot of young guys, and the culture that you create around the team and the identity that this team is going to have over the next couple of years, it's determined in the first few months," he said.

"Part of the culture I've experienced with successful teams is one where there is emotion and there is honesty. You're looking each other in the eye after wins and losses and not wondering if your teammate did all he could that day.

"The argument for these [remaining] games being a crossroads can be made because this is when true character shows. ... Teams with character play when they are down, 7-0, when they are just on the fringe of that playoff spot. That's when they still show up and show what they're made of."

Slap shots

In addition to Nasreddine, the Penguins scratched forwards Ronald Petrovicky, Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski. ... Yesterday's game attracted a standing-room crowd of 17,132, the Penguins' 21st sellout in the past 23 dates and their 28th of the season. ... Boston defenseman Mark Stuart was recalled from the Bruins' AHL affiliate Friday, forcing him to miss the Providence Bruins' Mark Stuart bobblehead promotion the next night.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07085/772602-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-26-2007, 12:21 AM
That's something that has held us back previously with excuses. Therrien has not made excuses for this team, and they're doing well.

Last season I can understand. There were legitimate concerns with that team last season. This year is a different story. While they are young they have the talent to go far. I don't mind if they drop a game while giving the full effort while showing signs of hanging with the opposing team. But...........

When Recchi goes 16 games without a goal, that's a legitimate concern and a concern which should be the focus of attention.

When Fleury shows up one game and completely stinks in the next, that's a legitimate concern which should be the focus of attention.

When your PP completely stinks and your offensive 5 on 5 play is not much better, that's a legitimate concern with should be the focus of attention.

Against the Thrashers that completely changed. While we got out of that game with two garbage goals, we also shut down one of the more potent offenses in the league. We also controlled the puck for the majority of the game and put on a beautiful fore-check. Like I stated before, the score (and stats) were deceiving, much like with DiPietro we were playing a hot goalie in Lehtonen. What can you do? When a goalie is hot he's hot.

Against the Bruins what can you say? The score says it all. The #1 PP unit was clicking (with Recchi off of it) and our 5 on 5 play was excellent. We saw today what this team is capable of when they are clicking on all cylinders. You play like that and you will go far in the playoffs. You play the way you did in the games leading up to the Thrasher game and you won't last past five games in the first round.

83-Steelers-43
03-26-2007, 02:20 AM
Cook: Blooming Fleury is the key to success in playoffs
Monday, March 26, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After a day when the Penguins busted out of their goal-scoring malaise in a big way, the player who should have the team and its fans most juiced as the Stanley Cup playoffs approach is not named Crosby, Malkin or Roberts.

His name is Marc-Andre Fleury.

That's how significant his performance was yesterday in the Penguins' 5-0 win against the Boston Bruins.

The shutout -- Fleury's fifth this season -- speaks for itself. He stopped all 29 shots. It's pretty hard to do better than that.

But the timing was more encouraging. Fleury pitched the shutout a day after backup goalie Jocelyn Thibault had a tremendous game in a 2-1 win against the Atlanta Thrashers. It was Thibault's third consecutive superb outing, prompting coach Michel Therrien to be asked, in so many words, if he still was 100 percent certain Fleury is his No. 1 goaltender.

"I like Marc-Andre," Therrien said, smiling.

It was the perfect answer for a couple of reasons.

What isn't there to like about Fleury's game?

And what choice does Therrien really have even if there is some little thing he doesn't care for?

It's a beautiful thing for the Penguins that Thibault is playing so well. Fleury could tear a groin in practice today or in the game tomorrow night at Washington and be lost for the season. All teams need a solid backup.

But barring an injury, Fleury has to be the guy. Thibault is a free agent after the season and might not be here for the long haul. Fleury is the Penguins' future. They need to throw him head-first into the playoff cauldron -- it will be his first experience under that kind of intense pressure -- and live with the results, good or bad. He will be a better goaltender for the experience. The team will be better for years to come because of it.

Don't lose sight of this:

It's not just about this season with these Penguins.

That's hard to wrap your arms around because the team has had such phenomenal -- not to mention unexpected -- success. It has moved into a virtual tie again with the New Jersey Devils atop the Atlantic Division. It's understandable to think it could have a lengthy stay in the playoffs. It might even be legitimate.

But the Penguins aren't as good now as they're going to be next season and the season after and the season after that. To be as good as they think they can be -- to get to where they are a Stanley Cup favorite every year -- they need Fleury.

That's why Therrien's answer to that tricky goaltending question Saturday was so right on.

The last thing the Penguins need now is for Fleury to be looking over his shoulder for Thibault.

"I think I have trust from [Therrien] and the staff," Fleury said when asked about Therrien's endorsement. "There's a comfort zone there, I think. There's a little more there each day."

This is a two-way street, of course.

It has to be a two-way street.

It's wonderful that Therrien believes in Fleury, but Fleury has to keep playing well to justify that faith. A shutout never hurts. It gave Fleury a 7-2-1 record since the shrewd Therrien publicly chastised him and benched him for two games in mid-February after he completed a lackluster two weeks by fishing out six goals in a loss to the New York Islanders. Even in his subsequent three losses -- 1-0 to the Devils, 4-3 in a shootout to the Devils and 3-1 to the Islanders -- he was strong.

Fleury gave all the credit for this latest win -- his 36th of the season, a total that ranks high among NHL leaders -- to his penalty-killers, who were terrific, and his defensemen, who also were very good. "It was awesome. It seemed like every rebound, they cleared it. They blocked some shots. It was just a good game for us."

Especially for Fleury.

"I've felt comfortable with him since day one," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "He's been there all year for us. He's done a great job leading us ...

"I just think he's playing with so much confidence right now."

Fleury will need to draw on every bit of it, come the playoffs. His track record in big games has been rather spotty. There were bad goals and bad games in the World Junior Championships, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs and the American Hockey League playoffs.

All eyes always are on the goaltender in the postseason, but that will be especially true with Fleury this season.

"I've moved on from it," he said, shrugging, of his big-game struggles.

So far, Fleury has taken the Penguins with him.

They'll go as deep into the playoffs as he carries them.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07085/772600-87.stm

HometownGal
03-26-2007, 07:30 AM
Don't get me wrong, I am happy with wins however we can get them, especially at this time of year when the team's trying to nail down a playoff spot as well as gain home ice advantage. I just thought it was an inopportune time for them to hit a goal scoring slump, but after today's game (which I just watched the recording of), I can see their confidence coming back to them. Playing Washington on Tuesday shouldn't hurt that either with their sieve-like defense. And I have no worries whatsoever about Therrien having them ready to play in the playoffs. They will be ready, and they will be a very difficult team to beat. :cheers:

Understood. :cheers: Therrien's cutting and pasting of the lines helped in that regard, as has been said by others in this thread. I'm getting greedy now - not only do I want to see them get into that #4 slot so they can have the home-ice advantage, I would love to see this young energetic team take the Atlantic away from the Devils! :thumbsup:

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 10:08 AM
Understood. :cheers: Therrien's cutting and pasting of the lines helped in that regard, as has been said by others in this thread. I'm getting greedy now - not only do I want to see them get into that #4 slot so they can have the home-ice advantage, I would love to see this young energetic team take the Atlantic away from the Devils! :thumbsup:

So would I! It would be the icing on the cake of a wonderful regular season! Worst to first...I like the sound of that! :excited:

83-Steelers-43
03-26-2007, 10:22 AM
The Race for #1 in the East

New Jersey Devils remaining schedule:

Home against the NYI

Home against the Buffalo

Away against Philadelphia

Away against Boston

Away against Ottawa

Home against Philadelphia

Home against NYI

Pittsburgh Penguins remaining schedule:

Away against Washington

Away against Boston

Away against Toronto

Home against Buffalo

Away against Ottawa

Home against NYR

HometownGal
03-26-2007, 10:43 AM
So would I! It would be the icing on the cake of a wonderful regular season! Worst to first...I like the sound of that! :excited:

Amen brother! :cheers:

The Devils schedule for remaining games doesn't look all that ominous. Hopefully, the Pens can keep up their pace from yesterday and take that Atlantic Division crown.

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:54 AM
Amen brother! :cheers:

The Devils schedule for remaining games doesn't look all that ominous. Hopefully, the Pens can keep up their pace from yesterday and take that Atlantic Division crown.

What sucks is that they still have 4 games left at home; however those 2 games against the Isles will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination. You figure they'll win both games against the Flyers (though those games won't be easy either) and Boston, so if the Pens are going to win the division, they will have to win at least 4 of their 6 remaining games and hope the Isles (2x), Sabres and Senators knock the Devils off, preferably in regulation. Right now, though, I'll settle for clinching their playoff berth (which they will do if they beat Washington tomorrow night) and shooting for home-ice advantage in the first round.

stlrtruck
03-26-2007, 01:48 PM
Finally after a year and a half (basically since the last strike) of not watching nor desiring to watch hockey, I broke down yesterday and watched the Pens dominate over the Bruins. I was excited watching the boys in the BnG skate up and down the ice.

Maybe the strike has worn off and I can once again be excited about hockey. Could it be that the team is doing well? Possibly! Could it be that the team is young and full of energy? Definitely! Could it be that I really need to find something to fill the void that the NFL off season leaves? YOU BET!

83-Steelers-43
03-26-2007, 02:58 PM
Penguins sell 4,000 playoff tickets in 13 minutes
Monday, March 26, 2007

It took 13 minutes for the Penguins to sell approximately 4,000 tickets this morning for their first two home playoff games.

This despite the fact that neither the opponent nor the dates of the games has been determined.

No other single-game tickets have gone on sale yet.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07085/772715-100.stm

BettisFan
03-26-2007, 05:53 PM
PENGUINS ROCK

83-Steelers-43
03-26-2007, 06:55 PM
PENGUINS ROCK

Straight to the point. I like that. :thumbsup:

HometownGal
03-26-2007, 07:06 PM
What sucks is that they still have 4 games left at home; however those 2 games against the Isles will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination. You figure they'll win both games against the Flyers (though those games won't be easy either) and Boston, so if the Pens are going to win the division, they will have to win at least 4 of their 6 remaining games and hope the Isles (2x), Sabres and Senators knock the Devils off, preferably in regulation. Right now, though, I'll settle for clinching their playoff berth (which they will do if they beat Washington tomorrow night) and shooting for home-ice advantage in the first round.

LOL - as I said, I'm greedy. :wink02: Let them clinch a playoff berth tomorrow night and then they can work on the Atlantic Division title. :cheers:

stlrtruck - I think it's difficult for most hockey watchers to ignore the successes the Pens have had this season, as well as the excitement this very young team has provided. I've been a Pens fan a long time and have seen them at their best (their Cup years) and at their very worst (last season and the 83/84 season would qualify), but I love 'em and will be right there behind them no matter what. :banana:

SteelCityMan786
03-26-2007, 07:40 PM
LOL - as I said, I'm greedy. :wink02: Let them clinch a playoff berth tomorrow night and then they can work on the Atlantic Division title. :cheers:

stlrtruck - I think it's difficult for most hockey watchers to ignore the successes the Pens have had this season, as well as the excitement this very young team has provided. I've been a Pens fan a long time and have seen them at their best (their Cup years) and at their very worst (last season and the 83/84 season would qualify), but I love 'em and will be right there behind them no matter what. :banana:

Amen to that. It does us no good to think about winning the division without making the playoffs first.

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:18 PM
Pens' Malkin shooting for rookie award

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Last season, whenever Sidney Crosby was asked about the possibility of winning the Calder Trophy for the NHL rookie of the year, he usually would tell reporters the same thing.

He wanted to finish the season the best he could and that it wasn't something he would think about until after everything was over.

Teammate Evgeni Malkin, the favorite to win the award this season, isn't quite so coy.

"If I'm going to say I don't want to win, that wouldn't be the truth," Malkin said through an interpreter. "Yeah, I would love to win. It would mean a lot, because I'm trying to do my best. I'm trying to play my best and help my team. It would be great if I won the Calder Trophy."

He most likely will.

With six games left in the regular season heading into tonight's game against the Washington Capitals, Malkin leads NHL rookies in many statistical categories.

The 20-year-old center has the most points with 80 in 72 games. The closest player behind him is the Colorado Avalanche's Paul Stastny, 21, who has 69 points and likely will be Malkin's biggest competition for the award.

Malkin also has more goals (32), assists (48), game-winning goals (six) and power-play points (16) than any other rookie and is second among rookie forwards in ice time behind the Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar, 19, by just over a minute per game.

But it isn't just the stats that lead NBC hockey analyst and former Penguins assistant coach Pierre McGuire to believe Malkin's going to win.

It's the dramatic circumstances under which Malkin left his Russian team to come to the NHL and that he's had to learn a new culture and a new language while playing and excelling on the Penguins' top two lines and top power play unit.

"Malkin has overwhelmed people with his adaptability and being able to come to a new culture, play center or wing," McGuire said. "Not only is he learning to play in a new league, he's learning a new culture, and that says a lot. I'd be shocked if Malkin didn't get rookie of the year."

One player threatening to take a few votes from Malkin is teammate Jordan Staal.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499677.html

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:26 PM
Do you hear that? Could that be the sound of the bandwagon making its way to Mellon Arena? I'm sorry, but I bet you most of these people didn't give a flying hoot about the team 3 years ago, and now that they're winning, all of a sudden they're "hardcore fans." :jerkit: Meanwhile, I had season tickets during the lean years and still went to every game on my plan. Not asking for any pats on the back, but IMO, that's what true fans do - stick by and support the team through thick and thin, win or lose - not show up only when they win.

Pens fans pounce on playoff tickets

By Kim Lyons
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Penguins haven't yet clinched a playoff spot, but confident fans lined up Monday morning -- and Sunday night -- to get tickets to the first two home games.

Single-game tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. yesterday, and with only 2,000 tickets available to the general public for each home game, Mike Paprocki, of Butler, wasn't taking any chances.

Paprocki, 28, was first in line, arriving at Mellon Arena about 11:30 Sunday night, after a 40-minute drive. He looked a little bleary-eyed, but he was excited at a chance to see the Penguins play toward the Stanley Cup.

The Pens haven't made the playoffs since the 2000-01 season.

Paprocki sees nothing but clear skating ahead.

"I think we've got our lucky charm (defenseman) Mark Eaton back, so that will carry us far," he said. "I think they're going to win huge."

Fans are limited to four tickets per game, and Paprocki said he planned to buy eight total.

The temperatures Sunday night hovered in the not-too-cold mid-40s. Would Paprocki have been in line early, even if it had been pouring rain or freezing cold? "Absolutely," he said. "No question."

John Fullerton, 59, of McCandless, arrived about 6:30 yesterday morning. He brought a folding chair and a book to settle in for the wait.

Fullerton said he was surprised the line wasn't longer, with about 50 people waiting an hour before the box office opened.

"I thought if the line was really long, I might just go back home and take my chances on the Internet," Fullerton said. "But I've heard the best odds to get tickets is by waiting in line."

Casey Muir, 24, of the South Side, arrived at 1 a.m. He, like many Penguins fans, has been pleasantly surprised by how well the young team has played.

"It's like they don't know any better," Muir said.

Muir said once he'd made his purchase, he might have a whole set of new "friends" to accompany him to the game.

"Everyone will be sucking up," he said.

Bernie Seth, 23, of Johnstown, already decided his dad will get one of his tickets. Seth left Johnstown for the hour-and-a-half drive to Mellon Arena at about 11 p.m. Sunday but ran into car trouble near Latrobe.

"My dad came and picked me up, drove me back to Johnstown and then I drove all the way here in another car," Seth said. "He's a Pens fan, too, so he knows how important it is."

Pitt students Emily Page, 19, of Erie, and Sarah Shaikh, 18, of Bethel Park, sat barefoot near one of the ticket windows. They rode a bus from Oakland and arrived at about 7 a.m. The shoes came off "because we want to be comfortable while we wait," Page said.

"We're definitely hardcore fans," Shaikh said.

No one in line wanted to jinx the Penguins by making a prediction about how far the team might advance in the playoffs.

"The way they're playing, I don't think they're scared of anyone," Seth said. "But everyone seems scared of them. I'd say: advantage, Pittsburgh."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499704.html

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:30 PM
Notebook: Pens' Fleury hits career-high mark for number of games played

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

? Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has already played in a career-high 61 games this season. With only six games remaining before his first Stanley Cup playoffs, Fleury is not looking for much time off. "We're still playing for the (Atlantic) division (title). There is still something to accomplish," Fleury said.

? With 36 wins -- fourth in the NHL -- Fleury trails only Tom Barrasso for the team's single-season record. Barrasso recorded 43 wins during the 1992-93 season. Despite the prospect of becoming only the second goaltender in team history to reach the 40-win plateau, Fleury said he is more excited for the opportunity to play in his first NHL postseason than any individual regular-season goals. "I think it's going to be pretty cool, but I'm trying not to get too excited," Fleury said.

? The remaining 4,000 tickets that were available for the first two home games of the playoffs were sold over a span of 13 minutes yesterday.

? The Penguins did not practice yesterday. Instead, players, coaches and team officials, including club chairman Mario Lemieux, posed for a team photograph.

Digits

2 - Home win streaks of six or more games by the Penguins this season.

0 - Eastern Conference teams that have matched the Penguins' multiple home win streaks of six or more games this season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499678.html

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:32 PM
Scouting the Capitals

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Penguins (43-23-10, 96 points) at Washington Capitals (26-37-13, 65 points)

When and where: 7 p.m. today -- Verizon Center, Washington

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

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (36-15-8, 2.87 GAA); Olaf Kolzig (21-21-6, 3.03 GAA)


Notable: The Penguins are 3-0-0 against Washington this season. They have allowed just six goals in those contests. ... In his head-to-head battle with Capitals right wing Alexander Ovechkin, Penguins center Sidney Crosby has recorded three points to Ovechkin's two. Ovechkin has recorded 15 shots against the Penguins but has yet to score on the season. ... The Penguins' 96 points are fifth-most in franchise history.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499679.html

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:35 PM
Penguins Notebook: Staal's next goal will make historic hat trick

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jordan Staal hasn't gone more than four games without a goal since early December.

That suggests there's a good chance he'll score at least once in the final six games of the regular season, beginning with the Penguins' visit tonight to Washington.

And if Staal does, his team will earn a place in NHL history as the first to have three 30-goal scorers under the age of 21.

The others are Evgeni Malkin, who is 20 and got his 32nd in the Penguins' 5-0 victory Sunday against Boston, and Sidney Crosby, who is 19 and ran his total to 34 against the Bruins.

But while Crosby staked out his place among the league's elite talents last season and Malkin entered the NHL with a world-class reputation, Staal is an 18-year-old who seemed almost certain to spend another winter with Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League after the Penguins claimed him with the No. 2 choice in the June entry draft.

"Coming into the season, I really didn't expect to make the team," Staal said. "For it to [play out] like this is pretty amazing.".

Hot ticket

If Penguins playoff tickets are the hottest in town -- and they certainly appear to be -- there's a perfectly logical explanation: Friction.

They're moving that fast.

Approximately 4,000 tickets for the Penguins' first two playoff games went on sale yesterday morning.

Thirteen minutes later, they were gone.

No other single-game tickets are on sale yet.

Brodeur picks Crosby

New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur writes a column for a French-language newspaper in Montreal, and used it to name Crosby as his choice for the NHL's most valuable player this season.

Yesterday, however, Brodeur told a conference call that no one should think that means he has written himself off as a viable candidate for the Hart Trophy.

"When I was doing my column, it's hard to kind of pick myself there, so ... I believe [Crosby is] one of the most valuable players in the league," Brodeur said. "That's what I was writing in the article.

"I went through a few of the awards. When it came down to the Hart, if I had to vote, [and] you can't vote for yourself, that's the guy I would be voting for."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07086/772814-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-26-2007, 11:42 PM
Root for New Jersey tonight? Ugh...guess we hafta if the Pens are to clinch a playoff berth. Of course, they will have to take care of business on their end by beating the Caps.

Penguins have a chance at winning road record

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins' first Stanley Cup team couldn't do it. Neither could the second, for that matter. Or the club that reached the Eastern Conference final in 1996.

Fact is, only three Penguins teams have managed it since the franchise was born in 1967.

But the 2006-07 Penguins will join that select group if they can win one of their final four away games this season -- beginning with a visit to Washington at 7:08 tonight -- because that would guarantee them a winning record on the road. Under at least one accounting method, anyway.

They enter the game against the Capitals with an 18-14-5 road mark, which means they have earned 41 points away from Mellon Arena; that's exactly half of what's available from the 41-game away schedule NHL teams play.

Finishing .500 or better in away games is something only their predecessors in 1992-93 (23-15-3), 1997-98 (19-14-8) and 2000-01 (18-13-7-3) have achieved.

The Penguins' road record this season carries a hefty asterisk because the NHL did not mandate that there be a winner in every game until 2005, and more than half of their away victories in 2006-07 have come after the third period. They've won five in overtime, five more in shootouts.

They also have lost two road games in overtime and three in shootouts.

Given that 17 of the NHL's 30 teams are above .500 on the road at the moment, having three points in play when a game goes into overtime obviously has had a profound impact on away records.

But regardless of how one crunches the numbers -- some observers regard an overtime loss as just another defeat, while others see it as the equivalent of a tie under the former system -- the Penguins' ability to compete on the road has been a major component of their success this season.

If they are able to win the Atlantic Division, or even to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference and secure home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, the points they've picked up on the road might be the difference.

Never mind that the players struggle when asked to cite reasons for their success in away games.

"We've just had an overall good year," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "And when that happens, you're automatically pretty good on the road."

Well, not quite automatically. When the Penguins won their first division championship in 1991 -- a few months before earning their first Cup -- they went 16-21-3 on the road.

A year later, when they picked up Cup No. 2, their away record was 18-19-3.

Both of those clubs were outscored on the road, something this year's team has a chance to avoid. To date, the Penguins have gotten 126 goals in away games and allowed 130.

That gap would be smaller, or non-existent, if the Penguins killed penalties as effectively on the road as they do at Mellon Arena.

Their home-ice penalty killing ranks seventh in the league, with a success rate of 87.2 percent; on the road, they are 30th, and their kill rate plunges to 75.5 percent.

The difference is obvious. The reasons aren't, because personnel and strategy are the same in both places.

"There's no explanation," penalty-killer Maxime Talbot said.

Actually, the game tonight might indicate how the Penguins would fare while short-handed in a neutral-site game, because there always is a large, loud contingent of their fans in the Verizon Center. Some drive from Western Pennsylvania, others are transplants.

"They make the big trek to Washington, and we have tons of fans there," Whitney said. "It's exciting to know that if we score, it's not going to be too silent."

Then again, recent history suggests the Capitals might give their fans reason to make some noise early tonight, because Washington has outscored its opponents, 8-1, during the first period of its past six games.

The Penguins want to avoid having the Capitals grab a lead. When facing a team that will be sitting out the playoffs, the idea is to get in front quickly and stay there.

"Don't give them any reason [to believe they can win]," coach Michel Therrien said.

The same concept will apply when the Penguins visit Boston Thursday and perhaps when they're in Toronto Saturday, if the Maple Leafs stumble in the next few days.

"We'll see how the next three games go," Talbot said. "We definitely want to win the three of them."

And this season, the Penguins have good reason to believe that they can.


Magic number: 3

Any combination of points the Penguins get or the New York Islanders fail to get adding up to three will clinch a playoff spot. That could happen as soon as tonight if the Penguins win in Washington and the Islanders fail to defeat New Jersey.

Note: The next point the Penguins earn will ensure they finish ahead of the Canadiens.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07086/772784-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-27-2007, 09:24 AM
Pens fans pounce on playoff tickets

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499704.html

That's great to hear. You win and people show. If your a team who can't reach .500, who's future is not looking much better, who's in a league with no cap and are currently on a 14 year losing streak people will not show. Like hell I'm going to waste money on that, especially while already supporting two teams with season tickets. I'll watch them on TV and root for them, but that's about it when it comes to the Irates. Show me change and I'll show you the green.

Anyways, hopefully the youngsters will bring some high intensity to Mellon. It's great to hear hockey is back in the Burgh and the support is there. Hopefully the same people sleeping outside of Mellon arena for playoff tickets will stick by this team in the hard times as well. It's only normal when a team get's hot tickets will sell. It's not a new trend. I saw it occur all through the 90's. Hats off to (mostly) college kids buying up those tickets. Speaks volumes when your in college and your spending high cash on playoff tickets....lol. That's good beer money right there.

On that note, what ticks me off.......

The format for picking season tickets next season. Ever since my family and myself have had season tickets (in the family since the Jack Riley days) we were always permitted to pick which games we wanted to attend. Next season that will not be the case. Starting next season the Penguins will choose which games I will attend. Complete B.S.

This is an organization which couldn't give tickets away and now they are telling the ones who have supported this team for decades which games they can and cannot attend?

I'm not exactly sure why the Penguins are changing the format. I'm guessing because of the recent surge of ticket buyers? If that is the case why didn't they do it all through the 90's when we were winning cups and making playoff runs? People were jumping on the wagon all through the 90's and they didn't change a damn thing. Now all of a sudden they are changing.......

Great PR by the Penguin front office as always.

HometownGal
03-27-2007, 09:35 AM
I agree. I am totally pissed off that we cannot choose which games we want to attend next season. XT and I share a 21 game plan but go to most of the games together. Gee - nice way to thank all of us who have supported this team and have had season tix plans for many years.

My question is - where the hell were all of these loyal Pens fans last season and several seasons before? You can bet your life that these "fans" won't be purchasing season ticket plans or even partials at the new arena - instead, they'll grab up all of the playoff tix like they did yesterday. Thank God we bought the package or we would have been left in the lurch as far as the playoffs go.

83-Steelers-43
03-27-2007, 03:57 PM
Magic number: 3

Any combination of points the Penguins get or the New York Islanders fail to get adding up to three will clinch a playoff spot. That could happen as soon as tonight if the Penguins win in Washington and the Islanders fail to defeat New Jersey.

Note: The next point the Penguins earn will ensure they finish ahead of the Canadiens.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07086/772784-61.stm

While it would be nice to clinch a playoff spot tonight with an Isle loss, I would prefer to jump ahead of the Devils in the standings and not look back. I feel the Penguins are capable of gaining an extra two points later down the road.

I'll take a Penguin and Islander victory tonight.

Borski
03-27-2007, 05:38 PM
Agreed, I don't think we need to worry about not getting a playoff spot, I'll be rootin' for the Pens and against the Devils tonight:tt02:

Borski
03-27-2007, 06:17 PM
Eh, not a great start

Pens - 0
Caps - 1

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 06:17 PM
They need a friggin goal!

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 06:32 PM
Carving at the lead. 2-1 Caps. Let's score shorthanded goals.

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 06:37 PM
Good Penalty Kill. LET'S TIE THIS ONE UP!

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 06:51 PM
I agree. I am totally pissed off that we cannot choose which games we want to attend next season. XT and I share a 21 game plan but go to most of the games together. Gee - nice way to thank all of us who have supported this team and have had season tix plans for many years.

My question is - where the hell were all of these loyal Pens fans last season and several seasons before? You can bet your life that these "fans" won't be purchasing season ticket plans or even partials at the new arena - instead, they'll grab up all of the playoff tix like they did yesterday. Thank God we bought the package or we would have been left in the lurch as far as the playoffs go.

I don't know why the hell they changed it either - it doesn't make any sense. You'd think they'd give the longtime STHs the opportunity to pick their games and any new STHs would have theirs picked for them. To me, that's only fair. The only reason I can think of that they would do this is so that people would then buy tickets to games that aren't in their partial plan, or persuade them to move to a full season plan, the latter we simply cannot afford right now. So I guess we'll have to pick the plan that includes the home opener (if the options are the same as this season - I'll be damned if I'm missing that) and then buy additional tickets for other games. But I won't like it one bit, because more than likely we're going to get saddled with games in our plan against teams that I have absolutely no interest in seeing.

As for these "loyal Pens fans" who bought up all the playoff tickets - they are nothing more than bandwagon fans who want to be at the "cool scene." Right now, the Pens are hot, but none of them were around when they were losing, they won't be around when they have down years in the future, and they sure as hell won't prove their support by purchasing season tickets. As I mentioned to you earlier, I have no problem with them being excited about the team and going to games, but please don't insult my intelligence by claiming to be "die hard Pens fans" when they couldn't name 3 players on the team outside of the superstars.

As for the game tonight, I'd sure like to know where the hell the D was on both Caps goals - there's no way in hell a guy like Semin should EVER be left alone in front of the net. Good for Therrien to call that timeout and chew their asses out. Hopefully they'll get back to playing solid hockey and get some goals.

83-Steelers-43
03-27-2007, 07:01 PM
Good Penalty Kill. LET'S TIE THIS ONE UP!

Wasn't looking good there for a while. Good timing on Therrien to call the T.O. and get this team back on track. Christensen with the goal to make it 2-1 Caps and we start the 2nd off on the PP.

83-Steelers-43
03-27-2007, 07:02 PM
Penguins score on the PP to tie it up at 2-2. Ryan Whitney!!!

Borski
03-27-2007, 07:02 PM
I agree with you, I am 'Not' a die hard fan...yet I only started getting into hockey this year, and the Pens doing so well helped me get into it.

I picked the pens as my fav team because of Pittsburgh, not because the team is hot.

but I know what you mean about bandwagon jumpers (witch i guess I am part of right now) I hate when you've been a fan of a team forever and once they do really good or go to a championship game there 10X more fans then there ever was before, its ridiculous, people need to pick one team and stick with em til the end.

PS----

WOOOOOOO TIED UP 2-2

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 07:02 PM
TIE GAME!!!!!! RYAN WHITNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 07:08 PM
POWER PLAY!!!!!!!!!

Borski
03-27-2007, 07:10 PM
Crosby get the goal and the lead!

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 07:13 PM
3-2!!!!!! SIDNEY CROSBY!!!! OH SHE SHAVED MY FACE WITH A RUSTY RAZOR!!!!

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 07:31 PM
4-2!!!!!!!!!! RYAN WHITNEY!!!!!! (Later on). CAN YOU SMELL WHAT LARAQUE IS COOKIN?!?!?!

HometownGal
03-27-2007, 07:50 PM
4-2!!!!!!!!!! RYAN WHITNEY!!!!!! (Later on). CAN YOU SMELL WHAT LARAQUE IS COOKIN?!?!?!

Oh most definitely!!! :thumbsup: It was great seeing Brooksie's hit on Brashear (which was a clean hit) and Laraque knocking Brashear to the ice after they dropped the gloves and went at it just as the 4th goal was scored - LOL!!!! That big Meathead doesn't like being checked and knocked on his butt. Boo frickity HOO. :crying01:

Pens PP is spot on tonight. Who will get the Pens 5th goal? :cheers:

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 07:51 PM
Brashear really lived up to his nickname of "Huggy Bear" in that fight! :sofunny: Laraque was about to open up a can of whoopass on him!

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 08:07 PM
Brashear really lived up to his nickname of "Huggy Bear" in that fight! :sofunny: Laraque was about to open up a can of whoopass on him!

:toofunny: :toofunny: :toofunny:

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 08:08 PM
Get another goal that should mean one foot in the Capital coffin for tonight.

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 08:29 PM
GOALTENDER INTERFERENCE. THIS GOAL SHOULD BE DISALLOWED!!!!

HometownGal
03-27-2007, 08:32 PM
It's official!!!!! The Pens are in the playoffs!!!

Congrats guys - we love ya!!! :cheers: :banana:

SteelCityMan786
03-27-2007, 08:43 PM
And for the first time since the 2000-2001 Season. The Pittsburgh Penguins are

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS BOUND

PENGUINS WIN 4-3!!!!!!!

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 08:49 PM
It's official!!!!! The Pens are in the playoffs!!!

Congrats guys - we love ya!!! :cheers: :banana:

WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!! Man, it's been a long time coming! Congratulations to everyone in the Penguins organization for making it to the playoffs! Now, let's see if they can cap off this great season by overtaking the Devils and winning the division :cheers:

HometownGal
03-27-2007, 09:55 PM
WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!! Man, it's been a long time coming! Congratulations to everyone in the Penguins organization for making it to the playoffs! Now, let's see if they can cap off this great season by overtaking the Devils and winning the division :cheers:

Hmmmm - I remember a certain person telling me during the 2nd intermission of the Pens/Flyers game on March 4th when he was of little faith........

"Don't say I didn't tell ya".

Want to rephrase that? (You're right - you aren't going to live it down for a long time - LOL!)

:wink02: :flap: :flap: :flap: :flap: :flap: :flap:

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 11:29 PM
Hmmmm - I remember a certain person telling me during the 2nd intermission of the Pens/Flyers game on March 4th when he was of little faith........

"Don't say I didn't tell ya".

Want to rephrase that? (You're right - you aren't going to live it down for a long time - LOL!)

:wink02: :flap: :flap: :flap: :flap: :flap: :flap:

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know! :wink02: :flap: But if you'll recall, the Pens had lost 3 of their past 4 and 4 of 6 games at that point, looked bad in losses to the Isles and Lightning and weren't playing particularly well against the Flyers for much of the first 2 periods that day. So I felt I had some legitimate concerns that they weren't going anywhere but the golf course if they continued to play like that. But to their credit, they got the ship righted, and now, they're headed to the postseason, and I couldn't be prouder of them!

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 11:30 PM
Penguins win, clinch playoff spot

Ryan Whitney scores twice, Sidney Crosby gets goal and an assist as Penguins sweep season series from Capitals, remain tied with New Jersey and tie Ottawa

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

By Dave Molinari
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON -- Sidney Crosby recalls attending prep school in Minnesota in the spring of 2001, getting ready for his entry into major-junior hockey a couple of years later.

Ryan Whitney was a senior at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he was participating in the U.S. national developmental program.

And Mark Recchi was a respected veteran, with a Stanley Cup ring and hair that was thinning a bit on top.

OK, so not everything has changed over the past six years, but one thing finally has: The Penguins are part of the NHL playoffs again.

Their 4-3 victory over Washington at the Verizon Center last night completed a sweep of the season series and raised their record to 44-23-10. That's good for 98 points, enough to lock up a place among the top eight clubs in the Eastern Conference.

Not that there was a raucous celebration -- or even a tame one -- to mark the occasion. Forget champagne in the locker room; there wasn't so much as a can of diet cola to be seen.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he was not aware the Penguins had clinched until a reporter mentioned it, although he allowed the accomplishment was "pretty cool."

The lone negative for the Penguins was that left winger Gary Roberts left the game after taking a shot off the knee. Roberts, walking with a slight limp after the game, described himself as "day to day" and said everything done for his injury so far has been "precautionary."

Therrien said Roberts "probably" will play when the Penguins visit Boston tomorrow at 7:08 p.m., although his injury will be looked at again today.

It's been clear for a while that the Penguins would qualify for the postseason -- "I told the players we were going to make the playoffs about three weeks ago," Therrien said -- and their focus lately has been on winning the Atlantic Division, or at least nudging past Ottawa for fourth place in the East.

"It's a great accomplishment for this team, and we're proud about clinching the playoffs," Therrien said. "But ... we want more."

The Penguins are tied with the Devils for first place in the Atlantic, although New Jersey has a game in hand. The Penguins did get help from Boston, however, as the Bruins won, 3-2, in Ottawa, allowing the Penguins to pull even with the Senators.

Crosby had a goal and an assist to push his league-leading points total to 113. San Jose center Joe Thornton, who is second in the race, had 104 before the Sharks faced Los Angeles last night.

The Penguins were guilty of some ghastly defensive lapses during the first half of the opening period -- Capitals forwards were left unchecked in front of the net on several occasions -- and Washington exploited them with goals by Alexander Semin at 5:59 and Boyd Gordon at 9:18.

"The effort we were putting in at the beginning of the game was embarrassing," right winger Georges Laraque said.

Therrien obviously agreed because he called his timeout after Gordon scored and did not use the break to congratulate his players on their outstanding effort to that point.

"He gave it to us a little bit," Whitney said.

That timeout had a lot to do with reviving the Penguins, but so did a power play that scored on its first three opportunities.

Michel Ouellet pulled the Penguins within a goal when he swatted in a Brooks Orpik rebound at 12:08 of the first. Whitney tied the game at 1:10 of the second after taking a cross-ice feed from Crosby, and Crosby put the Penguins in front to stay at 6:21 by jamming in a shot from the right post.

"We were able to get some shots through [on the power play], maybe cause a little more havoc and open up those lanes to get some nice plays," Crosby said. "It wasn't so much a system as pure hard work."

The Capitals finally managed to kill a penalty as the second wound down, but didn't have much chance to enjoy it: Eleven seconds after a roughing minor to Donald Brashear expired, Whitney beat Olaf Kolzig from inside the left circle again at 15:52 to make it 4-2.

Milan Jurcina got the Capitals within one by scoring with 31.9 seconds left in regulation, but Washington's comeback ended there. So did the Penguins' run of springs without a playoff appearance.

"It was a tough year last year, and we've been working hard this year toward that," Crosby said. "To know we're in there now feels good."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07087/773078-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 11:39 PM
Penguins Notebook: Ovechkin sticks by Malkin as top rookie

Wednesday, March 28, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


WASHINGTON -- A few hours before he was named the NHL's top rookie last June, Washington left winger Alexander Ovechkin flatly predicted that Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins would succeed him as the Calder Trophy winner.

That's looking like a pretty good call at this point -- Malkin is widely regarded as the front-runner to be chosen the league's best first-year player, although Colorado's Paul Stastny had made it a race and a few others, including Penguins center Jordan Staal, will get support in the voting -- and Ovechkin said yesterday that nothing has happened to change his mind.

"For sure [Malkin will win]," Ovechkin said. "Stastny is good, but Malkin is more deserving."

Ovechkin, meanwhile, has not exactly suffered from a sophomore jinx. He has 43 goals and a decent shot at reaching 50 again, although he seems to be keeping his personal production in perspective.

"It would be good if I score 50 goals for the second year, but, if I don't, I'll have scored 40 goals this year," he said. "That's a pretty good result, I think."

Not quite like Capitals

The Capitals enraged a lot of Penguins fans in 2001 when they refused to sell playoff tickets to people living in the 412 and 724 area codes.

Not surprisingly, then, a number of Penguins fans who reside outside Western Pennsylvania were surprised and unhappy Monday when their attempts to purchase tickets for Games 1 and 2 of this spring's playoffs at Mellon Arena were rebuffed.

That was no accident, team vice president of communications Tom McMillan said, but neither was it an attempt to prevent an opposing team's fans from securing seats, as Washington's decision had been.

The goal, he said, was to keep tickets out of the hands of ticket brokers and others inclined to purchase as many tickets as possible, then resell them at inflated prices.

"It has nothing to do with what the Caps did," McMillan said. "It had everything to do with eBay and ticket brokers around the country."

Officials of the Penguins and Ticketmaster devised a zip code-based plan under which people within roughly a 120-mile radius of Pittsburgh -- where "the vast, vast majority of our fans live," McMillan said -- were allowed to purchase tickets while those outside that area had their attempts rejected.

"There's no perfect system," McMillan said.

"But we wanted to err on the side of protecting our local and regional fans."

Talk about improvement

With their win last night, the Penguins became the sixth club in NHL history to post at least a 40-point improvement over the previous season's point total.

The top single-season improvements in league history include San Jose, 1992-93 to 1993-94, 58 points; Quebec, 1991-92 to 1992-93, 52; Winnipeg, 1980-81 to 1981-82, 48; New York Islanders, 2000-01 to 2001-02, 44; and Boston, 1966-67 to 1967-68, 40.

Capitals have big plans for Swede

The Capitals are negotiating to bring Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom, their No. 1 draft choice in 2006, to the NHL next season.

When Backstrom arrives, he shouldn't have trouble keeping busy, based on the way Capitals coach Glen Hanlon discussed him yesterday.

"The way we look at him and the way we're hoping and wishing that he's here, anything less than the Hart Trophy [as league MVP] next year is going to be a bad year," Hanlon said, laughing.

"In our minds, he's got the Art Ross [most points], he's got the Rocket Richard [most goals], he's going to be the second-line center, he's killing penalties, he's on the first group on the power play. ... We're hoping all that will get him the Hart Trophy. If not, we're going to have to go to Plan B."

Tip-ins

Washington managed just 10 shots on goal during a 4-3 loss to Carolina at the RBC Center Thursday, but that wasn't close to the Capitals' all-time low. They got seven during a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia Feb. 12, 1978. ... Capitals utilityman Ben Clymer will miss the rest of the season because of surgery to repair a sports hernia. ... USA Hockey's national team advisory group, which includes Penguins general manager Ray Shero, chose former Bruins coach Mike Sullivan to coach Team USA in this spring's world championships. One-time Penguins assistant Barry Smith will be associate head coach and David Quinn will be an assistant.

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 11:42 PM
Pens' Therrien deserves top honor

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Any discussion of the NHL Coach of the Year Award -- otherwise known as the Jack Adams Award -- should last for about half a second, or however long it takes to utter these two words:

Michel Therrien.

There is no other choice, but you know it won't be that easy.

Therrien isn't the league's most popular coach, by any means. He doesn't do the old boys thing. Doesn't schmooze the media. You hope that doesn't hurt him when it comes time for members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association to vote, but you just don't know.

This much, you should know: The Penguins already have posted the fifth-largest one-year improvement in the NHL's 89-year history -- 40 points following Tuesday's win over the Washington Capitals -- and still have a chance to match the 1981-82 Winnipeg Jets for the third-largest jump at 48 points.

Following a loss to New Jersey last night, the New York Islanders (Ted Nolan) had improved by six points, but what's that compared to the Penguins' quantum leap?

Nobody predicted anything of the sort. The Hockey News and TSN -- Canada's version of ESPN -- picked the Penguins to finish 13th among 15 Eastern Conference teams. The Sporting News picked them last in the Atlantic Division, behind the Islanders.

Something called The Bellowing Moose - an anonymous columnist for NBCsports.com - called for Therrien's firing in early January. The mindless Moose labeled Therrien "the NHL's Archie Bunker, an ill-tempered, ill-mannered hothead with only a vague grasp of how to use the talent provided for him."

Talent, to be sure, is the main reason the Penguins are where they are. Sidney Crosby can make a coach look pretty good.

But not every coach knows how to utilize top-end talent.

Not every coach can funnel that talent toward winning.

Therrien's system allows for Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to express every ounce of their creativity while enabling the team at-large to win by any means necessary. The Penguins have outgunned the Buffalo Sabres and out-bored the New Jersey Devils. They've also learned how to close out games. That was obvious Saturday against Atlanta, when the Thrashers barely made it past the red line in the final minutes.

And remember, even with all that fabulous young skill, this remains a team with little experience, little punch on the wings and a largely pedestrian defense corps.

Therrien hasn't done everything right, but these are among his best moves:

? Sticking by much-maligned winger Michel Ouellet. The perception is that Ouellet plays too much. The reality is that he averages only 13 minutes, 22 seconds of ice time -- and does a whole bunch with it. He's fifth on the team in power-play goals and fourth in scoring among the forwards.

? Managing the ice time of 18-year-old rookie Jordan Staal, who plays 14 minutes, 48 seconds per game. The temptation, in any sport, is to look at a player who's doing a lot with minimal time and shriek, "Play him more!" Nobody wants to consider the possibility that limited time might be helping that player thrive. Staal has been brought along expertly (though I'd like to see him on the top power play).

? Keeping Crosby fresh. Much to his critics' dismay, Therrien steers Crosby away from the penalty kill - and away from all those point shots headed toward his feet.

? Successful line-juggling. People forget that "Badger" Bob Johnson switched lines often and that Scotty Bowman changed his combinations like underwear. It's not that big a deal. It makes the Penguins harder to prepare for come playoff time and forces players to get used to various linemates.

It's not like Therrien juggles for the sake of juggling. During the 14-0-2 streak, he barely changed a thing.

And he never heard from The Bellowing Moose again.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_499938.html

X-Terminator
03-27-2007, 11:46 PM
Pens' improvement puts them in select company

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Following Tuesday night's victory over the Washington Capitals, the Penguins had 98 points, representing a 40-point improvement over their total from 2005-06, when they earned 58 points at 22-46-14. Only five teams in the history of the NHL have improved by 40 points or more from one season to the next: The 1993-94 San Jose Sharks (58 points more than in 1992-93), the 1992-93 Quebec Nordiques (52 points more than in 1991-92), the 1981-1982 Winnipeg Jets (48 points more than 1980-81), the 2001-02 New York Islanders (44 points more than in 2000-01) and the 1967-68 Boston Bruins (40 points more than in 1966-67).

? Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin is 19 points behind his total of 108 points last season, his first in the NHL, with a total of 43 goals and 44 assists. Eight of those goals and five assists have come in the last 14 games since the Capitals traded Dainius Zubrus to the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline Feb. 27.

"It hasn't helped by him not having a centerman, and it hasn't helped by me moving (winger Chris) Clark off his line," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "But just because of lack of players who can play in critical situations we decided we had to split up Clark and Ovechkin, and that's made it difficult."

Clark is the Capitals' third-leading scorer with 29 goals and 23 assists for 52 points in 69 games.

? Penguins winger Ryan Malone said yesterday morning that while it would be good to have the formality of clinching a playoff spot out of the way, the players aren't focusing on that as their goal.

"Our goal right now is to win our division," he said. "I don't think it's making the playoffs. I think we've moved on past that, and that's a good sign."

? The Penguins scratched defensemen Joel Kwiatkowski and Alain Nasreddine and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman.


Digits

20 - Number of times the Penguins have trailed after the first period, including last night.

3 - Number of wins in the Capitals' last 21 games.

X-Terminator
03-28-2007, 12:21 AM
Here is the fight between Laraque and Huggy Bear from last night. Notice how quickly Huggy goes for the oh-so-sweet bear hug so that Laraque wouldn't get a chance to break his face :grin:

OoSMZHtqs1U

83-Steelers-43
03-28-2007, 02:13 PM
Pens' forward Roberts unlikely to play Thursday due to injury

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BOSTON -- Penguins forward Gary Roberts did not practice today and is unlikely to play Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.

Roberts, 40, was injured Wednesday night during the Penguins' 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals when he was struck by a shot from teammate Sidney Crosby during the second period. The knee remained swollen today.

Ronald Petrovicky is expected to take Roberts' spot in the lineup against the Bruins.

Roberts was acquired from the Florida Panthers at the NHL trading deadline in late February.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_500022.html

Edman
03-29-2007, 06:56 AM
Way to go, Pens! On a great win and clinching the playoffs! For some laughs, check out this lovely thread from our dear friends in D.C.

http://boards.washingtoncaps.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=51725

50%+ Plus Pens fans! Way to show up! Reminds of the Steelers 41-0 Slaughter of the Clowns on X-Mas eve. Steeler fans dominated Cleveland Stadium.

Were Craps fans always this bitter about our Pens?

Counselor
03-29-2007, 08:29 AM
Wow---the bitterness in that Caps message board was amazing! thanks for posting Edman.

Go Pens---get sole possession of the Atlantic division tonight!

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 08:57 AM
Penguins' Recchi roughs out dry spell

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 29, 2007

BOSTON - Penguins winger Mark Recchi capped 15 years between winning Stanley Cups -- the second-longest span in NHL history -- when he won with the Carolina Hurricanes last season.

He earned his first Cup, of course, with the Penguins in 1991.

Recchi's gap between goals may be starting to feel almost as long, especially for one of the NHL's top active points (1,329) and goals (506) leaders and the third-leading scorer on the Penguins.

Recchi has gone 18 games without a goal, tying his second-longest goal drought and one short of his career high of 19 games without a goal from Jan. 29 to March 27, 2002, with the Philadelphia Flyers.

It's a stretch Recchi can break tonight when the Penguins meet the Boston Bruins.

Going so long without a goal isn't fun, Recchi admits, especially with the playoffs so close.

At the same time, he said, he's getting chances to score, and if that keeps happening, he knows one will eventually go in.

"Obviously, I want to be part of it, and I want to help, and part of that is scoring goals, and I know that," Recchi, 39, said. "But I know eventually if I keep doing the right things, they'll start going in. I think the biggest thing for me is to keep competing and doing the things that are going to help the team be successful. Everybody goes through this at some point in their career."

Recchi's last big night on the scoresheet was a two-goal, three-assist performance Feb. 19 against the New York Islanders. Since then, he is pointless in 15-of-18 games, with four assists to show for his work.

With the entire team struggling to score goals last week, coach Michel Therrien changed his forward lines. He separated Recchi from Sidney Crosby's line for the first time since before the All-Star break. Recchi (22 goals, 42 assists in 77 games) and Ryan Malone, also a fixture on Crosby's line for some time, played alongside Jordan Staal, who moved back to center. Crosby was flanked by Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong.

Most notably, however, was Recchi's absence on the top power-play unit Sunday against the Bruins.

The Penguins put Gary Roberts on the unit with Crosby, Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney.

The change worked. In the past two games, the Penguins have scored six power-play goals on 11 chances after going 2 for 25 over the previous six games. The top unit has accounted for five of those goals.

Therrien said he isn't worried about Recchi's getting back on track offensively, and he praised his defense and the work he's done to keep pucks out of his own net.

"He's a true leader," Therrien said. "He knows what it takes to win, especially at this time of year. We're counting on our leaders to show the way to the young players how to play and to stick to the system and all of those little things that are important at this time of year.

"He puts his ego aside for the team. He doesn't take high-risk plays to make sure he's going to score. He sticks to the system and sticks to the plan, and you have to give a lot of credit for that."

One of Recchi's best chances lately to score occurred Sunday, when he missed a wide-open net in the second period.

"I don't like going through this, but it's part of it," Recchi said. "I've hit three or four posts, I've missed wide-open nets, I missed an empty netter ... it's not like it hasn't been there. But I know the coaching staff hasn't lost faith in me, and I know my teammates haven't lost faith in me.

"I'm just going to keep working for them, and that's all that really matters to me. I know eventually things will go in."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500071.html

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 08:59 AM
FSN to show most Pens' first-round games

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fans will not have to channel-surf to find the Penguins' opening-round playoff games next month.

Though the playoff television schedule will not be released until April 8, most of the Penguins' Eastern Conference quarterfinal games will air on FSN Pittsburgh.

NBC holds the exclusive right to show a maximum of two Penguins opening-round games on the weekends of April 14-15 and, if the best-of-7 series goes beyond five games, April 21-22. All remaining games will be broadcast locally on FSN Pittsburgh.

VERSUS, the NHL's national cable partner, has no exclusive option to air the Penguins' opening-round games.

If the Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, NBC again will hold exclusive rights to air potentially two weekend games. VERSUS then would have exclusive rights to show up to two non-weekend games. FSN Pittsburgh would air all non-exclusive games.

NBC and VERSUS will have exclusive rights to air the conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals.

VERSUS can be found locally on Comcast (channel 17 or 60), Armstrong Cable (channel 485), DirecTV (channel 608) and Dish Network (channel 151).

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500051.html

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 09:03 AM
Pesky Talbot fulfills wish, savors life in NHL

Thursday, March 29, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BOSTON -- The Penguins have three centers who were chosen first or second overall in the NHL entry draft.

And one who went 234th.

Three who entered the league with impeccable pedigrees, and seemed destined for stardom in this league almost from conception.

And one whose grade-school classmates openly ridiculed the idea that he might play hockey for a living someday.

Three who will get a lot of support when voting for the league's major trophies is conducted in a couple of weeks.

And one who might never contend for any award except the one given to his team's unsung hero.

Striking as the differences between them are, however, Maxime Talbot clearly doesn't begrudge teammates Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal the acclaim they have earned or the success they have enjoyed.

Mostly because he's too busy savoring the opportunity to live his dream of playing in the NHL.

"Even now, sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I made it," he said.

There are a lot of people, many of them scouts, who understand that feeling. Talbot was a smallish late-bloomer when he was part of the 2002 draft class, a combination that didn't prompt anyone to project him as the capable checking-line forward he has become.

"He's gone against the odds," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "He's a small guy playing a defensive role. He's not the type of player you look at for that [role]. Usually, they're big, they're strong.

"He's a gamer. He's a guy who works so hard. That's the reason he's in the NHL, because of his work ethic and his courage."

Talbot is 5 feet 11, 190 pounds, so he doesn't overpower many opponents. He can out-think and outwork them, though. And annoy them quite a bit in the process.

"I can be scrappy," he said. "I can distract people. I like to bring that to my game, so it's hard to play against me."

Crosby played against Talbot in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and allows that it would not be incorrect to suggest that Talbot was "a little bit dirty" in those days.

"He was pretty chippy," Crosby said. "He played hard. He's a guy you hated to play against, but you want on your team."

Especially if you need someone willing to do the dirty work, like killing penalties. Talbot has filled that role effectively, joining Colby Armstrong on one of the two pairs of forwards Therrien routinely deploys when the Penguins are down a man.

Talbot has scored four short-handed goals, tying him for the third-most in the NHL, and has generated decent numbers -- he enters the Penguins' game against Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden at 7:08 tonight with 11 goals and 11 assists in 70 games -- for someone whose job description says very little about offense.

While his ability to put up points is not what got him to this league, it won't hurt the chances of him hanging around for the next decade or so.

"I think I can score 20," Talbot said.

That won't get him into contention for an Art Ross Trophy, but would be a pretty fair achievement for a guy who scored more than 25 goals only once during four seasons in the QMJHL.

Then again, the kids he grew up with in Montreal probably can't believe he made it to that league, let alone onto Canada's world junior squad or an NHL roster.

"In sixth grade, when my teacher was asking what I wanted to do later, I was always saying, 'Play hockey,' " Talbot said. "Everyone was laughing at me, but that's all I wanted to do."

And now, he's doing it. And doing it very well.

That would explain the ever-present, 50-megawatt grin. The one that no elbow or high stick can knock off his face for more than a few seconds.

"I always have a big smile on my face because I feel fortunate and happy," Talbot said. "It's all I ever wanted to do and, when you do it, you're like, 'Wow, this is the best job you could have in the world,' because I love what I do."


Scouting Report

Matchup: Penguins at Boston Bruins, 7:08 p.m. today, TD Banknorth Garden.

TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Joey MacDonald for Bruins.

Penguins: Have dropped five consecutive games in Boston, including 5-4 shootout loss Jan. 18. ... LW Ryan Malone has six goals in 10 career games against Bruins. ... Power play has scored six times in past two games after going 0 for 15 in previous three.

Bruins: Have earned at least one point in 10 of past 11 games against Penguins. ... D Zdeno Chara has plus-minus rating of minus-6 in past seven games. ... Are being outscored, 151-115, while playing 5-on-5.

Hidden stat: Penguins are 28-6-4 when D Sergei Gonchar gets at least a point.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07088/773478-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 09:15 AM
2 things:

1. I remember that hit by Malkin that knocked Kobasew on his ass on Sunday - Malkin got called for roughing, which was a completely bogus call, because all he did was put his shoulder into Kobasew after he saw him coming. It's only fitting that he got hurt as a result.

2. I didn't even think the Pens had clinched at least 5th in the conference on Tuesday, but it's cool that they did.

Penguins Notebook: Roberts (sore knee) likely scratch

Thursday, March 29, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BOSTON -- Sidney Crosby says he didn't think he could shoot the puck hard enough to hurt someone.

Gary Roberts can testify to the contrary.

Roberts took a Crosby shot on the right knee during the second period of the Penguins' 4-3 victory in Washington Tuesday and has a bone bruise and severe swelling to prove it.

Because of his injuries, Roberts did not go on the ice for the Penguins' practice at Conte Forum on the campus of Boston College and has been all but officially ruled out of their game against Boston at 7:08 tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden.

"Obviously, if I can't skate, I can't play," he said.

Ronald Petrovicky appears to be the front-runner to take Roberts' spot in the lineup, although assistant coach Andre Savard said Nils Ekman also is a possibility.

The Penguins were on a power play with Roberts in his customary spot near the opposing team's net when Crosby's shot hit him.

"You don't like to hurt your own player," Crosby said. "But he's in that area, and I guess sometimes that's what happens."

Savard suggested that Roberts could play when the Penguins visit Toronto Saturday, although it's safe to assume no one will be looking to rush him back into the lineup.

"I don't want to risk getting hit there or having further damage," Roberts said. "I have to make sure it's close to 100 percent before I play, and hope that's only a couple of days away."

Extra motivation

The Penguins' primary incentive for wanting to win tonight -- to improve their standing in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference playoff races -- is obvious, but beating the Bruins would accomplish something else: It would give them 100 points for the fourth time.

While they can't match the team record of 119 set by the group that won the Presidents' Trophy in 1992-93, they still could surpass the total of 101 earned the following season or the 102 picked up by the 1995-96 squad that reached the Eastern Conference final.

Fond memories

Practice was a homecoming of sorts for defensemen Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi, both of whom played at Boston College.

"There certainly are fond memories of the good times, and all the good teams we had," Scuderi said.

The best, he said, probably came in the wake of the Golden Eagles' national championship in 2001.

"We all had to get up the next morning and take a team picture," he said. "Everyone wasn't exactly in the best [condition], to put it lightly. It was kind of funny, trying to get that picture together."

Aftershocks

Boston's 5-0 loss at Mellon Arena Sunday was one of the low points of the Bruins' season, a point coach Dave Lewis reinforced with a 45-minute workout that included lots of skating -- and no pucks -- in Ottawa the next day.

"The effort has not been there consistently," he told The Boston Globe. "It's my job to get that out of them. One way or another, they're going to work."

The Bruins' punishment did not end when they left the ice. After the workout, Lewis and his assistants returned to the team hotel, while the team stayed behind at Ottawa's practice rink to sit through the tape of the loss to the Penguins.

"They can figure it out on their own," Lewis told The Boston Herald. "And that's what I want. I want them and the leadership group to watch and evaluate. They've heard us critique video. Now it's time for the group to do it because they're the ones who play, and one thing about video, you can't hide."

The next night, the Bruins had no reason to hide because they stunned the Senators -- who had lost just once in regulation during their previous 21 games -- at Scotiabank Place, 3-2, allowing the Penguins to pull even with Ottawa for fourth place in the East.


Slap shots

The Penguins didn't just clinch a playoff berth Tuesday. Their victory in Washington, combined with various other results involving Eastern teams, assured they will finish no lower than fifth in the conference. ... Bruins forward Chuck Kobasew sat out the Ottawa game because of post-concussion syndrome, the result of a hit by Penguins center Evgeni Malkin in the first period Sunday. He is not expected to play tonight.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07088/773477-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 09:25 AM
Wow---the bitterness in that Caps message board was amazing! thanks for posting Edman.

Go Pens---get sole possession of the Atlantic division tonight!

I don't really care what Caps fans think, nor do I care about the Caps in general. They've been bitter and jealous of the Pens ever since the early 90s and I'm certain it's worse now because of the media-manufactured Crosby vs. Ovechkin "rivalry" (which Crosby leads 7-1, btw). They've been our whipping boys for years, just like the Bungles have been to the Steelers, and you see what's happened there with their fans. Screw 'em - their team sucks, and they'll just have to get used to it.

83-Steelers-43
03-29-2007, 09:31 AM
Were Craps always this bitter about our Pens?

Well we have booted them out of the playoffs five times since 90-91. To make it worse for Cap fans, it's the fashion in which we booted them. In 91-92 they had a 3-1 series lead over us and we came back, forced a 7th game and won it. The same occured in the 94-95 season. They jumped out to a 3-1 series lead and blew it.

It's safe to say Capital fans hate us. :wink02:

With Ovechkin and Semin they have a bright future if they can get all the pieces together.

83-Steelers-43
03-29-2007, 02:50 PM
So much for Petrovicky getting the nod tonight. Ekman better step up his game tonight. If not I'm sure somebody will find an excuse for his lack of scoring production while playing on a line with the best player in hockey earlier in the season. I'll leave it up to Bob Pompeani or Mike Lange.

Ekman to start tonight for Penguins
Thursday, March 29, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BOSTON -- Nils Ekman will replace Gary Roberts in the Penguins' lineup for their game against Boston tonight at 7:08 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Roberts is being held out of tonight's game because of a bruised right knee he received when he was struck by a Sidney Crosby shot during the Penguins' 4-3 victory in Washington Tuesday.

Coach Michel Therrien said after the morning skate, during which Roberts went on the ice for the first time since being hurt, that there's "a good possibility" Roberts will play when the Penguins visit Toronto Saturday night.

Therrien said he chose Ekman to replace Roberts because "we want to give Nils a chance. ... We like Nils' attitude, and you have to reward attitude about work ethic and being prepared and not feeling sorry that he's not in the lineup. He's been a good teammate."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07088/773539-100.stm

Borski
03-29-2007, 06:29 PM
Wow, is this a shootout or what?

Pens - 3
Bruins - 2

1st p

HometownGal
03-29-2007, 08:13 PM
Evgeni Malkin makes it 4-2 Pens - WOO HOO!!!!!!

HometownGal
03-29-2007, 08:31 PM
Congrats to the Pens on yet another victory, getting to 100 points and overtaking the Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division! :cheers: :banana:

BettisFan
03-29-2007, 08:33 PM
GO PENGUINS WE ARE DOING AMAZING!!!!

83-Steelers-43
03-29-2007, 08:50 PM
Nice and quick.......

Hats off to Christensen with his two goals and beautiful saucer pass to Army, maybe that will shut up his critics. F-ing idiots. Nice to see Fleury bounce back and stop the bleeding after his horribly played first period.

Christensen = 3 goals in two games even though (for some reason) they took a goal away from him last game. Thankfully that puck hit off Christensen's skate because if it did not it wasn't going in. But we will remain hush-hush about that one.

Anways, nice win and bring on the Leafs.

Borski
03-29-2007, 09:41 PM
Now I don't want to bring anyone down, but as I understand it...

Don't we still need the Devils to lose at least one more game since they have 5 games left and we only have 4?

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 11:51 PM
Now I don't want to bring anyone down, but as I understand it...

Don't we still need the Devils to lose at least one more game since they have 5 games left and we only have 4?

Yes they do, and it so happens that their game in hand is the final day of the regular season next Sunday against the Isles. The Pens' last game is next Saturday afternoon against the Rangers, so that game could very well determine who wins the division. The Pens must be ahead by at least 1 point going into that game, so that a victory gives them the division title.

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 11:55 PM
Penguins top Bruins, 4-2. gain first place in Atlantic Division

Friday, March 30, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins might want to hold off ordering the banner just yet. It's a bit early to start mass-producing T-shirts, too.

After all, much can change in the NHL over the next 10 days. And a lot probably will.

Nonetheless, the plain truth is that with little more than a week left in the 2006-07 regular season, the Penguins are in first place in the Atlantic Division.

And they're alone.

Their 4-2 victory against Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden last night raised the Penguins' record to 45-23-10 and made them the fourth 100-point team in franchise history. More important, it lifted them two points ahead of New Jersey in the race to finish atop the Atlantic.

The Devils, it should be noted, have a game in hand, are even with the Penguins in the first tiebreaker (victories) and have the edge in the second (head-to-head competition), so the Penguins hardly have a chokehold on the division lead.

"We just have to keep going," right winger Colby Armstrong said. "Make that final push."

Center Sidney Crosby is making one of those in his bid for the NHL scoring title. He assisted on the Penguins' final three goals to run his league-high points total to 116, 12 more than San Jose's Joe Thornton.

The Penguins -- especially Armstrong -- got a serious scare at 13:45 of the opening period, when his left eyelid was gashed by a high stick from Bruins center Petr Kalus.

The blow was inadvertent, but the Penguins' displeasure that Kalus wasn't penalized was obvious.

Coach Michel Therrien said "we were all surprised" there wasn't a call, and that includes Armstrong.

The difference is, Armstrong didn't waste much energy thinking about it until he was certain he hadn't suffered serious damage to his eye.

"It was pretty scary," he said. "I've never had that close of a call."

Armstrong spent the balance of the first period receiving medical treatment but returned for the second wearing a visor.

The Penguins played without left winger Gary Roberts, who has a bruised right knee. His spot in the lineup was taken by Nils Ekman, who logged 11 minutes, 33 seconds of ice time and recorded one shot.

The Bruins were looking to atone for their miserable showing in a 5-0 loss Sunday at Mellon Arena -- "They dominated the game because of our lack of effort," defenseman Zdeno Chara said -- and grabbed a 1-0 lead 45 seconds after the opening faceoff, when Brandon Bochenski threw an Andrew Ference rebound past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Erik Christensen got that back for the Penguins during a power play at 3:20, as he cashed in a Michel Ouellet rebound from the slot, and Armstrong put them in front at 9:18.

He got a pass from Christensen before sticking a backhander under the cross bar behind Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.

"It was just the right distance away from the net to get the angle to go in," Armstrong said.

Phil Kessel countered for Boston at 10:56, swatting the puck out of the air and past Fleury after Evgeni Malkin broke up his attempt to feed it into the crease, but Christensen countered 31 seconds later, putting a shot between Thomas' legs from above the left dot for what proved to be the winning goal.

"I told Max [Talbot] on the bench that I felt like I could get four or five," Christensen said. "That's the way it was going.

"I didn't really think of it like I was playing better than I had been. It was just one of those games where you find yourself in the right spots."

Christensen's second goal, however, was the last by either team until 11:30 of the third, when Malkin capitalized on a Crosby set-up for his 33rd of the season, and fifth in four games against Boston.

While no one will mistake this game for a 60-minute masterpiece -- "It wasn't as intense as probably what we're going to face in the next four games," Crosby said -- the two points count the same as any other pair.

And if the Penguins, who finished with 58 points in 2005-06, win one of their remaining four games, they will match the second-highest point total in franchise history.

But it says something about the maturity of this team -- never mind what so many of the birth certificates say -- that they are not fixated on that. Or even on the battle for first in the Atlantic.

"Our focus just has to be on the next game," Christensen said.

"We can't control what other teams do.

"It's great that we might have a chance to win the division, maybe get home-ice advantage, but that only comes if we're working hard and playing consistently."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07089/773816-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-29-2007, 11:59 PM
Penguins Notebook: Players to keep an eye on TV

Friday, March 30, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BOSTON -- The Penguins have this evening off in Toronto, but chances are their thoughts won't stray far from their work.

Not when they're competing for first place in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference, and the two teams they're battling, New Jersey and Ottawa, play tonight. The Devils will face Philadelphia, while the Senators take on Montreal.

The Penguins entered their game against Boston at TB Banknorth Garden last night tied with New Jersey for first in the Atlantic and with Ottawa for fourth in the East.

"We're certainly pulling for Jersey to lose so that we can maybe win the division," defenseman Rob Scuderi said.

Which is why at least some of them will be monitoring developments in the Devils-Flyers game, as well as the one between the Canadiens and Senators.

"On most of the sports channels, they have the ticker going at the bottom [of the screen]," Scuderi said. "I'll definitely pay attention when the NHL scores come up to try to see if [the Devils and Senators] are winning or losing."

Roberts sits out

Gary Roberts sat out last night's game because of the bone bruise and swelling caused when he was struck on the right knee by a Sidney Crosby shot in the Penguins' 4-3 victory Tuesday in Washington, but could return for their game tomorrow in Toronto.

"There's a good possibility [he'll play against the Maple Leafs]," coach Michel Therrien said. "We'll go day-by-day. We hope he's going to be there. He's an important piece of this hockey team."

Roberts went on the ice late in the Penguins' game-day practice at the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday morning, his first time on skates since being injured.

His place in the lineup was taken by Nils Ekman, who had dressed for just one of the previous 40 games. Ekman missed the first 28 of those while recovering from a dislocated elbow, the final 11 as a healthy scratch.

"We want to give Nils a chance," Therrien said. "We like Nils' attitude, and you have to reward attitude about work ethic and being prepared and not feeling sorry [for himself] that he's not in the lineup. He's been a good teammate, even when he's not in the lineup. And we figure he's a good player."

Ekman, acquired from San Jose last summer, had six goals and nine assists in 33 games before last night.

Bruins search for answers

Boston gave its roster a major upgrade during free agency last summer, bringing in the likes of defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Marc Savard, but the investment hasn't paid off in the standings, and the Bruins were on the cusp of mathematical elimination from playoff contention last night.

"You can pick so many different answers [for what went wrong]," said Chara, the Bruins' captain. "Point so many fingers in so many directions.

"But we just lost some games we should have won, and we made some mistakes we shouldn't have made. As a team, we have to learn from that and make sure we do better next time."

Slap shots

Penguins prospect Kristopher Letang was named Canadian Hockey League player of the week after recording four goals and four assists in two games for his team, Val d'Or , during the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. ... In addition to Roberts, the Penguins scratched forwards Chris Thorburn and Ronald Petrovicky and defensemen Alain Nasreddine and Joel Kwiatkowski. ... Chara, a former Senators player, on a possible Penguins-Ottawa matchup in the opening round: "I'm sure it's going to be a good matchup. Both teams have a lot of skilled players and like to play that offensive game."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07089/773768-61.stm

Borski
03-30-2007, 11:38 AM
On the slim chance the Sabres go on a losing streak and we win all our final games we could finish with 108 points and 1st seed

Edman
03-30-2007, 12:54 PM
The Pens cannot celebrate yet. They still have to seal the deal. I'm so excited. I knew they were good, but I thought they would never catch up to the Devils.

Come on, Penguins! Finish it!

Borski
03-30-2007, 09:14 PM
No help from Philly...but then again you wouldnt expect Philly to help the Burgh would ya?


Devils win 3 -1

SteelCityMan786
03-30-2007, 09:38 PM
No help from Philly...but then again you wouldnt expect Philly to help the Burgh would ya?


Devils win 3 -1

Other then Rendell's one time help(AKA the arena deal) Nope I Don't.

X-Terminator
03-30-2007, 09:51 PM
Well, that was certainly short-lived, wasn't it? Ottawa also won, so the Pens are back in 5th. Thanks Montreal! :thumbsup:

The Pens are just going to have to keep winning and hope for the best. It's all they can do. No matter where they finish, though, I feel pretty confident that they can beat anyone.

BettisFan
03-30-2007, 10:47 PM
HERE WE GO PENS HERE WE GO

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 12:07 AM
Pens' Roberts quietly guiding young team

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Seemingly, there was little chance Gary Roberts would cause a stir inside the Penguins' locker room upon joining the upstart hockey club last month.

After all, Roberts is not one for saying a whole lot.

"From what I can tell, he's just not a talkative guy," rookie Jordan Staal said. "He doesn't have to talk."

Conversation with any Penguins player about Roberts, though, leads to rave reviews:

"He is an intense player," Staal said. "When he's on the ice, everybody knows."

"He is so focused," winger Michel Ouellet said. "He brings us an attitude every day."

"He sets an example for everybody," winger Georges Laraque said. "From the day we came here, you could tell that he would set the tone for this team."

To be sure, the Penguins belong to second-season superstar Sidney Crosby, who is the captain-less club's leader.

Still, Roberts' aggressive physicality on the ice and grueling commitment to fitness off it clearly has rubbed off on the Penguins.

Many players speak of the "little things" Roberts brings to the rink daily. In reality, those things -- fierce forechecking, gritty work along the boards and in the corners, and, most notable, his persistence for getting in front of the cage -- are not so little.

Neither is Roberts' attention to detail when it comes to staying in shape. His post-game workouts are often more exhaustive than the preceding contests. As Staal jokingly agreed, if Roberts' workout regimen is the standard, hockey players around the NHL are in trouble.

"I don't think you judge a Gary Roberts based on his points. He's about winning and doing what you need to do to win," said general manager Ray Shero, who acquired Roberts from the Florida Panthers at the NHL trading deadline.

With four goals and 10 points in 15 games with the Penguins, Roberts, despite a knee injury that kept him sidelined Thursday against the Boston Bruins, appears to be heating up as the postseason approaches.

Roberts, whom the Penguins say is day-to-day with a bone bruise, is expected to play tonight in Toronto.

Pending a long playoff run, Roberts could turn 41 during the upcoming Stanley Cup tournament. But pay not attention to his age, Shero warned.

"A lot of these players remember what Gary Roberts was like during those Toronto-Ottawa playoff series (earlier this decade). I certainly do," Shero said. "The way he plays this game is a great example of the way you have to play in order to have success in the playoffs."

Winning in the playoffs requires a certain attitude. Not to suggest that the Penguins lacked the mentality necessary to win a best-of-7 postseason battle, but they clearly have a different swagger since Roberts donned their colors.

"Some guys, when they are on the ice, you watch, and Gary is one of those guys," Staal said. "The first game he played for us, he was all over the place, hitting everybody, digging in the corners -- he even dropped the gloves. It was, like, 'Wow!'

"He's an intense player. Everybody in this dressing room realizes that and has picked up the intensity since he came. We're not in awe of him, but he definitely has our respect and attention."

For that reason alone, whether Roberts, a free agent-to-be, re-signs with the Penguins this offseason or continues his career elsewhere, he is likely to leave a lasting impression in Pittsburgh.

"His being here will have a long-term impact on our franchise for years," Shero said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500439.html

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 12:09 AM
Penguins' Armstrong expecting phone calls

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Colby Armstrong was just waiting for his phone to ring Thursday night. Whether the first phone call telling him he needs to wear a protective visor would be from his mother or his girlfriend, he wasn't sure. But he knew that at some point, they both would be calling.

"I'll definitely be hearing it from the family about this one," said Armstrong, who came perhaps one centimeter from suffering serious eye damage when a high stick caught him on the left eyelid in a game against the Boston Bruins. "Mom will be in my ear all night, and my girlfriend; I'll be hearing it."

By the time the game ended, Armstrong's eye was already black and blue and swollen. Initially, he didn't know exactly where he'd been cut and feared the damage was significant.

"I was a little nervous; I didn't know what to think," Armstrong said. "It was scary for sure. I got lucky."

No penalty was called on the play. When coach Michel Therrien asked whether he was surprised about that, he said, "Were you surprised? We were all surprised."

? The Penguins canceled their scheduled practice Friday at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.

? Only four games remain in the Penguins' regular-season schedule, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he doesn't know how much the coaching staff intends to play him. He said Thursday that he suspected Jocelyn Thibault would get at least one more start before the end of the season.

"We're still playing a lot (of games) in not many days," Fleury said. "I'm sure we'll split some work."

? Quotable: "I don't know if I would have believed that. We've come a long way this season, and it's been so much fun all year."
Fleury, on what he would have said if someone told him last year that in March 2007 the Penguins would be leading the Atlantic Division with 100 points.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500441.html

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 12:13 AM
Pretty much a follow-up story here to the Trib story about Roberts from his teammates' perspective. This one is from Roberts' perspective and shares his thoughts about the team.

Mods - you can delete if you deem it necessary.

Penguins' maturity wins over Roberts

Saturday, March 31, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TORONTO -- In the weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline, Gary Roberts made no secret that he would not mind playing in this city again.

Tonight, he'll finally get a chance.

Roberts won't be pulling on a Maple Leafs jersey -- something he did 237 times earlier in his career -- but that won't necessarily make it any less special for him when he and the rest of the Penguins visit the Air Canada Centre.

Although Roberts sat out the Penguins' 4-2 victory in Boston Thursday because of a bruised and swollen right knee, team officials are optimistic that, after he tests his injury during the game-day skate, Roberts will pronounce himself ready to play.

Of course, given the feelings he has for Toronto, Roberts might not sit out the game even if doctors decide to rebuild his leg this morning. Or to remove it, for that matter.

Much as he would like to adopt the pragmatic approach that this is "just another game," Roberts acknowledges that is not realistic. Not when his ties to the city and its fans are so strong.

"It's always emotional for me to go back and play in Toronto, with the way they treated me," he said. "I have such fond memories."

Whether that played any role in his desire to be sent to the Maple Leafs or Ottawa at the deadline is not clear, but wanting to be closer to his 17-year-old daughter, Jordan, who attends school in Toronto, certainly did.

Roberts planned to spend time with her -- as well as his fiancee and son -- yesterday, and perhaps a bit more today.

He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and, assuming the Maple Leafs have the salary-cap space and the inclination, might be able to see family and friends on a daily basis.

Another variable, however, has made its way into the equation: Roberts is enjoying his new team, as well as the role he fills for it.

"It has been a really fun time," he said. "It's been a real treat to be here."

So much so that it no longer is a given that the Penguins will have virtually no hope of re-signing him.

They are as happy with Roberts as he is with them -- "He's as good as we hoped," general manager Ray Shero said -- and, if Roberts decides he would like to stay, the Penguins will be delighted to accommodate him.

"I've got interest in Gary Roberts," Shero said. "There's no doubt about it."

Roberts has impressed the Penguins with his physical play and ferocious forechecking, as well as his leadership and commitment to conditioning.

"Everyone was saying how much of a warrior he was," center Sidney Crosby said. "Now, you see it first-hand. Everybody feeds off the way he plays, the way he battles, the way he prepares."

Likewise, Roberts seems to think highly of what he has witnessed since coming over from Florida. Especially his teammates' willingness to sweat and sacrifice.

"It's a very committed group," he said. "Florida had some success against Pittsburgh, so maybe in the back of my mind I was thinking they were really good offensively, but not that great defensively, as a team.

"But now that I've been here a month, the one thing that has really stood out to me is how committed everyone is to playing in their own end. You don't have any guys cheating out there. We've had some low-scoring games that we've been able to win, and that's the sign of a team that's committed, defensively."

Roberts, 40, has four goals and six assists in 15 games with the Penguins. That's not an insignificant contribution to their offense, but not the main reason they traded for him. Intangibles and toughness aside, the Penguins were most intrigued by his experience -- the knowledge Roberts has accumulated during 19 seasons in the NHL. How much of that he can transfer to younger teammates is hard to say, but Roberts is not certain it is necessary to, anyway.

"These guys are so mature and have handled things so well to this point in the season, there's no doubt in my mind that they won't have a problem in the playoffs," he said. "They're a very mature group. They're a young group, but a mature group. You don't have that kind of success as young players unless you're really committed. It took me years to figure that out. You have to be committed daily to have success, and these guys are committed."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07090/774107-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 12:19 AM
Penguins Notebook: Intensity level likely to remain high tonight

Saturday, March 31, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TORONTO -- The Penguins are coming off three consecutive victories against teams that will sit out the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring.

When they take on Toronto tonight at 7:08 at the Air Canada Centre, they will face one intent on not joining that group.

Which means the Maple Leafs figure to compete a lot more vigorously than did Boston in its 5-0 and 4-2 losses to the Penguins or Washington during a 4-3 defeat Tuesday.

"I'm sure Saturday will be a totally different game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "The Maple Leafs will be desperate for their lives."

Toronto is part of a cluster of six teams battling for the final three spots in the Eastern Conference playoff field. Because it figures to fare poorly if the victories tiebreaker comes into play, picking up every possible point is imperative for the Maple Leafs.

"We have four big points this weekend [with Toronto visiting the New York Rangers tomorrow], and we have to take them," Toronto captain Mats Sundin told reporters after a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday in Atlanta.

The Penguins have plenty of incentive, too -- they are shooting for first place in the Atlantic Division, or at least fourth in the conference -- so the intensity should be at least as high as the stakes.

"That atmosphere and the situation they're in, it will definitely be a good game," Penguins right winger Colby Armstrong said. "Hockey Night in Canada, too. It has the makings of a pretty big night."

Prospects watch

Defenseman Alex Goligoski's junior season at Minnesota ended when the Golden Gophers lost to North Dakota, 3-2, in overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals last weekend.

Whether his hockey season is over remains to be seen.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero said the team has not decided whether to try to sign Goligoski, one of their top prospects now, and don't even know if he's interested in turning pro.

"Maybe he wants to go back to school," Shero said. "Maybe he's dead-set on getting his degree next year. If that's the case, we'll respect that, and eventually he'll come out. We'll see over the next week or 10 days."

Goligoski's health could figure in the decision; he was playing with unspecified injuries -- apparently hand and/or shoulder problems -- and the Penguins likely will want to find out the details of his condition and how playing could affect his long-term outlook before deciding whether to pursue him.

Goligoski, who is 6-foot, 180 pounds, is an offensive defenseman who put up nine goals -- three of them game-winners, and five on the power play -- and 30 assists in 44 games this season. Regardless of when he turns pro, he likely will require seasoning in the minors before competing for an NHL job.

Two Penguins prospects who play goal -- Notre Dame's David Brown and Bobby Goepfert of St. Cloud State -- became available when their teams were eliminated from the tournament, but the Penguins have no immediate need for either at any level of their organization.

"We have to decide where they are on our depth chart," Shero said. "We like both of them. I don't think it makes any sense for us [to sign them now]."

Slap shots

Therrien gave the Penguins, who are 9-2 in their past 11 games, the day off yesterday. They will have a previously scheduled day off tomorrow before moving into the final week of the regular season. ... The Penguins have 20 road victories, their most since getting 23 in 1992-93. They had 10 last season. ... Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft has 35 victories, two shy of the franchise record set by Ed Belfour in 2002-03.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07090/774069-61.stm

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 12:20 AM
Scouting the Maple Leafs

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Today's game

Penguins (45-23-10) at Toronto Maple Leafs (37-29-11)

When, where: 7 p.m. - Air Canada Center, Toronto

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

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (38-15-8, 2.86 GAA); Andrew Raycroft (35-23-9, 2.90 GAA)

Notable: Toronto has gone 5-2-2 in its past nine games to stay in the race for one of the Eastern Conference's final playoff berths. ... Maple Leafs center Mats Sundin needs one point to reach 70 for the 11th consecutive season. For his career against the Penguins, Sundin has recorded 37 goals and 72 points in 49 games. ... The Penguins have recorded points in 12 of their past 14 games. With a win, they will become only the second team in franchise history to total 102 or more points in a regular season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500442.html

SteelCityMan786
03-31-2007, 09:27 AM
Penguins' Armstrong expecting phone calls

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Colby Armstrong was just waiting for his phone to ring Thursday night. Whether the first phone call telling him he needs to wear a protective visor would be from his mother or his girlfriend, he wasn't sure. But he knew that at some point, they both would be calling.

"I'll definitely be hearing it from the family about this one," said Armstrong, who came perhaps one centimeter from suffering serious eye damage when a high stick caught him on the left eyelid in a game against the Boston Bruins. "Mom will be in my ear all night, and my girlfriend; I'll be hearing it."

By the time the game ended, Armstrong's eye was already black and blue and swollen. Initially, he didn't know exactly where he'd been cut and feared the damage was significant.

"I was a little nervous; I didn't know what to think," Armstrong said. "It was scary for sure. I got lucky."

No penalty was called on the play. When coach Michel Therrien asked whether he was surprised about that, he said, "Were you surprised? We were all surprised."

• The Penguins canceled their scheduled practice Friday at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.

• Only four games remain in the Penguins' regular-season schedule, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he doesn't know how much the coaching staff intends to play him. He said Thursday that he suspected Jocelyn Thibault would get at least one more start before the end of the season.

"We're still playing a lot (of games) in not many days," Fleury said. "I'm sure we'll split some work."

• Quotable: "I don't know if I would have believed that. We've come a long way this season, and it's been so much fun all year."
Fleury, on what he would have said if someone told him last year that in March 2007 the Penguins would be leading the Atlantic Division with 100 points.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500441.html


Looks like Colby is in the dog house.

BettisFan
03-31-2007, 09:57 AM
any on elese think crosby is the next gretzky

SteelCityMan786
03-31-2007, 10:00 AM
Greater then the Gretzky.

BettisFan
03-31-2007, 10:01 AM
ohh yea

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 01:48 PM
any on elese think crosby is the next gretzky

I've seen this topic argued many times since Sid joined the Penguins organization and my response is always the same. It's way too early to tell. Ask me again in 30 years because I can't read the future. :wink02:

If you want to ask me who's the better player at age 19 I'll take Sidney Crosby and not think twice.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 01:55 PM
Woohooo!!! Playoff tickets arrived today. :jammin:

Pretty unpretentious though. Much like the Steeler season tickets this past season.

BettisFan
03-31-2007, 02:08 PM
how much did those cost ya

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 02:13 PM
how much did those cost ya

They cost $90.00 a piece and I have two seats. I have season tickets so I have playoff tickets all through the playoffs.

As I stated in another post, they used to cost around $70.00 in the first round, $80.00 in the second round, etc. etc. My only theory as to why they have went up to $90.00 in the first round is because the Penguins F.O. doesn't see them going past the first round and they are trying to bring in as much cash as possible for these playoffs.

BettisFan
03-31-2007, 02:52 PM
thats nor expensive at all though great price for playoff tickits football its liek 600

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 03:21 PM
thats nor expensive at all though great price for playoff tickits football its liek 600

Since I have Penguin season tickets they are only $90.00. I'm not sure what people are paying at the counter or through internet ticket sites. I'm sure an arm and a leg.

My Steeler playoff tickets cost around $90.00 in the first round and they went up to around $100.00 for the second round. I also have Steeler season tickets so I'm not sure what people were paying for playoff tickets during our 15-1 season on internet sites.

tony hipchest
03-31-2007, 03:31 PM
They cost $90.00 a piece and I have two seats. I have season tickets so I have playoff tickets all through the playoffs.

As I stated in another post, they used to cost around $70.00 in the first round, $80.00 in the second round, etc. etc. My only theory as to why they have went up to $90.00 in the first round is because the Penguins F.O. doesn't see them going past the first round and they are trying to bring in as much cash as possible for these playoffs.is this per game or per series?

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 03:38 PM
is this per game or per series?

$90.00 per ticket. So I'll be spending $180.00 a game on tickets alone.

tony hipchest
03-31-2007, 04:06 PM
$90.00 per ticket. So I'll be spending $180.00 a game on tickets alone.so its actually cheaper to watch the penguins or pirates *snicker* march through the playoffs, than the steelers?

i dont live in a sports town, and not about to travel 6 hrs just to see the coyotes, suns, or diamondbacks play. i know everybody would prefer a 4 game sweep in a series, but is there an actual sense of relief of a 4 game sweep from a cost savings point of view? (i assume the die hards will gladly pay for a 7 game series of course)

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 04:23 PM
so its actually cheaper to watch the penguins or pirates *snicker* march through the playoffs, than the steelers?

i dont live in a sports town, and not about to travel 6 hrs just to see the coyotes, suns, or diamondbacks play. i know everybody would prefer a 4 game sweep in a series, but is there an actual sense of relief of a 4 game sweep from a cost savings point of view? (i assume the die hards will gladly pay for a 7 game series of course)

Definately. Steeler tickets are in greater demand. The season ticket waiting list alone proves that. The Steelers can afford to jack up the prices all they want. The Penguins (and the NHL in general) have to watch how much they soak their fans for these days. The Pirates well.......no comment. I'll let actions speak louder than words.

When it comes to a game 7 in the NHL it is awesome. Sure you save money in a series sweep, but in my opinion I don't feel there is a sport out there that comes close to the adrenaline and suspense of the NHL playoffs.

For me, I love Steelers football but Penguin playoff time is something everybody should experience once before they die. I'll gladly pay the extra cash for a seven game series and have done so many times in the past. In the future you should take a trip up here Tony and catch a Penguin playoff game. It's safe to say they will be competing in this league for a long, long time.

tony hipchest
03-31-2007, 04:39 PM
For me, I love Steelers football but Penguin playoff time is something everybody should experience once before they die. I'll gladly pay the extra cash for a seven game series and have done so many times in the past. In the future you should take a trip up here Tony and catch a Penguin playoff game. It's safe to say they will be competing in this league for a long, long time.actually i can definitely imagine the penguins playing into the late spring/ early summer months for years to come so it may happen one day. i would love to visit for a hockey game and all my pittsburgh trips have been in the summer. it may not be out of the question. as it stands all my vacations and stays out there have been centered around the 4th of july/polish day at kennywood/ and the regatta and down town arts festival. (mid- late summer is always fun in pgh). right now im looking at late august when the reds are in town for kids day at pnc park. if im a parent, i get to run my daughter around the bases right? :wink02: :tt02: woohoo! still a kid at heart!

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 06:41 PM
The Leafs are playing physical (as expected). Leafs are up 2-1 at this point. If we pull this one out tonight Thibault owes Christensen a beer because this score could easily be 3-1 Leafs right now. Christensen backchecked beautifully and tied his man up while the puck was in the crease with an open net.

At least we will have 1:46 left in PP time to start the 2nd period. Hopefully we take advantage of it.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:08 PM
3-1 Leafs

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:23 PM
4-1

SteelCityMan786
03-31-2007, 07:25 PM
COME THE **** ON GUYS!

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:27 PM
So far they blew the Recchi call. No penalty. They call Orpik on a phantom call. Then they call us on a delay of game and the puck touched the glass.

Nothing like getting screwed over in Toronto. No surprise there. Jag-offs.

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 07:28 PM
COME THE **** ON GUYS!

This one's lost, dude. Sorry. The Pens can't beat the Leafs and the refs at the same time.

At least we don't have to fight to get into the playoffs like the Leafs do.

Borski
03-31-2007, 07:30 PM
This sucks...

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:35 PM
Talbot scores!!!!!! 4-2 and we still have another period of hockey to play.

SteelCityMan786
03-31-2007, 07:35 PM
IT'S ABOUT TIME! 4-2. The Cardiac Kids are coming back.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:38 PM
IT'S ABOUT TIME! 4-2. The Cardiac Kids are coming back.

With a PP coming on up. :wink02:

Get a goal here before the intermission. That would be beautiful.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:41 PM
Oh well. I'll take being down 2 goals. If you haven't learned anything this year you know this team is capable of coming back.

Borski
03-31-2007, 07:50 PM
I know we're able to come back, but I hate being down 2 goals...

SteelCityMan786
03-31-2007, 07:53 PM
Oh well. I'll take being down 2 goals. If you haven't learned anything this year you know this team is capable of coming back.

Maybe XT pulled something earlier to change the luck.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 07:59 PM
Pens PP coming on up.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 08:01 PM
I know we're able to come back, but I hate being down 2 goals...

lol, I'm not liking it either. Nobody does. But like I said, If I learned anything about this team this year is that they are able to fight back no matter what. They have proven it how many times this season?

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 08:15 PM
Maybe XT pulled something earlier to change the luck.

Not bloody likely. The Pens had their chance on that 5-on-3 PP - they had to score there, and they didn't. Let's face it - the Leafs needed this game more than the Pens did, and for the most part played like it.

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 08:24 PM
4-3 Sid scores!!!!

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 08:32 PM
RYAN WHITNEY TIES IT UP WITH 4 SECONDS LEFT!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH

Borski
03-31-2007, 08:34 PM
WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! !!

Heart Attack Kids!!!

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 08:54 PM
Pens lose in OT. They still came back and grabbed the point. Once again, I'll never count this team out and tonight was further proof. I'm more than happy to take the point on the road against a team who has won their last six at home. Bring on the Sabres!!!

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 09:20 PM
Well, the point puts us back in first place. And that's all I gotta say about that.

SteelCityMan786
03-31-2007, 09:31 PM
Now if the Devils can keep to the losing side of the standings and we can get 2 of the last 3 we'll win the division.

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 10:31 PM
Pens salvage point after being down, 4-1

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, March 31, 2007

TORONTO - The point the Penguins earned Saturday was perhaps more than they deserved, and it could prove invaluable in their quest to open the upcoming playoffs at home.

Trailing by three goals midway through the second period, the Penguins staged a comeback over the final 30 minutes of regulation before falling to the Maple Leafs, 5-4, late in overtime at Air Canada Center.

A hard-working goal by center Maxime Talbot deep into the second period paved the way for third-period goals by Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney to send the game into overtime. There, Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle's second goal of the game earned the desperate Maple Leafs a much-needed two points in their quest for a playoff spot.

Make no mistake: The Penguins wanted two points from Toronto last night. However, considering their lackluster play through the first half of the game, they were not at all dissatisfied with stealing one.

"If New Jersey loses, it's definitely a big point," Talbot said. "With four games left and when you are tied for the division lead, you'll take a point if you can get it."

With 101 points, the Penguins lead New Jersey in the division by a point, but the Devils have a game in hand.

The Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Islanders last night. Ottawa is fourth in the Eastern Conference with 102 points. Like the Penguins, the Senators have three games remaining -- including a showdown between the clubs Thursday in Ottawa that could decide which team will gain home-ice advantage in a potential opening-round playoff series.

The Penguins will lose relevant tie-breakers with New Jersey for the division and Ottawa for home ice, so they must finish with more points than either the Devils or Senators.

"So, it's a big point," Talbot said. "We were down and managed to make something out of it."

Talbot pulled the Penguins within two goals with his 12th at 16:31 of the second. His effort was a fine example of that which the Penguins needed earlier in the contest when they fell behind, 4-1.

Talbot stayed with the play despite being knocked down in the offensive zone by Toronto defenseman Hal Gill. After regaining his skates, Talbot rushed to the net toward the right of Maple Leafs' goaltender Andrew Raycroft and steered home a sharp feed from right wing Michel Ouellet.

In the third, the Penguins proved that a strong 20 minutes from Crosby, the league's leading scorer with 117 points, is enough to stun a sellout crowd that showed, partially, to see the new face of the NHL.

Though he was robbed by Raycroft on a seemingly crucial power play early in the third, Crosby eventually provided his Penguins with a chance with 4:38 remaining in regulation. Toronto failed to properly cover Crosby in front of the net and allowed him to slip a puck past Raycroft following a direct shot on-net by Whitney.

Crosby's goal was his 36th this season. He scored 39 as a rookie in 2005-06.

Whitney scored next. With goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pulled, he blasted his 14th past Raycroft with 4 seconds remaining in regulation.

Overtime was delayed because a fan needed medical attention.

Kaberle slapped a shot past Fleury for the victory at 3:55 of overtime. It was the only goal allowed by Fleury, who stopped 16-of-17 shots after replacing starter Jocelyn Thibault.

Coach Michel Therrien pulled Thibault, who allowed four goals on 20 shots, in an attempt to spark the Penguins. Fleury was strong in relief, and his teammate followed his lead to take something from a game that seemingly would bring them nothing.

"We were fortunate to tie the game," said left wing Gary Roberts, who scored his 18th goal in the first period. "To spot a good team like Toronto a three-goal lead -- we need to be a lot better."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500598.html

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 11:19 PM
Penguins Notebook: Maple Leafs, their fans on scary roller-coaster ride
Sunday, April 01, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

TORONTO -- Toronto was one point out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race before facing the Penguins at the Air Canada Centre last night and might not know where it will finish until the regular season ends in a week.

Because six teams are fighting for three spots in the postseason field, the standings change almost every night, and the result of one team's game has an impact on several other clubs.

But while it's impossible to predict how the situation will evolve in a given evening, let alone how it ultimately will play, Maple Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft is certain of one thing: The public prognosis for his team will hinge on the outcome of every game it plays.

"It has been kind of comical at times over the last few [weeks]," he said yesterday.

"We get written off when we lose a game and, when we win, the parade route starts to get planned again."

Letang's arrival in limbo

That defenseman Kristopher Letang is part of the Penguins' long-term future is a given. Whether he'll be part of their playoff run isn't so clear.

Mostly because the Penguins have no idea when he will be available.

Letang's club in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Val d'Or, is one of the top clubs in junior hockey, and might well go on a long run.

If so, it figures to be due at least in part to Letang, who was honored as the Canadian Hockey League's player of the week after getting four goals and four assists in his first two playoff games.

That came in the wake of a regular season during which he put up 14 goals and 38 assists in 40 games and captained Canada's gold-medal winning entry at the world junior championships.

Predictably, the Penguins will clear a roster spot for him if he becomes available this spring, although they're not ready to say whether it will be in the NHL or with their top minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre.

"We don't know yet," general manager Ray Shero said. "We'll kind of see where we are here. At the least, he's going to go to Wilkes-Barre. Once he goes to Wilkes-Barre, we can always recall him.

"He's going to one or the other. Probably Wilkes-Barre, I would think, depending on where we are here."

Power-play fallacies

The Penguins' power play was 9 for 23 in its first three games against Toronto this season, so limiting the damage it did was a priority for the Maple Leafs last night.

"You want to eliminate their power-play chances, because they're pretty good at it," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said.

"They can throw some pretty good weapons on the ice."

A reporter for TSN, Canada's version of ESPN, floated the idea that the Penguins began the evening with a league-high 435 chances with the extra man at least in part because the league office is eager to see the franchise succeed, a stance that gets reflected in the way referees call their games.

No one associated with the Leafs went so far as to agree overtly with that premise, but the concept seemed to get their tacit endorsement.

Raycroft volunteered that the Penguins "might get a call once in a while," and coach Paul Maurice didn't go out of his way to downplay that idea.

"There are some teams that you know, going in, chances are it's going to be a special-teams game," he said.

"In our experience this year, it's been like that with Pittsburgh."

The ability of the Penguins' high-end forwards to draw penalties by virtue of their speed and skill went unmentioned.

So did the fact that, before the game, the Penguins had been short-handed 397 times.

That means they had, on average, received about one-half power play per game more than their opponents.

Slap shots

Defenseman Alain Nasreddine, a healthy scratch for the Penguins' previous three games, returned to the lineup last night, bumping Rob Scuderi into street clothes. Nasreddine started the evening with one goal, four assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-14 in 42 games. ... Left winger Gary Roberts, who missed the Penguins' 4-2 victory in Boston Thursday night because of a bruised right knee, was back in uniform, too. ... In addition to Scuderi, the Penguins scratched forwards Nils Ekman, Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07091/774248-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 11:19 PM
Pen's plans aim to make life better for loyal fans
Sunday, April 01, 2007

By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Elvis won't want to leave this building.

Not with the larger seats, more leg room, better views, more concessions, and high-definition video.

The Penguins are designing a new $290 million arena that will be fit for a king -- or better yet, for the fans who have endured roof leaks, obstructed views, and cramped concourses at the Igloo for years.

From a glass atrium that will span some five stories and offer views of the Downtown skyline to open concourses at each end that will allow people to catch the action below while buying a hot dog, the goal is to provide a "cutting-edge" experience for fans, Penguins President Ken Sawyer said.

"I just think we're going to have such a terrific building. People are going to be dazzled by the feel inside of it," he said.

The Penguins also will be looking out for the fans at home. They intend to invite broadcast crews and the National Hockey League into the new building to scout out the best locations for TV cameras, lock those in first, and then build around them.

"With HD technology, you particularly want to make sure you maximize the TV experience," Mr. Sawyer said.

The Penguins are working with HOK, the national architectural firm that designed PNC Park and Heinz Field, to develop plans for their new home, which will be built across the street from Mellon Arena. They've been crafting the design for nearly two months, even as they wrangled with state and local leaders to get a new arena deal.

While much of the work is still in the conceptual stage, the team has plenty of ideas to capitalize on the revenue-generating potential of the building.

What once was considered a curse -- the many years it took to get an arena deal in place -- now is working to the Penguins' advantage, as they are able to pick the best features of the newer arenas and incorporate them into their design.

Among the buildings that will serve as guides will be those in Minnesota, Columbus, Florida, Phoenix and Montreal.

The new arena will have about 18,500 seats, some 1,500 more than Mellon. The seats will be larger, with more leg room in the aisles, and "great sight lines from the lowest seat to the absolute highest," Mr. Sawyer said.

There will 65 to 70 suites; there are 50 at Mellon Arena. Mr. Sawyer said they will be larger than the current suites and closer to the ice. The suites also will have Internet access, concierge service and other amenities.

As in Mellon Arena, the Penguins plan to offer more expensive club seating between the blue lines. Fans with those seats also will have their own lounge, the major difference being this one will be at concourse level so they can watch the action rather than going inside without a view of the ice.

The Penguins are promising improved views for virtually all ticket holders. Seats generally will be closer to the ice. The team also is looking at design innovations to bring the upper end zone sections closer to the action.

There will be no obstructed views, as there are in Mellon Arena, where some ticket holders can't see the scoreboard and a few others don't have a look at center ice.

And there will be wider concourses, more concessions, some with a distinct Pittsburgh flavor, and more souvenir stations. In all, the new arena will total some 700,000 square feet, compared to 420,000 at Mellon.

The new scoreboard will feature larger video screens, with high definition capability. An LED board will ring the arena at the suite level and will be used for statistics, animation and advertising.

But with the improved views, better seats, and new amenities usually comes higher ticket prices. A Penguins spokesman said it was too early to discuss ticket prices, but the Steelers and Pirates both raised ticket prices when they moved into their new homes in 2001.

For Sidney Crosby and his teammates, the new arena will feature improved locker rooms and training and exercise facilities.

The players will be able to go directly to the locker room from the bench without having to cross the ice. There also will be a small theater in the locker room where coaches and players can watch tapes of opponents and other film.

Any palace fit for a king should have an entrance, and the new arena will be no exception. It will feature a glass atrium, rising from Fifth Avenue and spanning five stories.

There will be escalators to take fans to the ticketing level and the main concourse.

At the suite level, the team is planning a large restaurant facing Downtown, where diners will be able to look out at the skyline and watch the crowd coming into the arena. Above that, a brew pub is in the works, also with views of the skyline.

Mr. Sawyer said the atrium with its open feel and the views of Downtown and the Epiphany Church, which will sit in front of the arena, probably will be what visitors remember most about the building.

Just as Heinz Field has the Coca-Cola Great Hall, the Penguins also intend to pay homage to their on-the-ice legends.

Their proposed hall of fame, albeit smaller, will pay tribute to team history, the Penguins' Stanley Cup runs in the early 1990s, and, of course, Mario Lemieux. And, Mr. Sawyer said playfully, the team might set aside some space "for another player coming along" right now.

Construction of the arena is expected to begin in the fall. Mr. Sawyer said keeping the project within the $290 million budget will be a "challenge" but he added he believes it can be done.

"We certainly have that expectation as we sit here now," he said.

The construction will be funded with $15 million a year in slots gambling-related revenues and $4.2 million a year from the team.

Like Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the Penguins hope to take advantage of the arena's newness to recruit more events and concerts. Mr. Sawyer said promoters like new buildings because they generally create a "buzz" and generate larger audiences.

The Penguins already have talked to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about bringing another All-Star Game to Pittsburgh. The last was here in 1990. They also have an interest in hosting the "Frozen Four," the NCAA hockey equivalent of the Final Four in basketball.

Mr. Sawyer said the Penguins also want to work with Pitt and Duquesne to bring the NCAA men's basketball tournament back. The city hosted the early rounds in 1997 and 2002.

"Clearly with college basketball being so significant here in Pittsburgh, I think we would be a great host city," he said. "We'll now have the capacity to do it."

But don't expect the National Basketball League to be part of the action. Mr. Sawyer said he doesn't believe a market the size of Pittsburgh can support professional basketball and hockey.

"It's just not possible," he said. "The NBA just wouldn't come here. The market's not big enough."

However, the Penguins might take a stab at bringing the U.S. Figure Skating Championships to Pittsburgh and maybe even national political conventions.

They also have a keen interest in hosting the NHL's annual entry draft, held each year in June. "Although we don't expect to be picking high," Mr. Sawyer added with a chuckle, because the teams with the worst records pick first.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07091/773908-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 11:25 PM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: A weekly look at the team, the issues, the questions
Sunday, April 01, 2007

Producing a playoff beard will be a hairy situation for some players

There were times during the past few months when the Penguins made qualifying for the playoffs look almost easy.

Actually, looking the part of a playoff team might be considerably tougher for at least some of them.

With the large number of young players -- a list headlined by teenagers, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal -- on the roster, it's unlikely that many guys will be sporting the traditional playoff beard, for example. Several couldn't have grown one by mid-April if they'd started at Halloween.

"I'd love to have one," Crosby said, "but I think that'd be wishful thinking."

Crosby's teammates, who are accustomed to seeing him pull off the near-impossible, agree.

He was mentioned prominently in a locker-room survey about playoff beards -- who will have the best, who will have the worst and how the player's own beard will look and/or rank -- and not because teammates expect to see him with a face full of fur anytime soon.

A sampling of the responses:

Ryan Whitney

Best: Probably . Or [Mark Recchi], he was pretty good last year.

[B]Worst: Sid or [Marc-Andre] Fleury or [Evgeni] Malkin or Staal. Our best four players.

Own: It gets pretty bushy if we go far enough.

Colby Armstrong

Best: [Recchi] or [Orpik]. I've seen [Orpik] before. He has a nice one.

Worst: Me, or [Malkin]. I haven't seen him with anything going on [with facial hair]. I think [Staal] has a few billy goat hairs growing on his chin. Sid's got a couple of little sideburns. I can't even get that.

Own: It will be a 'throatee,' pretty much a goatee on my throat. That's all I've got. Or the 'neard,' the neck beard. We'll have to see what it looks like. I don't know if I'll let it sprout or not.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Best: I've seen [Maxime] Talbot's beard in junior. He was only 19 or 20, and it looked pretty good.

Worst: Me, Sidney, [Malkin] and [Staal]. We'll have a tough time growing something.

Own: Maybe a little moustache, and a little (hair on the cheeks). That's about it.

Josef Melichar

Best: [Recchi], if he keeps a full beard, because usually he just has a moustache.

Worst: [Armstrong] or [Staal]. I can't see those two guys [growing one].

Own: I'll be up there. Middle-class.

Michel Ouellet

Best: [Talbot] is going to have a good one.

Worst: Three guys: [Fleury], Sid and [Armstrong].

Own: I don't know what I'm going to do, but if I have to shave [my goatee], I'll do it.

Erik Christensen

Best: [Talbot].

Worst: [Fleury].

Own: Pretty good. I just can't grow anything [in the middle of the upper lip]. ... It looks like a reverse Hitler.

Jordan Staal

Best: Probably Max [Talbot]. He's probably one of the hairiest men on the team.

Worst: [Armstrong].

Own: I can't grow much from the cheekbone up, so it's going to be pretty pathetic.

Maxime Talbot

Best: After myself? I'd say, maybe [Ryan Malone] or [Orpik].

Worst: Sid. Like little patchy ... he's going to think he's cool, but it will be just little patches.

Own: Right at the top. Usually, it's pretty good.

Inside the mind of Michel Therrien

Many, if not most, coaches like to enter the playoffs with a checking line he believes is capable of shutting down the other team's top offensive unit.

Michel Therrien isn't one of them. Not because he lacks the personnel, but because he seems convinced that any of his four lines is, on most nights, able to be pitted against whatever the opposing coach sends out.

Consequently, Therrien said, he feels no real urgency to angle for forward matchups, in part because the benefits often are outweighed by the disadvantages.

"When you start thinking about matching, sometimes it takes momentum away," he said. "They send their best players on the ice and you try to match, and your best players, your skilled players, stay on the bench [because checkers are getting ice time], and sometimes those guys get frustrated. I'm more focused on playing with momentum."

Whether his thoughts will change if the Penguins are forced to deal with a line -- say, Ottawa's unit of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley -- that can dominate play every time it goes over the boards remains to be seen. And he did acknowledge that he will try to protect a line that seems out of sorts. "If I see there's a line that's really struggling, I'll try to avoid them playing against a top unit," Therrien said. "But I start the game optimistic everyone will be on top of their game."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07091/774174-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 11:26 PM
Penguins' Roberts returns to lineup

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 1, 2007

TORONTO - After reporting that his injured knee "felt pretty good" during Saturday's morning skate, left wing Gary Roberts started for the Penguins against the Maple Leafs. Roberts was on a line with center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Michel Ouellet.

Roberts did not dress Thursday for a win at Boston. His right knee was bruised Tuesday after being hit by a puck off the stick of Sidney Crosby in a victory at Washington.

With Roberts in the lineup, right wing Nils Ekman was scratched along with forwards Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn. Defensemen Rob Scuderi and Joel Kwiatkowski also were scratched.

Jocelyn Thibault started in goal for the Penguins. It was his 20th appearance of the season. In his previous four games, Thibault was 3-1-0 with a save percentage of .963.

Killing time

Through 16 of a grueling 17 games in March, the Penguins were 12-3-1 prior to taking on the Maple Leafs last night. Perhaps the reason for such a stellar record over that span was their penalty killing.

Though the Penguins' penalty kill ranked 17th in the NHL at 81.9 percent (last at 76.3 percent on the road), they were more lion than lamb in March. Prior to last night, they had allowed only nine power-play goals in 75 previous chances -- a kill rate of 88 percent.

Entering action last night, Vancouver led the NHL in penalty-kill efficiency at 87.6 percent.

"The biggest adjustment is that we've been more desperate," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "In my opinion, we weren't jumping enough on the loose pucks. Now, we're being more aggressive.

"It was one of those things we had to work on, especially because we're going to need to kill penalties if we want to go far in the playoffs."

The Penguins' sudden turnaround with their road penalty killing might help them secure home-ice advantage through a couple of playoff rounds. Over their past eight road games before last night, they had wiped out 32-of-36 opposing power-play opportunities -- a rate of almost 89 percent.

At least some of the credit could go to the penalty-killing forwards' young legs, center Maxime Talbot said.

Talbot, 23, is one of several young forwards on the penalty-kill unit. Others include Ryan Malone, 27, Colby Armstrong, 24, and Jordan Staal, 18.

"You need a lot of energy to kill penalties, a lot of jump," Talbot said. "That's the one thing I've noticed; we're beating teams to loose pucks. Maybe our legs aren't as tired."

Sarge surging

Crosby drew media attention befitting a rock star while in Toronto, leaving few reporters to chat with Gonchar.

Such was fine by the man teammates call "Sarge."

Gonchar might go unnoticed in Canada, but he has some fans in Pittsburgh -- specifically, Penguins' coach Michel Therrien and general manager Ray Shero.

"He's been our leader on defense, our glue," Therrien said of Gonchar, who has paced the Penguins with an ice-time average of 29 minutes and 26 seconds on the season.

To suggest Gonchar has made the most of that ice time would be difficult to dispute. His 64 points were second among league defensemen prior to last night.

"Talk about flying under the radar ... this guy has been unbelievable," Shero said.

After a rough start in his first season with the Penguins, Gonchar began last night only three points shy of matching his career-best 67 with the Capitals in 2002-03.

"I'm not sure you could ask anything more of 'Sarge'," Shero said. "He's been an anchor."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500613.html

83-Steelers-43
03-31-2007, 11:43 PM
From a glass atrium that will span some five stories and offer views of the Downtown skyline to open concourses at each end that will allow people to catch the action below while buying a hot dog, the goal is to provide a "cutting-edge" experience for fans, Penguins President Ken Sawyer said.

The new arena will have about 18,500 seats, some 1,500 more than Mellon. The seats will be larger, with more leg room in the aisles, and "great sight lines from the lowest seat to the absolute highest," Mr. Sawyer said.

There will 65 to 70 suites; there are 50 at Mellon Arena. Mr. Sawyer said they will be larger than the current suites and closer to the ice. The suites also will have Internet access, concierge service and other amenities.

As in Mellon Arena, the Penguins plan to offer more expensive club seating between the blue lines. Fans with those seats also will have their own lounge, the major difference being this one will be at concourse level so they can watch the action rather than going inside without a view of the ice.

The Penguins are promising improved views for virtually all ticket holders. Seats generally will be closer to the ice. The team also is looking at design innovations to bring the upper end zone sections closer to the action.

There will be no obstructed views, as there are in Mellon Arena, where some ticket holders can't see the scoreboard and a few others don't have a look at center ice.

And there will be wider concourses, more concessions, some with a distinct Pittsburgh flavor, and more souvenir stations. In all, the new arena will total some 700,000 square feet, compared to 420,000 at Mellon.

The new scoreboard will feature larger video screens, with high definition capability. An LED board will ring the arena at the suite level and will be used for statistics, animation and advertising.

But with the improved views, better seats, and new amenities usually comes higher ticket prices. A Penguins spokesman said it was too early to discuss ticket prices, but the Steelers and Pirates both raised ticket prices when they moved into their new homes in 2001.

I can't wait for this arena to be completed. What I'm looking forward to the most is not having to basically walk over somebody in order to get a dog and beer in between periods. Bigger bathrooms hopefully so I can get back to my seat by the start of a period instead of returning to my seat halfway through the period. It sounds like it's going to be an excellent arena.

The loyal fans in this city have waited a long time for this arena. It's long overdue and I'm sure it will be well worth the wait. While I'm sure those of us who supported this team long before Lemieux came along will miss the memories, much like 3 Rivers they will never be forgotten.

Speaking of memories, here are just a few:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6u1f1F5xAU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZxOdNFtvRs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl9Gn4P1N88

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVPa1zF3h6c

(Excellent clip) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9fTs9pHyoM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKHjiWfqa8U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWHFV763WdQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjLoeqiw2Uc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_zQWwQHnJw

X-Terminator
03-31-2007, 11:50 PM
A reporter for TSN, Canada's version of ESPN, floated the idea that the Penguins began the evening with a league-high 435 chances with the extra man at least in part because the league office is eager to see the franchise succeed, a stance that gets reflected in the way referees call their games.

No one associated with the Leafs went so far as to agree overtly with that premise, but the concept seemed to get their tacit endorsement.

Raycroft volunteered that the Penguins "might get a call once in a while," and coach Paul Maurice didn't go out of his way to downplay that idea.

"There are some teams that you know, going in, chances are it's going to be a special-teams game," he said.

"In our experience this year, it's been like that with Pittsburgh."

The ability of the Penguins' high-end forwards to draw penalties by virtue of their speed and skill went unmentioned.

So did the fact that, before the game, the Penguins had been short-handed 397 times.

That means they had, on average, received about one-half power play per game more than their opponents.

What complete garbage. Is this that passes for "objective journalism" in Canada? They might as well be writing for the National f'ing Enquirer with nonsense like this. And for the Maple Leaf players to give it a backhanded "thumbs up" is the absolute height of lunacy. OMG, the precious Leafs aren't the darlings of the league anymore. Boo frickety hoo!

Now I can understand why so many people hate the Leafs and their fans.

Petesburgh66
04-01-2007, 05:52 PM
Last nights game is what I wanted to happen. Leafs need the 2 points and the Pens were lucky to get the one point. The Pens would of had 2 if the game went to a shootout.

And before I get bashed, I do follow the Penguins as well. I grew up a Mario Lemieux fan when he was in juniors as I hated Gretzky in the NHL. I could never cheer for a gutless chicken. So when the Penguins drafted him, I followed the Penguins closely as well. Growing up as a Leafs fan during the paper bag years, I needed a second team to follow.

X-Terminator
04-01-2007, 06:37 PM
Last nights game is what I wanted to happen. Leafs need the 2 points and the Pens were lucky to get the one point. The Pens would of had 2 if the game went to a shootout.

And before I get bashed, I do follow the Penguins as well. I grew up a Mario Lemieux fan when he was in juniors as I hated Gretzky in the NHL. I could never cheer for a gutless chicken. So when the Penguins drafted him, I followed the Penguins closely as well. Growing up as a Leafs fan during the paper bag years, I needed a second team to follow.

I'm not going to bash you at all. Anyone who hated Gretzky as much as I did is A-OK in my book! :cheers:

I was hoping to get the 2 points last night, but getting 1 doesn't hurt the Pens. They just couldn't afford to come away with nothing. If they win all 3 of their remaining games, they would at least clinch 4th (provided that they beat Ottawa in regulation on Thursday), and would win the division if New Jersey loses one of their 3 games in regulation. Keeping my fingers crossed!

HometownGal
04-01-2007, 06:47 PM
Last nights game is what I wanted to happen. Leafs need the 2 points and the Pens were lucky to get the one point. The Pens would of had 2 if the game went to a shootout.

And before I get bashed, I do follow the Penguins as well. I grew up a Mario Lemieux fan when he was in juniors as I hated Gretzky in the NHL. I could never cheer for a gutless chicken. So when the Penguins drafted him, I followed the Penguins closely as well. Growing up as a Leafs fan during the paper bag years, I needed a second team to follow.

Thibault had a pretty rough night - he's been on top of his game lately and I wasn't shocked that he had an off night against the Leafs. When the Pens got that 4th goal with 4 secs left, I was on the edge of my seat. Congrats to you and your Leafs on the win. :cheers:

I totally agree with you about Gretzky - he was truly a gutless cherry-pickin' chicken. While I appreciated his skill and accomplishments in the NHL, he wasn't my idea of the "total player". It was a rare occasion when he would go into a corner and dig out a puck - must have been afraid he'd break a nail or mess up his doo. LOL!

83-Steelers-43
04-01-2007, 11:54 PM
Penguins beat Shero's expectations
Monday, April 02, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


There are supposed to be almost seven billion people living on this planet.

If that's true, chances are that someone, somewhere predicted the Penguins would have 101 points heading into the final week of the 2006-07 regular season.

And actually believed it.

Not general manager Ray Shero, though. He insists the idea that this could be a 100-point team never occurred to him.

"I was actually thinking about 115, 116 myself," he said.

Shero laughed, and understandably so. Partly because almost no one foresaw the Penguins having so much success in 2006-07, and partly because it's easy to smile when the club you run is winning, healthy and excited about the challenges before it.

Truth be told, Shero said, projecting how the Penguins would fare wasn't a priority as training camp wound down. There were other, more pressing concerns.

"I never came into this season with any expectations about points or wins," he said. "I thought that was getting way too far ahead of ourselves.

"The first goal was to be competitive, and that meant getting competitive players, competitive people, identifying some roles and, hopefully, [having] some of these young players I'd heard so much about mature. Obviously, a lot of that has come together."

That wasn't the case early in the Penguins' 5-4 loss in Toronto Saturday, when they started the game with a striking lack of urgency before rallying to force overtime and salvage a point.

The perils of spotting opponents a three-goal lead 32 minutes into the game are obvious, but so is the tenacity the Penguins have shown so many times this season after falling behind.

"We've had our moments this year when we haven't been a good team, but we've been resilient," Shero said. "That's a word I use a lot with this club."

That quality is part of the reason Shero believes the Penguins' 45-23-11 record is a reasonable reflection of their talents and intangibles.

"I think it's legitimate," he said. "We've got the best player in the world here in Sidney Crosby. A key for us has been the goaltending, but also the maturity of younger players who have stepped up their game."

Shero has done some significant fine-tuning since succeeding Craig Patrick as GM last spring -- he brought in free agents such as Mark Eaton and Jarkko Ruutu, oversaw the selection of Jordan Staal in the first round of last year's draft and traded for Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque -- but acknowledges that a foundation was being put in place before he was hired.

"A lot of things have come together, but I don't think you can say that it's not something to build on when you have a talent level like some of these kids do," he said. "As a manager, I'm very fortunate to have these things in place. I think you have to build on that."

The building won't stop simply because the Penguins have qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2001. A goal-scoring winger or two and another reliable defenseman figure to be high on Shero's wish list when free agency begins July 1, and there likely will be a few tweaks to the roster.

For now, though, the focus is on the team as currently constituted. Shero points to its 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena Nov. 25 as one watershed moment in this season -- "That was the first time I thought, 'This is a pretty competitive group.' " -- and a 6-5, come-from-behind victory at the Air Canada Centre Feb. 10 as another.

"I watched on TV and it just hit me that, 'Hey, we're pretty good,' " he said.

Good enough that simply qualifying for the playoffs and gaining experience that will pay dividends in coming years no longer is the standard for a fulfilling season.

"I don't think so," Shero said. "That's one of the things we've talked about over the last week or so. [Coach Michel Therrien] saw some things slipping here and there, and he's addressed the team, in terms of not being satisfied.

"It's easy, as a young group, to be satisfied with the year you've had, especially if things start to go against you. That's one of the things we want to guard against. Don't be satisfied.

"It's easy for some of the younger kids to go home [after the season] and say, 'Well, we had a good year. It's been great. I played in the NHL.' But that's not good enough. That's not the expectation we have."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07092/774465-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
04-01-2007, 11:56 PM
Pens' Orpik making stronger impact

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, April 2, 2007

Midway through Tuesday night's game against the Washington Capitals, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik came tearing across his own zone to deliver a blast of an open-ice hit to Donald Brashear.

At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, Orpik is no small man. Neither is tough guy Brashear, who is listed at 6-2, 225.

Both players went down, and Brashear was bothered enough that he immediately went after Orpik and was called for roughing. Ryan Whitney, Orpik's defensive partner, scored on the ensuing power play to make it 4-2 for the Penguins.

Orpik, 26, has always been a big hitter and leads the team with 183 this season.

But if it seems like those hits are coming a little more often, a little harder and with a lot better timing, it's because they are.

On March 24, he had eight hits against the Atlanta Thrashers, and landed six the next day against the Boston Bruins. On March 13, he (8) and Gary Roberts (7) combined for 15 of the team's 32 hits against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Definitely, I've been a little more physical probably the last month or so," Orpik said. "But it's probably the first time all year I've been 100 percent healthy and been able to play the way I want to play. I had the hand injury early on, and then just a lot of nagging injuries to my shoulder and neck. It's not fun when you can't play the way you want to play. But the last month or so I have been a lot more physical."

For the style of game he plays, Orpik, now in his third season in the NHL, couldn't be peaking at a better time.

The Penguins are about to embark on their first chase for the Stanley Cup since 2001, and having a hard-hitter like Orpik is a crucial part of wearing down the other team in the postseason.

"Yeah, that'll be huge in a seven-game series," Orpik said. "We obviously haven't played at this level, in the playoffs, but I've been talking to friends around the league who say what a simple game it is. They say they can't believe how simple and fast it is, but at the same time how physical it is. I think we'll be ready for it, and I think it definitely suits my game."

Orpik's minor penalties have dropped this season. He's playing a little less, averaging about two fewer minutes per game than the past two years at 16:27, but he's ninth on the team in minors with 25 this season. Last season, he was second on the team in minors with 52 and had the overall lead with 124 minutes.

Most of the improvement in hits, discipline and his overall game, Orpik said, comes from better positioning.

It's something that takes defensemen a few years to develop, but he also said it's been his focus this year with the assistance of assistant coach Andre Savard.

"The first couple years I was just as physical, but it was maybe a little out of control, I guess, at times, going into games thinking I just want to take this guy's head off, I want to get this guy, that guy," Orpik said. "That's when you get caught out of position. I think this year it's been a lot more controlled. Andre Savard's really stressed that to me and helped me out with that part of the game. But the last month or so is definitely the best I've played as far as playing physical and playing well position-wise."

Savard said the coaching staff needed to make only minor adjustments to improve Orpik's positioning.

"He brings a dimension where he's strong, he wants a hit, and he has that physical element that we like, certainly. You don't want to take that away," Savard said. "But at the same time, positioning comes first. He's adjusted well. When you're playing your position well, your passing game improves, and you're in better control."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_500680.html

X-Terminator
04-02-2007, 01:19 AM
PENS PROFILE: EVGENI MALKIN

Q: US vs Russia: Which is better?

TV? Food? Women?

-Matt C

Evgeni Malkin (EM): There is a difference for everything. The food is a little bit the same, but you can still find some differences. The television is different. The biggest difference is the women. Its kind of difficult for me right now to communicate with women.

Q: Is living in the United States different from what you expected?

-Jenifer

EM: I didn?t see much difference. Before, I was traveling a lot to different countries and I was here before, so it really wasn?t a huge difference to me. The biggest and hardest difference is the language barrier. It?s hard. My biggest thanks go to Sergei Gonchar for helping me with all the adjustment.

Q: How have you spent the majority of your free time when not practicing or playing?

-Matthew

EM: Compared to Russia, we play many more games over here. Every time I have free time, I just try to relax. I am still going shopping and to restaurants and to different places. When we have free time, I just watch TV and movies.

Q: How far have you progressed in learning English and do you hope to learn more this summer?

-Erin

EM: That?s a difficult thing, the language. I didn?t have much practice or many classes when I was back in Russia. I learned it in school, but it wasn?t at the level where I can communicate with someone. Compared to when I came here, I understand much more and I can communicate with teammates. Unfortunately, right now it?s hard to talk to media people. Hopefully, in the summer, I will pick more up by taking classes or something like that. Then, when I come back I will be able to communicate with my teammates and maybe with the media.

Q: Do you feel separated from your teammates due to the language barrier and how do his teammates communicate with you?

- Diane

EM: No, I don?t feel like I am separated from my teammates. I am glad I got on this kind of team where they are all young players and we are all together. At the beginning I felt that I was maybe a little separated, but right now I have great teammates and I don?t feel like I am separated from everybody else. It?s hard to communicate, but we?re still all together.

Q: You sit next to Army (Colby Armstrong) in the locker room, how do you like him always talking to you non-stop!?

- Robyn D

EM: He is the funniest guy on the team and I am glad we sit together. He tries to communicate with me all the time. He tries to teach me something all the time. He tells me all kinds of history. He?s the funniest guy in the locker room and he makes everybody laugh. I am glad we have someone like Colby. Sometimes, times are rough and he just makes the difference by making everybody laugh. I am glad we have someone like him. He said he wants to visit Russia and that would be great!

Q: How important is winning the Calder Trophy to you?

-Jared

EM: It?s important to me. I want to prove I am better or not less than Ovechkin, who won that award last season. Another side, I just want to help my teammates to win games. It is important, but there are two sides to it.

Q: A year ago, did you see yourself where you are today?

-Walsh

EM: This was my dream to play here and to be here. Yes, of course, one year ago I didn?t think that I?d be playing on one of the best teams in the league and we?d be in the playoffs. Once again, I think I did everything right. I think I am doing everything right in the situation I am in now. I want to thank God for everything that has happened for me.

http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/team/features/arts/2426.0.php

83-Steelers-43
04-02-2007, 10:30 AM
and coach Paul Maurice didn't go out of his way to downplay that idea.

"There are some teams that you know, going in, chances are it's going to be a special-teams game," he said.

"In our experience this year, it's been like that with Pittsburgh."

Hmmm....let's see Monsieur Maurice.

We have played the Leafs four times this year. We are 10 for 29 on the PP against them. They are 3 for 22 against us. 20 of our 29 PP's came during our first two meetings, they had 14.

Instead of pissing and moaning over the refs, Maurice should worry about how to get his team to score with the man up. Just a suggestion.

Oh well, as I've stated before, jealousy is a "female dog". It's nothing new when it comes to the Canadian media (Toronto in particular). It's been that way since the day Mario Lemieux was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

X-Terminator
04-02-2007, 11:12 PM
Penguins embrace defense

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jordan Staal had all the data needed to make an informed decision.

He knew it was the third period. That the Penguins were on the road. That their play had been pretty uninspired for most of the evening.

Mostly, he knew that Toronto owned a two-goal lead and that Mats Sundin had the puck on his stick, a clear shooting lane and a strong interest in bumping the Maple Leafs' advantage back to three.

At that instant, Staal had three options: He could freeze and admire the slap shot Sundin was about to launch, he could stretch as far as possible and hope to get his stick blade on the puck after Sundin hammered it or he could throw his body in front of the shot and pray there weren't multiple stitches -- or extensive dental work -- in his immediate future.

The first two possibilities clearly were the most prudent. They're also the ones Staal dismissed instantly, because he figured all along there was only one real choice.

"I don't want to get scored on," he said. "If that means throwing myself in front of a shot, I'll do it."

So he did. Sundin's shot never made it to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins went on to rally for a point that could have a profound impact on where they finish in the regular season.

For his effort, Staal got a slap on the back from a handful of teammates when he returned to the bench, and a big-time dent in his leg pad.

"I couldn't pop it back out," he said.

His block was one of 20 with which the Penguins were credited Saturday, and the willingness of everyone in their lineup, including some ridiculously gifted forwards, to sacrifice themselves that way has contributed greatly to their success this season.

For while it's the Penguins' offensive players who get most of the attention -- it's kind of tough to ignore Sidney Crosby when he does something like score while doing a handstand and holding the stick with his skates -- the improvement in their team defense should not be overlooked.

Better goaltending has played a critical part. And it helps that the Penguins keep the play in the other team's zone so much of the time, because even the most talented opponents aren't particularly dangerous from 150 or so feet away.

But it also is true that coach Michel Therrien and his staff have designed a system that is highly efficient when executed properly -- when players are positioned correctly and passing and shooting lanes are clogged, when everyone in the defensive zone is using his stick to disrupt opponents' puck movement, when guys are giving up their bodies to snuff shots -- and that the players have embraced it.

"We really do have a great defensive system," forward Erik Christensen said. "And we work on it every couple of practices to make sure we're sharp and feeling good about it."

Therrien has preached the importance of limiting giveaways that lead to odd-man breaks for the other team, and of counter-attacking vigorously to take advantage of the turnovers they force.

"We're pretty solid," right winger Colby Armstrong said. "We work on it. We take pride in that.

"If no one notices, that's fine. We're just going to keep playing the same."

If no one notices, it probably means they haven't looked at the Penguins' defensive statistics, compared to the ones they compiled last season.

In 2005-06, they gave up a league-high average of 3.78 goals per game and allowed an average of 33.2 shots, fourth-most in the NHL. This season, their shots-against average has been pared to 30.9 and, more important, they are giving up 2.95 goals per game, 13th-best average in the league.

"Look at the stats," Therrien said. "They speak for themselves."

Their defensive numbers against Buffalo, which will visit Mellon Arena at 7:08 p.m. today, aren't bad, either.

The Sabres have averaged 3.33 goals in their first three games against the Penguins, but that's a half-goal a game less than Buffalo has put up against the rest of the NHL.

The Sabres have manufactured a league-leading 295 goals, and not because they've had a run of lucky bounces. Buffalo is fast and skilled and deep -- it is the only team in the league with four 30-goal scorers -- and can overwhelm an opponent with less than a total commitment to team defense.

Fortunately for the Penguins, coming up with that kind of effort in their own zone usually isn't a problem.

"Everything starts with being in the right defensive position," Armstrong said. "When we're playing our best [defensive] game, that's when we're at our best [overall]."

Even if a lot of people don't notice.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07093/774715-61.stm

X-Terminator
04-02-2007, 11:14 PM
Which way will the Penguins go with playoffs approaching?

By Keith Barnes
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Over the past three months, the Penguins have been among the hottest teams in the NHL, posting a 25-7-3 record with two six-game winning streaks as part of a 16-game points streak that vaulted the team into contention with New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic Division.

"They have no fear, and that's the scary part of our team," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said Monday. "The second half of the season, (experts) were saying that a veteran team would have more success because it's more like a man's game, but the second half of the season we've played our best because we have no fear and we got better and better."

With a group of young players led by Sidney Crosby, the playoff possibilities for the Penguins are tantalizing. But considering how well the team has played over its past 35 games, it remains to be seen how much higher the players can elevate their game when the Stanley Cup playoffs open April 11.

"I think we've been playing pretty good hockey, but I don't think there's one game where you look and say that's your peak and you go down from there," Crosby said. "We've elevated our play since Christmas, and that's what we've had to do."

With two points in their final three games, the Penguins (45-23-11) will have the second-highest single-season point total in team history, behind the 1992-93 team that won the President's Trophy with 119 points. They are guaranteed to finish above .500 on the road for just the fifth time in team history and have won 20 road games (20-14-6) for only the second time, trailing the 1992-93 team that went 24-15-3 away from Mellon Arena.

Considering this team is somewhat paralleling the regular season success of that 1992-93 squad, it's possible this year's permutation could share a similar fate. In 1992-93, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions won an NHL record 17 consecutive games and finished the season on a 17-0-1 tear. After a 6-6 tie with New Jersey in the season finale, they walked over the Devils, 4-1, in the opening round of the playoffs and appeared headed for a third consecutive title.

That was before they ran into a hot goaltender in Glenn Healy of the New York Islanders, and left wing David Volek ended the Penguins' championship run with slapshot over goaltender Tom Barrasso's left shoulder in overtime of Game 7.

Whether this Penguins team will flame out when it hits the playoffs remains to be seen.

"Every team is different, and it all depends on the style of the game and there's a lot of different things you can look at," Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "All I can talk about is our team. We're younger, we have a little bit more energy, and I don't think we're going to slow down."

Another thing driving this team is thoughts of last season. The Penguins' 22-46-14 record and spending most of the year sitting on the bottom of the standings has kick-started the players like little else could.

"Our main goal is improving our game," Gonchar said. "It would be nice to win a division, especially after last season, and, essentially, that's motivation heading into these last three games."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/archive/s_500844.html

X-Terminator
04-02-2007, 11:15 PM
Notebook: NHL scoring race down to No. 1 picks

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

? Sidney Crosby will, more than likely, capture the NHL scoring title this season. Though having a 19-year-old finish as the league's leading scorer would be a major accomplishment, what may be even more noteworthy is who will finish behind him. Crosby is leading the league with 117 points, San Jose's Joe Thornton is second with 109, and Tampa Bay sniper Vincent Lecavalier is third with 106. Should these players remain as the top three when the season ends Sunday, it would mark the first time since the NHL instituted its current draft format in 1963 that three players taken first overall in the draft finished as the league's top three scorers. "It's probably a bit of a coincidence," Crosby said. "But, at the same time, with such an importance on building teams now, with the salary cap and things like that, draft picks are really important, and I think it's a testament to what (Thornton and Lecavalier) have done, too."

? Defenseman Ryan Whitney and forward Mark Recchi sat out the team's practice Monday at Southpointe. Whitney is nursing a slight groin injury, while the 39-year-old Recchi was given a day off. Whitney's status for the team's game tonight against Buffalo is undetermined. Recchi and Whitney, along with defenseman Sergei Gonchar, are the only players to dress for all 79 games this season.

? Quotable: "We've played very well against the Sabres this year. They're a team that plays a high-tempo game, they skate well, and we can match their speed. What I like about our team is that we're capable of playing a speed game, play a good defensive game or play a tough game." -- Penguins coach Michel Therrien


Digits

90 - Power-play goals scored by the Penguins this season.

119 - Team and NHL record for power play goals in a season set in 1988-89.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/archive/s_500825.html

X-Terminator
04-02-2007, 11:19 PM
Gretzky offers Crosby a blueprint for success

Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Senior Writer
Apr 2, 2007, 12:00 PM EDT


Pittsburgh wunderkind Sidney Crosby is well on his way to becoming the youngest-ever player to lead any of the major North American team sports in scoring.

At just 19, Crosby has the brightest of futures still ahead of him. Barring injuries, Crosby should have at least two decades to engineer what promises to be a stunning assault on the NHL record book.

Wayne Gretzky, the current holder of most of the NHL's offensive records, can't wait for the assault to begin.

"What he is accomplishing now is truly remarkable," Gretzky told NHL.com. "He deserves all the accolades he is getting. It will be great to watch his progress here.

"First of all, what he is doing is marvelous and I think he is the premier player in our game. Obviously, we are going to ride the wave of Sidney Crosby for a lot of years to come."

Gretzky, now the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, once stood in Crosby's very skates. In 1979, Gretzky burst upon the NHL as the teenaged star of the expansion Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky's first season in the NHL resulted in a 137-point season, tied for the NHL lead with Marcel Dionne of the Los Angeles Kings. Gretzky lost out on the Art Ross Trophy that year because Dionne had more goals.

But that was only a taste of things to come. The next season, Gretzky put up 164 points. The following season it was 212 as Gretzky, in full "Great One" mode, became the first -- and only -- player to top the 200-point mark. Gretzky topped 200 points three more times and finished his brilliant career with an astounding 2,857 points in 1,487 NHL games. Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, now the owner of Crosby's Penguins, almost joined the club in 1988-89, but stalled at 199 points.

Now consider Crosby, a player that Gretzky once rightly predicted would be the heir to his throne upon seeing him as a young player in Canada. Hence, the "Next One" moniker with which Crosby has been saddled.

In his first NHL season, Crosby compiled 102 points, becoming the youngest player (18 years, 253 days) in NHL history to reach the 100-point plateau and tying for the fifth-highest rookie point total ever. He finished sixth in the Art Ross Trophy race that season.

This season, Crosby has a League-leading 116 points and counting, well on his way to unseating San Jose's Joe Thornton, who is a dozen points in arrears, as the scoring champion. He has also been the key figure in Pittsburgh's turnaround from Atlantic Division cellar-dwellers last season to potential division champions this season.

Clearly, Crosby has the skill set and desire to follow in Gretzky's imposing skate strides. And "The Great One" is pulling for Crosby to navigate that perilous odyssey in a successful fashion.

"I'm a big believer in what I did, I did," Gretzky says. "I'm proud of what I accomplished, but it's only good for the game if (Crosby) can knock down some of the records I have. It only makes our game better.

"It doesn't personally take away anything from what I accomplished and I hope he breaks all the records because it will be a positive for our sport."

None of Gretzky's legion of records will be easy for Crosby to erase. Gretzky was a singular talent who arrived at a point in time when the game was at its apex as far as offense is concerned. Gretzky's flair and creativity delivered stunning results in the free-flowing hockey atmosphere of the '80s.

Before long, Gretzky had obliterated many of the records held by his idol, Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings. Now, Gretzky says, Crosby will have to set his sights on Gretzky's marks as the game has returned to a more defensive framework, much like it was when Howe played.

"Points are sort of a funny thing," Gretzky says. "I guess it's like I said when I was doing what I was doing; you can't compare eras. What I did and the game I played in was a lot different than Gordie Howe played in. My numbers are different from Gordie's because it was a different era; the game was different, etc, etc. It's hard to compare my numbers to Gordie because what he accomplished was definitely during a more defensive game. So, I don't spend a whole lot of time about 'Did I beat Gordie's record?' I think Gordie did what he did and we should always talk about that."

Because of this difference in eras, will Gretzky be the founding and only member of the 200-point club? Not necessarily, says Gretzky. He believes Crosby has a chance at it and outlined the reasons to NHL.com.

"Listen, first of all, you have to be the right player and he is the right guy," Gretzky said. "He works hard every shift. I've said this often, not only do I think he is the best player in the game, but the thing that I admire and respect the most about him is that he works hard every shift, every game. He gives an honest effort every single night and that is wonderful to see for a young guy."

But as Gretzky is the first to admit, talent goes only so far. There must be someone that sees and nurtures that talent within the framework of the team. For Gretzky in Edmonton, that man was coach Glen Sather. In Pittsburgh, it is Michel Therrien, the coach during Crosby's first two NHL seasons.

"You have to be in the right system and the right team and, by that, I mean your coach has to play a little bit more of an open style, a skating game and it seems like his coach allows him to play that sort of style."

A supporting cast certainly doesn't hurt, says Gretzky, who used the skills of teammates Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Mark Messier to help him along. The Penguins are presently building Crosby's support staff, but he already has young forward Evgeni Malkin and offensive defenseman Sergei Gonchar in the fold.

"You have to play with the proper guys and, right now, they are building the right guys around him," Gretzky said. "Guys like Malkin, guys who are offensive-style players, guys who have the ability to help him get three or four points on a night when he doesn't necessarily have his best game. You are going to have bad games over 82 games, that's human nature. I had some nights when I wasn't good, but I was good enough in the sense that I could get the puck to Jari Kurri and Paul Coffey."

Gretzky also believes Crosby will have to increase his time on ice per game if he wants a shot at the 200-point mark. Most important, Crosby will need to develop his skills enough to merit penalty-kill responsibility, a facet of Crosby's game that is presently non-existent.

"For me, I killed penalties," Gretzky said. "I got a lot of points each season killing penalties. I don't know how many, but I would guess between 15 and 20 points shorthanded, and those add up."

Finally, Crosby will need some luck if he hopes to join Gretzky in hockey's most exclusive statistical club. Think empty-net goals, says "The "Great One" says.

"Empty-net goals and empty-net points, they count," he says. "At the end of the year, if he can get seven or eight of those in a season, it goes a long way."

There is the blueprint of the path necessary to scale the 200-point summit, straight from the only man to successfully navigate the climb.

But can Crosby do it? That is a question only Crosby can answer, but it seems Gretzky once again likes the odds of Crosby eventually finding a way.

"Those are the things that he's going to have to have go in his favor to accomplish the 200 points," Gretzky concludes. "I guess my point is that it's not just him, one guy can't do it. He has to have the right situation around him and that's what I had in Edmonton. But if there is anybody that can get it, he's the guy."

Stay tuned, then, because it appears Crosby is just getting started on this quest.

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=298400

X-Terminator
04-02-2007, 11:26 PM
Scouting the Sabres

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Buffalo Sabres (51-21-7) at Penguins (45-23-11)

When and where: 7 p.m. at Mellon Arena

Probable goaltenders: Ryan Miller (37-16-6, 2.82 GAA); Marc-Andre Fleury (38-15-9, 2.85 GAA)

TV/radio: Versus; WXDX-FM (105.9)

Notable: The Penguins hold a 2-1-0 edge over the Sabres this season. Buffalo needs one point in its final four games to clinch home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference, while the Penguins are in a dogfight with New Jersey for the Atlantic Division title. Both goaltenders have set career highs for wins and appearances, but Miller (60 games) and Fleury (64) rank 26th and 28th, respectively, in goals-against average. If Fleury plays the final three games, he can set the team record for games played by a goaltender, breaking the mark of 66 set by Johan Hedberg during the 2001-02 season. Penguins forward Mark Recchi has gone 20 games without a goal and has only three assists in three games against Buffalo this season and 19 in 68 career games against the Sabres.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/archive/s_500826.html

X-Terminator
04-03-2007, 12:03 AM
Penguins Notebook: Plenty still at stake in last three games

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With three games left in the regular season, the Penguins do not have control of their destiny. But they're close.

If nothing else, they know that if they win their remaining games -- against Buffalo tonight at Mellon Arena, Thursday in Ottawa and at home Saturday against the New York Rangers -- they will finish no lower than fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Assuming they would defeat Ottawa in regulation, that would give the Penguins home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff matchup against the Senators.

What's more, if the Penguins can win those games, it would force New Jersey, which occupies first place in the Atlantic Division, to squeeze at least five points out of its remaining three games to claim the title.

The catch? The Penguins' remaining opponents are, collectively, 138-74-24, and highly motivated.

Buffalo can clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a victory tonight and would earn the Presidents' Trophy if it wins its final four games, Ottawa has an obvious incentive to finish ahead of the Penguins and the Rangers might well be competing for a playoff berth Saturday night.

Running the table clearly will be a daunting task, but not an impossibility.

"It's three teams that we've beaten at least twice [apiece] this year, so it's definitely something that's achievable," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

For the moment, though, they are concentrating on the Sabres, who are poised to earn the fifth division championship in franchise history and will enter the playoffs as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

"We've proved we can beat good teams," center Sidney Crosby said. "You can't win all three at once, though. You have to make sure you focus on [the next opponent], especially when you're playing such good teams."

Wait and see on Whitney

Defeating the Sabres under ideal circumstances is a monumental challenge, and the Penguins' personnel situation tonight might be a bit less than perfect.

Defenseman Ryan Whitney was held out of yesterday's practice at Southpointe because of a sore groin and is officially listed as day-to-day. His status for tonight likely will be determined at the game-day skate.

Whitney, who works the point on the No. 1 power-play unit, is the Penguins' fifth-leading scorer, with 14 goals and 44 assists in 79 games. It was his goal with four seconds left in regulation that allowed the Penguins to pick up a point in what became a 5-4 overtime loss in Toronto Saturday.

Postseason push

Sabres left winger Thomas Vanek was benched during the Stanley Cup playoffs a year ago for spotty defensive work, but he has gone a long way toward earning redemption.

He enters the game tonight with a team-best 39 goals and a plus-minus rating of plus-40 that ties Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson for the best in the NHL.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, though, has publicly challenged Vanek to perform to his potential when the stakes and intensity rise.

"The postseason is another level," Ruff told the Buffalo News. "The regular season is one, the postseason is another one. The last postseason was disappointing, but Thomas has had a great year. He should be excited to get into the postseason, but it's still going to be a big venture for him."

Vanek, claimed by the Sabres with the fifth choice in the 2003 entry draft, professed to be eager to prove that he can produce under pressure.

"Last year, obviously, didn't go as planned," he told the News. "But it happened, and it's in the past. I'm definitely looking forward to this year and proving everyone wrong."

Slap shots

The Sabres have won 50 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. ... Center Jochen Hecht needs one goal to become the seventh Sabre to reach 20; Buffalo hasn't had that many since 1983-84.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07093/774714-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 06:45 AM
Wait and see on Whitney

Defeating the Sabres under ideal circumstances is a monumental challenge, and the Penguins' personnel situation tonight might be a bit less than perfect.

Defenseman Ryan Whitney was held out of yesterday's practice at Southpointe because of a sore groin and is officially listed as day-to-day. His status for tonight likely will be determined at the game-day skate.

Whitney, who works the point on the No. 1 power-play unit, is the Penguins' fifth-leading scorer, with 14 goals and 44 assists in 79 games. It was his goal with four seconds left in regulation that allowed the Penguins to pick up a point in what became a 5-4 overtime loss in Toronto Saturday.

Talk about a kid who came a long way this year while only being in his second year of pro. At the beginning of the season he seemed like the same Ryan Whitney as last season and I called him out on it. He was all offense but lacked solid play in the defensive zone.

It seemed like around late December/late January was when he rounded out his game more thoroughly and brought it all together. Scary part, much like with Sid, Malkin and Staal, he's still young and will hopefully only get better. Figure last season he ended the season with a -7 and now he is packing an 8.

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 07:18 AM
Pens' Sidney Crosby still turning heads
Sidney Crosby

The Sports Network

4/1/2007 1:58:17 PM

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Here's a suggestion for critics of hockey; instead of complaining about the problem of violence in the sport just sit down on the couch and actually watch Sidney Crosby play a game.

How many times do we need to see the image of Chris Simon whacking Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick or watch as Todd Fedoruk gets carried off the ice on a stretcher after getting knocked out in a fight?

That's not to say that those incidents aren't important, but there are also amazing things happening in hockey and a great deal of them come from the stick of a certain 19-year-old scoring machine from Nova Scotia.

To be fair, when the sports news channels do find the time to report on hockey and there isn't a scandal to talk about, they are likely to mention Crosby before all other players. And with good reason because the future of the Penguins franchise is lighting up the scoreboard and making his team a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.

Crosby was a no-brainer as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft and showed during his rookie campaign that he certainly didn't lack individual ability. However, Crosby's 102 points in 2005-06 seemed to do little to help Pittsburgh as a team considering the club finished last in the Eastern Conference.

However, the only thing that has been the same for the Penguins this year is the ease at which Crosby can fill up a scoresheet. Since the end of last season, Pittsburgh has done an excellent job of surrounding its young star with a mix of solid veterans and blossoming talent and it has made all the difference.

The Penguins have clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and are still in the mix for the Atlantic Division crown and one of the top-three seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Pittsburgh has also eclipsed the 100-point barrier for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign and should finish with the second-best point total in club history.

It was clear from the start of this season that Pittsburgh was vastly improved from its dismal 2005-06 edition, but Crosby and the Penguins didn't really begin to make a statement until after New Year's.

Since the middle of January, the Pens have been the best team in the NHL, going 27-6-4 in their last 37 games and sending the message to the rest of the league that this is not simply a team of the future, but one that can also wreak havoc in the here and now.

The sheer length of Pittsburgh's hot streak makes it seem unlikely that this team will simply falter in the playoffs. That being said, we have yet to see Crosby even skate in the playoffs so it would also be presumptuous to make the Penguins the favorite in the East.

Something tells me Crosby is going to be just fine once the postseason begins. Maybe that's because point production seems to be Sid the Kid's "raison d'etre", something that is bolstered by the fact that he has totaled 219 points in the first 157 games of his career.

As the calendar turns to April, Crosby is well on his way to becoming the youngest player to win a scoring title in NHL history. As of March 31, he leads the league with 117 points and holds a double-digit lead over his nearest competition.

The simple fact that Crosby is doing things as a 19-year-old that even Wayne Gretzky was never able to do is simply astounding. For instance, becoming the youngest player in NHL history to reach 200 career points although Gretzky, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and Peter Stastny all reached the 200-point mark in fewer games. Crosby is also the youngest ever to record consecutive 100- point seasons in the NHL.

With the Art Ross nearly in his grasp and possibly a Hart Trophy as this year's league MVP to come, Crosby will have to look to the postseason for his next accomplishments. That playoff success may or may not come this year, but it's hard to imagine a scenario that doesn't have Crosby hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup at some time in the future.

Sure, there are plenty of thugs in the NHL that damage the sport with their violent antics, but are those incidents so prevalent that we should forget how great hockey can be when someone as skilled as Crosby takes the ice? I think not.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=202407&hubname=nhl

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 07:23 AM
but are those incidents so prevalent that we should forget how great hockey can be when someone as skilled as Crosby takes the ice? I think not.

Tell that to ESPN who seem to only focus on the NHL longer than three minutes when those "violent antics" occur. Then they go on to tell us how David Artest was arrested (again) while spending the rest of the 55 minutes going in depth with every baseball and basketball game played the day before.

Good job ESPN. :thumbsup:

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 12:32 PM
Penguins defenseman Whitney held out of tonight's game
Tuesday, April 03, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Defenseman Ryan Whitney, one of three players who has appeared in each of the Penguins' 79 games this season, will not play tonight against Buffalo at Mellon Arena.

Whitney, who is fifth on the team in scoring with 65 points, is being held out as a precaution because of a slight groin injury.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien said that if tonight was a playoff game, Whitney would play, but with the playoffs a week away there is no reason to risk further injury. Therrien declined to say who will take Whitney's place on the point when the Penguins are on a power play.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07093/774783-100.stm

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 12:40 PM
OCC Pittsburgh Penguins chopper (#24): http://www.orangecountychoppers.com/occ/nhlchopper.html

HometownGal
04-03-2007, 02:09 PM
Awesome Pens' chopper! Thanks for the link. :thumbsup:

SteelCityMan786
04-03-2007, 07:49 PM
2-1 Sabres. COME ON PITTSBURGH!

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 07:59 PM
Tough game. Better get used to it. The "well, we played a good team" excuse isn't going to cut it come playoff time. They are all good teams.

Man, Gonchar looks excellent in some games and then in others he looks like complete :poop:. The guy can't control the puck when it's brought back to the point. It's bad enough when he does it on the PP while we are trying to set up, it's even worse if it leads to a SH goal (I guess that's when it will bother being brought up).

It's pretty obvious that we are missing Whitney on our PP and I still can't figure out why we have Malone on the PP. He's playing a horrible game but he's from Pittsburgh (yay). :cheer:

Great news: It's only 2-1 with a period of play remaining.

Bad news: We are being outplayed.

Let's get our heads back in this game. Gather ourselves and get it done in the 3rd. We can do it. :jammin:

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 08:08 PM
We blow another PP opportunity and directly afterwards the Sabres come down and make it 3-1. Not the way you want to start a third period already being down one.

SteelCityMan786
04-03-2007, 08:08 PM
COME ON! #%@%$#^#@YT$#GJ$@PGJ$#P%OJGI$#JPOIG$#PY##%Y^357347 34%YTJ$J%G#$G GET YOUR HEADS OF YOUR BUTTS AND PLAY!

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 08:09 PM
4-1 now.

SteelCityMan786
04-03-2007, 08:10 PM
THIS TEAM IS GIVING NO DAMN EFFORT. EVERY ****ING PERSON IN BLACK NEEDS TO GET THEIR HEADS OF THEIR ASSES. This rediculous.

83-Steelers-43
04-03-2007, 08:15 PM
We haven't been blown out all season long. We keep playing like this for the remaining 12:00 and it just may occur. It's not looking pretty. Flat and frustrated pretty much sums up the way this team has looked this game.

On that note, thankfully this is one game that I did not pick on my season ticket package....lol.

SteelCityMan786
04-03-2007, 08:38 PM
They play flat they get beat flat.

X-Terminator
04-03-2007, 11:17 PM
Penguins can't stop Sabres

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Three months ago, the mere suggestion that an early April meeting between the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres could prove a preview for a playoff series in early May would have seemed -- at best -- wildly wishful thinking.

It still might, especially if the Penguins' power-play performs in the postseason as it did Tuesday.

The Sabres lived up to their billing as the Eastern Conference's Stanley Cup favorite with a convincing 4-1 victory over the Penguins at Mellon Arena, snapping Pittsburgh's six-game home win streak.

In New Jersey, the Devils defeated Ottawa, 2-1, in a shootout. With only two games remaining, the Penguins trail the Devils by three points in the Atlantic Division. They also are two points behind the Ottawa Senators in the race for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins will need to win in Ottawa on Thursday to have any shot at gaining home-ice advantage in the opening round of the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. The Penguins must finish with more points than either the Devils or Senators because they will lose tiebreakers due to having fewer victories than either club.

For the Sabres, the victory secured home-ice advantage through the conference playoffs. They will enter the Stanley Cup playoffs as the top seed.

"The biggest thing about them is that they started strong, got hit by some injuries, and they've just kept it going," defenseman Brooks Orpik said of the Sabres, who have gone 22-14-4 over the past three months after starting the season 28-7-2.

"They have a lot of good players that have come up and done well. It's really impressive. They're going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs."

With a 29-8-5 record from January through March, the Penguins had done well to make even Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff wonder if, despite their collective inexperience, they might not prove long for the playoffs, too.

"The way they have played the past 40 games, I'm convinced they can make a long run," Ruff said prior to the game last night. "I'm not surprised by anything they've done over the past three months."

Specifically, Ruff suggested that perhaps the only way to stop the Penguins' young stars, such as scoring leader Sidney Crosby and Calder Trophy candidates Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, was to stay out of the penalty box.

"If you don't, Pittsburgh has enough talent to really make you pay," Ruff said.

Never in his wildest dreams could Ruff have imagined that the Penguins' vaunted power-play, ranked fifth in the league at 20.4 percent, would prove so futile against the Sabres -- especially at home, where the Penguins were operating at an efficiency of 21.3 percent.

Last night, without one of its anchors, defenseman Ryan Whitney, the Penguins' power play went scoreless on eight attempts. In their previous two games against the Sabres, Pittsburgh had gone 4 of 8 on man-advantage chances.

"We just didn't take advantage of our chances," Crosby said. "We had enough of them."

Whitney, nursing a groin injury, said that he hopes to return against the Senators. Clearly, the Penguins missed his presence on the left point against Buffalo.

Down 2-1 in the second period but benefiting from 27 seconds of a two-man advantage, the Penguins failed to register a shot on Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller. When that advantage ended, the Penguins used the remaining 1:33 of man-advantage time to fire exactly zero pucks Miller's way.

"I'm not going to take anything away from (Whitney) because there is no doubt he has been great back there, but there are going to be times when you're missing somebody on the power-play -- you still have to find a way," Crosby said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501019.html

X-Terminator
04-03-2007, 11:21 PM
Whitney?s prediction looks good

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A few nights before the 2002 NHL Draft in Toronto, Boston University defenseman Ryan Whitney interviewed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who owned the first pick.

The Blue Jackets weren't going to take Whitney. They were targeting power forward Rick Nash. Even if they'd surprised everyone and gone for a defenseman, it probably would have been one of everybody's top two -- Jay Bouwmeester or Joni Pitkanen.

Whitney and his agent, some guy named Bobby Orr, were about the only two people besides Whitney's parents who had him rated ahead of Bouwmeester and Pitkanen.

In the middle of the interview, Whitney surprised Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean when he matter-of-factly said, "I'll be the best defenseman in this draft."

Nearly five years later, that prediction looks pretty good.

Whitney laughs -- and cringes -- at the memory.

"That was something that probably seems a little ****y when you look back on it," Whitney said Tuesday, before he was forced to sit out a game against the Buffalo Sabres because of a strained groin. "I kind of just said it, not trying to be an idiot but trying to show them I was confident in myself and where I was going to be in a few years."

Columbus wound up taking Nash, a fine player who has three fewer points (in six fewer games) than Whitney this season.

After the Atlanta Thrashers snagged goaltender Kari Lehtonen with the second pick, the Florida Panthers took Bouwmeester and the Philadelphia Flyers took Pitkanen.

That left Whitney on the board when the Penguins came to bat. Credit the team's former scouting staff -- headed by Greg Malone -- for taking him, because they could have gone in a couple of different directions.

There's no guarantee Whitney will have a better career than Bouwmeester or Pitkanen, both of whom are excellent players.

But he's outperforming them thus far.

Bouwmeester has 121 points in 304 career games, good for 0.39 points per game.

Pitkanen has 115 points in 203 games, or 0.57 points per game.

Whitney has 96 points in just 147 games, or 0.65 points per game. That's a better two-year start to a career than those posted by notable defenseman such as Scott Niedermayer, Bryan McCabe and Brian Rafalski.

Even the great Nicklas Lidstrom wasn't far ahead of Whitney's pace after his first two seasons. Lidstrom had 111 points in his first 164 games, a points-per-game average of 0.68.

Sure, it helps to play on a power play with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, but those guys feed off Whitney as much as he feeds off them. If you need visual proof of his enormous skill, replay one of those backdoor goals he has scored on a cross-ice pass from Crosby.

Or simply cue up one of the dozens of tape-to-tape breakout passes Whitney has delivered. He sure was missed last night, particularly on a 0-for-8 power play, in a 4-1 loss.

Whitney is seventh in scoring (58 points) among NHL defensemen and is rapidly improving his own-zone game, paired with his old teammate from Thayer (Mass.) Academy, Brooks Orpik.

People are starting to talk about Whitney as a future Norris Trophy candidate. It's not far-fetched. Consider what Orr, the greatest defenseman in NHL history, had to say on draft day in 2002, as he sat in an Air Canada Center box with Whitney's family:

"I don't think there's any question he could be a No. 1 defenseman if he keeps working as hard as he's been working," Orr said. "If he does, you'll like him in Pittsburgh."

Turns out there were a couple of pretty good predictions made that day.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501045.html

X-Terminator
04-03-2007, 11:22 PM
Scuderi replaces Whitney in Pens' lineup

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Defenseman Ryan Whitney did not play against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday due to a groin injury he suffered Saturday late in the third period of an overtime loss at Toronto. Whitney was replaced in the lineup by Rob Scuderi. Though the game last night had playoff seeding implications for the Penguins, Whitney said he did not want to risk further injury that might cause him to be less effective during the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," Whitney said. "I don't want to come into the playoffs on one skate." Whitney hopes to be available for a critical game Thursday at Ottawa.

? With Whitney out, the Penguins had to alter the look of their top power-play unit. Taking Whitney's usual spot on the left point was forward Mark Recchi. Also, Mark Eaton rejoined Sergei Gonchar as a defensive pairing. Recently, Gonchar had teamed with Josef Melichar, but Melichar shared defensive responsibilities with Brooks Orpik. Scuderi and Alain Nasreddine formed the third defensive unit.

? Aside from Whitney, other scratches for the Penguins last night included defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, center Chris Thorburn and right wings Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman.

? Coach Michel Therrien switched up his lines to start the game against Buffalo. Evgeni Malkin played the left wing on a line with center Sidney Crosby and right wing Colby Armstrong. Jordan Staal centered a line with Ryan Malone on left wing and Recchi on the right side. Gary Roberts was the left wing on a line with center Maxime Talbot and right wing Michel Ouellet. Erik Christensen went from playing left wing on a line with Crosby to centering Jarkko Ruutu and Georges Laraque. Therrien said he expects to try additional line combinations over the Penguins' final two games before the playoffs.

Digits

3 - Wins by the Sabres in Pittsburgh since 1996-97, prior to last night.

33 - Power-play points recorded by defenseman Ryan Whitney this season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501008.html

X-Terminator
04-03-2007, 11:32 PM
Penguins Notebook: Whitney misses his first game of season

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

By Shelly Anderson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Defenseman Ryan Whitney was one of the first players on the ice for the Penguins' morning skate yesterday and one of the last players off.

"I just toughed it out," Whitney said afterward.

Still, he was held out of home game last night against Buffalo because of a groin injury.

"It's more of a precaution," coach Michel Therrien said. "If it would have been a playoff game, he probably would have been there, but we're a week away from the playoffs and we don't want to take any chances."

Whitney said he was disappointed because he was one of three players who had appeared in each of the team's first 79 games and wanted to play in all 82, but he understood the reasoning.

"We've already clinched [a playoff spot], and what if I reinjured it?" Whitney said. "It's just smarter.

"Hopefully, I'll be ready for [tomorrow at Ottawa]."

Partnership renewed

For Mark Eaton, September seems like eons ago. That's when it was training camp and the first-year Penguins defenseman was settling in nicely alongside Sergei Gonchar.

"It was a long time ago," Eaton said. "At the beginning of the year, I thought we played well together. I hope we can re-establish that."

Eaton, who missed large chunks of the season because of wrist and knee injuries, was reunited with Gonchar at the morning skate.

"He was supposed to play against the top players. That was part of our plan," Therrien said. "You always take a step back when you're coming off of a long injury. Now, a week from the playoffs, we need to know if his confidence is there and if he's capable of handling the speed and all that type of stuff. We want to give him that challenge."

If anything holds Eaton back, it won't be the injuries.

"Physically, I feel 100 percent, so I just need to go out there and keep improving every game and try to get ready for the playoffs," he said. "These three games will be a good precursor for that."

More juggling

Therrien also shuffled three of his four forward lines at the morning skate.

Leading scorer Sidney Crosby skated between Evgeni Malkin and Colby Armstrong. Maxime Talbot centered for Gary Roberts and Michel Ouellet. And Erik Christensen was with wingers Jarkko Ruutu and Georges Laraque.

Rookie Jordan Staal remained with wingers Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone, a unit used in the previous game.

"You'll see different combinations, just to make sure when we start [in the playoffs] next week, we have all our answers to questions about line combinations, where we should put players," Therrien said.

The hunt continues

Gonchar, whose skate fell apart during a game at New Jersey March 14, still is trying to find a model that suits him before the end of the regular season.

"I'm getting there, getting close to figuring out which one I'm going to wear for the start of the playoffs," he said. "I still have another pair to go."

Big sellers

The NHL reported that sales of its licensed products on Shop.NHL.com for March were up 51 percent from March 2006, with the Penguins and Buffalo accounting for much of the increase.

Sales of Sabres merchandise increased 657 percent over March 2006. The Penguins were next with a 205 percent increase.

Crosby had the top-selling jersey. Buffalo's Ryan Miller (second), Daniel Briere (third), Maxim Afinogenov (fourth), Chris Drury (sixth), Jason Pominville (seventh) and Tomas Vanek (10th) also were in the top 10.

Slap shots

With Whitney missing the game last night , the only two Penguins who have played every game are the two oldest players among those who have been on the roster all season -- Recchi, 39, and Gonchar, who turns 33 Friday. ... Buffalo has a chance to finish with the most points in the league, but coach Lindy Ruff isn't watching that race. "We don't even talk about the Presidents' Trophy," Ruff said. "I spend a lot of time talking about home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference, and I think that's important." ... Therrien on the New Jersey Devils firing coach Claude Julien with a week left in the season: "It's a big surprise in the hockey world. I don't know all the insight and what might have happened, but everyone is surprised." ... The concrete facade outside Mellon Arena, the old St. Francis Hospital across the street and the block of Centre Avenue outside the arena have been decked out with Stanley Cup banners. ... Mario Lemieux Foundation T-shirts are available for sale at www.mariolemieux.org and at PenStation in Mellon Arena. Sales benefit cancer and neonatal research.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07094/774958-61.stm

X-Terminator
04-04-2007, 12:03 AM
They play flat they get beat flat.

The entire team looked flat tonight. I'm not going to blame it all on one person - it was a total team effort. The PP looked pretty bad except for the last one where they had several opportunities to score, and it was pretty obvious to me in the stands that they missed Ryan Whitney on the point. Recchi just is not a point man, and while Gonchar did not play well tonight, I'm not going to get on him for it. He's second in the league in scoring among defensemen, played well on the PP and has been pretty solid most of the season, especially while Eaton was on the shelf for 3 months, and established himself as the clear #1 defenseman on the team. So I'll give him a pass - even the great ones have an off night every now and then.

Anyway, nothing you can do now but hope they win their last 2 games and have a shot at the division/home-ice advantage, though I think they're going to end up 5th and will have to start the playoffs in Ottawa next week.

83-Steelers-43
04-04-2007, 05:55 AM
They play flat they get beat flat.

Pretty much. That's one of if not the worst games I have seen them play this year. The only two positives to take away from that game is that hopefully it's a wake up call for this team and we got out of there injury-free. That's about it.

It's not exactly the greatest time for your PP to conk out and for the team in general to look the way they have the last 5 out of 6 periods. From horrible puck control at the point while setting up on the PP to the defensive breakdowns in your own zone. Sloppy hockey. Even the announcers on TV called out our puck control on the point (they actually pointed out Gonchar in particular). It's something that needs pointed out and fixed before we make a playoff run. That is all. Pretty simple concept.

But like I said, hopefully last nights game was a kick in the rear and they come out looking a helluva lot better against Ottawa because it's not going to get much easier in these last two remaining games. Ottawa plays us strong and the NYR are the last team I want to face at this point in time. That team is hot.

:wink02:

83-Steelers-43
04-04-2007, 06:40 AM
Pens "Grow" Beards for playoffs: http://kdka.com/slideshows/local_slideshow_093145352/view?slide=0

Started growing mine out the day I got the playoff tickets in the mail and it's horribly annoying. I'm not a facial hair type of guy......:smile:

HometownGal
04-04-2007, 08:55 AM
The entire team looked flat tonight. I'm not going to blame it all on one person - it was a total team effort. The PP looked pretty bad except for the last one where they had several opportunities to score, and it was pretty obvious to me in the stands that they missed Ryan Whitney on the point. Recchi just is not a point man, and while Gonchar did not play well tonight, I'm not going to get on him for it. He's second in the league in scoring among defensemen, played well on the PP and has been pretty solid most of the season, especially while Eaton was on the shelf for 3 months, and established himself as the clear #1 defenseman on the team. So I'll give him a pass - even the great ones have an off night every now and then.

Anyway, nothing you can do now but hope they win their last 2 games and have a shot at the division/home-ice advantage, though I think they're going to end up 5th and will have to start the playoffs in Ottawa next week.

I agree, XT. Actually - the entire team looked pretty lethargic last night and didn't seem in sync with each other. I know Therrien is trying different line combos in preparation for the playoffs, but right now, we need to try to get that home ice advantage in the first round, so why play "musical chairs" with the lines? You are right - Recchi is not a point guy and it showed. Gonch had a less than stellar game but like you, I'm not going to jump on him for it as well as he has played the majority of the season. The guy hasn't missed a game all season and is on the ice an average of 26-29 minutes per game. The Pens do miss Whitney on the PP and wow - was that obvious last night!

Last night's matchup only reinforced my belief that Buffalo fans are the most obnoxious anywhere - LOL!

83-Steelers-43
04-04-2007, 09:35 AM
LOL...:rolleyes:

Anyways, I wouldn't mind seeing Petro back in there for a few games. Rest some of our guys before the playoffs. Ruutu or Recchi come to mind. Both have had very limited offensive production (Ruutu none at all) and I think a fresh pair of legs would be nice for the last two games.

Here's to hoping this team turns it's game around come playoff time. :cheers:

83-Steelers-43
04-04-2007, 10:36 AM
David Morehouse named new Penguins' president

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Penguins announced Wednesday that David Morehouse has been named the team's new president.

Morehouse, 46, a native of Beechview, was a key figure in helping the team secure funding for its new arena, said to open in 2009.

He will represent the team in redevelopment of the Mellon Arena site, governmental affairs and corporate relations.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_501129.html

SteelCityMan786
04-04-2007, 03:35 PM
The entire team looked flat tonight. I'm not going to blame it all on one person - it was a total team effort. The PP looked pretty bad except for the last one where they had several opportunities to score, and it was pretty obvious to me in the stands that they missed Ryan Whitney on the point. Recchi just is not a point man, and while Gonchar did not play well tonight, I'm not going to get on him for it. He's second in the league in scoring among defensemen, played well on the PP and has been pretty solid most of the season, especially while Eaton was on the shelf for 3 months, and established himself as the clear #1 defenseman on the team. So I'll give him a pass - even the great ones have an off night every now and then.

Anyway, nothing you can do now but hope they win their last 2 games and have a shot at the division/home-ice advantage, though I think they're going to end up 5th and will have to start the playoffs in Ottawa next week.

I couldn't agree more. This was a total team effort and they didn't pull through. It's unfortunate that they had this happen this close the playoffs.

83-Steelers-43
04-04-2007, 04:54 PM
One-game slip-up may cost Penguins home-ice edge in playoffs

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Pittsburgh Penguins haven't done much wrong since the All-Star break. One of their few slip-ups may cost them any chance of having home-ice advantage for several rounds of the playoffs.

The Penguins (45-24-11), nearing the end of the most surprising season in franchise history, have enjoyed a 43-point improvement since last season ? the fifth-best turnaround in NHL history.

One more victory will give them the second highest-point total in franchise history, and more points than in either of the two seasons they won the Stanley Cup. It would be a remarkable accomplishment for a team that won only 22 games while finishing last in the Eastern Conference last season, also its fourth consecutive last-place finish in the Atlantic Division.

And talk about the March of the Penguins ? they were 12-3-2 while playing 17 games in 31 days last month, ignoring the grueling pace to enjoy the best March in their history.

But these youthful Penguins' first late-season exposure to playoff-type hockey ? a 4-1 loss Tuesday to Eastern Conference top-seeded Buffalo ? was a major disappointment. It also illustrated what they still must do to win in April and, possibly, in May.

The Sabres played a trapping-style defense that neutralized the Penguins' cast of scorers, giving them little room to maneuver or to create openings for Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin to get to the net. They also kept the Penguins scoreless on the power play (0-for-8) after they were 8-for-22 in their previous four games.

"Every time they had the puck, we collapsed hard and didn't give them much room in the zone," Daniel Briere said.

It was a major change in personality for Buffalo, the NHL's highest-scoring team playing more like the New Jersey Devils, and it worked perfectly.

"It was a little tighter than normal," said Crosby, the NHL scoring leader who went scoreless after having nine points in his previous four games. "There wasn't a lot of play in the neutral zone. We had opportunities on the power play and we didn't take advantage of them."

The loss, only the third for Pittsburgh in regulation in its last 13 games, and New Jersey's 2-1 shootout victory over Ottawa left the Penguins three points behind the Devils for the Atlantic Division title and the No. 2 seeding in the conference playoffs.

The only chance now for the Penguins to pass the Devils is to beat Ottawa on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday, and for New Jersey to lose Thursday at Philadelphia and at home Saturday against the New York Islanders.

Pittsburgh also trails Ottawa by one point, and two victories, for fourth place in the conference and home ice in a first-round No. 4 vs. No. 5 playoff matchup. Even if the Penguins win in Ottawa, the Senators can assure themselves of finishing fourth by winning in Boston on Saturday.

If that happens, the Penguins may point to the Buffalo loss as being the reason they finished fifth rather than second in the conference ? a major swing that might prevent them from having home ice in any round of the playoffs. Next week, it could mean they will return to Ottawa to start the playoffs rather than staying at home to begin play against the seventh-seeded team.

"We weren't ourselves," Jarkko Ruutu said. "The little things make the difference and they capitalized on those things."

Mark Recchi, who scored his first goal in 21 games, and Ruutu said it was a game that should refocus the Penguins as the playoffs grow near.

"We play New Jersey (eight times), and they trap all the time," Ruutu said. "We know how to break it. It's going to be tougher in the playoffs. It will not be easy, and we have to be ready for it."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_501159.html

83-Steelers-43
04-04-2007, 05:33 PM
David Morehouse named new Penguins' president

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Penguins announced Wednesday that David Morehouse has been named the team's new president.

Morehouse, 46, a native of Beechview, was a key figure in helping the team secure funding for its new arena, said to open in 2009.

He will represent the team in redevelopment of the Mellon Arena site, governmental affairs and corporate relations.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_501129.html

I'm guessing the reason this decision was made is because of the new "responsibilities" coming in the near future dealing with the arena.

For what it's worth, this guy got his name while at Washington and being involved in the Clinton administration. I guess that doesn't come as a real shocker judging that Ron Burkle is involved.

X-Terminator
04-04-2007, 11:16 PM
Pens' playoff matchup could be set

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, April 5, 2007

With two games left in the regular season, the math behind the Penguins' playoff positioning isn't difficult to compute.

In order to win the Atlantic Division, the Penguins must win their final two games, beginning tonight against the Ottawa Senators. And the New Jersey Devils, who will clinch the division with their next point, have to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers tonight and the New York Islanders on Sunday.

The odds aren't in the Penguins' favor.

Still, that doesn't mean they're not holding out hope.

"It might be tough to do, but crazier things have happened," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said.

Heading into tonight's game, the Penguins are in second place in the division and fifth in the Eastern Conference with 101 points. They are three points behind the division-leading Devils and two behind the fourth-place Senators, and they would lose to both teams in the wins tiebreaker.

If the Penguins do manage to pull ahead of the Devils, they'll finish second in the conference and open with home-ice advantage against the seventh-place team, which currently is the New York Rangers, the Penguins' regular-season finale opponent.

A loss tonight would guarantee the Penguins will open against the Senators in Ottawa, possibly next Wednesday. The Senators have to win one of their final two games in order to clinch fourth place.

Even though tonight's game looks like a playoff preview for the Penguins, assistant coach Mike Yeo said the team isn't looking at it that way.

"It's not something we want to focus on right now. We'll have time to prepare for the playoffs," Yeo said. "When you're getting close to the playoffs, you want to be at the top of your game, and (Tuesday) night that obviously wasn't the case. So, we want to rebound from that. That's one reason we want to play well (today), and the other reason is because we still feel we have a chance to move up in the standings. We're not going to settle for where we're at, and we're not satisfied with where we're at. We want to keep trying to improve on it."

The Penguins will try to stop a two-game losing streak. While none of the players are panicking, forward Colby Armstrong said the objective over the final two games is to be playing as well as possible heading into the playoffs.

"You can't turn it on like a switch," Armstrong said. "We have to get back to doing the little things right and just get our focus back and not worry about everything that's coming up here. It's pretty exciting around town, but we have to focus and do our job."

Although the Penguins beat the Senators in a shootout in each of their previous two meetings, they have not beaten them in regulation this season. The teams first met Nov. 10, a 6-3 loss for the Penguins at home.

"This is a big one," Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said. "We need this one, obviously, to keep our hopes for home ice, so we need to make sure we have a better game than we did (Tuesday)."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501204.html

X-Terminator
04-04-2007, 11:17 PM
Penguins Notebook: Whitney expects to be in lineup at Ottawa

Thursday, April 05, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney was confident he will return to the lineup tonight at Ottawa.

"I feel better. I'm still hoping to play [tonight]. I'm sure it will be fine," Whitney said yesterday after practice.

He missed his first game of the season Tuesday, a 4-1 loss against Buffalo, because of a groin injury. He said he felt better Tuesday than he did Monday, and the injury had improved again by yesterday.

Whitney is tied for sixth among NHL defensemen with 58 points.

Assistant coach Mike Yeo was a little more cautious.

"He's still day-to-day, but he obviously felt better," Yeo said. "He looked good on the ice and he felt good."

Without Whitney's breakout passes, the Penguins' scoring chances were limited, and the team was 0 for 8 on the power play with winger Mark Recchi subbing for Whitney at the left point.

"It was tough missing that game. It's good to be back. Hopefully, I won't miss another one for a while," said Whitney, who dismissed the idea that the outcome would have been altered had he played.

"We've had plenty of bad games when I was in this year. I don't think I would have made much of a difference [on power play]."

Feud on back burner

The previous time the Penguins and Ottawa met, the head coaches feuded during and after the first period of the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory March 18 at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins' Michel Therrien was upset that the Senators' Bryan Murray spoke to Sidney Crosby from the bench. Murray apparently thought the star center embellished on what was called an interference penalty against Ottawa center Mike Comrie.

Therrien, who said at the time that he didn't accept opposing coaches talking to his players, wasn't available for interviews yesterday, but Crosby said, for his part, all is forgiven, and he doesn't think there will be any carryover tonight.

"I don't expect anything," Crosby said. "I'm not worried about it. I forget things easily."

Slap shots

Crosby's All-Star jersey is among 38 that are being auctioned through www.nhl.com and www.nhlpa.com. The new Rbk Edge jerseys worn in the first period of the All-Star Game in Dallas were reserved for the sale, which ends at 9 p.m. April 18 and benefits Hockey Fights Cancer. ... Crosby took a shot off of his foot Tuesday against Buffalo, but he practiced yesterday and said it was only a bruise. ... Ottawa winger Patrick Eaves, like Whitney, could return tonight from a groin injury.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07095/775334-61.stm

X-Terminator
04-04-2007, 11:22 PM
Stakes will be high in Ottawa tonight; playoff seeding on line

Thursday, April 05, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins play each team from the Northeast Conference four times. That means they could have played their final game against Ottawa in, say, December or January, with a game tonight against any of the other 28 clubs in the NHL.

As things turned out, the team jetted to Ottawa yesterday afternoon after practicing at Mellon Arena for what could be the most important game of many of the young Penguins players' short careers.

"It's weird," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said of the fluke in the schedule.

The game against the Senators is a likely preview of the first-round playoff matchup between the fourth and fifth seeds in the Eastern Conference that will start next week. It also could determine which team will have the home-ice advantage.

If Ottawa wins, it will clinch home ice with 105 points. If the Penguins win in regulation, they will tie the Senators with 103 points but would lose the tiebreaker and would need to earn at least one more point than Ottawa Saturday when the Penguins finish the regular season at home against the New York Rangers and the Senators close things out at Boston.

A win also could keep the Penguins barely alive in their quest to overtake New Jersey for the Atlantic Division title. The Devils, who have 104 points and the tiebreaker advantage over the Penguins, can clinch first place in the division -- and the second seed in the East -- with a win or overtime/shootout loss tonight in Philadelphia regardless of what the Penguins do in Ottawa.

The Penguins are well aware of the scenarios.

"We take it one day at a time, but we still look at the standings," center Maxime Talbot said. "We hope we can still catch New Jersey if we win both games, but we know the probability of playing Ottawa."

No team behind the top five in the Eastern Conference standings can overtake the Penguins, so their only possible move is up -- and that will be dashed with a loss tonight.

"It's a big one," said center and NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby, a second-year player who has not played in many games as a pro with playoff positioning at stake because the Penguins were far off the pace last season.

"We need this one to keep our hopes for home ice. We have to make sure that we have a better game than [Tuesday]."

That night, the Penguins had a subpar performance in a 4-1 loss to Buffalo, the top team in the Eastern Conference.

"When you get close to the playoffs, you want to be at the top of your game, and, obviously, [Tuesday] that wasn't the case, so we want to rebound from that," Penguins assistant Mike Yeo said.

"We also want to play well because we feel we still have a chance of moving up in the standings. We're not going to settle for where we're at."

Even with wins in their final two games, it appears likely that the Penguins will face Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs, beginning Wednesday or next Thursday.

"I think it's fun," Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "Everybody will be really intense. It's a good preview for the playoffs.

"If we can give them a good challenge, then they will know we can play them hard next week."

Overlooking the home-ice implications, the game could be something like a play-in or practice round before the teams square off next week.

"It's going to be huge," Talbot said. "Whatever happens, it will leave a message because we're probably going to play them in the playoffs.

"We can show them that we're ready and that we can beat them."

Bragging rights are one thing, but the game won't necessarily be a blueprint for what might transpire in a seven-game postseason series.

A lot of aspects -- intensity, tempo, defensive pressure -- can change when teams reach the playoffs.

"[It] changes for sure, but having said that, you're still going to play that team next week, so you want to play well," Ottawa leading scorer Dany Heatley told the Ottawa Citizen.

Crosby, who with 117 points has an eight-point lead over San Jose's Joe Thornton, can pretty well wrap up the NHL scoring title with a point or three. He's hoping for an equally good showing by his team these last few days of the regular season.

"It's just important that we finish strong," Crosby said. "If that gives us home ice, we'll take it. But we want to finish strong."


Scouting Report

Matchup: Penguins at Ottawa Senators, 7:38 p.m. today, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario.

TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Ray Emery for Senators.

Penguins: Are 4-1-1 in past six games. ... Are 2-1 vs. Ottawa, with both wins in shootouts. ... Their 243 goals against are the most of any team that had clinched a playoff berth through yesterday.

Senators: Are 8-1-1 in past 10 home games, 7-1-2 in past 10 games overall. ... Through yesterday, they were tied for NHL lead with 17 short-handed goals and were first with nine short-handed goals at home. ... Dany Heatley needs two goals to become first in league to get 50 in back-to-back seasons since Pavel Bure in 2000-01.

Hidden stat: Ottawa is 2-6 in shootouts; the Penguins are 10-6.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07095/775335-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 06:14 PM
Laraque is the healthy scratch tonight. Petro is taking his place. Whitney is a go.

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 06:52 PM
Pens get a PP chance and blow it. Sens get a PP chance and cash in. 1-0 Sens. Directly after the goal Colby Armstrong takes one stupid penalty. Completely bulled over Emery. Stupid move.

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 07:10 PM
The Geico Caveman ties it up on the PP (surprise, surprise).

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 07:11 PM
Gary Roberts makes it 2-1 with the PP goal. 2-1 Pens after one.

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 07:48 PM
2-2 tie after two.

I still find it completely idiotic that this team has Christensen on the 4th line. You have players like Recchi who's production is horrible and Ouellet who can't score five on five if his life depended on it and you have Christensen who scored two goals in the Montreal meeting and then you throw him on the 4th line. But I guess it's pretty obvious. One's a veteran and the other is Therrien's love child. Good luck trying to get him to score on that line.

Then you bench Laraque (in an expected physical meeting) instead of Ruutu or Recchi. Now you throw Christensen on the 4th line again. It's bad enough we broke up Malkin and Staal (Malkin's game lately is showing the effect of that move).

It's great we are looking better against the Sens tonight, but some of the line decisions are very suspect in my opinion.

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 09:10 PM
PP coming up for the Pens with a 1:43 remaining in the 3rd.

Let's Go Pens!!!!!

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 09:12 PM
And Malkin just took a STUPID penalty. Dumb. He got a little roughed up and he threw a punch.

83-Steelers-43
04-05-2007, 09:13 PM
PENGUINS SCORE MAXIME TALBOT WITH 9.8 SECONDS IN THE GAME!!!!!

UNSUNG HERO

Definately happy we did not go into OT with a 4 on 3 PK. Not fun. Great game by Fleury. He stepped up and made the big saves when he had to, something you need and should expect from your playoff goalie. Good game. IMO, a few changes in the lines and we are set.

Bring on the Ranger.

HometownGal
04-05-2007, 09:18 PM
WOW - what a game! :cheers: The Cardiac Kids strike again! :banana:

P.S. Josef Melichar SUCKS. That is all.

HometownGal
04-05-2007, 10:12 PM
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribunereview/news/breaking/s_501415.html

Penguins beat Ottawa on late goal

OTTAWA - Maxime Talbot scored with 9.8 seconds remaining to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over Ottawa on Thursday night and preserve an opportunity to claim home-ice advantage in their first-round playoff matchup against the Senators.
Talbot put a shot past Ray Emery into the top of the net during a 4-on-4 situation in the dying moments of the third, moving Pittsburgh into a tie with Ottawa for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 103 points.

Maxim Ouellet and Gary Roberts both scored power-play goals during a five-minute elbowing major against Ottawa's Jason Spezza in the first.

Spezza scored his 32nd on a power-play 7:59 in and assisted on Dany Heatley's 49th goal in the second.

Pittsburgh, which had lost consecutive games (0-1-1), will finish second in the Atlantic. The Penguins host the New York Rangers on Saturday, and will face the Senators when the playoffs begin next week.

Ottawa, which lost 2-1 in a shootout in New Jersey on Tuesday, finishes its schedule Saturday in Boston.

Each of the game's first four goals were scored on the power play, including Spezza's goal which opened the scoring.

Heatley, who ended a five-game goals streak Tuesday, tied it at 2 with his sixth goal in six games 4:11 into the second.

With a team-record 50 goals last season, Heatley has an opportunity to become the first NHL player to score at least 50 goals in consecutive seasons since Florida's Pavel Bure in 2000-01.

The playoffs may be a week away, yet the bad blood between the teams began in the opening period.

Spezza was given a roughing minor in addition to his elbowing major 10:07 into the first after he drove his right forearm into Jarkko Ruutu's head as the Penguins' forward skated back towards him when the two exchanged words in the Senators' zone.

Ruutu lay on the ice and returned to his bench after he was attended to by a trainer, but his stay was short-lived as he was called for charging on the play.

At that point there were eight players in the penalty box -- four from each team -- after Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong ran into Emery, touching off a scrum that led to offsetting roughing minors and misconducts and left Ottawa with a man advantage with Armstrong penalized for goaltender interference.

Notes: Bure, a five-time 50-goal scorer, beat his own Florida record with 59 goals in 2000-01 after he set the previous mark of 58 in 1999-2000, his first full season with the Panthers. ... Senators D Tom Preissing left with a groin injury and did not return. ... The announced attendance was a sellout of 20,064.

X-Terminator
04-05-2007, 11:19 PM
NHL product highly entertaining

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, April 6, 2007

It's easy to lose track of some critical points when you're busily ripping the NHL for everything from lousy television ratings to excessive violence to pea-brained decision-making in regard to all-star rosters, suspensions, etc.

I should know.

I've spent plenty of time and newsprint lambasting the league for all the above and more.

But the critical points are these:

? The NHL product is worlds better than it was before the lockout of 2004-05, even if scoring is slightly down this season.

? The playoffs again will be wildly, ridiculously entertaining, as they were last season.

The worst thing about the old NHL -- say, from the mid-1990s through the pre-lockout season of 2003-04 -- was the way a 1-0 lead felt more like 10-0. It still does when you're playing the New Jersey Devils, but even the Devils have lost five games in which they scored first and three in which they led after two periods.

It took about five seconds of watching games last season to see the radical difference in quality of play compared to 2003-04.

Suddenly, players could skate unimpeded through the neutral zone, with or without the puck. They could drive to the net and forecheck at full speed, too. The elimination of the red line made home-run passes possible, and 12 percent of all games were decided by a wonderful new institution called a shootout.

Scoring shot up 18 percent, the largest jump in 75 years.

You had to give the NHL immense credit for devising ways to liven up the product -- save it, actually -- during a lockout year that nearly killed it. The change was nothing short of revolutionary.

A different game emerged, one with a premium on skating and skill. Small, athletic players who couldn't play in the old league thrived in the new one. No-talent hacks nearly disappeared.

Of all the statistics that reflected the change, none was more profound than this: There were 39 comeback victories in the 2006 playoffs, compared to just 21 in 2004.

What's more, the number or comeback victories from two or more goals down tripled, from two in 2004 to six last season, the most since 1998. Nobody should expect this year's Stanley Cup tournament to be any less entertaining.

Consider the Penguins' games from the past three months. About every other one, it seems, has been played at breakneck speed, replete with ferocious hitting, memorable goals and improbable comebacks on both sides.

It will only get better in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, overall scoring in the NHL was down this season, from 6.2 goals per game to 5.9, according to the league's statistician, Benny Ercolani, while even-strength scoring was slightly up.

Power-play opportunities have decreased, from 11.7 per game last season to 9.7, which tells you one of two things: Either the players adjusted to the rules crackdown and committed fewer infractions, or the officials eased up a bit and allowed some of the interference to creep back into the game.

Could be a bit of both, but let's not be too harsh on the officials.

We might lose track of the more critical points.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501376.html

X-Terminator
04-05-2007, 11:20 PM
Notebook: Pens' Crosby has Senators' votes for MVP

Friday, April 6, 2007

? With only one game left in the Penguins' season, Sidney Crosby would certainly have his teammates' votes for NHL MVP. He'd have at least a few of the Ottawa Senators players' votes, too. "I'd have to say Sid," Senators defenseman Wade Redden said when asked who his choice would be. "Crosby's been pretty impressive." Crosby will have competition from goaltenders Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, as well as San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, but Redden said others on his team would agree that Crosby is the MVP. "Yeah, there'd be quite a few I think, for sure," he said. "I guess it's all in the eye of the chooser, but it'll be interesting to see who's going to get that."

? The Senators' power play was ranked 14th in the NHL (17.6 percent) going into last night's game but they were only 4 for 45 (8.9 percent) in their last 10 games. "They have a lot of dangerous players over there and they can bite you at any time," defenseman Mark Eaton said of the Senators' tough luck on the advantage of late. "Hopefully it's something that lasts a little longer. But we can only worry about what we do and prepare accordingly." The Senators were still 7-1-2 in the last 10 games despite the poor power-play performance.

? The Penguins made winger Georges Laraque a healthy scratch last night for the first time since he joined the team at the trade deadline. Winger Ronald Petrovicky, who hadn't played since March 14 against the New Jersey Devils, took his place in the lineup. The Penguins also scratched defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski and Alain Nasreddine and forwards Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman.

Digits

5 - Games in a row in which the Penguins have allowed the first goal, including last night.

2 - Number of teams in the NHL that have scored more goals than the Penguins this season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501401.html

SteelCityMan786
04-05-2007, 11:30 PM
HOW BOUT DEM' PENS! 1 more game, LET'S WIN IT!

LET'S GO PENS! Finish off 2006-2007 Regular Season Strong.

X-Terminator
04-05-2007, 11:54 PM
WOW - what a game! :cheers: The Cardiac Kids strike again! :banana:

P.S. Josef Melichar SUCKS. That is all.

Thank God the game went longer than I anticipated, and I was able to see that game winning goal by Max! This win is big not just because it gives them a chance to gain home-ice advantage, but it shows that even if they don't get home-ice, they know they can win in Ottawa in a high-stakes game.

Good job, guys! :cheers:

As for Melichar, I hope he's on the first bus out of town at season's end. I can already see him costing us a few goals and possibly a series because of his horrible play. He completely sucks - a cardboard cut-out of Paul Coffey could do a better job than him.

83-Steelers-43
04-06-2007, 09:37 AM
Maxime Talbot's 9.8 second game winner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB0OcDclIIk

You gotta love it. How beautiful is that? Suck on that Bryan Murray.

The one aspect in the NHL come playoff time I'm not crazy about is when it comes to a Penguins/Senators situation I think it should come down to team against team meetings. We beat them three times this year and they beat us once. We should get home ice. Just a suggestion/preference.

Eitherway, I think it's pretty obvious that we are in Emery's head. As long as Fleury stands tall and consistent and our ST's play well we can take these guys down in the first round. It all comes down to goaltending and ST's in my opinion.

83-Steelers-43
04-06-2007, 10:22 AM
Spezza was given a roughing minor in addition to his elbowing major 10:07 into the first after he drove his right forearm into Jarkko Ruutu's head as the Penguins' forward skated back towards him when the two exchanged words in the Senators' zone.

"He's just trying to agitate," Spezza said. "That's his job and it worked tonight, but it won't work in the playoffs."

Uh-huh. He will be dumb enough to do it come playoff time. He's a hot head who can't handle the Ruutu joker smile. All in time Spezza......all in time.

SteelCityMan786
04-06-2007, 11:58 AM
Spezza was given a roughing minor in addition to his elbowing major 10:07 into the first after he drove his right forearm into Jarkko Ruutu's head as the Penguins' forward skated back towards him when the two exchanged words in the Senators' zone.

"He's just trying to agitate," Spezza said. "That's his job and it worked tonight, but it won't work in the playoffs."

Uh-huh. He will be dumb enough to do it come playoff time. He's a hot head who can't handle the Ruutu joker smile. All in time Spezza......all in time.

Spezza will get ejected in at least 1 playoff game.

83-Steelers-43
04-06-2007, 12:20 PM
Spezza will get ejected in at least 1 playoff game.

It's sad though, if you believe Mike Millbury we could have had him on our team. During the Jagr trade Millbury was willing to trade Spezza for Jagr. If that was the case you might as well mark that one down as another bonehead move by Craig Patrick. Instead he traded one of the best players in the game for three players who brought absolutely nothing to this organization.

While Spezza seems to be a hothead, he did have a goal last night and made some unbelievable plays. He also has 32 goals, 53 points, is a +17, shoots right and is only 23 years old. I would love to have him on this team.

Anyways, here's to hoping we can bait him again come playoff time. :cheers:

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 12:41 PM
No stall in Jordan Staal's ascent

Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Senior Writer
Apr 6, 2007, 12:00 PM EDT


By his own admission, Jordan Staal tries to learn something from every person with whom he comes into contact.

So is it really any surprise that Staal has been as dominant as he has been this season as an 18-year-old revelation for the Pittsburgh Penguins? After all, Jordan Staal has been around his brother Eric for his entire life. You know, the Eric Staal that scored 100 points for the Carolina Hurricanes last season and then played an instrumental role in leading that franchise to its first Stanley Cup this past spring.

It seems logical that Jordan would pick up a few pointers through that relationship, right? Especially with the opportunity for Jordan to watch some Stanley Cup Final games in person.

?It probably helped me to work a little harder in the summer,? says Jordan, who was drafted second overall by the Penguins less than a week after Eric first raised the Stanley Cup over his head. ?But, it?s hard for me to say it helped me get where I am today. Watching Eric, I knew that I could do it myself. It just kind of gave me that confidence.?

That?s exactly what it did, says Henry Staal, the father of both Eric and Jordan.

Oh yes, before we forget, there are two other hockey-playing Staals in this picture. Marc was a first-round pick of the New York Rangers, now finishing his career in the Ontario Hockey League. Jared, meanwhile, is in his first year of OHL play and will be eligible for the 2009 Entry Draft.

So, Henry Staal, knows a little about this hockey-playing business. Therefore, when he speaks about Jordan?s quick maturation, there should be some weight placed behind his words.

?They are brothers and they play against and with each other in the summer, so they?ve skated with each other for years,? Henry says of the dynamic between Jordan and Eric. ?So I think a part of it was Jordan thought; ?Well, OK, Eric got 100 points last year, surely I can play in the NHL.? Surely, if anything, it helped him a little bit, gave him a little more confidence that he would be able to play in the League.?

That confidence has certainly gone a long way this season.

First, it helped Staal shock virtually everyone -- including his father -- by making the Pittsburgh club out of training camp.

?I think even making the team was a bonus as far as we were concerned, and, maybe even as far as Jordan was concerned,? Henry admits. ?We never really though he was going to make it this year; or that the plans would be for him to stay there this year.?

Those weren?t likely the plans of the organization when the season started. Sure, the Penguins might have planned to let Jordan break camp with the team, but, no doubt, he was to be returned to junior before the 10-game deadline for junior players. But Jordan wasn?t returned after the first few weeks of the season. He played his way into a permanent spot earning the trust of the coaching staff to merit a regular shift on the checking line.

?They definitely let him make it on his merit and they gave him the opportunity, too,? says Henry. ?He took advantage of it. I think Pittsburgh did a great job with him that way. I think they set him up to succeed. They let him play power play, penalty kill; let him log a lot of ice and it went from there.?

And very quickly, Jordan Staal started feeling at home. After a few games, he was no longer awed by the NHL and began just concentrating on playing the game he first learned on the home-made rink in his backyard back in Thunder Bay.

Still, he admits to be pleasantly surprised at how fast success has come for him.

?Even when I got on the team, I wasn?t playing a whole lot and it was a fight for ice time," Jordan said. "It was really just getting an opportunity and capitalizing on it. I?ve been lucky to get the chances I have, but overall I?m pretty impressed with what I have done and I?ll definitely take it.?

What?s not to take?

Through 79 games, he has 29 goals, including a rookie-record seven shorthanded tallies. He leads all rookies in plus/minus rating (plus-17) and has become one of the most-feared penalty killers in the game. Coach Michel Therrien trusts Staal implicitly; throwing the rookie over the boards routinely in the last minute of one-goal games. Staal has emerged as a dark-horse candidate for the Calder Trophy, as the League?s best rookie.

Plus, his team has been the Cinderella story of the season, going from last place last season to a place among the top five teams in the Eastern Conference this season. As a result, the Penguins will make their first playoff appearance since 2001.

Such lofty goals were impossible for Staal to imagine at the start of the season. He was just trying to survive the toughest hockey test of his young life. He played sparingly in his first two home games and then, as the Pens departed on their first road trip of the season, the light switch went off in Staal?s head.

Game No. 3 of the season came at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Staal opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at the ?World?s Most Famous Arena.? It was then that Staal knew he belonged in ?The Show.?

?After I scored that first goal I felt pretty comfortable,? Staal says. ?In Juniors, my first year, it took me 29 games to get my first goal. In the NHL, I think it was my third or fourth game before I scored and I just realized I could skate with these guys and I could pass with these guys. It really built my confidence from there and it hasn?t really tapered off.?

Of course, it was fitting that Staal?s first NHL goal was of the shorthanded variety. His ability to score on the penalty kill has been the hallmark of his brilliant campaign. His seven shorthanded goals is not only a rookie record, but also lead?s the League this season. To put Staal?s shorthanded prowess in perspective, the other 200 rookies to dress for at least one game this season have combined for a total of five shorthanded goals.

Every place he has gone this year, he has impressed with his aggressiveness in shorthanded situations. His Pittsburgh teammates have watched the show from Day 1 and remain gobsmacked.

?His reach is unbelievable,? teammate Michel Ouellet says. ?When he?s in a battle for the puck, he just uses his body and he has that reach and he wins the puck and he can score like no one else. Penalty kill, power play, 5-on-5, he?s doing all the little things.

?I think he reads the play so well and, like I said, his stick is that long and his arms are so long and he can block some passes and he gets so many chances.?

For now, Staal has happily made his NHL bones with his penalty-killing acumen, but he hopes that will soon change. Staal believes he can be an impact offensive player in any situation and is eager for the opportunity to prove it, according to his dad.

?He loves (penalty killing), but for him it was a good way to get ice and he did it,? Henry says. ?I think if that is all he was doing, I think he would be disappointed. But, he?s 18. I told him, ?You?re getting on the ice, don?t worry.?

?He still mentions it a little bit: ?I?d love to get on the power play.? But, I tell him, ?You can?t play your regular shift, play the penalty kill and play on the power play. (Sidney) Crosby doesn?t even do that.? Like most kids, he still wants to be that offensive guy, but he?s certainly created some offense off the penalty kill.?

With offensive-minded professors like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to feed the penchant for hockey learning first developed by watching his brother, Eric, it should not be long before Staal absorbs enough lessons to climb to the head of the class in the offense department.

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=298646

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 11:12 PM
I wonder how much more this is going to cost us, HTG? Does it really matter?

Penguins raise price of season tickets

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Penguins have become the NHL's "it" team, and now it will cost fans more to see them play at Mellon Arena.

The team will raise ticket prices for the 2007-08 campaign -- the first across-the-board increase since 2002.

For full-season ticket holders, the average single ticket price will increase by $9.38. The additional cost to half-season ticket holders will be $10.75 per game.

"It's just a revenue reality," Penguins vice president of communications Tom McMillan said. "Over the past five years, we have tried to keep those prices down... we knew the product we were putting on the ice wasn't up to par.


"Now, though, we want to keep this team together and get it better. Our fans want us to do that. (Raising ticket prices) will help."

Over the past five years, the Penguins have twice reduced costs of season tickets. However, with NHL clubs taking in much of their revenue from ticket sales, the Penguins said they had to raise prices faced with the likelihood of increased payroll after the entry-level contracts of stars such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal expire over the next few seasons.

For example, the salaries of Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury likely will substantially increase when their contracts expire after next season.

According to Team Marketing Report, the average NHL ticket this season cost $43.13. The Penguins' average ticket was $36.61 -- fifth cheapest in the league.

Even with an across-the-board increase for next season, McMillan said Penguins tickets will not rate near the league average.

"When you are that close to the bottom of the league-average, we just need to bring (prices) up," McMillan said. "We know that the fans want us to be in the market for free agents this summer and that we have some very skilled players that will become free agents shortly. We want to give (general manager) Ray (Shero) an opportunity to increase the payroll, and this (increase) is part of that."

The Penguins are taking $200 deposits for 2007-08 season tickets.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501532.html

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 11:13 PM
Pens know they'll play Senators, but where and when still up in air

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, April 6, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Penguins know they'll be playing the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That much was decided when the New Jersey Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers to clinch the Atlantic Division on Thursday night.

Now all that remains to be worked out is whether the series will start and possibly end at Mellon Arena or Scotiabank Place, site of the Penguins' 3-2 win over the Senators last night to also win the season series, 3-1.

"It's pretty fitting, I think," Sidney Crosby said of it coming down to the 82nd and final game of the season. "It's been like that the whole second half. It's been a battle for a lot of teams. We gave ourselves a chance at least."

In order for the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series to open in Pittsburgh, the Penguins (46-24-11,103 points) will have to beat the New York Rangers on Saturday at home and the Senators (47-25-9, 103 points) will have to lose to the Bruins in Boston.

Otherwise, the series will open in Ottawa, most likely on Wednesday.

Had the Penguins lost last night's game, home ice would have gone to the Senators.

The game came down to the final 10 seconds of regulation when Maxime Talbot scored during 4-on-4 play after he inadvertently blocked Ryan Whitney's shot but got the puck himself and scored to break open a tie game.

It was the only goal for either team scored at even strength.

"(Colby Armstrong) made a great play," Talbot said. "When he's going behind the net like that you know he's going to do something good because he's a warrior, he wants the puck and he's going to do whatever he can to make the right play. He gave the puck to Whitney and I got the puck right in the (groin). It really hurt, but I had a chance to take a shot at it."

Michel Ouellet and Gary Roberts scored the Penguins' other two goals while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves for his 39th win of the season. Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley scored for the Senators.

Although both teams yesterday morning downplayed the importance of sending a message to the other team, it didn't take long for last night's game to get nasty.

A minute after Spezza scored at 7:59 of the first period for a 1-0 Senators lead, Armstrong ran into Senators goalie Ray Emery, who made 24 saves last night.

That got the referee's arm in the air and garnered some attention from two Senators players, at which point Crosby jumped in for some shoving and then Roberts, Whitney and the rest of the players on the ice all came together.

Whitney and Senators defenseman Anton Volchenkov got 10-minute misconducts and roughing penalties went to Roberts and Chris Neil, plus the original goaltender interference penalty to Armstrong put the Senators on the power play.

While on the advantage, Ruutu took a run at Spezza behind the net and missed but still got called for charging.

He also irked Spezza in the process.

Ruutu, who'd been skating away, turned to face Spezza, and Spezza elbowed him in the face and ended up with a five-minute elbowing penalty and a two-minute roughing to Ruutu's two-minute charging penalty.

The Penguins scored twice in 55 seconds on the ensuing long power play.

Ouellet scored his 19th of the season to tie it at 14:05 on a wrist shot from the slot and at 15:00 Roberts also scored his 19th of the season on a rebound off defenseman Josef Melichar's shot.

Ruutu wouldn't say what words were exchanged between him and Spezza that led to the elbowing.

"I don't know, ask him," Ruutu said. "I got a penalty for trying to hit a guy and missing, and he retaliated and took an extra one. ... It has a lot to do with discipline. You can't take stupid penalties or it's going to cost you."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501415.html

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 11:14 PM
Penguins-Senators playoff rivalry began in minors

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, April 7, 2007

Next week, the Penguins and Ottawa Senators will meet in the postseason for the first time. For players who've come through both teams' American Hockey League affiliates, the playoff rivalry will be nothing new.

When the teams met in 2005, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins erased a 2-0 deficit to beat the Binghamton Senators, 4-2, in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Many players from that series will be on the ice next week when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.

"Oh, yeah, the year of the lockout we had a great series against them," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "That was a big series for us. They were one of the best teams in the league all year, and it was tough, but we were lucky enough to play well, and I wouldn't expect anything less facing them in the first round this year."

The Penguins-Senators first-round series was solidified Thursday night when the New Jersey Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Atlantic Division title.

Home ice remains up for grabs, and the Penguins can secure that tonight in their regular-season finale against the New York Rangers. The Penguins can clinch home ice with a win and a Senators loss in Boston. If they lose in overtime, the Penguins still could get home ice if the Senators lose in regulation to the Bruins.

Eight players each from the Penguins and Senators were involved in that AHL playoff series that ended the Senators' season two years ago.

"It's going to bring back a lot of memories from that series, I'm sure," said Penguins assistant Mike Yeo, who along with head coach Michel Therrien was behind the bench for the AHL Penguins at the time. "One thing that was the same then as we have now is we had a lot of character, and the guys played with a lot of pride."

Because of the NHL lockout of 2004-05, a number of young players who normally would have been in the NHL wound up back in the AHL. The Binghamton Senators had several such players, including Jason Spezza, Anton Volchenkov and Chris Neil.

They lost only 21 times in regulation that season. Led by AHL MVP Spezza, who had a league-high 117 points, the Senators won the East Division with a league-high 276 goals scored.

In Game 1 against the Penguins, who finished fourth in the East Division, they scored five goals on 29 shots in a 5-2 victory.

"First game wasn't too good, and I don't think I played after that, so it wasn't so good for me," Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "I think it will be good to have a rematch, for me and the team."

Therrien started goaltender Andy Chiodo instead of Fleury in Game 2, but the Penguins lost again, 4-2.

But Game 3 was in Wilkes-Barre, and the Penguins weren't going to lose on home ice that easily.

The Senators scored first, the Penguins went ahead, 2-1, then the Senators scored again late in the second, and regulation ended in a tie.

In the third overtime, Colby Armstrong scored to win it, and the Penguins didn't lose another game, outscoring the Senators, 10-5, to win the series in six games.

"We had a tough series against them," Spezza said. "We got up 2-0, and then we blew it. It wasn't the way we wanted to go, but I think a lot of us learned a lot from that series, even more than last year (in the NHL playoffs). They shut us down, played real defensive, we got frustrated and by the time we tried to wake up in Game 6, the series was over. It's not how we wanted to go, but we learned a lot from it, I think."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501531.html

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 11:17 PM
If this wasn't such an important game, I'd say the Pens should rest Whitney...but with so much at stake, they can't afford to. I just hope that he gives that groin enough rest between tonight and the start of their playoff series. We cannot afford to have any major injuries to any key players.

Pens' Whitney sits out practice

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, April 7, 2007

Defenseman Ryan Whitney did not practice Friday. Instead, he rested an injured groin he described as "a bit sore" Thursday following a win at Ottawa. Whitney suffered the injury late during a March 30 game in Toronto.

"It hurt a little bit when I pivoted, but other than that, it felt fine," Whitney said of how the impact of game-action played on his injury. "I can play in the games, but I'm just trying to be cautious and safe so that I can play in the games."

Among defenseman, Whitney ranks second on the Penguins and sixth in the league with 59 points.

? Right wing Mark Recchi and left wing Gary Roberts were also excused from practice. With the Penguins scheduled to play the New York Rangers today at Mellon Arena, coach Michel Therrien took advantage of an opportunity to rest his two most veteran players.

? Following its latest loss to the Penguins, Ottawa's third in four games against them this season, Senators' goaltender Ray Emery said, "I don't like that team much right now."

Penguins' right wing Colby Armstrong said he was unsure how to respond to Emery's statement.

"That's probably normal," Armstrong said. "Obviously, they're going to hate us."

Armstrong smiled when it was suggested that the Penguins might be in the heads of Emery and the Senators.

"I hope so," Armstrong said. "That's part of hockey, especially in the playoffs."

? Rookie center Jordan Staal has not scored since March 24 -- a season-worst six-game span. He is sitting on 29 goals, with only a game against the Rangers remaining in the regular season.

"It's in the back of my mind," Staal said of the 30-goal plateau. "That's probably not a good thing."

With the playoffs opening next week, Staal is counting on his slump's end coinciding with the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"The goals will mean a lot more next week," Staal said. "If I'm going to get hot, now is the time to do it."

Digits

7 - Sidney Crosby's lead over San Jose's Joe Thornton in the NHL scoring race, with each player's club having one game remaining

29 - Goals scored by Carolina's Eric Staal, the older brother of Penguins' rookie Jordan Staal

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501533.html

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 11:26 PM
I omitted the part of this story that pertains to the ticket price increase, since there is already another in-depth story posted. As for "squeegee-gate," that's typical New York Rangers there - no class whatsoever. Yeah, I'll show how tough I am by swatting at and spitting on an Ice Girl! :rofl: Friggin pantywaists - I hope they get their asses kicked in the first round again this year.

Penguins Notebook

Saturday, April 07, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rangers on a roll

The New York Rangers, who visit Mellon Arena tonight as they and the Penguins close out the regular season, clinched a playoff spot this week.

Until the past several weeks, the Rangers didn't look like strong candidates to make the playoffs. They lingered around 11th or 12th place in the Eastern Conference into March.

However, since the last week of February, the Rangers used a 13-2-4 stretch run to climb to their current spot of sixth in the conference.

"We had a tough time the first 40, 50 games," Rangers leading scorer Jaromir Jagr told reporters after he had a goal and an assist in Thursday's playoff-clinching, 3-1 win against Montreal. "Not many people thought we could do it after the All-Star . It was tough. We had to win a lot of games to make it."
[B]
No squeegee-gate here

The last time the New York Rangers played a road game, a 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday at the New York Islanders, there was an incident some are calling squeegee-gate.

The Islanders employ Ice Girls who, wearing midriff-showing outfits, skate onto the ice during some stoppages to shovel and remove excess ice shavings. Tuesday, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allegedly swatted an Ice Girl's long-handled squeegee as she attempted to clean up Lundqvist's crease. Another Rangers player might have spit on an Islander Ice Girl's back.

The Islanders were hoping for an apology, but NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell told Canadian network TSN the case is closed.

It's not likely there will be a repeat of that tonight when the Rangers visit Mellon Arena. The people who clean up ice shavings during stoppages for the Penguins don't wear skates or expose their bellybuttons like Islander Ice Girls. They are men who are union arena employees who take care of all aspects of the ice-making operation.

"Our guys are guys who could lay a beating on people," Penguins winger Colby Armstrong said.

Slap shots

Penguins veteran wingers Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts were given the day off from skating at practice. ... Defenseman Ryan Whitney also skipped practice, although he is expected to be able to play tonight. He missed Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Buffalo because of a right groin injury but played Thursday in a 3-2 win at Ottawa. ... The Penguins will announce their team awards tonight. ... Jagr, a former Penguins player, this week became just the second NHL player to score at least 30 goals in 15 consecutive seasons. The other was Hall of Fame player Mike Gartner.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07097/775919-61.stm

X-Terminator
04-06-2007, 11:33 PM
A lot at stake in Penguins' finale

Saturday, April 07, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If there had been a designated word of the day at Mellon Arena yesterday, it no doubt would have been "Ottawa."

Rehashing the Penguins' last-minute, 3-2 victory against the Senators on the road Thursday and revving up for a rematch of those teams next week in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs were the hot topics.

Seemingly all but forgotten was the Penguins' final game of the regular season tonight at home against the New York Rangers.

"We know," Penguins winger Colby Armstrong said after practice, promising that the team won't overlook tonight's game.

"And the Rangers are playing great hockey right now. We want to finish on a good note going into the playoffs and I'm sure they do, too, so I'm sure it's going to be a hard-fought game. We want to have as much momentum and as many wins and as good a feeling as we can going into the playoffs."

The Penguins can't do anything to change their first-round opponent, which will be Ottawa, but they have a chance at earning home-ice advantage in that series. They will need to get more points against the Rangers than Boston, which is out of the playoffs, does against the visiting Senators in a game that starts 30 minutes before the Penguins'.

That means the Penguins must win or lose in overtime/shootout with an Ottawa loss in regulation, or win with an Ottawa loss in overtime/shootout.

The Penguins and Ottawa each have 103 points, but the Senators hold the first tiebreaker of more victories.

"It's sort of unfortunate that we don't get to control our own destiny [for home ice], but we have to do our part to have a chance," Penguins forward Erik Christensen said. "We feel that's an important advantage."

That's a strong motivation, and not the only one, for the Penguins.

"I don't think we're overlooking the next game at all," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "We have an opportunity to get home ice, and that's important. We want to finish off strong, make sure we're ready."

If nothing was riding on tonight's game, Penguins coach Michel Therrien might have been tempted to rest or reduce the ice time for some players and give some of the lightly used skaters a shot.

In anticipation of every game carrying playoff implications, Therrien instead got players such as Nils Ekman, Ronald Petrovicky and Alain Nasreddine into games down the stretch.

"We spotted some guys through the course of the last month to make sure that some guys are sharp," Therrien said. "We wanted to make sure that if we need a player [during the playoffs], they're going to be ready."

The Rangers have something on the line, too. They will clinch sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a win, meaning they would play the Southeast Conference champion, Atlanta or Tampa Bay, in the first round and avoid a rematch with New Jersey, which swept the Rangers in the opening round a year ago.

"You look at situations. It's nice that we're not fighting for a playoff spot, but there are other things on the line -- positioning, home ice," Armstrong said.

As a team and individually, there are several milestones and round numbers the Penguins can aim for tonight:

-- With a win, they will finish with a 47-point improvement over last season's 58 points, the fourth-best turnaround in league history.

-- Crosby can wrap up his spot as the league's youngest scoring champion. He has 118 points, seven more than San Jose's Joe Thornton, who has one game left. Crosby also can top off a sophomore season that has made him a leading candidate for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

-- Sergei Gonchar can try to win the scoring race among defensemen. With 66 points, he was two behind leader Scott Niedermayer of Anaehim going into last night's games.

-- Forward Evgeni Malkin, who leads all rookies with 33 goals and 85 points, can make a final case for the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year.

-- Forward Jordan Staal can remain on top of the league in shorthanded goals (seven) and shooting percent (22.7) and make a final case for upsetting Malkin in the Calder Trophy race.

-- Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury can collect his 40th win.

-- If Michel Ouellet (19) and Gary Roberts (19) get a goal and Erik Christensen (18) gets two, the Penguins will finish with seven 20-goal players. They already are assured of eight players with at least 15.

Those are several reasons for the Penguins to blot Ottawa from their minds for a day.

"We have a great group of guys here," Armstrong said. "We just have to focus on this last game and play well going into the playoffs."


Scouting Report


Matchup: Penguins vs. New York Rangers, 7:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist for Rangers.

Penguins: Are 5-1-1 in past seven games. ... Are 4-1-2 vs. Rangers with four games decided in overtime or shootout. ... Are 19-9-3 vs. Atlantic Division.

Rangers: Are 8-1-1 in past 10 games. ... Jaromir Jagr has four goals in past four games. ... Are 17-5-6 since Sean Avery joined the team Feb. 6.

Hidden stat: Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of the past 16 games.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07097/775920-61.stm

83-Steelers-43
04-07-2007, 08:48 AM
Penguins raise price of season tickets


To be expected. We have a good season, we are going to have to pay our former #1 picks. So I gotta pay up. If that means putting a productive product on the ice then so be it. I'm more than happy to do so. As least I know I'm getting my money's worth.

Now can I pick which games I want to attend? That's all this long time season ticket holder is asking. :wink02:

83-Steelers-43
04-07-2007, 08:56 AM
"It hurt a little bit when I pivoted, but other than that, it felt fine," Whitney said of how the impact of game-action played on his injury. "I can play in the games, but I'm just trying to be cautious and safe so that I can play in the games."

Here's to hoping he doesn't tweak it in the game today. Sorry Ryan, I'd rather see you sit this one out. It's better than you taking the chance of injuring it even further and missing a good number of games during the playoffs.

One game or the reason you have played these last 81 games? Weigh that one out. I'd rather see you completely healed and healthy for the time of year when it matters most.

83-Steelers-43
04-07-2007, 04:30 PM
The Islanders employ Ice Girls who, wearing midriff-showing outfits, skate onto the ice during some stoppages to shovel and remove excess ice shavings. Tuesday, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allegedly swatted an Ice Girl's long-handled squeegee as she attempted to clean up Lundqvist's crease. Another Rangers player might have spit on an Islander Ice Girl's back.

I'm still trying to figure out why in the hell they have cheerleaders employed to do that type of job in the first place. They should stick to shooting t-shirts to the fans and dancing while the organizations stick to ice maintenance crews in order to clean the creases.

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:07 PM
Penguins plow into playoffs

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Penguins ended the regular season the way they wanted, beating the New York Rangers, 2-1, Saturday night at Mellon Arena.

However, the outcome had no bearing on their quest for home ice in the playoffs.

The Ottawa Senators, the Penguins' first-round opponent, had to lose to the Boston Bruins and the Penguins had to get at least one point in order for the series to begin in Pittsburgh. The Senators won, 6-3.

The Penguins will open the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series in Ottawa, most likely on Wednesday.

"It (home ice advantage) would have been nice to have, but you know what? It was important for us to play a solid game, and we were solid," coach Michel Therrien said. "I'm optimistic, there's no doubt. I like what I see from our team."

The Penguins finish the season 47-24-11 with 105 points and in second place in the Atlantic Division. The 47-point improvement over last year's total of 58 points is the fourth-largest turnaround in NHL history.

They are only the sixth team in the history of the league to have improved 40 points or more from one season to the next.

Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi scored power-play goals for the Penguins, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for his 40th win of the season.

"We took care of what we had to," Roberts said. "Obviously, we would have liked to have had home ice, but at this point we have to get ready to go to Ottawa. I think everyone's just excited about what's to come."

After a scoreless first period, the Penguins started the second with 1:21 left on a penalty to Rangers winger Brad Isbister and scored to make it 1-0, when Roberts got just enough on a rebound off Sergei Gonchar's shot to slip the puck under Henrik Lundqvist.

It was Roberts' 20th goal, making it his 13th 20-goal season in the NHL and his first since scoring 28 goals in 72 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003-04.

Gonchar tied a career high with the assist for his 67th point of the season. He finished the season as the second-leading scorer among all NHL defensemen, trailing Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer by only two points.

"Based off the way we played at the end of last year, I expected some improvement, to contend for the playoffs," Gonchar said. "But an improvement this great -- never, never."

Crosby, who had the NHL scoring title clinched before the game even started, had two assists and finished the season with 120 points.

The Rangers, who were looking to finish in sixth place in the East, made it 2-1 early in the third period when Petr Prucha scored on a rebound off Ryan Callahan's shot, and things got interesting in the final five minutes after Jarkko Ruutu took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to put the Rangers on the power play.

But Fleury stopped both shots he faced, including a big glove save on Jaromir Jagr, to hold the lead.

Last night was the Penguins' 30th sellout of the season, tied for fourth-most in club history and the most since selling out 30 games in 1992-93.

They will at least two playoff games at Mellon Arena and possibly a third, while the Senators could have up to four home games.

"The goal at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs. Then, all of a sudden, we were fighting for home ice the entire second half," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "That shows how far we have come. ... To win the Cup, that's the goal."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501710.html

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:14 PM
Dave Molinari on the Penguins: A weekly look inside the team, the issues and the questions

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Penguins gotta have Hart, but as far as the other postseason awards

The NHL's regular season ends tonight, which means voting for most of the league's individual awards will begin tomorrow. A look at the trophy races in which a Penguin -- or two -- might be involved:

Hart: Winning the NHL scoring race and leading the Penguins into the playoffs for the first time since 2001 should be enough to get Sidney Crosby the first of quite a few Hart trophies. Goalies Martin Brodeur of New Jersey and Roberto Luongo of Vancouver have done remarkable things for their clubs, and Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier has had a stellar season, but Crosby is the new standard for excellence in this game.

Calder: Top rookie ... Evgeni Malkin will be the top scorer among first-year players and has produced the most breathtaking highlights of this season's rookies, which makes him a pretty safe bet to finish ahead of Paul Stastny (Colorado), Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles) and teammate Jordan Staal.

Adams: Best coach ... Michel Therrien deserves much of the credit for the Penguins' surge from the second-worst record in the league to one of the best in the Eastern Conference and would be a worthy recipient of this honor. The catch is, so would any number of other coaches, including Alain Vigneault (Vancouver), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim), Barry Trotz (Nashville) and Mike Bab**** (Detroit).

Norris: Top defenseman ... Sergei Gonchar will get some support, especially among voters who note how high he'll finish in the scoring race among defensemen, but he isn't likely to be a major factor in the competition. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom is the front-runner (gee, who'd have guessed?) and Scott Niedermayer of Anaheim will have plenty of backers, too.

Selke: Top defensive forward ... Staal won't win it -- Mike Fisher of Ottawa looks like the early favorite -- but he should show up on at least a few ballots, and that's a remarkable feat for an 18-year-old. Staal's ability to score while short-handed has been remarkable, and his hockey sense serves him well all over the ice. There might be a few Selkes, and perhaps some other trophies, in his future.


Burkle is not Mario, but is that such a bad thing?

In a lot of ways, Ron Burkle never could begin to compare to Mario Lemieux. He'll never score 13 short-handed goals in a season, and he'll finish a good 1,723 points behind Lemieux in career scoring. He'll never win a Hart Trophy, let alone three, and there's not a Conn Smythe in his future, either.

For that matter, odds are Burkle won't make it into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At least not unless he buys it, which might not be out of the question for a guy with his financial resources.

Which might be the most important reason why, if Burkle eventually buys out Lemieux and becomes the Penguins' dominant owner, it could be a major plus for the franchise.

Just how likely that is to happen remains unclear, although there was a growing sense, inside the organization and out, before the arena deal was finalized that such a move was coming.

Certainly, Burkle has taken more of an interest in the team -- new team president David Morehouse has strong ties to him -- and if that translates to an increased willingness to spend money, it could have a profound impact on how the Penguins do business.

That would be the case even if Burkle remains in his current niche but decides he's willing to risk losing a few million dollars in an effort to upgrade his club. Something like that hardly is out of the question because, while Lemieux is a wealthy man by almost any standard, Burkle is an extremely wealthy man, by every standard.

Some rich people collect large tracts of real estate; Burkle has the wherewithal to collect small countries. And not-so-small countries.

He can't use his personal fortune to routinely overpay players, whether they already belong to the Penguins or are free agents, because of the NHL salary cap, which was crafted to keep clubs in places such as Pittsburgh competitive with those based in larger cities.

Burkle could, however, pump money into perks that might attract free agents and, more important, increase the amount the Penguins spend to identify and develop talent, which could be a significant competitive advantage in the salary-cap era.

While large-market teams -- and clubs with deep-pockets owners -- no longer can stockpile quality players the way they did under previous collective bargaining agreements, nothing prevents them from putting their resources into things like scouting and their minor-league system.

Having a steady supply of NHL-caliber talent from inside the organization would help to hold down player costs and, in the case of the Penguins, could give general manager Ray Shero the latitude to keep his nucleus of exceptional players intact while reinforcing parts of his depth chart with free-agent signings.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07098/776222-61.stm

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:19 PM
Somebody really needs to give Brian Murray a :binky:. I've never seen a coach who whines so damn much! Hey Brian - how about worrying about your own team for a change, hmmm? And as for Jagr...if you loved the playoffs so much, how come you sucked so often in them? So many non-existent playoff series...maybe if you'd have done more when the game's on the line and you have the puck, we could have won another Cup.

Penguins Notebook: Staal shares rookie award with Malkin

Sunday, April 08, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Perhaps, the biggest suspense surrounding the Penguins' annual pregame team awards ceremony last night before their regular-season finale against the New York Rangers was the rookie of the year.

Would it be Russian forward Evgeni Malkin, the front-runner to win the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL, or 18-year-old forward Jordan Staal, who has surpassed all expectations? The answer was politically correct -- they shared the award.

Other awards:

-- Center Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL in scoring, was named team most valuable player and given the A.T. Caggiano Memorial Booster Club Cup.

-- Veteran winger Mark Recchi won the player's player award and the Edward J. DeBartolo Award for community service.

-- Defenseman Alain Nasreddine, who has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, was named the team's nominee for the comeback player Masterton Award.

-- The whole team shared the Baz Bastein Memorial Good Guy Award.

Murray upset again

Last month, Ottawa coach Bryan Murray took exception with Penguins center Sidney Crosby for, at least in Murray's mind, embellishing to draw a penalty. Last week, Murray thought it was Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu who took a bit of a dive.

In the Penguins' 3-2 win Thursday, Ruutu hit Senators center Jason Spezza, who retaliated. Spezza got two-minute roughing and five-minute elbowing penalties.

"I thought he exaggerated it -- he got the big smile on his face afterward -- but he got the call," Murray told the Ottawa Sun.

The Penguins and Senators meet in the first round of the playoffs this week.

Ignorance is bliss

Rangers leading scorer Jaromir Jagr was a rookie with the Penguins when they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 1990-91. The significance of each game and series was a little lost on the Czech winger then.

"When I was younger, when I was like those kids [with Penguins now], I was homesick," Jagr said. "I wanted to go home. I was so mad the season went so long."

Then he grinned.

"I'm kidding, but you know what I mean," he said.

He thinks many of the young and inexperienced Penguins will be as blissfully unaware as he was, and that's in their favor.

"You don't feel any pressure," he said. "That's their advantage. You just go play hockey. You don't think about what's going to happen if you lose."

Back in 1990-91, Jagr didn't get the nuances of playing differently in the playoffs.

"I had the puck, and everybody would scream, 'Dump it in.' I'd bring it back. I didn't care if I would lose the puck. Then, when you're older, you understand why they're screaming because the game was on the line. But, when you're young, you don't think about that."

Jagr savors playoffs

Jagr has come to love the playoffs, so he has thrived in recent weeks as the Rangers' games took on a postseason feel with the team scrambling to make up ground and clinch a playoff berth.

"I always liked playoff hockey with the game on the line, and it means something," he said. "This year was good for us because every game meant something to us -- you lose, you're out. It's like 20 extra playoff games."

Slap shots

Penguins tough guy Georges Laraque was back in the lineup after being scratched Thursday. The Penguins' scratches were defensemen Joel Kwiatkowski and Alain Nasreddine and forwards Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman. ... Rangers scratches were defensemen Karel Rachunek and Jason Strudwick and forwards Colton Orr and Marcel Hossa. ... Jagr on getting his 30th goal Thursday to make it 15 seasons in a row with at least that many: "It was close this year, but I got it."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07098/776223-61.stm

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:32 PM
It's all gravy for Pens

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Picture the Penguins' playoff series against the Ottawa Senators as a 200-yard dash.

Now, picture the Senators crouched at the starting line in winter clothes, each man tethered to a half-ton boulder.

Picture the Penguins standing there in gym shorts and tank tops, eagerly awaiting the pistol.

There couldn't be a matchup pitting teams of more dissimilar emotional mind-sets.

Ottawa has to win. If it doesn't make a lengthy run, heads could roll. A 10th consecutive postseason plunge will go over about as well in that city as a scoreboard tribute to Alexander Daigle (the guy the Senators took with the first pick in 1993, just before Hartford took Chris Pronger).

The Penguins badly want to win and would no doubt spit at the notion their season is a success no matter what, but that's the truth: It's all gravy from here.

The players aren't thinking that, of course. Nor should they. The fans aren't thinking that, either. They'd be disappointed if the season ends with anything less than a Stanley Cup, but the pain would ease soon enough because the promise is so great.

Look at what has transpired already. This team made a one-year improvement nearly unmatched in NHL history and is headed for its first playoff appearance since 2001 with one of the more imposing collections of young talent the league has ever seen.

Meanwhile, the franchise satisfied its seven-year quest for a new arena, securing the team's future here.

That's a pretty good season.

Paradoxically, the lack of pressure might be exactly what propels the Penguins past the tortured Senators and deep into the playoffs.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, a quick recap of a regular season worth remembering. The Penguins handed out their awards Saturday, before playing the New York Rangers.

A few of ours:

I'll Show You Award: Maxime Talbot. Cut in training camp, Talbot returned Oct. 24 and played like the Tasmanian Devil on every shift thereafter.

Rented Mule Award: Erik Christensen. The Penguins' turnaround coincided with their improved performance in shootouts. Christensen led the way, degrading goaltenders regularly.

I Need (Bleepin') Goals Award: Michel Therrien yelled those words - with a different word for "bleepin'" - during a practice Dec. 8 in Atlanta. The Penguins hadn't scored more than three goals in their previous eight games. They scored 24 in the next four.

Underrated Player: Michel Ouellet. All he did was finish fourth among the team's forwards in scoring.

Biggest Surprise: Jordan Staal.

Biggest Break: Evgeni Malkin's shoulder injury in camp could have been a season-wrecker. Instead, it allowed Staal to show his stuff - and Malkin missed only four games.

Fathers Know Best Award: Therrien. The January surge began when GM Ray Shero invited the players' fathers on a road trip. Therrien played Ronald Petrovicky and Jocelyn Thibault against Phoenix specifically because their fathers had traveled to see them. Petrovicky scored his first goal of the season in an 8-2 win.

The Three Best Goals (Feel free to drop a line if you disagree, and, yes, we remember Sidney Crosby's preposterous backhander against Phoenix):

3. Cirque du Salei. Crosby crashes through Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Ruslan Salei and scores as he's falling to the ice.

2. Whiteout. Evgeni Malkin splits Devils D-men Brad Lukowich and Colin White, and, as Lukowich slashes him to pieces, fools Martin Brodeur with a Lemieux-like move, forehand-to-backhand.

1. Lightning struck. Sliding full-speed on his side, Crosby tips a Mark Recchi pass into the net against Tampa Bay. He later tells FSN Pittsburgh it was his best goal of the year.

Who could argue?

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501707.html

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:37 PM
Personally, I don't see them winning the Cup...or getting out of the first round, for that matter. The Pens simply don't have enough experience, and let's be honest - Fleury is a big question mark. They'll give the Sens all they can handle, but in the end, they will be bounced.

Feel free to throw darts at me with extreme prejudice :wink02:

Experts mixed on Penguins' chances

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 8, 2007

They're in it, but can they win it?

The Penguins are back in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2001, and while many of the experts contacted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review believe the team could stick around for awhile, only one predicts a championship parade in Pittsburgh.

That would be Michael Russo, who covers the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey News and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Bill Clement, studio host for Versus and NBC and a two-time Stanley Cup winner as a player, won't echo Russo's prediction -- but he won't be shocked if it comes true, either.

"Let me just put it this way: If the Edmonton Oilers can get to the final (as they did last season), the Penguins surely can, and if they can get that far, why can't they win it?" said Clement, who played on a pair of Cup-winning Philadelphia Flyers teams in the mid-1970's. "The league is so upside down, and parity so widespread, you just don't know. At this stage, anything is possible, including the Penguins winning it."

Most see the Penguins surviving a round or two before inexperience and a questionable defense catch up to them. The biggest factor working in their favor - besides having the best player in the world in Sidney Crosby - is the wide-open field.

There is no great team.

"This is my 24th year as a hockey professional, and this is probably the hardest I've seen it, in terms of predicting outcomes of series," said Pierre McGuire, an assistant coach on the Penguins' Stanley Cup-winning team of 1991 and an analyst for Versus and TSN, which is Canada's version of ESPN. "Anybody that's in the postseason can win this year. It's like the lottery: If you're in it, you have a chance."

Clement calls the Penguins' defense their "Achilles heel." McGuire predicts it will be sorely tested, as might other as-yet-undetected weaknesses.

"You just don't know how they will do under fire every other night against teams game-planning against them," McGuire said. "Coaches have three days, maybe more, of using intensive scouting reports, and can pinpoint weaknesses within the opposition's group. The best teams can, anyway. We'll see how the Penguins' defense handles it. That'll tell the difference."

More than half the team's roster has never appeared in a playoff game, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing if you ask the Penguins' elder statesman, 40-year-old winger Gary Roberts. He won a Stanley Cup at age 23, with the 1989 Calgary Flames.

"They say sometimes it's better not knowing what it feels like," Roberts said. "Hopefully, that's the case for our team."

Crosby can't wait to get started.

"That's why you play," he said, "to get this opportunity."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff doesn't believe inexperience is a dream-crusher. He said his team was younger last season than the Penguins are this season, and the Sabres came within a game of making the Stanley Cup final.

"The Penguins have a lot of confidence with a dangerous offense and a defensive system that is capable of shutting other teams down," Ruff said. "With the way they've played the last 30 games, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them go far."

The farther they get, the older they'll get. That's the way Clement sees it. Whether they're old enough to grow a playoff beard or not, players tend to age in a hurry when they're working in such a pressure-packed atmosphere. It happened last year with the Oilers and with several members of the Stanley Cup-champion Carolina Hurricanes, most notably 22-year-old goaltender Cam Ward.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury - whom Clement calls "the most underrated goalie in the league" - also is 22 as he embarks on his first playoff trek.

"A lot of the Penguins don't have a mental blueprint of what's it like, based on history," Clement said. "Guys like Roberts and Mark Recchi can really help them, but you can tell somebody how to hit a golf ball, too. At some point, they have to take a swing at it themselves.

"But, if you win a round and a second round, there's an accelerated maturation process. I've seen it year after year. Players all of a sudden turn into different people, different players. If they get there, they won't be as young as they are now."

Can they get there, to the Stanley Cup final?

Not according to most of the following NHL writers from around North America, all of whom were asked the following question: Where will the Penguins' season end - in the first round, the second round, the Eastern Conference final, the Stanley Cup final or at a championship parade in Pittsburgh?

A sampling of responses, with a comment from each:

? Ken Campbell, The Hockey News: First round. Great teams have to learn how to win by losing first, and even though Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be great, the Penguins will be handed that painful lesson this spring.

? Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: Second round. They'll probably need to have their own 'Oiler moment,' as Gretzky's team did against the Isles, before turning the corner.

? Mike Brophy, The Hockey News: Eastern final. If the goaltending is strong, they will win two rounds.

? Tim Panaccio, Philadelphia Inquirer: Eastern final. They can beat any team but the Devils.

? Brian Biggane, Palm Beach Post: First round. Wish it could be otherwise, because they're so much fun to watch.

? Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal: Second round. They'll knock off the Sens in round one, but will run into the Sabres in the second round, and their Cinderella ride ends.

? John Glennon, Nashville Tennessean: Eastern final: Youth and adrenaline will propel them through two rounds.

? Mike Brehm, USA Today: Second round. They have the offense to get through one round, but they'll find it harder to rally in the playoffs.

? Tim Graham, Buffalo News: Second round: Fleury won't be able to keep them out slower than Crosby & Co. can put them in.

? Michael Russo, Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Stanley Cup parade. Sid the Kid captures Conn Smythe to go along with his Hart Trophy.

? John Dellapina, New York Daily News: First round. Since the NHL would get a gigantic lift out of Sidney & Co. going all the way -- or at least all the way to an Eastern Conference showdown with the Rangers -- they'll undoubtedly get bounced out in the first round. While this will serve as a valuable lesson for the young Pens, it will doom the best playoffs in sports to another year of under-coverage.

? Ted Kulfan, Detroit News: Second round. This is a dangerous team that nobody will want to face early in the playoffs. The Penguins will fall in round two.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501677.html

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:39 PM
Penguins' playoff experience

By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Tournament tested

Many of the players on the Penguins' roster have never experienced a championship, be it junior, minor-league, international, college or NHL play. A list of championship teams Penguins players and coaches have been a part of:

PLAYERS


Colby Armstrong - Red Deer (WHL), 2002

Erik Christensen - None

Sidney Crosby - Canada World Junior, 2005; Rimouski (QMJHL), 2005

Mark Eaton - None

Nils Ekman - None

Marc-Andre Fleury - None

Sergei Gonchar - Moscow Dynamo, 1994

Joel Kwiatkowski - None

Georges Laraque - Granby (QMJHL), 1996

Evgeni Malkin - None

Ryan Malone - None

Josef Melichar - None

Alain Nasreddine - Chicoutimi (QMJHL), 1994

Brooks Orpik - Boston College (NCAA), 2001

Michel Ouellet - Rimouski (QMJHL), 2000

Ronald Petrovicky - None

Mark Recchi - Carolina (NHL), 2006; Penguins (NHL), 1991; Canada World Junior, 1988

Gary Roberts - Calgary (NHL), 1989

Jarkko Ruutu - None

Rob Scuderi - Boston College (NCAA), 2001

Jordan Staal - Peterborough (OHL), 2006

Maxime Talbot - Hull (QMJHL), 2003; Gatineau (QMJHL), 2004

Chris Thorburn - None

Ryan Whitney - None


COACHES


Michel Therrien - Granby (QMJHL) 1996; Sherbrooke (AHL) 1985*

Andre Savard - Quebec (QMJHL), 1971*, 1973*

Mike Yeo - Houston (IHL), 1999*

Gilles Meloche - None


KEY

*--Won as a player
AHL - American (pro) Hockey League
IHL--International Hockey League
QMJHL - Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
OHL - Ontario (junior) Hockey League
WHL - Western (junior) Hockey League
Moscow Dynamo - Russian Elite League

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_501686.html

X-Terminator
04-07-2007, 11:41 PM
Hockey 101 -- A User's Guide to the Playoffs

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 8, 2007

This is a fairly sophisticated hockey market, but it's also an event town - and the Penguins making the playoffs is an event.

Which means the bandwagon can expect several latecomers, including folks who might not know a hockey puck from a horsefly.

If you're one of them, relax, says Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton. There's room enough for everyone.

"Obviously, I'm biased, but I think it's the best game in the world," Eaton said. "It has speed, great skill, physical contact. Any fan can associate with it. I'd say, 'Give it a chance; watch a couple of games.'"

Eaton played in Nashville, where the original Predators fan base knew much more about Garth Brooks than, say, Herb Brooks or Garth Snow.

They learned fast.

"My first year, they'd cheer when there was a goal, whether it was us or the opposing team," Eaton said. "Through the years, they'd learn when to cheer, when to oooh and aaah and when to get rowdy. The two playoff series I was a part of there, they were unbelievable. It was one of the best atmospheres I've ever been a part of."

If you're a novice, here are 20 terms you'll be hearing often:

Backcheck: When a team races back to play defense.

Biscuit: A funny term for the puck. Penguins television analyst Bob Errey likes this one - and he'll refer to a hockey stick as a "twig."

Breakout: A team's strategy for carrying the puck out of its zone.

Change on the fly: Coaches often switch lines as the play is ongoing. Each line consists of three players (left wing, center, right wing). The two-man defense units are switched, as well, but not as often.

Cycling: When a team keeps the puck deep in the opposing team's zone.

Desperation: It's the most popular hockey phrase this time of year, as in, "We're not playing with enough desperation," or "We have to match their desperation."

Dump-and-chase: When a team shoots the puck into the opposing team's zone and goes after it, as opposed to trying to carry the puck in. It's often the best strategy, because it avoids costly turnovers at the opposing team's blue line.

Five-hole: This is the opening between the goalie's pads. Shooters aim for it often.

Hockey gods: You'll hear announcers refer to these guys, who have worked for the Penguins (think of Mario Lemieux whacking a bouncing puck past Dominik Hasek to force Game 7 against Buffalo in 2001) and against them (ask somebody about David Volek).

Minor penalty: An infraction that results in a two-minute stint in the penalty box (or until the other team scores).

Major penalty: A serious infraction (example: fighting) worth at least five minutes in the penalty box.

Neutral zone: The area between the blue lines.

Odd-man rush: When the team with the puck is attacking with more men than the opposition has in front of them, whether it be a 3-on-2, a 2-on-1 or such.

One-timer: When a shooter strikes a moving pass toward the goaltender, instead of corralling the puck first.

Penalty shot: Certain penalties result in a player being awarded an unimpeded breakaway from center ice.

Pulling the goalie: A team that is losing late in a game may replace the goalie with a position player, leaving an empty net for the opposition to shoot at.

Screen: When a player stands directly in front of the goaltender in order to impede his vision. Penguins winger Gary Roberts specializes in this.

Shorthanded: The team with a player in the penalty box is playing shorthanded, and attempts to "kill the penalty."

Sudden-death overtime: If a game is tied at the end of regulation, the next goal wins. Teams will play as many 20-minute periods as necessary until a goal occurs. That meant five overtimes for the Penguins and Flyers in the 2000 playoffs. It was 2:30 a.m. when the Flyers won it.

Power play: When a penalty is called, the guilty player goes to the penalty box. The other team thus has a man advantage until it scores or until the penalty - usually two minutes long - expires.


Most common causes for stoppage:

Offside: No player may cross the blue line (the one nearest the goal they're shooting at) before the puck. If he does, the whistle blows and a faceoff occurs in the neutral zone. The one exception is the player actually carrying the puck may precede it past the blue line.

Icing: When a player shoots the puck from behind the red line, past the opposing goal line, and a player from the opposite team touches it first. Play is stopped for a faceoff in the zone of the team that committed the infraction.

Frozen puck: The puck's always pretty cold, but the goalie can "freeze" it by covering it for a few seconds, forcing a faceoff. Players also may "freeze" the puck by using their stick, body or skate to pin it against the boards. Who calls the penalties?

There are four officials on the ice. Two of them are referees, and they call most of the penalties. They're the guys with orange armbands. The other two are linesmen. They don't wear armbands, and they call icing and offside and drop the puck on faceoffs. They also call other penalties, such as too many men on the ice, and break up fights.


No-no's

1. It's a two-minute penalty (minor) if the goaltender plays the puck outside of the trapezoid area behind the net, or if ...

2. A player in the defensive zone shoots the puck cleanly over the glass, even if by accident.

3. A goalie freezes the puck without an opposing player near him.

4. A player continues to play with a broken stick.

5. A player dives in an effort to get the referee to call a penalty.


Three other no-no's

1. A goal is disallowed if a player kicks the puck or bats it into the net with his hand.

2. If a player uses his glove to cover the puck in the crease, or fouls a player from behind on a breakaway - resulting in the player not being able to release a shot -- the other team gets a penalty shot.

3. A player can bat a puck out of mid-air with his stick, but if his stick is above the height of the crossbar, the goal is disallowed.

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