Penguins Notebook: No. 1 line copes with 'slump'
Friday, February 16, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins have not lost in 14 games, and that's with their top line a little out of sorts since late last month.
Center and NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby has not scored a goal in the eight games since the Penguins returned from their trip to Dallas and Phoenix. It is the longest drought of his career, although it has been tempered by six assists in those games.
Right winger Mark Recchi has two goals, three assists in the past eight games and no points in five of them.
Left winger Ryan Malone has one goal and one assist in the same span.
"Some games [earlier], we played really well and got everyone going," Malone said yesterday before the Penguins left for New Jersey and a game tonight against the Devils. "We were doing the little things and the right things, and we were all on the same page."
Late in the past two games, Malone was replaced on the top line by Erik Christensen and Evgeni Malkin. Malone took responsibility for the dip in production on the top line.
"Now, it feels like I zig when I should zag," he said.
"That's just how it goes sometimes. You've just got to work hard and almost try to simplify the game -- just put the pucks on the net and play smart with the puck -- and, usually, it turns around. Right now, the important thing is that the team's winning. Hopefully, we can get our line going."
Brodeur keeps raising bar
At 35-15-5, New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is on pace to reach 50 wins this season, giving him a chance to break the NHL record of 47 set by Philadelphia's Bernie Parent in 1973-74.
"I care a lot about this," he told The Record of Bergen County after beating Montreal, 5-2, Wednesday night.
"It shows a lot of consistency in my game. Again the team wins, but I'm the one getting the win in my column. First, it's 30 and now 35 and, hopefully, later on I can get to 40."
The new and proud father
Penguins defenseman Alain Nasreddine, who missed the game Wednesday night, returned to practice and passed out cigars to his teammates, but skipped the trip to New Jersey.
"It's really nice of them to let me stay home," said Nasreddine, whose wife, Josiane, gave birth to 8-pound, 6-ounce Alec at 7:33 a.m. Wednesday.
Nasreddine said he had no problem getting to the hospital in the early morning during the winter storm that hit Pittsburgh.
"I have a big truck, and no one else was on the roads because of the weather," he said.
Tickets going fast
The Penguins had their 18th sellout crowd this season Wednesday night at Mellon Arena. It was their 11th in the past 13 home games. There were an estimated 1,651 no-shows because of poor weather and road conditions.
There are about 1,000 or fewer tickets available for eight of the 12 remaining home games in the regular season.
The games with more ticket availability are March 13 against Buffalo, March 18 against Ottawa, March 25 against Boston and April 3 against Buffalo.
Recchi and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, the two most-experienced players on the team, were given the day off from practice. Gonchar played in his 800th NHL game Wednesday in a 5-4 shootout win against Chicago. ... Penguins coach Michel Therrien on officials failing to see or call six Chicago skaters on the ice just before the Blackhawks scored their fourth goal: "They told us they were right. They're always right. Sometimes coaches are wrong. Sometimes players make mistakes. But those guys are right. That's the way it is."