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Old 02-06-2007, 07:21 AM   #901
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Penguins Notebook: Eaton holds no ill will against Nashville
Tuesday, February 06, 2007

By Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Nashville general manager David Poile declined to get in a bidding war when defenseman Mark Eaton became a free agent last summer and likely has not second-guessed his decision much. After all, the Predators have a league-high 77 points, so losing Eaton obviously didn't sabotage their season.

Conversely, the Penguins are 12-4 in the 16 full games in which Eaton has appeared, so signing him might have been the most significant move Ray Shero has made in his first year as general manager.

Eaton's personal statistics -- no goals, two assists and a plus-minus rating of minus-1 -- are nothing special, but his impact on the Penguins' work in their own end has been dramatic. He also has played a major role in upgrading their penalty-killing and gives Sergei Gonchar a partner who allows him to take full advantage of his offensive talents.

Although Eaton broke into the NHL with Philadelphia, he was with the Predators for six seasons. And while he isn't surprised by Nashville's success -- "They have a lot of top-notch players," he said -- he insists he holds no grudge that the team didn't have a place for him in its plans.

"Not at all," Eaton said. "I was a free agent. They made up their minds. There are no hard feelings at all. I'm happy here, and we're having fun."


Traveling man


Defenseman Noah Welch is wearing ruts in the route between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre. He has bounced between the NHL team and its top minor-league club. He was demoted again yesterday -- his sixth trip between the two cities this season --after being called up for the weekend as insurance but scratched in both games.

"We do that in case we have someone that's banged up and a little bit," Shero said of Welch, who doesn't have to clear waivers when being called up or down.

"We talked to him before the season, and he knows what his role is. He's kind of the guy who goes up and down a lot this year. He's fine with that."


A new style


It looks a little odd when Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu walks around the players' lounge in the pants he wears under his uniform. One leg is full length, one is shorts length.

"Let's make it a style," he said, jokingly.

Actually, there's a perfectly practical reason for the alteration.

Ruutu wears a brace on his left knee when he skates, and the form-fitting pants don't work with the brace.

"I've been wearing it a few years," Ruutu said of the brace. "I blew my [medial collateral ligament] a couple of times and it's still loose, so that's why I wear it. It's just to support it. It doesn't bother me at all."


In demand


The popularity of Penguins top scorers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can be seen in prices brought for their game-worn sweaters in a league-wide auction to benefit the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation.

Some other jerseys are still available in the NHL and NHL Players Association online auction, which runs in six overlapping two-week cycles, but so far Crosby's has brought the high price of $12,131.

Malkin's raised $7,520. Washington's Alex Ovechkin's sold for $6,020.01.

Auctions for the Penguins, Colorado, Edmonton, Nashville and Ottawa closed last week and fetched $89,463.58. Overall, the auction has raised $170,000 through about its midpoint.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07037/759762-61.stm
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:31 AM   #902
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Shero to be on Team USA's management advisory board: http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=2755428
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Old 02-06-2007, 09:05 PM   #903
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PREDS GO DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4-1! 11 Straight games of POINTS!!! LET'S GO PENS!
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:50 PM   #904
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Whoo that was a good game!
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:38 AM   #905
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Very impressive win by the Pens tonight - I honestly thought it wasn't a good matchup at all for them, particularly defensively. I thought the Preds would skate all around them, but I was happily proven wrong! Everyone stepped up and played solid team defense, and matched Nashville stride for stride. Our D may not be as mobile as Nashville's, but they've shown that they aren't slouches, getting to loose pucks all night and playing good, positional defense while not taking a lot of penalties. Fleury was solid again in goal; Crosby, Staal and Malkin were great again and the ageless Mark Recchi had another good game. This might be their most impressive effort of the season - they pretty much dominated the top team in the league from start to finish.

Next up are our favorite whipping boys, the Flyers. Let's hope the Pens don't have a letdown - the Flyers have actually been playing some decent hockey lately and should not be taken lightly.
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Old 02-07-2007, 01:39 AM   #906
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EATON'S RETURN HELPS SOLIDIFY PENGUINS DEFENSE

by Joe Sager
pittsburghpenguins.com
02/06/2007

The Pittsburgh Penguins did not sign any free agents in January or make any trades.

Yet, it sure felt like they did.

That’s because Mark Eaton returned to the lineup after a suffering a dislocated wrist in a game Nov. 4. His return bolsters a steady Penguins defense.“There’s definitely no weak links with our defensive corps,” Eaton said. “From 1-7, we’re solid and we all have confidence in one another and confidence goes a long way. So, we like where we are right now.”

Especially with No. 3 back in the lineup.

He had only played 10 full games in a Penguins sweater before he was injured 27 seconds into his 11th contest when San Jose’s Jonathan Cheechoo shoved him into the boards, causing the injury. However, his impact on Pittsburgh’s defense was huge. His shot-blocking ability and overall work in the team’s defensive zone were keys to early season improvements in the Penguins’ overall defense and penalty-killing.

Eaton made his return to the ice on Jan. 26 in Dallas.

“It was way too long. Any kind of injury is too long, but three months, especially,” he said. “So, it was tough sitting there watching your teammates go out and compete without you every night. It’s great to be back in there. Although, the first two games, I didn’t feel the way I did at the beginning of the year, but I felt better as I went, so I’m looking forward to keeping it going.”

Eaton came back in style. He was on the ice for 18:21 in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 overtime shootout win over Dallas. He logged 15:47 and was a plus-1 the next night as the Penguins wrapped up a two-game roadtrip with a 7-2 pounding of Phoenix.

“Physically, you can get yourself ready, but just timing issues and thinking the game as fast as the game happens out there, that’s something you can’t prepare for, you can only improve on through game situations,” he said.

Eaton continues to progress.

“I felt better as I went. I expect my workload to increase every game and increase to the 20- or 23-minute mark,” he said. “That’s not up to me, that’s up to the coaches, so I’ll take the workload, whatever they give me.”

That workload continues to increase. He is seeing more time on the power play and penalty kill. And, he has reunited with Sergei Gonchar on the team’s No. 1 defensive pairing.

Eaton’s play is crucial for the Penguins’ special teams success. In 69 games with Nashville a year ago, he led all Predators in blocked shots with 170 and ranked fifth on the team in average ice time (19:43). He led Nashville and ranked seventh in the league in average short-handed ice time per game (5:22) on a team that ranked fifth in the league in penalty killing success.

The Penguins’ penalty-killing units were slowly rising up the NHL rankings, while the team’s power play has been red-hot.

“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing out there,” he said. “If you can win the special teams battle, you’re going to have a pretty good chance to win the game.”

Eaton’s return to the ice came at a pivotal time, too, for the Penguins. They are locked in a tightly-contested battle for one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff berths. After Tuesday’s win over Nashville, the Penguins face a busy stretch with 29 games in 59 days to close the regular season, which averages to nearly one game every other night.

They play nine more games in 21 days this month, 17 games in 31 days in March and three games in seven days in April.

“Other than the playoffs, this is the most-exciting time of the year – the stretch run and being right in the thick of things is right where we wanted to be at the beginning of the year,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun stretch for us.”

http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/te...rts/2320.0.php
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Old 02-07-2007, 02:51 AM   #907
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Penguins Notebook: No conspiracy, says Armstrong

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Penguins winger Colby Armstrong wanted to hear nothing of conspiracy theories surrounding the sprained right knee that kept him out of the team's two weekend games.

He said the injury was real and he wasn't dodging the rematch Sunday in Montreal, where he might have been targeted after he leveled Canadiens captain Saku Koivu in the game Thursday night at Mellon Arena.

"Yeah, well, that's ridiculous," Armstrong said yesterday after the morning skate. "This is not freaking WWE wrestling. It's ridiculous."

Armstrong said there is no situation that would make him want to miss games.

"No, I never would," he said. "I didn't want to miss any of the games this weekend. They were big games."

Armstrong returned to the lineup last night against Nashville and was back in his regular spot on a line with center Maxime Talbot and Erik Christensen.

"We had an MRI done, and the MRI didn't look so good, so [sitting out two games] was just precautionary," he said. "It feels good now."



Another task for Shero

Penguins general manager Ray Shero is part of a newly formed National Team Management Advisory Group that will assist USA Hockey in the selection of men's national teams, starting with the world championships in the spring in Russia and possibly eventually including the 2010 Olympic squad.

The four-man group is comprised of NHL GMs -- Shero, David Poile of Nashville, Brian Burke of Anaheim and Don Waddell of Atlanta. Previously, one person has been in charge of filling out the roster.

"When they asked me to be involved, I was flattered," Shero said. "I'm really looking forward to being part of it and contributing. Hopefully, we'll help get USA Hockey going in a good direction."



To rest or not to rest

Armstrong wasn't the only Penguins player who showed up at Mellon Arena and skated Monday even though practice that day was canceled.

"Some came in," said coach Michel Therrien, who has a hard time getting a lot of his players to take days off.

Asked if he was one of those who skated Monday, NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby stroked his chin, looked up at the ceiling and smiled.

"Yeah, I came in," he said, adding that he donned his skates to join some teammates' children whose school was canceled because of the frigid weather.

Therrien some days takes a harder stance about players resting.

"Early in the season, we needed to be on the ice," he said. "We needed to work on different aspects. This time of the year, the guys know how to play and what's important. With so many games, we've got to manage the energy of the players."

Crosby knows his coach is right, particularly with eight of the Penguins' next 11 games on the road and a crowded slate of 17 games in March, but he also feels better if he skates every day.

"You need that rest," he said. "This is probably the toughest part we're going to see, the next couple months.

"I like to be out there, too, even if it's 15, 20 minutes. I like to go out there and feel the puck, have my skates underneath me. At the same time, I think mentally it's always good to get away for a day. That's where the coaches come in."



Sounds like a Penguins fan

Although Eastern and Western conference teams only play each other once a season, if that, Nashville coach Barry Trotz had seen the Penguins a good bit before their game last night, and not just in preparation for their lone meeting..

"They're a hard team not to watch because they have the exciting players like Crosby, [Jordan] Staal, [Evgeni] Malkin," Trotz said. "They play a very up-tempo game. They've added a lot of character.

"For years, I think Pittsburgh relied a lot on just pure skill. That doesn't get you all the way that you want to get to. I think they've got a good balance of some hard-working, hard-nosed type players, and the gifted skill guys they do have."



Slap shots

The Penguins scratched forward Chris Thorburn from the lineup last night. ... The Predators scratched defenseman Shea Weber (sore jaw) and forwards Scottie Upshall and Josef Vasicek. They also were without penalty-minutes leader Jordin Tootoo, who has a sore hip and was put on injured reserve. ... Players will serve as waiters at the Penguins at Your Service charity dinner Monday at the Omni William Penn Hotel. Contact the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 412-321-4422.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07038/760017-61.stm
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Old 02-07-2007, 07:50 AM   #908
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Quote:
Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
Very impressive win by the Pens tonight - I honestly thought it wasn't a good matchup at all for them, particularly defensively. I thought the Preds would skate all around them, but I was happily proven wrong! Everyone stepped up and played solid team defense, and matched Nashville stride for stride. Our D may not be as mobile as Nashville's, but they've shown that they aren't slouches, getting to loose pucks all night and playing good, positional defense while not taking a lot of penalties. Fleury was solid again in goal; Crosby, Staal and Malkin were great again and the ageless Mark Recchi had another good game. This might be their most impressive effort of the season - they pretty much dominated the top team in the league from start to finish.

Next up are our favorite whipping boys, the Flyers. Let's hope the Pens don't have a letdown - the Flyers have actually been playing some decent hockey lately and should not be taken lightly.
I had tix for that game but gave them to my son and his friend, as I was down at the hospital most of the day and evening. I watched a little of the game down there and got home in time to see the entire 3rd period - what a whale of a game the Pens played...again....against a pretty darned good team.

This team is playing some kick-arse hockey right now and look even stronger with every game. The remainder of the season should be quite exciting as they try to stay in position for a playoff spot. It's going to be a fun ride!
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Old 02-07-2007, 07:56 AM   #909
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Awesome game! I should be going to a game soon. Woohoo!
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Old 02-07-2007, 08:32 AM   #910
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Myron Cope: Mario, do the right thing
Money won't make you happy; emulate The Chief and keep the Pens in Pittsburgh

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I hope somebody reading this is close enough to Mario Lemieux to call it to his attention.

Mario, I've known you since your rookie season and have always found you a fine fellow, so I'm going to ask a lot of you. In these cynical times when the bottom line so often rules, it's perhaps silly to ask, but consider emulating The Chief -- the late Art Rooney Sr.

Actually, this is a follow-up to a letter I wrote that the Post-Gazette published a year ago. I wrote that The Chief, saying not a word of it publicly, rejected highly lucrative offers from five cities entreating him to move the Steelers. He loved Pittsburgh and felt the city would be greatly diminished by the loss of a big-league franchise.

I also pointed out that Art Modell suddenly moved his Cleveland Browns to Baltimore after politicians for years did nothing to renovate ancient Cleveland Stadium. I faulted Mr. Modell for not hanging in longer, but I said that the silence coming from then-Mayor Bob O'Connor, County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Gov. Ed Rendell on the matter of a new arena was shaping up as a repeat of Cleveland. I hope I'm wrong. (Mr. Rendell's Plan B, by the way, has seemed to me all along to simply muddy the waters.)

At any rate, Mario, I assume you have a great affection for Pittsburgh, or else you would not have made it your residence. Perhaps unfairly, I'm asking that you disregard bottom-line offers and keep the Pens here, simply because it's the right thing to do. Disregard our political leaders staying on the sidelines for so long. I doubt you'll ever regret doing the right thing. You'll feel good about yourself.

Some people protest the use of taxpayer money to give huge subsidies to club owners. Or they don't care about hockey. Their arguments are understandable. But, folks, the realities are that this has been the way of America for many years now and losing the Pens would be a severe blow to our region in too many respects to enumerate.

Mario, you've got the politicians over a good-sized barrel. Reason one, they sat as silent as stone pillars while you sought an arena agreement for years. Reason two, the state Gaming Control Board, by rejecting a casino bid that would have led to an arena, rendered a decision so stupefying as to cause me to wonder: Had board member Sandy Rivers behaved similarly when he officiated NFL games, might he have led the league in calls overturned by instant replay?

Anyhow, Mario, get the deal done in Pittsburgh.

America still includes many who do the right thing. Do it, Mario, and I'll even forgive the time you stood on a high tee at a par three and saw a runt on the green below standing over a 2-foot birdie putt. You cried out: "Cope! Choke!" As you know, I made birdie.

It's your turn for a Pittsburgh birdie. It's a hard one; more's the reason you'll be proud of it.

The Chief put it this way: "Money has never been my god -- never."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07038/759881-109.stm
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