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Old 02-14-2007, 01:07 AM   #991
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

Penguins Notebook: Chicago's Havlat won't be overlooked

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


Scouting report

Matchup: Chicago Blackhawks at Penguins, 7:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

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

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Nikolai Khabibulin for Blackhawks.

Penguins: Have four victories, two ties in past six home games against Hawks. ... D Brooks Orpik does not have goal in 100 games. ... Have scored eight 5-on-3 goals and allowed just one.

Blackhawks: Have earned half of their 22 victories on road. ... Power play is NHL's worst, with success rate of 11.7 percent. ... Are 4-2-4 when tied after two periods.

Hidden stat: Chicago has been outscored, 60-29, in the second period.


When Martin Havlat played in Ottawa, he often was overshadowed by the likes of Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara.

Now that he's in Chicago, he's part of a team that sometimes struggles to get attention in its home city, let alone other parts of North America.

But there's very little chance the Penguins will overlook Havlat at 7:38 p.m. today when the Blackhawks visit Mellon Arena.

Not if they have any interest in extending their 11-0-2 run, anyway.

Havlat has scored goals in six consecutive games and has 22 goals and 22 assists in 34 games this season. If he had been able to stay healthy, those numbers would put him on an 82-game pace for 106 points.

"He's got a very good points-per-game [average], so I'm sure he's not flying completely under the radar," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "But with the fact that maybe they don't have the notoriety of some other teams, he's not getting the attention he deserves."

That could change if Havlat maintains his pace of late -- seven goals and four assists in the past six games -- or if word begins to circulate of the impact his presence has on the Hawks' record: They are 16-15-3 with him in the lineup, 6-12-4 when he hasn't played.

"He's real quick with the puck, makes quick decisions and he's very shifty," Scuderi said. "He's got good agility with the puck. He's a dangerous player."

Favorable review

At practice yesterday at Southpointe, the Penguins wore a version of the sleek new "uniform system" that will be used by all teams next season, and gave it favorable reviews.

"It's the first time I've worn them, and I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't much difference, really," defenseman Mark Eaton said, adding that, "They're not going to make things so that they're uncomfortable."

Jocelyn Thibault said he and fellow goalie Marc-Andre Fleury thought the jerseys were a bit snug at the elbow, but both offered an overall thumbs-up.

"It was a little bit tighter, but it's so flexible," Fleury said. "We've been playing with the old [version] for so long that we're used to it ... but it will be good to try [the new]."

Brother act

Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu strikes many people as the kind of guy who would run over his own brother to make a play.

Tonight, he'll get a chance to prove it, because his younger brother, Tuomo, is a forward with the Blackhawks.

"I play him the same way as anybody else," Jarkko Ruutu said. "So does he. He hits hard."

Even though they faced each other several times when Jarkko Ruutu played for Vancouver, the brothers' meetings still are special.

"There's a little bit of mixed emotions," Jarkko Ruutu said. "When you play against him, you want him to do well, but at the same time, you want to win. You kind of keep watching what he's doing. It's hard to explain."

What isn't so difficult is understanding that the younger Ruutu is a bigger cog in his team's offense; Tuomo has 12 goals and 18 assist in 46 games, while Jarkko has four and seven in 37.

"We're different types of players," Jarkko Ruutu said. "Obviously, he's way better with the puck, a lot more talented that way. He works hard, and deserves everything he's gotten."

Slap shots

Winger Nils Ekman participated in a practice yesterday for the first time since his elbow was dislocated Dec. 29 and said that, barring complications, he hopes to get clearance to take contact next week. He still does not have a target date for returning to the lineup. ... Mario Lemieux, the Penguins' chairman, attended the practice but did not take questions from reporters. ... Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar will appear in his 800th NHL game tonight. ... The Blackhawks are 4-2 on their current seven-game road trip, their longest of the season. ... Chicago winger Karl Stewart, acquired on waivers from the Penguins Oct. 26, has two goals and three assists in 37 games.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07045/761956-61.stm
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Old 02-14-2007, 01:26 AM   #992
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

NHL, not Crosby, deserves heat

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Somehow, the NHL's feel-good story of the season has become tinged with negativity.

We're talking about Sidney Crosby, who has established himself, at age 19, as the best hockey player in the world and an even better ambassador for an embattled league.

Yet, the league, through blatant inaction, has endorsed the abuse of its marquee attraction.

"Honestly, it's very difficult to understand, the way Sidney's been treated since the beginning of his career," Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, said Tuesday. "In my opinion, it hasn't been fair. This is someone who gives 100 percent on every shift, on and off the ice, for his team and his league."

Brisson's biased, of course. He's also right.

Within the past month, we've seen Crosby speared in the abdomen (Jason Blake), butt-ended in the gut on a game-opening faceoff (Maxim Lapierre) and cut in the face with a high stick (Francis Bouillon), without any of the infractions drawing so much as a minor penalty.

Crosby also absorbed a cross-check to the face from Philadelphia's Alexei Zhitnik -- on national television -- and somehow wound up with the extra two-minute penalty.

How is it, exactly, that two officials can consistently miss obvious fouls perpetrated against the most prominent player on the ice?

One logical explanation is that officials have conspired to make things tough on Crosby, perhaps because some believed he whined too much last season.

If that's the case, shame on the officials and their Neanderthal code. Their job is to call the games on a case-by-case, infraction-by-infraction basis. If they're not doing that, the league needs to crack down on them. Hard.

Crosby doesn't necessarily merit special treatment (though one could make a case for it). He simply deserves equal treatment.

Stephen Walkom, the NHL's vice president and director of officiating, insists that already is the case.

"I think you can assure your readers that our guys don't get together and say, 'Let's miss a bunch tonight on this player or that player,' " Walkom said. "Unfortunately, Sidney's in the public eye, and when anything gets missed on him, it gets noticed."

Do officials view him as a whiner?

"I think it's time to stomp that rumor," Walkom said. "I think Sidney was a new player in the league last year. Did he talk more to the referees last year, in a way that maybe some of the fans perceived as whining? He could have. I can assure you this year, he's been a pro on the ice. All I've heard from my guys is how grown up he is for his age, and how much respect they have for him for how he talks to them on the ice."

Unfortunately, that respect has not translated to an even shake. The fact players are allowed to treat Crosby like a pi?ata creates, in the words of Brisson, a "domino effect." Everyone wants a piece of the action, including fans and media members who label Crosby a "whiner" when he wonders aloud to an official why the guy who just tried to gut him wasn't penalized.

It also creates talk of the Penguins needing to acquire an "enforcer" (i.e., a guy who can fight but can't play) to "protect" Crosby.

All of which turns what should be a positive story into a negative one for the league.

If officials simply called the game properly, none of this would be an issue.

The league office needs to upgrade its game, too. When I asked a league spokesman why Blake wasn't suspended - he was fined $1,000 - the spokesman said, "Usually, (a spear is) a fineable offense as opposed to game offense unless it is of the most severe nature and ends up causing injury."

OK, so if I swing my stick at someone's head and miss, I'll be treated differently than if I connect?

Who's dispensing justice around here, the Geico caveman?

"It has a domino effect," Brisson said. "The spear from Blake, nothing happens, so you have the butt-end from Lapierre - the stick was coming out eight inches into (Crosby's) stomach. These are the things that will occur."

If they keep occurring, Brisson should think twice about making Crosby so readily available for all those NHL-boosting promotions.

"If you want him on the cover of Vanity Fair and all that, well, it goes both ways," Brisson said.

Actually, for the NHL, it goes one way all too often: downhill fast.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_493121.html

Good grief...yet ANOTHER "hockey writer" who doesn't understand the game. Um, Joe - if the Pens had one of those "guys who can fight, but can't play," then opposing teams would be hesitant to run and take cheap shots on Crosby or anyone else for fear of that "guy who can fight, but can't play" retaliating by either hitting one of their better players or rearranging the face of the guy who hit Crosby, or Malkin, or Staal, or Fleury...etc. It's called protecting your teammates. They've been doing it ever since the game began, but more and more of these wussies behind computer keyboards who call themselves "hockey fans" fail to grasp this. Meanwhile, Crosby will continue to take abuse from other teams and not a damn thing will be done about it - because they don't have any fear of guys like Thorburn, Ruutu or Petro. Sorry to inform you, Joe. Let the players police themselves, and this kind of crap will not happen nearly as much. Plain and simple.
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Old 02-14-2007, 02:03 AM   #993
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

Pens cry 'mayday' on Malone

February 13, 2007

Ryan Malone's inability to put up points alongside Sidney Crosby earned him a demotion ... can a trade out of town be next?

The highly-touted Malone has only 18 points this season, good for 287th in the league, and has failed to get off a shot in three of his last five and six of his last 16 games.

"I thought I've been playing pretty well -- points-wise it's maybe not the numbers that people expected -- but the team in winning right now and that's the most important thing."

Win or not, the Pens need a player to perform consistently with the league scoring leader on the top line, and a trade may be the only way.

"We're certainly going to look at all of our players before looking outside the organization," Shero told the Pittsbugh Tribune Review. "I think our production with Sid and Recchi in particular has been outstanding ... and I think it's a good sign that the rest of the team has stepped up to contribute."

"I just know that (the trade) stuff is all out of my control," said Malone, who had a January meeting with Shero to discuss the trade rumours.

Playing on a line alongside Crosby isn't as easy as it might seem. So far, the Penguins have tried seven different players on Crosby's wings. Veteran Mark Recchi is the only Penguin to settle in to the role, attributing his success to similar style.

"It's not hard at all," Recchi said. "It's pretty fun to be a part of; he's a special player and plays a simple game. He goes up and down, he darts the holes, he gives and goes, and I play a very similar way."

http://www2.sportsnet.ca/blogs/hocke...day_on_malone/

Hey, go ahead and trade him - he's really done nothing the past 2 seasons other than the final 20 or so games last year. If they could get a guy like Shane Doan (as a couple of people in the comments mentioned), that would be ideal. Doan would be a GREAT fit on the top line, IMO - he's got good size, good hands, a physical presence and is capable of dropping the gloves to protect Crosby when needed. Hey Ray - if you're considering a major deal, make this one!
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Old 02-14-2007, 03:05 PM   #994
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On the air with Smizik: Penguins a smash TV hit

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Everyone wants to watch the Penguins.

The team is playing to 95 percent capacity at home, and that should get better as the games become more crucial. Away from Mellon Arena, the Sidney Crosby Show also plays to 95 percent capacity, third best in the NHL.

On television, fans in the region can't get enough. The ratings are the best since the 2000-01 season, when the Penguins reached the conference final and had a roster loaded with the kind of talent that turns on TVs -- Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka, Robert Lang and Darius Kasparaitis.

In their game Feb. 4 (Super Bowl Sunday) at Montreal, the Penguins achieved a 7.2 rating, which, for hockey, is off the charts.

FSN Pittsburgh, which carries Penguins games, would not divulge the season-long ratings or compare the Penguins' ratings to those of the Pirates. Steve Tello, vice-president and general manager of FSN Pittsburgh, said: "Team popularity and TV ratings are a roller-coaster ride. We happen to be riding at the top of the curve right now."

Industry sources indicate the Penguins' ratings are, roughly, at the 4.5 level, extremely good for the NHL. The Penguins are believed to be in the upper tier of NHL ratings with Buffalo and Detroit.

Pittsburgh had the second-highest rating for the NHL All-Star Game, which was played Jan. 24 in Dallas and shown on Versus. Nationally, the game drew only a 0.7 rating. But in Pittsburgh it drew a 2.8, twice as large as any city in the league, except Buffalo. The Buffalo ratings were incredible, a 7.1. The Sabres had four players in the game and three starters. Crosby was the Penguins' only representative.

Unfortunately for the NHL, the ratings spike in Pittsburgh and Buffalo, where the All-Star Game was the top-rated cable show that night, and are not being replicated around the country.

The game's 0.7 rating, an estimated 475,000 viewers, was a 76 percent decline from the last game, which was played in 2004. Much of that decline has to do with the network. In 2004, the game was on ABC, which is seen in every home in the country and was viewed by an estimated 1,985,000 households. Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network) reaches only a small percentage of the homes.

Although the game did well in Buffalo and Pittsburgh, it was not among the top 20 cable shows in such important markets as New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. In Dallas, the host city, it was the 18th most-watched cable program.


Playoffs on TV


In the likely event they make it, most Penguins games in the first two rounds of the playoffs will be carried by FSN.

Here's how the NHL playoff coverage works.

In the first round, NBC has the ability to take up to two weekend games for exclusive coverage. All other Penguins games will be on FSN. In the second round, NBC has the right to take two weekend games and Versus has the right to take two games. All other Penguins games will be on FSN.

In all likelihood, no more than one game in each round would be taken from FSN. After the second round, all games will be on Versus or NBC. Versus is available on the basic package to customers of Comcast, the region's largest cable provider. On Armstrong, the region's No. 2 provider, Versus is available only to digital-plus customers.
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Old 02-14-2007, 07:24 PM   #995
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

1-1 now in Pittsburgh. Tight battle.
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Old 02-14-2007, 07:28 PM   #996
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Its been a good game so far. I don't get to catch many Pen's games out here. But since they're playing the Blackhawks tonight I get to see the game. The Blackhawks have snuffed out three Pen power plays. Thats been the key so far.
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:07 PM   #997
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3-2 end of 2. We got ourselves a good game on our hands.
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:17 PM   #998
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I dunno...I've had a bad feeling about this game all day and all night so far. I think the Pens' streak of 13 games without a regulation loss is about to come to an end. The Hawks came to play tonight.
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:32 PM   #999
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Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
I dunno...I've had a bad feeling about this game all day and all night so far. I think the Pens' streak of 13 games without a regulation loss is about to come to an end. The Hawks came to play tonight.
Gotta believe we'll win X.
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:43 PM   #1000
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THAT WAS A BULLSHIT CALL! DOES THE NHL KNOW THAT TOO MANY MEN ON THE ICE IS A PENALTY AND GOALS ARE TO BE OVERRULED!
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