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Old 03-23-2007, 12:07 AM   #1511
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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
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Old 03-23-2007, 11:02 AM   #1512
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

"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.
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:43 AM   #1513
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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/pitt.../s_499305.html
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:46 AM   #1514
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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/pitt.../s_499370.html
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:54 AM   #1515
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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/pitt.../s_499317.html
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Old 03-24-2007, 12:55 AM   #1516
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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.
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Old 03-24-2007, 01:12 AM   #1517
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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
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:28 AM   #1518
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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.
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Old 03-24-2007, 07:35 AM   #1519
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"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.
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Old 03-24-2007, 02:17 PM   #1520
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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.
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