Friday, May 28, 2010

Penguins To Propose Three Year Deal To Cooke

-According to TIOPS, the Pittsburgh Penguins intend to propose a three year deal to upcoming free agent Matt Cooke. Cooke had a very good season being on the third line for Pittsburgh. However, he could be paid like a second line player somewhere else. It will be interesting to see what Cooke does. He has expressed an interest in staying with the Penguins. Cooke made $1.2 million this past season. He will likely want at least a slight raise if not a big raise.

-The Penguins traded a 2010 sixth round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for goaltender Mattias Modig. They then signed the Swedish 23 year old to a two year entry level contract. He was Anaheim's fourth round pick in 2007. Modig compiled a 2.35 GAA and a .913 save percentage in his past two seasons with Lulea HF of the Swedish Elite League. He is listed as 6'0 and 163 pounds. This was likely a trade to get some more depth at the goaltender position.

-D Brooks Orpik apparently dealt with an abdominal injury from midseason through the playoffs. He is probably going to have surgery to repair it. Chris Kunitz battled through a torn groin muscle, but he may be able to avoid surgery.

-According to Joe Depto, the Penguins will face the Philadelphia Flyers on October 7th to open the Consol Energy Center.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Penguins To Face Capitals At Heinz Field In 2011 Winter Classic

-On Friday, it will be announced that the Pittsburgh Penguins will face the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011. This will be the Penguins second appearance in the Winter Classic. In their first appearance, Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout to send the Penguins past the Buffalo Sabres.
 -The Penguins signed RW Nick Petersen, their fourth round draft pick in 2009, to a three year entry level contract. The 20 year old scored 39 goals and recorded 40 assists for Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Player Evaluations: Right Wingers

Player Evaluations: Right Wingers
#27 Craig Adams
Season Stats: 82 Games Played, 0 Goals, 10 Assists, 10 Points, -5
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 3 Points, +2
Adams, who played each game on the fourth line, did not score any goals in the regular season but did manage to score two in the playoffs. He played very well on the penalty kill. Grade: C
 #28 Eric Godard
Season Stats: 45 Games Played, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 2 Points, +2
Playoff Stats: None
Godard did not play very much this season at all. In addition, he did not play any games in the playoffs. He never really has developed into the enforcer the Penguins wanted. Grade: D-
#13 Bill Guerin
Season Stats: 78 Games Played, 21 Goals, 24 Assists, 45 Points, -9
Playoff Stats: 11 Games Played, 4 Goals, 5 Assists, 9 Points, +3
The 39 year old Guerin scored 25 goals total this season including the playoffs. He scored the most goals out of all of the Penguins wingers. Not bad for a 39 year old. UFA. Grade: B

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Follow The Blog On Twitter!

-Pens Nation has expanded and is now on Twitter! You can get instant Penguins updates to your phone in addition to seeing them on Twitter. Click the link below to access the twitter. Be sure to follow me to get instant updates!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Player Evaluations: Left Wingers/ Quick Hits

Player Evaluations: Left Wingers
#24 Matt Cooke
Season Stats: 79 Games Played, 15 Goals, 15 Assists, 30 Points, +17
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 4 Goals, 2 Assists, 6 Points, -4
Cooke had a terrific season scoring 15 goals and another 4 in the playoffs. He is one free agent the Penguins should definitely re-sign. He is more than just an agitator. Grade: B+
#9 Pascal Dupuis
Season Stats: 81 Games Played, 18 Goals, 20 Assists, 38 Points, +5
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 2 Goals, 6 Assists, 8 Points, +5
Dupuis played in the most games this season than any other season in his career. He also had his second highest goal total in his career this season. He fits well in the locker room too. Grade: B
#26 Ruslan Fedotenko
Season Stats: 80 Games Played, 11 Goals, 19 Assists, 30 Points, -17
Playoff Stats: 6 Games Played, 0 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 Points,  -3
Fedotenko had the lowest goal total in his career this season and his plus/minus was awful. He did not step up in the playoffs like he has done before. He is probably done with PIT. Grade: D
#14 Chris Kunitz
Season Stats: 50 Games Played, 13 Goals, 19 Assists, 32 Points, +3
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 4 Goals, 7 Assists, 11 Points, +3
Kunitz missed some time due to an injury, but played well in the playoffs and remained with Sidney Crosby the  whole season. He was also very physical in the playoffs. Grade: B

#23 Alexei Ponikarovsky
Season Stats (With PIT): 16 Games Played, 2 Goals, 7 Assists, 9 Points, -6
Playoff Stats: 11 Games Played, 1 Goal, 4 Assists, 5 Points, 0
Ponikarovsky never lived up the hype when PIT got him and was scratched for two games in the playoffs. He didn't have a good attitude or work ethic. Likely gone as he is a UFA Grade: D

Quick Hits
-Kevin Allen of the USA Today reported that the Atlanta Thrashers probably will not be able to re-sign RW Colby Armstrong. Armstrong scored 15 goals and recorded 14 assists in 79 games played. You can expect that him and the Penguins will at least talk about a contract. They probably did not want to trade him to Atlanta, but they wanted Hossa. If he will take a discount, he could be back in a Pittsburgh uniform.

-The Penguins have been rumored to be talking to D Ben Lovejoy on a new deal since he can become a free agent on the first of July. Expect them to get it done fairly soon. The one thing that is holding it up is that Lovejoy wants a 1 way contract instead of a 2 way contract.

-According to TIOPS, the Penguins have discussed with Jordan Leopold's agent, but no numbers were involved. They will likely talk again in a few weeks.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pens Sign Deryk Engelland To One Year Deal

-The Pittsburgh Penguins signed D Deryk Engelland to a one year deal today. It is a two-way contract that will pay him $500,000 at the NHL level. Engelland is a very physical defensman who could see some playing time next season depending on how the offseason goes. He was scheduled to become a free agent, but he elected to stay with Pittsburgh.

Player Evaluations: Defensemen

Player Evaluations: Defensemen
#55 Sergei Gonchar
Season Stats: 62 Games Played, 11 Goals, 39 Assists, 50 Points, -4
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 2 Goals, 10 Assists, 12 Points, +4
Gonchar was the best offensive defenseman for Pittsburgh again this season. He will be hard to replace on the power play if he departs, but his defensive abilities seem to be declining.Grade: B
#58 Kris Letang
Season Stats: 73 Games Played, 3 Goals, 24 Assists, 27 Points, +1
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 5 Goals, 2 Assists, 7 Points, -5
Letang had a season full of ups and downs. During the season, he was expected to provide more offense than he did, but his defense improved. During the playoffs, that switched.   
                    He could not defend many players well, but he scored five goals. Grade: B-
#3 Alex Goligoski
Season Stats: 69 Games Played, 8 Goals, 29 Assists, 37 Points, +7
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 2 Goals, 7 Assists, 9 Points, +4
Goligoski exploded in the first 15 games of the season scoring six goals and thirteen points. He went on to score only two more the rest of the season.
                    He also did not defend other players as well as the Penguins needed. It was his first
                    full season in the NHL. Grade: C-
#4 Jordan Leopold
 Season Stats (With PIT): 20 Games Played, 4 Goals, 4 Assists, 8 Points, +5
Playoff Stats: 8 Games Played, 0 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 Points, -2
Leopold, who came over in a trade from Florida, turned into a decent defenseman during the season scoring four goals in 20 games. After he got injured from an Andy Sutton hit 
                    during the playoffs, he did not seem to be the same player. He is a UFA. Grade: C
#44 Brooks Orpik
Season Stats: 73 Games Played, 255 Hits, 117 Blocked Shots, 25 Points (2G23A), +6
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played:, 50 Hits, 30 Blocked Shots, 2 Points (2A), +3
Orpik was sixth in the NHL this season in hits and was arguably the best defensive defenseman this season for PIT. He will not score much, but he is a huge part of this team. Grade: B+
#7 Mark Eaton
Season Stats: 79 Games Played, 27 Hits, 135 Blocked Shots, 16 Points (3G13A), +5
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Played, 11 Hits, 20 Blocked Shots, 3 Points (3A), -4
Eaton, who is not a very physical defensman, plays his position very well as he ranked second on the Penguins in blocked shots. He is a UFA this summer. Grade: B-
#74 Jay McKee
Season Stats: 62 Games Played, 59 Hits, 137 Blocked Shots, 10 Points (1G9A), +6
Playoff Stats: 5 Games Played, 4 Hits, 11 Blocked Shots, 0 Points, +2
McKee filled the role he was signed to do: block shots. He led the Penguins in that category in the season but fell out of favor when Leopold arrived. Some think he should have played more 
                    more in the playoffs with the struggling defense. He will be a UFA this summer. Grade: B

          These ratings are based off of different areas as well just like the goaltender evaluations. The offensive defensemen and defensive defensemen are seperated for a reason. They are evaluated in the role they were put into. Offensive numbers do not go into much consideration for defensive players.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Michalek Likely To Get Call From Pens

-According to TIOPS, the Penguins will likely have a lot of interest in D Zbynek Michalek when and if he hits the free agent market on July 1st. Michalek, 27, led the NHL in blocked shots in the 2008-09 season. He is a defenseman that Pittsburgh will need to upgrade their defense, which struggled this year in the playoffs. He was an alternate captain with the Phoenix Coyotes. He finished the season with three goals and fourteen assists.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Guerin Intends To Play, Ponikarovsky's Return Doubtful

-According to TIOPS, Bill Guerin intends to play again next season and he is optimistic that he and Pittsburgh can work out a deal that will let him play in the new Consol Energy Center. Guerin, 39, scored 21 goals this season which led all Penguins wingers. He will likely take another pay cut and Ray Shero could look at more wingers to play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
-Alexei Ponikarovsky apparently skipped the last team meeting yesterday. That is a sign that he may not be back next season as many have speculated already. He did not provide the offensive spark Shero was looking for. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gonchar To Meet With Shero Again Soon

-D Sergei Gonchar talked to Ray Shero this morning at the final team meeting about his contract status. Gonchar will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st if he does not reach a new deal with Pittsburgh. After making $6 million this season, he will likely have to take a discount to stay with the Penguins. Whether he is willing to do that or not remains to be seen. He has been rumored to be looking for a three year deal. If he will not take a discount, he has likely played his last game in a Pittsburgh uniform. When he was asked about Pittsburgh and becoming a free agent, he said, "Being a free agent is obviously so different this time. I like the city. I like the defensive unit that supports us. I like my teammates. It seems like we have a great group of guys here with great chemistry. We still have plenty of time. Ray (Shero) and I just talked, and there is going to be some time before July 1 to sit down and talk. We have plenty of time to do something.  I want to be happy. Obviously Pittsburgh is a place where I have been happy for the last five years here as a player with my teammates. I would like to stay here, but at the same time, we have to do work both ways and be fair. When I go to look at my contract, I’m going to have to weigh everything. There is still a good chance. Ray and I are going to have a conversation soon. It’s really tough for me to say right now. My mind isn’t really into it yet. I’m playing in the World Championship, and I’m leaving tonight. I’m just going to leave it to Ray." He and Shero will likely meet again sometime in the next few weeks.

Player Evaluations: Goaltenders

Player Evaluations: Goaltenders
#29 Marc-Andre Fleury:
Regular Season Stats: 66 Games Started, 37-21-6, 168 Goals Against, 2.65 GAA, .905 SV %
Playoff Stats: 13 Games Started, 7-6, 37 Goals Against, 2.78 GAA, .891 SV %
Fleury drew a lot of criticism this regular season as well as the playoffs. His numbers were not all that good this season as he only has one shutout but he did manage to win 37 games. Obviously, he could have performed much better in the playoffs. Let's not forget that his defense was not even close to as strong as it was last season during the Cup run. Grade: C+ as a starter.
#1 Brent Johnson:
Regular Season Stats: 15 Games Started, 10-6-1, 51 Goals Against, 2.76 GAA, .906 SV%
Playoff Stats: 1 Game Played, 0-0, 1 Goal Against, 1.91 GAA, .857 SV % 
Johnson was a very solid backup this season as he already has signed a two year extension with the team. He was not spectacular such as Ty Conklin was, but he certainly is a respectable backup that the Penguins can count on. Grade: B as a backup

The grades are based on a number of factors such as stats, expectations and playoff performance. Although Fleury has a lower grade than Johnson, that does not mean Johnson is the better goalie. Johnson got a B as a backup. It would be much lower if he was a starter. Basically, the grades go based on the role that player was in during the season.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Penguins To Have Meetings Tomorrow

-The Pittsburgh Penguins will have their season ending meetings tomorrow. The players will meet with management in the morning. With most of the young core locked up, the Penguins roster will be very similar next season (unless there is a trade) but Pittsburgh will have some major holes to fill. The team will probably have some new wingers and defensemen.

 A look at the pending free agents from the Penguins:
Forwards: Bill Guerin, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Matt Cooke, Ryan Bayda

Defenseman: Sergei Gonchar, Mark Eaton, Jordan Leopold, Ben Lovejoy, Jay McKee, Deryk Engelland, Chris Lee
- My player evaluations will start tomorrow with goaltenders.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Canadiens End Pens Season With 5-2 Victory

-The Cinderella story of the NHL playoffs will continue. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 to end the defending champions quest to repeat. It also became the final game at the Mellon Arena. The Canadiens won the first and last game at the oldest arena in the NHL. Hal Gill returned and Pittsburgh could not get anything going until it was too late. Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves as he is carrying Montreal through the postseason. Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal scored the goals for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after letting in four goals on 14 shots. Some of them were not his fault, however. Some bad turnovers and poor defense led to some easy scoring chances for Montreal.

-Although the season is over, I will still be posting stuff on here. I will have evaluations on all of the players and some trade breakdowns. I will report rumors regarding the future of this team too. Thanks to everyone who reads this!

Ponikarovsky Back In Lineup For Game Seven?

 5:01: There are rumors saying that Jay McKee is not saying if he is playing tonight or not. That could mean he is being considered at the least. Jordan Leopold would likely be pulled if he came back.

-After being scratched the last two games, Alexei Ponikarovsky found himself skating with Evgeni Malkin and Bill Guerin this morning. That is a sign he will likely return to the lineup tonight. Dan Bylsma must be looking for a offensive spark for the struggling offense. Mark Letestu will likely be the odd man out.
-After a horrific game for the defense in Game 6, the Penguins will not change any of their defenseman. Jay McKee will still be the seventh defenseman.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Canadiens Force Game Seven With 4-3 Victory

-The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 to tie the series at three. The final game will be on Wednesday in Pittsburgh at 7:00. Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Bill Guerin scored the goals for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 of 25 shots. The Penguins turned the puck over a lot in this game and the defense was not very aggressive. Hal Gill did not play in the game but Jaroslav Spacek returned and scored a goal in his series debut.

Gill A Game Time Decisions For Habs

 -FSN has just announced that Hal Gill will not play tonight.
-Hal Gill did not skate in the morning skate today but did skate a little following the practice. He is going to be a game time decision. He is battling a cut in his left leg. If he does not play, Sidney Crosby could finally explode.
-Jaroslav Spacek skated in the morning practice and is expected to make his series debut tonight.
-For the Penguins, it looks like they will send the same lineup out tonight as they did on Saturday night. Alex Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko will be healthy scratches.
-Pascal Dupuis will likely play with Crosby and Chris Kunitz tonight while Bill Guerin will play with Max Talbot and Evgeni Malkin.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pens Take Series Lead With 2-1 Victory

-The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 tonight at the Mellon Arena to take a 3-2 lead in the seven game series. Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar scored the goals for Pittsburgh. Both goals came from the point. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 32 of 33 shots. He had a shutout until the last minute of the third period when Montreal scored when Jaroslav Halak was pulled. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko were healthy scratches as expected. Bill Guerin and Mike Rupp returned to the lineup. Pittsburgh can eliminate Montreal with a victory on Monday night at 7:00. The game will be televised on FSN Pittsburgh.

Guerin To Return Tonight, Ponikarovsky May Be Healthy Scratch

-Bill Guerin will be back in the lineup tonight after missing the last two games because of an injury.
-Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko did not skate with the top four lines suggesting that they may not be playing tonight.

-The lines this morning looked like this:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Canadiens Sneak Past Pens 3-2

-The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 to tie the series at two. Chris Kunitz and Max Talbot scored the goals for the Penguins. After Montreal opened the scoring with a goal, Pittsburgh responded with two quick goals to make it 2-1 going into the third period. During the intermission, a Versus analyst mentioned that Pittsburgh was 25-0 in the Sidney Crosby era in the playoffs when leading at the start of the third period. I thought to myself that he may have jinxed us. It turned out he did. Montreal scored two quick goals and Pittsburgh never answered. Marc-Andre Fleury kept the Penguins in the game stopping 22 of 25 shots. The Penguins were without Bill Guerin and Mike Rupp. Jordan Staal returned to action. Game 5 will be on Saturday at 7:00 at the Mellon Arena. The game will be televised on Versus.

Staal A Game Time Decision, Guerin Out

 7:03 PM: Versus has just announced that Jordan Staal will play tonight.
-Jordan Staal practiced once again today and is a game time decision according to Dan Bylsma. He skated on the fifth line, but played on the second powerplay unit. If he does not play tonight, some sources say me may be back on Saturday.
-Bill Guerin is likely out for tonight's game again because of an elbow injury. He did practice, but many sources are saying he will not play.
-Mark Letestu will likely center the third line again if Staal cannot play. The lineup will be the same as it was Tuesday night. Mike Rupp is questionable.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Staal Practices With Team

-After skating for five minutes yesterday, Jordan Staal practiced with his teammates for the first time since his injury in today's optional skate. This news is very encouraging. It is not known when exactly Staal will be available to play, but to see him practicing is a good sign.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pens Clip Canadiens 2-0 To Take Series Lead

-The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin, the two players that were taking most of the blame for the Penguins struggles, responded to their critics in big ways. Fleury stole this game from Montreal by making two incredible timely saves in addition to stopping all 18 shots against him. Malkin scored a powerplay goal that turned out to be the game winner. Pascal Dupuis added an empty netter to seal the win for Pittsburgh. They accomplished this without Bill Guerin and Jordan Staal. Next game is Thursday at 7 in Montreal. The game will be televised on Versus.

Letestu In Lineup Tonight?

 6:41 PM: FSN has just announced that Bill Guerin will not play tonight.

UPDATE 1:53 PM: Bill Guerin has a sore back but will still likely play tonight. There are still strong indications that Mark Letestu could replace Ruslan Fedotenko.

-Coach Dan Byslma used the following line combination's at this mornings skate in Montreal:

Mark Letestu's name jumps out as the third line center as he may be used tonight. Bill Guerin was not at the skate as Pascal Dupuis skated with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
-Surprisingly, Jordan Staal skated for about five minutes before his teammates came out and practiced.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Halak Steals Show As Canadiens Beat Pens 3-1

-The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 today at the Mellon Arena to even the series at one. Jaroslav Halak was solid again in goal as he stopped 38 of 39 shots on goal. Matt Cooke gave Pittsburgh an early lead, but that ended up being the only shot that went by Halak. Jordan Leopold and Tyler Kennedy returned to the lineup while Jordan Staal obviously did not play. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 of 21 shots. The series shifts to Montreal for the next two games starting Tuesday at 7:00 on FSN.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Staal To Miss Significant Time

-The Pittsburgh Penguins received bad news today. Jordan Staal will miss some significant time after undergoing surgery to repair severed tendon across the top of his foot to his toe. Dan Bylsma did not rule him out of the playoffs just yet but he will obviously not play tomorrow. Jordan Leopold on the other hand, looks like he may be ready to go tomorrow as he was cleared to practice today. He took part in the entire practice and was paired with Alex Goligoski.

Powerplay Surges As Pens Beat Canadiens 6-3

-The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-3 last night at the Mellon Arena. Jaroslav Halak did not even last the whole game after giving up five goals. Pittsburgh scored four powerplay goals. The goals were scored by Sergei Gonchar, Jordan Staal, Craig Adams, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski, and Bill Guerin. Staal was later injured and it is not known how much time he will miss. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 31 shots. Game 2 is scheduled for an NBC broadcast at 2:00 tomorrow.