Friday, October 29, 2010

This Week In Pens Nation - Civic Arena Update

As if the Pens losing to the Philly wasn't sad enough, Danny Boy's here with a Civic Arena update...

From the looks of the one picture that I was able to obtain from inside of the Civic Arena, it seems like crews are in the beginning stages of stripping the building before demolition. This only shows one section at ice level, but its enough to make you shed a tear or two. This is the first I've seen of the arena since my last game there. With the way this home season is going, I wish like hell we could have it back..just once. The other pictures in my possession show that the Zamboni's have not been touched nor driven since their last cut (which you can watch below..with Pizza Hut ad still painted on. There are talks that the boards, glass, and Zamboni's will be bought by Robert Morris University and used at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island. So without further they are..

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Winter Classic Jersey Unveiled

-The Penguins have just unveiled the jersey for the 2011 Winter Classic. It was announced following today's practice. Everyone on the team skated in practice including Zybnek Michalek and Jordan Staal.

NHL in a Nutshell- Staal to Return Friday?

-There is no official confirmation (and knowing Bylsma, there probably won't be one until gameday) but I heard a rumor that Jordan Staal, who has reportedly been looking very strong in practice, MIGHT be in the lineup against the Flyers on Friday! Again, this is just something I heard last night, so don't get too excited yet. Staal was expected to be out until sometime in November, but as we know he is a quick healer. I do hope, however, that he isn't rushed back into the lineup too soon. There's still a long way to go in the season and it's better off in the long-term that Staal be as healthy as possible when he does return.

-The Penguins are set to unveil their Winter Classic jerseys after practice today! Finally, after months of waiting and dozens of rumors and pictures, we'll finally know which jerseys will be worn on Heinz Field on New Year's.

-Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson has been placed on IR and is out indefinitely with a knee injury he suffered during warm-ups before a game against the Canucks. The team had no comment on the exact nature of Anderson's injury. He will need to undergo some rehab and treatments but the good news for the Avs is that the injury will not require surgery. Peter Budjai, the regular backup, will probably be the main starter while Anderson is out. The team also recalled John Grahame from the AHL to be the new backup until Anderson returns.

-Marian Hossa was hurt in the Blackhawks win over the Kings last night. It is officially being described as an "upper body injury" and there is no word yet on his condition. I'll have an update on that when word gets out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

NHL Injury Update

-The Kings have placed Drew Doughty on IR. Doughty left Wednesday's game against the Hurricanes in the first period after suffering an apparent concussion. The Kings are officially calling Doughty's injury an upper-body injury. Doughty will be unavailable to play for L.A. this week, since a player on injured reserve is not allowed to return to action within seven days. The Kings have called up defenseman Jake Muzzin for the Manchester Monarachs while Doughty is recovering.

-Blues d-man Roman Polak is going to miss the Blues' next game. Polak has a laceration on his right wrist after his wrist was accidently cut by Sidney Crosby's skate in the second period of Saturday's game. Head coach Davis Payne confirmed that the Czech-born defenseman is out for Thursday's contest against Nashville and will officially be listed as day-to-day after that. St. Louis has not called up any new players, so it looks as if Tyson Strachan (a healthy scratch for six of the last seven games) will take Polak's place on the roster until he returns.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- Charity Work, Broken Bones and an Extension for Jack Johnson?

Greetings, Pens Nation! It's a bit strange writing a post on a Monday afternoon but as I said Friday, I'm trying to post the news as it comes, not saving it until Friday, for this week. We'll see where it goes from here. Admittedly, not all of this is brand-new news so I'm playing a little catchup here.

-Great news for the Penguins. Zbynek Michalek (I still have to double check and make sure I'm spelling his name right) practiced with the team for the first time since being injured against New Jersey on October 11th. He says he's not 100 percent yet but is improving quickly and is happy to be practicing with the team again. No official word on when we can expect him back in uniform.

-On the other hand, we can expect to see Arron Asham in the lineup against Tampa Bay on Wednesday. His return, along with Brooks Orpik returning against St. Louis on Saturday, lead to Ray Shero announcing that Eric Tangradi and Andrew Hutchinson have been re-assigned to Wiles-Barre. Yes, the Big Dog is going back to the kennel. He's been decent, but not spectacular, so far at the NHL level and might benefit from playing an (almost) full season on the first line in the AHL, considering he spent last year mostly on the third line. Think of how stacked the Baby Pens are now. They're already 6-0 and Tangradi and Hutchinson make them even better.

-Rumor is circulating that the L.A. Kings and Jack Johnson are working on a three-year extension. No word on potential monetary terms.

-Via his agent, Allan Walsha, Ondrej Pavelec has been officially activated from the IR and is ready to go for Atlanta. Great to hear that he's back on the ice, even if we never find out exactly why he fainted in the game against Washington.

-The Kings and Avalanche took part in a very interesting Twitter-inspired charity on Saturday night. The two teams, who faced off Saturday night, induced a "hashtag battle". During the game, whenever someone tweeted #GoKings or #GoAvs, the team donated $1 to a local cancer-related charity of their choice. #GoKings received 29,374 mentions and #GoAvs got 13,876, which means that $43,250 total was raised as a part of Hockey Fights Cancer month. (#GoKings and #GoAvs were also the number one and two trending topics in America and Canada and ended up trending worldwide.) This was a very creative and fun way to use social media to raise money for cancer-related charities. Kudos to both the Kings and Avalanche.

-More charity work recently came out of the NHL. Scott Hartnell's Carrot Top-esque hair is no more. On Saturday, the Philly winger got a haircut for the first time in three years and showed some class in the process, donating his shorn mane to "Locks for Love". "Locks for Love" is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children who're financially disadvantaged and suffering from medical hair loss, such as cancer. Look at how different he looks:

I'm having a flashback to 2004 when Johnny Damon left the Red Sox to sign with the Yankees and had to get a trim. Like Damon, Hartnell is almost unrecognizable without his infamous locks. In other news, Head coach Peter Laviolette reports after today's practice that Hartnell speed has almost doubled since Saturday for some strange, unidentified reason.

-The Bruins lost more than the game Saturday night against the Rangers. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered slight fracture in his left forearm in the first period of the game and will miss roughly a month of action.

-According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Kovalchuk missed a team meeting on Saturday morning which led to his being a healthy scratch that night against Buffalo. (Kovy declined to comment when asked if he had missed the meeting.) McKenzie also reported that the Russian sniper balked at playing right wing because he prefers the left side, but supposedly that has nothing to do with his being a healthy scratch.

And It Ends...

Hellloooo Nation...this is somewhat of a somber post. The Pens Nation Mobile App has somehow been deleted. I had no part in this, I apologize to all that may have downloaded it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- Out of This World

Hello again Pens Nation. I hope you all enjoyed the Penguins-Predators game last night. It was definitely one of the most entertaining games so far this season. It *almost* had a playoff feel to it, no?

Before I move on to the hockey news of the week, I just want to let everyone know that I'm going to try a new system for NHL in a Nutshell. Instead of compiling NHL news and writing a piece once a week about it, I'm going to try reporting the news as it comes. I'll try that system for a week or so and see how it goes. Also, starting next week I'll be doing a weekly player feature, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.

There is some very good news for Penguins fans this week regarding injuries, bad news for Rangers fans, an update on the Coyotes' ownership, more suspensions and a hockey jersey going into orbit.


-Very good news for Penguins fans. All Penguins players, except for Zbeynek Michalek, are skating and practicing with the team again! There is still no timetable for Jordan Staal's return but we can expect Brooks Orpik back for Saturday's game in St. Louis and Arron Asham back no later than Wednesday against the Lightning. Michalek will be out for another week at best and three more weeks at worst, but the good news is that he has been skating (before practice). The Pens are slowly getting healthy again and should be at full strength sometime next month.

-The injury report for our Atlantic Divison rival New York Rangers is not as good. Their most potent offensive player, Marian Gaborik, is out for two to three weeks with groin injury separated shoulder and captain Chris Drury re-broke his finger in a different spot and is out six weeks.

-The season may have just begun but things are already off to a great start for Jumbo Joe Thornton. Earlier this month he was named as the San Jose Sharks' captain and now he's been given a three-year contract extension with the team, worth $21 million. The contract has a no-movement clause and will pay Thornton roughly $7 million a year, giving him leeway to continue his disappearing act in the playoffs for another three years without fear.

-This just in: Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien had his hearing in NYC this morning after being suspended indefinitely for getting into a scrum with a Minnesota Wild fan on Tuesday. (Click here to watch the fight if you haven't seen it yet.) Rypien has been suspended for six games and by league policy the Canucks will be fined $25,000. His time off will not only give Rypien plenty of time to think about what he's done but he'll also be able to focus on deflecting the lawsuit of the fan he attacked.

-Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes has also been suspended by the league. Doan has been suspended for three games due to a blindside hit to the head of the Ducks' Dan Sexton on Sunday night. Time to go adjust my fantasy roster...

-Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie has been assigned to the AHL after claiming Brendan Mikkelson off of waivers. This is mainly notable to Pens fans because Brodie was the player who had the audacity to wear Mario's number 66. TSN's Bob McKenzie defended Brodie in this regard, saying that #66 was the number the Flames had assigned him during training camp. But no more will any NHL player wear the sacred number of Mario Lemieux.


-A Nashville Predators jersey is being launched into orbit. Colonel Tim Kopra, a crew member of Space Shuttle Discovery's final mission, is going to bring the a Pekka Rinne jersey with him into space. Kopra's brother-in-law in a Preds season ticket holder and he was the one who suggested that Kopra bring the jersey along. He recommended a Rinne jersey because Kopra is of Finnish decent and Rinne, as well all know, is Finnish. You can read more details of the story here.

-The potential buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes has been officially revealed; Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. Hulsizer told on Friday that he had come to a principal agreement with the city of Glendale on a lease for Arena, where the Coyotes play. Hulsizer would not discuss the details of the lease but he did attend the Coyotes home opener and is hoping to reach a deal with NHL to buy the team at the league's asking price, which has not been revealed. It looks like there may be an end in sight for the long ownership saga in Phoenix and the hockey team will remain in the desert. I can hear the cries of the citizens of Winnipeg from here.

Pens Nation Moblie Now Avalible...Kinda!

Its here faster then expected

Go here on your iPhone/iPod Touch, or Android now!

App will be in Apples iTunes Store soon!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Week In Pens Nation - M*A*S*H 44-45-11

Hellooooooo Nation! This Week in Pens Nation I will be talking about the Penguins Goalie Problems, as well as the the fact that their ain't no shuffle like the 3rd-line shuffle (more on that horrible parody later). As well as a special surprise you don't wanna miss!

Opening Faceoff
As I was driving back and forth from school to my house, I was tuned to the Fan 93.7 and Mark Madden on 105.9, and other then the James Harrison fine talk, most of the buzz was over the Penguins goalie situation. I must be honest, I'm tired of this, I mean its a simple problem that isn't getting a simple answer. That answer is (in my opinion) to let Brent Johnson play until he loses (or needs rest). I know, they will be on a 8 game road trip and eventually Fleury will have to play, but until then let the goalie with the 4-0 record stay hot. Ride Em' Till It Hurts (that's what she said)
is what I've been saying all along, and for the love of all things not from Philly, just say it already.

Annnddd Nowwwwww Fannnsssss!
Another story surrounding the team this week was our injury situation, with Asham, Orpik and Staal all still on the shelf. With at least Orpik returning Saturday, the question now becomes "who stays, who goes?" That is a very brain-bursting question, and the answer is not as simple as who should play in goal. With the return of Orpik, the defensemen on the chopping block are (again in my opinion) Andrew Hutchinson, and Ben Lovejoy. Hutch is the obvious choice because he was the one called up when Free Candy went down. Lovejoy (top ten last name, bank it) is a little tougher, I love his game but he doesn't bring what Brooks can. Engelland is a lock to stay, so are all the other regulars, so figure out the D situation for yourself. As far as Asham and Staal, there are a number of choices to give the boot. My choices for Asham would be Godard, only because Asham brings everything Gods does, but with more talent for scoring. For Gronk however, It's a toss up between Kennedy and Dupuis or even Tangradi. Tangradi is the 1st choice not just on his offensive production (or lack there of) but because he does not have to clear Waivers, the others do, so for the purposes of this post, I'm going Tangradi.

Sudden Death
I mentioned in the teaser that there is a surprise not to miss. Within the coming weeks or so, be sure to check iTunes if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, for...wait for it...The Offical Pens Nation Mobile App! With all the articles from this site, along with PensTV and even the latest Twitter posts from myself, Andy and Meg! Stay Tuned!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Penguins vs. Maple Leafs

After picking up their first win of the season, the Pens came back home to the CONSOL Energy Center to take on the surprising Toronto Maple Leafs.

What ensued was 60 minutes of torture.

The Leafs, with their parade route already planned, have been the surprise team of the early part of the season.

However, we're like 4 games in.

1st Period

Pretty nice pace to start things off.

However, about five minutes in, Colton Orr decides to step in front of the net. A shot from the point deflects off him and by Fleury.

1-0 Queefs.

Pens go on the Powerplay a few minutes later. Malkin takes a slapper. Deflection. Kunitz. Goal.


Pens score on the PP. Holy balls.

With a couple minutes left, Pens use some nice forechecking and create a turnover right on the doorstep, which Max Talbot pokes home past Jonas Gustavsson.

2-1 Pens.

2nd Period

Of course no lead is safe with the Pens and, a couple minutes into the 2nd, Clark McArthur takes a cross-ice pass on the PP and finds the open net behind Flower.


Couple minutes later, Pens crap their pants again as Francois Beauchemin slaps one by Fleury off a faceoff win by Toronto.

3-2 Leafs.

At this point, you're starting to think... maybe the CEC wasn't a good idea.

Then, the highlight of the night comes for the Pens as Deryk Engelland decides to scrap with Colton Orr, one of the biggest heavyweights in the game.

Orr gets the upper hand in the fight. But then Engelland does this:

I was at a local watering hole watching the game and as soon as he hit him the entire place goes...


They kept doing it on every replay too. Great stuff.

Then Clark McArthur scored again off a great feed from behind the net. Unreal

4-2 Toronto.

Pens miss some point blank chances.

Malkin, of course, misses a penalty shot.

I love Geno. He's a great player. But the dude sucks at Penalty Shots. Has no confidence in that situation for some reason.

Right before the end of the period. Sid.

He takes a great pass from Goligoski to the front of the net. Goes backhand right by Gus.

4-3 Leafs.

3rd Period


Gustavsson stands tall.

Pens lose.

What we learned:

Fleury is 0-3 and took some more Osgood-esque angles on some shots.
Pens are 0-3 at home.
Still early.
Don't worry... too much.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mike Richards Making a Fool of Himself.

Pretty comical video of Flyers Captain Mike Richards and his comments in the locker room following their 5-1 to the Pens on Saturday night. It's pretty much him trashing Matt Cooke and blaming the Pens for taking cheap dives. Enjoy.

Young Penguins Off To Fast Start

 After scoring the game winning goal last night to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders, Alex Goligoski is the man being talked about around Pittsburgh. Goligoski, a 25 year old defenseman, is off to a fast start scoring three goals and recording six points through the team’s first six games. On a team that has elite talent like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Crosby, Goligoski and fellow defenseman Paul Martin lead the team in points this season. Evgeni Malkin has four points. The beginning of Goligoski’s season is almost a replica of last season. He scored six goals and recorded thirteen points in the first fifteen games. In mid-November, Goligoski suffered a lower-body injury and never returned to form after he returned. He went on to score only two  goals and record 24 points in the other 54 games he played in. Penguins fans hope that Goligoski can play the way he has been consistently throughout the season. If that happens, the Penguins will be a tough team to beat when everyone is healthy. Malkin and Crosby will also need to start producing more as the team is already without Jordan Staal and Arron Asham due to injuries. Goligoski’s goal on Friday night clinched the first Penguins victory at the Consol Energy Center. Fans in Pittsburgh hope that this is only the beginning of a good season for Goligoski, who is hoping to replace veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who signed with the Ottawa Senators on July 1st as an unrestricted free agent.

Centre Mark Letestu is another player who is performing above expectations this season. Letestu, who has spent the last four seasons mostly in Wilkes Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, has scored three goals and recorded five points thus far. Letestu earned a spot on the roster this season after impressing the coaching staff during training camp. He is filling in for Jordan Staal, who is recovering from a foot injury. Left winger Eric Tangradi, who has been considered one of Pittsburgh’s top prospects in the past, scored his first NHL goal last night. The Penguins hope that these young players will continue to develop into the players that fans want them to until Staal and Asham get healthy.

Penguins @ Devils

After dropping their first two games of the season in disappointing fashion, the Pens took on the Devils in New Jersey, a team they went 0-6 against a year ago.

It was a 4pm start because Christopher Columbus got lost a few hundred years ago.

If I had a dollar for ever New Jersey fan there, I'd have like 25 cents.

The Devils, thanks to Ilya Kovalchuk's monster contract and some injuries, had to dress 15 players.

If anyone else knows who that guy is... "cheeseballs."

First Period

Sid almost scored off the faceoff.

Nearing the end of the period, Goligoski gets a turnover and a present on his doorstep. He fires a slapper over Marty Brodeur's glove.

Tangradi blanketed Kovalchuk and forced the turnover.

1-0 Pens.

Second Period

A couple minutes into the second, Letestu gets in front of the net, takes a slapper off his thigh and watches the puck trickle into the net.

2-0 Pens.

Letestu again.

Brent Johnson holds the fort for the rest of the second.

Third Period

About 8 minutes in, Patrick Elias puts a slap shot past Johnson right off a faceoff.

2-1 Pens.

About that time, Pens fans are starting to look around in their garage for some sturdy rope.

However, the Pens stay solid.

Craig Adams comes up with a huge play on the goal line to keep the puck from going in the net behind Johnson.

Brodeur gets pulled.

Paul Martin, who had been booed the entire night (Didn't realize New Jersey fans cared enough to boo), collects the puck and skates in easily for the empty netter.


Game. First Win.

What we learned:

-Letestu is still good.
-Tangradi is just solid.
-Brent Johnson is doing his best to annoy the hell out of me by giving people reasons to call into local radio stations and say their is a Goalie controversy.
-Maybe there is?
-Nah, too early to tell.

Pens vs. Canadiens

After nearly quitting life after the Flyers loss, I decided to stick it out and watch the Pens take on the Habs.

Bad idea.

The Pens played a nice game until the last five minutes, blowing a 2-1 lead and moving to 0-2 at CONSOL Energy Center.


Mike Cammalleri continued his dominance of the Pens by collecting two goals.

Boy would I love to have Cammalleri on the Pens.

Some guy who was not named Jeff Jimmerson sang the anthem. I blame him.

First Period

Calamari scores.

1-0 Habs.

Comrie spends nearly half the period in the penalty box.

Second Period

Geno tallies his first goal of the season as he buries a slapper. Pens had a 4 on 3 advantage.


A Power Play goal? What?

Kinda sad that this is what you see when you search "Pens powerplay":

Miss you Sarge.

3rd Period

8:42 in Letestu up for the first time this season by snapping a nice little wrister by Carey Price.

Letestu is good.

2-1 Pens.

Then the Pens...

Cammalleri scores again.


Then, like a second later, the Pens...

Scott Gomez scores.

3-2 Habs.


Great picture by our friends over at The Pensblog.


What we learned:

Letestu is sweet.
Fleury needs to be better.
It's only game #2.
Don't Google image search anything with the word "pee" in it with your safesearch off.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- The Suspension is Killing Me!

I apologize for pushing it again with this week's article title. That's what happens when I try to be clever.

Our beloved Penguins are off to a rough start. I don't think anyone predicted we'd be 1-4 at this point. Still, it's early in the season and there's no reason to be pushing the panic button yet. Believe it or not, the PP could be worse- it could be operating at 7.1% like Philly's instead of the 15% it's at right now (thank you Joe Depto of the Fourth Period and Pens Universe for those numbers.) I'd rather be losing these sorts of games in October than April, and I'm confident that Disco Dan will rally the troops and everything will be back to normal before we know it.

This week in NHL news- an early season injury report, the league suspends someone who's not Sean Avery (although he's involved of course), and a full debriefing of the Pavelec incident.


-Jordan Staal and Arron Asham are back on the ice! There is still no timetable for Staal's return, but Asham should be back within two weeks or so. Brooks Orpik also skated briefly before practice, but he is still day-to-day with a groin injury and will miss tonight's game. Zbynek Michalek is out for two to four weeks with an "upper body" injury (mostly likely to his right shoulder). Given the hit he took against New Jersey that caused the injury, I was prepared for the worst so I'll take two to four weeks right now.

-For those of you who missed Wednesday night's game against the Maple Leafs, be sure to check out this video of Deryk Engelland fighting Colton Orr if you haven't yet.

-The Penguins will wear their blue jerseys tonight against the Islanders. What better way to reverse a curse than with another curse? For those of you who've asked, there's no word about which jerseys they'll be wearing, whether the traditional powder blue jerseys or the new blue ones for the Winter Classic. Anyway, these are the lines for tonight's game:


Brent Johnson in net

-By this point, I'm sure everyone's heard about the bizarre and unfortunate incident involving Thrashers' goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Last Friday night, the Thrashers were playing the Capitals and Pavelec unexpectedly fainted over backwards only two and a half minutes into the game. No one was around Pavelec when he collapsed and he had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. He was unconscious while being taken off the ice but came around during the ambulance ride, enough to ask how his team was faring (they won 4-2). Pavelec, who does not have a history of health problems, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has no memory of playing against the Capitals. The last thing he remembers before waking up in the hospital was the national anthem at the start of the game. Tests revealed that he had a concussion but that was from hitting his head on the ice when he fainted, not what caused the unexpected fall. The goalie underwent a full-body MRI and everything was revealed to be functioning properly. He suffered a headache from the concussion but that was the extent of the damage. Pavelec was released from the hospital on Sunday and is resting at home. The team placed him on injured reserve and called up Drew MacIntyre from the AHL. Pavelec said he is feeling fine but the cause of his fainting spell is still unknown. Very, very strange all around, but we're all glad that Pavelec is out of the hospital and doing well and wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

-Zdeno Chara is going to be a Boston Bruin for the seven more seasons and will likely end his career with Boston. I grew up in Sabres territory and believe me, local Sabres fans were thrilled to hear about his extension. As one kid I went to high school with said on his Facebook status, "We just got rid of the Buffaslug only to have to put up with Chara in the division for seven more years?!?! Will our suffering never end???" (Correct answer: of course it won't. You're a Buffalo sports fan. You're doomed to suffer year in and year out. How have you not realized this yet?) Chara's deal is worth $45.5 million. He will be 41 years old when the deal expires but it is not a blatant cap-circumvention. The cap hit on his deal is $6.917 million over the first six years and $4 million in the last year. Eat your heart out, Lou Lamoriello.

-Andreas Lilja will be staying on the West Coast after all. He signed a one-way deal with the Ducks for one year, $600,000. Anaheim needs all the help it can get right now...

-Henrik Sedin was named the Canucks captain after all. Ryan Kesler was the fan favorite in Vancouver, but the elder Sedin twin is the one wearing the "C".

-Red Wings news: Brian Rafalski had to have arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out three to four weeks. Kirk Maltby, a four-time Stanley Cup winner, is retiring after being released by the Red Wings. Head coach Mike Babcock singed a four-year extension with the Red Wings. His deal would've been up this summer and the Red Wings didn't want him taking his impressive resume elsewhere. Babcock's statement on the deal was about as clever as one of my article titles. "I'm a big believer in that the grass isn't always greener [elsewhere], you just need to use fertilizer and water where you're at," he said.

-Patrick Kane is sick and will miss tonight's game against Columbus. Chicago recalled defenseman Jassen Cullimore from the AHL, which means that one of their defensemen, most likely Dustin Byfuglien Jordan Hendry will take Kane's shifts at wing.


-The Florida Panthers have reached 10,000 season ticket holders for the first time since 2001. I keep glancing out my window to see if there are any pigs flying around. Amazingly I haven't seen any yet.

-Hockey players with last names that are impossible to spell were apparently at high-risk for suspensions this week. Niklas Hjalmarsson was suspended two games for a hit on Buffalo's Jason Pominville that saw him carried out on a stretcher with a concussion. James Wisniewski of the Islanders is also out for two games, but not for injuring someone. He made a "lewd gesture" at Sean Avery. I think the league got it about right with Hjalmarsson but I think a fine for Wisniewski would've been more appropriate.

-Nick Foligno of the Ottawa Senators has been fined $2,500 for an illegal hit to the head to Carolina's Patrick Dwyer.

-Breaking news: Gary Roberts has been added as a player development consultant for the Dallas Stars to work with their younger, upcoming players. That's a very smart move by the Stars' management, considering that Roberts has already trained Jamie Neal and Steven Stamkos and they've turned out alright. The players he'll be working with are likely shaking in their skates.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First Three Games In Review

After three games, it's almost impossible to tell what is going on with the Penguins.

I mean, it is three games after all.

However, I find it amusing how some people, namely ESPN, have decided to bury the Penguins after only two games.

In the preseason, ESPN's Power Rankings slotted the Pens as the 7th best team in the NHL.

After two games, they dropped the Pens to 27th.

Yeah, the Pens are the 27th best team in the NHL.

Basically, Scott Burnside says that the Panthers, Blue Jackets, Sabres, Islanders, Wild, Thrashers and Hurricanes are all better than the Pens.

Burnside ranked the Hurricanes as the #2 team in the NHL.

I don't even need to come up with a joke on how stupid that is.

Sure, it hasn't been the most encouraging start for the Pens but they are far from the 4th-worst team in the NHL. Let's take a look:

Game #1 vs. Philadelphia Flyers

It was opening night at the CONSOL Energy Center.

The players walked down a red carpet, the big screen was up outside.

It was a big deal.

As well it should be. We had been waiting for this day for years now.

We deserved it.

Mario came out before the game, which, since the game was on Versus, no one got to see.

What a moment. Mario took the old Civic Arena ice, had it melted and bottled and poured it out on the CONSOL ice.

Mario dropped the ceremonial first puck with Gary Bettman by his side.

Let's be real here. Many people don't like Bettman, but he did try to keep the Penguins here in Pittsburgh. He has always spoke very highly of the organization.

Therefore, I was ok with him being out there... Kinda.

1st Period

Pens come out of the gate flying, but hit post after post. This became a theme throughout the game, unfortunately.

Early on, you get the feeling that the Flyers rookie goalie was going to steal the show.

Good hockey early. Kinda sloppy but you expect that.

2nd Period

Early on, Danny Briere unbelievably gets the first goal in the history of the CEC.

For all the Briere-bashing that has gone down the last few years here in Pittsburgh, it really makes you think that Karma is a legit philosophical idea.

1-0 bad guys.

Versus does an interview with Gary Bettman during some really exciting play.

As we were heading to the 2nd intermission, Blair Betts pokes home a rebound. Barf.

2-0 Filthadelphia.

At this point, you know some idiot is already writing an article about how the Pens season is over.

3rd Period

Less than a minute in, Paul Martin makes a move to the net and feeds Tyler Kennedy with a sick pass.

TK collects it and rips it top shelf past Bobrovsky.


Pens then clank a post so hard on the PowerPlay. Heartbreaking.

Kris Letang then decides to crap his pants and turn the puck over.

Claude Giroux collects the gift and makes a move on Fleury for a shorty.


Pens waste no time though and cut the lead to one. Zybnek Michalek lets a wrister go that is deflected by Goligoski for the GoGoGoal (that's the last time I ever use that expression, I swear).


Pens miss some big chances. Fleury made some huge saves to keep things close.

It wasn't enough though. Flyers clear the zone over and over again and win the first game at the CONSOL Engery Center.


(Coming up in a bit- Recaps of the Canadiens debacle and WIN over the New Jersey Kovalchuks)

Friday, October 8, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- The Puck Has Been Dropped!

The title says it all. The 2010-11 NHL season is underway! Blades scraping across the ice, pucks flying, the goal horn blaring...It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It goes without saying that it was more than a little upsetting to see the Penguins lose to the Flyers to open their new arena, but they did open Mellon with a loss as well and that turned out okay. Also, Dan pointed out that they lost their home opener in '09 but won Lord Stanley's Cup. As much as the loss stinks, it's hardly time to panic yet.

Besides the puck finally being dropped (YEAH!), this week's NHL news mostly consisted of last minute roster cuts and signings. I'm also including some of the better #TangradiRumors that I saw (I'll explain that in a minute to those of you who don't tweet):


-Ruslan Fedotenko signed with his tryout team. The Rangers signed him for one-year, $1 million. Looks like the Rangers have solved their secondary scoring problem...

-As you all know, Bill Guerin's tryout was not as successful as Fedotenko's and the Flyers released him earlier this week. While we're all relieved we don't have to see our beloved Billy G in those hideous pumpkin-orange jerseys, it is a shame that his desire to continue his career is currently at a standstill. Best of lucky to Billy G, whatever the future holds.

-Another veteran that was released from a tryout; Andrew Lilja was set free by the Sharks, probably wishing he'd taken the one-year, $1 million from Detroit after all. I heard a rumor that Lilja actually contacted Shero about playing for the Penguins. If that's true, I doubt anything will come from it for a while, if anything does at all. (Sidenote: I wonder if Lilja's decision to turn down guaranteed money from Detroit and take a chance with the Sharks, then supposedly wanting to come to Pittsburgh is a sign that he wants to be on a Cup-contending team and thinks the Red Wings are on the downspin? Just a thought. No evidence behind it.)

-Josh Harding's replacement in Minnesota? Former Caps goaltender Jose Theodore. Theodore signed with the Wild on Saturday, for one-year, $1.1 million. Meanwhile over in Russia, Nabokov is cursing his luck and saying, "that could've been me!"

-Are you one of those people still moaning about the Ponikarovsky trade costing us Luca Caputi? Well if you are, stop. Caputi was sent to the AHL. By the Leafs. Let me repeat that: Caputi was sent to the AHL by the Leafs. If he couldn't crack the Leafs lineup, there's no way he would've cracked the Penguins lineup. So no more complaining.

-Congratulations to Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton for their newly awarded captaincies of the Ducks and Sharks, respectively. Getzlaf was the obvious choice in Anaheim now that Niedermayer is retired. The Sharks captaincy was a little more up in the air. A lot of people thought Dan Boyle was the best candidate, but the Sharks ultimately decided that Thornton had matured enough to wear the 'C'. Boyle will get one 'A' year-round, while Patrick Marleau will wear the second 'A' at home and Ryan Clowe gets it on the road. What, no leadership letter for Dany Heatley?

-Speaking of 'A's, I lied last week about Orpik and the Pens second 'A'. He and Jordan Staal are sharing the wearing of the 'A' between home and road games. I guess it wasn't a total lie, as Orpik will be the sole owner of the 'A' while Jordan Staal was hurt, but I still wanted to specify and correct my mistake.

-The Kings extended goalie Jonathan Bernier's deal for two more years and $2.5 million ($925,000 the first year, $1.525 the second, a total cap hit of $1.25 million per year). I think this was one of the biggest steals this offseason. Even though Jonathan Quick remains the starter in L.A., I really think Bernier is the goalie of the future for the Kings. He won all three games he played for L.A. last year, and in impressive fashion, posting a 1.30 GAA and a .957 save percentage. Not too shabby, even though those numbers are kind of misleading, seeing as how few games he played. Head coach Terry Murray said that, as of right now, Bernier will start about 20 games or so this year. A lot depends on how well Quick plays, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Bernier steal the starting job this season.

-Just yesterday, it was announced that the Bruins has extended Patrice Bergeron's deal three more years. He'll be paid $4.9 million next season and $3.55 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14, plus a $1 million signing bonus each year.

-The Oilers finally found a way to get rid of Sheldon Sournay. After he cleared waivers, they sent him to the AHL. But not to their own AHL affiliate. They probably didn't want him poisoning the minds of their future players. They loaned him to the Hershey Bears, the Caps' AHL affiliate. In the meantime, the Oilers are stuck paying his salary until they can trade him.

-Breaking news: Flyers' goalie Michael Leighton is going to have back surgery. He's going to be out six to eight weeks.

-Apparently Rex Ryan is going to drop the opening puck at the Islanders next game. Quick, hide the cupcakes!!!!


-On Wednesday, when it was announced that Eric Tangradi was being reassigned to the Wheeling Nailers. The move was strictly procedural because he didn't and he ended up playing in last night's game, but the announcement had Penguins fans freaking out and wondering what was going on. All kind of rumors were circulating about why Tangradi was "sent" to West Virginia. As a result, Pens fans on Twitter started a hashtag called "#TangradiRumors" and tweeted various "rumors" about Tangradi about West Virginia, girls, trivia, and a range of other topics. Some of my favorite #TangradiRumors for your enjoyment:
"Shero just finished reading excerpts from Lou Lamierello's new book on cap circumvention."

"He tried to go to WBS but Michalek blocked him."

"He made his own mosaic and posted it over Mario's."

"He emptied out Pittsburgh's Cheesecake Factory and is moving on to the next one." You'll only get this one if you follow Tangradi on Twitter.

"Called Paul Martin 'coach' and got sent to Wheeling." Which may have actually happened. The resemblance between Martin and Bylsma is almost terrifying.
Tangradi was a good sport about it. He was quoted as saying he got quite a few laughs out of them and this morning he tweeted that he read them all and is going to award a prize to the best one. Gotta love the Big Dog.

-I saw a Minnesota Wild fan for the first time in my life. I was walking back from lunch with two of my roommates and I spotted a guy wearing a Wild jersey on the other side of the parking lot. I didn't know Wild fans actually existed. It was like seeing Bigfoot.

-Very, very exciting news for hockey fans everywhere. The current NHL TV contracts are set to expire after this season, and there are early signs of a bidding war developing, according to the Sports Business Journal. Versus wants to renew its deal with the NHL (no surprises there, are NHL games, especially the playoffs, generate the highest ratings for Versus), and NBC wants to retain its rights package also. But ESPN is also lurking, and Fox Sports is considering getting in on the action too. Not only could the NHL be in for quite a bit of extra cash, but this may lead to more games being televised nationally on a regular basis- an especially exciting thought for misplaced fans like myself and my cousin in Oregon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Week In Pens Nation - Oh What A Night!

Hellooooooo Nation, in a few hours the Penguins will open a new chapter in history, Chapter 2: Consol Energy Center. This will be the first regular-season home game in an arena other then the Mellon. I personally will be at Mario's TV outside to witness (kind of) history. The stage is set, Penguins vs. Flyers at a new arena packed with 18,087 crazy Pens fans. This will be one of the most amazing moments for me as the only arena I have known until a September 27 was the Mellon Arena. I was lucky enough to be one of the first fans to watch a hockey game in CEC. Tonight, thousands will do the same, and weather you develop new pregame rituals, or carry over ones from Mellon like walking around the arena before you take you seat, one thing must must be loud. It's A Hockey Night In Pittsburgh! Let's Go Pens!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pens Preseason Recap

I said at the end of my last Game Recap post, don't expect me to recap preseason games extensively.

As it turned out, I didn't recap any, except the first.

Preseason is done though. It's time for some real hockey. Some meaningful hockey.

However it is my duty to look back at the preseason and talk about what happened, I guess.

After the Pens made Chris Osgood urinate himself like the toddler he is, they moved on and finished the preseason with an impressive 5-1 record.

Not a bad thing, however don't go nuts over what happened in games where guys like Joe Vitale are playing.

But anyways, the Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings twice (5-1, 5-2), the West Pittsburgh Blue Jackets (5-4, 3-1) twice and split with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (4-1, 2-5).

Kinda sucks to no longer be the defending champions. Just as this guy:

If that doesn't get you pumped for Thursday night, I don't know what will.

All in all though, it wasn't a bad preseason.

A few guys really stood out throughout the preseason:
- Mike Comrie- Guy just played his butt off. You can tell he's going to be a guy who will mesh with this team.
- Marc Andre Fleury- Allowed 6 goals in 4 preseason games he played in. Not bad.
- Eric Tangradi- I feel like Tangradi has the ability to be the next Ryan Malone for the Penguins. He goes to the net, which is something that the Penguins have been without since Malone was here.
-Zybnek Michalek- What a shot blocker. This guy, who is only 27, could be a huge addition to the Penguins defense this season. He's been fantastic throughout the preseason. Can't wait to see what he can do this year.

At the end of the day, you can't put a lot into what has happened through six meaningless games. Hockey relies so much on depth, more than any other sport and, since so many guys sit in the preseason, it is almost impossible to judge teams.

However, I do like what I've seen from the Penguins.

They averaged 4 goals per game and were shut down defensively at times.

It feels like hockey outside.

The season is here.

Bring on the Flyers.

Gimme A Break....

Hellooooo Nation! This isn't an official post, as I am just saying that with the "freshmen 15" of a workload at my classes, I will be on hiatus until Oct 7th (or I can think of material, whoops). With that, I leave you with this...

Friday, October 1, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- Waiver Your Health Goodbye

Greetings Pens Nation! I hope the weather has been by everyone else; it rained NON-STOP yesterday. But hail the size of bowling balls could've been falling from the sky for all I care, because it's now October and hockey season is DAYS away!!!!

This week there was the usual slew of preseason injuries and teams waiving players right and left to trim their rosters down to size and/or clear cap space. There isn't much off-ice activity to report since it's so close to the start of the season, but there are a few entertaining tidbits. Without any further ado, here is your NHL news of the week:


-It's been officially decided that this season Brooks Orpik will be wearing the 'A' Gonchar left behind. I'm sure this doesn't come as much of a surprise and I know a lot of Pens fans felt Orpik was the best choice for the job. Congrats Free Candy!

-Jordan Staal update: Staal spoke to the media yesterday concerning his infected foot. I know there's been a lot of rumors going around about him being out longer than anticipated, but ignore anything you've heard. As of right now, there is NO TIMETABLE for Staal's return. He is hoping to restart his workouts by next week, but is still some time away from skating. Obviously, we will keep you updated on his condition as it improves or (God forbid) worsens.

-All the players the Penguins waived on Wednesday have cleared waivers and will be reporting to Wilkes-Barre.

-Time for a round of You know it's time to join a European hockey team when... This week's contestant is Jonathan Cheechoo. You know it's time to join a European hockey team when the Dallas Stars think you can't help their roster and release you from your camp tryout.

All kidding aside, I was rooting for Cheechoo to make the team and make a comeback. Hopefully he'll be picked up by an AHL team, or actually does go overseas to play with all the other people with cool last names. Good luck Cheechoo.

-One veteran that was able to find work was Donald Brashear. Just this morning, it was announced that Brashear has signed with the Sorel-Tracy GCI of the LNAH in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec (the terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet). Please tell me I'm not the only one who giggled at the thought of hearing Brashear speak French.

-So many players that no one has heard of have been waived this past week but here are three I felt were worth noting; Wade Redden, Cristobal Huet, and Sheldon Souray. Redden and Huet were obviously both waived to clear up cap space for the Rangers and Blackhawks, and because they weren't really contributing to their respective teams (and that's putting it mildly). Redden will be reporting to the Hartford Wolf Pack and Huet is now playing in Switzerland for Fribourg-Gotteron. I only felt Souray was worth mentioning because of his very public fallout with the Oilers. He cleared waivers this morning.

-The Flyers had some bad luck with injuries this week. Goalie Michael Leighton has a bulging disc in his lower back (ouch) and will be out for about a month. GM Paul Holmgren says there will be no outside move on goaltending in spite of Leighton's condition. Who needs a number one goaltender anyway? Forward Ian Laperriere is also out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms. (GASP! Laperriere has a concussion? No one could've saw that coming!) Laperriere suffered from a concussion/brain contusion from last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, when a shot from Paul Martin hit him in the right eye in the opening round and required 70 stitches. He returned to play in the Eastern Conference Finals and then the Stanley Cup Finals. Laperriere played in the preseason opener against the Devils but admitted this week that he was still having issues over the summer and had been lying about his health so he could play for the Stanley Cup back in June. I suppose you can't blame a 36-year-old guy for wanting to play in his first-ever Stanley Cup Finals, but will it be worth it in the long-run if he suffers permanent brain damage?

-Even more unlucky than the Flyers are the Islanders. First they lost defenseman Michael Streit for the next six months to a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, after colliding with his teammate Matt Moulson. The injury is said to require surgery, although Streit is looking into other options. Then less than two days after Streit went down, it was reported that Kyle Okposo is going to need shoulder surgery too. He also has a torn labrum, but in his right shoulder, and is out indefinitely. I'm also ruling the playoffs out indefinitely for the Isles, as if they had a shot anyway.

-Wild backup goalie Josh Harding is likely done for the season. Harding tore his ACL and his MCL when Blues forward Bray Boyes was checked into him in a preseason game, and he'll need surgery. Yikes. It hasn't been reported whether the tears are complete or partial, but a partial tear of just an ACL or MCL is bad enough, much less both at the same time. I'm not even going to try and say anything funny or clever about that. Get well soon, Harding.


-Facepalm moment of the week; it came to light that Kris Versteeg's name was spelled wrong on the Stanley Cup. The mistake has been corrected, but the damage was already done:

How could the engraver spell "Hjalmarsson" correctly but mess up "Versteeg"?

Whoops. I enjoyed Kris Versteeg's take on the matter. He said that since he won't ever be on of the biggest names in the game, he'll take going down in history as one of the misspells on the Stanley Cup.

-There is a rumor going around that there are negotiations for Ovechkin recording a duet with Eminem. Yes, a rap song. Ovechkin. Rapping. With Eminem. After triple-checking to make sure I hadn't read the headline wrong, I started cracking up. How hilarious would that be to hear Ovechkin rapping in broken English with Eminem??? (I guess he already recorded a song with a Russian rap artist this past summer, for his girlfriend or something. You learn these things when you're friends with a diehard Caps fan.) I hope this is more than a rumor because I want to hear that song for comic relief. Whether this is true or not, it seems like Ovechkin is really focused on the upcoming hockey season and guiding his team to Lord Stanley's Cup huh?