Monday, January 31, 2011

CBC Poll Results

Hockey Night in Canada and the NHLPA polled over 300 NHL players about a variety of topics, ranging from which rink had the best ice to whether fighting should be banned in the NHL. The poll yielded some interesting results and the Penguins as a whole did very well.

There were five categories: Arenas/Teams, Coaches, On-Ice Topics, Player Opinions and Skills. The full results can be found here, on CBC's website, but I wanted to take some time for a little more in-depth look at some of the results in all five categories.

Arenas/Teams- No Real Surprises Here

Canadian teams' rinks have the best ice. Southern teams have the worst. Everyone wants to play for Detroit. No one wants to play for the Islanders. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The only thing that some found to be remotely surprising is that the Sabres made the list in teams that players would least like to play for. After all, they were a playoff team last year and are still in the postseason hunt for the second half of this season.

However, as someone who grew up only an hour away from Buffalo, I can tell you that this result isn't surprising. It's not about the caliber of the team. It's about the city itself. Buffalo is a generally depressing city, the weather would make even Gary Roberts cry, and nothing happens there. Brooks Orpik and Patrick Kane would tell you the same. No one wants to live in Buffalo.

One of my professors even said last week that there's nothing to do in Buffalo except cry, drink, and beat up Canadians. Not necessarily in that order. (Her words, not mine. I love her classes though.)

Coaches- Blame HBO

This category, on the other hand, had lots of good stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to find our own Disco Dan voted as the coach that players would most like to play for. Given how well Bylsma came across on "24/7", maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I discussed this briefly with my editor at Chicks Who Give A Puck and she said that she personally thought Bylsma was the star of the show and that everyone she talked to agreed. She also pointed out to me that for West Coast fans like herself, it was really the first up-close look at Bylsma that they'd ever gotten because the Penguins don't play West Coast teams very frequently. It's not unrealistic to think that many NHL players tuned into "24/7" and that West Coast players who did so thought the same.

It was also interesting to note that Bruce Boudreau was voted the coach that players thought was easiest to play for (f-bombs notwithstanding). Bylsma and Dave Tippett also made this list, yet they both were on the list of coaches that players would most like to play for. Boudreau was not. Bylsma and Mike Babcock were also on the list of coaches that demand most from their players, but Babcock joined Bylsma on the list of coaches players would most like to play for. John Tortorella, to no one's surprise, was voted the most demanding coach and was also one of the coaches players would least like to play for.

The moral of the story here? The most popular coaches can be demanding and/or easy to play for, as long as they aren't too extreme in either direction. Balance is key. As is not wanting Häagen-Dazs at ten in the morning.

On-Ice Topics- Say What?

As CBC noted, this category had the question with probably the most surprising result. It's been thought that players want to do their own "policing". We all assumed that the current instigator rule, which was established in 1992, was unpopular. That cheap shots are becoming more common because cheap shot artists don't have to worry so much about answering to enforcers. Even my dad, who is not a frequent hockey viewer, said he remembered back in the day when no one would dare take a run at a team's superstars because of guys like Bob Probart and Dave Brown. We all thought that, when asked, players would want to get rid of the instigator rule.

We thought wrong.

The players were asked if they thought the instigator rule should be abolished. A large majority (66%) said no. I'd like to see CBC go further with this question and ask players not just if they think the rule should be kept or abolished, but why they think so. It would be very interesting to find out exactly why so many players answered the way they did. Also, Sean Avery needs to be forced to answer this question. I would pay money to read his response.

Player Opinions- Everybody Loves Sidney

It's no surprise, considering how dominant a season he was having before his concussion, that Sidney Crosby faired well in these categories. Crosby was voted the toughest forward to play against, the best active player to start a franchise around, and the best role model. He won the player to start a franchise around question by capturing an overwhelming margin, capturing 69% of the votes. In second place? Nik Lidstrom...at 6%. I normally don't put too much faith in statistics but that one doesn't lie.

I also found it hilarious that 15% of players voted no one as the best NHL referee, which ended up in the top spot. I guess players like the refs as much as fans do. Yet another reason why I would never want to be a referee in any sport. It seems like a very thankless job.

Skills- More Dominance From Sid

Once again, Crosby did very well in these categories. He was voted toughest player to play against and the smartest player, and second best skater, most difficult player to stop, and most difficult player to take the puck off of.

I thought CBC made a good point about the toughest player to play against question. Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and Zdeno Chara were the top three in this category (Datsyuk and Chara tied for second) but they're all tough to play against for different reasons. They're all highly skilled players and are among, if not the, best at their respective positions, but they all excel at different aspects of the game. CBC speculates that players may have varied definitions of "toughness", which is a distinct possibility. It can't be denied that Pavel Datsyuk and Zdeno Chara have very different kinds of toughness. For example, it is almost impossible to knock Datsyuk off a puck. Chara, on the other hand, is almost impossible to knock over.

As CBC also pointed out, Ovechkin was top five in four categories, but first in only one of them (which player is most difficult to stop, for goalies only). Crosby, on the other hand, is top five in ten categories and only in one of those categories is he not in the top two. Hmmm.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gameday With Dan - NHL All-Star Game



When: 4:00pm
Where: RBC Center
Watch it on: Versus
Listen on: pittsburghpenguins.com

News and Information: Tonight will be the first All-Star game not using the East/West or North America/World format. People in North Carolina only care because NASCAR is in the off-season.

Player to Watch: Team Lidstrom
Marc-Andre Fleury: While he'll only play one period, he will make an impact as he will try to tame the firepower that is the ASG. That's really all I can say about a goalie in an offensive game.

Player to Watch: Team Staal
Jeff Skinner: He is in his first season, and first ASG (only because Sid and Geno are out), he will be good in this game. This game means nothing after all.

No idea on the lines, its a flipping ASG!

Go Fleury! Go Letang!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gameday With Dan - NHL SuperSkills Competition



When: 7:00pm
Where: RBC Center
Watch it on: Versus

News and Information: Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang will be on opposite teams for tonights competition and tomorrow game. Each team's rookie group will also take part.

Player to Watch: Team Staal
Alex Ovechkin: As much as it hurts me to say, keep a watchful eye on Ovie tonight. He is the defending Breakaway Challenge winner (with help from Malkin). Look for more from the man in the spotlight in NASCAR country tonight.

Player to Watch: Team Lidstrom
Marc-Andre Fleury: In his first All-Star game, look for Flower to come up big in the goalie challenges as well as in tomorrow nights game. He is the one of the two best goalies in Carolina this weekend.

SuperSkills Events: (From NHL.com)
Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
BlackBerry NHL Breakaway Challenge
McDonald's NHL Accuracy Shooting
G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay
XM NHL Hardest Shot
Discover NHL Elimination Shootout

Event Participants: (From NHL.com
Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater - Order determined on the ice

Team Staal
Michael Grabner – New York Islanders
Mike Green – Washington Capitals
Patrick Sharp – Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks
Marc Staal – New York Rangers
Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins

Team Lidstrom
Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
Taylor Hall – Edmonton Oilers
Matt Duchene – Colorado Avalanche
Martin St. Louis – Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
Keith Yandle – Phoenix Coyotes

BlackBerry NHL Breakaway Challenge

Team Staal
P.K. Subban – Montreal Canadiens
Corey Perry – Anaheim Ducks
Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals

Team Lidstrom
Evgeny Dadonov – Florida Panthers
Anze Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings
Henrik Sedin – Vancouver Canucks

McDonald's NHL Accuracy Shooting - Order determined on the ice

Team Staal
Rick Nash – Columbus Blue Jackets
Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks
Eric Staal – Carolina Hurricanes
Logan Couture – San Jose Sharks
Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks
Passer: Dan Boyle – San Jose Sharks
Passer: Paul Stastny – Colorado Avalanche

Team Lidstrom
Brad Richards – Dallas Stars
Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
Martin Havlat – Minnesota Wild
Derek Stepan – New York Rangers
Passer: Nicklas Lidstrom – Red Wings
Passer: Danny Briere – Philadelphia Flyers

G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay

Team Staal
Group 1
Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins
Eric Staal – Carolina Hurricanes
Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks
Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
Dan Boyle – San Jose Sharks
Tyler Ennis – Buffalo Sabres
Paul Stastny – Colorado Avalanche
Corey Perry – Anaheim Ducks

Group 2
Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins
Mike Green – Washington Capitals
Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
Jamie McBain – Carolina Hurricanes
David Backes – St. Louis Blues
Marc Staal – New York Rangers
Jeff Skinner – Carolina Hurricanes

Team Lidstrom
Group 1
Nicklas Lidstrom – Detroit Red Wings
Brad Richards – Dallas Stars
Loui Eriksson – Dallas Stars
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Phoenix Coyotes
Henrik Sedin – Vancouver Canucks
Martin St. Louis – Tampa Bay Lightning
Matt Duchene – Colorado Avalanche
Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks

Group 2
Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
Dustin Byfuglien – Atlanta Thrashers
Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
Keith Yandle – Phoenix Coyotes
Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
Martin Havlat – Minnesota Wild
Kevin Shattenkirk – Colorado Avalanche
Danny Briere – Philadelphia Flyers

XM NHL Hardest Shot - Order determined on the ice

Team Staal
Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins
Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
David Backes – St. Louis Blues
Tyler Seguin – Boston Bruins
Rick Nash – Columbus Blue Jackets
Patrick Sharp – Chicago Blackhawks

Team Lidstrom
Anze Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
Dustin Byfuglien – Atlanta Thrashers
Brent Burns - Minnesota Wild
Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks

Discover NHL Elimination Shootout
Team Staal vs. Team Lindstrom




Go Letang! Go Fleury! Subban Sucks.

NHL All-Star Draft Results




Capt.F. Eric StaalD Nicklas Lidstrom
Alt.D Mike GreenF Martin St. Louis
Alt.F Ryan KeslerF Patrick Kane
1G Cam WardF Steven Stamkos
2F Alex OvechkinD Duncan Keith
3F Daniel SedinF Henrik Sedin
4D Zdeno CharaD Shea Weber
5F Rick NashG Tim Thomas
6G Henrik LundqvistF Danny Briere
7D Marc StaalD Dustin Byfuglien
8F Patrick SharpF Jonathan Toews
9D Dan BoyleG Marc-Andre Fleury
10G Carey PriceG Jonas Hiller
11F Jeff SkinnerF Brad Richards
12D Kris LetangD Keith Yandle
13F Claude GirouxD Brett Burns
14D Erik KarlssonF Martin Havlat
15F Corey PerryF Anze Kopitar
16F Patrik EliasF Matt Duchene
17F David BackesF Loui Eriksson
18F Paul StastnyF Phil Kessel

(More after the jump...)



Friday, January 28, 2011

Crosby Progresses; Resumes Workouts.

Penguins' fans get some long awaited good news regarding Captain, Sidney Crosby this afternoon. Crosby has begun to work out and do rehab for the first time since being sidelined on January 5th with concussion symptoms.

Until now Crosby has not been permitted to take part in any physical activity since the being diagnosed. However, he will need to remain symptom-free in order to rejoin his teammates at practice after the All Star Break.

A healthy Crosby is definitely one of the Penguins highest priorities.  Don't expect Crosby to resume practice with his teammates until he has been reevaluated and is symptom free.

Crosby has been sidelined for nine games and his NHL goal scoring lead and points lead has been overtaken by Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Don't get too comfortable, Steve.

Gameday With Dan - NHL All-Star Draft



When: 8:00pm
Where: RBC Center
Watch it on: Versus

News: Tonight is the first ever fantasy draft to determine the teams for Sunday's NHL All-Star Game and Saturday's NHL SuperSkills. Both Team Staal and Team Lidstrom will have 15 rounds to select they're players. This means, of course, that Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury could end up on opposing teams. Team Staal will wear home Red jerseys while Team Lidstrom will wear Away Blue.

I'm opening a twitter contest out to our readers on this draft:

1. Get a twitter account if you don't have one
2. Send your prediction on the FIRST PICK of the draft to @PGHPensNation as follows...

The winner will recieve a iPod Touch Pittsburgh Penguins theme (pictured below)





Go Staal!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

NHL Trade Deadline Nearly A Month Away

UPDATE: Islanders RW Matt Moulson has signed a three year extension worth $3.1 million per season with the Islanders. He was apparently a player that the Penguins may have targeted at the trade deadline. Also, Alex Semin signed a one year deal with the Capitals worth $6.7 million
-The NHL trade deadline will be officially a month away tomorrow at 3 PM. The deadline is set for 3 PM on February 28, 2011. For some teams, it is like Christmas, but for others, it's a fire sale. The Penguins obviously will not be having a fire sale after recording 66 points in the first fifty games of the season. That puts them in second place in the Atlantic division, five points behind Philadelphia. The Penguins are expected to be in trade talks for a scoring winger once again this year. The Fourth Period listed the Penguins being interested in the following players:


LW Alex Tanguay, Flames
Tanguay has already passed his goal total from last season when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning. His best season came in 2006-07 when he scored 22 goals and recorded 81 points. With a relatively low contract, Tanguay can't be ruled out. Stats in 2010-11: 12 Goals, 25 Assists, 37 Pts, -4. Cap Hit: $1.7 million
LW Jarkko Ruutu, Senators
Ruutu spent 2006-07 and 2007-08 with the Penguins and was a fan favorite because of his ability to enforce. He has had over 100 penalty minutes the last six seasons.
Stats in 2010-11: 2 Goals, 7 Assists, 9 Pts, -1, 55 PIM. Cap Hit: $1.3 million


Of the Penguin players that have been linked to trade talk, Alex Goligoski is one name that has been speculated as a player being on the move. However, TIOPS reported yesterday that he is an untouchable and will not be traded this season. That really does not mean anything, since it is not the best source to say the least. The 25 year old defenseman is enjoying his best season in the NHL so far scoring nine goals and recording 26 points in 50 games played. His 21 plus-minus rating is ranked seventh in the NHL. Although his value is high, he has a low cap hit of $1.5 million this season. Stay tuned for the latest trade rumors here on Pens Nation!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Game 50 Recap (1/25/2011)

A 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders gave Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury his 18th career shutout, bringing his numbers to 22-5-2 in his last 29. Those are impressive stats if one considers the rocky start to the season for the Penguins number one net-minder. However, watching his performance tonight there is absolutely no doubt surrounding his selection to the All-Star festivities taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend. Flower, it would appear, will always come up roses. (Yes, it is another terrible pun!)

After a scoreless first period and an equally goalless second period, Craig Adams would get the first of the night with 11:24 remaining in regulation. It would be the only goal of the evening with assists going to both Dustin Jeffrey and Arron Asham. It was Adams third of the season. The Penguins outshot the Islanders 31 to 29, registering 14 shots on goal in the second period. Maxime Talbot and Kris Letang led the team with shots on goal, registering five a piece.

For only the third time since the 2006-07 season, the Penguins were without both Crosby and Malkin (hey – if every other media source can remind you of this, why should we be any different?) and are now 5-3-1 without Sid and 2-1 without he and Geno. The Penguins penalty kill remains number one in the league having successfully killed off 37 of the last 39, including three tonight. Tonight’s victory marks the Pens tenth consecutive win against the Islanders at home since December 21, 2007. (Pittsburgh is now 25-8-6 against the Islanders since the 2004-05 lockout.)

After a week off, the Penguins will return to regular-scheduled play when they face the New York Rangers next Tuesday in New York before returning home to meet the Islanders once again. We wish Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang all the best this weekend in Raleigh where they will represent the team at the All-Star Game. As for the rest of the guys, they are headed for a much deserved week of rest and relaxation.

Three Stars:

1. Marc-Andre Fleury
2. Kevin Poulin
3. Craig Adams

(I know - a less than thrilling recap - next one will be better.)

Gameday with Dan - New York Islanders



When: 7:00pm
Where: Consol Energy Center (I'll be there)

News and Information: Both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will miss the "All-Star" game. Cooke, Kunitz, Letang will all play tonight.

Player to Watch: NY Islanders
Matt Moulson: He has been the Penguins killer as of late against Pittsburgh, he has also been carrying the Isles offense the last three games. He has 17 goals and 29 points, which is second on the team. His last name is also a beer in Canada..wooo!

Player to Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
Pascal Dupuis: He scored the game winner against Carolina on Saturday. He is picking up the slack for Sidney Crosby in the last two games with 2 goals and 1 assist. His speed will also play a part in tonight's game.

Islanders' Lines
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Blake Comeau - Rob Schremp - Josh Bailey
Matt Martin - Zenon Konopka - Jeremy Colliton

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Radek Martinek - Jack Hillen
Dylan Reese - Bruno Gervais
Rick DiPietro

Pens' Lines
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Chris Kunitz - Mark Letestu - Pascal Dupuis
Mike Rupp - Maxime Talbot - Chris Conner
Craig Adams - Dustin Jeffrey - Arron Asham

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy/Derek Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury



Go Pens!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Game 49 Recap (1/22/2011)

The first relevant battle of the Staal brothers this season for Pens fans resulted in yet another victory for Jordan to bring to the dinner table next week when the family re-unites in North Carolina for the All-Star Game. (Come on, did you seriously think I’d dodge the “Staals are Brothers” reference following tonight’s game? And yes, while Jordan will not be participating you can bet he'll in Raleigh cheering on - and possibly antagonizing - his older brothers.) The Penguins held on to a one goal lead late in the third period and emerged victorious as they rallied over Carolina 3-2.

After a scoreless first period, it appeared that the Hurricanes would be the first to go on the board when right-winger Erik Cole blasted a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. However, the shot was deflected by the crossbar, prompting Flower to pat the bar down in appreciation. Less than a minute later, Dustin Jefferey opened the scoring with a rocket of a shot, banking his second of the season with 2:58 remaining in the period. The goal came as the result of a four-on-four situation; the result of an interference call on the Canes Jamie McBain and a goaltender-interference call on Chris Conner.

The third period would see an increase in scoring action from both teams. The second goal of the night came from Mark Lestestu who picked up a pass from Chris Kunitz and banked it over a diving Cam Ward. (17:38) (It was a nice change of pace to see the boys make something of the power play – that is, to see it used as something more than passing practice.) Five minutes later (12:32), Pascal Dupuis would score a short-handed goal, bringing the game to 3-0 in favour of the Penguins.

The Hurricanes, however, were not quite done. With 4:25 remaining in regulation, Carolina’s Sergei Samsanov put the Canes on the board ending yet another shutout bid for Fleury. (Don’t worry Marc, you’re bound to get another one sooner or later.) Eric Staal would score the second goal for Carolina with 0:57 left on the clock as the Canes held a six-on-five advantage having pulled Ward in favour of the extra-attacker. Despite some intense seconds as the clock wound down and a lot of traffic in front of Fleury, the Pens managed to hold on to the lead.

For only the second time since 2006-07, the Pens were without superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and while they are no doubt missed by fans and teammates alike, their absence has provided a wonderful opportunity for Jordan Staal to show his quality as a leader and an asset to the team. As some of my fellow PensNation writers and I have discussed (I’m looking at you, Meg) you’d never know Staal’s return was but three short weeks ago. It would appear as though we can expect nothing but good things from Jordan during the second half of the season.

The Penguins outshot the Hurricanes 31 to 26 with five of the Canes shots registered in the last five minutes of the game (which undoubtedly resulted in some anxiety given the previous two occasions whereby they’ve given up two-goal leads late in the period resulting in last-minute losses.) The victory brings Marc-Andre Fleury to 21-5-2 in his last 28 and denied the Hurricanes of their 1000th franchise victory. (Sorry Eric but we were rooting for Jordan.) In addition, tonight’s win was number 95 for our very own HCDB. The win ties Bylsma with Scotty Bowman for third in all-time wins for Penguins coaches. Congrats Disco!

The Penguins have improved to 11-2 against teams from the South East Division.

The Penguins will face the New York Islanders Tuesday night in Pittsburgh before breaking for next weekend’s All-Star Game.

Three Stars:
1. Marc-Andre Fleury
2. Jordan Staal
3. Eric Staal

Gameday With Dan - Carolina Hurricanes



When: 7:00pm
Where: Consol Energy Center

News and Information: Pittsburgh will be without Crosby and Malkin for the second straight game. Pittsburgh will be wearing the blue thirds tonight. Malkin also has a sinus infection. The Staals are brothers.

Player to Watch: Carolina Hurricanes
Eric Staal: He currently has 22 goals and 25 assists for 47 points on the season. His style of play will be handy against a Pens team hurt by injuries. He has also been named a captain of his all-star team along with Nick Lidstrom on Jan 30th at RBC Center.

Player to Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
Chris Kunitz: Without Crosby, Kunitz has been one of the Pens better players recently. He was riding a three-game goal streak before the Pens loss to New Jersey. Pittsburgh is 10-2-1 when Kunitz puts the biscuit in the basket.


Hurricanes' Lines
Sergei Samsonov - Eric Staal - Erik Cole
Jeff Skinner - Tuomo Ruutu - Chad LaRose
Jussi Jokinen - Brent Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Jiri Tlusty - Ryan Carter - Troy Bodie

Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Andrew McBain
Jay Harrison - Ian White
Cam Ward

Pens' Lines
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Chris Kunitz - Mark Letestu - Pascal Dupuis
Mike Rupp - Maxime Talbot - Chris Conner
Craig Adams - Dustin Jeffrey - Arron Asham

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy
Marc-Andre Fleury


"Whoops"

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Islanders Finally Beat the Red Wings at Something

Nabby Claimed Off of Waivers

Nabokov left the KHL about a month ago, wanting to play again in the NHL. Instead, as things stand right now, he'll be playing for the Islanders. Nabby had signed a one-year, $570,000 contract with the banged-up Red Wings. It was a win-win situation: the Red Wings will be without goalie Chris Osgood for another six weeks or so and at age 35, Nabby is a spring chicken by Detroit standards. Nabokov would once again get to play in the NHL and for a contending team. Everyone's happy and all the hockey fans got to point out the irony of Nabokov being claimed by the Red Wings, who he helped beat in the playoffs as a member of the Sharks last year, while the Sharks, who were beaten in the playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, signed Antti Niemi, who helped Chicago beat San Jose.

There was only one little snag- Nabby had to clear waivers before he could play for Detroit, which meant that another team had a chance to claim him. That team ended up being the Islanders, so no playoffs for Nabokov this year. But look on the bright side Nabby- you said you wanted to play for a team where you had a chance to contend for the starting job, and since Rick DiPietro will soon be our for the season when he inevitably tears his groin by stepping onto the ice for practice, your wish will come true.

Reminder- Nabokov cannot be assigned to the AHL because he was signed after December 15. Also, if the Isles want to trade him (as there has ALREADY been talk of), he would have to clear waivers again, which would just give another team a chance to snatch him up without giving up anything, so I think it's highly unlikely. But we'll see.

As If the Avs Weren't Banged Up Enough Already...

Forward Tomas Fleischmann's first season in Colorado has come to an abrupt and unfortunate end. Flash will miss the rest of the 2010-11 season with a pulmonary emboli. He will have to be on blood thinners for several months.

Losing Flash is a big blow to the Avs and not just because they're rivaling Detroit for most injured team in the NHL. Fleischmann, who was traded to Colorado from Washington earlier this season, had tallied 21 points in 22 games with the Avalanche. Any team in the NHL would miss that kind of production from their lineup.

Best of luck to Flash on his recovery.

Speaking of the Avs

Peter Forsberg has apparently decided he wants to take Chris Chelios' title as "Brett Favre of the NHL" (minus the dong pictures, of course) and is going to practice with the Avalanche starting today. He says that he wants to see what kind of physical shape he is in and what better way to do so than by practicing with actual NHL players?

At least he's practicing with his old team so his comeback isn't going to be with a division rival like the Canucks or the Wild or the Vikings or anything. (See what I did there?)

All-Star Alternate Captains Named

Patrick Kane, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Kesler, and Mike Green were named alternate captains for the All-Star game. Kesler and Green will the alternates if Eric Staal is unable to play, and Kane and St. Louis will be the alternates for Nicklas Lidstrom.

I know a lot of Penguins fans are either confused or laughing until they cry over Mike Green being named an All-Star, much less an alternate captain. Don't worry, fellow Pens fans- the All-Star game means about as much as the Presidents' Trophy. And we all saw how well that worked out for the Caps last year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Game 48 Recap (1/20/2011)

Bear with me everyone - this is the first one of these I have done in a long time. I have a tendency to be rational and sarcastic when it comes to hockey and what better way to begin one's affiliation with PensNation than with a game like tonight's!

Veteran goalie Martin Brodeur continued to add to his impressive resume of career shut-outs, capturing number 114 as the Devils downed the Penguins 2-0 in New Jersey.

The Devils first goal came less than two minutes into the first period (1:22) when Brian Rolston ripped a slap shot past goalie Brent Johnson. The only other goal of the game came less than eight minutes later (9:51) after former-Devil-turned-Penguin defenseman Paul Martin banked a shot off the boards which was intercepted by Nick Palmieri . The rookie had no problem beating Johnson with a backhander, bringing the score to 2-0 where it would remain for the rest of the game. (If we must find a sliver lining, at least the goal disparity didn’t get any greater. I’m trying to be optimistic here!)


The loss snapped a three game winning streak for the Penguins who were without both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the first time since the 2006-2007 season (because, hey, hearing it one hundred times today just wasn’t enough.) It also ended a three-game scoring streak for the recently-returned Jordan Staal.



The Penguins seemed to come alive as the game wound down, outshooting the Devils 10 to 3 in the third period and overall 23 to 20, but the last minute push just wasn’t enough.


Perhaps one of the biggest stars of the game (all personal biases aside of course) came in the form of fan favourite Maxime Talbot. Talbot, who played with his hockey-heart on his jersey sleeve (excuse the bad pun) won 90% of his face-offs and led the team in penalty minutes on some questionable goalie-interference calls and one fighting major. (Someone once told me officiating was all about perspective but sometimes you really do have to wonder exactly where that perspective is coming from.) Interestingly enough, Matt Cooke was given a free pass after engaging in a shoving match with Brodeur late in the second period. I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan in PensNation who found this slightly amusing. Face it – in any other game he’d have been called simply for being Matt Cooke.

The Penguins penalty kill still remains ranked as one of the highest in the league with the team having successfully killed off 21 straight road-game penalties including the four faced tonight.
You can bet the boys will be looking to rebound on Saturday when they meet the Hurricanes on home ice at the Consol Energy Center. This game will mark the first time this season that brothers Eric Staal and Jordan Staal meet on the ice. *Cue Staals are Brothers!*

Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Martin Brodeur
  2. Brian Rolston
  3. Nick Palmieri

Gameday- New Jersey Devils

When: 7:00 pm
Where: Prudential Center

Storyline:

Despite the Devils residing in the NHL's basement, they have been playing much better of late and have won three of their four last games, earning points in all of them. (Their only loss was in OT to Florida.) They have also scored 18 goals in those four games, with 11 different players chipping in offensively. Goalie Martin Brodeur has benefitted from a higher level of play and is 3-0-1 in his last four starts. He will get the start in net tonight for the Devils.

The Penguins, of course, will be missing both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin due to injury; the first game in 437 games where they have not had one or the other in the lineup (counting the playoffs). The last time both were missing in action was February 2nd, 2006, with Crosby hurt and Malkin not yet a member of the team. The Penguins lost that game to the Senators, 7-2. Let's hope history does not repeat itself.

A win for the Penguins tonight would see Dan Bylsma tie Scotty Bowman for third all-time in coaching wins with 95. Eddie Johnston (232) and Michel Therrien (135) are the only coaches in Penguins history who have more wins than Bowman.

Player to Watch: New Jersey Devils
Patrick Elias. The lone All-Star for the Devils is on a bit of hot streak, with eight points in his last eight games (3G, 5A). Elias has 57 points (22G, 35A) in 66 games against the Penguins, making him the franchise's all-time leading scorer against Pittsburgh. That's as good a reason as any to keep an eye on him.

Player to Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
Dustin Jeffrey. The call-up from WBS with Crosby and Malkin hurt, this is his big chance to prove once and for all that he is a top-6 caliber NHL player. Jeffrey will get time on the top line as well as on the second PP unit. This could very well be a defining game for him.

Devils Lines:
Kovalchuk-Zajac-Palmieri
Rolston-Elias-Zubrus
Zharkov-Arnott-Tedenby
Pelley-Sestito-Clarkson

White-Greene
Volchenkov-Fraser
Tallinder-Fayne

Brodeur

Penguins Lines:
Kunitz-Jeffrey-Dupuis
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Rupp-Talbot-Conner
Adams-Letestu-Asham

Letang-Orpik
Martin-Michalek
Goligoski-Engelland/Lovejoy

Johnson


Chris Kunitz has scored more goals than Ilya Kovalchuk at about 1/1000th of his cost. Go Pens.




Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Once Again, the St. Louis Blues Have Been Screwed Over By the Waiver Wire

Let the Fat Jokes and Bad Puns Commence!

The Sharks have been one of the most surprising teams in the NHL this year. They’ve been a playoff regular and Cup favorite for the past few seasons, but have been hovering near the bottom of the Pacific Division all year. In an attempt to add some, uh, grit to the lineup, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson sent a fifth round pick to the Thrashers for Ben Eager. (I will not make a bad eager pun, I will not make a bad eager pun, I will not make a bad eager pun…)

Wilson also decided to join in the “everyone steal from the Blues” party and snatched up (not literally of course, otherwise he’d be hospitalized) Kyle Wellwood off of waivers a few days after he signed a two-way deal with St. Lous. In unrelated news, I hear that the magnitude and frequency of earthquakes has increased in the San Jose area. (Wellwood fat jokes are ALWAYS funny!)

Cammalleri Hurt

Mike Cammalleri separated his shoulder in last night’s game against the Sabres and will miss two weeks of action. Supposedly he separated his shoulder when he went to check Tyler Myers and hit the bony part of Myers’ knee, but don’t quote me on that.

Habs short jokes are also always funny.

Holtby Recalled

Apparently Neuvirth and possibly Varlamov have lower-body injuries, so Braden Holtby has been recalled from the Hershey Bears as a precaution.

Not touching the lower-body jokes. I’ll leave those to your imagination.

You Put Your Left Foot In, You Put Your Left Foot Out…

Dan Bylsma has just reported that Malkin will miss Thursday’s game against New Jersey with an undisclosed injury. There has been speculation that Malkin’s offensive output has been suffering this season because he hasn’t been 100%, and this certainly adds fuel to that fire. Now there is potential (nothing has been confirmed or even mentioned, just more speculation on my part) that the Pens could hold Malkin out of the All-Star game. Being voted an All-Star is nice but being healthy for the actual season is far more important.

Kyle Okposo, who suffered a preseason shoulder injury, will play for the Islanders for the first time this season tomorrow night against the Caps. Just in time for the Islanders to start their playoff push!

Iggy Out

Darren Dreger of TSN reports that Jarome Iginla will miss the All-Star game because his maternal grandmother is sick. Danny Briere will take his place in the lineup. Best of luck to Iginla and his family. Keep him in your thoughts/prayers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Penguins Sign Mark Letestu to Two Year Extension

-Ray Shero made another smooth move today by signing C Mark Letestu to a two year extension worth $625,000 a season. The 25 year old has worked his way up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up to the NHL this season and has already tallied nine goals and ten assists. Letestu earned a spot in training camp and has certainly impressed many Penguins fans. Shero now has committed around $52 million already for next season. Letestu was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season.




-Also, we would like to welcome Ashley Langlois to Pens Nation, as she will be writing game recaps after each game. Welcome, Ashley!

Woah, We're Halfway There....


With the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hitting the halfway point of their season this past week, let’s reflect on the first half of the season.

At 32-9-0 WBS’s record speaks for itself. The Penguins jumped out of the gate swinging to start the season and they have hardly cooled off since. Thus the Penguins overall record has been nothing short of staggering. Their 64 points are tops in the East Division, Eastern Conference, and the American Hockey League. The next closest team, Manchester, has 57 points.

Offensively

Gameday With Dan - Detroit Red Wings



When: 7:00pm
Where: Consol Energy Center

News: The Wings are depleted by injuries, including both goaltenders. Sidney Crosby remained sidelined, and will not play tonight.

Player to watch: Detroit Red Wings
Every player is injured...so they have no one to watch really.

Player to watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
For the Pens, watch Jordan Staal. He has only been back for a few games, however he has already made an impact. Starting with the Winter Classic, he has 1 goal and 6 assists on the season so far. With a Wings lineup falled by injuries, look for Gronk to tally a few points in tonights game.

No idea on the lines, go to hell.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Staal Making Impact in Crosby's Absence

-When Sidney Crosby went down with a concussion, Penguin fans said "It's time for Evgeni Malkin to step up." Crosby has missed the team's past five games and is still out indefinitely. The team has gone 2-2-1 in that span. Malkin has scored two goals and recorded two assists for a total of four points in the last five games. Jordan Staal, who missed the team's first 39 games with a foot and a hand injury, is on a hot streak.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gameday with Dan - Boston Bruins



When: 1:00pm
Where: TD Garden

News: Didn't we just play them? Marc Savard is a pussy. People in Boston don't like Matt Cooke, go to hell.

Player to watch: Boston Bruins
Look out for Zedano Chara (how can you miss him). With his great point shot, and the fact that he is the size of the Great Kahli, he is a weapon on the blue line for the Bruins.

Player to watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
For the good guys, it's gotta stay with Evgeni Malkin. I don't know if he will keep up his play with Sid the Kid (Man?) out, as he is known to be steaky. If he controls where he is going with the puck and uses his shot to his advantage the Penguins will win this game.

Lines are the same as last game (actually, im completely guessing, but its 12am, fuck off)




Let's Go Pens and on an unrelated note Let's Go Steelers..wooo

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gameday with Dan - Montreal Canadiens



When: 7:30pm
Where: Bell Centre

News: The Penguins Eric Godard has been placed on the IR with a broken orbital bone, Sidney Crosby remains sidelined, PK Subban sucks

Player to watch: Montreal Canadiens
For the Habs, watch out for Brian Gionta. He is Montreal's leading goal getter (15) and has a powerful shot. He is the only one on the team that isn't a douchebag.

Player to watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
For the Pens, watch out for Marc-Andre Fleury. He had a bad third period against the Bruins Monday, look for him to bounce back against the Habs in Montreal.

Habs Lines:
Eller - Plekanec - Kostitsyn
Pacioretty - Gomez - Gionta
Pouliot - Desharnais - Darche
Moen - Pyatt - Halpern

Gill - Subban
Hamrlik - Wisniewski
Spacek - Weber
Price

Pens Lines:
Kunitz - Malkin - Dupuis
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Conner - Talbot - Rupp
Adams - Letestu - Asham/Jeffery

Orpik - Letang
Martin - Michalek
Goligoski - Engelland
Fleury

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rozsival-Wolski Trade

Go West, Young Man

After finding out yesterday that winger Alex Frolov was done for the season, it went without saying that the Rangers would have to make a move to help fill the void.

GM Glen Sather decided that actions speak louder than words, so he traded defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Coyotes in exchange for left winger Wojtek Wolski.

The trade helps fulfill a need for both teams. The Rangers need scoring depth, especially with Frolov done for the year. The Coyotes are still feeling the absence of Zbynek Michalek from their blueline, and need all the help they can get defensively.

The Rangers are extremely deep along the blueline, so Rozsival has become expendable, especially with the emergence of newcomer Ryan McDonagh. The trade also gives the Blueshirts some much-needed cap space.

This Just In- Eaton Done for the Season

Islanders defenseman Mark Eaton has a hip injury that will require season-ending surgery.

Gameday With Dan - Boston Bruins




When: 7:30pm
Where: Consol Energy Center

News: The Penguins have recalled Dustin Jeffery for tonights game due to an Arron Asham illness.

Player to watch: Boston Bruins
For tonight's game, keep an eye on Marc Savard. Not for his play on the ice really, just because he can't keep an eye on himself, and ya know, with Matt Cooke running around, we wouldn't want anything to happen. pussy.

Player to watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
For your Penguins, keep an eye on Brooks Orpik. His physical play (free candy if you will) will have to be present tonight against the B's. With him, the Penguins have a stingy 2.3 goals against as a team. His eyes will have at least 3 points tonight.


Pens Lines
Kunitz - Malkin - Dupuis
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Rupp - Letestu - Conner
Jeffery - Talbot - Adams

Orpik - Letang
Martin - Michalek
Goligoski - Engelland
Fleury

Boston's Lines
Lucic - Savard - Horton
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Seguin - Bergeron - Recchi
Marchand - Campbell - Thorton

Seidenburg - Boychuk
Chara - Kampfer
Ference - McQuaid
Rask



Go Pens!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kostopoulos Suspended and Frolov Injured

Boom! Headshot

Tom Kostopoulos of the Calgary Flames has been suspended for six games after his hit to the head during last night's game against the Detroit Red Wings. Kostopoulos will forfeit $29,569.92 in salary.

Stuart, who broke his jaw as a result of the hit, will have to undergo surgery and miss six to eight weeks- a factor that surely played into the league's decision. The suspension is likely shorter if Stuart wasn't going to miss such an extended period of time. Stuart was also not in possession of the puck when he was hit by Kostopoulos.

Interim GM Jay Feaster was not happy with the league's decision, questioning whether Kostopoulos even deserved to be suspended, much less for six games.

To see the hit and judge for yourself as well as get full quotes from Colin Campbell and Feaster, be sure to read Puck Daddy's post on the hit.


Frolov Done For the Season

Rangers left winger Alex Frolov is done for the season after being injured in the team's 2-1 win over St. Louis last night.

Frolov underwent an MRI which revealed that he has a second degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament, a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a second degree and a medical meniscus tear, all in his right knee. Translation: his right knee is more shattered than the Devils' playoff hopes.

He will undergo surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the season.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ben Eager Suspended and Trade/Signing Updates (Updated. Yes, I Know That's Redundant)

Ben Eager of the Atlanta Thrashers has been suspended for four games after sucker punching Toronto Maple Leafs winger Colby Armstrong during Friday night's game. Toronto went on to dismantled the Thrashers 9-3.

(I have Pavelec on my fantasy team and when I saw he was playing the Leafs, I laughed and expected a big performance out of him. He was in net for all nine Leaf goals. Karma was against me.)

Eager will forfeit a total of $20,752.68 in salary. As per normal, the money will go toward the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. He will be able to return to the Thrasher lineup on January 20 against the Lightning.


Now for some trade and signing updates per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:

-Word on the street is that Jack Johnson will sign a multiyear extension with the Kings. It could be announced as early as Sunday or Monday. Expect the deal to be six or seven years long and pay Johnson anywhere from $4-4.5 million per year. Good move by L.A.

This just in-
Jack Johnson has officially signed an extension with the Kings. The L.A. Kings Insider confirmed that Johnson has signed a seven year deal with L.A. Starting next season, Johnson will make $3.5 million for the next three years and then $5 million for the last four, an average cap hit of $4.3 million.

-Speaking of the Kings, if you bought a Jarome Iginla Kings jersey in response to the "Iginla to the Kings rumors", you've been ripped off. Interim GM Jay Feaster of the Flames said that Iggy will not be traded.

-Mason Raymond is not on the trading block either. Supposedly the Canucks wanted to ship him in order to create some cap space, but that turned out to be have as much merit as Kyle Wellwood's promise to get in shape.

-After Blue Jackets d-man Mike Commodore cleared waivers, GM Scott Howson stated that he is planning on trying to trade Commodore. (He is signed through the 2012-13 season with a cap hit of $3.75 million.) If Howson is unable to arrange anything, Commodore will be assigned to the AHL.

Gameday with Dan - Minnesota Wild



When: 7:00pm
Where: Consol Energy Center

Player to watch: Minnesota Wild
For the Wild, keep an eye on Cal Cutterbuck (I love that name). He currently is tied for the lead on the team with 12 goals along with Brett Burns. His nack for the enforcer end of the game is no secret, and he leads the team with 186 hits. Fun Fact: He grew a mustache in the month of November, it was so good it earned it's own Twitter feed and interview on NHL.com

Player to watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
For your Penguins, watch Evgeni Malkin, he currently has 34 points (15+19) on the season and is a plus 1. He left the ice early at today's morning skate with knee issues after he was taken down by Scott Gomez vs. MTL. He may play a smaller amount of minutes because of the knee and may not be 100%. Without Sidney Crosby, this is a bigger story and Geno needs to step up his game in his absence.

Pens Lines
Kunitz - Letestu - Dupuis
Cooke - Staal - Malkin
Conner - Talbot - Kennedy
Rupp - Adams - Asham

Orpik - Letang
Martin - Michalek
Goligoski - Engelland
Fleury

Minnesota's lines:
Brunette - Koivu - Kobasew
Bouchard - Brodziak - Havlat
O'Sullivan - Cullen - Clutterbuck
Nystrom - Madden - Staubitz

Zanon - Stoner
Burns - Schultz
Barker - Scandella
Backstrom




Go Pens!

Friday, January 7, 2011

HBO and the NHL to Capitalize (No Pun Intended) on the Success of "24/7"?

The final ratings have not yet been calculated for HBO's "24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic", but most hockey fans have been able to agree that the mini series was a smashing success and they'd like to see HBO work with the NHL again in the near future.

It appears that HBO has a similar desire.

The Globe and Mail reported that chief operating officer Jeff Collins has expressed an interest in working with the NHL again, this time to give fans an inside look at the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The full-access look at the inner workings of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals was well-received by NHL diehards, casual and non-fans alike. It was a spectacularly well-done series that has many speculating (including us here at Pens Nation, if you listened to our latest podcast) that HBO could see an Emmy nomination in the future. NHL fans and writers alike have mentioned that they would love to see HBO do a follow-up during the NHL postseason.

It looks as if that hope could become a reality. (Gah, again with the puns. I apologize.)

In addition to Collins, HBO Sports President Ross Greenberg mentioned that he would be interesting in working with the NHL again and it's unlikely that the league would turn down such an opportunity for additional exposure, especially given the outstanding success of "24/7".

Nothing official has been decided yet. It's all talk so far. No negotiations or anything of the sort have ben brought up. But the fact that HBO insiders have said that they would like to work with the NHL again is in itself a positive sign for the league and those who enjoyed "24/7" (a.k.a. all of us).

Be sure to read the full Globe and Mail article here for full details and quotes.