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Thursday, October 31, 2013

We're Going Streaking!!!! by @ExcitedBobErrey

5:06:00 PM 0

The first month of the NHL season is in the books, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have already opened up a 7 point lead in the Metropolitan Division. While Pittsburgh's 114 point pace has a lot to do with it, it certainly doesn't hurt that the division is shaping up to be easier than a .... well, there are many analogies that fit here, but at the risk of insulting your mother, wife, or girlfriend I'll just say it's a very easy division. Of the 22 teams outside the Metropolitan Division, 18 would find themselves in 2nd place or higher if they switched divisions. Still, it's nice to get back to normalcy after the lockout cancelled hockey at this time last year. While a mandatory break from NHL hockey is not something I'd like to endure again, the shortened 48 game schedule was about as exciting as you'd ever hope the regular season could be league wide.

The NHL packed more games into a smaller time frame to salvage a season, and each individual game mattered much more. While a win in the strike shortened season was still worth two points in the standings, it held the equivalent of roughly 3.4 points in an 82 game schedule. All of the sudden, if you lose 3 games in a row, it's like you went on a 5 game losing streak normally. Winning 5 in a row is basically the same as going 8-0-1 in a full season. Each game mattered more, and it only took a week to drastically change a team's luck, for better or for worse.

It's a big change of pace to go through that type of race through the season, then a playoff trip to the ECF, and start back at the beginning of a long season where the results in October don't matter that much, especially in the case of a team like the Penguins. Piling up the points early in the year is never a bad thing, but there's still a long season ahead that needs to be played. You can't win the Stanley Cup during this time of the year, although you can certainly lose it. Take a look at the Philadelphia Flyers. I'll wait for you to stop laughing before going on.


Ok, let's continue. Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) had a great stat recently in one of his 30 Thoughts pieces. Since the 2004-05 lockout, only 3 times out of 32 chances has a team that was 4 points or more out of a playoff spot on November 1 gone on to make the playoffs. Philadelphia currently sits 5 points out of the playoffs, assuming that they manage to finish 3rd or higher in the division. If not, they find themselves 8 points out of a wildcard spot, and that could jump to 10 points on November 1 if the Bruins win tonight. With the addition of the loser point into the hockey standings, it becomes increasingly difficult for a team to dig itself out of even a moderately small hole, let alone the disaster the Flyers have dug for themselves so far.

While it's not entirely truthful to say this time of the year is meaningless, it takes a monumentally bad start to bury a team for the year. Unlike the strike shortened season, most teams have time to recover throughout the year and shake off an average start. Even stretches of play that might have been disastrous last season can be easily shrugged off this year. Despite starting the year with a 3 game and 4 game win streak, the Penguins recently experienced one of those stretches where they lost to the Avalanche, Islanders, and Maple Leafs. It's never a good thing to lose 3 in a row, but a look at what happened hardly shows cause for concern.

The Penguins dominated gameplay against the Avalanche, as can be seen in the 71.3% Corsi For they posted in the game, meaning that 71.3% of the time a player directed a shot towards the net it came from the stick of a Pittsburgh player. They posted above average numbers against the Islanders (52.0%) and the Maple Leafs as well (52.5%), but with the overall team speed both teams possess they create a bad matchup for the Penguins quick, north/south orientated transition game, and this was easy to see in the first round of the playoffs last year. It certainly didn't help that James Neal, Beau Bennett, and Matt D'Agostini missed all three games with injuries while Kris Letang worked his way back into the lineup and Rob Scuderi left after playing only 7:26 in the Maple Leafs game with a broken ankle. The Pens might have lost 3 straight, but they lost one game when Jean-Sebastien Giguere stood on his head and two games where teams that presented bad matchup problems came back to win in the 3rd period.

To show again why it's too early to panic, the Penguins have won both their games after the losing streak, including against the defending Eastern Conference champs. Marc-Andre Fleury has been on top of his game, posting a 1.81 GAA and 0.927 save percentage early in the season while the offense, which led the league in goals scored each of the past two seasons, finds itself a respectable 9th in the league in scoring and has plenty of room to improve. While the injury bug continues to hit the roster hard, the Penguins will continue to get players back into the lineup, adding to both the top end talent to the gameday roster and the overall team depth. While it might be easy to panic after losing 3 straight, it's never as bad as it seems during a slump, and it's also never as good as it seems during a hot streak. The Penguins should know this as much as anyone, as they won 15 straight games last year, 11 straight games the year before, and 12 straight games in 2010-11. Unfortunately, all they have to show for that is an ECF berth and two first round exits. It's a long season, and every team goes through stretches where they win games and they lose games. Too much can happen over 82 games to get too high for the good times and too low for the bad times. Afterall, there's only one time when going on a hot streak really matters, and that doesn't happen in the regular season.

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Pens/Bruins Recap by @pghgirl15222

1:00:00 PM 0


The Pittsburgh Penguins stared down some of their demons on Wednesday during a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.

There were times during the game I wondered if the refs had eyes or knew what a penalty was as both sides got away with a lot of questionable play, but the Pens were able to capitalize on their opportunities and come away with the victory. The truth is for at least two periods of the game last night, the Pittsburgh Penguins were by far the better team. Just ask Bruins Coach Claude Julien: “Give them credit. They were a determined team. For at least two periods they were the better team…”

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Sidney Crosby: Returning the Favor by @griffTHW

9:00:00 AM 0
It's proven to be the case on more than one occasion.  To this point in his career, injuries appear to be the only thing capable of preventing Sidney Crosby from making the NHL his own personal playground. 

In 2007-08, for example, a high ankle sprain derailed Sid's bid to repeat as the league's scoring champion and Hart Trophy recipient.  In 2010-11, "The Kid" began a scoring assault that the NHL hadn't witnessed since the glory days of Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.  That is, until his year was cut short by the infamous concussion issues that would sideline the game's best player for the second half of the season and much of the 2011-12 campaign.  If all that wasn't enough, the Pens' captain was robbed of more hardware last year when a Brooks Orpik blast from the point rearranged the structure of Sidney's jaw, knocked out several teeth and cost him the last quarter of the truncated season.

Despite the frequent absence of the club's leader and best player, though, the Penguins have never missed a beat.  In fact, Pittsburgh didn't finish lower than fourth in the Eastern Conference in any of the four years that Crosby found himself on the shelf for a significant period of time.  No, rather than lamenting the loss of the once-in-a-generation talent, the squad buckled down, individuals stepped up and the Penguins found a way to persevere.

This year, though, Sidney Crosby may have an opportunity to return the favor.
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Morning Drive: 412 Sports Talk 10/30/13

8:00:00 AM 0
Last night on 412 Sports Talk, Mike "Buzz saw" Asti went solo while Mad Chad enjoyed himself a hockey game.  He talked the Steelers with Steel Dad and went off in his own unique way.  Listen in and don't get cut by the blades of the buzz saw.



New Sports Podcasts with Radio PI on BlogTalkRadio
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Interview with former #panthers captain @paullaus3

4:00:00 PM 0

Paul Laus, a native of Beamsville Ontario, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1989. Following that, he was selected by the Florida Panthers in the 1993 expansion draft and ended up spending his entire career with them, becoming one of the most beloved and feared players in NHL history. In 2001 he earned the Captaincy of the Panthers after Scott Mellanby left to play for St. Louis. Laus finished his career with 1702 PIMs (177 from fighting majors), 88th all-time in the NHL. In the 1996-97 season he set an NHL record of 39 fighting majors which still stands today. Paul Laus has been kind enough to answer some questions for PensInitiative, providing a player's real perspective on fighting.

Fighting in the NHL has undoubtedly changed since the late 90's. With the Parros concussion and possible retirement looming after the recent Orr KO earlier this month, the debate over fighting is already heating back up this year. What changes do you notice in the "enforcer" role in the league today?

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The Dangers of Missing a Huge “Piece” of the Puzzle by @pghgirl15222

1:00:00 PM 0





In 2009, right after the Pittsburgh Penguins won their third Stanley Cup, Ray Shero had to look at his championship roster and determine which players would best fit his puzzle for future championships. There was no question that some players would be gone, but the idea was he already had the core. He needed the supporting pieces. Shero focused on two players first who were crucial to their championship run; Craig Adams and veteran Bill Guerin. Shero however, on the second day of free agency, lost the most important “Piece” to his previous championship puzzle; Rob Scuderi. Scuderi signed a four year deal with the Los Angeles Kings and the Penguins blue line during those years to follow, was noticeably lacking in what Scuderi brought to their defense.

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Morning Drive: The League Week Four

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Famous Movie Monsters starring the Pens! by @ryannoble66

4:00:00 PM 0
My first pumpkin carving EVER!

Happy Halloween from your friends at Pens Initiative. We felt the best way to celebrate Halloween was combining Classic Monster/Horror Creatures with some of our favorite Pittsburgh Penguins! We hope you enjoy!


 SIDULA

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Penguins @ Carolina Recap by @ryannoble66 w/ @Evil_Shero Fight Recap

1:00:00 PM 0


Last night Jayson Megna with the help of the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-1. In his second game he managed to get a goal and an assist and show how much potential he has. I am not sure if he has human legs and at times he had really nice hands. I guess we should get into other players and points from last nights game.

JAYSON MEGNA!!

Okay, now we are done...

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5 Scary Things About the Pittsburgh Penguins by @ChicksDigHockey

9:13:00 AM 0


Halloween is a time for dressing up and being scared by goblins and ghouls. It's also a time for revealing what makes our spines tingle and our flesh crawl. Here are 5 things that have me on edge about the Pens:

  Deryk Engelland is playing wing because the Pens need toughness at wing. That’s like saying I really want ketchup on my hot dog but we don’t have any so I’ll add red food coloring to mayonnaise. When asked in a recent interview what he'd like to do Engelland replied, “I still would rather be a D-man, but whatever they need is good. It adds to my game, another position I can play. In the long run if that’s what they need, I’m willing to do that.” Dustin Byfuglien was able to make the transition with Atlanta but Engelland is no Byfuglien.

Dan Bylsma loves that “I’ll try anything” kind of attitude in a player. Bylsma and Engo have been together since they were both with WBS Penguins. It’s clear the coach admires Engelland’s toughness and work ethic but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (or something like that). I think Coach Bylsma sees the best in his players and tries to bring that out to a fault. I felt like he did that with Tyler Kennedy and would have continued had TK not been traded. What really scared me during the Toronto game was, when Scuderi left with an injury and someone actually said, “That’s why Engelland at wing is a good idea.”

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Morning Drive: Case and Point 10/28/13

Monday, October 28, 2013

Unreal Play By Sidney Crosby to Set Up Chris Kunitz Goal

Getting to Know Mike Lange by @PandaPSU

1:30:00 PM 0



  

The guy upstairs said, "Listen, I have got a perfect place for you (in Pittsburgh). This is where you should be."

Mike Lange does not need an introduction.  He is the voice of the Penguins and has been with the organization for almost 40 years.  He granted me an interview, and I was fortunate enough to speak with him yesterday on behalf of Pens Initiative.
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"Mad Monday" with @MadChad412 (Pens' Special Teams woes)

9:21:00 AM 0

For the first time this season I actually have come into my "Mad Monday" post with real topics involving the Pittsburgh Penguins to rant about. The Pens were so good coming into this past week, posting a 7-1 record to start the 2013-2014 season. Since last Monday, the Pens have now found themselves on a three-game losing steak, being outscored 9-4.

The Pens are still in first place of the division and they're missing key components so it's far from time to panic. That being said, there are definitely some big concerns to point out.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Penguins @ Toronto Recap by @ryannoble66

1:00:00 PM 0

Saturday Night the Penguins faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. James Reimer managed to make 38 saves as he lead the Leafs to a 4-1 victory in Toronto.

The first period was a tough exchange for who could get the most penalties. For the most part back and forth. There were also goals. The first was scored by Pittsburgh when Pittsburgh's fan favorite Kris Letang buried a snapshot behind Toronto net minder James Reimer. An assist would go to Evgeni Malkin.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Recap: Pens vs Isles by @pghgirl15222

4:00:00 PM 0



The last time the Penguins faced the New York Islanders was in the 2013 NHL playoffs where the Islanders had basically melted down and succumbed to what was a very lucky Pittsburgh Penguins team. Flash-forward to Friday night and you saw basically the same Islanders team that continues to matchup really well against this team. Hate to say it, but this was about the most complete looking team the Penguins have played in their first 10 games and the results are not what you want. The Pens walked away from a very disappointing and frustrating 4-3 loss that really was decided in the final 10 minutes of this hockey game. This game came down to capitalization of opportunities for both teams.

Jeff Zatkoff was making his second start of the season, hoping to show that his first NHL game against the Florida Panthers, a 6-3 loss, was nothing more than nerves. The Islander came out strong, as you would expect, cycling the puck really well. Zatkoff came up with the games first big save about four minutes into the game, stopping a shot from Kyle Okposo from the slot. That save would set the tone for Zatkoff (for most of the game anyway) as he looked locked in. The first period can basically be summed up of power play opportunities for both Clubs. The Pens first real opportunity to score resulted in their first power play of the night. The first unit looked strong as they fired countless shots at Evgeni Nabokov but couldn’t find the twine. Soon after, Matt Niskanen was sent off for hooking and the Islanders made quick work of the man advantage as Frans Nielsen threw a shot at the net, which was redirected and saved by Zatkoff. Matt Moulson took a few hacks at the puck to give the Islanders the first lead of the game at 10:14. Jayson Megna, who was making his NHL debut, drew a penalty on Josh Bailey and the Pens went to work on another failed power play. However, as the second power play unit was on the ice, Brandon Sutter make a heck of a defensive play to then lead a rush and put a high shot on Nabakov. Jussi Joiken basically had the puck fall on his stick from the rebound Nabakov gave up and buried it home to tie the game at 1-1. To end the first, the Penguins went on two more power plays (one which carried over into the second period), but just like Ricky Bobby doesn’t know what to do with his hands, the Pens didn’t know what to do with their opportunities. The game started off all Islanders, but thanks to their less and stellar decision making abilities, handed the momentum right back to the Pens.

The second period was just an excuse for Sidney Crosby to show the NHL that his ability to play hockey really sometimes isn’t fair. Crosby took a bad turn over opportunity from the Islanders, and went the other way on a two-on-one with Kunitz. Nabokov chose about the worst positioning possible and gave Crosby essentially a free shot on net which he gladly put in, far post 2-1 Pens. Crosby now has 8 goals and 10 assist on the year. (Insert your own Claude Giroux or Philadelphia Flyers joke here). Somewhere in that period Deryk Engelland had an honestly great shift that made me believe for a second he might actually have found his niche on this team. Seriously, the guy had a good game. This period was more or less about Zatkoff again as he held his ground making a lot of big saves. He wasn’t getting much help out there. Kris Letang, making his debut this season, made a nice defensive play on Bailey to stop what would have been essentially a goal. Bailey pulled of a nice drag of the puck with his stick, a move Zatkoff bit and froze on, but Letang was able to get a stick on the play and clear the danger. Pens had another power play in that period as well, but, well, 0-5 on the night.


 



Fast forward to about seven minutes left in the game, the Pens carrying a nice 2-1 lead and Zatkoff is easing the minds of Pens fans about him being a decent backup. In a matter of about 70 seconds, everything changed. Thomas Hickey took a shot from the point that was rediected by Nielsen’s stick in the high slot. Game all tied up at 2-2. But fear not Penguin fans, there was hero about to be born, at least for, 53 seconds. Vitale and Engelland came rushing into the zone (there was play similar to this in the second) but Vitale knows Engo can’t fin… and then the internet exploded as Engelland tapped in a pass in front of the net and the Pens took a 3-2 lead. A hero is born, the games unlikely star was supposed to ride off into the sunset. But Pierre-Marc Bouchard got a break and remained patient to tie the game up 3-3. A lot went wrong on this play, like a lot. Kobasew not clearing the puck, Maatta being in the wrong position, and Zatkoff gave up what looked to be a pretty weak goal. It was all over for the Pens after that, as Letang made an awful decision to chase down a man deep into the defensive zone essentially leaving a wide open Bailey to fire a point black shot at Zatkoff, who made a great save, but was not able to recover. Bailey gave an unreal second effort and the game went to the Isles, 4-3. The take away from this game is the Jeff Zatkoff played really well, didn’t get much help. But he showed that his just isn’t an NHL caliber goalie. He is not to blame for this loss, but he did not help his own cause.
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Tanner's Glass is Half Full by @PandaPSU

9:18:00 AM 0



When Ray Shero brought in Tanner Glass last season, he was looking for a solid 4th line contributor -- someone with some versatility and physical toughness at a relative bargain.  In his years with Vancouver and Winnipeg, Glass scored a handful of goals but was mainly known for his physical presence.  That puts him in a large pool of potential 4th line players like Craig Adams, Joe Vitale, and Dustin Jeffrey.  Glass is making some $400,000-$600,000 more than these players per year, $1.1 million to be exact, so expectations for him are a bit higher.  
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Have your cake, and eat it too. By: @LuigiLemieux

9:36:00 AM 0


Roster moves abound as Pens welcome back Kris Letang, and keep rookie Olli Maatta on NHL roster for remainder of season.

Good Morning friends, family, and Penguins fans alike. It is Friday, and as always is A Great Day For Hockey.

I would like to get every one of you off to a tranquil start today, so please join me in this meditative technique.

Close your eyes, look deep inside and search your hockey loving soul. Imagine our defense, solid and fast, keeping our net minder out of trouble as they have through the early stages of the new season. Feel the vibrations of the hit as the opposition is sandwiched with the boards and plastered to the glass. Visualize Olli Maatta cruising behind the net, dishing the puck to his forwards for a drive up the ice, and see the frustration in the other team as Scuderi clears the crease of a sure goal...


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Morning Drive: Radio:PI 10/24/13

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Marc-Andre Fleury's Game on the Path to a Renaissance? by @griffTHW

4:00:00 PM 0
A funny thing happened at CONSOL Energy Center last weekend.  Squared off against the Vancouver Canucks in a Saturday matinee, the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury surrendered a tally that conjured up images of his recent playoff ghosts.  After the harmless looking shot from center ice floated on net,
rolled up and over Fleury's chest and trickled over the goal line, the crowd held its collective breath and waited to see how their oft-maligned goaltender would react.  To their delight, "The Flower" simply let the gaffe roll of his back:

"I said a couple bad words to start, and then just relax.  Kind of laugh at myself a little bit when we scored the goal after. It’s a lot more fun to laugh at it now that we won, but sometimes it happens and you’ve just got put it aside and try to stop the next puck. I knew the guys would come back and get some big goals.” - Marc-Andre Fleury, after allowing a fluke goal Saturday afternoon
From there, Fleury was a rock in the Penguins net as he guided a largely outplayed Pittsburgh club to a 4-3 shootout victory.  And, while a mid-October win won't erase the heartache of postseasons past, one can't deny that Marc-Andre's play to this point in the season has been more than encouraging.


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Somebody Slapped Sidney Silly by @ExcitedBobErrey

9:00:00 AM 0


Sidney Crosby is undeniably the best hockey player in the world today, even if trying to hold onto all of his hardware can leave him to misplace that pesky baton somewhere where Claude Giroux can momentarily get his hands on it. Since coming into the league with a massive amount of junior trophies already on the mantle, Crosby has managed to add an Art Ross Trophy, a Rocket Richard Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award and a Ted Lindsey Award for being named the best player by his peers before and after the name change, 2 Mark Messier Leadership Awards, a Hart Memorial Trophy, and the Stanley Cup. Even more impressive is that without injuries in 2011 and 2013 he almost certainly would have added another 2 Hart Trophies, 2 Art Ross Trophies, a Ted Lindsey Award, and a Rocket Richard Trophy to that list and have been a major threat to capture all of the above in 2012 as well.


Given all that Crosby has accomplished, it can't be much of a surprise that he finds himself sitting atop the scoring race early in the NHL season with 7 goals and 10 assists in just 9 games. For virtually every other player in the league, a fast start like this would be instantly dismissed as unsustainable, and that player would quickly fall back to the pack. While Crosby currently has a points per game average (1.89) well above his career average (1.42), his average over the last 3 seasons (1.61) suggests that maintaining this early season pace might not be impossible to keep up.

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Morning Drive: The League Week Three

8:00:00 AM 0
Last night on The League with Brian and TJ, the guys gave their Goats and Greats from the week in the NHL, took a look at rash of penalties and suspensions being handed out, plus broke down the best rookies after three weeks.


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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's the Maatta? by @Nick422

4:00:00 PM 0
Another Maatta post, another Maatta pun.  Funny as it may (not) be the puns give way for the serious question: What to do with Olli Maata?



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Adams, C. You Can Depend On Me by @pghgirl15222

9:15:00 AM 0



If you were to ask Penguin fans to tell you the first player who comes to mind when they hear the word “dependable”, many I am sure would think of offensive minded players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and so forth. But often the word “dependable” in the context of hockey can often be skewed because offensive stats are the first thing to pop into the minds of many. One player who deserves consideration for the term, should be Craig Adams. Adams is about as far away as from offense as many know, but at 36, he has been playing his same game since entering the league in 2000-01 with the Carolina Hurricanes.


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Morning Drive: 412 Sports Talk 10/22/13

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BREAKING: Evgeni Malkin is Batman

6:42:00 PM 0
Okay, so this may not be news but it's amazing and awesome and why we love Evgeni Malkin off of the ice.



Posted within the last hour, Malkin takes a turn posing in his Halloween costume with his very own Dick Grayson (aka Robin).  If anyone is willing to translate we'd be more than happy to give credit where it's due.

EDIT: Intrepid reader Emily Pfeifer chimes in to tell us that the phrase translates to "Albeit too early )))".  Thank you Emily!

If you don't already follow Geno on Instagram what are you doing with your life?  Follow him here.  Stick tap to our friend Sean Leahy of Yahoo's Puck Daddy for the tip.
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Chris' Corner for October 22, 2013 by @ChrisRBarron

4:00:00 PM 0


In today's installment of Chris' Corner I cover last night's loss to the Avs and explain why no one needs to over react.  I also discuss the questions surrounding whether or not Olli Maatta stays in Pittsburgh or heads back to London.  I also preview this weekends Pens games vs the Islanders and Leafs and close by talking about my one big concern for the Penguins right now!

Enjoy!

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Recap: Pens Lose To Avs 1-0 by @pghgirl15222

2:46:00 PM 0


The Pittsburgh Penguins fought the good fight against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night, but in the end Giguere was the big winner.

The Penguins registered 34 shots, including 7 power plays they failed to capitalize on. Crosby alone out shot Colorado in first period with 5.
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Have the Penguins Solved Their Coaching Conundrum? by @ChicksDigHockey

9:00:00 AM 0


It was no secret that the Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t happy with the way the team exited the playoffs against Boston.  The collapse was a colossal embarrassment. My Gram used to say, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” The Pens entered the Boston series last season with an envious wealth of talent but failed to live up to their potential. The inevitable wave of backlash was loud and nasty:

“The power play was comatose.”
“Fleury is washed up!”
“The Pen’s stars couldn’t get past Boston’s defense.”
“Malkin turned the puck over too much”
“Bylsma kept lines together that weren’t producing”

The facts were, the Penguins entered the playoffs as the top team in the Eastern Conference having scored more goals than any other team in the NHL. They had some minor difficulties getting by the New York Islanders in the quarterfinal round but they defeated the Ottawa Senators in five games to make it to the ECF. Four games and just two goals later, the Pens were scheduling tee times having been unceremoniously spanked by the Bruins. Sidney Crosby was held without a point by the Bruins and their hotter-than-the-sun goalie, Tuuka Rask. The Pen’s power play entered the series against the Bruins at 28.2 percent but went 0 for 15. They seemed lethargic at best. There was plenty of blame to go around without even mentioning Marc Andre Fleury’s epic collapse. 

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Morning Drive: Case and Point 10/21

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Mad Monday" With @MadChad412 (Mad About Evgeni Malkin Haters)

1:05:00 PM 0

Welcome to another edition of "Mad Monday" with me "Mad" Chad Nolan. As you know by now this is a forum I use to try to put together my rants in a somewhat formal write-up. Once again there's really not much to be mad about in the world of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are in first place in their division and the eastern conference. So is there anything to really be pissed off about when it comes to the Pens?

When you have "yinzers" the answer is always yes.
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Scouting Report: 10/20 - 10/26 by @ToonsBrian

10:44:00 PM 0

Each week, Pens Initiative will look at the upcoming week's schedule for the Pittsburgh Penguins and tell you what to look for in these games. We'll cover trends, player performances and everything else that may impact the games ahead.

   It was quite a week for the Penguins.  Sidney Crosby continued his tear, taking over each of the major scoring categories. Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta got the seal of approval from team management, ending his career as a London Knight. And, of course, the team kept up their winning ways while dispatching the Oilers, Flyers and Canucks. 
   This week, they face three teams sporting a combined record of 16-7-2. That's a marked improvement over the combined 22-39-9 that the Pens have faced so far this season. Here's a breakdown of what to expect in those games:
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Pump the Brakes (Even on Maatta) by @ToonsBrian

11:00:00 AM 0

October 3, 2013: The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the New Jersey Devils and shut them out 3-0.

October 5, 2013: The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Buffalo Sabres and blow them out 4-1.

October 8, 2013: The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Carolina Hurricanes...similar result.

The rest of the season thus far, save the very next game against Florida, which featured Jeff Zatkoff's NHL goaltending debut, has gone very much exactly like that. The Pens currently sit at 7-1-0 and firmly holding onto the Division lead, 3 points ahead of the 2nd place Carolina Hurricanes with a game in hand.
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Penguins Fights 2013-14 #5: Engelland vs. Sestito by @evil_shero

9:48:00 AM 0
Oct 19, 2013 1pd 12:58

It's nice to see Engelland's first fight of the year. Engelland is widely considered one of the better fighters in the NHL. In fact, former NHL enforcer Jim Thomson selected Engelland as the best fighter in the NHL, noting how smart of a fighter he is, and calling him 'the hardest puncher by far.' Engelland going 6-2 last year fighting Sestito was hardly the start I wished for his first tilt of the season but I'm guessing Deryk was asked and obliged.

Tom Sestito is one of the worst "heavyweights" in the league he always looks for the safe fight and rarely wins. He is always good for one sloppy staged fight and the second the odds don't go in his favor he bear hugs and tackles to end to fight using his sloppy 200lb frame to fall on his opponent.

This fight happened off camera so I'm guessing it was a mutually agreed upon fight. I'm not sure why Sestito would challenge Engo because it was a fight he was going to actually have to defend himself in.

Engelland, different from Bortuzzo and Glass, loves to grab his opponents left arm and use his rights to attack. Engelland is also a patient fighter who will let the other guy punch himself tired at the start of the fight before counter attacking.

Sestito gets a few shots to the helmet and a body shot before Engelland starts picking him apart with rights. Deryk lands a nice hook to the face and ends up getting in close to tie up Sestito's right arm. Tom slips out and lands a solid punch to Engo's face and Deryk counters with a few more rights. Sestito knowing that he won't get his right arm free bear-hugs Engo to end the fight and pulling him to the ground.

If you're going to challenge a guy to a fight at least see it through to the end.

WInner: Deryk Engelland (1-0)


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Saturday, October 19, 2013

UPDATE: Pens Officially Keep Maatta

8:00:00 PM 0


Rob Rossi, Pittsburgh Penguins beat-writer from the Tribune Review, has just broke the news that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be keeping 19-year-old rookie defenceman Olli Maatta up with the team instead of sending him down to juniors. Rossi had just appeared on our Pens Initiative radio podcast the other night had said that the logical and safe choice for the Pens would be to send him down.

According to Rossi, once Maatta plays more than nine games this year, his entry-level contract will count against the salary cap. However, if Maatta plays in at least 40 games this year, this season will count as an accrued season, which means he'll be an unrestricted free-agent after the 2019-2020. Rossi reports that a decision hasn't been made by management of how long Maatta will stay up exactly.

Below an exert from Rossi's article:

"Maatta, listed at 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, can't play in the minors this season because of an arrangement between the NHL and junior hockey. 
Maatta could play only for the Penguins, his junior club in London or possibly a professional league overseas such as the Finland's SM Liiga. 
However, management's growing belief is that Maatta will develop better by staying in the NHL, the sources said. In fact, management had determined he was worth an NHL audition during a pre-training camp prospect tournament, the sources said. 
Though the organization is deepest on defense at the NHL and prospect level, Maatta is viewed as no worse than the sixth-best option at that position, the sources said. 
Kris Letang, the Penguins' injured top defenseman, has lobbied coaches to push for Maatta to stay in the NHL. 
Through eight games, Maatta has scored a goal, recorded two assists an averaged 15:14 of ice time — fifth among defensemen and 10th overall among Penguins."
To read the rest of Rob Rossi's article click here.

The news adds to what has been a landmark day for Olli Maatta as he scored his first NHL goal, the game tying goal, in this afternoon's 4-3 shoot out win over the Vancouver Canucks.

UPDATE: The Pens have officially announced Maatta is staying with the Penguins.  Full article via our friends at the Trib here: http://triblive.com/mobile/4936222-96/maatta-penguins-season
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Oh Say Can Jussi? By: @LuigiLemieux

10:31:00 AM 0


Oh Say Can Jussi?

Article By: Kyle Fritz (@LuigiLemieux) for Pens Initiative


 Over the course of the first seven games of the 2013-2014 Pittsburgh Penguins season, we have seen a surprising number of guys usually relegated to role players, step up to the plate and show that they are ready to make a contribution in a much bigger way than expected. Tanner Glass is being productive on the ice, Olli Maatta has been showing he has the skill and grit to play at the NHL level, Even the oft-maligned Deryk Engelland turned out to be a better forward than Claude Giroux was in Philly on Thursday night. However no player has peaked the interest of the Penguins faithful quite like our own 30 year old journeyman forward from Kalajoki, Finland.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

This Week in Penguins History by @RobUllman

Penguins @ Flyers Recap by @ryannoble66 w/ @Evil_Shero Fight Recap

1:00:00 PM 0
Penguins WIN 4-1


Last night was the first game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and rival Philadelphia Flyers this season. The Pennsylvanian rivals faced of in their game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. As soon as the Penguins hit the ice a familiar sound echoed through the arena. No, not "Lets Go Flyers" because the Philly faithful have more realistic goals than hoping their last place team steals a win against a top team in the league. They just think "Crosby Sucks". They obviously follow the sport!

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Matt Niskanen: The Odd Man Out by @PandaPSU

9:00:00 AM 0


Remember Alex Goligoski?  He was that offensive-minded defenseman that used to play for the Penguins.  He was also the main reason fan-favorite and sharpshooter James Neal came to town. On February 21, 2011 Ray Shero traded Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars for James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Fans were excited to acquire James Neal, but did not really know a whole lot about the "throw-in" Niskanen.
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Morning Drive: Radio PI Post-Game and @robrossi_trib @toonsbrian @madchad412 and @evil_shero

8:00:00 AM 0



Nick Case has been tied up and Brian, Chad and Paul have taken over the show!

Today's show covers the Pens win over the Flyers, what to do with Olli Maatta, and the Trib's Rob Rossi talks about the Penguins and ... WHAT TO DO WITH OLLI MAATTA.


<iframe width="400" height="370" src="https://player.cinchcast.com/?show_id=5575139&platformId=1&assetType=single" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px;text-align: center; width:400px;"><a href="http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hockey">Online Hockey Radio at Blog Talk Radio</a> with <a href="http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pensinitiative">Radio PI</a> on BlogTalkRadio</div>
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Breaking Down the Defensive Logjam by @ExcitedBobErrey

9:00:00 AM 0


The Penguins defensive situation looks much different just 6 games into the start of the season than it did at the beginning of training camp. Tomas Vokoun's injury and some creative accounting allowed Ray Shero to keep all of his defensive players in the system when it looked certain that Matt Niskanen would be playing elsewhere. Despite being in the early stages of the season the lineup on the blueline is far from set as Kris Letang will need to work himself back into the mix and a midseason trade remains a very real possibility. Even after only a handful of games we've learned a lot more about the defensemen than we did during the offseason, and I try to breakdown what will happen with them not only for this year but the years to come as well.

Kris Letang

2013-14 Season: 0 GP (injured)
Cap Hit: $3.5 million (signed through 2020-21)

Season Outlook: An injury at the end of training camp prevented Letang from being in the lineup opening night, but he's guaranteed to regain his place in the lineup once he returns to full health. Letang is in the last year of his current contract and his cap hit will jump to $7.25 million for the next 8 seasons after this one. While there was some debate about giving that contract to Letang with the salary cap situation, he's a young defenseman entering his prime years who managed to earn a Norris Trophy nomination last year despite missing 13 of 48 games. He's one of the best skating defensemen in the league with very good offensive skills. He's had lapses in his own zone, but has shown himself to be a capable defender at times and the addition of Jacques Martin to the coaching staff should help with his consistency in the defensive zone. Letang will be logging huge chunks of minutes very soon on both the power play and the penalty kill and add an infusion of talent to a unit that has acquitted itself well during the young season.

Future Outlook: Kris Letang will be a Pittsburgh Penguin for many years to come; he's locked up in a maximum length long term deal and has a modified NTC. He's the building block around which the defensive unit will be constructed for many years to come.

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Morning Drive: 412 Sports Talk 10/17

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Matt Niskanen: More Questions Than Answers by @pghgirl15222

4:00:00 PM 0



When defenseman Kris Letang went down with an injury to open the season, it allowed two things to happen; hide his salary cap hit and more than likely keep Matt Niskanen. All things considered, Niskanen looked to be the odd man out to start the season. With the Penguins defensive depth and Niskanen, 26, having a very friendly cap hit of $2.3 million and one season left before free agency, it made sense he was deemed expandable. But something special is happening this season with Niskanen’s play that may not have happened if Letang had gone down.


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Crosby and Fleury Shine: Pens/Oilers Recap by @pghgirl15222 and @MadChad412

Poor Evgeni Malkin by @Nick422

10:31:00 AM 0
We as a fan base often heap praise upon Sidney Crosby, and rightfully so, while sometimes turning a side eye to Evgeni Malkin.  Malkin may win the scoring title occasionally but other times he seems inconsistent and enigmatic.  You can question him, I feel bad for him.

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Morning Drive: The League Podcast with Brian, TJ and @DudesOnHockey

8:00:00 AM 0
This week on The League, Brian and TJ cover the Top Lines and discuss the surprises and disappointments of the young season (while Brian repeatedly calls Bernier "Reimer"). But more importantly, we sit down with Mike and Doug from DudesOnHockey.com todiscuss the San Jose Sharks.

Remember to subscribe to Radio: PI on Blogtalkradio, iTunes, Stitcher and other fine feeds.



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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chris' Corner for October 15th by @chrisrbarron

4:00:00 PM 0


This is the first in a weekly installment of what I am calling Chris' Corner...  The suits won't be as loud, the commentary won't be as outrageous, but I  hope you enjoy it nonetheless.  In today's Chris' Corner I look at the Pens 3rd line (and ask an obvious question), discuss the hapless Metropolitan Division and wonder whether tonight's game against the Oilers is the classic trap game.

Enjoy!


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James Neal to the IR, Beau Bennett Day-to-Day, Harry Z called up

11:23:00 AM 0

Hectic times for the Pittsburgh Penguins right now as they have placed James Neal on the injured-reserve. The Pens already have one of their other star players on the IR in Kris Letang, and Neal now joins him. The Pens also have listed winger Beau Bennett as a day-to-day status.

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Welcome to Hockey Valley by @PandaPSU

9:00:00 AM 0


After a 67 year hiatus, the re-emergence of Division I hockey in "Hockey Valley" started off with a beautiful bang Friday night in the newly christened Pegula Ice Arena.

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