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Friday, January 31, 2014

Tanner Glass Scores Sick Backhand Goal

1:59:00 PM 0

How about Pittsburgh Penguins forward Tanner Glass?! Quite possibly the most improved player on the entire team. Glass was dreadful last season, only tallying two points wasn't as big as a physical presence as the Pens were hoping for. After all, Glass was making $1.5 million per-year and the expectations were for him to be a good third-or-fourth line player.
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Managing Expectations by @ExcitedBobErrey

3:52:00 PM 0

It's funny how far a fanbase can travel in such a short time. 10 years ago, the expectations surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins were some of the lowest in franchise history. No one expected the team to win games, and the times they did win came with more surprise than joy. The only thing left to look forward to after the regular season was the draft lottery and which players the Pens would pick at the top of the draft. But those top draft picks would soon turn around the franchise's luck, and they won big before the expectations ever had a chance to catch up. The team went from winning a single playoff game in 2007, their first playoff win since 2001, to winning the Eastern Conference Championship in 2008. The Marian Hossa trade helped propel a team viewed by most as a couple years away from serious contention to within 2 wins of the Stanley Cup, but the following season it began to look as if though that Cinderella run was a fluke, and that the team still had some serious growing to do before clearing that last hurdle.

Except, the Penguins fired Michel Therrien in February 2009 while sitting in 10th place in the standings, and the team that had been written off turned red hot, finishing the season on a 18-3-4 tear and cruised through the playoffs to win their 2nd straight Eastern Conference title. The Stanley Cup brought a rematch with the Detroit Red Wings, and despite again finding themselves in a 0-2 hole Pittsburgh was able to comeback and win an evenly matched series in seven games to emerge as the Stanley Cup Champions. With an extremely talented nucleus in their low-mid 20s, Penguins fans began to think dynasty and wonder how many more Stanley Cup parades would be in their future.

Except, the dynasty never materialized. The losses of Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi were a big reason why Montreal was able to shatter the dream of a repeat in 2010, the Crosby and Malkin injuries in 2011 made losing to the Lightning understandable, but the embarrassing losses in 2012 to Philadelphia and 2013 to Boston as Stanley Cup favorites hurt the most. Because despite finishing a point out of first place in the conference in 2011-12 and as the top seed in the East in 2013, the Penguins weren't able to win when it mattered most. The team that had found constant postseason success as the underdog was having trouble finishing out series as the favorite.

In a way, the Pittsburgh Penguins have come full circle over the past 10 years to the point where the regular season is virtually meaningless again. It would have taken an absolute miracle for the 2003-04 Penguins to make the playoffs, just like it would take an absolute disaster for the 2013-14 Penguins to miss the postseason. The outcome was never in doubt 10 years ago, just the draft pick, and the outcome isn't in doubt now, just the seed in the playoffs. But unlike 10 years ago, any given home game features some elite talent, not just the ones featuring certain visiting teams. And while the 2003-04 Penguins would win some unexpected games, this year's team will lose some games they probably shouldn't have as well.

Whether it was the 5-0 loss to Ottawa, the 4-3 OT loss to Edmonton, the 5-1 loss to Florida, or the 3-0 loss to Dallas, Pittsburgh has lost some bad games recently. But the Ottawa loss snapped a 7 game winning streak, the Edmonton loss a 3 game winning streak, and both the Florida and Dallas losses came after winning consecutive games. Despite those losses the Pens have still gone 10-4-1 since the Ottawa loss (a 115 point pace) and are 19-5-1 since the start of December (a 128 point pace). They've had players in and out of the lineup, yet they're still 4th in goals/game, 8th in goals allowed/game, and first on both the power play and the penalty kill.

The problem with high expectations is managing those expectations so they don't become unrealistic. They have a very good team, and their 17-7-1 record against the teams currently in the playoffs would put them at 115 points over the course of an 82 game season. There are going to be nights when nothing seems to go right, when the team looks out of sync, or when the other team simply plays a better game. Being one of the top teams in the league, the Penguins are a measuring stick type game for other teams to see how they match up against the elite. Those games are going to happen, but even with a few happening in a short amount of time it doesn't change the fact that Pittsburgh has a 15 point lead in the division with 2 games in hand and realistically should not be caught. It doesn't change the fact that this team is going to make the playoffs, and it doesn't change the fact that they're going to be one of the favorites to take home the Stanley Cup.

It's the end of January, and while ideally the Pens would bring their A game every night, it's not that important at this time of the year, especially given the Olympic break in this year's schedule. It'd be nice to win every game, but that's not realistic. For a team running away with the division and with basically no chance to miss the playoffs, the regular season just isn't that important. What is important is that this team plays their best hockey in May/June and puts to rest the demons that have haunted them in the playoffs over the past few seasons. Until then, enjoy the world class players that don the skating penguin every night, and when the inevitable bad game does occur, just remember that it's only a small bump in a long road.
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Marc-Andre Fleury's "Meaningless" Season Proving Memorable by @griffTHW

9:00:00 AM 0

Entering the 2013-'14 campaign, the saturated storylines surrounding Marc-Andre Fleury clearly indicated that few pundits (or fans) put much stock in any of the maligned goaltender's future regular season accolades.  Because, following a single series victory in four years and consecutive playoff implosions, The Flower's typically solid in-season performance, for many, now carries less merit. 

So, when Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero threw their weight behind the franchise net minder last summer, an unsure fan base held its collective breath, vowing that the regular season would mean virtually nothing without springtime success.

Fleury, however, continues to perform at a level that proves difficult to ignore.

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Morning Drive: 412 Sports Talk 1/29/14

8:00:00 AM 0
Last night on 412 Sports Talk hosts Mad Chad and Mike "Buzz Saw" Asti discussed Kris Letang's worth, the Olympics, the Stadium Series, and talks shop with hockeyfuture.com's Ian Altenbaugh.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let's Make A Deal: PensInitiative.com's Desktop GM

2:01:00 PM 0
The trade deadline is, for many (myself included), the most-anticipated day of the hockey year.

If your favorite team is a seller that year, anxiety fills the entirety of your hockey soul and you pray to your hockey gods that your favorite player doesn't get sent packing.

But, if your team happens to be a buyer, that's when the anticipation is a little more like Christmas morning.
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NHL Photographer Dave Sandford: A look behind the Lens By @ChicksDigHockey

10:24:00 AM 4

When you watch a hockey game and someone scores an unbelievable goal, then the whole team embraces in celebration, who freezes that moment in time? The iconic moments in sports are captured through the talent and skills of those who specialize in action photography. Sports photographers understand the sport they are shooting and train their eye to detect the nuances of the game that signal that a big play is about to happen. They have a keen sense of intuition that guides them to depress the shutter button at the split second the puck crosses the goal line because a split second after is too late. One man who possesses all that talent and is renowned as a premier sports photographer is Dave Sandford. (@Dave_Sandford)

Sandford grew up in London, Ontario doing what good Canadian boys do. He played hockey and dreamed of someday being in the NHL. As a teen he played defense but when he had his first knee surgery at age 14, it became clear that a professional hockey career just wasn’t in the cards. He credits his grandfather, who always came to his hockey games to take pictures, with his early interest in photography. Soon, Dave was not just taking pictures but capturing moments, preserving the very emotions of some of the sport's most pivotal and memorable events.

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Morning Drive: Case and Point Super Bowl Spectacular

8:00:00 AM 0
Last night on Case and Point, host Nick Case gave you everything you could ever want about the Super Bowl.  He talked Richard Sherman, looked back at what got the Seahawks and Broncos to this point, tells you why both teams may not have much time at the top, and gives you his prediction for the game.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

The Case for Matt Cooke Intentionally Hurting Eric Karlsson by @PandaPSU

1:38:00 PM 0

We found out this time last week that Eugene Melnyk, after some 10 months, is still on the hunt to prove that Matt Cooke purposely attacked Erik Karlsson with his skate. While it seemed pretty clear it was an accident to the other 99% of the population, Melnyk has remained vigilant and reported his findings to the NHL last Monday. While I was not granted access to the meeting, I have a pretty good idea of how the events played out.
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Debunking The Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang Narrative by @ToonsBrian and @MadChad412

9:00:00 AM 6
The Pittsburgh Penguins own the best record in the eastern conference, over 20 games over .500, and have six of their last nine games. How horrible..... But in today's world of 24/7 social media interaction, we get to see some really irrational opinions about the team whenever they don't play up to their lofty expectations.

Our good friend Josh Yohe, from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, tweeted out a crazy stat last night that helped certain people push a narrative against two players, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.

Josh wasn't blaming Malkin and Letang per se, just pointing out that the Pens have been less disciplined overall since they both rejoined the lineup. Of course, some people have taken this stat and have used it to further push their own agendas. 

During the nine game span, the Pens have allowed an average of over three goals per game. That is a lot higher than their season average of 2.5 goals allowed per-game. 

We broke it down player by player, looking at who has been on the ice for goals for and goals against during this nine-game span. The results may disrupt your narrative. Proceed with caution. 

As you can see, Letang and Malkin have hardly been at fault compared to some of their teammates. In fact, Brooks Oprik and Rob Scuderi have been dreadful. Especially when you consider who has been on the ice when there have been goals scored against the Pens.

On Ice For A Goal For 

Reminder: These stats include power-plays and penalty-kills.

The good:

Malkin : Since returning to the lineup, Malkin has been on the ice for 20 goals for and only 7 goals against. But sure, let's blame him every night. Malkin has 10 points in his last 9 games. The opinion of Malkin, by many, is that he's lazy and often plays a lethargic game. The evidence from his game as of late, and for the majority of his career, couldn't be further from that.

Matt Niskanen : Probably the highest rated player overall. Niskanen also has 10 points in his last 9 games and has been on the ice for 16 goals for and only 7 goals against. Niskanen has been incredible and is having the best season of his career.

Olli Maatta : Maatta has been nearly as good as Niskanen, who he is usually paired with. Maatta has been on the ice for 14 goals for and only 6 goals against. Truly a wonderful player that plays a much more mature game than his 19-year old age would suggest.

Chris Kuntiz: Kunitz has also been a positive force during this span, as he was on the ice for 16 goals for and 10 goals against. Kunitz has 7 points during this span.

James Neal: Neal has been very good as well. Neal has eight points in the last nine games, just a point off from one point-per-game. He's also been on the ice for 14 goals for and only five goals against. 

Jussi Jokinen: Very sneaky. Jussi Jokinen, at least as far as the eye test and these raw statistics go has been very good for the Pens. He's been on the ice for 13 goals for and only five goals against and had a hat-trick during the same span. Thanks again, Jim Rutherford.

Middle Ground: 

Sidney Crosby: I was going to put Crosby in the bad section purely based off of his lofty expectations, but it wouldn't make sense to do that. Crosby has been on the ice for the second most goals against on the team with 13, but he's also been on the ice for 14 goals for and has averaged over a point-per-game during this span.
Pts, Turnover and +/- for Defensemen in the $7-7.25M AAV
for the 2014-15 Season

Kris Letang: Ah, if you go by the Internet you would have thought that Letang would have been in the "F*cking sucks" category. Nope. Letang has been decent and has actually looked a lot better as of late. He's been on the ice for more goals for (11) than he's been for more goals against (10). Letang also has seven points since his return, almost a point-per-game. Another encouraging thing about Letang is his improving play on the power-play. He has two goals and two assists on the power-play in the last nine games.

The bad:

Brooks Orpik: Yikes. Seriously what can you really say about Orpik's performance during this span besides that? He leads the team for being on the ice for most goals against and has only been on the ice for five goals for. That's just not good for a d-man making close to $4 million per-year. For as much hate as Letang receives, he can usually match his mistakes by making big plays and producing offense. Orpik does not have that same ability. Oprik has been by far the worst player defenceman on the team during this nine-game span.

Paul Martin: Martin has only played four games, as he returned to the lineup on January 20th. However, in those four games back, he's had a hard time adjusting. He's been on the ice for four goals against. That's twice as many as the amount of goals for he's been on for. He also only has one point and -4 in the four games he's been back. Blame Letang. 

Rob Scuderi: "The Piece" has had an even tougher time adjusting since his return to the lineup, which just happened to be the same game that Letang and Malkin both returned in. Scuderi has been on the ice for 11 goals against and only five goals for. He's looked hesistant at times which could be due simply to having just come back from a pretty significant injury and playing with a new defensive parnter.

Craig Adams: Look. People are going to defend Craig Adams no matter what but the fact is he's been on the ice for 11 goals against and only three goals for. Adams has regressed this season and I seriously think the young and energetic Zach Sill is more than ready to fill his role.

So, there you have it. Sometimes people just push certain points of view even if they're wrong. For some media members, bloggers, and fans it's just easier for them to continue to push the same narrative over and over instead of just admitting that they were wrong.

The biggest problem with this team has nothing to do with Malkin or Letang or any one individual player. The problem is the abysmal play of the third and fourth lines. They haven't tallied a goal in over a month (If you don't count Brandon Sutter's empty-net goal) and have almost all been on the ice for twice as many goals against than goals for. The Pens seriously need to upgrade their bottom-six forwards if they want a chance to win a Stanley Cup this season. 
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Metro Shaking Up The Playoff Picture by @ToonsBrian

3:42:00 PM 0
Remember back to the beginning of the season. By the end of October, the hockey world looked at the Metropolitan Division as a laughing stock. The Southleast Division reborn.

Rightfully so.

By the end of October, only the Pittsburgh Penguins averaged more than an Overtime Loss, finishing the opening month with a 9-4-0 record. The Flyers, by contrast, were the bottom-feeders of the division - much to the delight of Pens' fans - garnering only 6 points in their first 11 games.

NYR's 1st 9 games: 112 hour drive, no potty breaks

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Some Alarming Stats About the Pens Involving Malkin, Crosby by @MadChad412

11:00:00 AM 0

The Pittsburgh Penguins were shutout by the Dallas Stars Saturday night, by a score of three to nothing. The Pens played a pretty lethargic game, but the Stars also played a great game and deserve credit as well. 

The Pens still have the best record in the eastern conference and should end up the number one overall seed in the east for the second straight season. Fair or not, that's the expectation of this team for every season. 

We all know how good Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal are. Crosby leads the league in points, and all three of them make up three of the top four leaders in points-per-game. Amazing stuff. Add in Chris Kunitz to the mix and you have three of the top ten points leaders in the NHL. 

There are real concerns though. The biggest of which is the lack of scoring depth. This becomes even more apparent when Crosby and Malkin have off nights and don't produce goals for the Pens. This actually goes back to last year's Eastern Conference Finals, when the Pens got swept by the Boston Bruins. Both Crosby and Malkin went the entire series without a point. The Pens were shutout twice and lost all four games. It was an embarrassing series to say the least. 

The scary thing is that Pens team had a lot more depth compared to this year's team. 

This year's team is struggling badly when Crosby and Malkin have off-nights, especially when they both fail to produce a point in the same game. It's only happened four times this season, and the Pens have only won one of those four games. The Pens have been outscored 3-9 in those four games. Going back to the Boston series, the Pens are 1-7 in games that Malkin and Crosby both fail to produce a point, and have been outscored 5-21 in those games. Yikes. 

The games in which only Crosby fails to tally a point is even more alarming.  This season the Pens are a dismal 2-9 when Crosby doesn't register a point, and 2-13 going back to the series against the Bruins. That's not good. It truly shows just how vital Crosby's offensive production is to this team. It's funny that so many critics of Crosby use the fact that he plays for a good team against him.  

Josh Yohe, Pens' beat-writer for the Tribune-Review, brought up another alarming statistic tonight. 

Double yikes! The Pens' bottom six is bad. In fact they are down right terrible five-on-five especially. They can't keep the puck in the offensive zone, and they can't even pitch in one goal during over a month's worth of games. The days of having a great third line are officially over. 

Brandon Sutter has been good as the team's third line center in my opinion, but he's practically had the entire Wilkes-Barre Scranton Baby Pens alternate as his wingers this season. No consistency and not a whole lot of talent to work with. 

Pens' general manager has to fix this and in my opinion the Pens should actually get two gritty forwards who can produce some occasional offense. The one guy I think they should go after is Buffalo Sabres captain Steve Ott, who can score and play a damn gritty game at the same time. He's a bastard to play against, but his style of play is definitely something that is a need for this team. Ott would be a great addition despite his craziness. 

Some other intriguing guys to look at would be Ryan Jones from Edmonton and Jamie McGinn from Colorado. 

No matter who they go after, the bottom six needs improved drastically. As we've seen this season and in last year's playoffs, when Crosby and Malkin get shutdown this team virtually has no chance. The two-headed monster has become a double-edged sword. 
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

James Neal-Matt Niskanen trade could go down as Ray Shero's best

3:10:00 PM 1

Pittsburgh Penguins' general manager Ray Shero is beloved by Pens fans and for good reasons. The Pens have been to two Stanley Cup Finals under him, including one Cup victory, and have been near the top of the standings since he's been here. He's made some great signings and trades that not too many GM's around the league have been able to make.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

News, Thoughts, and Stats about the Pittsburgh Penguins by @griffTHW

9:16:00 AM 1

After an uninspiring road trip through Western Canada and a brutal home loss to the lowly Florida Panthers, the Penguins responded Wednesday night with an impressive effort against Montreal.  From the stars shining to superior special teams to Marc-Andre Fleury's solid play in net, there wasn't much for a Pens' fan to complain about.

Below, we provide, in particular order, several observations following Pittsburgh's 5-1 triumph over the Canadians:
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pump the Brakes on Tomas Vokoun by @Nick422

4:00:00 PM 2
We all saw the news and became excited: Tomas Vokoun is off of blood thinners and is skating again.  Last year's playoff savior has arrived just in time to right what has been a rough, sinking ship!

Not so fast, my friends.
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Le Trial and Tribulations of @Kris58Letang: Lost Shoe.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crosby, Canada's Captain by @ChicksDigHockey

9:02:00 AM 2

Sidney Crosby has been named Captain for Team Canada.

 I was so proud when I read that news. At 26, he leads the league in scoring (68 points: 25 goals, 43 assists) and is so deserving. I immediately thought, “I need that jersey.” Then it hit me…..I’m not Canadian. How can I have such pride in and be so excited for Canada’s choice to captain their Olympic team? I am, after all, an American girl…(cue Tom Petty)

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Monday, January 20, 2014

This Week in Penguins History by @RobUllman

How Do the Pittsburgh Penguins Stack Up Against the NHL's Best Teams? by @PandaPSU

1:00:00 PM 5

There have been many topics of discussion about the Pittsburgh Penguins so far this season. Are the Penguins top-heavy? How does their secondary scoring compare? Who should Ray Shero focus on as trade targets? I compared the Pittsburgh Penguins to the league's other top four teams in terms of points: Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and San Jose Sharks. Through some data and statistics, I will try to provide a better understanding of these questions and provide some answers.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

#Penguins Fights #15-20 Recaps by @evil_shero

7:28:00 PM 0
Dec 16, 2013 1pd 15:06
2013-2014 Regular Season

This fight transpired when Bodie rubbed Borts out on the corner and finishes with a forearm shiver on his head. Bortuzzo chases him to the slot and tosses the mitts. 

Bobby Bo hits Bodie with a large right to start the bout maybe before Bodie knew what was going on. Bodie returns with a big bomb that connects. 

Bortuzzo, being 6'4", is used to holding the collar of the sweater and using his long arms to keep people away from him. He is also very strong and has great balance for a larger player, so his preferred technique is so keep the opponent at a distance with his long arms and he will pull the other player towards him while he punches. In this case, fighting Bodie who is 6'5" they were literally toe-to-toe and both men had to stand and throw bricks.

After the initial two punches there was a bad sequence of missed punches, but Bortuzzo was fired up from the hit he came with an absolute fury of body shots, hooks, and uppercuts. Bortuzzo went to reload and got caught with a solid shot to the head but he continued to fire punch after punch at Bodie. 

The fight ends with an impressive takedown by Bortuzzo. Bodie definitely had quality over quantity in this bout but Bortuzzo's strength and tenacity was showcased in this fight for sure. 

Winner Bortuzzo (3-0)

Dec 16, 2013 2pd 10:45
2013-2014 Regular Season

This was borne from Sill laying a large hit on O'Reilly under the watchful eye of Bodie. Bodie, who earlier survived a Bortuzzo scrap, challenges Sill and Zach happily obliges. 

Zach isn't the biggest or most fierce fighter in the NHL/AHL but he is a smart fighter much like teammate Deryk Engelland. He rarely tosses the mitts and fired off wild punches hoping for a KO in the first 5 seconds. Sill will often let the other man tire himself out and counter with his left hand and when the opportunity presents itself he will switch hands and finish the fight with his right. I am finding with his early NHL career its fooling alot of opponents not familiar with his "Princess Bride Strategy" are being caught off-guard. 

This fight went exactly how Sill wanted it to. He hung back with the grip he wanted on Bodie. He held off the first wave of Bodie-Bombs (tm) just waiting for his chance. It definitely didn't look well for Sill being out-sized but he knew what he was doing. 

Zach leaned back and let Bodie punch at him for a few mins and when surprised by Bodie's strength he switched hands and caught Troy with a nice right wobbling him winning the match.

Sill may be one of my new favorite fighters in the Penguin's system. He takes this bout easy. 

Winner: Zach Sill (2-0)

Dec 19, 2013 1pd 02:19
2013-2014 Regular Season

This was a bout as a result of a tie-up along the benches. Both men pinched each other out on the benches during play and simply neither one of them wanted to give up struggling with each other. 

Adsy is a tough human but has lost a significant portion of his fierceness over the years almost treating a fight like yardwork. Konopka is a perennial tough guy journeyman whose toughness is well known around the league.  

Both combatants were desperately trying to struggle for the right hold as both men wrestled each other for position. A few punches were thrown and connected but nothing substantial. I think if either opponent would have gotten the tie-up they wanted it would have been a much more exciting scrap. 

Nothing special and if I had to pick a winner ... wait I don't HAVE to pick a winner. Equal punches, no advantage, no take down, this is a draw. 

Draw: Craig Adams (0-1-1)

Dec 19, 2013 1pd 04:19
2013-2014 Regular Season

A nice big clean hit by Ballard earned the wrath of the man they call Kobasew. I've mentioned in previous post that fights after a clean hit are something I don't like seeing but it happens and it probably will never change. 

Ballard uses a unique technique (say that three times fast) to where he gets in very close and will grab the back of the sweater or even the fight strap. He will pull away, take a shot, and stay in close. When Ballard gets his hooks in its very hard to pull away, and that's what Kobasew found out. 

Ballard throws some helmet shots as Kobasew struggles to find position. This was most of the bout to where Ballard rabbit punches and Kobasew struggled to get free. I'm wondering now what Kobasew actually does for this team ...

Winner: Ballard
Kobasew (0-1)

Dec 19, 2013 2pd 10:18
2013-2014 Regular Season

There are hip-checks and there is what Ballard did to Neal, I think they call it submarining.  Neal was understandably upset and wanted to take justice into his own hands by challenging Ballard to his second battle of the night. 

I'm unsure if Ballard expected Neal to toss the gloves and fight. Neal in his earlier career used to fight on occasion but now his role with the Penguins clearly does not include busting his knuckles off some jabroni's skull. 

Neal gets the early edge with a few jabs before Ballard comes in close and holds Nealer close to control the pace of the battle. They sweat for position but they stayed dead locked. Neal tossed Ballard to the ice after a long struggle and threw a right that may have colored Ballard's face. 

Not too impressive but there was a winner. 

Winner: James Neal (1-0)

Jan 11, 2014 1pd 04:41
2013-2014 Regular Season

This was a premeditated scrap with both men chirping before the faceoff. They tossed the gloves and Engo went for his collar tie-up and before he secured the right arm of McGrattan, he got faded on a deceivingly powerful jab right on the jaw earning Engo his first loss of the season. 

I always get excited when Engo fights since he is such a smart warrior. He adapts his style for his opponent and has educated fists while he defends the skating penguin on the crest of his sweater. I know McGrattan is a renowned tough guy with hockeyfights.com giving him a 9-0 record on the season taking on some of the toughtest men in the NHL. Maybe Engelland didn't take into account that the Flames lost 5 in a row and hasn't scored in almost 3 games and that kind of frustration equals on quick KO punch. 

Winner: McGrattan
Engelland (2-1-1)

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Back To The Future by @LCJS

10:20:00 AM 0

Allow me to take you back, back one year minus one day, to the start of the 2012-2013 NHL season.  There was only one word on the lips of fans at that time:


On January 19th, 2013, the NHL began a half-year schedule featuring 48 games, ending a very messy lover's quarrel between league owners and the NHLPA.  Words like Collective Bargaining Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding were buzzwords of the day.

Hop in your DeLorean and fast forward back to today.  The Penguins are 48 games into the 2013-2014 season, so let's take a look at how these two "half seasons" compare.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

The Kris Letang Debate by @ExcitedBobErrey and @griffTHW

2:15:00 PM 3
There appears to be no shortage of opinions when it comes to Kris Letang's game or his future with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Whether you love him or hate him, want him dealt or to retire a Penguin, there's one thing everybody can agree on: Letang is as polarizing as they come.  So, with that spirit in mind, Pens Initiative decided to stage its own debate on what could be in store for the talented, yet maligned blue liner.
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Morning Drive: Radio:PI 1/16/14 featuring Mike Colligan

8:00:00 AM 0
Last night on Radio:PI hosts Brian Blystone, Mad Chad and Nick Case were joined by The Hockey Writers' Mike Colligan to talk the Pens, Letang, Olympics and more!

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alexander Ovechkin Ranks Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Himself.

6:37:00 PM 0

It's rivalry night in the NHL, as NBC will remind you of this many more times tonight. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who seem to be rivals with just about every team in the NHL, take on a true rival (In our opinion) the Washington Capitals. Of course this means an entire night talking about Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin. 
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Everything Old is New Again by @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 4
With the announcement of the Stadium Series Penguins jersey being one and done (while other teams like the Islanders opt to keep theirs as their third jersey) the Penguins are on the hunt for a new third sweater.  According to rumors has the concept already been used?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Despres Redux by @ChicksDigHockey

1:40:00 PM 1

If you haven't read The Penguins Need to Deal Despres  please do.

Thank you for all the comments and lively debate on my “The Penguins Need to Deal Despres”. Let me clear something up; I am a Despres fan. Note that I predicted he will be a good D man. Pens’ fans have a bad habit of falling in love with the guys who we draft/bring up from WBS. Much like that person who stole your virginity, they won’t be around forever.

I offer the example of Ben Lovejoy. Who didn’t love Benny, especially after 24/7? He was so proud of those sutures in his cheek. When Shero traded him I was shocked and a little upset. Looking back, it was the best gift he could have given Lovejoy. In Pittsburgh, he was scratched more times than a hound dog with fleas. The Ducks love him. They have embraced him and he is thriving. 

Despres isn’t playing. He also isn’t developing his skills. If you see brilliance in him, you have to understand the old saying…..”if you love him, set him free.”

I agree with all who speculated that Winnipeg is a good place to go shopping. I further agree, Despres won’t be the only element in the potential trade in order to get a high return…..although, remember that time Shero traded Goligoski?
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Morning Drive: Case and Point 1/13/14

8:00:00 AM 0
Last night on Case and Point Nick Case examined Major League Baseball's rough patch, looked back at the NFL's Divisional Round and gave you his, hopefully better, picks for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

The Penguins Need to Deal Despres by @ChicksDigHockey

8:21:00 PM 0

It isn’t Pascal Dupuis' fault he got hurt.

 It isn’t disloyal to him to say the Pens need to fill the gap left by his absence.

The controversy begins when Pens’ fans discuss how to go about shoring up the Pens’ needs on the front end as well as fortifying the back end. We’ve already seen that rentals aren’t the solution.

 Here’s how I view rental players: They are a lot like guys who are in a bad marriage and just want out (Brendan Morrow and Jarome Iginla). They go after the first good looking thing they see that they think they’re gonna have fun with (Penguins). Not much is invested in the relationship except time, sweat and a few dinners out (Draft picks). That relationship, while flashy and fun only serves to help them sever ties with that long term commitment that went stale. It becomes a rebound relationship, if you will. After they’ve had their fun and tried some new things; they’re on to the next. 

The Pens need to make a real move: a real trade. Real trades cost your team a real commodity not a draft pick. You have to give up something to get something in a real trade. The Pens have a hearty crop of defensemen and that seems like a good place to deal from. If you want a scoring winger, you have to give up someone of value, or future value. The Pens can afford to deal someone from the blue line.

I believe the Pens should deal Simon Despres.

Despres is a good defenseman and will be an even better defenseman. Unfortunately, there isn’t a place for him in the top 6 once Paul Martin is back.

He may have actually been his own worst enemy. He showed up at camp this season slow and out of shape. His defensive game was disappointing and he was sent to Wilks-Barre to get his stuff together. When he did the skate of shame down to the AHL, he left the door open for Olli Maatta who made it hard for the Pens not to keep him. Now that Deryk Engelland has made himself more valuable by also playing forward, Despres is, at best the 8th defenseman....maybe 9th behind Bortuzzo. 

In short, he is an expendable commodity. 

Despres has, to date, played 18 games with an average of 17:20 TOI. He was a healthy scratch in the past two games. He has no goals, 4 assists and is a -3 on the season. His future is bright but the spring is long and the Pens need a scoring forward for the playoffs more than a defenseman in the press box. 
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