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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Penguins Won The Lottery With Kasperi Kapanen by @pghgirl15222

4:00:00 PM 0



This Penguins preseason has been a game of injuries and puzzle pieces. With two of the best players in the game missing from the lineup it seems as if one of the most consistent things on the Penguins roster thus far has been this year’s first round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen.

The rookie forward has quite frankly looked absolutely fantastic thus far further proving that a whole bunch of teams messed up by not drafting him. Hey, as Penguins fans we thank you. Your loss is our gain.

General Manager Jim Rutherford has not been quiet about his opinion of the rookie, stating on more than one occasion that he has a real chance at cracking the starting roster on opening night. He has a strong puck possession game that is ideal for Johnston’s style of coaching.

As per a Tribune Review article  by Jason Mackey it seems Bill Guerin is also a big fan of the young forward. “He's a very, very mature kid for his age. Obviously having his father play so many years in the NHL, or playing with him and bringing him up that way, he's already a pro.”

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Which Beer Would You Serve With a Sidney Crosby Goal? By @ChicksDigHockey

12:00:00 PM 0


The leaves are turning, the humidity is gone and hockey season is here. If you can’t go to a Pens' game, the next best thing is getting together with friends to watch the game and have a few adult beverages.  I love planning get-togethers but I’m never sure what beer to serve.  Do I choose a beer based on the menu? If I marinate the steak for sliders in a lager I should serve that beer to drink as well….right? But what if I make a big pot of spicy chili to go with the sliders?  Do I amp up the hops and go for an IPA? 

Then it occurred to me.... everybody has a favorite player. Why not serve beer that goes with the player not the food? I could choose a beer based on the characteristics, skills and nationalities of the players.

I quickly realized I was in over my head. 

No problem! I hit up my friend Nick at Beer Bros Blog. Hosting/Covering beer events is his thing.  Because he’s good at the planning, pairing & piecing what beer goes where, I charged him with the task of translating this to the Pens for the upcoming season.

Pens Initiative: Nick, I’m planning a Penguins season opening party. I don’t want it to be about the food. I want to match the beer selection to the players. This is something new for me, can Beer Bros Blog help me?
Beer Bros Blog: Beer events have always been a thing.  They have, however, become a bigger thing.  The evolution of beer events has certainly reached new heights.  Food pairing, dinners, aging, educating yourself... these were all phrases synonymous with the world of wine.  The world has changed. Get out your notebook and get ready for beer 101.  It will be a great day for hockey... and beer. 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Ehrhoff and Johnston Just What Letang Needed by @MadChad412

12:30:00 PM 0

What good is having extremely talented players if you refuse to put them in the best position to succeed? For all of the successes that Dan Bylsma had as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, perhaps his biggest folly was not adapting his philosophies to his players, instead forcing them to adapt to his system. Bylsma, who liked to play aging veterans as well guys that would "grind it out" over younger more-skilled alternatives, was truly holding back some of his players and teams from reaching their full potential. Bylsma was fired this off-season, along with general manager Ray Shero. 
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Marc-Andre Fleury to Shoulder the Load by @PandaPSU

9:00:00 AM 1



The start of the Penguins season is 10 days away, and there are certainly a lot of questions that remain unanswered. The purpose of training camp and the preseason significantly increased when the Penguins essentially cleaned house over the summer and brought in a new coaching staff and many new front office positions. This is the time for players to start gelling with the new staff and vice versa. Things haven't exactly been smooth so far at Consol Energy Center, and that puts a lot of the burden on one man -- Marc-Andre Fleury.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pens Send Megna Back To Wilkes/Barre, Kapanen might make opening roster

9:03:00 PM 0

The Pittsburgh Penguins have cut more players from their roster. The Pens sent down assign forwards Jayson Megna and Dominik Uher, and defenseman Reid McNeill to their farm team in Wilkes-Barre.
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Friday, September 26, 2014

How the Injury to "Glass Beau" Bennett Affects the Penguins' Depth and Power-Play by @DXTraeger

3:06:00 PM 0


To call the career of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett "mercurial" is fair, and mercurial is a contextually appropriate assessment of his play given the bevy of talented yet unproductive skaters that have historically dotted the NHL landscape.

With today's news that Beau Bennett suffered an apparent knee injury during practice at the Consol Energy Center comes the reality that whatever untapped potential Bennett may possess may have to be realized for another team.

As a California kid with frosted hair tips, Bennett was always a feel-good story of home-grown American hockey talent.  His path to the NHL included time as a roller hockey player since, contrary to what NHL Commissioner would have you believe, frozen ponds do NOT typically line the drought and desert-filled Californian coast.

In 2012, then-GM Ray Shero signed Bennett to a three year entry-level deal with the Penguins, and Bennett turned out to be Shero's only real offensive draft acquisition during Shero's tenure with the team.

Whether or not the pressure of being the only NHL-caliber forward in the Penguins' farm system ever affected Bennett's production is a matter of debate.  What can't be denied is that a string of wrist injuries, stemming from his time at the University of Denver, continued into the NHL and denied the popular young player of valuable ice time and opportunities.

After losing much of the 2013-2014 season to wrist and various other body ailments, Bennett was enjoying a stellar pre-season and seemed poised to help anchor a revitalized third line alongside Brandon Sutter and offseason acquisition Steve Downie.


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Beau Bennett Leaves Practice with Knee Injury UPDATED

12:14:00 PM 2
Poor Beau Bennett.  So much potential but constantly snake bit.  Today becomes the latest chapter in his book as Beau leaves the ice at the end of practice with a non-contact knee injury.


In the 11 o'clock hour reports began to trickle out from various sources saying of Bennett's injury.  He left practice early with what looked to be a serious knee injury sustained in a non-contact drill.











Further words began to flow that the ice conditions at Consol were to blame.




No words yet on Bennett's condition.  Stay with Pens Initiative for updates.

UPDATE: Coach Johnston reports that Bennett's injury is not "as bad as it looks."

UPDATE #2: Bennett takes to Twitter to vent, apologize.  Someone hug him.  He could use it.


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Pens-Wild Preseason Game Recap, Pens Win- Bortuzzo Leaves Injured

8:00:00 AM 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins won a preseason game against the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-2 in overtime. Of course, wins and losses do not matter at all during preseason, but it is nice to get a victory when you have a rookie head coach. 

Here's the Pens' box score from the game: 
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pens Initiative October Desktop Wallpaper.

2:16:00 PM 0

You have seen the hashtags asking if it is October yet and we can finally put an end to that! (Well, almost..) Though, had we already owned calendars that question could have been answered much sooner..

Here is the new Pens Initiative Desktop Wallpaper for the month of October! Each month we will have a new one with a different player and that months player! If you miss the post, that is okay because we will have each month available in out Multimedia section!

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Embrace the Old School by @BrianK_PI

9:13:00 AM 0

I'm not sure I need to say much else about the Penguins' new alternate jersey reveal. The black and gold retro third jersey is sick, as Patrick Hornqvist already has beaten me to the punch to say. The team lifted two Stanley Cups wearing the design, and it's the jersey that firmly cemented Mario Lemieux's place in franchise lore. It's a return to the Pittsburgh gold that the team inexplicably left by the wayside for its supposedly more sexy sister color, the Vegas gold. But Vegas gold isn't the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's not Pittsburgh. And regardless of how much the Vegas gold has tried to establish itself into the fabric of this team, including winning a Stanley Cup of its own, it's still takes a back seat. The Vegas gold is the equivalent of the Pigeon logo as far as a secondary color goes. Finally getting to see the Crosby generation of the team in these uniforms is a long overdue surprise and one that will hopefully be made permanent before too long.


Sometimes, the classic look is just the better look, plain and simple. The Vegas gold might have tried to bring a more modern look to the jerseys, or make the sweaters a bit trendier, but occasionally you just get it right and don't need to try so hard to improve. The Penguins franchise has been getting it wrong for twenty years, as far as the jereseys go that is, from the pigeon logo to the Vegas gold, but this is absolutely a step in the right direction. It isn't just Pittsburgh gold; it IS Pittsburgh. They're the colors you've seen the Steelers win an NFL record 6 Super Bowls in, and it's the color scheme you see the Pirates work their way back to credibility wearing. No color scheme resonates with the city more than black and yellow, and nowhere in Southwestern PA are there two colors worn with more pride.


The Penguins are reaching back into the past, rediscovering their roots, and going with a great look that served them well during some of the most successful years in franchise history. As Matthew McConaughey said in possibly the only Oscar worthy performance ever in a car commercial, you can go back but you've gotta look in the right place. The Penguins looked back, and they knew exactly where to look. To find out where they've been, and where they need to go. It's time for the NHL to do a bit of soul searching themselves and take a look back on where they've been, how they've gotten here, and where they need to go. It's time for the NHL to dip a bit into their own old school stash and bring some changes and improvements to the modern game.


A great place to start looking at would be with the current overtime format, specifically the loser point and the shootout. I understand why the league made the moves that they made in both these cases. The NHL instituted the loser point to try to prevent teams from packing it in during the overtime period and settle for a single point instead of risking leaving the game with nothing. The idea was giving each team a point they couldn't lose would give them an incentive to fight for that second point. The shootout came into existence after the lockout, and it started as nothing more than a marketing ploy to get people talking and provide highlight reel type excitement for the game.


The problem is that the loser point has undoubtedly made the game worse, both on the ice and off. Instead of teams packing it in during overtime, teams are now doing that at the end of the third period. The same effect is there, except now it's resulting in more passive play during regulation instead of the extra time period. Also, by awarding a point for an overtime loss the NHL has the possibility for 3 point games, which not only skews team records but takes the excitement away from the playoff drive. It's been made incredibly difficult for teams to get hot at the end of the season and force their way back into the playoff mix. Gaining two points while the teams you're chasing can split three makes catching up a slow process, and the playoff teams are essentially set weeks before the end of the regular season. It's a flawed system that failed to improve upon what was working before. There's nothing wrong with having two equally matched teams end the game with equal results.


Speaking of the postseason, the NHL's return to the four division alignment was a great step in the right direction coming out of the lockout, a throwback to the days of the Patrick, the Adams, the Norris, and the Smythe. The divisional playoff format forces division rivals to face each other to advance, and generally speaking the best rivalries in the league can be found within the divisions. Also, the divisional format breeds familiarity, which breeds contempt, which creates new rivalries as the established division powers keep squaring off against each other to make the conference championship. However, the NHL didn't go back to completely to the old format, instead creating two wildcard spots in each conference. Sometimes this works out, like in the East last year when the wild cards were split between the divisions and finished paired with their own division, but it can also cause problems, like last season when the Anaheim Ducks, top seed in the West and a point back of the Presidents' Trophy, had to travel halfway across the country to face the Dallas Stars instead of travelling somewhere along the West Coast. With the NHL looking to expand to 32 teams to create four 8-team divisions, hopefully this is a change that is made when the divisions are balanced across the league.


And when the league finally does add those next two teams, they need to get it right. The Canadian and northern US markets are where they're going to find passionate fans, and it's where they're going to make money. Quebec City is constructing a new arena; give them the Nordiques back to inhabit it. Seattle is a needed West Coast city in an untapped region with a great sports fanbase, and a new franchise would have an instant nearby rival in the Vancouver Canucks; give them a team. And it's time to admit that the moves to give the NHL exposure in the southern states has produced mixed results at best. Last season, five teams played to less than 85% capacity crowds. Four of those teams (Florida, Carolina, Phoenix, and Dallas) were located in southern states. Granted all of those teams save Phoenix were over 90% attendance the previous season coming out of the lockout, but they've consistently been at the bottom of the league as far as attendance goes and the NHL has gone through great pains to prop up a Coyotes team that hasn't been able to draw fans regardless of what success they've seen on the ice.


It's time to relocate some of these teams to markets that care. Hartford still cares about the Whalers, and wouldn't it make much more sense to have a team in a market passionate about them and hockey in general? The NHL moved the Thrashers to Winnipeg in 2011, and despite being one of the worst run franchises in North America (they ARE still the Atlanta Thrashers after all), the fans in Manitoba still support their Jets, and when the team finally gets into a position to contend the atmosphere and fanbase will be electric. The NHL could use that excitement, that passion, and that support.


Nothing's more exciting than scoring either, yet the league seems content to watch goals become harder and harder to come by. This past season Sidney Crosby was the only player to break 100 points, and no one else in the league even topped 90 points. The average game last season had a total of 5.49 goals scored, a mark not far off from the lack of scoring the league was trying to fix coming out of the lockout in 2005. To compare how bad it's getting, the league averaged 5.35 goals per game in the five seasons prior to the lockout. I'm not saying the NHL should try to get back to the levels of scoring seen in the 80s, but finding a happy medium between the late 80s and late 90s scoring is a must. The NHL can tweak the way it calls penalties and the way the game is played all it wants, but the easiest way to increase scoring would be making subtle changes to the net itself. Goalie pads have been a hot topic of debate, yet decreasing goalie protection could wind up increasing injuries. Let them wear the pads they're wearing now, but move the posts and crossbar and inch or two out from where they currently are. It won't sound like much, but some of the "pings" from previous seasons would sound off goal sirens instead.


The NHL has gotten a lot right over the years. Its popularity continues to soar, moves like the Winter Classic have increased exposure and introduced more people to the game, and the annual salary cap increase is a reminder that the league is moving in the right direction. Players are better conditioned now than they were twenty years ago, and analytics are helping to improve understanding of what's happening on the ice. But even as the game continues to move forward, it's worth noting that some of the things that have been left in the wake of progress would be better served reinstated. It's time to embrace the old school and return some of the best parts of the game from yesteryear to the future versions yet to be played.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chance To Win 2 Tickets To The Pens Regular Season Home Opener

9:18:00 PM 0



Every single Pittsburgh Penguins fan wants to be able to go the the games. Sometimes tickets are too pricey, sometimes the games are completely sold out. So who wouldn't want a chance to win free tickets with good seats to the Pens' home opener? Well here is your chance. 
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Season Preview: @VeryBarrieColts on the @OHLBarrieColts.

2:13:00 PM 1

We took a moment to ask our very own Ryan Noble a few questions about the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Barrie's team has had some NHL'ers such as Kyle Clifford, Tanner Pearson and first overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad who was selected at the last NHL draft by the Florida Panthers. Ryan writes about the Barrie Colts over at his blog which he calls 'A Very Barrie Colts Blog'.

For more about the Barrie Colts and to keep up with some of Ryan's other work be sure to follow A Very Barrie Colts Blog on Twitter and Facebook!

So, what did your team do this summer?

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The Penguins Need a New Cult Hero by @kjcmalakai

10:17:00 AM 0


The Pittsburgh Penguins are loaded with top line talents that consistently compete for the Art Ross and Hart Memorial trophies, but are currently missing a certain type of player.  The kind of player that the city and it's fans rallies behind and cheers his name, not for his high scoring prowess, but for different reasons.  The kind of player that sacrifices himself for the good of the team or pushes the envelope against a bitter rival.  Pittsburgh needs a new hockey cult hero.

Looking back, there have been a few notable players that fit this ideal.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Preseason Game #2 Preview And Lineup for Tonight's Pens Game

4:27:00 PM 0

It's another preseason hockey night in Pitsburgh! The Pens will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus. Of course, it feels like it was just yesterday that these two teams kept blowing three-to-one leads against each other i the first round of the playoffs. Not as much on the line i a non-televised game, but here is a preview nonetheless!The game is not going to be televised, but the good news is Columbus will be streaming the game on their website. 
Here is the link  http://t.co/UTWCVgdR4M
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Mike Johnston Bringing Progress to Pittsburgh by @ChicksDigHockey

9:00:00 AM 0



Change has been the off-season theme for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

George Bernard Shaw famously said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” Someone in the Penguins’ upper management must have read that quote.  For as much as change was the theme of the off-season, they are gambling on progress being the theme of the 2014-15 season. 

The Penguins' executive team, most notably Mario Lemieux, have not been shy about expressing their displeasure at the team’s shortcomings in recent playoff berths. After all, why play the game at all if the ultimate prize isn’t your ultimate goal? In a move that struck me, at the time, as cutting off their nose to spite their face, they expressed that displeasure by firing the winningest coach in their history and hiring a 57 year-old coach with no NHL head coaching experience. 

Why would a team who spends to the cap and employs, arguably, the greatest player in the game gamble on a WHL coach?

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Five Penguins Predictions Sure to Go Wrong by @PandaPSU

2:00:00 PM 1
(Pens Camp - Photo Courtesy of penguins.nhl.com)
It feels like it was just yesterday that the Penguins were finding a way to lose the series to the NY Rangers. Somehow it is already September 22, and the Penguins' first preseason game is tonight against the Red Wings. For my article this week, I will be detailing five predictions for the upcoming season. For the readers, only keep track of these predictions should you find they start occurring. Otherwise, forget I ever wrote this in the preseason. Thank you!

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Pittsburgh Penguins Season Roundtable Part 2: Pens Initiative Version

10:30:00 AM 0

Pittsburgh Penguins training camp is already underway and the Pens will play in their first preseason game on Monday night versus the Detroit Red Wings. With a new general manager and a new rookie head coach, there has been lots to talk about when it comes to the Penguins, who are coming off of another disappointing season. 
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Preseason Game 1 Preview: Penguins vs Wings, Lineups, 3 players to watch

8:00:00 AM 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to play an actual hockey game Monday night, albeit a preseason game. Still, hockey is hockey and we are sure as Hell glad to have it back. The Pens will be hosting the Detroit Red Wings in the first preseason game of the 2014-2015 season. Here's a look at the Pens lineup for tomorrow night:
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Penguins Training Camp-Day Three by @pghgirl15222

7:43:00 PM 0

A few notes from today’s training camp:

While Johnston has suggested no one should read into line combinations too much he did mention today that we can “read a little bit” into the Downie, Sutter, and Bennett combo. Johnston stated  he is “trying to look for someone to fit with Sutter, who’d be a good long-term fit and add balance and depth to our group.” 
On defense Martin and Ehrhoff were paired as well as Scuderi and Letang. 
Crosby and Malkin were both held out today. I think this is a smart move on their part. No need to risk players like that.
Sutter left the scrimmage for a short time after taking what looked like a puck to the face. He came back quickly like a boss. Hockey players. Tough guys. 
Kunitz practiced but did not scrimmage. Johnston mentioned that they are being overcautious at this point and any slight thing can cause a player to be pulled. Smart.
Duper looked good. He still sported a no contact jersey but was moving well and looked thrilled to be back. A great sight to see. I can tell he is itching to hit someone. 







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Boston Fans Bemoan Pittsburgh's 3rd Jersey Choice by @LCJS

9:00:00 AM 0
 By Lee C.J. Sobotka | Staff Writer


“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” - Edmund Burke

It seems this old adage still rings true.  Yesterday the Pittsburgh Penguins finally gave their fans what they wanted.  The new 3rd jerseys are the glorious black and gold ones worn back in the late 80's, early 90's.

Fans have been clamoring for these jerseys for years.  The powder blue ones from the early days of the Pens harkened back to a time when the team was new and not very good.  The darker blue ones seemed to have a curse upon them as bad things happened in games in which they were worn.

Now, fans are finally getting what they've wanted all along.  Even fans of other teams fell in love at first sight.

 Of course, some fans of the Philadelphia Flyers were unimpressed.


The biggest outcry came from a city with a complex about other teams wearing colors that the Bruins didn't wear first:  Boston.

Most of you probably know about the bad blood in Boston when it comes to the Penguins wearing black and gold.  The reason they are so upset is because they don't clearly remember what happened back in 1980.  For those that don't, let me briefly explain.

Back in 1980, the Pittsburgh Pirates' "We Are Family" had just won the World Series and the Pittsburgh Steelers were once again kings of the NFL, winning their 4th Lombardi Trophy in 6 years.  They were what brought about Pittsburgh's nickname, "City of Champions."

More importantly to this tale:  They both wore black and gold.

It's not as if black and gold was an arbitrary choice.  Those colors are deeply engrained into the city itself, as shown by the city's flag.

So it's easy to understand why the Penguins, a middling team that ranked a distant 3rd in popularity in Pittsburgh, would want to "cash in" on the city's success and endear themselves to locals.

The Bruins did not approve.

They protested the Pens' color choice and they claimed that they had been wearing the colors for 55 years at that time, dating back to 1924.

Bruins GM, Harry Sinden, said, "We had our colors longer than the Steelers had theirs!"

Paul Martha, Vice President of the Penguins, retorted, "I have documented proof that the old Pittsburgh Pirates, a National Hockey League team in 1926, wore black and gold uniforms and at the same time Boston was wearing brown and yellow, before they changed in 1933."

Even earlier than that were the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets, an EAHL team, that wore black and gold dating back to 1915 until they became the NHL Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925.

The NHL agreed with the Penguins, ruling in their favor, and the Bruins have been upset ever since.

Now that the Pens have returned to that color scheme from "Vegas Gold" with their 3rd jerseys, this chowder-eating city to the northeast began to chime in.


See ya on March 14th, as this is happening!

So, Bruins fans have to once again have to swallow the reality that their original colors were brown and yellow, not black and gold.  It could be said that the Bruins are the copycats here.

I hope that Boston fans come to grips fast, as March 14th will be just around the corner.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Top 10 Most Productive @Penguins Part-Timers

2:13:00 PM 1
Post Gazette
I originally wanted to do a study to see who the most profound Penguins rentals were but it took me down this rabbit hole. Who made the most of their time in Pittsburgh? It turned into a different project all together. So I filtered all my results into less than 100 games played in the Black and Gold and who had the largest PPG in their time skating with Stanley on their chests. These were my results ...

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.@Penguins New Third Jersey Released

Embracing the Hate by @kjcmalakai

8:08:00 AM 0
Yeah, seeing images like this one hasn't gotten old yet...
     It shouldn't come as a galloping shock to anyone that has a pulse on the NHL and it's fanbases that the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise is not well liked.  A simple search on the internet of "most hated NHL franchises" populates with several links to sites that consistently rank the Pens in the top five most hated in the NHL.  We should all be pretty familiar with the myriad of reasons that other teams' fans have such vitriol toward our beloved hockey team, and I'm sure we're never tired of hearing them:

"Worst fan base in the league. They absolutely have no clue what they are talking about and lead the league in fans yelling "shoot" during the power play. Worst."

"Whiners... Especially that punk Crosby." 

" In 2003, they had the lowest attendance count for games. All penguins fans are therefore bandwagon fans."

"They're dirty and they whine, and yet they're the sweethearts of the league... What's not to hate?"

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pens Training Camp Updates: Malkin and Crosby Out, Interview Audio from MIke Johnston and Others

1:08:00 PM 0
Pittsburgh Penguins' training camp is underway and there is already some big news. First off, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are not participating due to injuries. Apparently it is nothing serious, although we are not sure if Crosby has been fake arrested again or not. Here is what Josh Yohe had to say about the matter: 
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A Few Takes on The Pens As They Start Training Camp by @MadChad412

8:00:00 AM 1

I have no idea where the year went, but it is already mid-September and the Pittsburgh Penguins are already beginning training camp. The first preseason game is on Monday, September 22, and the regular season opener is less than a month away. It feels like it was just yesterday that the Pens were blowing a three-to-one series lead to the New York Rangers. Too soon? Do not worry, this is not a Rossi-like column writing off the Penguins chances before the season even begins. 
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Season Preview: @DudesOnHockey On The @SanJoseSharks

4:32:00 PM 0
Since their inception, the San Jose Sharks have been my "Number 2" team. Some of my greatest NHL memories are rooted around the team and my strong dislike for the Detroit Red Wings has nothing to do with the 2008-09 back and forth they had with the Pens.

I found the Dudes on Hockey podcast over a year and a half ago and have listened to Mike and Doug's coverage of the Sharks ever since. There's a lot to like about these guys' approach to their favorite team. They are full of knowledge about their team, the Pacific Division and the rest of the league, yet they never seem to take themselves too seriously. Check them out at dudesonhockey.com.

PensInitiative asked them for their thoughts on the Sharks' offseason and the future.  - Brian

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Season Preview: @DaysofYOrr The Boston Bruins

Pens Fans, Save Your Hate For Hartnell by @ChicksDigHockey

1:00:00 PM 0



I’m not some hipster hockey fan. I'm not that cool. If Twitter were high school (and I’m not saying it isn’t) I would be sitting at the nerd table. I am a loyal Penguins fan. I do not hop on and off the bandwagon. In fact, I would likely be the one handing out instruments if such a wagon existed. 

“Cool” fans it seems, are negative... not so much by nature as by narrative. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “It seems like you know what you’re talking about if you find a weak player and continually take a dump on him.” Cool fans are "I told you so" kind of people. They wait for someone to have a bad night then flood Twitter with "I told you so" Tweets.

 Take, for example; Pascal Dupuis. All the cool kids are up all bound up because they don't feel he belongs on the first line with Crosby. I believe that if an organization run by a legendary hockey hero and all around great human is willing to give him a chance to prove himself, who am I to question it?

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Making the Piece Fit Back in the Puzzle by @BrianK_PI

9:00:00 AM 0


By all accounts, Rob Scuderi wasn't what Ray Shero was hoping for last season when he signed him to a 4 year, $13.5 million contract. It's arguable that the Scuderi contract was the one mistake that pushed Shero over the edge and out of a job. It wasn't realistic to expect the same player who left Pittsburgh for Los Angeles just four years prior, but even reasonable expectations were much higher than what Scuderi was able to produce on the ice.

While it was possible to get rid of Shero, the Penguins appear to be stuck with Scuderi for at least one more season, and possibly three, at a cap hit of $3.375 million. It's hard to believe Jim Rutherford wasn't trying to move that contract after taking the job, but no other teams were willing to take on that deal. A standard buyout was a possibility in the offseason, but likely the cap penalty over the next four years was too much. And a change in the cap accounting stemming from the last lockout means most of Scuderi's cap hit will remain even if he's banished to the AHL. However, it's not out of the realm of possibility to believe that Rob Scuderi could have a bounce back season. It's certainly not the most likely outcome, but here's how it remains a possibility:

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Pens Season Preview: Guest Roundtable Featuring @JoshYohe_Trib , @IanAltenbaugh, @Brian_Metzer, and @GunnerStaal

Season Preview: @kjcmalakai The Washington Capitals

9:00:00 AM 0

Washington Capitals Season Preview

By: Ken Clawson (twitter @kjcmalakai)

Ken is my old high school friend, college roommate and friend of the site. He lives in the DC area and begrudgingly has assimilated some Capitals knowledge and has been kind enough to share some thoughts for the upcoming season. Give him a follow on twitter from the handle above.

Losses: Dustin Penner, Mikhail Grabovsky, Adam Oates (HC)
Additions: Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters, Barry Trotz (HC)

Disappointment is a word that Washington Capitals fans have en-grained into their vocabulary as the window for a Stanley Cup Championship with Alex Ovechkin closes a little more with each springtime failure.  The 2013-2014 Washington Capitals entered the Metropolitan division with high hopes for a playoff berth and another run at the Stanley Cup.  Instead, the team finished 9th inthe Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007.  This season, a new coach and a revamped defense has Washington once again poised for a playoff and Stanley Cup run.

Adam Oates' Vampire ace got fired


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Make Tomas Vokoun an Offer He Can't Refuse by @ChicksDigHockey

7:05:00 PM 0

NBC Sports is reporting that former Pittsburgh Penguin goalie Tomas Vokoun has turned down offers from at least two NHL teams. Last June, Vokoun made it clear that he was not done with hockey despite missing all but two games of the 2013-14 season to a blood clotting disorder.

Allen Walsh, Vokoun's agent, said ,in part that that his client still wants to continue his career, but “only in the right situation.” Neither has elaborated as to what the right situation would be.

Vokoun who is 38 yrs old has been plagued by the blood clotting disorder throughout his career. Before backing up Marc Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh, he previously played for the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he was originally drafted. He has 300 career wins.
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The Death of the Spin-O-Rama by @ChicksDigHockey

1:11:00 PM 0

I stand before you a broken woman. I feel as though the NHL has singled me out. I feel as though my guilty pleasure is being squeezed from the game I love.

They outlawed the “Spin-o-rama”.

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5 Reasons the Penguins Will Capture the Metropolitan Division by @griffTHW

9:48:00 AM 0
After another disappointing postseason, an offseason full of transition and a summer packed with criticism, the Pittsburgh Penguins will soon enter the 2014-'15 campaign looking to defend their Metropolitan crown.  Though all the new faces may lead to some growing pains, the Pens still possess enough tools to conquer the division for a second straight year. 

Will they enjoy another double-digit cushion in the standings throughout the season?  Probably not.  But, below, we present five reasons why Pittsburgh should, once again, rise to the top of the Metro.
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Examining the New Rule Changes

7:05:00 PM 0

Earlier today, the NHL released rule changes set to go into effect for the upcoming season. While most of the changes are a step in the right direction, some are baby steps. While it's unrealistic to expect the league to make any sweeping changes, there are some rules where a bit more could have gone a long way. A look at rule changes and what they might mean after the break:

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Season Preview: @Official_OandBP The Philadelphia Flyers

2:18:00 PM 0

Mike and Joe from http://www.orangeandblackpack.com/ have been friends of myself and the site for a few years now. I met those jabronis Joe and Mike on twitter during the 2012 bizzaro Pens and Flyers playoff series and we've been talking hockey every since. They have to be one of the most fair and unbiased Flyers fans I've ever met. They are worth a follow on @Official_OandBP. I apologized to the other guys on that site whom I do not know Tim, Nick, and Jeromy.


So, what did your team do this summer?

They did a lot by doing very little (OOOH! So philosophical). But seriously, having gone through the Holmgren Experience for almost a decade, we, as fans, were getting used to roster-flipping on a regular basis. I’m not just talking about the Jeff Carter & Mike Richards trades entirely, but rather I’m incorporating all of Paul’s tenure. This past offseason was sort of refreshing – I guess that’s easy to say since Hextall had virtually zero wiggle room under the salary cap, but he could very well have sold off a handful of roster players to relieve space. Instead, he didn’t. Ron got very patient and started filling in the cracks – mainly AHL additions – that may otherwise prove to be genius depth additions sometime down the line.

I realize he caught flack for the Hartnell-Umberger trade, but when you’re thinking time-wise, the lateral move cut a big cost in half. And right now, cap space is an incredible asset to this Club even if we’re not able to exercise it for another two League Years. The trade simultaneously thins this team’s time spent in the box. Over the past few seasons, the Flyers have grown dependent on their special teams’ success. Hartnell may have been quite the offensive & possession asset, but at the same time, he was a disciplinary liability.

(Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press/File)


I won’t pretend that this team got better offensively by welcoming RJ Umberger back under the orange umbrella. He won’t score Hartnell-points; hell, he’s not even a top-liner like Hartnell. However, our front office is hoping the difference is made-up by our annually progressing forwards: Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. Then there’s always the possibility that Umberger gains better chemistry with his new Clubhouse.

Another thing this team did this Summer was operate on Craig Berube and Ron Hextall’s conditioning orders. Our men in charge told each and every returning player that he better show up to camp in top physical form. To put it another way, last Summer our boys arrived to Laviolette’s camp fat & slow. We weren’t conditioned outta the gates. Success in this League is built on speed and positive two-way play. When your man-tits create drag, you’re not going to win the transition game. With all that said, we’ll just have to wait and see how each of our players look once they return to Vorhees, NJ (our camp location for all you yinzers).


What is the biggest surprise this offseason?

This is the fan in me talking…. Vincent Lecavalier. I’ve been against this signing since the news broke last Summer (and I have the publishing to prove it). I knew EXACTLY what waited in the shadows ahead of us; first off, we had two third-year centers looking to dig their heels into permanent roles on this roster (re: Couturier, B.Schenn). I was afraid Lecavalier would cut into their growth and slow it down, or worse… force management to trade one or the other (again, re: Couturier, B.Schenn). Luckily for us it doesn’t seem like Hextall has any interest in dealing either of them. However, all my fears of Lecavalier came true in 2013-14.

· He never adjusted in a position outside the center role. And even with him pivoting a line, it was like our ship was sailing with an anchor dragging on the sea bottom.

· His performance weighed down each and every linemate’s possession metrics (re: B.Schenn, Simmonds).

· SURPRISE! Battled an injury.

· Berube was forced to hand Lecavalier sheltered minutes like he was protecting the fucking President.


Lecavalier is a nightmare. An aged, declining nightmare. And one we’ll seemingly chew on for the next four League Years. If you asked me back in June, I would have bet my mortgage that the Flyers move Lecavalier, even if it meant retaining a good chunk of his average annual value. And don’t let our boss man fool you; the Flyers are telling us they’ve wanted to keep Vincent and transform his game in our newer system. Horseshit… they just couldn’t find a chump GM to bite on that $4.5mm AAV for 1,460 more days.

In related, face-palming news: Berube announced that Lecavalier is returning to camp as a center. But I guess that’s the lesser of two evils. He sure as hell cannot man a wing position, but if he’s going to pivot a line, then my gut tells me it’ll be a scoring line. Unless Vincent comes into camp driving Dr. Emmit Brown’s DeLorean, I expect the same ol’ declining centerman to drag whichever linemates of his down with him. That’s not me being a sour pessimist; that’s my projection based off of the past four consecutive playing seasons. There’s no evidence that proves otherwise.

Len Redkoles/Getty Images

What would be one change (or more) you would have made?

You mean besides fellating one of the 29 other GM’s in exchange for taking Lecavalier?

I see where this League is going. We’re witnessing Stanley Cup success built on a structured blend of speed, finesse and possession, and depth at each. I’m not saying I would have kicked this Summer off by selling anyone and everyone, but I would have rebuilt our bottom two forward lines to reflect a complete skill unit. I want four skill lines; four combinations assembled with players who excel in speed, anticipation, discipline, and positive transition play. It seemed Hextall was on his way to doing exactly that. Even his Draft selections and free agent additions all had speed in common. But then he went ahead and re-signed Zac Rinaldo for an additional two-years – the extension becoming effective AFTER 2014-15.

Rinaldo has tremendous speed, and, admittedly, he is one of the better skaters on this team. Like, Top 3 in skating agility. No, I’m not kidding.

But Zac lacks everywhere else. His presence in the lineup negates my “four skill lines” philosophy. Our fans seem to think that we need him as an energy player; my answer to that misconception is that our bench will gain plenty of energy by scoring even-strength goals, power play goals, and staying out of the box.

“BUT WHAT ABOUT GRIT?!?!?”

Grit is one thing; effective grit in hockey, to me, is conveyed by –

· Being first on the puck

· Smart forechecking

· Encompassing an ability to transition a registered hit into an offensive play

· And being able to make wise decisions deep in our opponent’s slot – giggity.


Does any one of those bullet points sound like they’re carved on Rinaldo’s resume? Nope. But each of those facets is exactly what I want fused into every line. Rinaldo sucks the life out of each.

I don’t know what it is, but the Flyers love Rinaldo… and so do our fans. I’d like to see him – and any semblance of him – gone from our roster. He has a heart of a lion, and he puts on one hell of a fireworks show; but unfortunately that is not all it takes to win hardware.

By Christopher Szagola, US Presswire
Any players your team passed on this summer you would have liked on the team?

Yes, absolutely. One namely being David Booth. For a team operating over the salary ceiling, there was no better “low risk, high reward” type player for the Flyers than David Booth. We knew he wasn’t going to get signed long-term. We knew he’d sign for cheap. Right there, that should have caught our front office’s attention. Additionally, Booth has unbelievable scoring upside. It’s very unlikely, but Booth could surprise us all by returning to his scoring form from earlier in his career. Again, I said it’s unlikely. But at that price? His two-way play and speed are worth it alone. And I know Hextall was trying to get us faster over the Summer, as well as strengthen our transition game – mainly from the offensive to the defensive.

To me, the Leafs scored one of the best bargain free agents this Summer. And if he remains healthy (a big IF), watch out.



Who is going to be your “dark horse” break out player this year?

Simple… Matt Read, next question.

Ha! Okay, some explanation is required.

What if I told you that Matt Read is the Flyers’ best all-around player on their payroll? Would you believe me? Well, that’s precisely what I’m saying. Don’t misinterpret that with me saying he’s the team’s best player. I didn’t say that. But when we’re looking at all elements of the game, he and Giroux excel like none other in Orange & Black: Special Teams, offensive zone, defensive zone, anticipation…. Matt Read delivers everywhere and anywhere. He and Sean Couturier were linemates in 2013-14, and singlehandedly kept this team afloat at even-strength last season. No other forward pairing absorbed heavier-lifting minutes while playing against our opponents’ highest quality of competition than Matt Read and Sean Couturier.

We’re told to expect more offensive opportunity for them both in 2014-15. Considering how well they manufactured offense from very defensive situations, and considering Matt Read has a slight advantage offensively over Couturier (for now), I’m comfortable with saying Matt Read will stun the NHL crowd by tallying 70-points this upcoming season – that’s 23 more points than his career high back in his Calder year, 2011-12.

Book it.




Any rookies you see making the team?

Ron Hextall has made it clear that he will not rush any of our prospects into our 2014-15 roster. Again, the patience is refreshing. But with all due respect to Mr. Hextall, there’s one particular defenseman in our pipeline, named Robert Hagg, that will become a household name in every Metropolitan Division home tuning in.

Our 2013 2nd Round choice, there is no other prospect of ours that I’m more excited about. You’ll get your naysayers and doubters, sure, but I believe Hagg will become a Doughty-type player in this League. Having spent his last two playing seasons professionally in the Swedish league, there’s no other Flyers prospect more NHL-ready than Hagg. Even this past rookie camp, he stood out like a man among boys. He brings it all to the table; defensive responsibility, power play point specialist, he’s quick on his skates, he’s in pristine physical condition, has a rocket for a shot, has a sizable frame, and… best yet… he’s an experienced 19-year old.

Even with the signing of Del Zotto, our loss of Timonen has opened some doors and created immense opportunity for the youngens. And I don’t have to remind any of you how suspect our blueline is already. I firmly believe Robert Hagg is going to perform in camp so well that our staff will have no choice but to promote him ahead of schedule. He simply gives our defense a better chance to win.

I’ll see yinz Olli Määttä, and raise you a Robert Hagg.



What is your team’s biggest need this season?

If we’re talking personnel, then our biggest need is a #1 Defenseman, but we’re not acquiring or developing one within the coming seven-months. Instead, our biggest need this season is effective backchecking. A lot of fans throw heat on our defensive players, and even though our blueline needs a whole world of help, a proper backcheck from the forward corps goes a long, long way. For starters, you’re adding one or two more bodies (forwards) to the defensive zone quickly, which relieves some of the onus off of your defensemen. The Flyers failed in that area too much last season. We simply lacked the effort. A shitty backcheck exposes and magnifies your blueline’s weaknesses. I don’t care if we have Shea Weber, Erik Karlsson and Jonathan Quick facing the rush; if your forwards aren’t applying pressure on the backcheck, the opposing offense is gonna clean up.

Once our roster buys into Craig Berube’s 200-foot system and team defense, we should not only see more positive plays in our zone, but also more turnovers and chances propelled back up ice.

The best offense is a good defense.



I know it’s early but any trade deadline predictions?

No one. Look, I’m not trying to be a party pooper; if I thought we’d go after someone and acquire them via trade, I wouldn’t hesitate to name them. But I simply don’t see Ron Hextall trading anyone of value, regardless whether this team is struggling by the deadline or not. Again, I point towards patience. I also point towards our payroll; we have key players coming up for extensions in the next three-years, and there are even some contracts expiring within that timeframe as well. Hextall has to get surgical with the Flyers’ salary forecast, and I think adding anything that potentially disrupts that is not in his deck of cards.

But if some mid-tier rental is available and acquired, I wouldn’t be shocked. I just hope something like that doesn’t cost much (short- or long-term), and we’re legitimately in the hunt for a Playoff berth.


What are your predictions for your team this year?

On paper, we’re a borderline Playoff team. There’s no reason to lie and pump hot fanboy air up anyone’s ass. I like to believe that my mindset comes from a place of objectivity and truthfulness, and the truth is that my Flyers have a number of deadfalls that could potentially wind up costing us a spot on The Dance Floor. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we package one of our annual late-season runs and it scores us post-season placement.

Overall, I believe this team will contend. Whether we’re on the bubble for the majority of the campaign or fighting tooth & nail to keep a Wild Card, Flyers fans will see a whole load of positives glowing over a whole load of negatives.



Thanks for giving me this tremendous opportunity, Pens Initiative. I look forward to all the shit talking and backhanded compliments we’ll inevitably share throughout the upcoming season.
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