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Saturday, February 28, 2015

#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table. To view the other entries, click here. Today's entry: Our own Nick Case

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TRP: #StaalWatch, Rivalry Night and #FartNoise by @LCJS

10:00:00 AM 0

By: Lee C.J. Sobotka | Staff Writer

This is Three Rivers Philosophizer - A weekly review of stuff that is going on in my brain... at least the stuff that has to do with hockey. If you don't like it, I don't blame you. 

Follow on Twitter / Like on Facebook.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Hitting Their Stride by @BrianK_PI

3:30:00 PM 0

It's been an up and down season so far for the Pittsburgh Penguins. At times they look like they could play with, and beat, any team that comes their way. Other times they look dispassionate, disinterested, and like a team that if they managed to squeak into the playoffs, they wouldn't go very far. On several occasions the team has played to both extremes in the same game, seemingly changing during the intermissions. Far too often the latter team has shown up and looked outmatched against the top teams in the division.

Consistency has been a major issue for these Penguins, though with all they've been through since being eliminated in the conference semifinals last year that's hardly a surprise. The current roster has ten players who weren't in Pittsburgh last season, and Mike Bales remains the only holdover from last year's coaching staff. 10 players on the current roster weren't in Pittsburgh last season, and the multitude of injuries has led to new players constantly in and out of the lineup. It's been difficult for this team to gel, both to each other and to a new system, but finally the team is getting healthy and capable of playing up to their full potential.

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This Week in Penguins History by @RobUllman

#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @HockeyMeesh

2:00:00 PM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table. To view the other entries, click here. Today's entry: The PensNation's Meesh

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Le Trial and Tribulations of @Kris58Letang: Me for Chuck Norris?

8:40:00 AM 0

Allo my friends, it is your pal writing to all of you on the internets! I hope your day has been really nice! My day has been pretty good. Started out with some work outs, played some video games and watched some pretty funny videos on the YouTube! After that though, I got a little bit confused so I figured I would write to you, my readers with hopes you can clear a few things up for me.

I got on the Pens Initiative Facebook page where I saw a post about your old buddy Letang and saying Letang For Norris with a number sign before it. It looked like this #LETANGforNORRIS. At first this confuses me because I thought Penguins fans liked me again? Why would they want to trades me? So I figured this Norris guy must be pretty good! So i went back to the internets to look!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Game 61, a (Tom Wilson is a douchenozzle) recap of Pens vs Capitals by @DXTraeger

10:52:00 PM 0
That's Tom "Randy Marsh" Wilson on the right
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals met for the fourth time this season as part of NBCSports' "Rivalry Night."

Washington had won the three previous games in convincing fashion, with Braden Holtby recording two shutouts.
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Early Look: Pens vs. Capitals **PLUS** Possession Black Hole Zach Sill Traded by @DXTraeger

7:33:00 PM 0
Fare thee well, Possession Black Hole Zach Sill (image by the incomparable Ryan Noble)
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will take Alexander Ovechkin's Washington Capitals for the fourth and final time this regular season in just about 30 minutes.

While Crosby has amassed more personal hardware and team accolades compared to his Russian adversary, "the Great 8" has spearheaded a Capitals attack that has outscored the Penguins 10-1 en route to a 3-0 record against Pittsburgh (including two Braden Holtby shutouts).

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Sidney Crosby and GoPro Return for More Eye Candy

1:08:00 PM 0
Remember a few months ago when Sid and a few other NHLers got together and had some GoPro fun?  You don't?  Click here and come back to us.  Pretty cool, right?

Sid is done sharing the spotlight in his newest GoPro video.

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#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @GunnerStaal

12:00:00 PM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table. To view the other entries, click here. Today's entry: HockeyBuzz's Ryan Wilson

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @Brian_Metzer

4:00:00 PM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table.  To view the other entries, click here.  Today's entry: Penguins Radio's Brian Metzer

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The Yin and Yang of Crosby and Malkin by @ChicksDigHockey

11:00:00 AM 0

Sometimes I’m guilty of over thinking things. We all do it, really. Each of us comes at a problem from our own unique perspective. We ‘see’ with eyes that are influenced by past experience, opinion and conjecture. We seek out solutions that satisfy our own inner narrative.

I was watching the Pens beat the Blues and had the thought, “What if Crosby and Malkin hadn’t ended up on the same team?” Did each of their careers benefit by being intertwined or was something sacrificed? Was it their destiny to spend their most productive years together or some cruel twist of fate that set in motion a struggle for individual time in the sun?
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

#NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Roundtable - @Mackey_Trib

4:00:00 PM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table.  To view the other entries, click here.  Today's entry: The Trib's Jason Mackey

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Game 59, a (pop culture smorgasbord) recap of the Penguins vs Blues by @DXTraeger

10:46:00 PM 0
(the Penguins' offense and Division Title aspirations, that is)
The Walking Dead Pittsburgh Penguins took on the anthropomorphic realization of what the organization had been singing- the Blues- in St. Louis on Saturday night.

This was the first of two games between the two teams this season.  Pittsburgh entered the night chasing three teams for the Metropolitan Division crown, but would still make the playoffs (if the season ended tomorrow) as the #1 wild card in the Eastern Conference.

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The #NHL Trade Deadline @PensInitiative Roundtable by @griffTHW

7:57:00 PM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table.  To view the other entries, click here.  Today's entry: The Hockey Writer's Sean Griffin

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TRP: Ovechkin Smells Funny, Crosby the Pugilist and #HotTakes by @LCJS

12:28:00 PM 0

By: Lee C.J. Sobotka | Staff Writer

This is Three Rivers Philosophizer - A weekly review of stuff that is going on in my brain... at least the stuff that has to do with hockey. If you don't like it, I don't blame you.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

The Band-Aid's Coming Off by @BrianK_PI

3:00:00 PM 0

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been blessed with the number of generational talents that have come throw the organization over the years. Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr helped lead the team to two Stanley Cup titles in the early 90s, while Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby won a Stanley Cup and led the Pens to another Stanley Cup Final earlier in their careers. In fact, those four have combined to win an astounding 15 combined Art Ross Trophies during the previous 26 seasons. Jagr currently ranks 5th all time in points scored; Lemieux 8th in far fewer games. Crosby and Malkin are likely to find themselves high up on the career list as well.

Possibly the only downside to having two players of that caliber is that they can cover up a lot of the warts on a team when things aren't going well, and that's certainly happened in Pittsburgh over the past few seasons. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the most successful, and high scoring, teams in the regular season lately, but that's been thanks to the beyond elite play of their top two centers. They've carried the team, but unfortunately they can only carry them so far.
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Should You Trust Mike Johnston? by @pghgirl15222

1:05:00 PM 0
Trust is something that is not given lightly. We do not even reach a point where we "decide" to trust someone but rather it is a gut instinct that randomly happens with each passed test. It is a concept humans are born with and stays with us until our last day.

This article is not about statistics. I could give you a ton of reasons either way on why you should or should not trust Mike Johnston as the man in charge of the team we live for. This is about the gut feeling that all of us have. 

Should you trust Mike Johnston?

The simple answer would be no for an awful lot of fans. I am here to try and change your mind or at least give you some considerations.

The Penguins are hurting. They look frustrated and exhausted. In turn they are forcing chemistry that should be naturally developed and allowing massive mistakes in the process. I get it. Fans find no excuse for a team that calls some of the best in the world their own.

Consider this though: do we start whole new aspects of our jobs without some bumps along the way? I know I have not. The Penguins completed a massive overhaul of the team this off-season. The old country club mentality was replaced with a hungry general manager and coaching staff that forces their players to be held responsible as well as a new system that challenges the guys to play defensively sound hockey.

It is not easy to change a whole team without some casualites. It should not last forever but comparing it the Penguins teams of the past is unrealistic and unfair to them and blaming Johnston for their forced passes or dumb turnovers is also unrealistic and unfair. He can scream logics and intellegence until he loses his voice but during the game when they mess up it cannot all  be on him.

Don't misunderstand what I am implying. As he has sat Beau Bennett for his compete level he needs to understand his compete level should improve as well. Giving the Pens an optional game day practice after two loses is questionable at best.

Yet, just as we need the time to allow change, he does too. Axing him now will not fix the issue. Give him the chance to make his changes. How we recover from adversity is much more telling than the adversity itself. Give him his season. And then make your choice.

Regardless of if he was the first or tenth candidate the Penguins interviewed he is the man they chose. The man Mario chose.

That should be worth something, right?
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The Penguins are Broken by @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 1
The results continue to roll in.  Every week the fans wait for the switch to be flipped, for it all to click.  Instead, the Penguins start looking more and more limp.  And this is the problem.  The Penguins are broken.

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The #NHLTradeDeadline @PensInitiative Rountable - @SpectorsHockey

11:00:00 AM 0
This is another part in our series of the Pens Initiative NHL Trade Deadline Round Table.  To view the other entries, click here.  Today's entry: Spectors Hockey's Lyle Richardson

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Morning Drive: Radio:PI 2/18/15 with Wes Crosby

8:42:00 AM 0
Morning Drive brings you the latest episode of the Radio:PI Podcast Network for easy access.  This morning: Radio:PI

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Game 58, a (VERY sarcastic) recap of the Pens vs Blue Jackets: "GARBAGE DAY!" edition by @DXTraeger

9:36:00 PM 0
If you think this Photoshop job is bad, it's an upgrade to the acting in "Silent Night, Deadly Night."  True story.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus, ahem, Blue Jackets met for...

(...okay, okay let's get this out of the way right now: thank you, Columbus, for giving the rest of the NHL an absolute joy of an acronym to snicker at...)

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One Slice of Humble Pie, Please by @pghgirl15222

6:42:00 PM 6

Pittsburgh fans are passionate. They bleed the colors of the team they root for. It’s personal. We are born with it around these parts. It isn’t some casual bar activity but rather a religion that we must partake in every game day.

With this passion comes an entitlement. 

The Penguins boast some of the best in the game. With our hockey team there is no reason to lose in fans eyes. If it’s not a Cup, it’s a failure and frankly it’s gotten out of hand. During the offseason fans demanded changes. Shero and Bylsma were stale and the country club mentality was old.

Enter Jim Rutherford and Mike Johnston. 

Rutherford gutted the team. He rebuilt it with guys like Blake Comeau and Patric Hornqvist. Guys with the blue collar mentality known and adored around Pittsburgh.

Johnston changed the system. He was recently heard saying that in his system it is best run with all forwards as having a sort of “partner” that they stay with. Even if the odd man out changes, they stay with their partner. He enjoys the mid-game line changes that Pittsburgh fans so desperately begged for under Bylsma.

That was not enough for fans. Injures have plagued a team trying to rebuild on a brand new system and a coach they are not familiar with. That is not acceptable to fans. Johnston cannot run this system properly with injured “partners” but that also does not matter. Perfection is what is wanted. 

Crosby has had a boring year. He is not destroying the league. He’s human after ten years in the league. He is not perfect. Trade him. Strip his "C" and let him go.

See where I am going with this? It is unrealistic to expect a team to be perfect every year. I know I have personally learned so much from the times where I have fallen down and have had to pick myself up and try again. The Penguins the first or sixth seed come the post-season does not change their chances at a Cup.

Them having a “must win” mentality and learning from failing does change their chance.

I am not saying don’t have an opinion. I love that fans are so passionate about Pittsburgh. I have a few friends over in England that stay up all kinds of crazy hours to support this team. And that is awesome.

I am simply  noting that by being constantly negative you are ruining the whole point of the game. Enjoyment. You look spoiled and ridiculous. You are also wrong.

Sidney Crosby is allowed to be human. Mike Johnston is allowed to have the time to adjust his players to a new system. And the Penguins have not decreased their Cup odds by losing a few games. 

So until the time comes when you need to worry, don’t. Enjoy the beautiful game of hockey and have a slice of humble pie.

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Winning in the Division and Steve Downie - Around the Metro Division 2/19/2015 - 2/26/2015

2:15:00 PM 0

This is the headline on the NHL.com trade deadline blog:  Penguins wouldn't mind adding a forward.  Really?!?!?  That's some first rate journalism right there.  Especially because that really isn't what the story is.  Furthermore. what contender would not want to add another scoring forward?  What the story actually says is that the Penguins are more likely to add a forward than a defenseman at the deadline.  Not that it will help since the Penguins cannot seem to win a game against a division rival at home... oh...look... the Penguins play the Blue Jackets at home tonight.

Metro Games to Watch This Week
Thursday, February 19 - Columbus Blue Jackets @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Friday, February 20 - New York Rangers @ Buffalo Sabres (not much happening tonight)
Saturday, February 21 -  Pittsburgh Penguis @ St. Louis Blues
Sunday, February 22 - Florida Panthers @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Monday, February 23 - Arizona Coyotes @ New Jersey Devils (only Metro game)
Tuesday, February 24 - Phildelphia Flyers @ Carolina Hurricanes
Wednesday, February 25 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals

Current Patrick Metro Division Standings

New York Islanders
Last Week3-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 19 - vs. Nashville Predators
     Saturday, February 21 -  @ Washington Capitals
     Sunday, February 22 - vs. Vancouver Canucks
     Tuesday, February 24 - vs. Arizona Coyotes
     Thursday, February 12 - Harry Zolnierczyk sent down to AHL Bridgeport
     Sunday, February 15 - Matt Carkner waived
     Monday, February 16 - Matt Carkner sent down to AHL Bridgeport
     Casey Cizikas - Lower Body

Anders Lee has picked up the scoring that the Isles lost when Okposo went down.  Although they lost in a battle against the Rangers, the Isles won four in a row before that game.  It looks like the division is going to one of the teams from New York.

Last Week:  3-0-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 19 - vs. Vancouver Canucks
     Friday, February 20 - @ Buffalo Sabres
     Sunday, February 22 - vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
     Tuesday, February 24 - vs. Calgary Flames
Transactions:  None
Injuries:  None

Henrik who?  Last week the Rangers looked like they would just need to tread water until Lundqvist got healthy.  After winning 4 games in a row, including one against the Isles, the Rangers are in a position to take the division lead with 3 games in hand on their rivals from Long Island.

Last Week:  1-1-1
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 19 - vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
     Saturday, February 21 - @ St. Louis Blues
     Sunday, February 22 - vs. Florida Panthers
     Wednesday, February 25 - @ Washington Capitals
Transactions:  None
     Christian-Ehrhoff - Concussion

Yikes.  After appearing to cruise to victory against the Senators, the Penguins did their absolute best to give that game away.  Now the Penguins are on a two game losing streak, including another loss against a Metro division opponent.  Time is running out for the Penguins to figure something, anything out.

Last Week:  2-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 19 - vs. Winnipeg Jets
     Saturday, February 21 - vs. New York Islanders
     Sunday, February 22 - @ Philadelphia Flyers
     Wednesday, February 25 - vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (woot)
     Wednesday, February 18 - Steve Olesky sent down to AHL Hershey
Injuries:  None

I really cannot stand Alex Ovechkin.  Not much more to say,

Last Week:  1-1-1
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 19 - vs. Buffalo Sabres
     Saturday, February 21 - vs. Nashville Predators
     Sunday, February 22 - vs. Washington Capitals
     Tuesday, February 24 - @ Carolina Hurricanes
     Sunday, February 15 - Scott Laughton sent down to AHL Lehigh Valley
     Monday, February 16 - Rob Zepp called up from AHL Lehigh Valley
     Monday, February 16 - Anthony Stolarz sent down to AHL Lehigh Valley
     Monday, February 16 - Zac Rinaldo suspension over
     Wednesday, February 18 - Nick Schultz contract extended, 2 years extension
Injuries:  None

Somehow the Flyers are still in the discussion for the playoffs as the Bruins are faltering and the Flyers have points in 9 of their last 10.  Kimmo Timonen might be making a comeback which would only help the Flyers make a push.

Last Week:  2-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 19 - @ Pittsburgh Penguins (woot)
     Saturday, February 21 - @ Montreal Canadiens
     Sunday, February 22 - @ New York Rangers
     Tuesday, February 24 - vs. Buffalo Sabres
     Monday, February 16 - Marko Dano called up from AHL Springfield
     Tuesday, February 17 - Brian Gibbons sent down to AHL Springfield
     Dalton Prout - Upper Body
     Nick Foligno - Lower Body

Looking forward to the draft, this might be a dangerous team next year.  They still have a good core of players and will get a high draft pick to add to it.  Been such a weird year for this team.

Last Week:  1-2-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 20 - vs, Vancouver Canucks
     Saturday, February 21 - vs. Carolina Hurricanes
     Monday, February 23 - vs, Arizona Coyotes
     Wednesday, February 25 - vs, Calgary Flames
Transactions:  None
Injuries:  None

Somehow the most boring team in hockey has gotten even more boring as they have forgotten how to score goals.  Time to start trading.

Last Week:  1-3-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 20 - vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
     Saturday, February 21 - @ New Jersey Devils
     Tuesday, February 24 - vs. Philadelphia Flyers
     Friday, February 13 - Michal Jordan (not that one) called up from AHL Charlotte
Injuries:  None

Playing .500 hockey over their last 10 doesn't bode well for their entry in the McDavid sweepstakes- not that anyone is going to catch Buffalo in that department.

Malakai's Musing for the Week

What to do with Steve Downie?  He has some offensive skill and with a cap hit of only (relatively) 1 million dollars provides value.  He was brought in to be a protector for the star players... but if he is constantly off of the ice serving 2 minutes then he can't really do that job.  Pittsburgh has "earned" 822 penalty minutes in 57 games... dead last (or first depending on perspective) in the league.  Downie has accrued 187 of these penalty minutes (23% of team total), again last (or first) in the league.  Penalties are called less often in the playoffs, unless you have a target on your back like Downie does.  Instead of preventing opposing players from taking liberties with the stars of the Penguins, players will instead be keying on Downie to do anything to draw a penalty.  With the Penguins lack of depth at forward, Downie will need to play in the playoffs.  Over the last 25 games, the Penguins need to figure out how to reign in Downie and use him for offense rather than as an instigator or he will be a big liability come playoff time.
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.@DaveLozo Dishes on Pens, Crosby, Tortorella,and More by @ChicksDigHockey

11:00:00 AM 0

If you follow Dave Lozo on Twitter (@DaveLozo), you know that he specializes in irreverent wit and outstanding hockey coverage. After spending five years covering the New York Rangers and the NHL as a writer for NHL.com, Lozo currently is the lead hockey writer for Bleacher Report.
This week I caught him in a good mood and leveraged a friendship to get him to agree to an interview. No punches pulled, no holds barred: I give you Dave Lozo raw and uncut.

Pens Initiative: What do you see as the Penguins’ greatest need at the trade deadline?

Dave Lozo: Depth forwards. Again. It's better than it was last year but I don't know if it's enough to win the Cup. You almost have to stick two guys who aren't top-six forwards on one wing with Crosby and one wing with Malkin, then make a decent third line with the two left-out wingers and Sutter. No matter how they slice it, they don't have four lines. They're so smushed against the cap that it'll be hard to do anything else. 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Le Trial and Tribulations of @Kris58Letang: The Return to Le Internets!

8:43:00 AM 1

Allo, my friends! It has been a while since my last time posts on le page. Cool things is I learned that I can write on the internet and no longer need to mail a piece of paper with my words to the Pens Initiative people. Who knew!

 I am sorry for some of those who may have sads I have not been around but last year was really tough times in my life as you may know.

Since being sick I have been very luckys to come back and play super wicked hockey. I feel excellent and I think that has shows on my games. Though I feel great now, last year I didn't.  Many people have been nice but before I got sick many of you on the twitters and internets were not liking my hockey game. They were saying things like “Trade Letang” and “Letang sucks”. When I saw dis I got so sad that I called my best friends Marc-Andre. I say “Allo Marc-Andre” and he said “hi”.

I told him about these people on the internet and he tells me that people on the internets are stupid. They are not happys ever and only use this internet for complaining, to steal stuff and to watch porn. After looking at the porns, Marc-Andre finally gots my attention back and told me people may hate me today but tomorrow would be different.  He also told me that I suck and started to laughs.. So I said “Screw you Marc-Andre” and I hang up the phones. Marc Andre thinks he is so funny.

After a year I come back and I see the people that live in the internet loves me again! They say “I love Chris Letang” Which is nice though that’s not how my names is spelled and they even say I should win the Norris!

So thank you people of the internet and please try not to be so stupid tomorrow! 

*This is a joke.This is not the real Kris Letang.
All in good fun.
Written (poorly) by @ryannoble66*
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Game 57, a (sarcastic) recap of Penguins vs the Coward Ovechkin (and the Capitals) by @DXTraeger

9:46:00 PM 3
The Resemblance is...Remarkable

Perhaps it's only fitting that on "Charity Bag" night, the Penguins met up with one of the NHL's perennial charity cases, the Washington Capitals.

The two teams have met twice this season, both ending with the Capitals shutting the Penguins out by 3-0 and 4-0 counts.

The Penguins went into the contest looking to break Braden Holtby's shutout streak while helping to amend their terrible record against fellow Metropolitan Division opponents.

First Period Action:

The Penguins sent an early message via the Patric Hornqvist Express (trademark pending) when Hornqvist's stick inadvertently got caught in the mask of Holtby during a goalmouth scrum.

The Penguins, wearing the 1990 third jersey digs that fans love, clearly entered the contest with the goal of playing the Capitals and Barry Trotz's team a lot tighter, and with an emphasis on physical play.

Naturally, Rob "the Offensive Juggernaut" Scuderi didn't get the memo and activated during an early rush, and nearly gave Pittsburgh an early lead, but Holtby was up to the task.

Alexander Ovechkin, sporting a beard in a blatant attempt to stop looking like the giant from "Happy Gilmore," worked with Niklas Backstrom to set up linemate Andre Burakovsky with a neat passing play, but Fleury's vintage yellow pads stopped the shot.

Crosby and Perron's line immediately countered with a scoring chance, but Holtby kept the scoreless streak intact with a sound butterfly stop.

Given that Barry Trotz teams are notorious for employing traps to slow the tempo of the game down, it's not surprising that the majority of the first period was played in a bakery, with both teams trying to force (apple and cherry) turnovers in the neutral scone.

Glass Beau (Bennett) picked up matching unsportsmanlike penalties with Capital behemoth Tom Wilson, but it was after Blake Comeau tripped up Niklas Backstrom that Washington went on its vaunted powerplay.

The Washington Capitals' powerplay is a lot like the asteroid in "Armageddon:" everyone knows that the big scary thing (one-timer from Ovechkin) is coming, but there's not much anyone can do.

Washington would eventually "Capitalize," with Ovechkin making the game 1-0 following a breakaway during the powerplay....

...wait, the Penguins gave up a BREAKAWAY while SHORTHANDED?  Egads.

Regardless, the first period ended with the Penguins trailing both in shots on goal and in goals, 7-11 and 0-1, respectively.

Second Period Action:

Pittsburgh came out determined in the second period, and after a lead pass from Steve Downie, Kris Letang went wide before driving the net on Holtby.  Craig Adams collapsed in the paint, and Downie followed up and deposited the rebound to tie the game at 1-1 and end Holtby's shutout streak.

On the next shift, Sidney Crosby skated around Gretzky's Office, and former Penguin Mats Niskanen grabbed the Penguin captain to put Pittsburgh on the (gulp) power-play.

Perhaps it's fitting that the Penguins' power-play is sponsored by Powerball:  you may buy the ticket, but you know that you're not going to cash in.  Such was the case with this man-advantage, as Pittsburgh practiced giving the puck away for the entirety of the two minutes.

Perron would get the best chance on the PP via Perron, with the former Oiler trying to bang a loose puck home from in tight on Holtby.

Speaking of the Washington netminder, he started to take exception to the physical way that Perron, Adams and other Penguins were playing him.

Following one little Holtby outburst (to be fair, he has nothing on Alexander Semin's bongos solo on Marc Staal), the Pens created an odd-man situation and Simon Despres launched a rocket that Holtby had to turn aside, and a Letang scoring attempt lay uncovered in the crease before being cleared to safety by a Caps defenseman.

Blake Comeau had a tremendous scoring chance from within the right circle after he overstayed on a shift, but his rising wrister was deflected to the corner by the Washington goalie.

During the ensuing possession, Washington went high-to-low-to-high to feed Troy Brouwer high in the slot.  Brouwer's stick exploded like a West Virginia train, and Fleury easily handled the resulting dribbler.

Rob Bortuzzo and Michael Latta then dabbled in the sweet science on the Penguins blue line, with Bortuzzo landing a series of long-armed overhand shots to Latta's noggin.

The Penguins would get another power play late in the stanza when the aforementioned Brouwer was sent off for interefering with Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Pens' umbrella attack generated a few shots from the perimeter, but the Capitals' plan to pressure the man with puck carrier worked, and the Penguins' power-play pulled a Steve Carrell in "The 40 year Old Virgin" and failed to score.

Third Period Action:

Alexander Ovechkin, deciding that the five years since downing a Penguin with a legendarily dirty play was long enough, downed Kris Letang with a cowardly two-handed slash that sent the Norris Trophy candidate into the boards.

With fan-friendly chants of "OV-IE SUCKS" drifting down from the rafters, the third period had begun in earnest.  Following a scrum in the Capitals' zone and an extra penalty doled out to Steve Downie, the Capitals (and Ovechkin) were once again on the power-play.

Sidney Crosby actually logged some ice time during the ensuing penalty kill, and following Pittsburgh's emotional kill, Letang returned to the bench to the cheers of the Consol Energy Center crowd.

After some sustained Penguin pressure, Steve Downie dropped Jack Hillen with a right cross...well, okay, it's more accurate to say that Downie hit Jack Hillen with a right cross, and then Jack Hillen dropped Jack Hillen with an embarrassing flop to the ice that happened WELL after contact.

The extra penalty put Ovechkin and Co. right back onto the power-play with the chance to retake the lead.  Shortly after an xcellent burst of work by Nick Spaling, Niklas Backstrom rung a wrister off of the post behind Fleury.

Sidney Crosby once again took the ice during the PK, and once again, the Pens managed to kill the Capitals' power-play.

The Penguins somehow avoided disaster when Marc-Andre Fleury stoned Alexander Ovechkin twice following a madcap rush around the net.

Chris Kunitz would be sent to the penalty box after a somewhat questionable hit on Joel Ward, and seconds later, Kris Letang joined him following a slash.

The Penguins thus faced nearly two minutes of a Caps' 5-3.  Fleury made an early stop on Ovechkin, but seconds later failed to prevent a cross-crease pass to Joel Ward, and Ward scored on the doorstep.

The Penguins would kill off the second penalty and Malkin and Letang nearly got the equalizer, but the Pens remained trailing until Brooks Laich gifted the Penguins with a careless goaltender interference penalty that put Pittsburgh on the power-play for the final portion of regulation.

With Fleury on the bench and the extra-attacker on the ice, Pittsburgh refused to shoot the puck, preferring instead to pass it along the perimeter.  Crosby in particular passed on two chances to one-time the puck in lieu of attempting one-time passes to the middle of the ice.

The horrific indecision of Crosby proved to be the perfect microcosm of the Penguins' struggle with the man advantage, and Washington earned its third consecutive win over Pittsburgh by the final score of 3-1 (blah blah empty net goal blah blah).

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Penguins' Defensive Dilemma and This & That by @ChicksDigHockey

11:00:00 AM 0

I feel like the Pens can go far with the group of forwards they have but the defense is lacking a few things. I mourn the loss of Olli Maatta. He didn’t die or anything. In fact, a well-placed source says he’s in Pittsburgh and seems happy. Isn’t that just like our Olli…..he’s had a season filled trials and tribulations yet he’s putting on a happy face. That having been said, his talent is missed in a big way.
What DO the Pens have?
Kris Letang is doing his part by putting up a Norris Trophy-worthy performance. It seems he’s always in the mix for the Norris but when the smoke clears, someone else takes the statue home. He is, however, guilty of too many undisciplined penalties and bad decisions with the puck. I’m not ignoring his blistering offensive game just suggesting some defensive focus on his part would go a long way in the stretch and into the playoffs. No reason why he can’t finally take Mr. Norris home….perhaps with his friend Stanley.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

You’re Making Too Much of the Pens’ Power Play Struggles by @wutendeskind

3:59:00 PM 1
If you’re still bemoaning the fact that the Penguins haven’t scored on the power play in the month of February, or citing that the Penguins have scored on just 13.3% of their power play attempts since November 9th, you’re making too much of their struggles.

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Morning Drive: Radio:PI- 2/15/15

8:58:00 AM 0
Morning Drive brings you the latest episode of the Radio:PI Podcast Network for easy access.  This morning: Radio:PI

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Game 56, a (sarcastic) recap of Penguins vs Blackhawks by @DXTraeger

3:28:00 PM 0
Before he was "The Dominator," Hasek was "The Awkwardnator"

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks met for a nationally televised afternoon tilt on Sunday, with NBC opening the broadcast with a video homage of Chicago's 5-1 thrashing of Pittsburgh during their meeting at Soldier Field last season.

The Penguins, of course, own the only playoff series win between the two clubs, with Mario Lemieux and company sweeping Ed Belfour, never-won-a-championship Jeremy Roenick, and Dominik Hasek (!) en route to Pittsburgh's second straight Stanley Cup championship in 1992.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

TRP: Voltron Goalie, Sid's 600th and Paul Martin's Face by @LCJS

12:04:00 PM 0

By: Lee C.J. Sobotka | Staff Writer

This is Three Rivers Philosophizer - A weekly review of stuff that is going on in my brain... at least the stuff that has to do with hockey. If you don't like it, I don't blame you.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

The Metro Race by the Numbers by @BrianK_PI

2:00:00 PM 0

The Penguins have been a difficult team to figure out so far this year. After spending much of the season performing well against bad teams and poorly against really good ones, within the last week alone the team has gotten crushed 5-0 by an average Vancouver team, laid a 4-1 beating on a very good Detroit team, then nearly gave away a 5-4 OT win against a bad Ottawa team. They've been up and down, and the effort at times as been woefully inconsistent.

Things haven't been much better in the division for the Pens either, as they've surprising gone just 7-9-4 within the Metropolitan Division, including just 2-6-2 against the three other teams poised to make the playoffs: the Islanders, Rangers, and Capitals. Making matters worse, the Penguins have been outscored 39-19 against those three teams, with the two wins coming early on in the year. The Metro hasn't been kind to Pittsburgh this year, and even taking injuries into account they haven't been able to keep up with the top teams in their division.

In years past this might not have been as big of an issue, but the new playoff format harkens back to the old Patrick Division days and forces a team to get past their division rivals. The Penguins could win the division and face an Atlantic Division team in the first round, but it's assured that they'll need to beat at least one of those three teams, and quite possibly two, to be able to continue on for the Stanley Cup. With that in mind, after the jump I'll look to compare how these teams have performed this season, and where they all stack up in relation to each other.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Game 55, a (sarcastic) Penguins vs. Senators Recap by @DXTraeger

10:28:00 PM 0
(Author's Note: in an effort to make the Penguins' recaps a bit more entertaining than merely recounting the play-by-play of a game, I'm trying out this format.  By all means, use the comment section to applaud, criticize, complain, and/or provide your favorite recipes)

The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the heels of an impressive 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings last night, took on the struggling Ottawa Senators Thursday evening.

The two teams have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs several times in the Crosby era, with the Penguins winning every series since the Senators' initial 5-game romp in 2008.
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The Trade Deadline and Ray Shero's Shadow by @ToonsBrian

6:30:00 PM 0

What Ray Shero did as the Pittsburgh Penguins' GM was, for better or worse, remarkable. When handed the keys, it is true that the Pens had already added what would be the core of this team in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury. However, Shero would be at the center of many of the NHL's blockbuster trade deadline deals during his tenure.
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Around the Metro - 2/5/15 - 2/12/15 by @kjcmalakai

2:00:00 PM 0

This just in:  The Metro is pretty good.  Even the bottom feeders are playing good hockey right now. No team is worse than .500 over their past 10 games with Phildelphia and Carolina having the best records over the same span at 6-2-2 each.  No team is advancing itself away from the pack and the top of the division remains separated by only 4 points.

Believe it or not, the Penguins might be (along with the Crapitals) the healthiest team at the top of the division.  Last night, the Penguins turned back the clock to October with a 4-1 shelling of the red-hot Detroit Red Wings.  If you were to tell me that Blake Comeau would be the missing link, I would have called you crazy, but after last night he just may be.  If the Penguins can stay healthy and put out the line combos that they put out last night, they may be able to gain a few points on the Islanders and Rangers while Kyle Okposo and King Henrik are out.  The Pens need to get the special teams going, however, as they are not scoring Power Play goals and are giving up a bunch over the past several games.

While the 5-0 loss to Vancouver last week was ugly to say the least, it kind of should have been expected.  It was the Penguins' third game in four nights in Western Canada.  Needless to say, they were probably a little worn out from the travel at that point and it showed on the ice.  People will point to that game and say that the team is lacking consistency on a night to night basis, and that criticism has some merit, but for that game I am giving them a pass based on where it fell on the schedule.

Metro Games to Watch This Week
Thursday, February 12 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators
Friday, February 13 - Philadelphia Flyers @ Columbus Blue Jackets
Saturday, February 14 -  Columbus Blue Jackets @ New York Islanders
Sunday, February 15 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Chicago Blackhawks
Monday, February 16 - New York Rangers @ New York Islanders
Tuesday, February 17 - Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Wednesday, February 18 - No Metro games scheduled

Current Patrick Metro Division Standings

New York Islanders
Last Week: 3-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 12 - vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
     Saturday, February 14 -  vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
     Monday, February 16 - vs. New York Rangers
     Tuesday, February 17 - @ Carolina Hurricanes
     Sunday, February 8 - Colin McDonald called up from AHL Bridgeport
     Sunday, February 8 - Harry Zolnierczyk called up from AHL Bridgeport
     Calvin de  Haan - Face
     Michael Grabner - Undisclosed
     Cal Clutterbuck - Upper Body

The Islanders rebounded well last week compared to the week before, but their schedule may have had a lot to do with it playing Buffalo and Edmonton back to back.  Their schedule remains favorable for the upcoming week, which is bad news for the Penguins who need to take advantage while they are healthy.

Last Week:  2-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 12 - @ Ottawa Senators
     Sunday, February 15 - @ Chicago Blackhawks
     Tuesday, February 17 - vs. Washington Capitals
     Monday, February 9 - Scott Harrington sent down to AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Tuesday, February 10 - Mark Arcobello waived
     Christian-Ehrhoff - Concussion

Unlike the Islanders, the Penguins schedule is not favorable with the Blackhawks and Capitals coming up after the classic trap game against the Senators.  The Penguins are healthy for the first time in months and need to keep their focus and compete level up in order to take advantage.  The trade deadline looms large as this team can still use a few pieces to be true contenders.

Last Week:  3-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Saturday, February 14 -  @ Los Angeles Kings
     Sunday, February 15 - @ Anaheim Ducks
     Tuesday, February 17 - @ Pittsburgh Penguins
     Friday, February 6 - Philipp Grubauer called up from AHL Hershey
     Friday, February 6 - Andre Burakovsky sent down to AHL Hershey
     Saturday, February 7 - Philipp Grubauer sent down to AHL Toronto
     Saturday, February 7 - Andre Burakovsky called up from AHL Hershey
     Monday, February 9 - Cameron Schilling sent down to AHL Hershey
     Tuesday, February 10 - Steve Olesky called up from AHL Hershey
Injuries:  None

Ovechkin continues to score from the Ovechkin spot and the Caps keep winning.  They've won 3 out of their last 4, with their only loss being the worst game they played all season against the Flyers.  The Caps are currently on a west coast road trip before finishing up against the Penguins.  They won their first game of the trip against the Sharks in OT last night, but as the Pens found out, 3 games on the west coast can wear a team down.  Hopefully this happens to the Caps and the Pens can capitalize. (See what I did there?)

Last Week:  1-1-1
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 12 - @ Colorado Avalanche
     Saturday, February 14 -  @ Arizona Coyotes
     Monday, February 16 - @ New York Islanders
Transactions:  None
     Henrik Lundqvist - Neck
     Jesper Fast - Knee

The Rangers are learning that life without Lundqvist is basically going to suck.  It's unfortunate (for them, not for the Pens) as this team had (and still may) realistic cup aspirations.  Getting Henrik Lundqvist healthy should be their top priority while they attempt to tread water in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.

Last Week:  1-0-2
Upcoming Games:
     Saturday, February 14 -  @ Los Angeles Kings
     Sunday, February 15 - @ Anaheim Ducks
     Tuesday, February 17 - @ Pittsburgh Penguins
     Monday, February 9 - Anthony Stolarz called up from AHL Lehigh Valley
     Steve Mason - Knee
     Luke Schenn - Upper Body
     Rob Zepp - Leg
     Braydon Coburn - Foot

Offense just isn't enough to win in the NHL as the Flyers are showing.  Voracek and Giroux are still in the top 10 in the NHL in scoring, but it just hasn't been enough to carry the Flyers.  Steve Mason now has a possibly serious and strange injury which is most likely the dagger in the Flyers' miniscule playoff chances.

Last Week:  1-2-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 13 - @ Chicago Blackhawks
     Saturday, February 14 -  @ Nashville Predators
     Tuesday, February 17 - vs. Buffalo Sabres
Transactions:  None
Injuries:  None

Jaromir Jagr has stated that he wishes to be traded to a contending Eastern Conference team (or has he, NHL.com says he has NOT asked to be traded).  Gee, I wonder who fits that description.  Looks like #JagrWatch is back on.  Besides Jagr, who else could be moved at the deadline from this team?  It's now time for the Devils to start calling up some of their prospects to see what t hey have at the NHL level.

Last Week:  2-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 13 - vs. Philadelphia Flyers
     Saturday, February 14 -  @ New York Islanders
     Tuesday, February 17 - @ Philadelphia Flyers
Transactions:  None
     Jared Boll - Lower Body
     Ryan Murray - Ankle
     Dalton Prout - Upper Body
     James Wisniewski - Lower Body

Yay, the Blue Jackets have won two games in a row.  Injuries have ruined this season and this is a team that probably doesn't need to blow up their roster.  If they are in the same position next season then their roster can be shoved in the cannon and blown up, but since they've had a hard luck year, I don't know if they do anything at the trade deadline.

Last Week:  2-0-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 12 - vs. Anaheim Ducks
     Saturday, February 14 -  @ Minnesota Wild
     Monday, February 16 - @ Ottawa Senators
     Tuesday, February 17 - vs. New York Islanders
Transactions:  None
     Ryan Murphy - Leg

I'm just going to keep the same thing here that I wrote last week.  The Hurricanes continue to play good hockey and probably won't finish at the bottom of the division once all is said and done.  Now its just a question of if they can keep it up and carry the momentum into next season.

Malakai's Musing for the Week

The trade deadline is less than a month away and conventional (twitter) wisdom is that the Penguins are not done making moves, which I completely agree with.  What I have seen the most talk about is the Penguins biggest need being a top 6 winger.  Yes, it would be fantastic to add someone to the top 6, but it is not their biggest need.  The Penguins need another defenseman more than someone to round out the top 6.  The losses of Olli Maata and to a lesser extent Christian Ehrhoff have left the blue line corps depleted.  Trading Paul Martin now looks to be impossible as that would only further deplete the depth.  The Penguins have a bunch of defense prospects, but that is just what they are - prospects.  They are not yet ready for the grind that is the NHL playoffs and Crosby and Malkin are not getting any younger.  The Penguins can't afford to wait for their home grown talent to develop while the Crosby and Malkin are in the prime of their careers.  I believe that one of the defense prospects not named Pouliot along with Beau Bennett will be moved at the deadline- but they may need to do more in order to shed salary to get under the cap depending on they bring over in a trade.  A more detailed look at the trading deadline is coming up as we get closer to March 2.  What do you think the Penguins will do at the deadline?
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Game 54, Penguins vs. Red Wings Recap by @DXTraeger

10:24:00 PM 0
Abdelkader was the hero in the teams' October matchup (photo by Paul Sancya)

With the ghosts of the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals still echoing in each franchises' ears, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings met on Wednesday for NBCSports' "Rivalry Night."

Pittsburgh entered Wednesday's game coming off of a mixed-result Canadian trip that saw the Penguins shutout both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, only to have Vancouver blank the Black & Vegas Gold 5-0 on Saturday.
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Making Sense of Mark Arcobello: are the Penguins Panicking? by @DXTraeger

1:07:00 PM 0
Mark Arcobello in happier days against the New York Rangers (photo by Gene Puskar)
Everybody loves a good knee-jerk reaction:  shortly after the Penguins' disastrous showings against the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators, fans and bloggers alike (ahem, cough) thought that the proverbial sky was falling outside the Consol Energy Center.

Marc-Andre Fleury responded to the team's adversity by posting back-to-back shutouts, an effort that enabled Fleury to top Tom Barrasso's prior team mark of 7 whitewashes in a season.

Perhaps riding the crest of that feel-good success, the Penguins then did their best impression of a Weezer sweater and came undone against the Vancouver Canucks, losing by a final score of 273-0.
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Bottom Six Bottom Line by @Nick422

12:51:00 PM 0
The Penguins top six is, when healthy, one of the better top six in the league.  Having Malkin and Crosby alone make this the case.  Add in healthy Perron, Kunitz, Hornqvist and Bennett (please stop laughing) and you have the makings of one of the best top six in the NHL.  The bottom six?  Well... there in lies the rub.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Baffled by Beau Bennett and This and That by @Chicksdighockey

12:00:00 PM 0

~ I am not a huge Beau Bennett fan but I’m surprised that he has been a scratch for 4 games now.  Coach Johnston says his battle level is bad and his puck management as well. Coach also said he would play in western Canada but he did not. He’s been a Healthy scratch for the 4th time in 5 games.

If you judge a man by his numbers, His hockey analytics are solid: a 54.7 Corsi-For Percentage and a 54.8 Fenwick-For Percentage, both top five on the team at the time he was scratched.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

#RealTalk where the Penguins at? by @wutendeskind

2:00:00 PM 0
Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Kunitz, and Hornqvist—each of whom has been sidelined at points this season—are all back in the line up.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

TRP: This Week In #FartNoise by @LCJS

11:54:00 AM 0

By: Lee C.J. Sobotka | Staff Writer

This is Three Rivers Philosophizer - A weekly review of stuff that is going on in my brain... at least the stuff that has to do with hockey. If you don't like it, I don't blame you.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Evander Kane Will Not Be a Pittsburgh Penguin by @ChrisRBarron

3:08:00 PM 0

Evander Kane is no stranger to controversy, indeed his entire career as a Winnipeg Jet has felt like one controversy after another.  The only thing more predictable than the cold in Winnipeg is that a Kane controversy – be it real or imagined – is always just a few weeks or months away. 

Just as predictable as the next Kane controversy is the tongue-wagging from rival fans imagining Kane in their team’s jersey and the endless rumors that Kane might be dealt.

Earlier this week, the 23-year old forward was a healthy scratch when the Jets faced off against the Canucks in Kane’s hometown of Vancouver.  This isn’t the first time Jets head coach Paul Maurice has chosen to punish Kane by making him a healthy scratch.

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Around the Metro - 1/29/15 - 2/5/15 by @kjcmalakai

1:59:00 PM 1
So everything is ok now because the Penguins are back on top of the Metro right?  Maybe... but probably not.  Some things to consider:

Against current playoff teams, the Penguins are 12-10-5.
Of their 29 total wins, the Penguins only have 8 wins in regulation against current playoff teams.
Against the Metro division, the Penguins are 7-9-4

The above records are troubling and should give Penguins fans pause before celebrating the fact that the Penguins are, for now, in first place.  If I were to pick one of the four teams from the Metro to miss the playoffs, as of today, it would be the Penguins, based on their lackluster performance against good competition and downright awful play within the division.  I don't think this is going to happen, its more of an indictment of how poorly the Penguins have played over the past month or so.  A lot can happen in the next 31 games but it's pretty clear that the Metro is going to go down to the wire.

Metro Games to Watch This Week
Thursday, February 5 - New York Islanders @ Philadelphia Flyers
Friday, February 6 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Calgary Flames
Saturday, February 7 -  Pittsburgh Penguins @ Vancouver Canucks
Sunday, February 8 - Philadelphia Flyers @ Washington Capitals
Monday, February 9 - Edmonton Oilers @ New Jersey Devils (not much happening this night)
Tuesday, February 10 - New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Wednesday, February 11 - Detroit Red Wings @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Current Patrick Metro Division Standings

Last Week:  2-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 6 @ Calgary Flames
     Saturday, February 7 @ Vancouver Canucks
     Wednesday, February 11 vs. Detroit Red Wings
     Saturday, January 31 - Derrick Pouliot called up from AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Sunday, February 1 - Andrew Ebbett sent down to AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Christian-Ehrhoff - Head

Nothing like games against New Jersey and Edmonton to cure what ails you.  But did they?  Sure, the Penguins are (temporarily) back on top of the division, but have they looked like a first place team over the past couple of weeks?  If it wasn't for the rest of the Metro having an off week, the Pens might not find themselves where they do in the standings.  Furthermore, the Rangers have closed the gap to only 2 points with 2 games in hand. Only Blake Comeau and Christian Ehrhoff are missing from the lineup (of the players that they expect to get back this season) so the Pens are getting healthier (relatively) - and they'll need to in order to maintain pace with the rest of the division.

New York Islanders
Last Week: 0-3-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 5 @ Philadelphia Flyers
     Saturday, February 7 @ Boston Bruins
     Sunday, February 8 @ Buffalo Sabres
     Tuesday, February 10 vs. Edmonton Oilers
     Friday, January 30 - Colin McDonald called up from AHL Bridgeport
     Saturday, January 31 - Colin McDonald sent down to AHL Bridgeport
     Monday, February 2 - Colin McDonald called up from AHL Bridgeport
     Tuesday, February 3 - Colin McDonald sent down to AHL Bridgeport
     Kyle Okposo - Eye

Well, looks like the Okposo injury has had more of an effect on this team than was previously thought as the Isles were winless last week.  Moving on without Okposo isn't going to get any easier - especially with the way that the division has tightened up - but its not like the Islanders really have a choice.  Games against the Sabres and the Oilers should help.

Last Week:  3-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Saturday, February 7 @ Nashville Predators
     Sunday, February 8 vs. Dallas Stars
     Tuesday, February 10 @ Toronto Maple Leafs
     Wednesday, February 4 - MacKenzie Skapski called up from AHL Hartford
     Wednesday, February 4 - Ryan Malone - released
     Henrik Lundqvist - Neck

The Rangers are probably the most complete team in the East - ranking in the top 5 in goals scored per game as well as goals against per game in the NHL.  Rick "Blimpie" Nash leads the NHL in goals and is an MVP candidate.  King Henrik, however, is going to miss some time with a neck injury - but how much is unknown at this time.  Depending on how long he is out, it could slow the rise of the Rangers to the top of the division.

Last Week:  1-1-1
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 5 @ Ottawa Senatos
     Friday, February 6 vs. Anaheim Ducks
     Sunday, February 8 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
     Wednesday, February 11 @ San Jose Sharks
     Sunday, February 1 - Cameron Schilling sent down to AHL Hershey
     Wednesday, February 4 - Cameron Schilling called up from AHL Hershey
Injuries:  None

The Caps really hadn't been playing all that great of hockey until they blanked the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings 4-0 in their last game.  Shockingly enough (Brooks Orpik contract), the Caps have had some defensive breakdowns as of late leading to giving up 40 shots in a game against the Blues.  Alexander Ovechkin was named the NHL number 1 star for the month of January proving that shooting from the same spot all of the time can be rewarding.

Last Week:  2-0-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 5 vs. New York Islanders
     Sunday, February 8 @ Washington Capitals
     Tuesday, February 10 @ Montreal Canadiens
     Sunday, February 1 - Petr Straka sent down to AHL Lehigh Valley
     Scott Laughton - Concussion
     Nicklas Grossman - Shoulder
     Michael Raffl - Illness

The Flyers have won 4 in a row and have made things a little more interesting in the Eastern Conference standings.  They are within 3 points of ninth place Florida, but still trail Boston by 10 points.  It's still probably too much ground to make up, but nobody wants to play this team right now.

Last Week:  2-0-1
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 6 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
     Saturday, February 7 @ Montreal Canadiens
     Monday, February 9 vs. Edmonton Oilers
Transactions:  None
Injuries:  None

#JagrWatch has lost a lot of its steam, but it will probably pick up again as the deadline approaches.  The Devils have been playing (albeit boring) hockey and are moving up the standings as a result.  Not that it matters, or that anyone really cares, but good for them.

Last Week:  0-3-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, February 6 vs. St. Louis Blues
     Saturday, February 7 @ Ottawa Senators
     Monday, February 9 vs. Los Angeles Kings
     Friday, January 30 - Josh Anderson sent down to AHL Springfield
     Jeremy Morin - Upper Body
     Matt Calvert - Illness

Life without Bob has proven to be difficult for the Blue Jackets as they have failed miserably at their first test post All Star Game.  After going 0-3 last week, the Blue Jackets are back in the McDavid sweepstakes and are in danger of falling below Carolina in the standings.  The only good news is that at least they aren't Buffalo.

Last Week:  0-1-2
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, February 5 @ Arizona Coyotes
     Saturday, February 7 @ San Jose Sharks
Transactions:  None
     Cam Ward - Lower Body

The Hurricanes continue to play good hockey and probably won't finish at the bottom of the division once all is said and done.  Now its just a question of if they can keep it up and carry the momentum into next season.

Malakai's Musing for the Week

Yes the above graphic is a little tongue and cheek given Beau Bennett's well documented struggles with injuries.  Bennett's streak, however stopped at 12 games - not because of another injury, but because he was benched due to poor performance.  The Penguins may not realize that Bennett is healthy since he hasn't played in two of the past three games, but he is.  If he is riding the pine instead of stalwarts such as Craig Adams and Zach Sill, then there has to be more to this story.  The Penguins have been waiting for Bennett to develop into a top six forward since he was drafted 20th overall in the 2010 draft, but that was under another regime.  Apparently he is in Mike Johnston's doghouse and not being a Johnston or Jim Rutherford guy doesn't bode well for Sunshine's future in Pittsburgh.  Maybe they are just trying to save him from the inevitable future injury so they will have him to add some depth for the stretch run, but I doubt it.  With the trade deadline approaching, how Bennett is treated during the next week or so will provide a lot of clues as to what the Penguins are thinking regarding the status of their embattled winger.  What do you think the Penguins should do about Bennett?
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