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Friday, October 30, 2015

LISTEN: #RadioPI @MikeAsti11, With Guest @RobRossi_Trib

4:00:00 PM 0
You may love him. You may hate him. You react to him. He's Rob Rossi, of Trib Total Media, 937 The Fan, and WPXI. Mike Asti welcomes the fellow media heel to the PensInitiative airwaves for a main event of radio gold.

Check Out Hockey Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Radio PI on BlogTalkRadio
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How to Survive the Season by @wutendeskind

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Bobby Farnham Flow Chart

6:00:00 PM 0

We at Pens Initiative recognize that favorite players come in all shapes and sizes (and talent levels). One person's whipping boy could easily be one another blindly roots for. We would never attempt to tell you how to feel about a certain player on the roster. That's what this flow chart is for! Answer the questions and follow along to the end to see what you should be thinking about the New Jersey Devils claiming Bobby Farnham off waivers.

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The @Penguins in Two Sentences or Less by @_MAF29

4:45:00 PM 0

This post is from our friend Cassy from PensReport and puckheadsunited.

The Penguins’ 2015-16 Season In Two Sentences Or Less

 I’m going to describe how each player has fared through the 8 games the Penguins have played thus far. Why? Well, why not? Here we go!

Marc-Andre Fleury: MVP.

Evgeni Malkin: He am score? Currently leading the Penguins with 7 points, he am score.

Sidney Crosby: Got his first 3 points in the sixth game. Bad bounces, stick breaks…bad luck continues.

Phil Kessel: The Phil is scoring lots. Won the game in Nashville in overtime on essentially an individual effort.

Chris Kunitz: Was scoreless in 20+ games until he destroyed a puck, putting it past Rinne. Kuni smash!

Kris Letang: Pittsburgh’s best defenseman is playing like Pittsburgh’s best defenseman.

Olli Maatta: Back from essentially missing an entire season, and he gets paired with Rob Scuderi. Do the hockey gods hate Olli?

Rob Scuderi: He has two points in eight games…what? He’s still bad though…I promise.

Bobby Farnham: Got put on waivers and claimed by the Devils. Yup.

Adam Clendening: Played one game when Rob Scuderi was scratched, and played well. Hopefully he plays well when Scuderi is scratched again in 8 years.

Daniel Sprong: From his first NHL goal to work-visa issues, it’s been an eventful six games played for the rookie. He looks funny when using smelling salts.

Ian Cole: Traded for Robert Bortuzzo, he’s now on the top pairing with Kris Letang. Score one, Jim Rutherford.

David Perron: Currently slotted on the fourth line. Has the talent, but is underperforming.

Nick Bonino: Scored the only goal in that pitiful effort against Dallas. Well, his effort wasn’t pitiful, it was gorgeous. 

Sergei Plotnikov: Still seeking his first NHL point. Still getting acclimated to the NHL and North American playing style. 

Matt Cullen: Kicking ass and taking names on the penalty kill. Beautifully set up Daniel Sprong’s first NHL goal.

Beau Bennett: Looked beautiful on the ice until he scored, and hurt himself celebrating…you can’t make this stuff up.

Kevin Porter: Depth signing, but hasn’t looked very out of place in the bottom six. He’s hurt too, though!

Bryan Rust: Looked like a nice injury replacement for Beau Bennett (as far as bottom six players go). But like the man he replaced, he just got hurt.

Pascal Dupuis: The minute he stepped back into the lineup, he looked dynamite, baby. The Penguins are lucky to have him back.

Ben Lovejoy: …eh. It’s what you’d expect.

Brian Dumoulin: Often paired with Lovejoy, but rocks it. Looking a lot better than he did in the preseason.

Eric Fehr: Is close to a return, and is allowed to be taken off the IR on October 31st. The hockey gods know the Penguins can use him.

Jeff Zatkoff: He’s made the bench his bitch.

Thanks for reading!
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New Jersey Devils claim Bobby Farnham off of Waivers

1:38:00 PM 0
According to multiple sources, now former Penguins forward Bobby Farnham has been claimed off of waivers by the Ray Shero lead New Jersey Devils.

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The Spectre of Loss by @ROMcomRob

12:45:00 PM 0

This post is from our new friend Rob Joncas you can find him on twitter @ROMcomROB. He runs a site called http://once-a-penguin.blogspot.com/ where he delves deep into +Pittsburgh Penguins history and recounts some amazing stories.

The late 90’s were a time of great uncertainty for the City of Pittsburgh, the Penguins, and most importantly, us.

I personally knew there was some trouble brewing in the Steel City, but being as Toronto is the closest NHL team to my proximity, I would only get the table scraps of stories from the ‘Burgh as coverage in my area tends to be Leaf-Centric.

Let's go back to November 1998 and look at some of the circumstances behind one of the biggest events in Penguin's history.

After years of mismanagement of funds and assets on and off the ice by bungling ownership groups, the Penguins were forced to officially declare bankruptcy.

In excess of 90 million dollars was owed to various creditors. The single largest creditor was Mario Lemieux.

Lemieux was owed 32 million after years of deferring his salary in order to help keep the team afloat.

So, after the Penguins were eliminated by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1999 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, (ironically, it was former Penguin Gary Valk that drove what may have been the final nail into the oblong box that contained Pittsburgh's hockey dreams) many wondered if the Penguins' days in Pittsburgh were numbered. It seemed it was a forgone conclusion that the team was going to move.

A bankruptcy court was set to rule on the future of the Penguins a month after the season ended and it seemed everyone was a little apprehensive about showing much emotion or adulation for the current crop of Penguins.

There were no “Save the Pens” rallies. No mass demonstrations at city hall. No one going on hunger strike. There was an online petition that had several thousands of names adorned to it, however the majority of those names did not even reside in Pennsylvania.

It appeared that people were ready to accept whatever the outcome was going to be.

I can understand why the majority of Penguins fans thought it was just another false alarm.

Can you blame them?

Ever since the Franchise’s inception in 1967, there has been the spectre of loss hanging over the city. A common theme that appears every few years and echoes in the present day. It is hard to ride on that kind of emotional roller coaster.

Compounding the Penguins financial woes, The “SMG” group that operated the Civic (Mellon) Arena for the city of Pittsburgh were bound and determined to hold the Penguins to the 6 million dollar a year lease.

A new ownership group headed by Mario Lemieux was advocating for a yearly lease that was right around 500,000 a year.

Would you be willing to leave 5 and ½ million dollars on the table?

Probably not and neither was “SMG”.

In the end, we know how the rest of that summer played out. A saviour would come in the form of a familiar French-Canadian face.

Today, we can take solace in the fact that Penguins are firmly cemented in Pittsburgh and the team leaving is something we will not have to contend with.

After Mario, let's be sure to thank OURSELVES because after all...

We are the PENGUINS!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

It's Time to Warm Up Mike Johnston's Seat by @Nick422

11:00:00 AM 0
In general, calling for a firing seven games into the season is an overreaction.  Season's are long, they ebb and flow, there are positive and negative streaks which will make teams look like world beaters and world beaten.  This is an exception to the rule.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Game 7, a (frustrated) Recap of Pens vs Stars by @DXTraeger

9:40:00 PM 0
A (very bad) Artist's Rendering of the Death Scud
The Pittsburgh Penguins concluded a five game home stand against the talented Dallas Stars on Thursday night.  The meeting would be the teams' second of the year, with the Stars claiming a 3-0 victory in the season opener.

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The Return of Pascal Dupuis by @ChicksdigHockey

3:45:00 PM 0

He’s back! Pascal Dupuis announced he is in the line-up tonight against the Dallas Stars. It’s been 11 months since he played having been side lined by a clotting disorder and a knee injury. Just when it looked like he was ready to go for the season, he was hit with a mysterious injury unrelated to the clotting disorder.

He told Josh Yohe of DKPittsburghSports.com, “I got the OK to go tonight,” Dupuis said. “I’m pretty excited.”

Before you jump to conclusions……
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The Top 10 NHL Locker Room Junk Shots We Want to See by @ChrisRBarron

11:45:00 AM 0
This summer, in a booze soaked weekend north of the border, I told my fellow PI-ers Ryan Noble and Paul Clemente that I was going to do a post on the Top 10 NHL Locker Room Junk Shots We Want to See. I said it after a large quantity of quality Canadian beers (thanks Flying Monkeys!).

Most hockey blogs wouldn't touch this subject with a 10 foot pole (you see what I did there). But here is the thing about Pens Initiative - we are more than just fancy stats and game recaps - we actually want to have a little fun. Sometimes I think that we here at Pens Initiative are the blogosphere equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys - and frankly, I could not be happier about that.

So, without further adieu, here it is, your Top 10 NHL Locker Room Junk Shots that you want to see, in no particular order... (a special thanks to Brandon Sutter for his inspiration for this post).

TJ Oshie (Washington Capitals)

After his Olympic performance, we all need to know if his balls are as big as we think they are.

Paul BizNasty Bissonnette (Ontario Reign/LA Kings)

There are plenty of good reasons for BizNasty to make this list, not least of which is the fact the guy did an epic ice bucket challenge where glacier water gets dumped on his head while he is wearing Speedos and a closer inspection of the photo shows no shrinkage! Impressive!

Evander Kane (Buffalo Sabres)

Lots of these on the list require some sort of explanation. Evander Kane does not. The reasons here speak for themselves.

Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks)

Don't lie, you know you want to know if his junk is just a crazy ass sasquatch looking pile of fur. Ok, maybe its just me.

Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins, Retired)

Yeah Mario is getting up there, but don't we all need to know if it's really Le Magnifique?

Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers)

Frankly, I need proof it even exists.

Jonathan Bernier (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Is he getting any extra help closing off that Five hole?

Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars)

After the ESPN the Body issue, I know I am wondering - is everything really bigger in Texas?

Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins)

He's 6'9" so if it's even remotely proportionate than its got to be impressive, right? Wait, on second thought, no one wants to see Zdeno Chara's junk.

Tyler Kennedy (Unemployed)

Did you really think you were going to make it though this list without me mentioning TK? Not a chance. Since it appears the NHL isn't a good option for him right now, I need to know if a Magic Mike XXXL cameo could be in the works?

Sean William Scott (BONUS)

Yeah he's not an NHL-er but he was in Goon and frankly he is one of the only guys on this list who you legit probably want to see a locker room junk shot from - are you listening Goon 2?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Evgeni Malkin: He Is Score And Hilarity @WillHirschNHL

6:00:00 PM 0
Evgeni Chan? Jackie Malkin? (Courtesy Pittsburgh Penguins official twitter account)
On the ice, the Penguins have found success when Evgeni Malkin produces. Off the ice, everybody wins when Malkin produces.

Malkin is currently riding a three game goal scoring streak and the Penguins have won all three games in which he has scored.

Previously, the Penguins went 0-3 to start the season when Malkin didn't score. He recorded an assist in the Penguins third loss to start the season against the Montreal Canadiens.

It is pretty safe to say there is no coincidence that when Geno scores, the Pens do well. Right, Evgeni?

Courtesy: Tumblr - Evgeni Malkin Gifs 
Pittsburgh's king of hilarity recorded his 46th career game winning goal last night with his goal courtesy of a slapshot in overtime. It is Malkin's second game winning goal in 2015-2016.

Courtesy: PI's Steve Ira 

Recently in an interview, Malkin was asked who should play him in a movie. His answer was Jackie Chan

Don't ever change Evgeni. Keep being score. 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Scoreless Crosby, Pens Power Play and This & That by @ChicksDigHockey

3:45:00 PM 0
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
* If you’re keeping track, Stamkos has played 6 games and has 5, Jamie Benn and Tyler Segin have both played 5 and have 8 each, Jagr has played 5 games and has 7. What am I talking about? NHL Points scored so far this season, of course. Why am I talking about them? Because after 5 games played, Sidney Crosby has zero points and just 7 SOG.  It’s only the second time in his career he's gone 5 games in a row without a point.

Why even care? Because Crosby has won two scoring titles, led the NHL in points per game in each of the past five seasons and, well…..Kessel (i.e. a winger for Sid). Didn’t we all drool at the signing of Phil Kessel? Didn’t we all imagine the beautiful plays? Kessel to Crosby, or Crosby to Kessel, and always puck in net? 

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CONSOL Energy Center and the National Anthem

11:45:00 AM 3
I know I am probably going to come off as a buzzkill and a ruiner of fun for writing this, but I think this needs to be addressed. Why do people feel the need to act like idiots as soon as someone starts singing the National Anthem?

We've all seen it, whether it be on television or in person. Jeff Jimmerson walks out of the tunnel and onto the carpet preparing to sing the anthem. Shortly after, some drunk guy screams "Lets Go Pens!" Look, I get it. You're amped up, and justifiably so! You paid good money to sit in your comfortable seat chugging your overpriced light beer in order to escape all of the worlds problems for a few hours. Again, I get it, but is it really hard for you to be quiet for one minute to respect the anthem? Every intermission, Pittsburgh fans salute military men and women by treating them to a ride on the Zamboni while fans clap and cheer. In addition, just about every home game men and women that are serving or have served in our military get a shout out on the jumbotron. Both are very nice gestures, and these servicemen and women deserve our recognition, but I ask...

Why pick and choose when you want to be respectful toward our service men and women and our country?

To me, it's insanely disrespectful to just scream and "Whoo" during the anthem. That goes for the Canadian anthem as well. If you're going to sing along, by all means go ahead. To some people, the National Anthem has a very important meaning to them.  I know it does for myself. Times like this are why a country's National Anthem can be so important. Olympic athletes listen to it in times of great triumph, and others listen to it in times of sorrow. It can be symbolic on many different levels. There is going to be plenty of time for you to scream and make a fool of yourself. I'm sure I am wasting my breath and time writing this, because Yinzers are going to do what Yinzers want to do. But I ask, can we please try to be respectful in the future? Probably not, but wishful thinking I suppose.
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Mario Lemieux: The Nordique?

Patric Hornqvist The Consistent by @pghgirl15222

Friday, October 16, 2015

The 1-3 Pittsburgh Penguins: Why Simple Solutions to Complex Problems Don't Work by @DXTraeger

7:02:00 PM 0
Example A thru Zed on why/how shooting through a pile of players doesn't work.
The game of ice hockey is difficult to statistically break down compared to other sports.

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Penguins in Wrong Jerseys

10:04:00 AM 0

I was at my son's hockey practice and I was talking to this guy who said, "It's going to be so strange to think of Iginla in a Pens uniform in a bunch of years from now."

As a +Pittsburgh Penguins fan I probably won't forget anyone who wore the Black and Gold let alone Iginla. Then I thought there are millions of fans outside of my little bubble who don't micro-analyze everything the Pens have done since 1967. 

Jarome Iginla is someone who played ~1400 games and only 12 with the Pens. It must be so jarring to a Flames fan to see him in that sweater. I figured there had to be other examples of this. So from looking with another team's glasses on I tried to find who would be the strangest player in a Penguin jersey to people outside of Pittsburgh. 

Marian Hossa

Career Games Played* - 1172
Career Points* - 1056

% Played with the Pens - 1.0%
Points with Pens - 7
% Points with Pens - 0.7%

"Right" Team - Chicago Blackhawks
% Played with Blackhawks - 33.9%
% Points with Blackhawks - 31.9%
Cups: 3 (Blackhawks)

(*still active)

The memory of Hossa to the Penguins is burned into our minds. The zero-hour style transaction, the impact and meaning it had on the team looking to make the playoffs in a handful of years, ingrained Hossa on the minds of Pens fans. The subsequent "betrayal" the year later further cemented his impact on Pittsburgh lore.  Say what you want about Hossa, but he undeniably became a legend in the NHL as one of the best two-way forwards in the league and winning a Stanley Cup. Hossa wearing a Pens sweater may seem normal to us but insane to anyone else. 

Jarome Iginla

Career Games Played* - 1392
Career Points* - 1226

% Played with the Pens - 0.9%
Points with Pens - 11
% Points with Pens - 0.9%

"Right" Team - Calgary Flames
%Played with Flames - 87.6%
% Points with Flames -  72.7%

Cups: 0

(*still active)

Ignila is one of my favorite players, hands down. The (literal) midnight robbery of the Bruins and Flames to bring him here was one of THE most insane moments on social media I've ever seen. The transaction to bring him to the 412 finalized around 1 am after being reported to have gone to the Bruins minutes before. Everything Iginla touched turned to gold in the 'Burgh and the fans, media, and teammates loved him. After a disappointing loss in the ECF to the Bruins, Iginla left as quickly as he arrived leaving a small but potent legacy with the Pens. The long-time heart and soul of the Flames has now moved to the young Avalanche but playing over a decade with the Flames his time with the Pens will be just a footnote in history.

Luc Robitaille

Career Games Played - 1431
Career Points - 1394

% Played with the Pens - 3.2%
Points with Pens - 42
% Points with Pens - 3.0%

"Right" Team - Los Angeles Kings
% Played with Kings - 82.8%
% Points with Kings - 75.3%

Cups:  3 (2 Kings/1 Red Wings)

You mention Luc Robitaille in Pittsburgh and people think "We're going to fuck them up!" his line from Sudden Death. You mention Luc Robitaille to anyone else and most of them will think of him as the legendary Kings left-winger who's number hangs in the Staple's Center rafters. Luc came to the Penguins as an exchange for Rick Tocchet (and a 2nd round pick) and he had one spectacular season with the high powered Penguins. Seeing him in the awesome PITTSBURGH diagonals might be natural for us but unnatural for anything not black and silver.

Gary Roberts

Career Games Played - 1224
Career Points - 910

% Played with the Pens - 4.7%
Points with Pens - 28
% Points with Pens - 3.1%

"Right" Team - Calgary Flames
% Played with Flames - 47.9%
% Points with Flames - 55.5%

Cups:  1 (Flames)

Gary Roberts came from a floundering Panther's team for a young Pens defenseman named Noah Welch. Roberts signed a two-year deal with the Panthers to play in the nice weather with his BFF Joe Nieuwendyk. Roberts immediately entwined himself in Pittsburgh lore the second he stepped on the ice. His intensity and fierceness made him a local hero. After his retirement Roberts began training players and attending Penguins alumni events. He became a Pittsburgh-er after only playing a few dozen games with the team. Now he runs a program in the new Cranberry UPMC complex for the Penguins as the city has adopted him as our own.

John LeClair
Career Games Played - 967
Career Points - 819

% Played with the Pens - 5.4%
Points with Pens - 58
% Points with Pens - 7.1%

"Right" Team - Philadelphia Flyers
% Played with Flyers - 67.1%
% Points with Flyers - 78.5%
Cups:  1 (Canadiens)

Some people remember him as the guy who accidentally hurt Malkin before his debut. Some people will remember him as one of the players that came in when Penguins management wanted to win. John wasn't the player that he was on the lethal Legion of Doom line on the Flyers but he was a step in the right direction when the Penguins had Crosby and Malkin in their holster and it was time to spend money to support them. His time was short with the Penguins but seeing him in the rival Black and Gold must still give Flyers fans diarrhea.

Marcus Naslund

Career Games Played - 1117
Career Points - 869

% Played with the Pens - 13.5%
Points with Pens - 67
% Points with Pens - 7.7%

"Right" Team - Vancouver Canucks

%Played with Canucks - 86.5%
% Points with Canucks - 87.0%

Cups: 0

Part of one of the worst trades in Penguins history, Naslund just couldn't get it together while wearing the corporate pigeon. This is probably one of the most exemplary "change of scenery" trades I can think of. Drafted by the Penguins in 1991 and, after a nasty legal battle with the NHL, Naslund made his Penguins debut in 1993. After being dubbed "Mr. September" by the always rational Pittsburgh media, Naslund was shipped out of town after 2 seasons for a ham-fisted Alec Stojanov of the Canucks. The rest is (Vancouver) history. 5 All-Star games, a Hart Trophy, and the Canucks longest tenured captain make him awfully forgettable in the black and gold sweater.

Sergei Zubov

Career Games Played - 1068
Career Points - 771

% Played with the Pens - 6.0%
Points with Pens - 66
% Points with Pens - 8.6%

"Right" Team - Dallas Stars

%Played with Stars - 78.6%
% Points with Stars - 71.2%

Cups: 2 (Stars/Rangers)

Any Pittsburgh-er will liken Zubov's name to the birth of the frustrated "Shoooooooooooot!" mantra on the Power Play. Coming from a fresh Stanley Cup victory with the Rangers in 1994, Zubov came to the Pens as a power play specialist to patch the hole left by Larry Murphy going to the Leafs. His well publicized rift with Mario Lemieux made his time with the Penguins short. After leaving the Pens he spent 12 season with the Dallas Stars and won a Stanley Cup with that squad in 1999.

Andy Bathgate

Career Games Played - 1069
Career Points - 973

% Played with the Pens - 14.0%
Points with Pens - 103
% Points with Pens - 10.6%

"Right" Team - New York Rangers

%Played with Rangers - 63.7%
% Points with Rangers - 74.4%

Cups: 1 (Rangers) 

The Ranger's legend Bathgate played for the Penguins after being chosen in the expansion draft in 1967. At one point in his career he was competing with Bobby Hull for scoring titles and he left a forgettable 59 point season with the new-born Penguins team. He left for the WHL Canucks after that winning two championships there. Being a 4-time All- Star, Stanley Cup Champion, and having his number soaking up the florescence at MSG made his time with the Penguins a bus-stop.

Bryan Trottier

Career Games Played - 1279
Career Points - 1425

% Played with the Pens - 12.2%
Points with Pens - 72
% Points with Pens - 5.1%

"Right" Team - New York Islanders

% Played with Islanders - 87.8%
% Points with Islanders - 94.9%

Cups: 6 (4 Islanders/ 2 Penguins)

Trots is another player who was adopted by Pittsburgh. Before coming to the Penguins, Trottier won 4 Cups, 8 All Star bids, a Ross, Hart, and Smythe trophy. He did it all, and he helped the Penguins win a Cup in 1992.  Trottier even help coach the Penguins in 1997, but his name will always be synonymous with the Islanders.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Game 4, a ROB SCUDERI WAS SCRATCHED!!! Recap of Pens vs Senators by @DXTraeger

9:37:00 PM 2
Tonight, Geno was score.
The Pittsburgh Penguins desperately needed to end their 0-3 start to the 2015-2016 season, and the proverbial Washington Generals on the schedule tonight were the Ottawa Senators.

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Too Soon to Worry? by @BrianK_PI

2:45:00 PM 0

Though it's only three games, the Pittsburgh Penguins likely couldn't have pictured a worse start to the season that didn't involve injuries of some sort. An offense that brought in one of the league's best goal scorers and improved the depth throughout the four lines has managed just three goals, and the defense is playing towards the pessimistic end of preseason predictions, which weren't very promising to begin with. The season is still young, but at what point is it reasonable to start to worry?

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The Pens Suck and Other Baseless Early Season Snap Judgments by @ChrisRBarron

10:48:00 AM 1
It's the second week of the NHL season, it's October 15th, the leaves are just starting to change and Lord Stanley's Cup won't be hoisted until June of next year. Never mind those little details, it's time for baseless early season snap judgments!

No baseless early season snap judgment is more baseless than the "Pens suck." Did I expect the Pens to open 0-3? Did I think that Sid would go back to back games without even registering a shot? Would I have predicted that the supposedly high-flying Pens offense would be sputtering out of the gate? No, no and no. Does this mean that the "Pens suck"? Of course not. The same dynamics that made us optimistic about this season are still in play. The Pens still have the deepest three lines they have had since the Jordan Staal days, Phil Kessel is still the best winger Sid has ever had, and Olli Maatta and Kris Letang are still healthy.

The good news is that the "Pens suck" baseless early season snap judgment isn't the only baseless early season snap judgment. So here are some more from around the league to help assuage the concerns of the Penguin faithful.

The Arizona Coyotes are For Real

No they aren't. Their 3-0 start is certainly a better start than most - including me - would have expected. And it was especially painful to watch the Pens lose to the Yotes. But let's get real, Arizona isn't going to be a playoff team and they aren't even going to be in the mix.

Young guns like Anthony Duclair and Max Domi are going to make the Coyotes more competitive and certainly more fun to watch. And who knows, maybe Mike Smith looks more like the Mike Smith of a couple of years ago. That having been said, the Western Conference is a flat out Murderer's Row.

The Coyotes have Antoine Vermette (who managed just 38 points in a full 82 games last year) centering their first line and Martin Hanzal (a 9 year vet who has never topped 40 points in a season) centering their second line. Does anyone think that's going to be enough to even sniff the playoffs this year? I certainly don't.

Michal Neuvirth is Poised for a Vezina Caliber Season

Nothing can be more deceiving in small sample sizes that goal tending. Former Caps 2nd round draft pick Michal Neuvirth has gone 132 minutes without giving up a goal - a streak that includes back-to-back shutouts. Neuvirth pitched one of those shutouts against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. What does it mean? Next to nothing.

Sorry Flyers fans but Michal Neuvirth isn't poised for a surprise Vezina Caliber season. Indeed, once Steve Mason returns (he has been absent to attend to a family matter) Neuvirth is going to go back to backing up Mason.

Is it possible new Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol will use Neuvirth more than he expected to originally? Absolutely. Is it possible that Neuvirth, who has failed to meet expectations in Washington and Buffalo, could continue to play well in short spurts? Absolutely. But, in the end, Michal Neuvirth is Michal Neuvirth - a guy who has only had one year with a save percentage above .914.

Max Pacioretty Has Eclipsed Ovi and Stamkos as the League's Top Goal Scorer

Look, watching Pacioretty snipe those goals from long distance is an absolute thing of beauty. There is no doubt that Pacioretty has tons of ability - he already has 3 seasons of 30+ goals under his belt and has come very close to the 40 goal plateau the last two seasons (when he registered 39 and 37 goals respectively). Indeed, I think its entirely possible that by the end of this season that you could start to make an argument where you put Max Pacioretty in the same category as Ovechkin or Stamkos. But here's the thing - he hasn't proven he's there yet.

There is a huge difference between being a 30+ goal a year scorer (nothing to sneeze at!) and to be considered in the same category, or BETTER than, as Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. Ovi has eclipsed the 50 goal plateau 6 times already and has topped out at a staggering 65 goals in 2007-2008. Steven Stamkos has eclipsed 40 goals 4 times - once netting 51 and once 60.

Habs fans rightly point out that Pacioretty is 3rd in goals scored in the NHL over the last five years, which is absolutely true. It's also true that Pacioretty's five year total of 128 goals is dwarfed by the five year totals of Alex Ovechkin (175) and Steven Stamkos (159).
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Crosby/Kessel Conundrum by @Nick422

10:00:00 AM 0
The big splash of the off season, in perhaps all of hockey, was the Pittsburgh Penguins acquiring Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel.  For a team that had seen their goals dry up in multiple play off losses, he seemed a savior.

When it was announced he would be paired with superstar Sidney Crosby, it seemed to be a revelation.  "Finally!  A winger for Sidney Crosby!  Someone of his caliber!"  Indeed, in Kessel Crosby would have the best winger he'd had since Marian Hossa at the end of the 2007-08 season.

But is this really a pairing made to last?

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Penguins Fall 3-2 To The Canadiens In Pittsburgh Home Opener by @WillHirschNHL

9:53:00 PM 0
Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta tries to ward off Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty (Via Gregory Shamus NHLI/Getty Images)
Penguins fall to 0-3 on the season after dropping it's home opener 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Pittsburgh's rough start to the season continued early in the first period when for the third straight game, the Pens failed to score first.

Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty put Montreal on the board just 5:46 into the game. The goal was Pacioretty's third goal of the season.

The Penguins had a missed opportunity later in the first when right winger Patric Hornqvist couldn't connect on a wide open net tap in goal as he was tied up by Montreal center David Desharnais.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby also recorded his first shot on goal of the season with 4:13 to play in the first frame. He would later add three more shots on goal in this game.

The second period started with a goal from right winger Beau Bennett to tie the game at one a piece 5:31 into the middle frame. The goal was nothing fancy. Bennett just streaked down the right wing and ripped a perfectly placed shot past goaltender Carey Price's blocker.

After getting momentum from the Bennett goal, the Pens were buzzing but were called for too many men on the ice which lead to a Pacioretty power play goal. It was his second of the game and put the Canadiens up 2-1.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned the favor 1:24 later. Letang was set up by center Evgeni Malkin and right winger Phil Kessel. Both Malkin and Kessel's assists were the first assists by a Pens player of the season (148:45).

Right winger Tomas Fleischmann put the Canadiens up 3-2 with 14:40 left in regulation.

The Pens couldn't muster much during the remainder of the game and drop to 0-3 for the first time since 2001.

With tonights win, the Habs start a season 4-0 for the first time in club history.

Many analysts and fans came into this season talking about how the Penguins power play could be something special. However, after tonights loss, the Penguins are 0-9 on the man advantage in the early stages of the 2015-2016 season.

For a team that boasts a number one power play unit like Pittsburgh does, that's something to be concerned about.

Another point of concern is Crosby simply can't go 135:47 without a shot on goal. He has to shoot the puck more if the Penguins want to eventually find success.

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Some Pens, Some Outrage and This and That by @ChicksDigHockey

11:30:00 AM 5

You can have all the talent in the world but still not win games. The Penguins look like individuals playing a common game and not so much like a cohesive team so far. It’s interesting to read the outrage over Scuderi but really, is it one player holding them back? Beau Bennett looked like he was a better player in the preseason then took a stupid penalty against Arizona.  Plotnikov isn’t fast enough to be on Malkin’s line yet. Speaking of Geno, the undisciplined penalty in the third period in Arizona…I hope he doesn’t make that a habit, as was the case at the end of last season. 

Then, there’s the power play. The talent on the ice at any given time is staggering yet they fail to capitalize on the man advantage. To quote Sam Kasan, “It was great seeing the Pens get on the board and Kessel score. But one goal through 120 minutes of hockey is not good enough, especially with the talent that the Pens have on their roster.”

I have a world of respect for Coach Johnston. He’s so bright and obviously knows and loves the game BUT how about a little passion….a little fire…..a little personality? I’m not suggesting he goes all Tortorella but maybe he could be a little less soft-spoken and maybe summon up a pitch change to his voice at least? While it’s true I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, I picture him enlisting Coach Tocchet to do his yelling (and Tocchet doing a fine job).

All that having been said….tonight is the home opener and only game 3. Kessel isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and hopefully that will wear off on Crosby and Malkin. I loved the passion in Hornqvist’s game, especially in AZ….I hope it’s infectious. The PK needs to regroup. As many complaints as people had about Adams, he was a fixture on the PK for years and was fierce at it. They could use someone to step into that role…..Porter? Pa

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Game 2, a (somewhat distracted) recap of Pens vs. Coyotes by @DXTraeger

12:47:00 AM 0
Hockey!  ...as only Gary Bettman envisioned it.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, fresh off of their 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars, continued their Western Conference road swing with a 10 PM EST start at that Gary Bettman Mecca of wintry ice hockey...Phoenix, Arizona...and the Phoenix Arizona Coyotes at the America West Arena Talking Stick Resort Arena (man, this stuff is hard to keep up with).

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