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Monday, October 24, 2016

Crowns and Clowns Week 1 by @MedinaMarie_PI

Welcome to another incredible season of Penguin's hockey. We are geared up and ready to go to make another run for a Cup championship.

Though the Puck Princess persona has fallen by the wayside, Crowns and Clowns will still remain for your reading pleasure. After all, who doesn't like an honest recap of the best and worst?

Week one did not disappoint. in fact, our top bonehead notched his slot in the first game of the season. Want to know who sits on the throne and who wears the cone to start the season...then wait no longer.


High King(s)- Love Thy Tendy:
Though it has only been a few games, the goal tending on both sides of the ice has been nothing short of incredible. From our own Marc-Andre Fleury shutting the door on Alexander Ovechkin in a shoot out win against the Washington Capitals on Oct.13 to Al Montoya standing strong to shut out the Pens on Oct. 17th and everything in between. All the head standing, glove flashing, doing-the-splits action one could ever ask to watch.

While everyone wants their team to score on every opportunity at the net, watching these goalies make phenomenal or mind blowing saves are one of the aspects that make the game of hockey exciting. For a player facing down an elite net minder, when the puck does finally hit the back of the net, it makes that goal even sweeter.

So here's to you, the warriors between the pipes. Wear your crown proudly.

Prince- Patric Hornqvist: 

The last thing a ref or an opposing team wants to do is make Patric Hornqvist mad, especially if his team is trailing. What happens next could only be described as the type of reaction you would get if you'd pour gasoline into a bonfire. He becomes a roaring inferno.

His determination, passion and sheer brilliance on the fore-check helped fuel a depleted Penguins bench to a 3-2 come from behind victory over the San Jose Sharks on Oct 20th.

After his goal, that would have tied the game at one-a-piece, was called back Hornqvist went on the war path. He went hard to work, battling along the boards, forechecking with dominance, and taking shots at the net at every given opportunity. It would pay dividends as seen in the clip below as he scores the game winning goal.

Duke- Matt Murray:

(Photo Credit:

Speaking of loving thy tendy, the Penguins management showed just how faithful they are in their young goaltender by sealing up a nice contract extension. The contract, worth $3.75 million annually for 3 years, keeps Murray in black and (Pittsburgh) gold through the 2019-20 season.

Though it could possibly mean the end of the line for the beloved MAF, inking Murray to this "bridge contract" (as GM Jim Rutherford put it) keeps one of the best young goalies in the NHL on our side a lot longer.


The Bozo - Washington Capitals', Justin Williams:
The Capitals had not forgotten just who eliminated them from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When the Penguins opened their season at home, the Capitals once again tried to used their brute force to break down the Penguin's speed game. When that tactic clearly isn't working, what else is there to do but try and break an opposing players neck, right?

That is exactly what happened late in the game on Oct. 13th. When Evgeni Malkin got hooked in the legs in front of the Capitals net, he ended up shoving goaltender, Braden Holtby, down and off balance to stay on his feet. Justin Williams (who was coming in from the right end boards), was just "...protecting his goalie" and did the following (see clip):

The behind-the-back choke slam garnered Williams a laughable two minute minor for roughing when it should have been at least a 5-minute major for intent to injure. Luckily, Malkin is a very strong man and came out unscathed. The Penguins would go on to win the contest in overtime, while William's antics went un-noticed by the NHL and Players Safety.

Congrats Mr. Williams- I hope the purple and gold jingle hat doesn't clash too much with the red and blue jersey (I'm lying, yes I do).

The Simpleton- The Mess versus Montreal:

Mistakes in games can happen. A player is caught out of position and the opponent scores, a player loses focus and takes a penalty while their team is on the man advantage, or an off-game for a defenseman can all lead to a losing battle. However, when they continue to happen for a full sixty minutes, it makes for one mess of a game.

(Photo Credit: Penguins Twitter)
That is exactly what happened Oct 17th against the Colorado Avalanche. There is really no excuse that can be given for this game other than lack of discipline. The game was slow and drug out to begin with as the Pens could not seem to find any pep in their step. It became even more so when the Penguins began taking penalty after penalty. At one point, I thought Head Coach Mike Sullivan's head of literally going to come off his shoulders as he tried to hold his temper and frustration in check.

Though Avalanche goalie, Al Montoya, was fantastic all night, the Penguins could not even get their power play going to try and test him because as soon as it would start, it would be negated by a penalty of their own. The Pens would leave their own goalie high and dry on multiple occasions which ultimately lead to a 4-0 shutout loss.

It was the worst display the team had put on in a long time, and I am sure none of us want to see it again any time soon.

The Jester- Why can't we have nice things?:

The Penguins can't seem to catch a break (for lack of any better word). That pesky injury bug wanted to bite early this year...try even before the season began. Matt Murray broke his thumb in the World Cup. Sidney Crosby is still out with yet another concussion that he suffered in practice. Rust was out from lingering issues with an "undisclosed injury" but thankfully he is back on the ice. Fans hoped that things would begin to turn around injury wise.

Keep on wishing.

Both Kris Letang and Conor Sheary suffered upper body injuries against Colorado and are "day-to-day". Then, against the Sharks Oct. 20, the Penguins had to fend off a frenzy in their come-from-behind victory with only four defensemen. FOUR! Olli Maatta (who was having a much better game after struggling early in the first few games) went down the runway and did not return. Luckily as of mid-afternoon on Oct. 21, Maatta was cleared to play.

The same cannot be said for poor Derrick Pouliot. In what was by far turning into one of his best games on record, he was also seen headed down the runway to the locker room and did not come back. The lower-body injury will see him out of the line up for "...a while".  Hopefully Pouliot is not out as long as they are thinking and that once everyone is healthy, that they all stay that way.

That wraps up week one of the new season. We are off and rolling into week two as the team heads down to Nashville to take on former Penguin, James Neal, and the Predators. What will this week bring? Hopefully not more injuries, that's for sure.

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