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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pens Missing Character Players by @MedinaMarie_PI

9:49:00 AM 0
This is their bread and butter...right in front of the goalie.
Though they were able to eek out a win against the New Jersey Devils on November 26, the mentality of getting shots in front of the net seems to have gone a bit off-kilter. The Penguins have also become a bit lazy when it comes to picking up rebounds for second and third attempts. This is mainly due to the fact that the Penguins are missing their "down and dirty" players who seem to make a home in front of any opposing goalie.

It is clear that being without Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz leaves the Penguins without much of an answer in regards to net front presence. They are the kind of players that will plant themselves in front of the goal mouth to deflect or redirect a puck past a net minder. They are the ones going for the rebounds and second (or third) attempts. They will also do some of the dirty work. Neither Kunitz nor Hornqvist shy away from banging bodies, chirping opponents, or getting into the scrum along the boards to free up a shot or stick up for one of their star centermen.

Head Coach Mike Sullivan has tried many a combination, at even strength and on the power play, but it seems nothing is really gelling together. He has slotted in everyone from Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Eric Fehr, and even Conor Sheary in hopes of having some kind of spark in the absence of these character players.

Nothing has really worked.

On the power play is where their absence is felt the most. Being that "net front presence" is what helps the Penguins power play units be so productive. The booming "one-timer" shots are great if you can get a shooting lane open and someone to screen the goalie at the right moment. More often than not, however, that power play goal is going to come from a rebound off one of those shots.

Having someone who is comfortable in front of the net and who is used to looking for those opportunities is what they Penguins are desperately missing at the current time.


Hat trick, Hornqvist (2/29/2016)
Photo Credit: Penguins Pinterest
Before his concussion, Patric Hornqvist lead the team with four power play goals. He also had three assists while on the man advantage as well. Phil Kessel was thriving on the top power play unit but since the loss of Hornqvist, Kessel's points on the power play have gone kaput.

Then again, so has the scoring. In the games that Hornqvist has missed, the Penguins have scored only two power play goals. Both of those goals were scored by Captain Sidney Crosby but were teed up by Chris Kunitz, who is also out for an extended period of time.

Since Novemeber 19, the Penguins have scored no power play goals. Against the Devils, without both key players, the Penguins went 0-5 on the man advantage and had to go into a shoot out to decide the game.

The team is weathering the storm as best they can. In comparison, they are in far better shape than they were this time last season when even their own front office began to wonder if the team would even make it to the end of the season with a winning record, let alone make the playoffs. The Penguins now sit in second place in the division behind the NY Rangers, and are third in the conference (behind the Rangers and Montreal Canadians). Those are not bad spots to be in but the inconsistency of play still lingers and is quite concerning when you have teams like the Capitals and Hurricanes nipping at the blades. Hope is on the horizon though as word came out Saturday November 26, that Hornqvist was back to practicing with the team and taking contact!

Another welcome development is that there was full team attendance at the morning practice on November 29 including injured Chris Kunitz who just days before was still listed as week-to-week. It seems the band will be back together once again very soon.

There really is no replacing the type of player that Hornqvist and Kunitz are. They play with such passion for the game and with such a drive that when they aren't there, it is felt by the entire team. One move, one goal, one "scrap" from them has the power to ignite the team in ways I have never seen before.

Though this could be Kunitz's final season with the team, missing him in the line up is hard enough to deal with. He brings something indescribable to whatever line he plays on. Without him and Hornqvist at the same time can, sometimes, spell trouble.

Fending off Bolts is tough, but Kunitz is tougher
The Penguins were able to keep their head above water during their absence that was thankfully short lived. Hornqvist, at least, is about ready to return to game play which could come as soon as Wednesday, November 30 against the NY Islanders. This is barring any concussion symptoms popping back up however.

       We're hopeful, depending on how he feels after practice today, that he could play tomorrow (Head Coach Mike Sullivan after November 29 practice).

HCMS also made it known that Kunitz would not be back in the line up but that Kunitz was feeling better. As December looms, we are all anxious to see the change in moral that will surely come once one of them (or both) are back on the ice.


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Friday, November 25, 2016

Penguins Unveil Stadium Series Jerseys

3:27:00 PM 1

To quote Meatloaf: "two outta three ain't bad". Luckily for Pens fans, the two good ones are among the best in the league and are their primary home and away jerseys. However, the jerseys the team will wear in their Stadium Series game against the Philadelphia Flyers February 25th have to rank among the worst. With any luck, these go the way of the Stadium Series jerseys the team wore against Chicago in 2014 and we all forget they ever exist.



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Thursday, November 24, 2016

This Thanksgiving, I'm Thank-Phil by @Nick422

10:53:00 AM 0
As we prepare to enjoy and indulge in a uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving (quiet Canada) we must reflect and appreciate the finest American player in the NHL: Phil Kessel.


Phil came over from Toronto and the rest is history.  Slowly becoming a sensation in Pittsburgh, he was one of the few trades in history that truly lived up to the hype.  On and off the ice he's become a legend and will always be a beloved member of the Penguins.  This Thanksgiving let's all be thank-Phil.  

He's a human highlight reel:


He's a beauty of a human:



He's tired:


And most important of all, Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion.



This Thanksgiving, count your blessings as you're around your family, friends and loved ones.  But also count your blessings that Phil Kessel is a Pittsburgh Penguin.

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Wine at the Blue Line: PIT vs NYR by @SpinMeWrite

9:00:00 AM 0
It's been awhile since I dropped a post and in an effort to dust off the cobwebs, I've decided to start writing a semi-regular column where I drink a whole bottle of wine (or two) during a Pens game and offer up my reactions and takeaways. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing again like vino, right?

In an effort to be as authentic (and drunk) as possible, I'm going to rein in my perfectionist side and let the words flow with little to no editing. I think it's important to warn you, I'm not sure how polite my language will be. I apologize in advance. I'm popping the cork at puck drop.

Tonight's selection:

Sold to me as the "Best Sweet Red Wine for $9.99"


First Period:

I just discovered the wine has a twist top as the Rangers score their first goal. I have a bad feeling about this game. Damn it, Geno. I have mixed feelings about the goal because I have Zuccarello on my fantasy team. Also, Michael Grabner.

I really like putting Letang back with Olli Maatta because if there's anyone who can cover up Maatta's ineptitude (or bring out his talents, to be fair), it's Tanger.

What scares me about this season, and particularly this Rangers team, is that most teams smartly used the Pens' blueprint from last season and are playing north-south hockey with a lot more speed.

FIGHT! Shit just got real. Good for Sid! That was a dick move on Sheary. Love the misdirected "Crosby sucks" chants. McDonagh deservedly got five minutes for that. Glad I dropped him from my fantasy team this week. Or am I? We get points for penalty minutes.

I know my colleague @MedinaMarie_PI pontificated earlier this week on whether Kunitz's days were numbered, but I think the Pens are missing a certain something when he's not on the ice, especially in a game like this. He hasn't produced much this year and his days of playing on Sid's line are over, but he led our team in hits last season and is one of the first to step up when a teammate gets harassed. He's talked about how he does whatever he can to make everyone better around him, and there's no measurement for that. And this is coming from someone who has harshly, and often unfairly, criticized Kunitz.

Let me know when the Pens learn how to passs again.

End of First Period Wine Update:

So far, not the sweet wine I was hoping it would be. I had a very specific sweet taste in mind (Mastropietro's Winery in Berlin Center, Ohio, to be exact). I'm living in Boston now and pretty much just picked the label that looked the most fun. I couldn't pass up a wine called Jam Jar.




I know we all make fun of Jay's Telestrations, but I'm a little impressed with stuff like this. And I want a TV like that.

Start of Second Period:

Mother F&#$^...I have to stop looking at Twitter when I'm watching on NHL.TV. And holy hell is my NHL.TV feed behind real life. Someone could die, and I wouldn't know until 10 minutes later.

Every game I pray to Penguins Jesus that Cole or Schultz scores. I really, really like those guys. My first Pens Initiative article was about Ian Cole after he came off the bench and transformed his game, so he holds a special place in my heart.

AND COLE'S SHOT IS DEFLECTED IN MY CROSBY! So close, but so awesome. Also Cole is on my fantasy team and you're all dum dums if you don't have him on your team. Especially if your league gives points for hits and blocks.

I'm apologetically and unrealistically Team Fleury, but Murray's reaction time is damn near perfect tonight.

Pittsburgh claims J.T. Miller but my Ohio-born ass claims him as an Ohioan. He was born in East Palestine. And we don't have too many Ohio-born players.

Phil Kessel, Stanley Cup Champion! I really want Lundqvist to lose his shit in his own house. I'll never get tired of him flippingthe net and MAF calling it "baby stuff."

I hate how well Vesey is doing. There was so much made this summer over which team he was going to choose and I chalked it up to a slow news cycle. I thought he was overrated, he chose the Rangers, I said he was a moron, and then went about my business. And he's made an impact. I hate that.

Shit the bed! I just checked Twitter again! So now I'm waiting for a Crosby goal.

Oh please, Lundqvist flip a net. Throw your stick in the air, like you just don't care! And he gets pulled? I don't think it matters who's in net. Are the Rangers always that quick to pull him when he's losing? Or is it just a Pens thing? Have some faith in your goaltender. Vigneault. Even if he's a cry baby. Because Sheary just scored on Raanta so it's clearly not a goaltender problem.

Every time the Pens and Rangers play, I always hope Zuc and Sheary drop the gloves and get in a teeny tiny fist fight.

End of Second Period Wine Update:

As Dee says in the "It Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Wade Boggs episode, "It's going down real smooth."




Start of Third Period:

Missed the puck drop because I was peeing. It was a mighty pee.

Cole needs to do something about his pornstache. I can't look at it anymore.

Getting distracted with a conversation about Mario Kart choices with @BrianK_PI, @evil_shero, and @nick422. I think my hatred of Luigi is going to get me fired by Paul. Seriously, who uses Luigi in any game? Specifically Mario Kart on N64?

I hate babies, but dear God, is Maizie Bonino the cutest f**king baby I've ever seen.

I cannot believed I'm pissed that Cullen redirected that Schultz shot. I was so sure that was a Schultz goal and my dreams came true.

Language is neat. You know why? Because Skjei is pronounced Shay.

Wow. It's a sad state of affairs when Rangers fans cheer for a SOG.

Matt Murray still has a lot to learn from MAF about playing the puck out of the net. Murray looks awkward and makes me nervous when he comes out of the net, but the Flower looks so fluid.

End of Game: 



Look, these aren't the Pens from last spring, nor should we expect them to be. I think a lot of people expected them to be because the lineup is primarily the same. But they had the summer off to celebrate, to participate in the World Cup, to regroup and recuperate, but we lament and bitch when they play like hell after four days off. Surely, we can cut them some slack if they don't have their stuff together in November. Because think about what they looked like in November of last year when the fan base wanted to trade our generational centers and were ready to write the team off then. It's a long season. Have some patience. 

Enjoy the win from Wednesday night. Enjoy this Thursday with whomever you're spending it with. Enjoy the win. And enjoy wine! If you're not opposed to my nonsense, let me know what kind of wine you'd like me to try next time, and I'll give you a shout out on social media. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Let's Go Pens!






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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Game Preview: at New York Rangers - November 23, 2016

3:32:00 PM 0


Pittsburgh Penguins (11-5-3; 2nd Metro) vs New York Rangers (14-5-1; 1st Metro)
November 23, 2016 @ 7:00 PM - Madison Square Garden
TV: Root Sports Pittsburgh

The Penguins will finish off their home and home with the Rangers tonight, traveling to Madison Square Garden for the second meeting between the teams this season. Pittsburgh will be hoping for a better ending than Monday night, where they opened up a 2-0 lead on a pair of Jake Guentzel goals but saw things slip away in the 5-2 defeat. They'll also be attempting to put recent stretch of bad play behind them, as they've gone 1-2-1 in their previous four games with the only victory against the lowly Islanders.

Like last season, the Rangers find themselves off to a blistering start on the back of a league leading PDO (105.1). It wasn't the start that many predicted for a New York team seemingly trending in the wrong direction, but they've gotten some unexpected contributions that have helped pace them to within a point of Montreal for best in the NHL along with a goal differential (+34) double that of second place.

Michael Grabner took the league by storm in his rookie season, using his blazing speed to create mismatches in transition en route to a 34 goal campaign, but his scoring numbers would gradually decline to the point where he managed just 9 goals and 9 assists last year in Toronto. Grabner signed a 2 year, $1.65 million AAV contract with the Rangers in the offseason, and it's paid off for New York so far. With his 12th goal of the season Monday against the Pens, Grabner has pulled into a 3-way tie for the league lead with Patrick Laine and Sidney Crosby.

Also contributing for New York against Pittsburgh on Monday was Rick Nash, who chipped in a goal and an assist. Off the worst statistical season of his career, the former first overall pick has rebounded in the early going of 2016-17, with his 8 goals already more than half of his total from last season. Now in his fifth season with the Rangers, Nash has at times flashed the talent that made him a valuable target on the trade market, but consistency has been an issue for a 32-year-old forward with a lot of miles on his body.

Lineup



Notes

- Jake Guentzel put himself in lofty company in Pens history when he scored on the first shot of his first shift of his first game. At 1:02 in the first period, it was the fastest goal in Penguins history for a player making his NHL debut.

- With 3 more points, Phil Kessel would become the 5th active American-born player to reach 600 career points. Though more known for his goal scoring, Kessel is a capable playmaker and currently leads the Pens in assists (14) and points (18) on the year.
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Penguins Report Card by @evil_shero

12:30:00 PM 0


The Penguins are 2nd in the Metropolitan Division, four points behind the Rangers. They are 3rd in the Eastern Conference and 4th in the NHL. But really ... how ARE they doing so far?

The Penguins - despite having the 4th best record in the NHL - are considered to be under achievers. They are now embroiled in a "goalie controversy" they are "inconsistent" and their defense is "deplorable". Are all these manufactured narratives true or are we just spoiled sons and daughters of champions?


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Nothing Minor About Kristo Trade for WBS by @WBSJeff_PI

9:41:00 AM 0
Danny Kristo will look to provide instant offense for WBS
Throughout much of the Penguins' fan base, Saturday afternoon's trade of Reid McNeill to acquire Danny Kristo was labeled as "minor." The fact is, if you live in Northeast Pennsylvania, or your first priority is the WBS Penguins, there is nothing "minor" about the deal. Kristo brings quite the pedigree to a team that is already sitting atop the AHL standings, and his goal scoring prowess has the potential to provide a huge boost to a team in need of some offensive help.

Kristo played a large role on Team USA's World Junior Team


At the quarter pole of the American Hockey League season, the Penguins find themselves in a familiar position; atop the Atlantic Division Standings. They have used the stingiest defense and the top penalty killing unit in the league to jump out to a 12-3-1-0 start. Their young Goaltending duo has been stellar thus far, evidenced by Casey DeSmith leading the league in Goals Against Average and being Top 5 in Save Percentage. Tristan Jarry is also living up to the hype he brought with him to the AHL, and has carried the team at times. The loaded WBS blue line has been dynamite, allowing a total of 30 Goals in just 16 Games, which is sheer dominance. As good as the AHL's version of the Penguins have been to this point, at times they have struggled to create offense and have relied heavily upon the top line of Jake Guentzel, Carter Rowney, and Tom Kostopoulos. Enter Danny Kristo.

Kristo played 4 seasons with Rowney at UND

When Kristo hits the ice in Hershey tonight, his new club is hoping it's a classic case of a new team and a fresh system giving a talented player a spark, Kristo has just 2 assists and is yet to score a goal in 8 games. Considering the team's leading scorer is in Pittsburgh making a name for himself (Jake Guentzel scored 2 goals in his NHL debut Monday night), the offensive boost couldn't come at a better time. Clark Donatelli addressed the trade following Saturday's win over the Bears; "He's a 20 goal scorer over the last 3 years (25,22,25) in this league. He's a good player who needs a chance to play, and we're happy to get him." 

The longest tenured Penguin McNeill will now play in the Blues organization.


Like most quality trades at the professional level, you have to give to get. The Penguins had to part ways with the longest tenured member of their team in Reid McNeill. Donatelli acknowledged that they will miss the defenseman. He gave a glowing review of his time with McNeill saying, "We're going to miss Reid, he's been a leader for us. He started with me back in Wheeling, and I'm a big Reid McNeill fan. He has played really well for us and he's getting a different look in a new organization now. We're really happy for him, he's a helluva player and we wish him the best." 

Time will tell whether this was a good trade or not for the Penguins. What cannot be disputed is that Jim Rutherford and Jason Botterill have addressed an organizational need and still have a very deep pool of defensemen despite the departure of McNeill.  For now, it appears as though the AHL's best team just got even better and that should be exciting for WBS Penguins fans everywhere. 





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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Are Kunitz's Days Numbered? by @MedinaMarie_PI

3:30:00 PM 0
(Photo credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Riddle me this: What do a baby blue-eyed rookie, a jaw dropping opening night in the NHL, and a "week-to-week" prognosis have in common?

The answer: a possible exit to a beloved veteran from the Penguins line up.

Early in the morning on November 21, it was announced from the Pittsburgh Penguin's front office that winger Chris Kunitz was placed on Injured Reserve due to sustaining an undisclosed lower-body injury. The team then followed by announcing that they had made a call to the farm for the hot shot rookie, Jake Guentzel.

Guentzel (5'10, 168lbs) is the leading rookie in points in the AHL and tied for third overall. He currently has seven goals and ten assists for seventeen points over sixteen games played. Though primarily a center, Guentzel can also play wing if needed. He is very offensively minded, has steady, smooth hands and a stick that seems to attract the puck. He possess the speed and versatility to fit in well with the Penguins overall identity.

The placement of Kunitz on IR came as a surprise. He was listed as "day-to-day" by Head Coach Mike Sullivan following the abysmal game against the Washington Capitals on November 16 but he would only miss one game (Saturday versus the New York Islanders).

Described as a "game-time decision", Kunitz returned to the line up on 11/19 against the Buffalo Sabres and would register a power play assist during his 17 minutes, 45 seconds of ice time. That would put Kunitz with four points over the last five games played.

His presence on the ice is always felt. He has the grit of a typical scrapper or agitator but can also score. In the 2015-16 season, Kunitz ended the season with 17 goals and 23 assists. In the playoffs, he contributed 4 goals and 8 assists. He was a big part in what helped the Penguins hoist the Cup in early June. Depending on the length of time missed, Kunitz could play in his 850th NHL game later on this season.

Who is walking who, Kunitz?
Though he is an integral piece to the Penguins offensive success, as well as his chemistry on a line flanking Evgeni Malkin, even the truest fan has to wonder if maybe the time has come for Kunitz to part ways with his flightless, feathered friends. At 37 years old, a long term injury has to be concerning for Penguin's management, especially when so tightly up against the cap and a plethora of young talent coming down the pipeline.

A prime example is Jake Guentzel. In his first outing in the big leagues, Guentzel shocked the world and made nay-sayers take notice. Like the great Mario Lemieux many years before him, Guentzel notched his first career NHL goal on his first shift and first shot at New York Rangers goalie, Antti Ranta. Minutes later, he would score his second goal during the 5-2 regulation loss.

One game is a minute sample size, but one has to speculate that if this is what the youngster can do with only a few hours of practice with a new set of linemates, what will he be like once he gets comfortable? Should his play begin to falter, Guentzel could be swapped out for any number of young talent waiting in the wings just five hours away in Wilkes.

Names such as Carter Rowney, Jean-Sebastian Dea, Dominic Simon, Josh Archibald, and even players like Garret Wilson and Reid Gardiner all wait for their opportunity to prove their worth to the organization at the highest level. They also come at a cheaper price. Not to mention the Penguins' are rumored to be looking for a top-four defenseman and we know what kind of magic can happen in that situation (the team did get Trevor Daley for basically nothing after all).

The situation at hand makes roster spots a commodity and a spot taken up by a "seasoned" veteran garnishing a heavy cap hit ($3.85 mil) may leave General Manager Jim Rutherford with a tough decision to make later this season.

Seeing Kunitz leave the team for another one, or retire altogether, is a reality that fans and media will have to come to terms with sooner or later. How soon is anyone's guess but it could come quicker than many would like or expect. For now we wait, listen for updates, and watch a young talent blossom on the national frozen stage.
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Jon Joins Youngstown Sports Live on ESPN 1240

12:30:00 PM 0
Jon joined Youngstown Sports Live on ESPN 1240 Friday afternoon to talk a little Penguins hockey. 




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Penguins' Guentzel Scored 2 Goals in First 3 NHL Shots

9:00:00 AM 0
Jake Guentzel celebrates his first NHL goal after scoring on his first shot during his first shift in the NHL.

Jake Guentzel made his NHL debut last night against the team that drafted his father Mike Guentzel in the seventh round in 1981.  Jake Guentzel wasted no time in reinforcing his reputation for scoring goals during his first shift against the New York Rangers in PPG Paints Arena.

On his first shift and first shot Guentzel lifted a puck over the glove of Antti Raanta, an accomplishment he can now share with Penguins' owner Mario Lemieux who did the same 32 years earlier.  On Guentzel's third shot, he scored his second goal of the game - and the final Penguin goal against the New York Rangers in the 5-2 loss.  Guentzel's second goal came off of an opportunistic rebound in front of the net as Phil Kessel was centering a pass in front of Raanta. Although the Penguins lost momentum after leading by two, Guentzel showed promising offensive awareness and proficient passing abilities with his linemates throughout the game that will hopefully carry on into his next games.

Guentzel played on the second line with Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, and led the Penguins in shots and hits.  Guentzel also ended the game with a +1, the only Penguin on the positive side of the +/- stat Monday night.


Guentzel is a third round pick from 2013 and just signed a three-year entry contract with the Penguins in May.  Guentzel has been a point-per-game player throughout his NCAA hockey career, as well as in his AHL career thus far.  In the WBS's playoff run last season, Guentzel scored 14 points in 10 games.  In the 2016-2017 season, Guentzel has scored 17 point in 16 games, and sported a +14 rating on the hottest team in the AHL.  HockeysFuture.com described Jake Guentzel as, "an undersized, yet highly skilled forward who possesses a hockey IQ.  The biggest knock on him has been his size, but Guentzel possesses the requisite skill, speed and grit to play a top-nine role in the NHL.  He is a particularly effective player off the rush, and uses his speed and vision to create offensive plays."  Guentzel's diminutive size of 5'11" and 180 lb places him just a tad bigger than Conor Sheary and a tad smaller than Bryan Rust.  Guentzel's father is a long-time juniors and college coach, and this is evidenced by Guentzel's awareness of all three zones of the ice.

The injury to Chris Kunitz will be an opportunity for Guentzel to make his case for a more permanent roster spot on the NHL team, and maybe put some fire on the heels of Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson and Tom Kuhnhackl.  Predicting the outcome of a rookie based on one game is foolish, but Guentzel showcased what we have seen at every level he has played at: he can place shots, he knows where to be on the ice to make himself available for a scoring opportunity, and he can battle for pucks.



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Monday, November 21, 2016

Game Preview: vs New York Rangers - November 21, 2016

3:30:00 PM 0


Pittsburgh Penguins (11-4-3; 2nd Metro) vs New York Rangers (13-5-1; 1st Metro)
November 21, 2016 @ 7:00 PM - PPG Paints Arena
TV: Root Sports Pittsburgh

After splitting a pair of games against the Islanders and Sabres outside of regulation, the Penguins will look to get back on track against the division-leading Rangers. Pittsburgh may have easily moved past New York in the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the two teams that take the ice tonight will have a wildly different feel to them. After being expected to take a step back this year, the Rangers have started off strongly with a league best +31 goal differential on the back of an absurd 4.11 goal per game average while allowing just 2.33 goals against per game, good for 6th in the league. The Penguins, on the other hand, have battled injuries in the early weeks of the season and have had difficulty recapturing the magic that propelled the team to their 4th Stanley Cup Championship.

While the Rangers didn't blow up their roster after an early postseason exit, they did make a notable move that shook up the top of their roster. Derick Brassard had finished 4th, 2nd, and 2nd in scoring on the team in his 3 full seasons in New York, but that didn't stop GM Jeff Gorton from dealing the 29-year-old center and a 2018 7th round pick to the Ottawa Senators for 23 year-old-center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick. Fresh off back-to-back 20 goal season, Zibanejad has adjusted nicely to his new team, putting up 5 goals and 10 assists through 19 games. Brassard meanwhile has struggled, managing just 2 goals and 5 assists in 18 games with the Senators. Given that Zibanejad is entering his prime, while Brassard is leaving his, Gorton did a nice job with the trade of providing for the future while keeping the current team competitive. However, no roster move is immune from the injury bug, and the Rangers will be without Zibanejad long term after the forward crashed awkwardly into to boards behind the net in last night's game, breaking his fibula.

Gorton's will need to continue to show the ability to retool on the fly in order to contend for a Stanley Cup while Henrik Lundqvist continues to play at a high level. Lundqvist will turn 35 before the season ends, but Father Time still has yet to catch up to the Swedish netminder, who has an active streak of 7 seasons with at least a 0.920 SV%. However, he remains saddled with a number of large contracts he inherited when taking over during the 2015 offseason. Rick Nash ($7.8 million) has been up and down over the past few seasons, bottoming out last year with career lows in goals (16) and points (36), but he's had a good start to the 2016-17 season, with 7 goals and 4 assists in the early going. Marc Staal ($5.7 million AAV) and Dan Girardi ($5.5 million AAV) are no longer effective top 4 defensemen, but given their cap hits they make it difficult for New York to address their defense. Lundqvist has been able to hide their defensive deficiencies up to this point, but that will prove to be more difficult as he enters the twilight of his career.

But as the Penguins showed last season, just because the championship window appears to be closing doesn't mean smart moves can't prop it back open again. Gorton was able to earn another win late in the offseason when Jimmy Vesey, the most heralded NCAA free agent forward since Justin Schultz, signed with the Rangers. And like Schultz, Vesey has had a strong start to his rookie season, netting 7 goals along with 5 assists on the year. Vesey and Zibanejad, along with JT Miller and Chris Kreider, have injected youth into the Rangers' forwards corps, and while the team is succeeding with an unsustainable 13.67 SH% and 105.7 PDO, both tops in the league, the future is looking brighter for New York than it did just a few short months ago.

Lines



Notes

- The Penguins have placed Chris Kunitz on IR and recalled Jake Guentzel from Wilkes-Barre. Guentzel leads WBS with 17 points in 16 games, and he's expected to make his NHL debut at left wing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

- Though he missed the first 6 games of the year with a concussion, Sidney Crosby certainly hasn't suffered any ill effects or rust in the early going, tying Patrick Laine for the league lead in goals with 12 in as many games. Crosby's 1.33 points per game average also tops the league as well, 
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Guentzel Called Up; Kunitz Placed On IR

12:30:00 PM 0

On November 21st, Monday, the Pittsburgh Penguins made two managerial decisions.

They placed Chris Kunitz on the injured reserve, and recalled Jake Guentzel from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.


This can mean one of two things regarding Kunitz and Guentzel. Either Chris Kunitz is "injured" and the Penguins want to get a look at Guentzel, or Kunitz is legitimately injured and the Penguins recalled Guentzel because of it. Obviously, for the sake of Kunitz's health, you hope it's the former. But either way, it's going to be great to see the Penguins' best prospect (perhaps tied with Daniel Sprong) get some NHL ice time.

During his stint with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, whom he leads in points with 17, he mainly played left wing on the "Greek Line" alongside Carter Rowney and captain Tom Kostopolous.

During line rushes, Guentzel was with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Quite the start.
The Pittsburgh Penguins play the New York Rangers tonight at PPG Paints Arena, at 7PM EST.

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Penguins' Power Play Sizzling by @JonRudder

10:30:00 AM 0


Let's all momentarily forget the fact that the Penguins power-play contributed to a shorthanded goal for the Washington Capitals Wednesday night.

As frustrating as that brief moment may have been, the power play has been exceptional thus far, ranking near the top of the league.

The Penguins have converted 15 of 62 chances, good for fourth in the NHL at 24.2 percent.

A large part of that success can be attributed to the hot start of Sidney Crosby. Crosby has tallied five power play goals this season. Patric Hornqvist, four and Phil Kessel has three.

As a group, the Penguins have scored a power play goal in nine of their ten home games this year.

They obviously have a power play unit loaded with talent, but sometimes simplicity is the best approach: get the puck in, get set up and blast away.

The Penguins are moving the puck and getting traffic in front of the net.

"One of the things that we like about our power play is the movement,” coach Mike Sullivan said last month as the Penguins were getting ready to play the Flyers.  “That’s what makes it difficult to defend. We’ve had a lot of movement and that shot mentality."

Sullivan also pointed to the Penguins winning opening draws on the power play as a factor for their success, allowing the Penguins to set up quickly in the offensive zone.

According to puckbase.com, the Penguins are winning 57.3 percent of their offensive zone faceoffs on the power play. 

Crosby has won 24 of his 42 offensive-zone draws on the power play since returning to the lineup. Malkin has also won seven of 11 draws while Nick Bonino has won 11 of 21.

It helps us to win that first faceoff to establish zone time. A quick loss on the draw can easily kill 20 seconds right off the bat.



This video is a good example of all of these factors coming together.

The Penguins win the faceoff back to Kris Letang. Letang plays catch with Kessel on the left point before Kessel moves to the circle. Letang moves it back to Kessel where he moves to SHOOT. Chris Kunitz is in front to control a loose rebound and Crosby is crashing on the backside and puts home a pass from Kunitz.

Too often we've watched previous versions of the power-play be reluctant to shoot and force cross-ice passes through the box.

Did you notice how spread out Buffalo was in that video? That's what puck-movement does to penalty killers.

The scary part is the Penguins power-play could actually get better.

Evgeni Malkin has just one power play goal this year. He's piled up points, collecting seven points on the man advantage. Once Malkin's booming shot starts finding the back of the net, the power play could become even more dangerous.

Phil Kessel has also shown a reluctance to shoot at times from the left circle, preferring to pass instead. That's evident with his team-leading nine points the man advantage, and make no-mistake he's made some terrific plays this year.

But look no further than above to see what a shot from the left circle can do. There's so much emphasis on the right half of the ice that teams overload that side to neutralize Crosby, Malkin and, at times, Letang.

Kessel is that threat on the opposite side that forces teams to balance the ice. Once he begins pulling the trigger again. Malkin too, once those pucks start finding the back of the net.

There's no reason to suggest these things won't start happening. And soon.
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

WBS @ Hershey 11/19/16 Recap and Post Game Reaction by @WBSJeff_PI

9:55:00 AM 0
Captain Tom Kostopoulos scores the last minute equalizer.


Starting Goalies - 

WBSTristan Jarry (6-3-1; 1.88GAA; .932 SV Pct.)

- HER: Joe Cannata (5-1-2; 2.72GAA; .885 SV Pct.)


Starting Lineups:


WBS: #2 Ruhwedel, #24 Cameron Gaunce, #15 Josh Archibald, #40 Oskar Sundqvist' Thomas Di Pauli


- HER: #7 Darren Dietz, #24 Brad Malone, #32 Hubert Labrie, #18 Christian Thomas, Ryan Bourque


First Period:


- On the opening shift of this Saturday Night Rivalry showdown, Bears forward Brad Malone laid a thunderous hit on Josh Archibald in the corner. It pretty much set the tone for what kind of night it would be. As usual when these two get together, any time and or scoring opportunity comes with a steep price; health and safety. Hershey would dominate the majority of the period as evidenced by the shot count with 2 minutes to play; 10-1. The only goal of the frame came on a highlight reel type of goal scored by Jakub Vrana, his ninth of the season, when Travis Boyd skated around the net but left the puck on the near post with a behind the back pass where Vrana sniped it behind Tristan Jarry who had absolutely no shot to keep it out of the net. 

- Shots: WBS: 3 HER: 12


WBS PP: 0/0 ; HER PP: 0/2


- Scoring: 12:49 - HER - Vrana (9) from Boyd, Williams


Second Period:


- Tyler Lewington would take an early slashing penalty and give the struggling WBS Power Play a chance to even things up early in the second. They were unable to score despite quality zone time and some good passing, they just couldn't solve the Bears' shot blocking. Shortly following the Man Advantage, Cameron Gaunce would show tremendous instincts while stepping up to intercept a pass in the neutral zone. He followed that up with a pretty feed to Kostopoulos, who skated in tight to Cannata and slid a pass cross-crease right to the tape of a waiting Jake Guenztel. He made sure it found twine and the game was even at one apiece. The Pens would continue to mount some momentum and eventually found themselves with just under a minute of 5-on-3 Power Play time. They did not get set up on the mad advantage one single time, it was a full two minutes of Hershey stealing the puck and clearing it the length of the ice. Next thing you know, Christian Djoos makes a perfect feed to Liam O'Brien who found the open net to make it 2-1 Hershey. O'Brien was so open that he now owes Djoos a steak dinner. Late in the frame the physical play picked up and predictably boiled over when Carter Rowney made a big (clean) hit on a Bear facing the boards. Nathan Walker obliged and challenged Rowney to dance, and dance he did. The normally offensive minded Rowney showed some nice boxing skills and landed a big uppercut at one point. Rowney won the decision there, no question. In the final minute with Hershey on it's 4th Power Play of the game, Oskar Sundqvist picked the pocket of Djoos near center ice and skated in 2-on-0 with Archibald. Djoos may have made the play of the game diving and taking a tripping penalty to give Sunny a Penalty Shot. Sundqvist's attempt went wide to the glove side and Hershey would take a 2-1 lead to the intermission.

- Shots: WBS: 13 ; LV: 18

WBS PP: 0/3 ; HER PP: 0/4


- Scoring: 5:01 - WBS - Guentzel (7) from Kostopoulos, Gaunce ; 12:02 - HER - O'Brien (2) from Djoos, Monardo


Third Period:

- The Bears entered the third period with just under a minute left on their Power Play, but they wouldn't score on the man advantage. Unfortunately for the Penguins, they did however score just seconds after it expired. Chandler Stephenson made a perfect feed to the front of Jarry's crease where both Brad Malone and Christian Thomas appeared to get tips on it. It beat the young goalie clean, and the Bears took a commanding 3-1 lead. The Pens would get to their game and were applying pressure for a solid five minutes and then things got weird. A puck deflected off of Oskar Sundqvist outside of the face-off dot and shot straight up in the air. As the puck was coming down, Garrett Wilson lined it up and took a baseball swing from the dot and knocked it clean behind Cannata to make it a one goal game. Tristan Jarry played well and continued to make big saves until the final minute when Donatelli used his Time-Out and left his netminder on the bench. After the Penguins gained possession, Jake Guentzel teed up a wide open slap shot from the left hash and Kostopoulos was alone in front to bang home the rebound. After the WBS bench went wild amidst the silent Giant Center, this Saturday night affair was headed to 3-on-3 Overtime.

- Shots: WBS: 29 ; HER: 28

WBS PP: 0/4 ; HER PP: 0/4


- Scoring: 1:23 - HER - Thomas (7) from Stephenson, Lewington ; 6:24 - WBS - Wilson (3) from Sundqvist, Warsofsky ; 18:56 - WBS - Kostopoulos (6) from Guentzel, Sundqvist


OT:

Like a typical 3-on-3 overtime period the teams traded chances using all of the open ice. After Tristan Jarry made a big save and covered up, Carter Rowney and Jake Guentzel took the ice with Cameron Gaunce. They would win the ensuing faceoff and Guentzel blazed his way down the left wing and skated behind Cannata's net, then pushed a little pass to a battling Rowney in front. After two or three tries Rowney was able to sneak the puck across the goal line and cap a huge comeback effort from the Penguins. They have now won back-to-back OT games in this building, where wins have been really hard to come by for WBS.  

Scoring: 2:01 - WBS - Rowney (5) from Guentzel, Gaunce
3 Stars:

*** - Liam O'Brien (1G)

** - Tom Kostopoulos (1G, 1A)
* - Carter Rowney (1G)

Post Game Notes & Quotes:


- Dominik Simon missed his second game with an undisclosed injury, he is listed as day-to-day. Stu Percy and Tim Erixon were both healthy scratches, while Barry Goers was back in the lineup.

- WBS will make the trip south on I-81 to Hershey's Giant Center again on Thanksgiving Eve for what should be a big time rematch.

- Newly Acquired Danny Kristo is expected to make his WBS debut on Wednesday, here's what his coach had to say about the newest Penguin; "He's a 20 Goal scorer in this league, he's a good player and we're gonna give him a chance to play. We're happy to get him, but we'll miss Reid McNeill, I'm a big fan of Reid going all the way back to Wheeling."

- Carter Rowney came up an assist shy of the Gordie Howe Hat-Trick, but teammate Pat McGrath may have found his newest sparring partner. Rowney pummeled Nathan Walker in their late second period scrap.

- Clark Donatelli raved about Carter Rowney's all around presence tonight calling it, "his best game of the season so far. He was really strong, hard on pucks, that's the way he plays. He's a big leader for us out there."

Thanks so much for the interaction tonight during the game and to anyone reading my recap here! Follow me on twitter @WBSJeff_PI.
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Saturday, November 19, 2016

The New Schedule is Butt by @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 0
Tonight the Penguins will play their second game in three days, something not all that uncommon through the years in the NHL.  In fact, that's close to par for the course.  This year, though... not so much.



The Penguins game Wednesday was their first since the previous Saturday, a span of four days between games.  Later this month, after Thanksgiving, the Penguins again go from a Saturday to Wednesday without playing a game, only to see their schedule loaded with back-to-back's.  This is only repeated once more this season, in January.  Speaking of January...

In January there's an entire WEEK without Penguins hockey, the very first week.  That's right, January 1st-7th the Penguins play ZERO games.

It's made it difficult to get in the flow of things as a Penguins fan, and I can only imagine how it is as a player who is trying to find his footing after a long off season.  The continuity on the roster should help but still makes for shaky footing.

All of this is coming about because of the NHL All Star Game and the World Cup.  Here's how:

When the NHL felt it needed to retool their All Star format they went to the NHLPA and negotiated the 3-on-3 format (or the John Scott special) for a bye week starting in January and running through the end of February.

When you add a schedule already condensed by a late start due to the World Cup, it's a lot to cram in to one 82 game schedule.  Mandatory days off and other such built in days make for a really, really weird start to a season that levels out towards the end.

It's made figuring out when the Penguins play frustrating, it's made waiting really hard, and made you really bored.  It's kinda butt.  Unfortunately for us it's here to stay.  The players?  You probably won't hear too much from them about it.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

WBS @ Lehigh Valley Recap w/Post-Game reactions by @WBSJeff_PI

11:11:00 AM 0

First of 12 Meetings between the Rivals


Starting Goalies - 

WBSTristan Jarry (6-2-1; 1.76GAA; .935 SV Pct.)

- LV: Alex Lyon (2-1-1; 2.99GAA; .909 SV Pct.)

Starting Lineups:

WBS: #2 Ruhwedel, #3 McNeill, #17 Rowney, #29 Kostopoulos, #19 Garrett Wilson

- LV: #13 Colin McDonald, #23 Taylor Leier, #43 T.J. Brennan, #44 Reece Wilcox, #49 Scott Laughton

First Period:

- The first five minutes of play between these bitter rivals this season was a prime example of the feeling out process. Both teams struggled to make accurate passes and create anything in the form of a good scoring chance. Icing and offside whistles echoed throughout the crowded PPL Center as the Penguins accomplished their goal of not allowing the large crowd into the game early. The first good scoring chance for either team came for the Phantoms as their young defenseman Travis Sanheim entered the zone on the rush. He tried to make a play with a nifty pass that wouldn't find the mark and a sprawling Tristan Jarry was able to breathe. At the 12:28 mark of the period, Tom Kostopoulos entered the Lehigh Valley zone and fed a perfect cross-ice pass to the tape of Carter Rowney who skated into the slot and buried a sweet wrister behind Lyons. The referee waved it off without hesitation claiming Jake Guentzel had interfered with the Goaltender. The replay showed Guentzel clearly close to Lyons but it appeared as though he avoided making contact with the netminder. Dominik Simon almost made it 1-0 on the only Power Play of the period but he chipped a rebound just wide of the mark. Late in the frame Phantoms forward Scott Laughton had a breakaway chance denied by Jarry who got his blocker up just in time to deflect the shot harmlessly into the corner. The Phantoms dominated the shot totals but the Pens had quality scoring chances. 

- Shots: WBS: 7 LV: 16

WBS PP: 0/1 PK: 0/0

- Scoring: N/A

Second Period:

- Just over two minutes into the second stanza of this monster mid-week clash of rivals, rookie Thomas Di Pauli crashed the crease and banged home an Oskar Sundqvist rebound to register his very first pro goal. A huge goal indeed, assuring the Penguins wouldn't be haunted by the Rowney disallowed tally in the first period. Tristan Jarry continued to make save after save, including a handful of the highlight reel variety. Both teams would trade unsuccessful Power Play chances and then the Penguins started to control things a bit. They were getting to their game, getting pucks deep and controlling possession with long offensive zone shifts. The second line specifically created several top notch scoring opportunities. Simon and Guentzel teamed up on a gorgeous passing play but were unable to finish. Late in the period Corban Knight was robbed on the rush by Jarry who sprawled and made a huge pad save, only Knight tapped in the rebound for his fourth of the year to tie the game at 1. That's how the frame ended setting up a huge early season third period for the AHL's version of Rivalry Night.

- Shots: WBS: 18 ; LV: 28

WBS PP: 0/2 ; PK: 1/1

- Scoring: 2:23 - WBS - Thomas Di Pauli (1) from Sundqvist; 17:29 - LV - Knight (4) from Fazleev, Martel.

Third Period:

- Corban Knight committed a tripping minor just under three minutes into the third and final period of this battle. The Penguins had their chance to take control of the game and erase the momentum of the late 2nd period equalizer, they would not. Almost a full two minutes of inaccurate passing and poor decision making instead gave the momentum to the team killing the penalty. With about fourteen minutes left to play, LV dumped a puck into the WBS zone, where the Penguins would fumble and whack at a puck on the boards. Somehow the puck ended up directly at the feet of Tristan Jarry who watched Greg Carey tuck an easy one behind him. Not even a full minute later, uber-talented defenseman Travis Sanheim threw a puck to the net where Jarry tried to glove it out of the air. The netminder didn't play it cleanly and dropped it right onto the stick of Taylor Leier standing on the doorstep. 3-1 Phantoms and despite another few Power Plays the Penguins remained silent throughout the period. T.J. Brennan hit an empty WBS net from the far blue line and the 4-1 final brought the Phantoms to within 2 points of the Pens in the Atlantic Division Standings.

- Shots: WBS: 31 ; LV: 36

WBS PP: 0/5 ; PK: 3/3

- Scoring: 5:57 - LV - Carey (8) from Zengerle and Conner; 6:51 - LV - Leier (4) from Sanheim and Laughton; 19:35 - LV - Brennan (4) Unassisted

3 Stars:

*** - Greg Carey (1G)

** - Alex Lyons (30/31 Saves)
* - Corban Knight (1G)

Post Game Notes & Quotes:

- Head Coach Clark Donatelli addressed the Phantoms getting so many shots early on in the game by saying; "That's a good team over there, they have a lot of good players and we just didn't have our "A" game."

- Puck management was clearly Donatelli's message following the 4-1 loss. "Too many turnovers. If you give that kind of team too many chances they are going to end up in the back of your net."

- Thomas Di Pauli netted his first pro goal early in the second period. His coach was proud and thinks there is more where that came from. "Nice Goal, he's gonna get a bunch of those. He's hard on the pucks, good in front of the net and if you go to those hard areas you're going to get rewarded."

- Lukas Bengtsson played in his second straight game after missing the first month of the season with an illness (Lyme's Disease). He skated on a pairing with David Warsofsky and displayed his puck moving skills. He is a good one folks, makes it look easy.

- The PPL Center announced the mid-week clash as a standing room only sell-out, but in reality the building was about half full.

- This was the first of 12 meetings between these two teams. They meet again on Jan. 20th and then they will play 10 of WBS' final 30 Games head-to-head.

Thanks so much for the interaction tonight during the game and to anyone reading my recap here! Follow me on twitter @WBSJeff_PI.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Crowns and Clowns Weeks 3-4 by @MedinaMarie_PI

3:30:00 PM 0


Is it just me or has it been a long two weeks? I feel like the Penguins have not played in a month. Behind the bench, things have been given a good shake up as Head Coach Mike Sullivan experiments with different line combinations and defensive pairings to achieve the best end result.

As week 5 approaches, as well as the dawning of the holiday season, let us all take a moment to give thanks and remember how fortunate we are to have such an amazing group of guys to call our own. Let us also be thankful that the Pens are in far better shape than they were this time last year.

It has been a stressful 14-day period to say the least and we are all in need of a mental break at this point. So have a seat, grab a beverage, and take a look at a new set of Crowns and Clowns.


CROWNS



(Photo credit: @kletang_58 on Instagram)
High King- Phil For President:
Election season has come and gone (#BlessUp). No matter what side of the political line you fall on, no other "candidate" made more of a splash than our own Phil Kessel. Campaign graphics, T-shirts, and hash tags spreading the slogans "Make America Skate Again" and "Feel the Thrill" were a-plenty on social media.

Support was so great that once the final numbers were counted, Phillip Joseph Kessel, Jr.  pulled over 10,000 write-in votes. Everyone knew Kessel did not qualify due to his age, but in such a high tension election, it was nice to have something light hearted to bring us back down.

Phil Kessel may not be our new president-elect, but for the next two weeks, he is our King. All hail King Kessel!








Prince- Mustache Boy:
(Photo credit: Pens Inside Scoop)
The month of November brings about more than the holiday spirit. It also bring about a campaign focusing on men's health issues. Mustache November or "Movember" as it is called allows athletes a new avenue in which to raise awareness for cancer.

Bryan Rust is one of these athletes.

His father is a prostate cancer survivor and he plays on a team with not one but two men who beat cancer (Olli Maatta and Phil Kessel). Fans have fallen in love with the "Rustache" and it seems to have boosted Rust's confidence as well. On 11/12 he debuted his own brand of root beer (Rusty's Old Fashioned Root Beer) at select grocery locations and later that night had his third career multi-point game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

I am not one to say that the Rustache has magical powers, but after a shaky start to the season, it looks like Bryan Rust is back to his game again.

Duke- Happy Birthday Dad:
The Penguins headed out west to face the teams in the Golden State. It was a momentous trip for Matt Cullen. The game against Anaheim on 11/2 would not be just any game and the eventual victory would not just be another "W". It would be one to remember.

The game, in which Cullen scored a goal, fell on his 40th birthday. This makes Cullen one of only three other players still active in the NHL (Jaromir Jagr and Shane Doan are the others).  The "Team Dad" and "Ageless Wonder" proudly sits as our honourable Duke.

CLOWNS


The Bozo- A first time for everything:
Circle this date on the calendar. It is a special one indeed. Due to the fact that everyone has (for the most part) played rather clean games as of late, there are NO BOZO'S to speak of for this instalment of C&C. No cheap hits. Not really any meaningful fights to talk about. It has been, pretty much, clean hockey.

It is still early in the season so things won't be as chippy. Come December, when questions regarding trades and playoffs start swirling, things will begin to change. For now, the jingle bell hat will remain on the hat stand.

The Simpleton- Sin Bin Shenanigans:
It is no secret that the Penguins have had a bit of trouble when it comes to stick infractions. It seems like every game, at the worst times, someone takes a slashing, tripping, or hooking penalty. While it seems like it happens more frequently, the Penguins have only taken 9.27 penalty minutes (PIM's) per game over a 15-game span. That comes to about 139 PIM and puts them 18th in the league. That is no where near the worst. The Anaheim Ducks hold that number one spot with 228 PIM (14.25 per game over the same span).

However no amount of push ups, sprints, or punishments seem to be helping. It's the same players, making the same mistakes and it doesn't seem things will be changing any time soon. Until they do, I hope the team can get used to hearing this: STAY OUT OF THE BAHX YOU GREAT BAFFOON!!!!

The Jester- Oof! Missed A Step: Hockey is sometimes referred to as "ballet performed on razors". While usually rather graceful in their skating, sometimes that pesky Ice Monster reaches up, grabs a boot, and *splat*. It seems that Ice Monster got to Kris Letang on 11/12 against the Maple Leafs. His intention was to avoid a puck headed in his direction but then, well, take a look at what happens next:
Thankfully Letang did not sustain any injury other than a bruise to his pride. It makes it a little worse for him though because his goalie and best friend, Marc-Andre Fleury, was sitting right there laughing at him. It just goes to show, even those who skate for a living can be a bit of a klutz at times.


Thank you for reading. I hope this segment of Crowns and Clowns was able to bring a smile to your face and a bit of joy to your hearts after a week filled with tension. If you need even more cheering up, I leave you with this. Just two kids, relaxing a bit on their bench, jamming out to Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer":



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