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Saturday, December 23, 2017

.@Penguins Festivus- An Airing of Grievances by @Nick422

11:01:00 AM 2
It's December 23rd, two days before Christmas.  In the grand tradition that means it's time to raise the aluminum pole, celebrate Festivus, air some grievances toward the Pittsburgh Penguins and buddy do we have some things to say to you!


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Thursday, December 21, 2017

3 Things You Have to Know about Michael Leighton by @disgruntledbill

5:00:00 PM 2
Josh Arichibald and Sean Maguire were sent to Arizona in exchange for Michael Leighton to help out WBS. This trade likely won’t register as either helping or hurting Pittsburgh. It is important for WBS to find success on the ice. Lately that has not happened.

Leighton played for the Flyers and won a Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks 


 WBS has relied on their strength in goal all season. When DeSmith and Jarry were both called up to Pittsburgh, WBS went 2-3-1 . Since getting DeSmith back WBS has went 1-1-1. Last weekend, DeSmith played on back to back nights and was pulled after letting 4 goals in.  
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12 Days of Penguins: Days 9-12 by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 3


The home stretch is upon us. Christmas Day is just a few sleeps away and the antici..................pation is almost unbearable. Everyone is rushing around getting their final plans together, visiting family and friends, and buying those last minute gifts.

Presents are wrapped, cookies are baked, eaten and baked again, and children swear they already hear those sleigh bells jingling in the air. The innocence of youth comes upon us all as we wait the blessed Christmas day to come.


With that and no other further ado, I give you the final four days of the 12 Days of Penguins.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

12 Days of Penguins: Days 5-8 by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 2


Welcome, welcome one and all. As we inch closer to the joyous and merry day of Christmas, let us once again take the time to remember how blessed we are here in Pittsburgh. We have a hockey team that loves it's fans, helps the community, and holds the respect of the hockey world both local and abroad.

Ye
sterday began our journey through the 12 Days of Penguins with days 1-4. Let us now continue our little song and see what days 5-8 bring for our enjoyment.
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The Phil 3-017 Rutherford Rants by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0


Win or lose, Rutherford will be making some trades.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

12 Days of Penguins: Days 1-4 by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 0


I try to keep my columns as straight forward as possible. I will throw in something light hearted every so often but I like facts, I like opinions, and that's how I try to keep it.

However, it's the holiday season and the world is (mostly) full of cheer. Even though the Pittsburgh Penguins are still trying to catch their bearings and figure out how to work out the issues that plague them, the Christmas seasons brings about a time of warm fuzzy feelings, large amounts of sweets and lots of corny songs. The team may be driving us all nuts, but I am feeling most joyful and thankful this season and I wanted to spread that cheer to you.

In the spirit of the season, I would like to add my own cute, and admittedly somewhat corny, version of that most annoying holiday classic: The 12 Days of Christmas.

For your viewing pleasure, I give you, the 12 Days of Penguins (days 1-4):
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

What's Killing the Pittsburgh Penguins by @msteiner90

5:25:00 PM 0
Image result for pittsburgh penguins las vegas
James Neal taking a wristshot from the half-wall on the Penguins' debut game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Here we are in the middle of December looking at the 2017-18 playoff race from the outside looking in.  It's not a big deal, we've been here before and rallied late.  Teams want to get hot down the stretch, but the Penguins will ever so surely run out of time for adjustments if they don't make changes soon.  Of course we can't expect to win the Stanley Cup every year, but I also don't think the Penguins are very far away from seeing the same success that we've become so used to that we take for granted.

So, what needs to change? Well, for one - the Penguins are in the bottom-five in the NHL in goals against.  The Penguins have been blown out a few times, so this statistic is dogged by a few outliers - but when you're 16-14-3 that statistic is more telling than if they were at the top of the Metropolitan Division.  The defense looks out of place and the backchecking by the forwards has been questionable.  Is the defense tired? Maybe.  Are the forwards tired? Well, they don't seem to be getting around the ice like they used to.  They've played a lot of games - and beyond that, they're playing a lot more than they used to.  When you've played between 20-50 more games than any other team over the last two seasons, sometimes less is more.

In the 2016-17 season, the Penguins were famous for rolling four lines.  This year, the Penguins have not played the lines as evenly - and point production is down.  Below are a couple of tables to help illustrate this issue.  The first table is the Penguins' four centers in 2016-17, their average time on ice per game, average even strength goals/assists/points per game.  The second table is the same for 2017-18 through the first 33 games of the season.  The final table is the year-over-year change between all values of the prior two tables.

Player ATOI EV G/Game EV A/Game EV P/Game
1LC Sidney Crosby 19:53 0.4 0.45 0.85
2LC Evgeni Malkin 18:37 0.35 0.44 0.79
3LC Nick Bonino 16:39 0.14 0.18 0.31
4LC Matt Cullen 13:55 0.13 0.22 0.35

Player ATOI EV G/Game EV A/Game EV P/Game
1LC Sidney Crosby 20:47 0.23 0.27 0.51
2LC Evgeni Malkin 18:33 0.14 0.41 0.55
3LC Riley Sheahan 15:11 0.13 0.25 0.38
4LC Carter Rowney 11:06 0.05 0.05 0.11
Player ATOI EV G/Game EV A/Game EV P/Game
1LC Sidney Crosby 104.53% 58.33% 60.16% 59.30%
2LC Evgeni Malkin 99.64% 38.87% 95.02% 69.81%
3LC Riley Sheahan 91.19% 90.91% 142.86% 120.00%
4LC Carter Rowney 79.76% 42.11% 23.68% 30.32%

There are plenty of problems to dissect, but from a center-perspective - and therefore backbone of the forward lines - I have identified three issues that have manifested since the 2016-17 season:

The first thing that stands out to me - and I hope stands out to you, is that the third-line center problem seems to be more found in fiction than fact.  Riley Sheahan is not the problem.  Sure, he doesn't have a cool nickname like "Bones".  He didn't have a prolific playoff line that was named after a WWF wrestler.  But, with almost 10% less ice-time he's putting 20% more points on the board for the Penguins.  Can we upgrade from Sheahan? Sure.  Is he doing any worse than the third line center who led us to back-to-back Stanley Cups? Not as far as I can tell.

The second take-away is that Carter Rowney is basically a meme.  He is not eating any minutes for this team.  He is producing only 30% of the points that Matt Cullen did - and Matt Cullen did not score much in 2016-17 to be frank.  The fourth line is abysmal.  Ryan Reaves is a favorite target of fans "mad online" about the draft.  He may have been a bust, but maybe not.  But playing him only a handful of minutes a night, and spending the rest of the minutes in the box or bench isn't going to help the Penguins increase 5-on-5 scoring.

And the final take-away is that Sid and Geno just aren't doing enough in 5-on-5 hockey.  They are scoring plentifully on the power play, and Phil Kessel has had a booming season to take away some of the spotlight from "under-performing stars" (the easiest target in Pittsburgh any time they aren't winning Stanley Cups) - but something needs to change for Sid and Geno in even strength hockey.




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Friday, December 15, 2017

In D-efense of Letang by @AlfaM1keFoxtrot

12:00:00 PM 1




Kris Letang is best D-man ON THE TEAM! And if you've joined the haters that have come out of the woodwork recently, you're naïve at best and agenda driven at worst!

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pens Prepare for Fleury- Interview with @JonRudder

12:00:00 PM 1
Tonight the Penguins play the Vegas Marc-Andre Fleury's.  Jon Rudder joined Marc Means on Youngstown Sports Live to discuss the Penguins facing their old mate and to recap what's been an uneven season for the back-to-back champs.




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The Phil - 3-016 Holiday Shopping with Hornqvist by @ryank_119

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I'm Not Ready for Tomorrow Night by @Nick422

12:53:00 PM 1
I'm a romantic.  I always have been.  Not in the love sense, either.  I live for the moments that define our lives.  Tomorrow night will mark another one of those moments and, frankly, I'm not ready for it.



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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Genonaut - page 3 by @ryank_119

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

3 in 3 Minus Goalies! by @disgruntledbill

12:00:00 PM 2


The WBS Penguins have just wrapped up another 3 on 3, playing the Milwaukee Admirals (5-4 OT Win),  the Rochester Americans (5-2 Loss) and the Hershey Bears (4-3 OT) loss. 

WBS's new goalies: Stevens and Peters 
The WBS Pens have now dropped 4 out of 5 games dating back to a losing 2 games on back to back nights against Syracuse just prior to Thanksgiving.  
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Phil 3-015 - Pregame Inspiration by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0


The rest of the world hates the Penguins right now but Sid is taking that negative energy and turning it into goal fuel!

Oh, we thought EA's loot boxes were a genius idea to earn some extra revenue so the final panel is a pay-to-see kinda deal. So smart, we know.

(totally kidding, here is the full comic: https://www.patreon.com/posts/15565002 )
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Murray Sidelined "Week-to-Week"

3:12:00 PM 0
Remember last year when the Penguins had an embarrassment of riches in net, with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in net?  What fans wouldn't give for that this year.


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Cole Train Leaving the Station? by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:13:00 PM 0

The Ginger Wonder could be on his last days as a Penguin
That low whistle tone you hear ringing through the valley in Pittsburgh may not be your typical locomotive hauling Coca-Cola from the Clairton works. It may very well be the sound of the (Ian) Cole Train leaning the station of PPG Paints Arena. He doesn't seem particularly thrilled about it either. After all, he has made it well known that he loves it here in Pittsburgh.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

.@MedinaMarie_PI Joins Gloves Off Hockey Podcast

1:28:00 PM 0
With a lot swirling around the Penguins atmosphere sometimes it's nice to talk things out.  That's exactly what our own Medina did when she joined the Gloves Off Hockey Podcast to discuss all things Penguins.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pens/Flyers Go Outside... Again by @Nick422

5:16:00 PM 1
Stop us if you've heard this but the Penguins are playing in an outdoor game!



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Giving Thanks...Hockey Style by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 0
(Photo credit- Pittsburgh Penguins \Twitter)
Ah, Thanksgiving.

That time of year where we gather around the table with our families (most of which we don't like) and give thanks for the blessings we have been bestowed in our lives. We stuff ourselves silly with all the turkey, stuffing and pie we can handle, and then, just as fast, many will make their ways to the stores and some of the worst portrayals of humanity will be on full display as Black Thursday/ Friday shopping ensues.

As hockey fans, especially here in Pittsburgh, we have much to be thankful for. Admittedly we have become a little spoiled and, at times, can forget just how different things could have been had fortune not favoured the bold....and the lucky.

So let's give some thanks shall we?

Give thanks to the city of Pittsburgh. You showed the NHL that the city could support a professional hockey team and have been rewarded handsomely.

Give thanks to the past, those teams that struggled to keep the team relevant.

Give thanks to the likes of Eddie Johnston and "Badger" Bob Johnson for their tireless efforts to make the club better.

Give thanks for Mario Lemieux. For his career, his vision, and for keeping the team right where it belongs. Give thanks for Jaromir Jagr and his epic flow, and his charismatic goal scoring.

Give thanks for the characters, that bring life to a team. For Phil Bourque, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cullen and Asst. Coach Mark Recchi. For Marc Andre Fleury and his pranks, Hal Gill for his chirps, and Matt Cooke with his... colorful nature.

Give thanks for Pascal Dupuis, who showed us that sometimes being brave means giving up something you love and that family comes before anything.

Be thankful for the raffle, and for lady luck. She brought us Sidney Crosby, and we can't thank her enough (have I made a rhyme?)

Be thankful for charity, and all the good the organization does for others. The smiles they bring to children, both healthy and less so. For the warm clothing and meals they provide to those in need, and the respect they give to our many veterans.

Be thankful for postseasons, some teams will never see them. Be thankful for June, and game sixes on the road.

Be thankful for 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016 and 2017 and even the years in between. Out of the darkness comes light, and the Pens are one of the brightest beacons of the NHL.

Be thankful for Wilkes and for Wheeling. Without them, there are no call ups. Without them, there may not have been back to back Cup championships.

Be thankful for the old as well as the new. For bygone eras and the outlook of the future.

Finally, be thankful for yourselves, the fans. Be thankful that you have this team. Be thankful that you aren't Flyers fans. Be thankful for all that the Penguins have been, for all that they are, and for all that they will be.

From all of us at Pens Initiative, may you and yours have a fun and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Let's Go Pens

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Rebuilding Jarred Tinordi by @disgruntledbill

1:23:00 PM 0
Tinordi wears 24....which is strange. 


This past summer the Penguins signed defenseman Jarred Tinordi to a two way contract worth $500,000 at the NHL level. Jared Tinordi is one of those names of players that sticks in the head for some reason, but why? Sure, Tinordi was Captain of the London Knights when they won the 2012 Ontario Hockey League title, but again who cares about major junior?
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chemistry: Not Just for High Schoolers by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 2

Could overall lack of team chemistry be a discerning factor on the Penguins bench?
(Photo Credit: USA Today/ SB Nation.com)
It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Penguins are suffering right now. Be it from starting the season with a daunting and abhorrent schedule, the fatigue of playing in back-to-back championships, and lack luster off season roster moves. Ineffective play and scoring droughts by key stars have also lead to the Penguins under performing in mid-November.

As much as media and fans alike would like to pin point their performance (or lack thereof) on one key factor, it just isn't possible. All of the components listed above have come together to effect one another, and effect each player, differently. Sum it all up and you have one sloppy and disjointed show.
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The Phil - 3-014 Cashing In by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0

The injury gnomes are up to no good and neither is Ryan Reaves!
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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Phil 3-013 A Mostly Negative Comic by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0

Sullivan lays into the Penguins after a disastrous Western Canadian road trip, but like everyone else he gets distracted by some beauty flow.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What's Next for Jarry? by @disgruntledbill

9:02:00 AM 0
Tristian Jarry is up....for now 


Jim Rutherford said the plan all along was to call up DeSmith for one game against the Jets on October 29th.  This allowed Jarry to play the 27th against Hershey and the 28th in Bridgeport. Jarry was then later recalled before Pittsburgh went on their western Canada road trip. Jarry got the start against Calgary, while Murray started against the Oilers and the Canucks.

The Penguins likely are in the market for a more veteran NHL backup. Looking forward through November’s games , it doesn’t appear that there are many starts that will be heading Jarry’s way. Especially if you believe the company line that Jarry needs to play, not ride the bench the rest of the month.

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Phil - 012 Goncho the Clown by @ryank_119

2:00:00 PM 0


Busy week so it was tough getting this one out! You can see a replay of the livestream where I ink this strip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oINa1zL-qew&t=2s

We will be livestreaming the strip (hopefully) every week this year!  Follow me on Twitter so you don't miss the next one!
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Conor Sheary's Stunning Secret by @Nick422

9:49:00 AM 0
Overnight shocking news from Conor Sheary dropped by silently.  It's a revelation so surprising it'll shock you to your very core!


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

5 Tricks, 5 Treats from the Early Season by @Nick422

3:00:00 PM 0
The Penguins season has been... well... hooooo boy.  Where do we start?  However it's Halloween and things aren't all bad!  We go trick or treating with the back-to-back Stanley Cup champs!


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Too Early to Panic? by @MedinaMarie_PI

10:00:00 AM 0
"What is the meaning of October hockey...?"
(Photo credit: The Express)

The Penguins finished out the first month of the NHL regular season with a record of 7-5-1. Not too shabby but coming off yet another set of back to back games which showcased another abysmal performance and overall throttling, this one coming from the Winnipeg Jets, it's becoming clear that "Stanley Cup Hangover" is the least of whatever problem there may be.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Niemi Gone and DeSmith Up by @disgruntledbill

3:02:00 PM 0

Image result for antti niemi penguins
Pittsburgh Post Gazette 

Antti Niemi has played 3 games this season. Simply put he has not been good in any of those games.  Currently his GAA Is an absurd 7.49. and his save percentage is 0.797 Both marks are good enough for worst in the league.
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Monday, October 23, 2017

New Life for Kuhnhackl by @MedinaMarie_PI

2:56:00 PM 0

Around this time in 2016, my article "Kuhnhackl in the (Time Out) Corner" was published. It told of the struggles the young forward was having early on in the 2016-2017 season, his lack of playing time, and his subsequent benching that had fans and media alike scratching their heads. The 25 year old winger didn't even see much playing time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs or in the Finals due to a nagging and lingering injury.

This allowed fellow forward Scott Wilson to raise his game and put into question if Kuhnhackl, who has never been the flashiest of players, would be used as possible trade bait in the coming off season.
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

More Thrills than Phil by @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 0
Tuesday's 5-4 come from behind victory against the Rangers was a thrill ride of emotion.  With stars stepping up big and toppling a division rival in impressive fashion, the Penguins are proving to be a high octane, fun team.  And eventually that will be a problem.



Say what you will about advanced stats or deep dives into pools of data but the fact remains that outshooting your opponent is your best chance at winning.  While the Penguins have pumped 106 shots on net over the past three games (good for 35 shots per game) they're not doing so hot when it comes to shot suppression.

While the numbers aren't overwhelming in the favor of the away team, 112 shots on net against Matt Murray and Antti Niemi (good for 37 per game) isn't what you want to see as a coach or player on the stat sheet.

The 2015-16 Cup was won by overwhelming the opposition and shot suppression.  It's what made the end result so unsurprising.  The inverse was true for the 2016-17 Cup team.  They lived on the edge needing timely goals, clutch goaltending and some luck from a flailing Pekka Rinne to lift Lord Stanley.  It worked once, the odds of it working again are slim.

The regular season is a time to iron out wrinkles, that's a given.  And the Penguins had turn over like that of a typical team, not one that was perfectly placed to win back-to-back Cups with few new additions and fewer subtractions.  It's all the reason why there's little need for concern.

However the nail biting 5-4 finals, which the Penguins have seen three times this year, as well as the odd 4-3 tally (seen once) will need to be fewer than regular in order for the Penguins to see the same success they saw in the past two years as they look for a three-peat.

It's far too soon to worry or gnash your teeth in concern.  For now it's fun and fine to sit back, relax (lol jk how's your heart?), and enjoy some 1980s era fire wagon hockey.  If this continues into the new year, and past time any additions are made to shore up and third line and defense missing pieces, then we should worry.

For now let's put a three-peat on hold.  Let's put entertainment first.  We have Sid, Geno, Phil, and Tanger for a reason.  Let them shine and enjoy the ride.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Three on Three: Three Thoughts on Three Games in Three Days by @disgruntledbill

12:00:00 PM 0
The “three in three” is a uniquely American Hockey League event.  While the most recent CBA has kept teams out of action in the NHL on three nights in a row, many weekends turn into an all you can eat hockey buffet for AHL fans.  This reporter, a fan of both buffets and a hockey, gladly lived out of his car and made it to all three games in person this weekend.

Birddogging it with the scouts all weekend long. 

This past weekend WBS hosted the Phantoms on Friday (winning 5-0), then braved turnpike construction and went on the road to Allentown (losing 3-2), and finally finished up the weekend hosting the Syracuse Crunch with a 6-1 win. 
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Hornqvist: The Heartbeat of the Penguins Lineup by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:30:00 PM 1
(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post Gazette).
It didn't matter how fans enjoyed Wednesday October 10th's game versus the Washington Capitals- be it in person at the Capital One Center, watching on television or listening on the radio- the fact that Patric Hornqvist was back on the bench and ready to finally start the season made everyone feel...different.
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Now Let's Play by @Nick422

5:21:00 PM 0
The day everyone either awaited or feared arrived.  The Penguins were going to meet with Donald Trump in the White House.  It was a polarizing moment that, sexist comment about Amanda Kessel aside, went about as smoothly as it could have gone.


It was a controversy weeks in the making.  Everyone had an opinion.  You were either "stick to sports" or "don't normalize this behavior."  Externally the lock room was committed to the company line, "It's not about politics" as we further delved in to a world where "not about politics" no longer became an option.

But banner raisings, blow out losses, and finally victories kept pushing aside the fact that the Penguins, really, just wanted to play hockey.  Tone deaf or just not wanting to rock the boat, it's hard to say.  Hockey, by nature, is a game of the upper crust.  The cost of equipment makes it hard for anyone but those with a desire, and money to burn, to become a player and become accepted.

It spun narratives, one way or the next, as these situations are wont to do.  "Sidney Crosby is a racist."  seemed to be a popular overture, a new take on "Sidney Crosby is a whiner" that really isn't much better or factual.

Finally it came to a head.  As Trump complimented Crosby, Malkin, Kessel (ugh), and even brought up NAFTA to Ron Burkle, the Penguins escaped without any scrapes.  While faces can tell a story (take time to read everyone's face in the photo above) there were no signs of boats rocking, with the only potential "Actually" coming from Mike Sullivan after the fact:



Fortunate to escape being used as pawns as the NBA and the NFL have been by the current administration (perhaps the "this isn't political" comments were made to dull that possibility) the Penguins now move on to hockey and a three-peat.

Gone is the controversy.  Gone is the fear that they'll be tainted.  Vanished is the worry that they'll unwittingly partake in some sick endeavor brought up by what ever thought enters the mind of someone at a mic.

All that's left is sport.  And thank God for that.  It's a great day for hockey, now let's play.
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Friday, October 6, 2017

Every Blackhawks Goal Set to Yakety Sax by @nick422

3:30:00 PM 0
The Penguins lost last night.  Badly.  There's really no other way to put it.  When you're beaten that badly all you can do is laugh, unless you're the Penguins I suppose.

Let's all laugh.



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Dealing With Loss: 5 Positives to Take From That Drubbing by @ToonsBrian

11:20:00 AM 0

Things don't always go your way in life, love, war or sport. Exhibit A would be Thursday night's beat down of the Pittsburgh Penguins handed out by the Chicago Blackhawks. Any rationally-thinking human adult realizes this and acts accordingly.

For Blackhawks fans, this was a perfect game. For our fellow Pens fans, not so much.

For those of you who may simply find yourself struggling with dealing with the atrocious performance of our Penguins, allow me to offer 5 positives things we can all (well, most of us) take away from last night's game.
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pouliot: He Didn’t Waive Good Bye by @disgruntledbill

12:00:00 PM 0
All of the pressure was on Derrick Pouliot. He was taken in the first round, chosen 8th overall. He was picked by the Pittsburgh Penguins at a draft in Pittsburgh. Oli Maatta (taken 22nd) and Matt Murray (taken 83rd) were both drafted after Pouliot in his draft year.  Given his higher draft spot, Pouliot was expected to be better than those two players. He was expected to have carved out a roster spot in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, these lofty expectations for Pouliot left many fans very disappointed.
It's weird not to see Mike Johnston in this photo. 

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