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Monday, April 30, 2018

1 and 1, & the Dumoulin injury

12:30:00 PM 0
In retrospect, the Penguins were probably lucky to get out of their first round series with the Flyers with just two injuries. It speaks volumes about what the refs allow to go on when the Capitals are allowed to continue to out-Flyer the Flyers as seen in the latest injury to Brian Dumoulin.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Script flipped: Penguins ride road, penalty kill success en route to series victory

12:30:00 PM 0

 The Pittsburgh Penguins have flipped the much-maligned, “switch” this postseason.

Looking disinterested and lackadaisical while meandering an 82-game schedule, the Penguins appear reengaged as they work towards their third consecutive Stanley Cup.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Circling the Drain: Pens down 0-2 Against the Checkers

7:44:00 PM 0

Was your 10 dollar AHL Live feed loading a bit slow like mine? If so you missed the Pens only goal in game 2.  Joseph Cramarossa scored 22 seconds into the game to give the Penguins the lead. Then nothing happened for the Pens offense for the rest of the game. Jack and nothing .

Paging Daniel Sprong. If Sprong wants to play in the NHL he needs to score in the AHL. This WBS team is counting on him to score a goal a game to give them a chance at winning. This isn’t an option. Sprong needs to score.

Find this man. 

At 13:37 in the 1st Charlotte scored to tie up the game. Bizarro Fleury scored on an awkward angle shot that made everyone in WBS hate this time of year.
The Pens managed to stay out of the penalty box until late in the third. That was a huge improvement for life since WBS didn’t spend half the game killing penalties.

The Checkers play in the hilariously named BOJANGLES Coliseum, which is named after a fine supplier of foods that are fried nearly as well as the Pens are right now. 

WBS plays their first home game of the series Thursday. Thanks to the garbage playoff format in the AHL the home team opens the best of 5 series on the road. WBS will need to win 3 games in a row to keep the season alive and TK from retiring. A sweep in the first round to end the season on home ice Thursday would be a disappointment and an embarrassment. The team better show up on Thursday, I know I will.

At least the Flyers got eliminated before WBS. Cheers.  More from WBS on Thursday night.

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The Phil 029 - Incoming by @ryank_119

12:23:00 PM 0

Hope you've been practicing your disappointed faces Washington!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Game 1 Charlotte/WBS: Quick Off the Rails Already

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WBS lost game one of their best-of-five game series against the Charlotte Checkers last night 3-2 in overtime.

The Checkers play in the, “Bojangles Colliseum.” Charlotte deserve to lose this series just for that terrible name alone.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

First Round Preview: Charlotte Checkers Vs. WBS Penguins

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It’s FINALLY time to start the Calder Cup playoffs. Sure watching the Pens kick in the teeth of the Flyers has been great, but being forced to wait over a week after the NHL playoffs started  before my team hits the ice has been BRUTAL.  It’s high time to get this sucker started. Yeehaw?  It’s WBS VS Charlotte on Friday and Saturday. GO! 

Badly shopped racing jokes are the key to success. 

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tidbits and Take-A-Ways from Game 4 by @MedinaMarie_PI

1:36:00 PM 0
(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)
The Pittsburgh Penguins now hold a commanding three games to one advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers in their first round playoff match up. The Pens have turned their backs on the "oof" that was Game 2 and set their sights to finishing out the series this Friday at home at PPG Paints Arena.

While the Pens have all but taken control of their last two outings against their cross state rivals, there were some tidbits coming out of Game 4 that are worth noting.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Phil 028 - Another Theory by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0

Maybe Sid is a robot.. or maybe his stick is possessed? We might never know for certain.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Good Riddance, Ken Hitchcock by @Nick422

2:18:00 PM 0
Earlier today the Dallas Stars announced that their head coach, Ken Hitchcock, would be ending his coaching career after near 20 years coaching. To this I say: Good.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Flyers Didn't #EarnTomorrow (Today) by @williamahirsch

5:00:00 PM 0
Matt Murray robbing Scott Laughton of a first period goal - www.twitter.com/nhl

Whether you watched the Penguins make a mockery of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One, or not, there are some stats you might not be aware of and you totally need to be. The stats tell the same story as the score. The Penguins toyed with the Flyers right from the start and it was every bit as glorious as you could imagine.

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Who Else is Hungry? by @Nick422

12:00:00 PM 0
I'll admit to it. I fell in to a malaise. The regular season kind of sucked, with a few high points but it was going through the motions. It seemed the same with the Penguins and it made me worry. That's done, now. I'm ready to feast.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 - Penguins v. Flyers Preview by @msteiner90

5:00:00 PM 0

MATCH: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
SERIES: First Round
The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight at 7:00PM on NBCSN. The Pittsburgh Penguins coming off of back-to-back Stanley Cup wins are looking to write even more history.

The Philadelphia Flyers are entering the series after drafting at number two overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. These cross-state rivals are very familiar, and, aside from the Washington Capitals, know each other better than maybe any other team in the NHL. They have history (see: everyone dissecting a highly irrelevant series in 2012). They hate each other.  
Say what you will, but there is no better playoff match-up in the NHL. The ratings that Nielsen will report after the series should speak to that. Whether the series goes four games or seven games, rest assured that everyone in the state of Pennsylvania will be tuning in.
Patric Hornqvist of the Pittsburgh Penguins colliding with Andrew MacDonald of the Philadelphia Flyers
SEASON SERIES: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers met four times this season. The Penguins swept the Flyers by winning all games. The Flyers took it to overtime twice, but never prevailed. The Penguins scored five goals each time, which shouldn't surprise you since the Flyers haven't figured out their horrendous goaltending situation all season.
ADVANTAGE: If anything can be gleamed out of the season series is that the Penguins have no problem putting up five goals on the Flyers. The Penguins put the Flyers in the precarious situation of outscoring them, which hasn't ended well for our cross-state rivals yet this season.

FORWARDS: The Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the most dominant sets of forwards in the salary cap era. Part of this can be attributed to Ray Shero signing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to deals which were lucrative at the time of signing, but have become bargains as the cap increases, and, partly due to the wheeling and dealing of Jim Rutherford. The Penguins have supplemented their weakness at center, and are bloated at the wing position.  The Flyers are strong themselves with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and noted rookie Nolan Patrick. The Penguins are a juggernaut offensively, and when it comes down to it, will outmatch almost any team offensively aside from maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning...and that's not even for certain.  
ADVANTAGE: The Flyers have an MVP candidate in Claude Giroux, but let's be totally serious, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the straws that will stir the drink in this series. The Penguins outmatch the Flyers offensively, and the only way the Flyers can dominate the forward position would be a mistimed slump by the Penguins top centers and Phil Kessel to coincide with a Giroux/Voracek offensive explosion.

DEFENSE: Both teams use their defense in a similar fashion, employ fast, skilled and opportunistic defensemen. The Penguins have struggled defensively, yielding many odd-man breaks. In many ways, the Penguins defense has reminded me of the Steelers defense. Opportunistic, yet flawed. The Flyers have Shayne Gostisbehere (aka Ghost Bear) and Ian Provorov, who are the Letang and Schultz of the Philadelphia defense. They can move the puck and are fast, but not awfully big. This Philadelphia defense will have a hard time moving guys like Evgeni Malkin off of the puck, which may explain why the Pens put up 20 goals in four games.
ADVANTAGE: Both teams are vulnerable on defense, but the Penguins probably are less so. Both defenses are structured to produce offensively, and the Philadelphia defense may be a little better at setting up offensive opportunities and getting pucks to the net. For that reason, I would say the defensive advantage is a draw, but leaning towards the Penguins.

GOALTENDING: The Pittsburgh Penguins had goalie controversies, if you want to call it that, over the last two seasons. But really, it was just fans arguing which franchise goaltender they liked better. That controversy is over, and now the Penguins have one franchise goaltender and two capable backups. Matt Murray has struggled this season but was due for a sophomore slump and luckily hasn't struggled as much as Braden Holtby has.  Murray is ready for the playoffs, and who else would you want in net starting? The Flyers, well, they've had a rough ride in the goaltending situation since their General Manager played honestly. Brian Elliott is a respectable journeyman who doesn't have much left in the tank. Petr Mrazek has flashes of brilliance mixed in with weeks of very average play.  
ADVANTAGE: The Flyers will need a miracle to outperform the Penguins in the crease. It could happen, because the Penguins are literally famous for making bad goalies look good, but, it's not likely, and not something I would bet on.

PREDICTION: Pittsburgh Penguins in 5. I was leaning towards a sweep, but I do think the Flyers will pull a win out. They are similar teams overall, but in the end the Penguins outmatch them in every logical way. Logic may have no place in the NHL playoffs, but luck has a hard time playing out over a seven game series too.    
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PI Staff 2018 Stanley Cup Predictions

1:50:00 PM 0

The Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off with three games on Wednesday night and five games on Thursday. The puck drops at 7:30 on Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena as the Pens take on the baton-holding Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers (insert eye roll). The Pens Initiative staff took a stab at predicting how the next couple months will play out. The last two years we've almost unanimously picked the Penguins to win it all. Read on to see if we think the Penguins will three-peat.

We used a variety of methods to make our picks including analysis, research, coin tosses, asking our cats, and the classic and reliable eenie meenie miney moe. Fingers crossed that the NHL Bracket Challenge site doesn't collapse like it did last year.

Bill Manley (@disgruntledbill)

West: The Avalanche are a good young team. Nathan McKinnon will drag the series to 6 games, but ultimately the Predators have depth that the Avs do not. The Avs can hang their hats on a successful season making the post season.

The Jets have superstar talent in Patrick Laine. The Wild don’t have any scoring talent close to that on the roster.  Jets in 5.

Vegas will beat the Kings in 6 games. LA has the experience, but Vegas runs on adrenaline through the first round. Home ice advantage will help too.

Nashville versus the Jets will be the best hockey of the playoff. Laine and Forsberg will turn heads. This will be a legendary series, but the Jets (now Canada’s team) will squeak this one out.
Vegas versus the Sharks is where the Golden Knights will bust. The Sharks depth will win out in the end. Brent Burns Dad strength will give the Sharks the edge.

Jets will beat the Sharks in the WCF.  The Jets stars are younger, faster, and will be healthier than the Sharks. Winnipeg’s going to melt though because the Jets are going to the Final.

For the Flyers taking out the defending two-time Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins would be like winning the Stanley Cup, which is exactly the reason the Flyers won’t be able to beat the Pens. The Pens are winners right now. On swagger alone, the Pens will beat the Flyers in 7 games, but it won’t  be easy and these games will take a toll on the Pens.

The Blue Jackets purposely had their players not show up for the last game of the season. The Blue Jackets will also forget to show up for this series.  Caps in 5.

Everyone has the Pens going to the 2nd round against the Caps and everyone is correct. The Pens will beat the Caps. It is known.

The Lightning have quietly hidden a major deficit in goaltending. Vasilevskiy is worn out. The Devils have Kincaid who is playing the best hockey of his career, and Schneider to fall back on in net. Goaltending wins this series for the Devils.

The Bruins are a dirty team. This dirtiness will come out in full force against the Leafs. Canada will be upset. Toronto will be crushed, and the B’s make it to the 2nd round.
The Bruins get a free pass in round two over the Devils. This will be the worst hockey of the playoffs. B’s in 4.

The Bruins will face the Pens in the Eastern Conference Finals. Like 2013 this series will not go well for the Pens. The Bruins will be much healthier and less tired after facing the Leafs and Devils than the Pens who had to face the Caps and the Flyers.

The Bruins will face the Jets in the Final. The Bruins will wear away at the Jets stars much like they did with the Canucks in 2011. The Bruins will win the Cup. 

Matt Steiner (@msteiner90)

Let me premise my bracket with a few things.  First, I can't in my heart pick against the Penguins...and second, there's always a "bracket buster" and I really didn't pick any massive upsets.

The Atlantic Bracket should be the most entertaining hockey for the first two rounds.  Whereas the Pacific may be the most boring, in my opinion.  The Atlantic has four of the hottest teams this season with some high-octane offenses all squared off against each other.  The only two Original Six teams are facing off in the first round, and something even tells me that the New Jersey Devils will put up a good fight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ultimately, I see the Toronto Maple Leafs making their way out of the Atlantic to meet the Penguins.  The Penguins, overall, are much more experienced and ready to take on a Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the West, I think my bracket will fall apart quickly.  My gut feel is that the Winnipeg Jets are going to barnstorm through the West, and everything else will not matter.  Last year the lowest seed went on and marched straight to the Stanley Cup Final.

I do imagine that Vegas, much to the chagrin of hockey analysts, will fizzle out after the first round.  And I think that Nashville has been going too strong for too long.

And aside from the horribly small markets, who doesn't want to see Pittsburgh and Winnipeg playing for the Stanley Cup in June?

Medina (@MedinaMarie_PI)

This year seems different than other years team-wise. I feel like there is no clear favorite. It really is up for grabs to whoever wants it more. In any case, it would be great to see the Penguins win again and I hope for the best outcome.

William Hirsch (@williamahirsch)

Like Medina mentioned, anything can happen. We've seen that every single year in the NHL playoffs. Excuse my language, but, shit can get wild. That has been the best part of the playoffs and it's why hockey fans go wild, and non-fans tune in.

Some quick things of notoriety from my bracket:

The Nashville Predators will avenge last years loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and win the 2018 Stanley Cup.

The Washington Capitals still won't get over their second round hump. Call it a curse on Alex Ovechkin, laugh at them, or cry uncontrollably for them, they just don't have the roster to get past the Penguins who have so much experience and an unbeatable clutch gene. The goaltender situation between Philip Grubauer and Braden Holtby will ultimately be a massive distraction.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights will make it to the Western Conference Finals in the franchises first year of existence. How exciting for them. Great for the game of hockey and what a roster General Manager George McPhee has put together.

The only series pick that I'm not sure about it the Lightning vs Bruins series. That's a toss-up. Either could win and face the Pens in the Eastern Conference Finals.

 Nick Case (@Nick422)

East: It seems pretty cut and dry in the first round. Philly's goaltending sucks and as nervous as Murray may make me, the Pens pull this one out by superior ability. The Capitals find a way to get over the inferior Blue Jackets, who are still out in the first round despite tanking to avoid the Pens. Tampa Bay is too good and Taylor Hall is but one person. The Bruins beat the Leafs in what will be a fire wagon first round. Tampa will break Tuukka Rask and make it to the Conference Finals and whether it's Columbus or Washington the Penguins are so deep in their heads each team pays them rent so the Pens advance to the conference finals. Unfortunately that's where the threepeat fantasy ends for the Pens as Tampa's too deep and the Pens defense just isn't good enough, or patchwork enough, this year.

West: Colorado... not great! Easy series for Nashville. Minnesota? Also not great! Congrats to the Atlanta Thrashers on their first playoff series win. As far as the Pacific, things are interesting. While Vegas has been floundering a bit I like the first round of playoff adrenaline alone to propel them past the Kings (with Fleury being first round MVP). The Sharks and Ducks will be a banger but Anaheim is finally getting it together so on they go. At this point the Golden Knights are starting to wear out and the Ducks go on by, ending their dream season. Nashville/Winnipeg is your defacto Western Conference champion and I still just have a hard time believing in Winnipeg so off goes Nashville, where they trounce the Ducks in the conference finals.

Cup Final: Let's be real- Nashville should have won last year. Rinne gifted the Penguins two games and allowed them to get their heels under them. You know it, they know it, and the team won't let history repeat itself. While Tampa will prove to be a worthy foe, the Sunbelt Stanley Cup will be raised by Nashville for the first time ever and we'll all eat hot chicken from its fabled chalice.

Stacey (@SpinMeWrite)

I would love to be wrong. I would love for the Pens to win it again. But our goaltending is shaky and our blue line is anemic. And I'm okay with that. GMJR can spend some time and money in the offseason picking up a defenseman whose name is not Matt Hunwick.

I think Nashville comes back with a vengeance and take it this year. Unless our boy Fleury has a repeat playoff performance and pulls off an upset.

Ryan Klassen (@ryank_119)

East: I'm predicting Tampa to come out of the East this year.  They have been dominant in every position all year and I believe they are especially motivated after missing the playoffs last year.  Sorry Pittsburgh, but Tampa is just too good this time around.

I'm not taking the Predators for the West this year.  As good as they have been this year (best record in the league) I don't think they can overcome a hot Winnipeg team and rarely has the President's Trophy winner gone on to win the Cup.

Cup Final:
I believe Tampa will win the Cup this year in either 5 or 6 games against a young, inexperienced Winnipeg team.  The playoffs are grueling and I don't think the Jets can keep the magic going deep into a fourth round.

Jon Rudder (@JonRudder)

I find myself wrestling back.

Last year I tried to get all logical with my picks and took Chicago to win it all. Clearly I was wrong.
This year, since I waited until the last minute... I went impulse all the way. I'll probably be more successful that way, anway.

Let's do 'dat hockey.

David Bytnar @here4pghsports

West: Nashville may be the deepest team in the league. Unfortunately, what will end up being an easy series against a not ready for prime time Colorado team, and a regular season that everyone expected, will set them up to be upset by a really good Winnipeg Jets team.

Minnesota is coached by Bruce Boudreau......nuff said.

Vegas is good but faltered late in the year and I have my doubts about who steps up in the playoffs. My gut says they get ousted by a veteran-laden Anaheim team that still has a bit of gas left in the tank....but not enough.

San Jose is on it's last legs.

So the Jets will take on the Ducks and burn them up in their engines on their way to the Finals.

East: Tampa is going to be surprised by New Jersey's speed, and I can see this series going to 6 or 7 games. I don't think New Jersey has the horses if Tampa can find a way to neutralize Taylor Hall. He would be my MVP because of sheer consistency throughout the year.

Toronto will get revenge on Boston for 2013 and take notes from New Jersey to manage an upset against Tampa.

The Capitals might erase Columbus in five games if the Jackets go full Tortorella. But, I wouldn't be surprised if the Jackets pull the upset, they got hot at the right time of year. This was probably the toughest series to pick.

Yeah, I chose the Pens -- they're in the name of our blog for crying out loud. I have almost as many superstitions as the Penguins' captain.

Winnipeg will be the most well-rounded team the Penguins have faced since the Capitals in 15-16 or 16-17. These finals will be the kind of stage Patrick Laine is meant for but his Jets will fall because of the overwhelming setting and Pittsburgh's elite center depth.

Yuck. I'm more worried now than I was before.

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Facts and Fake News by @MedinaMarie_PI

11:00:00 AM 0

When it comes to the NHL playoffs, there is always a large amount of smack talk between the fan bases. If you want some real fun, and possibly lose some brain cells, take a peek at the smack talk being thrown around by the Philadelphia Flyers fans. There are some doozies to be sure, some of which has absolutely nothing to do with hockey. In a time where fact checking is now the norm, the idea of doing the same with Flyer fan insults seems fitting. Below are some of the more outlandish, childish, and/ or downright idiotic pieces of banter to come from the minds of those who don a logo that no one can really figure out exactly what it is.
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The Phil 027 - Darn Em To Heck by @ryank_119

10:13:00 AM 0

Does Geno starts every series by intensely staring down images of the opposing team?   FALSE.. he only does this against the Flyers.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Kostopoulus: A WBS Legend

12:00:00 PM 0

To most Penguins fans, “TK” is Tyler Kennedy. Remember him? The productive depth center won a Cup with the Pens in 2009. In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, “TK” is Tom Kostopoulus. No two ways about it. In WBS, “The Captain” isn’t Crosby, or Lemieux, it’s, Tom Kostopoulus.  

TK is going to have 1 more chance to win a Calder Cup 

This week Kostopoulos announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. 

*Cue tears*

 “No player has meant more to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, or represented the organization better, than Tom Kostopoulos,” - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton CEO Jeff Barrett (Jeff Barrett then dropped the mic and walked away).

Let’s face it. TK is 39. We knew this was coming, but the idea of TK retiring before skating a Cup in WBS is a disappointment. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. If you haven’t been following the Baby Penguins, they're one point away from clinching their 16th consecutive playoff appearance. WBS will get a chance to win one for TK and let him retire on top.

TK is the girl that got away, came back, left, and came back again to stay. He played for the Pens in 1999. That was their first season. Kostopoulous is one of the players whose career likely was hurt in a big way by the loss of the 2004-2005 season. He played 60 games for the NHL Pens in 2003-2004 making him an NHL regular for the first time in his career. He spent what should have been his entire sophomore NHL season playing for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. The longtime AHL veteran went on to play for the Kings, Habs, Canes, and Flames, until returning to the AHL in 2012-2013 with the WBS Pens for his second stint.

TK got claimed on waivers by the Devils for 15 games in 2013 which was surreal. I feel like I went to half a dozen of those games in NJ wearing a TK jersey. No one knew what I was doing there. It was an odd and strange time.

He returned to the WBS Pens for the 13-14 season and has been with the Baby Pens ever since.
I sat in the bleeders in WB/S a few weeks back. TK was there watching the game. He looked like a scout, walked and talked like one too, until he celebrated the WBS goals. He left for the third period, which is something that scouts always do though so who really knows?

Yet the past few seasons should show he has the mind of a coach. Recent graduates to the NHL like Sheary and Guentzel have nothing but thanks for the mentorship they received from TK in WBS.  By all accounts he is the consummate professional, a great leader, and more importantly a great role model. If he wants it, I’m certain there will be a coaching position for him in the hockey world.   
It will be weird not having TK on the team. Although Kostopoulus’s 29 won’t be on the ice, it will be hanging from a banner over the ice next season for sure. 

Thanks for the memories TK. You will always have a home in Wilkes.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

.@Letang_58 and @EdgarSnyder Partner to Help Local Kids by @msteiner90

11:00:00 AM 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins' organization is very well-known to produce on the ice having brought five championships back to the City of Pittsburgh.  What we miss, sometimes, is the amazing work that the team does off the ice as well, through both the Penguins Foundation, Mario Lemieux, and also the individual players.

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