Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
So now what? This can't be it for the Penguins before the expiration of the NHL's trade deadline on Monday. Rutherford needs to add more, precious little cap space be cursed.
The Penguins need a second-pairing defenseman to play with Christian Ehrhoff. They also need to be prepared for not having Ehrhoff at all, because players returning from lengthy concussion absences always are risky bets to stay in the lineup.
More than anything, the Penguins must find some help for Evgeni Malkin, because he is their best hope for turning this postseason into something magical. No player, not even Sidney Crosby, is more capable of becoming an irresistible force than Malkin — the closest thing these Penguins have to a Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr, because big, skilled players are built to shape postseason series.
Speaking of Jagr, Rutherford should stay on the watch for New Jersey's saltiest trade bait. Malkin sure sounded like somebody itching for the right winger when I brought up Jagr's name Tuesday.
“Yes,” Malkin said. “Of course. Yes. Jagr is great with (the) puck, still great at passing, still has (the) shot. You watch. He is still great. He would be great for us. Guys (would) see him work. He works hard every day. He makes big plays still. He wins. Yes.
Resulted in four roughing penalties, two to each side.
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Haven't seen you around much,” Crosby said. “What's going on?”
I had the same question for him.
After our talk, I'm convinced that answer is one we all should have seen coming but couldn't because nobody likes to acknowledge the one opponent who is undefeated and never really challenged.
Father Time is a jerk. His most hurtful prank is sneaking up on us.
Crosby is 27, which seems so wonderfully young for a professional athlete. That age, or thereabouts that age, is thought to be the prime for an athlete. That's what it is for the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (28) and the Steelers' Antonio Brown (26).
McCutchen and Brown have combined to play 11 seasons at the highest level of their respective sports. Crosby is finishing his 10th NHL season, and his 95 postseason games have him essentially working into a 12th campaign with the Penguins.
That's a lot of whacks to the lower back, slashes behind the knees, hip checks into the boards and pucks shot off unprotected skate boots.
It's all been too much for anybody to fairly expect continued dominance by Crosby. A toll was inevitable, and we all ignored the obvious signs last year, during and after the Olympics, that Crosby had already paid a steep price.
from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins are interested in reacquiring center Jordan Staal, sources told Trib Total Media.
A move likely would not take place until after the season, though the Penguins have inquired about what it would take to obtain the Carolina Hurricane before the March 2 trade deadline, sources said.
Such a move would require the Penguins to slash significant salary, as they are less than $1 million under the $69 million salary cap.
Staal signed a 10-year, $60 million contract in July 2012, days after the Penguins traded him to Carolina. Current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford signed Staal to the deal after swapping center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Rutherford told the Trib five days ago he would like to acquire forward help.
Staal, 26, has a full no-trade clause in his contract, but sources close to Staal said he would forgo that if it meant returning to the Penguins.
from Jason Mackey of Chipped Ice,
“We’re going to be watching the next two games as closely as we’ve watched any games this year.”
That was how one member of the Penguins front office described the team’s upcoming back-to-back set Saturday at St. Louis and at home Sunday against Florida.
Nobody who has a hand in personnel decisions is happy. This much was made very clear to me on Friday.
General manager Jim Rutherford, I learned, did not travel with the team. Instead, he spent the day Friday on the phone, exploring various trade angles.
Nothing is imminent, but I’m told Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury are the only names not in play.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
... early in the third period, he found another way to add to the rivalry between the two Metropolitan Division teams: by taking a two-handed swing – either at Pens star defenseman Kris Letang’s ankle, or at the puck, depending on your perspective – that has led to strong feelings among both fan bases.
Letang had to leave the game for a brief stretch, when, during a chase for a loose puck, Ovechkin’s slash crumpled him and sent him smashing into the end boards.
From the perspective of many Capitals fans, Ovechkin was merely swinging his stick in desperation at the puck, and there was no penalty called on the play. From the point of view of irate Pens fans, the slash made direct contact with Letang’s ankle, and that’s all that counts.
Watch the play below...
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
After referee Brad Watson placed Crosby in the penalty box, a conference was initiated by the other Officials to share their different perspective on the play. As a result of the additional and accurate information provided by his colleagues, Watson correctly withdrew the penalty call. In the end, they arrived at the right decision....
Precedent has been set to reverse a penalty call when accurate information is provided through a conference of officials regardless of the perceived status of a player. In the end, the desire and objective of the officials is get the call right.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby still has more than half of his career in front of him, and there's a growing consensus he's already a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"I'd have put him in the Hall of Fame last night," NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes said.
Mike Rupp, Crosby's former teammate, also said he'd vote Crosby into the Hockey Hall of Fame if Crosby never played another game. Former NHL goalie and longtime television analyst Darren Pang said the same thing. So did NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk, who was Crosby's first NHL coach.
"No doubt," Pang said. "There isn't even any hesitation on my behalf."
"I would for sure, because of the personal history," said Olczyk, who will call the NBC Game of the Week on Sunday between the Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
Olczyk said the only blemish he can find on Crosby's resume is the disappointing finishes the Penguins have had since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. Crosby has been the face of some of that disappointment in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, particularly last season when he had one goal and nine points in 13 games while playing with a bad wrist.
from David Ebner of the Globe and Mail,
Sidney Crosby is in a slump.
It is an odd thing to say about a hockey player who, as of Sunday morning, was the fourth-leading scorer in the NHL, 56 points in 49 games and only two points out of first....
There have been recent flashes of the real Crosby. Last Friday night in Calgary, he delivered two beautiful goals, the second of which was collected as a pass in full flight, after which he split the Calgary defence and cracked a laser of a wrist shot past the Flames goalie. But the next night, in Vancouver, the same old problems. Crosby looked strong and savvy at times – but managed only one shot at the net, a backhander from in close at a near-impossible angle that had no real hope of going in.
When he does get his chances – and Crosby is driving play this season, as always – the simple fact is he’s connecting at a strong but not superstar level.
This is Sidney Crosby in a slump: excellent, but not amazing.
His shooting percentage is 11.3 per cent, the lowest of his career looking at seasons when he’s been healthy, and the number is down several percentage points from his normal elite rate of 14 per cent-plus.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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