Kukla's Korner Hockey
Wonder how the guy feels this morning?
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The buildup began at practice Wednesday. Bylsma gave extra greetings to some Pittsburgh reporters and had a welcome-back chat with Jennifer Bullano, the Penguins’ senior director of communications. Bullano was one of Bylsma’s closest front-office confidantes when he was here and he even appeared with her in March, 2014 on the TLC reality show “Say Yes to the Dress,” to do shopping in New York during a road trip for her impending wedding.
“I was a part of this organization for eight years and here for 5½ of them and there’s a lot of familiarity walking into this building,” Bylsma said. “I certainly felt that today.”
But what’s it going to be like to coach a game in front of a full house against the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?
“There will be emotions. I’m not going to be moved to tears but it’s going to be emotional,” Bylsma said. “Even right now, I look at the empty seats and I’m gonna know 50 faces in the stands tomorrow where they sit. I know where my family sat when they were here. There’s certainly going to be emotions.”
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Sidney Crosby does not have a point in eight of nine games this season, the first time that has ever happened at any point in his career - not just to start a campaign. His run with long-awaited supporting cast member Phil Kessel lasted just seven games.
Crosby, 28, has three points this season. They all came against the Panthers on Oct. 20.
So, what’s going on with Crosby?
“He’s got to be a little more selfish,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet diagnosed. “The one game when he had three points, he had nine shots. He’s got to attack the net more. I think he’s looking to pass the puck. He’s got to attack the net more. For me, you can’t play a perimeter game in the NHL.”
Under the surface, it seems like Crosby’s struggles aren’t tied to any lack of effort or desire, but rather he's limited in production by what his environment allows. Johnston, now into his second season, is preaching structure - not the freewheeling Penguins that struck the fear of God into opposing defencemen as they wheeled through the neutral zone. These aren’t your father’s Penguins - or your grandfather’s.
They are less creative, more militant. Given the way the Penguins are assembled, spending the second-most money on offence ($50.2 million) this season, it would be akin to taking a Ferrari and driving it like a Model T.
Take the Penguins’ power play for instance. On Wednesday at Verizon Center, this divisional game probably could’ve been won in the first 10 minutes if the Penguins broke through. They had a 5-on-3 advantage for 105 seconds, followed quickly by another 5-on-4 opportunity.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Ten years ago, the NHL banked on the star power of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin to bring hockey back from the brink of a year-long lockout. Hard to believe it’s been that long.
The hype and the shine have worn off the rivalry, but the debate rages on. And after 10 years, it’s appropriate to once again raise the question: Which player is better?
“Are you kidding me right now?” Ovechkin answered on Wednesday, laughing.
It wasn’t clear whether Ovechkin’s rhetorical answer was a dig at the ridiculously nuanced and polarizing question, or whether that was his way of saying he is the answer.
But for the first time in a long time, Ovechkin can be the answer to that question. Three or four years ago, it was one not even worth asking. Crosby was the clear-cut and runaway winner.
More interesting than any hate that exists between the Penguins and Capitals is the ebb-and-flow of the stock prices of Crosby and Ovechkin on the NHL market since they first clashed on Nov. 22, 2005 at the old Igloo.
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
On the ice, with the exception of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins appear to be a hot mess.
Coach Mike Johnston's puck-possession system has become one of dumping, chasing and calling for his future Hall-of-Fame centers to play 200 feet. As if anybody buys tickets (let alone the team) to watch Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin skate deep into the defensive zone every shift....
The Penguins have scored more than two goals once. They could be learning to play tight, low-scoring games that are common come playoff time.
But haven't they played enough of those the last six times they've failed in the playoffs?
These Penguins weren't built to win tight, low-scoring games with Crosby being coached to channel Jonathan Toews. These Penguins are co-owned by Mario Lemieux and captained by Crosby, two all-timers who rate second and fifth, respectively, in points-per-game.
Scoring. It's what the Penguins are supposed to do. It's how the Penguins are supposed to win. But it's become what the Penguins don't do. It's become why the Penguins don't win.
from Jason Mackey of Chipped Ice at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
“We have to play better hockey. If you look at it as a whole, it’s not bad. We’re one-game under .500 right now. I think we’re a better team than that.”
That was Penguins captain Sidney Crosby postgame following Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars here at Consol Energy Center.
He raises an interesting question.
Who are the Penguins?
I don’t know. Do you?
They were a hot mess during the second period tonight, only marginally better in the third. The start was OK, but they trailed 2-0 after the first. Is that supposed to get fans excited?
I like to stick to numbers. People can’t argue with them. So I tend to do that.
The numbers say the Penguins have three top-six wingers without a goal, two without a point.
Below, watch the game highlights....
The hockey guys at ESPN discuss the slow start by Sidney Crosby, who is without a point through five games.
Pierre LeBrun- Remember last year when people were questioning New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady early in the NFL season? Remember how that turned out? I feel like that's the kind of karma we're toying with here by even pretending to think to something wrong with Crosby.
I will say, though, that Craig Simpson of Hockey Night in Canada made an excellent point Saturday night in saying that it didn't seem like No. 87 was darting through lanes and creases with the speed we're used to seeing. I agree with you guys that a lot of this has to do with Crosby trying to find chemistry with Kessel. Still, I think we're all going to have a good chuckle in April when Crosby wins another scoring title and we remember we actually had this chat.
from Jonathan Bombulie of Chipped Ice at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Some notes after Montreal beat the Penguins 3-2 tonight:
— The Penguins are 0-3 for the fifth time in franchise history. They missed the playoffs three of the four previous 0-3 years. They’re winless after three games for the 11th time in team history. They missed the playoffs in seven of those previous 10 seasons.
— To me, those stats answer the question about whether it’s too early to start wondering what’s going on here. It’s not too early. You get to 0-5 or so, and then the things that happen to 0-5 hockey teams start happening.
— A Mike Johnston quote: “Overall, there were some big improvements. Certainly some big improvements from Arizona. It was close to the Dallas game, maybe even a little bit ahead of that, but we have to be better. We have to be better individually and then there are some areas of our game offensively. I thought we still passed up shots. We passed up some very good shots. Did we have enough net screens? I’m going to look at that. That’s the way it is nowadays. It’s so hard to score. You’ve got to be around that net area.”
I didn’t think passing up shots was a serious problem for the Penguins tonight. I thought a lack of a consistent net-front presence was a little bit of a problem. To me, the big problem remains at both blue lines. They’re fighting like hell just to gain the zone while at the other end of the ice, the opponent is breezing into the zone without many problems. How to fix that? I don’t know. If I did, I would hire myself out as a consultant to 0-3 NHL teams.
— A Sidney Crosby quote: “You’ve got to find ways if you’re 0-3. If your desperation and urgency is not there, then there’s a problem.”
Doc Emrick with the look...
Evgeni Malkin joined in on the fun...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
A sellout crowd of 18,259 sampled the good Monday night at the brand new Videotron Center, the spectacular building hosting its first NHL game, a 4-1 win for the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Nice atmosphere, beautiful arena, that was a lot of fun," said Canadiens center David Desharnais, who grew up in the area.
"We were the No. 3 team for the fans here tonight after the Nordiques and Canadiens," joked Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a native of Sorel, Quebec. "But that was a fun atmosphere."
The timing for this game could not have been more perfect. When the prospective Quebec ownership group delivers its expansion presentation to the executive committee of the NHL's Board of Governors in New York on Tuesday, it will include video evidence of what transpired when the Penguins and Canadiens gave life to a pristine infrastructure.
The message to other NHL owners should be obvious: the building is open, there's a deep-pocketed owner in place, and the fans are frothing at the mouth.
"It would be fun, for sure," Fleury said of NHL hockey returning here. "You saw the fans tonight. It was a preseason game and the fans were into it. I hope for Quebec it happens."
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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