Kukla's Korner Hockey
Brandon Dubinsky received a penalty for tripping in the first period on Saturday, but if you ask the Penguins’ announcers, maybe the call should have been harsher.
from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Selke Trophy is handed out annually to the NHL's best two-way forward. Crosby's defensive numbers are at career-best levels, and they're on par with every Selke nominee over the past half-decade, guys like Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk.
So can Crosby win the Selke?
“Why not?” said assistant coach Rick Tocchet, who has worked with Crosby to refine his defensive game. “He's going against the elite players on the other team a lot of nights. When you're on the plus side a lot of those nights, you have to be considered.”...
How is Crosby's game different? Essentially he's around his own net more. On 50-50 plays, where he once might have cheated toward offense, Crosby is staying below the puck and supporting the defensemen. There are slower, safer breakouts. And he's not taking as many risks.
from Seth Rotabaugh of Empty Netters,
After last night games in the NHL, the Penguins' slipped to fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference. With 95 points, they are only two points ahead of the Bruins (93 points) who currently sit in the second wild card position. Additionally, the Ottawa Senators are only five points behind the Penguins with 90 points.
If the Penguins' games against the suddenly hot Blue Jackets - winners of eight consecutive - and the Flyers - victorious in seven straight against the Penguins - don't go well this weekend, Tuesday's game in Ottawa could potentially be huge.
At the same time, the Penguins are only one point behind the Capitals and Islanders for second and third place in the Metropolitan Division. Additionally, they have played one fewer game than each of those teams.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Within the long and difficult history of NHL theater in Pennsylvania, few performances had less tangible import than Wednesday night’s Penguins-Flyers appointment, only the third of this season but the 272nd since both franchises were newborns just 48 years ago.
As a general practice, when the setting is adjacent to three rivers, the local populace brings to the situation enough venom to fill all three to flood stage, which is perhaps why the entanglement Wednesday was so unusual.
Pittsburgh’s frothing fan base wanted something different this time, owing to the unusual balance of power in the Metropolitan Division, where the Penguins are preparing for the postseason just as the Flyers are packing for some truly fabulous extended vacations.
When the Flyers are sipping champagne in the south of France or frolicking with supermodels on some remote Pacific Isle, the Penguins will be mucking it up in the fabulous Nassau Coliseum, now with actually very little asbestos.
Wait a minute. Does that sound like a good deal?
Somehow, it’s preferred.
Penguins loyalists prefer their Flyers game plans to toggle between aggravated assault and attempted homicide, or, put another way, to be the mirror image of the one most frequently delivered by Philadelphia. But if there were a behavioral phrase more apt Wednesday night, and certainly more hoped for, it was, um, “Be nice!”
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
No one gets under the skin of the Pittsburgh Penguins like the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think honestly we take them out of their game,” Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds said several months ago. “I think they hate us so much that everyone’s blood is just boiling the whole game.”
Simmonds is injured and won’t play in Wednesday’s game, but the rest of the Flyers will try to continue to get in the Penguins’ heads. They’re artists at it the way captain Sidney Crosby is at piling up points, and to keep the latter from scoring at will, other opponents have begun following the Flyers’ lead.
“Obviously when you play against one of the best players in the world, you want to try and do something to stop him,” Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said Tuesday. “Whatever it takes to get under his skin, I think we’re going to try to do.”
No penalty on the play...
Kris Letang just can’t catch a break this season after a big check from Shane Doan caused the Penguins defender to fall awkwardly tail-bone first into the boards.
Blake Comeau may get a call from the Department of Player Safety after a careless check from behind on Andrew Campbell in the first period on Saturday.
from Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Evgeni Malkin did not mince words Friday in a frank assessment of the Penguins.
“We play so bad right now. It’s true. Not just one guy, the whole team,” said Malkin. “Not fun [to] watch, you know. Last game I think [was the] worst game all season. It’s not fun to watch it.”
He also said he is sure the Penguins can turn this around.
“Yeah, of course. There’s a great chance. When you win, it’s more confidence for everyone,” Malkin said.
Could Malkin be the spark the Penguins need to generate some confidence?
Malkin and Patric Hornqvist are “very close” to returning to lineup, coach Mike Johnston said Friday, almost gleefully.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
“Did I see some improvements? For sure,” Johnston said “We were playing a top team, a little bit short-handed. Quite a few players actually had really good games, but we still had four or five guys who need to pick up their compete level.”
Oh. You mean 20 to 25 percent of the roster?
So, three weeks from the start of the NHL playoffs then, the Penguins have four or five guys who aren’t competing hard enough.
By the club’s own public admission.
I’m no expert, but the implications of that numerical sequence, the ol’ 3-4-5, can’t be good.
Chris Kunitz apparently can’t be good anymore, either.
In 12 games this month, he has no goals and two assists.
“I liked parts of his game,” Johnston insisted. “He was at least in the scoring areas.”
David Perron has at least found the net thrice this month, but his shots are so erratic he’s a danger to players of both teams as well as at least a portion of the audience.
He just returned from a concussion...
Christian Ehrhoff had to leave the game after being taken hard into the boards by Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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