Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins aren't firing their coach or their general manager following a first-round exit in the Stanley Cup playoffs, president and CEO David Morehouse said Saturday.
“I know there's been a lot of speculation out there, but (co-owners) Ron (Burkle) and Mario (Lemieux) never once considered a change,” Morehouse said. “Jim Rutherford's our general manager, and Mike Johnston's our coach.”
Morehouse pointed to injuries as a major reason for the Penguins' struggles this season. They lost 371 man-games to injury and entered the postseason missing three of their top four defensemen in Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Christian Ehrhoff.
“Look, we're all disappointed that we didn't go farther,” Morehouse said. “There are a lot of speculative reasons why that happened, but we have to look at reality.
“We had a new coach who almost never had a chance to coach his full team because of injuries. I don't know if there's a team in the league that could have succeeded in the playoffs without three of its top four defensemen. That's the situation we faced.”
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
So even though the Penguins don't want to end the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era, I'm not sure they're going to have a choice in the matter.
It's not that the franchise centers are unhappy. (They are, but they've been that way since last summer). They've lost faith in the direction of the franchise. And I'm not sure what can be said — especially to Malkin — to make things right.
Something has to be done in the wake of the Penguins' 2-1 series-ending overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday at Madison Square Garden that eliminated them from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Otherwise, the Penguins might have to sell another early playoff exit and a trade they'd rather not make.
Co-owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux could have a lot more to consider than whether to let pride — or stubbornness — get in the way of doing what's best for business. They must hire a new general manager, one who understands the NHL's not-so-new salary-cap dynamic, a hockey boss with autonomy to make hockey moves.
Because this isn't what Crosby and Malkin signed on for when each agreed to a second long-term contract at below market-value salary.
The Penguins are unrecognizable. They've gone from the marquee to the second stage. Or, put in hockey terms, from Stanley Cup contender to playoff pretender.
added 8:40am, from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
It’s not hopeless when you’re down, 3-1, in one of these NHL best-of-sevens, but the unfortunate thing for the Penguins is that they are not playing the Penguins, who have demonstrated a kind of ingrained readiness to give series away from that very vantage point.
The Penguins’ last best hope for the moment is, in fact, the venue tonight. At least they have a chance at beating the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, where they’ve won three of their past five playoff appointments.
“This game, going into New York, we win, the series changes completely,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Thursday. “And it heads in our favor, for sure.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Two for roughing on Dominic Moore.
from Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Kevin Hayes slipped the puck by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury 3:14 into overtime at Consol Energy Center, as the Rangers won, 2-1, to take a stifling 3-1 series lead back to Broadway.
Game 5 is 7 p.m. Friday at Madison Square Garden, where the stakes for the Penguins couldn’t be higher.
“We’re playing for our season now,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “The playoffs are about taking one thing very incrementally small at a time. Our process doesn’t change. We have to try and get one in New York and bring it home.”
That was the exact message of coach Mike Johnston.
He said the approach in a tight series is to find small ways to improve, maybe a faceoff, a matchup. Bring the information to the players. Then execute.
“We’re trying to get better each and every game. When you play a team so often you’ve got to pick up some little things in the game that can give you that advantage,” Johnston said.
Below, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review does not like the hockey being played plus game highlights...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Even allowing for the way hockey is transformed from a regular-season Autobahn to playoff bumper-to-traffic that’s 12th Avenue northbound at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, you would still have every reason to believe this first-round series should still feature a cavalcade of entertainment, and should still be a showcase for some of the league’s most compelling talent, right?
Well, you would be wrong, Shanahan Summit-breath. For in its infinite wisdom, the NHL has decided fans and the sport are better served when its officials turn blind eyes toward the hooking, holding and obstruction fouls for which there was supposed to be a zero-tolerance level coming out of the canceled 2004-05 season.
Neither the Rangers nor Penguins have benefitted to a greater degree by this return to the bad old days. The officiating hasn’t been determinative in the Blueshirts’ 2-1 margin in the series that resumes with Wednesday’s Game 4, even if both sides have legitimate grievances over the way the games have been called.
Pittsburgh’s Running of Henrik Lundqvist has become an annual rite of passage, like the Running of the Bulls, with Chris Kunitz for the second consecutive spring the most notorious and unabashed culprit. Undeterred in their own right, the Rangers have taken liberties against Crosby and any other Penguin on the move.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there was nothing pretty about this one that was contested along the boards, in the corners and in front of the net almost all the way … and in front of Henrik Lundqvist’s net for significant portions of the third period when the Penguins took advantage of a more passive/cautious Rangers’ approach.
Apparently conforming to a mandate from NHL headquarters to allow just about anything and everything go, the referees called next to nothing, thus prompting both teams to clutch and grab all over the ice, even when such obvious obstruction eliminated scoring chances.
Why the league wants this kind of a game is beyond anyone’s comprehension, but that’s what it got — a game out of the late ’90s and early 2000s, when obstruction and trapping ruled the day.
The Penguins sure have a kick on a couple of obvious Rangers infractions that not only erased opportunities, but immediately preceded both Blueshirts goals that were scored on ensuing rushes. And the Rangers have more of a kick on the frequent times the officials allowed Pittsburgh to hack, whack, bump and run at Lundqvist.
more on the game...
Game highlights are below...
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Crisis is supposed to reveal true character, right?
General manager Jim Rutherford lost his cool after the Penguins' 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night to fall within two defeats of a first-round elimination in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins' dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.
“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.
“You're a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.
Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media's lead sports columnist.
My role is to provide opinion.
“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.
As (expletive) as my opinion might be, it remains that Rutherford has botched an attempted retooling of the Penguins. If this unfortunate incident is any indication, he lacks the poise necessary to move that project foward.
via the NHL YouTube Channel,
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins squared off in Game 2 on Saturday night. Listen in as microphones pick up the action on the ice.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Add in a scarcity of scoring — and the fact that Crosby had counted just one goal in 19 post-season games prior to Saturday night — few were willing to give the Penguins a chance to advance past the opening round.
Little surprise, then, that Crosby’s two-goal effort in Saturday’s hugely significant 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden has taken a lick out of whatever self-doubt may have been eating at the team.
And with the series shifting back to the Steel City for Games 3 and 4, there is once again a glimmer of hope for the Penguins.
“Obviously we need (Crosby) to be a threat offensively and he’s been that through two games,” Pittsburgh centre Brandon Sutter said following a team meeting at the Consol Energy Center where the best-of-seven series will resume on Monday.
“He’s had the puck a lot, held on to a lot. When he has the puck down low and is spinning in the corners and making plays, that’s when he is so dominant.”
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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