Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Hockey Central at Noon panel attempts to come to grips with what is going wrong for the Pittsburgh Penguins and how the problem seems to be so much more than injured defencemen.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
They trail the third-place New York Islanders by two points in the Metropolitan Division and lead Ottawa, which is ninth in the conference, by one point.
The Penguins’ magic number for clinching a playoff berth is three points; they still have four on the table, with a home game against the Islanders at 7:08 p.m. Friday and a visit Saturday to Buffalo, N.Y.
“Through all the crap we’ve been through the last five weeks – whether it was times we deserved to win and couldn’t score or just didn’t deserve to win or played really bad – the season is still in our hands,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said.
Whether they will be over their come-from-ahead loss to the Senators by the time New York visits Consol Energy Center remains to be seen.
“It’s going to take a little time,” Fleury said. “We could have clinched, made it easy on ourselves.”
Watch as Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators are heroes tonight as their goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins to prolong the Senators season.
Full game highlights are below...
On the morning of March 13, the Pittsburgh Penguins were 15 points clear of the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference standings.
Who would have possibly thought that less than a month later an encounter between the two clubs Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre would be deemed life or death for each?
-Pierre LeBrun of ESPN on the big game tonight. More from LeBrun on Pens/Sens...
What little unwritten rule of sportsmanship did Chris Kunitz break on Sunday that sparked an unruly battle between the benches between the Flyers and Penguins?
The Flyers did win the game, 4-1.
from Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Penguins spent more than a week talking about their compete level, and how much it needed to rise to match the intensity required this time of year.
Saturday, they proceeded to blow a two-goal lead, and lost, 5-3, to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
The loss jeopardized their playoff chances and left them stewing in a locker room filled with anger.
“I thought we didn’t really get desperate until we were down a couple goals,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We’ve got to understand that’s got to be the way to play the entire game, not when you’re down. Regardless of the score. our desperation has to be there.”
added 8:55am, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News on today's Flyers/Penguins game...
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!”
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org