Kukla's Korner

The Confluence

Bylsma Continues Game of Musical Muckers

Seems like a decade ago when the Penguins had a pretty damn formidable 3rd line of Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.  Throw in Max Talbot in there as well for good measure.

Call me crazy, but in this schmuck's opinion, it may have very well been those four guys that allowed the Penguins to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup on June 12, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

It was the 3rd line's job to attempt to shutdown the Wings' own "two-headed monster" of Pavel Datsyuk (admittedly hobbled) and Henrik Zetterberg.  And, as we know, it was Talbot, and not Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin, who provided all of the offense in Game 7 with his two goals that glorious night.

Now, of course, they're all gone.  Some to richer contracts, some to greener pastures.

Now, five seasons removed, is it just me or are the Penguins still trying to find even a decent third line, much less a bottom six?

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Blackhawks-Penguins from Soldier Field Moves to NBC in Primetime

From NBC Sports Network:

STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 14, 2013 – The 2014 NHL Stadium Series matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins from Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., will now air on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The game was originally scheduled to air on NBCSN.  This marks the first time since NBC re-acquired NHL rights in 2006 that a regular-season game has been scheduled for primetime on NBC. The 2011 NHL Winter Classic aired in primetime because weather prevented the game from being played at its regularly-scheduled time in the afternoon.

Penguins-Blackhawks will be the fourth and final game in the 2014 NHL Stadium Series, and the second time Chicago has hosted a regular-season outdoor NHL game (2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field). The Penguins will be participating in their third regular-season outdoor NHL game since 2008 (2008 NHL Winter Classic and 2011 NHL Winter Classic).  Coverage of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series, which consists of four outdoor games in addition to the NHL Winter Classic and NHL Heritage Classic, begins on Saturday, January 25 at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN, when the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings face off against the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.


Following is NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series (all times ET):
DATE TEAMS STADIUM NETWORK TIME
January 25, 2014 Ducks-Kings Dodger Stadium NBCSN 10 p.m.
January 26, 2014 Rangers-Devils Yankee Stadium NBC 1 p.m.
January 29, 2014 Rangers-Islanders Yankee Stadium NBCSN 7 p.m.
March 1, 2014 Blackhawks-Penguins Soldier Field  NBC 8 p.m.

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Penguins Pretty Much Who We Thought They’d Be.  So Far.

Coming up on 20% of the regular season in the books for your Pittsburgh Penguins and honestly, there haven't been a whole helluva lot of surprises:

  • They currently lead the Eastern Conference with 22 points.
  • Sidney Crosby leads the league in scoring.
  • And yes, Marc-Andre Fleury is off to an excellent start.

To those that follow the team closely, things have pretty much fallen into place as it was thought that they would:

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Bob Costas to Go One-On-One With Sidney Crosby on Costas Tonight

From the NBC Sports Network:

BOB COSTAS GOES ONE-ON-ONE WITH SIDNEY CROSBY ON COSTAS TONIGHT

Costas’ In-Depth Sit-Down with Crosby Debuts Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN

“Scoring an overtime-winning goal in your own country, playing for Canada, a country that’s so passionate about hockey – it’s pretty special.” – Sidney Crosby on 2010 Vancouver Olympics
Costas Tonight Follows Penguins-Bruins NHL Rivals

STAMFORD, Conn. – October 24, 2013 – Pittsburgh Penguins captain, 2009 Stanley Cup champion, and 2010 Olympic gold medalist Sidney Crosby sits down with 25-time Emmy Award-winner Bob Costas for the newest edition of Costas Tonight, to debut on Tuesday, October 29 at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Crosby, the Penguins’ first overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, currently leads the NHL in points, as Pittsburgh has jumped out to the Metropolitan Division lead to start the 2013-14 season. Crosby was named Penguins captain in 2007 at age 19, the youngest captain in NHL history at the time, and led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup title over the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.

Tuesday’s Costas Tonight episode featuring Sidney Crosby will follow next week’s NHL Rivals episode featuring the Penguins-Bruins rivalry, ahead of their matchup on Wednesday Night Rivalry on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. NBCSN will also air an encore presentation of Costas Tonight on Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET.

The interview was filmed in Suite 66 at the CONSOL Energy Center, an ice-level suite in the Penguins’ home arena which is themed to Penguins legend Mario Lemieux.

Following are excerpts from Costas’ interview with Crosby:

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Penguins Plan To Keep Defenseman Maatta For More Than Audition

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review's Rob Rossi:

Olli Maatta is staying for a while.

The Penguins will allow Maatta, a 19-year-old defenseman, to play in more than nine games, multiple sources told the Tribune-Review.

That decision was reached before Maatta's pivotal role on the tying goal in the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory over Vancouver at Consol Energy Center on Saturday afternoon.

Maatta, the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, played in his eighth game. He cannot play in more than nine games without this season counting as the first of an entry-level contract.

The Penguins' ninth game is against Colorado at Consol Energy Center on Monday.

The number with more meaning for the Penguins regarding Maatta is 40, sources said.

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Penguins Start Regular Season Where They Left Off

The saying goes that you can only beat teams that are on your schedule.

The Penguins are playing decent hockey, although in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter how well you play as long as you're winning.  The benefits of regular season success can surely be debated, especially when you're a team with four straight disappointing playoff exits.  That said, they're winning, and that's a good thing.

They've opened the season 5-1, the only blip being a mailed-in performance last weekend in Miami or Sunrise or wherever the Panthers technically play.

A few notes:

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I’m Sorry, But It WAS Only One Game For Fleury

Oh how I love sports fans.

"Marc-Andre Fleury is back!"

That was the sentiment promulgating around the Internetz Thursday night.  You are now to purge your memory of Fleury's horrible playoff performance last season, one of which he was not only yanked from games, but benched in favor of Tomas Vokoun.

Not only that, but it appears that if you happen to make any objective statement about the playoffs or perhaps being patient, you are basically told to "shut up", which was literally Tweeted by one Pittsburgh columnist after the game.

So, again to repeat, I guess it's "Marc-Andre Fleury is back!"

Sorry.

For as much as I want that to be true, and who knows, maybe we will eventually see him get back to the Cup-winning level of performance, I need to see more than one regular season game, not to mention playoff games, before it's all good with Marc-Andre.

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Penguins Sign Kobasew to One-Year Contract

From the Penguins:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Chuck Kobasew to a one-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.  The deal has an average annual value of $550,000.

Kobasew, 31, attended training camp with the Penguins on a professional tryout contract. He suited up for five exhibition games, tying for second on the club with two goals while posting an even rating.

Originally drafted by the Calgary Flames in the first round (14th overall) of the 2001 NHL Draft, Kobasew has played 10 NHL seasons with Calgary, Boston, Minnesota and Colorado, totaling 208 points (108G-100A), 30 power-play goals and 18 game-winning tallies in 568 career regular-season games.

The 6-foot, 192-pound forward spent the previous two seasons playing with Colorado, totaling 23 points (12G-11A) in 95 regular-season contests. His plus-6 rating in 2012-13 ranked first among all Avalanche forwards.  Kobasew enjoyed his best NHL seasons with Boston in 2007-08 and ’08-09, surpassing the 20-goal mark both years and establishing a career high with 42 points (21G-21A) in ’08-09.

A native of Osoyoos, British Columbia, Kobasew has scored 20-plus goals on three occasions, including the ’05-06 campaign with Calgay when he established career bests with 10 power-play goals and four game-winning goals.  Kobasew, who was a member of Calgary’s 2004 Stanley Cup finalist squad, has played in 44 career postseason contests, notching four goals, four assists, eight points and two game-winning goals.  Kobasew played one season of college hockey at Boston College in 2000-01, where he teamed with fellows Penguins Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi to lead the Eagles to a NCAA national championship. Kobasew was named Frozen Four MVP.

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Penguins Get Bucco Fever

From the Penguins:

 

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Penguins Make Final Cuts:  Letang, Vokoun to IR

The Penguins management team got creative this afternoon in order to make their "final" cuts and get down to the roster limit of 23 players.

Forward Beau Bennett was assigned to Wheeling of the ECHL, but this was purely a temporary measure.  He is fully expected to be in the Pens' lineup on Thursday vs. the Devil.

Forward Andrew Ebbett and defenseman Simon Despres were reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  It remains to be seen if Despres' demotion is purely for salary cap purposes.

And finally, highly touted prospect Derrick Pouliot was returned to Portland of the WHL.  As of right now, fellow prospect Olli Maatta is still on the Pens' roster, possibly for a 9-game tryout.

D-man Kris Letang and goaltender Tomas Vokoun were both placed on Injured Reserve, and because of Letang's injury, defenseman Harrison Ruopp was recalled from the Baby Pens.

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About The Confluence

Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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