From Sports Illustrated:
(NEW YORK – May 7, 2013) – Pittsburgh Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby continues to amaze by coming back from injury better than when he left, writes Michael Rosenberg in this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Since returning from a 13 game absence with a broken jaw, Crosby, who makes his fifth appearance on the SI cover, has scored two goals and assisted on three more, including the game-winner in Sunday’s come-from-behind overtime win over the Islanders.
Despite missing 25% of the lockout shortened season, Crosby still finished third in the NHL with 56 points. Rosenberg finds that Crosby, still just 25 years old, uses his time off from injury to study the strengths and weaknesses of himself, his teammates and the rest of the league. “If this is how you succeed at work, we should all call in sick,” says Rosenberg.
From Sports Business Daily's John Ourand,
Are this year’s Pittsburgh Penguins about to join the ranks of the most-watched American sports teams?
Heading into their final regular-season games last week, the Penguins were on pace to post the highest average RSN rating for any U.S.-based MLB, NBA or NHL team since 2002. Penguins games on Root Sports were averaging a 12.56 Nielsen rating in the Pittsburgh market, a mark that would be the highest RSN rating for any U.S.-based NHL team on record.
Since 1997, only the 2002 Seattle Mariners, who pulled a 13.2 average on FSN Northwest that year, would have a higher rating among U.S.-based MLB, NBA or NHL teams than what the Penguins were averaging as of last week, according to SportsBusiness Journal research.
Before this year, the highest RSN rating in the last five years came in San Antonio for the 2010-11 season, when Spurs games on FS Southwest averaged a 10.19 rating. Before that, the Boston Red Sox averaged a 12.20 average on NESN for the 2007 season, the year in which they won their second World Series title of the decade.
And so it starts.
As we near the beginning of another year of NHL Playoffs with the Penguins facing the Islanders, many of the prognosticators list the Penguins as a strong contender, if not favorite, to win the Stanley Cup.
It's certainly not an outlandish prediction: The Pens went 36-12 in this shortened regular season, not to mention GM Ray Shero bolstering an already strong lineup at the trade deadline with seasoned playoff veterans hungry for a Cup of their own.
Shero has practically given Head Coach Dan Bylsma as close to a loaded deck as you can give prior to the start of a playoff run. Of course, thing is, Stanley Cups are not won on paper. It's as much of a crapshoot today as it was 20 years ago.
So the Penguins have the tools to go all the way without a doubt, most agree with that statement. But there are some very valid situations that could throw a serious monkey wrench into the Pens' works.
Call me a glutton for punishment.
Recently, I spent a couple of hours watching the highlights (if you could call them that) of the Penguins' last three seasons of playoff games since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.
As you can imagine, it wasn't pretty. But it wasn't pretty exclusively due to Marc-Andre Fleury, as has been a common scapegoat, let's make that clear right away. Yes, there were absolutely several very soft goals. But there were also numerous situations where the defense in front of him broke down. Deflected pucks. And flat-out lucky bounces.
But hey, that's why goaltender is the most high-profile position when it comes to the NHL Playoffs, is it not?
For when the decent goalie all of a sudden stands on his head and leads his team to the Cup, it's the goalie on the team of superstars that fails to uphold his end of the bargain, for whatever reasons.
So now as the Penguins steamroll towards the playoffs with a top seed and an incredibly stacked lineup, the focus will inevitably be on Fleury.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari:
The type of jaw surgery that Sidney Crosby endured last weekend after being hit in the face with a puck should, at the latest, allow him to return to game action by the time the playoffs begin in a month, experts say.
"As long as he keeps his nourishment up -- and he should since he's not wired shut -- he should be good to go in three to four weeks," said David Dattilo, director of oral and maxillofacial surgery for West Penn Allegheny Health System.
The timing and the jaw injury itself appear to be similar to what Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger experienced in 2006 when his motorcycle collided with a car whose driver failed to yield and turned left in front of him. The accident occurred a month before preseason camp was to begin.
Mr. Roethlisberger, who was not wearing a helmet, also did not have his jaw wired shut and was in camp on time that year.
From the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sam Kasan:
Twitter seemed convinced that the Boston Bruins had landed Iginla. Were you following any of that or know about other teams vying for him?
I saw some of that. I never asked Calgary who was involved. I had no idea. It was just what I read or saw. It didn’t really matter what other teams are doing. You have to do what’s best for yourself and be prepared to pay what you’re willing to pay, not more or less. You try to do a fair deal with everybody.
Did you speak with Jarome to persuade him to waive his no-trade clause as you had with Brenden Morrow? If so, what did you say to convince him to join the Penguins and what else did you discuss?
I just talked to him after the fact. That was it. He agreed to waive and come to Pittsburgh. The trade conference call was done with the league. Everything was final. That was it. I talked to him a while ago after it. He said he was excited to come to Pittsburgh. He said he would help anyway he could, didn’t care about role or who he was playing with. He wants to help the team win and be a part of it. It was a big change after 16 years in Calgary so I’m sure it will be quite emotional. We have a month sort through the emotions, find some roles for guys, players accepting of those and playing good hockey. The team on paper doesn’t mean too much. We have to do it on the ice. Chemistry for a hockey team is very important.
From the Pittsburgh Penguins Sam Kasan:
The two sides negotiated as Wednesday morning receded into evening. In the late, late hours, the Penguins and Flames had the framework for agreement. The Penguins would get Iginla in exchange for a 2013 first-round pick and prospects Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino. But the deal wasn’t finalized.
“The first-round pick was very important for them,” Shero said. “We were prepared to do that for Jarome Iginla. We worked on a number different scenarios player-wise. Ended up with two good college prospects. That’s the price for Jarome Iginla. That’s what you have to do. That’s what we did.”
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Flames had deals on the table from the Penguins and Bruins – which sparked all the reports that Iginla was headed to Boston. But Iginla had to waive his no-trade clause as a part of any deal and had the power to pick his destination.
He chose Pittsburgh.
“He agreed to waive and come to Pittsburgh,” Shero said. “The trade conference call was done with the league. Everything was final.”
And Iginla was a Penguin.
From ESPN-W's Elisabeth Meinecke:
"Someone once gave me advice that the minute you feel that you're at a disadvantage because you're a woman, you put yourself at a disadvantage," Bullano said. "I never pursued the opportunity because I thought there was a shortage of females."
Bullano is the gatekeeper to one of the most in-demand locker rooms in the NHL, mediawise, one that boasts two of the league's top players: superstar center Sidney Crosby and current MVP Evgeni Malkin.
Bullano's voice holds respect as she talks about Crosby's attitude toward media demands.
"He talks to the media every day. Every day," Bullano said. "If there is a day where no one needs him, he'll actually say, 'Am I good?' to leave the locker room. He'll actually check with us. That's unprecedented for an athlete of his stature."
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.
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