GAME DAY BUZZ
The trade deadline is one day away and things are starting to heat up around the league. All eyes are now on Jaromir Jagr who will be traded before Wednesday’s 3:00 p.m. deadline. Will the Boston Bruins finally close an impact deal? They are the clear front runners for Jagr but there is a lot of interest in the future Hall of Famer. Detroit, Philadelphia, and Montreal are among the teams with their eye on Jagr.
Another notable name to keep an eye on is New York Islanders Mark Streit who the Islanders are undecided about moving but will do so for a big return.
The Minnesota Wild and Philadelphia Flyers have emerged as the front runners for Ryane Clowe. Word in league circles is Philadelphia could be trying to make a bigger deal and also lure Dan Boyle away from San Jose. The Rangers and Canucks are also said to be in the mix for Clowe who has ZERO goals on the year.
One of the best players on the market is Derek Roy who is likely to land with the Vancouver Canucks.
As for the Penguins, a number of their Pro scouts, top decision makers are in town today. GM Ray Shero is monitoring things around the league and Pittsburgh remains in the market for a depth player but the Penguins are in no position to pay much for another roster player.
One move made this morning was the Tampa Lightning re-acquiring center Adam Hall and a seventh round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Marc Andre Bergeron. Hall will be going back on waivers. Rosters expand past 23 after midnight.
— After spending three days in the hospital, Sidney Crosby was released from the hospital Monday afternoon and is now home, according to the team. There remains no timetable for his return but expectations remain that Crosby will miss at least three weeks. Crosby is said to have felt his teeth were in the back of his throat when he was hit with the puck.on Saturday.
— Here’s a stunning stat for the Penguins. In a matter of just a couple weeks, the Penguins have gone from from 23rd in the NHL in goals against to now 4th in the NHL, giving up 2.33 goals against per game. A franchise rarely known for being among the leagues stingiest defensive teams, the last time the Penguins finished the regular season top-5 in goals against was in 1997-1998 when the Penguins ranked 4th in the NHL giving up just 2.29 goals against per game, Kevin Constantine’s first season.
The Penguins who have posted three straight shutout wins, have surrendered just nine goals in their last 11 games.
Statistically, goaltenders Marc Andre Fleury (18-5-0, 2.24 GAA, .918 sv%) and Tomas Vokoun (10-3-0, 2.33 GAA, .922 sv%) have made their jumps in the NHL ranks. Fleury ranks 2nd in the NHL in wins (18) and among goaltenders who have made 20 or more starts, Fleury is 6th in goals against average (2.24). Fleury’s goals against average was 2.71 on March 10th. Vokoun has also seen his numbers improve dramatically of late. He’s gone from a 3.00 + GAA to and save percentage below .900 to now having a 2.33 GAA and team best .922 save percentage.
Tonight’s goaltending matchup will be Tomas Vokoun vs Ryan Miller. The Penguins plan to start Marc Andre Fleury vs the Rangers tomorrow night, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game. Fleury has been informed of that. Of note for the Sabres, Thomas Vanek won’t play tonight, a tough loss for the Sabres.
— Jarome Iginla remains all smiles as he will be appearing in his second game tonight as a Penguin. Iginla seems to be loving life in Pittsburgh and is feeling a lot more comfortable. “I feel good, feel more comfortable,” Iginla said. “First day I was so excited I couldn’t feel the puck. Feel a lot more normal today.”
Iginla will go back to right wing but expect Iginla and Neal to flip flop in the middle of shifts based on situations. As Dan Bylsma mentioned today, on Neal’s third period goal vs the Islanders, Neal started the shift on left wing and scored coming down the right side.
“He’s had a few days to settle in,” Bylsma said of Iginla. Bylsma see’s a lot of promise with the Neal-Malkin-Iginla line. “By the third period, they got a good understanding of each other,” Bylsma said. “We’ll see that grow tonight.”
Iginla will play the left point on the power play and will be a focal point for his shot. Iginla said he is comfortable there.
— Players were pressed about Randy Carlyle’s “hockey gods” comment in regards to Sid’s injury. Most laughed them off, saying they didn’t hear them and Dan Bylsma wouldn’t go there. “I don’t know what Randy Carlyle was talking about,” Bylsma said. Later pressed, Bylsma said “I don’t understand what he’s trying to say.”
— With 12 games left, we’ve reached the point where it’s time to start watching the standings. Things could be lining up for a Penguins – Rangers first round playoff matchup and the Penguins face the Rangers tomorrow night and again on Friday. “Rangers are a team we think really highly of,” Bylsma said.