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Insider Only Morning Pens Buzz: On Cooke, Crosby, Tangradi, Vitale, Third Line & Penguin League Ranks

MORNING PENGUINS BUZZ

— The NHL informed the Penguins this morning that there will be no discipline or hearing for Matt Cooke. The Senators were pushing hard for the league to take action but the league told both teams they felt there was no intent. The only argument on Cooke you could make is that he was careless with his skate but it was really just a play that went bad.
— Many ask what went wrong with Eric Tangradi as he never developed into an impact NHL player with the Penguins. Well expectations were too high from the get go for Tangradi and he was arguably drafted higher than he probably should have been by the Anaheim Ducks. Tangradi entered the 2007 draft as the 93rd ranked North American Skater by central scouting and regarded by many draft evaluators as a 4th round prospect, although players ranked 60-100 is often a crapshoot. What the Penguins became infatuated with was the size and potential power forward ability. One concern from the get-go, though, from some in the organization was whether Tangradi had the “drive” to ever emerge into an impact NHL player and that question is still there as Tangradi begins the next stage of his career in Winnipeg.
For long-time readers of the site who might remember this, I had a team source tell me about two years ago that Tangradi “needs to put the video games down” and he wasn’t joking. He’s a great guy but the drive to do what he needed to do off the ice hasn’t always been there. In Winnipeg, the addition of Tangradi led to former Penguin Alexei Ponikarovsky getting moved back to New Jersey. The Jets are expected to give Tangradi a look in the top-9 but his ceiling is likely a 4th line winger as his skill set doesn’t translate to NHL speed. However, if he can ever develop a physical game and start playing with an edge, I think he can be an effective 4th liner in the right system. Tangradi had just 6 hits in five games with the Penguins, which is just absurd.
Sidney Crosby is second in the league with 187 faceoffs won and has won 35 faceoffs in his last two games, after winning 19 vs New Jersey and 16 vs Senators last night. He is clearly playing the best overall hockey of his career and if there’s one knock on his game is that Crosby’s passing up too many shot opportunities in the slot.

— We saw last night why Joe Vitale shouldn’t be coming out of the lineup as the 4th line center. With his speed and ability in the faceoff circle, the Penguins have a much better 4th line in establishing zone time when Vitale is in the lineup.
— If Matt Cooke becomes a short-term fix on the second line, Dustin Jeffrey not Zach Boychuk should be the player getting the audition on the third line.
— Pretty impressive for Brandon Sutter last night at just 23 years old to be playing in his 300th career NHL games.

LEAGUE RANKS

*Sidney Crosby tied for first in assists (14) and second in points with 20 (6G-14A). Crosby is second in the NHL with 13 even strength points.
*Sidney Crosby is second in the NHL with 187 faceoffs won.
*Chris Kunitz 9th in the NHL with 16 points (6G-10A)
*James Neal ranks 2nd in NHL with 10 goals and 1st in power play goals with 6
*Evgeni Malkin is tied for 2nd in the NHL with 9 power play points.
*Brooks Orpik leads the NHL with 37 blocked shots. Former Penguin Zbynek Michalek is second in NHL with 36. Last season Orpik was 40th in the NHL with 139 blocked shots.
*Tanner Glass is 12th in the NHL with 39 hits
*Paul Martin is 12th in the NHL among defenseman averaging 25:49 of ice time.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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