2014 Olympics: Crosby centering Kunitz and Carter on Canada’s top line


TEAM CANADA UPDATE Photo: Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune Sidney Crosby, as expected, is centering Chris Kunitz and Jeff Carter on Canada’s top line during Canada’s first on-ice practice session today in Sochi. Carter had been looked at as the logical choice to get the first shot on Crosby’s right wing once Steven Stamkos was ruled out of action last week. Crosby appearing in his second Olympics, had 4 goals and 3 assists in seven games during the 2010 Olympic games. Crosby had two game winning goals, including the OT winner in the Gold Medal game. Per Tim Wharnsby of CBC, Canada’s second and third lines were Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Rick Nash and John Tavares – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry. Barring Chris Kunitz really struggling out of the gates, he’s expected to be a lock to stay with Crosby but the right wing situation could end upRead More »

Will Sidney Crosby top 130 points in 2013-2014?


No NHL player has produced a 130 point season since Mario Lemieux (169 pts) and Jaromir Jagr (149 pts) did so in 1995-1996. The players who have come the closest to reaching 130 points since the 1996-1997 season include Jaromir Jagr, 127 points in 1998-1999 and Joe Thornton, 125 points in 2005-2005. Could Sidney Crosby become the first NHL player to reach that mark in 16 years? Everything is going to depend on Crosby’s ability to play in 79-82 games in 2013-2014. Crosby last season averaged 1.55 points per game, which amounts to a 128 points season over 82 games. Crosby in his last 99 regular season games is averaging 1.61 points per game (159 points). Averaging around 1.60 points per game and appearing in 81, 82 games makes it a difficult mark for Crosby to reach but he’s the best bet of anyone in the NHL.

Morning Pens Buzz: Penguins should go back to Tomas Vokoun in Game 3


MORNING PENS BUZZ Heading into Game 3 the goaltending situation is far down the list of worries for the Pittsburgh Penguins and that’s not a good thing. The Penguins have a number of issues and are truly a mess right now being outscored 9-1 in the series. None are bigger than the fact that Pittsburgh’s star players have been absolute duds in the series and a lack of defensive structure and players unable to make basic defensive assignments on the backcheck have been at the forefront of the Penguins issues. With how bad the likes of Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby have played, maybe the only way is up for the Penguins as the play from Letang, Crosby, and others really can’t get any worse, can it? Yes, the Penguins have rallied from 2-0 deficits in the past, but this feels like a series that is over and it’s hardRead More »

Bruins neutralized Crosby with Bergeron, opted for Chara – Malkin matchup in Game 1 at even strength


One of the top storylines coming into Game 1 was how the Boston Bruins intended to utilize Zdeno Chara in a matchup role and who he would be paired with. Do they go for the matchup against Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? That was among the burning questions, and, as expected, the Bruins went for the Patrice Bergeron – Sidney Crosby matchup, while going for the Chara – Evgeni Malkin matchup at even strength. The first wrinkle Bruins head coach Claude Julien threw was splitting up his top pairing of Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. With Andrew Ference returning to the lineup, Julien was comfortable enough to pair Johnny Boychuk with Zdeno Chara and go with Ference and Seidenberg in a primary shutdown role against the Crosby line. The Bruins effectively neutralized Crosby who had no points, a minus-2 rating, 4 shots on goal and was 6 of 17 (35%) on faceoffs.Read More »

Penguins coming off as whiners after Game 1?


GAME 1 FALLOUT The Penguins have expected a physical series and they set the tone physically for the first 35 minutes of the game, but the Bruins would eventually get into the Penguins head, similar to how the Flyers did so effectively last spring. Although the Penguins are a much more physical team than the Vancouver Canucks were in the 2011 Cup Finals, Boston does feel they can attack and get under the Penguins skilled players skin like they did so well against the Canucks in 2011. The second period scrum that saw Evgeni Malkin pummel Patrice Bergeron, and Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara barking at each other, led to the Penguins losing their composure. “I don’t think the situation at the end of the second period was in our favor,” Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It did get us off our game,” The Penguins after the game came offRead More »

Coaching Staff has two different lineups in mind for playoffs: One with Sid & one without


PENS STAFF WORKING OFF TWO DIFFERENT LINEUPS FOR PLAYOFFS Sidney Crosby practiced today with the team for the first time since breaking his jaw on March 30th, and while it was another step in the right direction for Crosby, there remains uncertainty on when he will be cleared for contact and cleared to play. Doctors on Thursday felt comfortable enough for Crosby to start practicing with his teammates but not yet to start taking contact. “Returning is not really up to me,” Crosby said this afternoon. “I’ll just keep talking with the doctors. It’s something they have to feel comfortable with the healing. As soon as they say the word I’ll be ready to go.” Crosby avoided contact in today’s practice and the NHL playoffs begin in four days on Tuesday, April 30th, but the Penguins will be opening up at home on Wednesday, May 1. “There is no timetableRead More »

Five point nights from Kunitz and Crosby lead Penguins to 6-1 win over Islanders


POST-GAME BUZZ Chris Kunitz (17) scored his second hat trick of the season, and Sidney Crosby added five assists, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-0, 36 pts) to a 6-1 rout over the New York Islanders (11-12-3, 25 pts) on Sunday night at the Consol Energy Center. Pascal Dupuis (11) scored twice and James Neal (17) had a goal and two assists in the win. Defensemen Kris Letang also had two assists as five Penguins had multi-point games. Tomas Vokoun made 23 saves to record his sixth win of the season. The Penguins played very well in front of him and didn’t give the Islanders many second chances. Vokoun faced just 10 shots through the first forty minutes of the game. The Penguins extending their winning streak to five games, got a huge game from the top line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis who combined for 5 goalsRead More »

Game Day Buzz: On Vokoun starting over Fleury, Martin’s timetable, Therrien’s impact on skilled players & lineup buzz


GAME DAY BUZZ PENGUINS (13-8-0, 26 pts) @ CANADIENS (13-4-3, 29 pts) In a surprising development, Tomas Vokoun is getting the start in goal tonight vs the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters today that starting Vokoun tonight had been pre-planned for at least a few weeks now. “This has been a game that Tomas has been scheduled to play for a couple weeks now,” Bylsma said. If this was planned weeks ago, how about telling your No. 1 goaltender ahead of time that he’s not going to be playing tonight in his hometown. According to the Tribune-Review, Fleury expressed disappointment in learning that he’s not playing. “I’m not going to lie,” Fleury said on his disappointment. “Yeah, a little bit. Friends and family are going to be here.” The decision came as a surprise to Fleury. “A little bit, but it’s fine,”Fleury said. ByRead More »

Penguins Game Day Buzz on pivotal game for Flyers, Reactions on rivalry, Vokoun, & buzz on who sits on the blueline


GAME DAY BUZZ FLYERS (9-7-1, 15 PTS) @ PENGUINS (11-5-0, 22 PTS) TEAM STATS PIT Goals Per Game (3.19) | PHI Goals Per Game (2.65) PIT Goals Against Per Game (2.38) | PHI Goals Against Per Game (2.82) PIT Power Play (27.4%) | PHI Power Play (19.1%) PIT Penalty Kill (82.5%) | PHI Penalty Kill (83.1%) PIT 5 on 5 Goals (31) | PHI 5 on 5 Goals (28) PIT 5 on 5 Goals Against (24) | PHI 5 on 5 Goals Against (29) LEADERS PIT Points: Sidney Crosby (24), Chris Kunitz (19), Evgeni Malkin (18) | PHI Points: Jacub Voracek (15), Matt Read (13), Claude Giroux (13), Brayden Schenn (13) PIT Goals: James Neal (11), Pascal Dupuis (7), Sidney Crosby (7) | PHI Goals: Matt Read (7), Daniel Briere (5), Claude Giroux (5) PIT Assists: Sidney Crosby (17), Evgeni Malkin (15), Chris Kunitz (13) | PHI Assists: Jacub VoracekRead More »

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 isRead More »