WWGD: WHAT WILL GENO DO?

 

So, what will Evgeni Malkin do when NHL play resumes? Malkin did OK at the Olympics. A few great moments. Two goals vs. the Czech Republic. But Malkin was nondescript in the loss to Canada and overall, did not sparkle. Malkin had a great deal of emotion invested into the Olympics. How will he deal with what happened?

PENS NEED BETTER FROM GENO

 

Here’s a question that may anger Evgeni Malkin fans: Has there ever been a more useless 13-game points streak than the one Malkin has going? Malkin has eight goals and 14 assists over that span, but he’s minus-7 with six minus games. Plus/minus can be very deceiving, true, but the Penguins are just 6-7 in those 13 games. THAT doesn’t deceive. There are spurts when Malkin just refuses to pass. His backchecking has been lax. He commits penalties of petulance far too often. Witness Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Nashville: Malkin idiotically took four minutes for roughing at the close of the first period, gifting the Predators a power-play goal. His stupid interference penalty late in the third period nearly cost the Penguins the loser point they ultimately got. Malkin has been selfish and childish

KOVALCHUK OFFERS NJ NO GUARANTEES

 

The New Jersey Devils got Ilya Kovalchuk. OK, now what? One thing seems certain: The Devils join a long line of teams that think they have a 1-2 punch to match Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin just because they have two decent offensive threats. Kovalchuk and Zach Parise are good. Sid and Geno, they aren’t. Neither is as good as either. Where does Kovalchuk fit in with New Jersey’s regimented trapping system? Will he make it, or break it? Like-minded Marian Gaborik hated playing for Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota. Lemaire has decelerated Parise’s production this season. Who is Kovalchuk’s playmaking center? Travis Zajac? Jamie Langenbrunner? Please. Kovalchuk is a huge add on the power play. If you beat the Penguins on the power play – not exactly a daunting task – you can beat the Penguins, not that the Devils have had any trouble dealing with the Pens so farRead More »

MEMO TO OVIE: WINS IN MAY > WINS IN JANUARY

 

Congratulations to Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals for winning a game at Mellon Arena in January. Ovie and the Caps played a fiery, focused 60 minutes and were worthy winners. But it’s not the same as winning Game 7 in May. Capitals fans should know – and if they don’t, somebody tell ‘em – that Thursday’s 6-3 victory hardly evens accounts. For the Caps to get revenge, they’ve got to eliminate the Penguins in the playoffs, then go on and win the Stanley Cup. Anything else is insignificant. That said, the Capitals were the better team. If the teams played a best-of-7 series now, you’d bet on Washington. I am absolutely fascinated by Ovechkin. I have never seen a hockey player quite like him. If a great white shark is a perfect killing machine, Ovechkin is a perfect shooting machine. If I were a world leader, I’d buy aRead More »

MacDONALD MUST BE FIRED

 

The puck went in. The referees, linesmen and goal judge didn’t see it. The camera saw it. The producer wouldn’t let the NHL see it. The goal didn’t count. Now there’s trouble. FSN Pittsburgh producer Lowell MacDonald Jr. failed to provide NHL replay officials all video footage of a disputed Philadelphia goal in the Penguins’ 7-4 loss to the Flyers last Thursday. Specifically, he denied the NHL video that showed the puck was in. Simon Gagne lost a goal he should have, the NHL lost credibility and while the Flyers didn’t lose the game, MacDonald may lose his job. Right now, MacDonald is suspended indefinitely. Been there, done that, pal. Get your resume ready. It’s hard to believe MacDonald accidentally left out the one angle that showed the puck was in. Ergo, it’s hard to characterize what he did as anything but cheating. This raises a lot of questions. WasRead More »

BRING BACK THERRIEN

 

It’s a shame the Penguins can’t bring back Michel Therrien for a couple weeks. Most of the dressing room wouldn’t be overjoyed by the prospect. Brooks Orpik might be downright suicidal. But this team needs a bad cop. A short, sharp dose of Therrien might be the only thing that can reel in the subpar flying circus the Pens have become, let alone imbue them with the solid two-way fundamentals that won the Stanley Cup last season and have all but disappeared now. Want proof? Look at last night’s 7-4 loss to Philadelphia.

THIS YEAR’S MODEL

 

Refreshing hockey notes: What a way to start the New Year! *Jordan Staal is this year’s model. Brenden Morrow is last year’s model. In a nutshell, that’s why Canada underachieves in international hockey. *The Penguins’ power play is much better in its current alignment. The numbers don’t lie: 7-for-32 (21.8 percent) since the change. The increased possession and pressure don’t lie, either. Evgeni Malkin doesn’t touch the puck as much, but three guys can’t play catch. That’s reality. Malkin will have to do more with fewer touches, i.e., SHOOT! *New Jersey’s trap poses a problem for the Penguins. But a best-of-7 series, where the Penguins can get the rhythm of cracking the trap, will be a different – and short – story, one that has a happy ending for the Pens. The Devils’ skating, however, has troubled the Penguins more than the trap in the four games between the teams,Read More »

WINGS AND THINGS

 

Much needless argument is manufactured on this site and others like it regarding the Penguins’ situation at wing. Debate away. But things won’t change. No significant moves will be made to upgrade the Pens’ wingers. Not now, and not at the trade deadline. This is what General Manager Ray Shero has chosen: Strength down the middle, mediocrity on the flanks. If Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal can live with it, so can you. Let’s get this one out of the way: The Penguins will NOT acquire Ilya Kovalchuk as a rental player at the deadline. Even if Shero could maneuver cap room, Kovalchuk will fetch Atlanta far more than the Pens would want to surrender. The Penguins’ future is, indeed, NOW – but you can’t totally pillage your future or give up young wingers who can solve the problem long-term. Which brings us to…

DIARY OF A POWER PLAY

 

12-15-09 – Philadelphia at Penguins PP#1 – The Penguins’ brand-new power-play alignment showed more precision and organization in its first minute than the prior model showed in the previous 10 games…until Evgeni Malkin passed the puck out of the zone before the Pens got a shot off, that is. But before the man-advantage expired, the Penguins scored: Sidney Crosby netting the rebound of a fluky bounce that had zilch to do with precision and organization. The new PP was 1-for-1. Don’t minimize that goal. If the new PP has luck and nothing else going for it, that’s one more positive quality than the preceding version. PP#2 – The Penguins got their second power play of the evening at 9:59 of the second period, killing three of their own penalties in the interim. The Flyers came to play hockey, but the Pens kept gooning it up. The Penguins got four shotsRead More »