Penguins need to have a “heightened” sense of urgency to close out series Monday night


Post-Game Five Reactions Admit it. When the Canadiens scored late Saturday night against the Penguins, you got nervous. Don’t worry. You should’ve been. This Montreal team always has life. And it draws on every breath big time, even when the pulse is faint. That’s why it is so important for Pittsburgh to close out this best of seven Eastern Conference Semifinal Monday night in Game Six back in Montreal. And the Penguins have a bad history when it comes winning initial close-out games in playoff series. Game Five vs. Ottawa this year Game Six vs. Washington last year Game Five vs. Philadelphia last year Game Four vs. the Rangers in 2008 Game Four vs. the Flyers in 2008 Yes, the Penguins usually do finish off their playoff opponents. But it usually takes a little bit longer than their fans would like. And in this series, against a team with aRead More »

Post-Game 2 Reactions: Canadiens have made it a series


Post-Game 2 Analysis As I walked into Mellon Arena Sunday, an usher yelled to me: “What do you think? Pens in five, right?” I responded, “Hmmm, I think six.” The look I got back was as if I had just suggested pigs could fly. And this was about the tenth time something like that had happened since it became clear Montreal and Pittsburgh would match up in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Every time I’d say, “Pens in six” the person who I was speaking with responded as if I was committing some sort of blasphemy by making that suggestion. “No way! How could you even say that? Pens in five. Maybe even a sweep. In fact, maybe Montreal might just quit after three games.” Well, the cliche in pro sports playoffs is, the series doesn’t start until one team wins on the road. Well….guess what. JustRead More »

Dan Bylsma seeks quality of shots, as opposed to the volume of shots on Halak


“Shoot! Shoooot! Shooooooot!” Those are the cat calls Penguin players have heard from Penguin fans for eons. And, okay, from media members as well (I’m guilty as charged). No doubt. Of all the teams in the National Hockey League, the Pittsburgh Penguins may be the most notorious when it comes to over-thinking and over-passing instead of just shooting the puck on net. With all of the skill the Penguins have possessed over the years, one complaint backers of the Pens have had is that they simply don’t get the puck on net enough. From Sergei Zubov, to Jan Hrdina, to Alex Goligoski, to Kip Miller, to Jaromir Jagr, to Mario Lemieux, to Dick Tarnstrom, to Sidney Crosby, to Milan Kraft, to Evgeni Malkin, to Sergei Gonchar…any skilled Penguin who has ever played at Mellon Arena has been booed at some point in their career for passing or stick handling insteadRead More »

Off-day notes: Montreal forcing a Game 7 is the buzz of the Penguins locker room


*With Boston eliminating Buffalo last night, the Penguins can now only face either Montreal or Boston in the next round. Should Washington beat Montreal in Game 7 of that series, the Capitals will play the Flyers in a best of seven Eastern Conference semi final; thus giving the Penguins a match-up against the Bruins. If Montreal pulls off the upset, the Canadiens would face off against the Pens and the Flyers would battle the Bruins. In that scenario, the fourth seeded Penguins would be the highest remaining team in the East and would have home ice advantage for at least the next two rounds. *Chris Kunitz did not skate today. Coach Dan Byslma gave him the day off. He says Kunitz was “suffering some lingering effects from a long and physical series.” *Neither Tyler Kennedy nor Jordan Leopold skated with the team again today. *If Leopold remains out for theRead More »

Game 5 Morning skate buzz: Fedotenko back in lineup; LeClaire to start in goal


Morning skate Notes -Penguin Coach Dan Byslma says Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Leopold are both day-to-day. But don’t expect either player to suit up tonight. Look for more of Jay McKee on defense. Ruslan Fedotenko will return to the line-up in Kennedy’s spot. To begin the game he’ll assume Kennedy’s spot on the third line with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke. -Fedotenko admitted some disappointment and frustration to being scratched. But today he spoke about being energized for a return to the line-up tonight. Mike Rupp was scratched in Game One. But he replaced Fedotenko in Game Two. Rupp hasn‘t left the line-up since. He‘s been paired, largely, with Max Talbot and Craig Adams. -Ottawa will start Pascal Leclaire in goal -The Senators will dress former Penguin Shean Donovan tonight. Johnathan Cheechoo will sit. -Eric Goddard will continue to be a scratch. -Brent Johnson insists “all the cobwebs” have clearedRead More »

On the Roethlisberger Suspension: Goodell is on a maverick style sheriff power trip


His Eminence Roger Goodell has ruled. And he has decided to smite Ben Roethlisberger from up on high! With a Papal act of power, the NFL commissioner has suspended the Steeler quarterback for at least four weeks and possibly six. Please cue the puff of smoke. Just make sure it isn’t from Santonio Holmes. I’m just surprised Goodell didn’t wear the funny Pope hat when he made the ruling. Then again, knowing what I know about Goodell, maybe his head is too big to fit in it. Goodell’s suspension of Roethlisberger is capricious, arbitrary, and dangerous. This guy is on a maverick sheriff power trip that needs to be stopped. The problem is the only hope to stop him is the NFL Player’s Association. Frankly, the kid in Tiananmen Square had a better chance of stopping that tank back in 1989.

2010 Playoffs: Bylsma doesn’t guarantee Rupp a spot back in the lineup for game 2; Recall Thiessen


Off-day Series news and notes – Senators forward Milan Michalek will be out for the rest of the series with a torn ACL, the Senators announced this afternoon. -Brent Johnson didn’t practice today. He has the flu. The Penguins have recalled goaltender Brad Thiessen from Wilkes Barre/Scranton as insurance if Johnson is not available. -Sidney Crosby admits that the level of hate wasn’t enough last night against the Senators. He says that will be the case from this point forward. He blamed not seeing Ottawa a lot in recent months, or last year in the post season. -A number of players insisted the trap wasn’t as much of an issue as some were making it out to be, claiming Ottawa didn’t trap as much as some other teams they have faced. Matt Cooke, for one, blamed Pittsburgh’s own sloppy play in the neutral zone -Dan Bylsma spoke well off MikeRead More »

Penguins prepare for the challenge of Volchenkov and Phillips


Here are some numbers to consider as the Penguins prepare for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against Ottawa: *Sidney Crosby had no goals in four games against the Senators this year. *Sidney Crosby had 51 goals in 77 other NHL games against the rest of the league. *Sidney Crosby had three points in four games against the Senators this year. *Sidney Crosby had 106 points in 77 other games against the rest of the league. In four games against the Senators this year, Sidney Crosby was a -3. Against the rest of the NHL hew was a +15 Here are some other numbers that may indicate why: 12, 4, 24 Those are the numbers of Mike Fisher, Chris Phillips, and Anton Volchenkov. Fisher is renowned as one of the better two way forwards in the league. Meanwhile Phillips and Volchenkov are regarded as a shutdown defensive pair. AndRead More »

The long-term effects of the Kris Letang signing on Sergei Gonchar


  Across the board, Penguins management, coaches, and players say the team can still keep Sergei Gonchar. Universally, all sides say he can still come back next season. To a man everyone in the locker room applauded Tuesday’s news that Gonchar’s fellow defenseman, Kris Letang, just signed a 4 year contract extension to stay in Pittsburgh to the tune of $3.5 million per season. The NHL salary cap, however, was not available for comment. Letang’s new contract prevents him from becoming a restricted free agent at the end of the year. However, Gonchar is still slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Elsewhere on the blue line, the Penguins have $3.75 million tied up Brooks Orpik against the salary cap next year. Alex Goligoski will cost $1.8 million. Gonchar is apparently still seeking more than $5 million per year for perhaps three years or longer. Add inRead More »

Ovechkin factored into the Penguins decision to acquire Jordan Leopold


Steeler fans love to reminisce about the good ole’ days. And, by “the good ole’ days” I am of course referring all the way back to… well, 2004. You remember those good ole’ days don’t you? That’s back when the Steelers ran the ball about 80 times a game and Stiller fans got to yell “Go Bus Go!” a whole bunch. That’s back when Steeler fans didn’t feel conflicted about scoring because they ran it into the end zone instead of it throwing for six points. Back in those good ole’ days, opponents of the Steelers used to make moves specifically to compete against the Black and Gold. Remember every April during the draft? NFL analysts used to describe practically every pick by Baltimore, Cincinnati, or Cleveland (heck, even Jacksonville or Tennessee way back in the day) as a “counter Steeler maneuver.” Every time a nose tackle (see John Henderson,Read More »