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 »

12/28 – Monday Practice Report: Rupp skates with Crosby, Dupuis on top unit


Pittsburgh_ The Pittsburgh Penguins went through a 70 minute workout this morning before departing for Buffalo as the Penguins hit the road for a four game road trip that includes back-to-back games against the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. Defenseman Alex Goligoski and forward Chris Kunitz did not practice today. Kunitz remains bothered by a nagging knee injury, while Goligoski has a bad back. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma did indicate he expects both players to participate in Tuesday’s morning skate at Buffalo. Eaton to return to lineup Tuesday night *Defenseman Mark Eaton participated fully in practice today for the 3rd consecutive day. Eaton was paired with Kris Letang in practice and will return to the lineup against Buffalo after missing three games with a right knee injury. *Over the past week, Dan Bylsma has been experimenting with line changes on his top two lines and today in practiceRead More »

Role players fueling Penguins 22-10-1 start


There are many reasons the Penguins have jumped out to a 22-10-1 start through 33 games. Marc Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby to name a few but what has really fueled the Penguins hot start is the play of their role players. A stunning stat is projected 3rd and 4th liners Michael Rupp and Pascal Dupuis are tied for second on the team with 9 goals each. In fact, Rupp and Dupuis have combined for more goals than top-6 forwards Ruslan Fedotenko (5), Bill Guerin (7) and Chris Kunitz (3) have combined for. In evaluating this team through 30+ games, Pittsburgh has a much stronger core of secondary wingers (Cooke, Dupuis, Kennedy, Rupp, Talbot) than actual top line wingers. Pittsburgh has found ways to keep winning with a subpar power play after ranking 20th in 2008-2009 and currently 29th. They will continue to do so, at least until the playoffs. However,Read More »

Friday Practice Report: Kunitz eyes return to lineup


The Pittsburgh Penguins snapped a two game winless streak Thursday night, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at the Bell Centre behind a game winning goal from Pascal Dupuis. Much of the talk today was about the blown call by referee Chris Lee in the third period. Lee lost sight of the puck in Fleury’s crease right before Scott Gomez put it past Fleury in what would have tied the game 3-3. Winning teams get bounces like that. This afternoon the Penguins got back to work as head coach Dan Bylsma put his team through a 60 minute up-tempo practice with a lot of emphasis on skilled drills. ***Prior to practice Michael Rupp was working out for the Pittsburgh Steelers on the ice. On a serious note, winger Chris Kunitz is eyeing a return to the lineup Saturday night against Florida. Kunitz went through another full squad practice and appears readyRead More »

Wednesday Practice Report: Rupp gets a look on top line


Goligoski to return to lineup Thursday night SouthPointe _ Forward Max Talbot has been demoted to the 4th line and the Penguins are exploring the possibility of playing forward Michael Rupp with Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin tomorrow night against Montreal. Rupp got an extensive look with Crosby, Guerin today in a number of drills as the Penguins prepare for the Montreal Canadiens. Rupp alternated with Chris Kunitz on the left side but the coaching staff is expected to keep Kunitz out of the lineup for at least one more game. The Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal units will remain the same tomorrow night while Max Talbot is expected to skate on the 4th line with Craig Adams and Eric Godard. *Defenseman Alex Goligoski had an excellent practice and will return to the lineup Thursday night. With Goligoski set to return, a defenseman will have to sit but it’s notRead More »

Post-Game Notebook: Penguins take over in third period, beat Av’s 4-1


Penguins have won 8 of 10 Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist and Bill Guerin added a power play goal in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 Thursday night at Mellon Arena. The Avalanche in the midst of back-to-back games, played a tight defensive game but Pittsburgh took over in the third period out shooting the Avalanche 14-1 in the period. Pittsburgh added an empty net goal by Jodan Staal (7) at 19:11 of the third period and Sidney Crosby added another 18 seconds later as the Penguins prevailed 4-1. Crosby’s three point night gives him 11 points in his last three games. Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury made 15 saves to record his 17th win of the season. Post-Game Wrap up *The Colorado Avalanche like to play a tight defensive game in the neutral zone similar to the Phoenix Coyotes and lookRead More »

Crosby scores OT winner in 3-2 win over Panthers


Post-Florida Thoughts The Florida Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 third period lead and did the worst thing you can do against the Penguins; sit back and play conservative The Panthers let the Penguins hang around just long enough and Pittsburgh’s role players came up big in regulation as Pascal Dupuis (6) scored at 4:49 of the third period to cut the Panthers lead to 2-1 and Michael Rupp (5) scored with 2:32 remaining in the third period to tie the game at 2-2. Just over a minute into overtime, Panthers winger Nathan Horton was called for a controversial four minute double minor for high-sticking Brooks Orpik which led to Sidney Crosby (11) scoring the game winner (PPG) at 3:07 in overtime as the Penguins prevailed 3-2. Pittsburgh outshot the Panthers 45-21 in the game, including a 16-3 advantage in the third period and a 6-0 advantage in overtime. MarcRead More »

Pittsburgh off to second best start in franchise history


The Pittsburgh Penguins (7-1) continued their hot streak Saturday night beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 as the team continues to get contributions night after night from “different areas and different positions.” Sergei Gonchar had a goal, assist and Marc Andre Fleury made 22 saves in the win. Bill Guerin (3), Pascal Dupuis (1) and Michael Rupp (2) also scored for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby had two assists and Evgeni Malkin had an assist on the night. Fleury is off to a career best 7-0 start and what Pittsburgh continues to do in the defensive zone is frustrate the opposition. Pittsburgh had a total of 19 blocked shots against Tampa Bay, including 7 blocked shots from defenseman Jay McKee who has been a perfect fit for the Penguins thus far. Through eight games, the story of the Penguins season is Marc Andre Fleury and the contributions they are getting from theirRead More »

Penguins put on impressive performance; beat Leafs 5-2


Post-Toronto Observations Toronto — Coming off a divisional win in Philadelphia Thursday night, Pittsburgh put on a dominating performance tonight beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at the Air Canada Center. Pittsburgh’s “Big Three” came up big with Sidney Crosby netting two goals, Evgeni Malkin adding three assists and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury did what he needed to do making 18 saves to improve to 4-0 on the season. The win was the Penguins fourth on the season while the Leafs continue to look for their first win of the year. Pittsburgh had their way with the Leafs and were clearly the superior team. Toronto GM Brian Burke made a number of personnel moves this summer to improve the organization. The moves have the potential to pay dividends in the future but the theme of the Leafs continue; lack of discipline, inability to score goals and poor goaltending. Through theRead More »