Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Midseason Review - Michel Ouellet

Michel Ouellet

28 Games
13 Goals
11 Assists
-6 +/-
10 PIM

Grade: A-

Michel has been playing quite well for a rookie. He was the first callup for new coach Michel Therrien, and he hasn't let his coach down. Michel has contributed on a fairly consistent basis in his short career so far. He has a great, heavy shot and has that knack for being in the right place at the right time, especially on the power play.

Eventually, Michel should turn into a good two-way player who can contribute regularly on the power play. He'll probably hit the rookie wall eventually here, but so far he's shown no signs of losing his confidence or his physical skills.

The main thing I'm looking for from Michel is more consistent play, along with more offensive pressure, at even strength. Most of his scoring has come on the power play. Would be nice to see him step up and create in a 5 on 5 situation as well. He's obviously talented enough.

Midseason Review - Ric Jackman

Ric Jackman

45 Games
5 Goals
21 Assists
-16 +/-
42 PIM

Grade: C-

It's tough for me to watch a game and judge how well each player is playing. It's kind of like evaluating the offensive line in football - if the quaterback gets sacked, you know someone screwed up. Until then, you can only assume they're doing okay. Ric Jackman, for much of the season, hasn't been doing okay. He was a seemingly frequent scratch for both Edzo and Therrien. When he's in the game, he's the Pens second leading point-getter from the blue line. Until recently, he was the leading point-getter. That means that he must have been screwing things up pretty badly in other areas. I know from what I see that he doesn't look terribly fast, and doesn't play a very physical game (though this has changed a little bit under Michel Therrien).

When he's playing well, Jackman can contribute to the offense. He needs to get his shots on net. He also is someone that I can remember a few times being guilty of shooting without any traffic in front.

Recently, Jackman has asked to be traded if the team was going to keep scratching him. I wouldn't be surprised to see him leave town, and that would be disappointing since he his young and obviously has talent.

Midseason Review - John Leclair

John Leclair

50 Games
12 Goals
20 Assists
-16 +/-
49 PIM

Grade: B-

John Leclair has given the team decent effort, especially of late. He, along with Mark Recchi, are leading by example and playing with some intensity and desire.

At times, he's been great when positioned in front of the net. Most of his goals have been of the rebound variety. When he's hustling and parking himself just in front of the crease, he's still pretty effective.

Some of the limited productivity would have to be attributed to his age and some more to the speed of the game. However, I'd also put a bunch of it on the poor power play (and offense in general) that the Penguins have deployed so far this year. When you're not getting shots on net from the defense, it's tough to get any rebounds to stuff in. The timing of the shots that are taken seems to leave something to be desired as well - it's like taking a long jumper in basketball without looking to see if you have any teammates around the hoop to get the potential rebound.

Maybe Leclair's biggest job right now would be to tutor Ryan Malone. Ryan needs to play more like Leclair does, in my opinion. He'd do well to pay attention to John while he's around.

Leclair can fill a valuable role on this team when they're good. He could also be valuable to a contender. Until then, he can do what he's doing now - lead by example with grit, hustle and determination.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Injury updates

Lyle Odelein is out for the rest of the season at least to undergo knee surgery.

Michel Ouellet is fully recovered from his knee bruise and is ready to play.

None of this news is really all that bad. You never like to see someone get hurt, but Odelein not playing will mean more time for the other defensemen to develop. It could even mean more playing time for a player like Noah Welch, should they choose to call him up to the big club.

Ouellet's impact will be felt. He has 24 pts in 28 games this year, which translates to a highly successful rookie season.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Midseason Review - Sergei Gonchar

Sergei Gonchar

54 Games
7 Goals
28 Assists
-16 +/-
82 PIM

Grade: C

Sarge has struggled mightily this season. He's currently sitting at a -16, third worst on the team. It's difficult to give him too bad of a grade, because he still has averaged over a point every two games. Of course, this is far below what was expected of him entering the season, fairly or unfairly.

He has been playing better of late, and shows promise for the rest of the season, not to mention the rest of his contract. I've read articles that say that the expectations placed on him were unfair, and that he's not really the puck-toting defensemen that everyone in Pittsburgh seemed to expect. I think he's starting to adjust.

The biggest disappointment for him, aside from his seemingly aloof play on the ice sometimes (something somewhat common here in Pittsburgh in the past), has to be the number of penalties he's taken. I think that it's only a matter of time before he adjusts. Of course that time could be next season.

Overall, I'm not going to call him a bust... not with how the rest of the Pens season has been going. If he continues the same performance once the teams starts to perform better, then I'd be willing to reassess.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The fix is still in?

Remember from one of my previous posts that the Chevrolet Amphitheatre hadn't posted any information about summer concerts? In 2005, they had an entire list of possible concerts on their website (see the link in my older article) by the end of January. Well, it's now getting towards the end of February, and what plans have been rolled out? Well, check out the main site for the Chevrolet Amphitheatre. Looks like they're not doing much.

With Governor Rendell telling anyone who will listen that the Penguins need a Plan B (and O'Connor and Onorato following suit), coupled with some circumstantial evidence surrounding this, it really is starting to look like it's predetermined who will get the slots license, and it isn't the Isle of Capri.

I hope I'm wrong...

Arena circus goes round and round...

So, the latest developments in the Arena saga have seen Gov Rendell, County Executive Onorato and Mayor O'Connor talking about how the Penguins need a Plan B. More insultingly, they've been saying that they'd love to talk to the Penguins to work with them on a plan, but the team won't talk. Of course, the reason the team won't talk is that they're in an exclusive agreement with Isle of Capri and can't talk. It's wonderfully convenient for our elected leaders to suddenly want to talk AFTER the team put together their own plans.

The politicians are playing us badly. Let's give a little bit of perspective to these moves. In Pennsylvania, there have been some very interesting things happening that have made many politicians stand up and take notice. I'll chronicle a small list of events:

  1. In the middle of the night, and without debate, our state politicians vote themselves a 16% pay raise. They do so at a time when the state is in financial difficulty and also has the second largest legislature in the country. PA also has more state congressmen and senators per capita than any state in the nation. To further thumb their collective noses at their constituents, they allow their raise to be taken immediately, via "unvouchered expenses", which basically means they can submit expense reports without any kind of substantiation for the money that would be in their raise. By the state constitution, any raise voted on by the legislature cannot take effect until the beginning of the next session. The defense to the unvouchered expenses? They did it last time they got the raise, and it survived a challenge by being upheld by the State Supreme Court. The problem with that? The judges on the Supreme Court also received the pay raise!! This time, there appears to have been some backdoor wrangling with the judges to get this deal to go through.
  2. The pay raise kicks off a firestorm of public outcry, especially in any part of the state that's not Philadelphia. It persists for far longer than anyone thought it would. Lawmakers are called on the carpet publically here in Western PA, and while some are defiant, most capitulate and state that they will not use the unvouchered expenses (though the pay raise would still stand).
  3. An election to reconfirm two of the State Supreme Court justices happens. This is usually just a formality - never in the history of PA has any justice not been confirmed. This time, one is booted and another one is nearly booted. This is absolutely historic and unheard of. The people have shown their displeasure and anger.
  4. Within a few weeks, the pay raise has been overturned and repealed. Lawmakers are frantically searching for any other issue to take the public eye off of them.
  5. The furor hasn't died yet. Organizations like PA Clean Sweep start up, with the goal of removing every legislator in the state (yes, this is maybe a tad extreme). PA Clean Sweep manages to bring about 80-90 (I think) candidates to challenge incumbents in the upcoming elections. Suddenly the incumbents, who in PA usually have a re-election rate over 90%, are fearing for their jobs.
  6. Lynn Swann announces his candidacy for Governor and wins the Republican nomination.
  7. During the parade and rally after the Steelers Super Bowl win, the public is heard chanting pro-Penguins slogans (like "Save the Pens" and "Mario") when Mayor O'Connor is talking.

So what does all of this mean for the Pens? It means that Governor Rendell is afraid for his job, and needs the votes in the Pittsburgh area. He's now starting to make noises about getting an arena built. He recognizes that if the Pens don't get the slots license and leave Pittsburgh as a result, his political career could suffer.

This will be interesting to see where it goes.

Penguins hockey blog? What Penguins hockey blog?

So, it's been a nice little break from blogging for me for the past week or so. The Pens will be back in action in another week, so it's about time to start writing again. I was going to start posting the reviews I've written for the players, and then I heard Mayor O'Connor being interviewed on ESPN Radio 1250. That was inspiration enough. I'll be posting later on tonight with some arena news, and then maybe follow that up with player reviews.

Been enjoying the Olympics?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Penguins 6, Capitals 3

The Pens were able to accomplish several things tonight that they either hadn't done this season, or hadn't done for quite a while. Among them are:
  • Win back to back games on the road
  • Win the second half of a set of two games in two nights
  • Keep a team from scoring on the power play for the first time in forever (okay, it was 19 games, but it felt like forever)
  • Have six different players score goals. The last time this happened? Last time out against the Caps!
So, the goal is to arrange the schedule for the Pens so they play the Caps 82 times. The way they're going, they'll win the Presidents Cup in a walk.

Overall, tonight we got to see some very good things against the Caps. Of course, that's not unusual against a team like the Caps. The encouraging thing is that the last two nights we've seen the Pens team we thought we'd get all year. They are working hard, getting good goaltending and netting some timely goals. Tonight, their power play worked really well. They didn't get the best start, but overall showed no ill effects from playing on the second night of a back to back.

Next up are the Olympic. I'll probably do a brief post about that, and maybe cover some of the Pens as they play, but mostly I'll be posting the rest of the midseason reviews that I have written. It'll be some good content for the 2+ weeks away from the NHL. If you get a chance, however, make an effort to watch the Olympic hockey. There's nothing else like it in the world, and it's usually leagues better than the level of play in the NHL. It will be interesting, however, to compare it to the new style of play in the NHL.

Two wins in a row! Let's go Pens!

Penguins 4, Hurricanes 3

Last night was a great game. The Pens did what they needed to do to get the win in an extremely tough place to play. The Hurricanes had lost only four home games all year until last night.

The Pens kept the pressure on all evening. They scored first, on a goal by Boguniecki. Every time the Hurricanes tied the game, the Pens were able to come up with an answer to take the lead again. The Penguins scoring (and their success tonight) was the result of hard work. This the kind of effort and hustle that the team needs to show every game.

When the Hurricanes scored with .3 seconds left in the first, all I could think was "here we go again...", but the Pens came out in the second and scored quickly to put things back in their favor. That's when you knew that they had a chance.

Of course, the refs had to have something to say about the outcome. The call that put the Canes up by two men late in the third was justified - Jackman certainly interferred with Justin Williams trying to get to the puck. However, the first call on Whitney (hooking) was awfully weak. The ref didn't even put up his arm until after he saw that Staal didn't score. I'm not sure that Whitney ever touched him with his stick. While I'm talking about the refs, does it seem to anyone else that they're allowing the play where the defensemen impairs the progress of the forechecking forward while his partner goes for the puck? I could have sworn I saw that a few times last night with no call.

Anyway, I was really impressed by the play of Ryan Whitney (and Ric Jackman to a lesser extent). Whitney is really starting to play like a top player on the blue line. He'll be one to watch for next year. Even Jackman seemed to be getting smarter about getting off his shots on the power play, skating laterally to open up shooting lanes instead of just standing back there and blasting it. It will be fun to watch these guys develop.

Wow. Skip the preview... the Pens win. Looks like I'll try my luck again today by skipping the preview for the game tonight against the Caps.

Let's go Pens!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bruins 3, Penguins 1

The game was not as close as the score would indicate. The Pens were outshot 28-10 over the first two periods, and just in case you thought that the lack of offense might make them play with more urgency, they only registered 7 shots in the third, with four or five of them coming in the last few minutes of the game. In fairness, they did have an accuracy issue last night, with some of their shots not finding the net. But, on radio Steigerwald was saying that Thomas almost looked like he was playing in a pee-wee game in that most of the "shots" were just trickling towards him.

I'm not sure what it's going to take to fix the Pens offense to generate consistent scoring. I keep thinking of the line in Hoosiers, where Gene Hackman describes his approach with his team - "I'm going to break 'em down and build them back up". I'm hoping that is what is happening here. In fact, if anyone hears Therrien yelling "FOUR PASSES!", please let me know. :)

Two more games before the break - Carolina and Washington - back to back on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Game #57 - vs Boston

Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins

Boston - 23-23-9 - 55 pts - 10th in East
Pittsburgh - 12-33-11 - 35 pts - Last in East

Boston is four points out of the last playoff spot in the East. They've been playing well lately, going 6-2-2 in their past 10, though they have lost their last two games (one in OT).

Boston's recent success has come on the back of an unlikely source - a 31 year old rookie goaltenter named Tim Thomas. He has a 1.88 GAA and a save percentage over 94%. That's pretty incredible for anyone, much less an old rookie.

Other than Thomas, I'm not sure how the Bruins are so successful lately. Their power play hasn't been especially effective, scoring more than one goal in a game only twice during 2006. Their penalty kill has been pretty decent, and they certainly have been taking a relatively small number of penalties, especially compared with the Pens. They're not really generating a ton of shots, or outshooting everyone either. I guess we'll have to chalk it up to things going their way right now... and that goaltender.

The Pens are playing Boston for the final time this season - they're 0-2-1 against them so far. It would be nice to finish with a win.

I haven't seen anything on Michel Ouellet's status for tonight. He was helped off the ice with a knee injury on Monday.

Guillaume Lefebvre was sent down to Wilkes-Barre on Monday.

Let's go Pens!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Senators 5, Penguins 2

No time - work is crazy. Just one word to describe that game -


Monday, February 06, 2006

Game #56 - at Senators

Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators

Pittsburgh - 12-32-11 - 35 pts - Last in East
Ottawa - 35-12-5 - 75 pts - 2nd in East

Wow - the Pens make it until February without playing the Senators and then play them twice in three games. They also play the Sens twice in March, including the first game after the break.

The Senators were held in check by the Pens last time out for about 30 minutes. Then came the all-too-common letdown where one critical sequence costs them the game. This one, if you remember, was particularly painful, since they allowed two shorties on the same power play. This allowed the Senators to tie the game and completely take momentum away from the Pens.

Tonight, the task will be harder. The Pens will need to do the usual - stay out of the box and play great at even-strength. If they can do that, they'll have a chance. Of course, despite Michel Therrien's influence, the Pens haven't been able to avoid the penalties, even though some of them would seem simple to avoid (like, if you're behind the player, DON'T USE YOUR STICK). Hopefully they'll be able to strike the right balance between agression and playing it safe before too long. At this point, it's all for next season anyway.

Crosby should be active for this game, so that will help. I'm looking for a good road effort and either having the score tied or a single goal differential to start the third. That would give the Pens the chance to pull out some points.

One more thing - don't look now, but the Blues have pulled ahead of the Pens in overall points. Pittsburgh is currently the most likely to draw the #1 overall pick.

Let's go Pens!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Islanders 5, Penguins 4 (OT - SO 2-0)

Satan has done it again against the Penguins. This time, he had a hat trick and a goal in the shootout. Rick DiPietro also played well, stopping 41 of 45 shots. Yes, you read that right - the Pens generated 45 shots.

Overall, the Pens played well enough to win. They were bitten by poor penalty killing and a goalie, who by his own admission, didn't have his best game. Hopefully the effort level stays where it is, because the team will get better and will start to win if this becomes consistent.

One interesting thing from the game yesterday is that Therrien really shortened his bench. This is the first time I've seen him do this. Boguniecki, Rita, Lefebvre and Endicott all played limited minutes. Jackman and Orpik played relatively limited minutes as well. Part of it was probably the amount of power play time the Pens had. All four of their goals were on the PP. That hasn't happened for a long time... (scoring four on the power play).

Next up is Ottawa on the road on Monday.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sent response to Mr Molinari

I sent the following as a response to Dave Molinari:
Thanks for the reply. I was pretty surprised by the tenor of your remarks. I wasn't attacking you personally - I was really just dumbfounded as to why an event that has a pretty high visibility, and is important to the Pens didn't warrant any mention that I could find. I did a search on the Post-Gazette website for Penguins and rally before sending you any communication via your Q&A, but didn't find anything. I do see that it's part of your Penguins' Notebook for last Tuesday. I'm still left wondering why an event dealing with the slots license, with fairly high local interest didn't receive any more than a few brief mentions in summary-style articles. Maybe it's just my personal opinions here...
We'll see if there's any kind of response forthcoming...

Response from Dave Molinari of the Post-Gazette

So, I asked Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a question via his Q&A. I mentioned this earlier today, but I'll reprint my question here, just so you can judge the question and the response that I received from Mr Molinari.
Why didn't the Post-Gazette have an article about the rally outside of the arena, organized by local groups, before the national telecast against the Islanders on Saturday? Was it more important to hear about Gonchar trying to overcome the boo-birds? Considering that SlotsForMario.com has a petition with over 30,000 signatures supporting the drive for a new arena, don't you think it might have been worth mentioning in advance?
I received a quick response from Dave - here it is:
Perhaps you should read the newspaper and our website before firing off an e-mail like the one you sent to me. Below are copies of an item that appeared in our newspaper on Tuesday and a reference to the rally in Friday's Q&A. I assume you also failed to notice that it wasn't my name on any of our Penguins coverage in the Saturday paper.
So, I'm kind of shocked at the response from Dave. I wasn't attacking him personally in my question, so attacking me was kind of unexpected. Do you think that a mention in the paper on Tuesday (four days before the rally) was good enough? Would mentioning the Steelers pep rally at the county courthouse once four days before the event have been good enough? I'll be responding to Mr Molinari shortly. It will very interesting to see what his response is.

By the way - the Q&A item he refers to is the one I linked to the in the previous post. The Tuesday item he refers to didn't appear when I did a search on the terms Penguins and rally on the Post-Gazette web site. I'll repost the Tuesday item here:
A slots license rally

Several groups that back the Penguins/Isle of Capri bid for a slots license plan to demonstrate their support with a rally outside Gate 3 at Mellon Arena Saturday at noon, two hours before the Penguins face the New York Islanders.

In addition to fans who support the Penguins' bid -- which would lead to Isle of Capri getting the license, in return for putting up $290 million for an up-to-date arena -- several elected officials who previously expressed support for the team's plan are expected to attend.
I still say that it's weak to write a little two paragraph blurb about the rally four days before the event, and then not mention it again, other than as part of an answer to a Q&A, but I'm repeating myself now.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette bias against Penguins?

Is the Post-Gazette biased against the Penguins? Consider this:

There are two local groups, the PA Interscholastic Hockey League and the web site SlotsForMario.com, that are organizing a rally outside of Gate 3 before the Penguins nationally televised game with the Islanders today. They'll have local politicians speaking about the Isle of Capri and the future of the Penguins. Sounds like a good thing to maybe publicize, right? Especially considering that these websites have an online petition that has over 32,000 signatures (make sure you go to SlotsForMario and sign the petition if you haven't already)!

There is no article about the rally on the Post-Gazette, though they clearly know about it. Dave Molinari talks about it briefly in his Q&A from yesterday. Why not mention it as part of the game day preview? The lead Penguins article today is about Gonchar trying to play through the booing.

You can't seriously tell me that leaving out a mention or article about the rally in today's paper was anything but intentional, and that's a shame. When the people that are supposed to be reporting the news are deciding what we get to hear about because it suits their agenda then something is really wrong. (and yes, I am well aware that it happens all the time on a national level... but it really shouldn't be happening here with a sports team)

I think the next thing I'll be doing is going through the letters to the editor to see how many positive Penguins letters were published versus negative letters... I recall Mark Madden saying that he had copies of letters that were supportive of the Pens being sent to the Post-Gazette, and that the paper simply wasn't publishing them.

EDIT - Just for documentation's sake, I sent the following to Dave Molinari via his Q&A request form... we'll see if he chooses to answer it -
Why didn't the Post-Gazette have an article about the rally outside of the arena, organized by local groups, before the national telecast against the Islanders on Saturday? Was it more important to hear about Gonchar trying to overcome the boo-birds? Considering that SlotsForMario.com has a petition with over 30,000 signatures supporting the drive for a new arena, don't you think it might have been worth mentioning in advance?

Game #55 - vs Islanders

New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins

New York - 23-26-3 - 49 pts - 13th in East
Pittsburgh - 12-32-10 - 34 pts - Last in East

So the Islanders are only six points out of the last playoff spot in the east. Seems whoever gets that eighth spot can't wait to give it away. The current holder of 8th place, the Maple Leafs, are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. Suffice it to say that they Islanders have something to play for this afternoon at the Igloo.

Once again the Penguins will have the chance to go up against the Prince of Darkness. Hopefully this time it will turn out better than it did last time, when Satan scored the game winner in the shootout.

There is a rally outside the arena today at 12:00, being sposored by SlotsForMario.com and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League outside of gate 3.

Let's go Pens!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Senators 7, Penguins 2

Tonight the Pens came out and played a great game early on. They didn't have Sidney Crosby, who was out with the flu (he had it last night too in New York). They took a 1-0 lead in the first on a nice goal by Michel Ouellet. They then extended the lead to 2-0 on a power play goal by Ryan Malone. Through 30 minutes, the Pens had held the Sens to just 10 shots and held a 2-0 lead. They were playing well and containing the high powered offense. Then Ryan Malone had a great individual effort and drew a penalty on Schubert, putting the Pens back on the power play with the chance ---!!!! INTERRUPT----

Sorry, but we now interrupt this blog entry for tonight's edition of:

How to Lose a Game in One Minute and Seven Seconds

As performed by:

The Pittsburgh Penguin's Power Play Unit

The method is simple (and I apologize for the shouting in advance). When your team psyche is fragile, you have a lead on one of the best teams in the league, and you're on the power play (thus putting your best players on the ice), just ALLOW TWO SHORT-HANDED GOALS ON THE SAME POWER PLAY.

---!!!! END INTERRUPT----

Ahem. Sorry about that.

Once the Sens tied the game, you knew it was probably over. After they scored on the power play late in the period, you knew it was definately over. The third period was highlighted by two more power play goals allowed, and another shortie allowed.

Allowing three short-handed goals in the same game is unforgivable. Allowing two of them on the same power play is even worse. Bob Errey mentioned that he was playing the last time the Pens allowed three shorties, and that he was on the ice for an hour skating the next morning. I hope Therrien is able to do something to get the team's attention, because it certainly seems that many of them don't care.

On the plus side, we did get to see how nicely colored the seats are in the Igloo, since there weren't many people in them during the third period. Great job by the arena staff.

On a slightly more serious note, the team also may have found their middleweight fighter - Guillaume Lefebvre. He took on Wade Redden and pretty much kicked the stuffing out of him. Redden isn't known as a fighter, but neither are most of the Penguins, so I'll take the positives where I can get them!

On Saturday the Islanders come to town for a matchup that NBC must be thrilled to be carrying.

Game #54 - vs Senators

Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins

Ottawa - 32-12-4 - 72 pts - 2nd in East
Pittsburgh - 12-31-10 - 34 pts - Last in East

Can you hear the call? Imagine you're living in Kansas... and you're out in the fields before dinner, playing with your friends. You know that if your mom opens the door, she's going to yell "Boys! Dinner! C'mon!". You also know that if your Dad opens the door, the chances are decent that he'll be yelling "Boy! Come and get your whuppin'!" (Dad usually doesn't seek out the boy unless there's a problem).

Well, the Senators have opened the door to yell, but it's Dad that's doing the talking.

Ottawa leads the NHL in two important categories - goals scored and goals allowed. They've scored the most and allowed the fewest. They're also best in the East on the PK and second best in the East on the PP. They have struggled a little bit lately, having lost two games in a row on the road, but I'm thinking that will just make them angry. You know what happens when Bruce Banner gets angry, right?

Anyway, the Sens did just play last night, and Hasek is an old man, so with any luck we'll see his backup, Ray Emery. Emery is slightly more human in his stats than the Dominator, though given the Pens ability to make any goalie look like Patrick Roy... I'm not counting on anything.

It will take a great effort, along with putting some pucks in the net, to get any points out of the Senators tonight. Let's cross the fingers... but don't hold your breath - I'd hate to see anyone have to visit the hospital.

Let's go Pens!

Quick Talbot note...

Michel Therrien has said that Maxime Talbot was sent down to Wilkes-Barre so that he could continue to play during the Olympic break. I believe there are only a few players on the team that qualified to go down and play, and Talbot was one of them (I want to say the others were Fleury and Whitney... but I'm not positive). Players had to be demoted by January 31st. Therrien wants to recall Max after the Olympics.

Let's hope he's back here - Maxime is one of my favorite players.

Rangers 3, Penguins 1

Headline! Read all about it! Pens play better but still lose! Headline!


You've seen this headline before?

How many times?

Really? THAT many?

Yeah, I guess it's been used at least a dozen times this year, if not more. The story seems to be the same... the Pens play a good game, but make a few critical mistakes. The shortie they allowed last night was bad, but you can't really get very upset with Crosby, even though he made the pass that was intercepted. The team also took way too many penalties again. This is becoming a fairly consistent event. Some of it I'm willing to attribute to the players being young... but some accountability is needed too.

Anyway, it doesn't get any easier tonight - the Senators are coming to Pittsburgh. The Pens will need to find some offense. Preview up later today.