Archive for July, 2008

Blue Jerseys?…Melike

July 31, 2008
Get used to seeing that more often

Get used to seeing that more often

It’s the news we’ve been all waiting and hoping for. Yes the Pittsburgh Penguins will wear the Winter Classic jerseys as their third jerseys for next season.

The Pens have confirmed that they submitted a design similar to what they wore during last years’ Winter Classic for approval as their third jersey.

The aforementioned jersey (pictured at the top of this article) is a replica of the Penguins’ home jersey that they began wearing during the 1968-69 season, their second full season in the NHL.

The throwback Winter Classic jerseys were an instant success, reminding Penguins’ fans of Old Time Hockey. It would be a rare occurrence to attend a game at Mellon Arena and not spot at least ten of these jerseys in the crowd.

I think I speak for all Penguins fans when I say…

WOOOOO!!!

Awesomeness. This is just flat out awesomeness. I loved the blue, throwback jerseys last year and I’m glad that the Pens will be do that again next year, but as their official ‘third jersey’. It was an instant success as more and more Penguins fans actually bought the light blue jerseys and light blue hats. You could spot many fans wearing a blue jersey in Mellon Arena last year. Expect the blue jerseys and hats to get more popular with this announcement.

I also hope other teams wear the throwbacks too. Buffalo’s last season looked SWEET and I’m sure other teams could come up with cool looking throwbacks as well. I’d love to see Edmonton’s old jerseys from the 80s when they had a dynasty, that would be pretty sick.

Kudos to the Penguins management staff of getting this done. Obviously this isn’t a surprise to anyone as there have been rumors since March of this happening but sometimes team management screws it up. They actually are giving the fans what they want.

Can’t wait to see them being worn in Mellon Arena next year!

LETS GO PENS!

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What’s Their Impact? – Part Deux

July 30, 2008

He even looks like Satan

So with the recent losses of multiple players, Penguins GM Ray Shero knew he had to make some moves and sign some players to fill the voids of the players that the team just lost. Of course with the Pens having elite talent in Crosby and Malkin, the need for acquiring superstars wasn’t THAT high. As long as Ray-Ray can fill the roster in with decent to solid players, they’ll easily be a Cup contender again…which is exactly what Ray-Ray did.

Let’s see which players will impact the season positively and possibly (but hopefully not) negatively…

Miroslav Satan – “WHAT?! Satan in a Penguins jersey?!” Yeah that was my reaction too. Not saying I’m mad about it, because I’m certainly not, but it’s going to be weird to see that man wearing a Pens jersey.

Anyways, picking up Satan, though not a HUGE pick-up, should be a solid one since he’ll be on Crosby’s line. Even though Satan had a bad season last year with only 16 goals with the Islanders, he’s been able to score over 25 goals from the 1998-1999 season till the 2006-2007 season. Expect Satan to hit those numbers this year with the Pens as he’ll be playing with the best in Crosby and be actually on a GOOD team, unlike that pathetic excuse for a team in Long Island.

Satan is known for his sniper shot and that should also help out the Pens in shoot-outs as well. If he can produce 25+ goals, which he easily should, I’d be content with the Satan pick-up.

Ruslan Fedotenko – Like Satan, Feds (that’s why I’m calling him), didn’t do well either with the Isles like he normally does. I find it amazing that he had 33 points on a team as bad as the Isles.

Even though he’s a little past his prime, he still can be an effective player on a good team. We all saw how he performed for the Lightning when they were elite. Hopefully being on the Pens and playing with Malkin will rejuvenate his game. I believe Feds will be like Ryan Malone where playing with someone of a caliber of Malkin will make him a lot better than he is. Of course that’s easier said than done. First you need to identify and match each other’s playing styles, then you need chemistry, then you need other factors such as experience before becoming what Malkin and Malone were.

If he can do that, which I think he can with time, he should be a solid player on the Pens second line.

Matt Cooke – Matt Cooke = Jarkko Ruutu. Nahh, I take that back. Matt Cooke is a better version of Jarkko Ruutu. Now I’d take Ruutu over Cooke because he has more experience and chemistry however Cooke is the better player.

Cooke has proven to be on the same level of an agitator as Ruutu. Something that I’m sure he’ll do and probably knows already is that he needs to protect Crosby and Malkin when needed. Ruutu was great at that and Cooke needs to as well. Cooke is also a better scorer than Ruutu was/is which should help him smooth nicely into the Penguins system.

Right now, Cooke looks to be a solid replacement for RUUUUTTUU (can’t get enough of that).

Janne Pesonen – NA! NA! NA! NA! NA! NA! Oh man I hope they play that song in Mellon Arena sometime. Oh yes, Pez is now famous for the Youtube video that was posted on the Pens website when they signed him and that catchy “NA! NA! NA!”, Finnish song.

Pez may be an unknown for the Penguins fans that don’t follow them during the off-season. However, I have a feeling when he steps out onto the ice, he won’t be an unknown anymore and people will start to take notice. Pez scored 78 points in just 56 games in the Finnish League and contributed 16 points during the post-season. If he can adapt to the NHL style, he can be great and could even be on Crosby’s line for the majority of the year. Expect Pez to be on the third line though to start the year but don’t be surprised to see him on Crosby’s first line in no time.

Eric Godard – Eric Godard = George Laraque. An enforcer that doesn’t play much but when he does, he can hit and fight like no other. Godard probably won’t play often due to his poor skating and his lack of effectiveness on the ice. However, he’s a force to handle when he is out there. Godard though will mostly primarily be a ‘healthy scratch’ on most nights.

Overall, the Pens losses will hurt but if their replacements can play up to their potential, they should be fine. Ray-Ray did what he should’ve done. Sign cheap, decent players to fill in the line-up and to surround the core players. Good job Ray-Ray.

LETS GO PENS!

What’s Their Impact?

July 28, 2008
Fine! Dont experience the dynasty!

Fine! Don't experience the dynasty!

The 2008/2009 Penguins will be a completely new team from last year’s Eastern Conference Champs team. Bits and pieces of that stacked team were broken up by salary cap issues and players decisions to go elsewhere. Unfortunately that Cup contending team couldn’t stay in-tact for one more season but some of the losses aren’t as big as you think. However, it’ll be hard to replace some players that will be wearing different uni’s next season.

Let’s do the rundown of how each player’s loss will impact the 08/09 Penguins…

Marian Hossa – Well we all knew Hossa was only going to be a ‘rental’. Of course the Pens fans will boo him bloody murder when he comes back to Pittsburgh in a Wings uni, but that’s a different topic.

Anyways, I’m one of the few Pens fans out there that feels Hossa’s loss will hurt. Sure we only had him for a few months but he came up big in the playoffs. Hossa was our best player in the playoffs and without him, I truly don’t think the Pens make the Cup finals. Another year with a Crosby-Hossa line could’ve been SICK and possibly the best in the league.

So yes, losing Hossa is big. It’s always big losing an elite player. But hey we have a strong enough team to still be Cup contenders without the traitor.

Ryan Malone – Let’s face it folks, Ryan Malone only had one good year and it was last year. However, it was a damn good year and I would’ve loved to keep Malone. But Malone wanted too much money. $5 million per year?! I think I speak for the rest of the Penguins fan base in if you want that much money to stay in Pittsburgh and your last name isn’t Crosby, Malkin, Fleury or Staal, please get out and thanks for your time here. Once again, that’s a whole different topic.

Malone though only had one good year. Most of his career he was lazy and lacked consistency. Which is why I don’t feel like he’ll be as big of a loss as people are making it out to be, especially when Feds will be replacing him. The only reason why Malone was so good last season was because one man, Evgeni Malkin. Malkin MADE Malone and there’s not many Malkin’s in this league, definitely no Malkin in Tampa Bay since he won’t be playing with Vincent Lecavalier.

Is he a loss? Yes. Is he a big loss? No.

Jarkko Ruutu – Oh I’ll miss the wacky Jarkko Ruutu. I’ll definitely miss the RUUUUUUUUUUUTTUUU cheers in Mellon Arena.

For the third/fourth lines, I’ll admit it, the Pens will miss Ruutu. Yeah, yeah, yeah he’s a third liner but so many times he saved Crosby and Malkin’s butt and was a great character guy. He got along with the team greatly and contributed to the great chemistry that team had last year. Add that he was one of the best grinders in the league and even chipped in a goal or two from time to time and of course it’s hard to lose someone like that. Not going lie, Ottawa got a good one in Ruutu. Sucks he’s not going to be a Pen anymore.

Oh and FYI, I’ll still RUUUUTTUU him at Mellon Arena. Hopefully everyone else does too.

Gary Roberts – I feel like if I say anything negative about Gary Roberts, he’ll karate chop my ass or something. Ahhh I’ll miss the “WWGRD” signs and the hilarious jokes about Roberts on Pens boards (the one I just made was lame).

I would’ve loved to kept Roberts. I mean c’mon, who wouldn’t want to have Gary effing Roberts on their team?! He’s so intimidating that the devil is scared of him (ehhh I’ll stop). But I don’t think Roberts is a big loss. Sure he has a lot of valuable experience but this team already made the Cup finals. Instead of knowing how to get there, it’s more like “ehh been there, done that”, with this young team. Plus Roberts didn’t play that much and at his old age, was getting to be a bit injury prone.

WWGRD? Well he did what we didn’t want him to do – he left Pittsburgh.

George Laraque – Aaahhh George Laraque. What a hilarious figure. However, what a horrible skater and player that didn’t play much. Add to the fact that he didn’t do what he’s supposed to do most of the time and that’s fight. He didn’t even make an appearance in the Stanley Cup finals and didn’t play much in the whole entire playoffs. 

Not a loss by any stretch of the imagination.

Ty Conklin – Talk about a guy that saved our butts last season. After Crosby and Fleury went down, Ty Conklin (yes Ty freakin Conklin) came up in a HUGE, HUGE way. Along with Malkin, Conklin was a big part in why the Pens didn’t completely collapse without Crosby and Fleury.

When Fleury does take a break and doesn’t start, I’d breath a lot easier if it was Conklin, not Sabourin, that was our back-up goalie. If Fleury doesn’t get injured this year, losing Conklin isn’t THAT big of a loss. However, if Fleury does get hurt, we’re screwed big time and regretted ever letting Conklin go.

Adam Hall – Like Laraque, not a huge loss at all. He had his moments in the playoffs but that was about it. Horrible skater and doesn’t throw his body around like he should. We can easily fill him with Jeff Taffe or a WBS guy.

Overall, the Penguins lost a couple solid players. However, a team that has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin won’t fall out of their elite position. Plus they filled positions with more than adequate players that will get the job done.

LETS GO PENS!

OH NOES!!!…NOT!

July 26, 2008

http://www.theinsideronpittsburghsports.com/2008/07/penguins-sources-deny-rumor-that.html

Quick Penguins rumor: A NHL source has told me there are some whispers coming out of Europe that Janne Pesonen is considering a return to Europe. I’ve contacted some of my Penguins insiders and even my main source has denied this rumor. Until I hear something different from my Penguins sources, I would still count on seeing Pesonen in camp. FWI– a emailer has contacted me and said Pesonen is off the NHL.com roster. It probably means nothing.

TIOPS (The Insider on Pittsburgh Sports) is reporting that Janne Pesonen is having doubts on playing with the Penguins and going back to Europe.

Now for the people who see this and thinking “OMGZ PESONEN MAY NOT PLAY FOR THE PENGUINZ”….don’t worry about it, Pesonen ain’t going anywhere.

Why would Pez (let’s call him Pez) decide to go back to Europe when Penguins camp hasn’t even started yet? Don’t you think that he’d give it a chance before heading back over? Plus he just recently signed with the Penguins so don’t ya think that it’d be odd for Pez to change his mind ‘like that’? I call BS.

For the people that didn’t read the whole ‘rumor article’ if that’s what you want to call it, you can tell the author/site contradicts himself.

He first says “A NHL source has told me there are some whispers coming out of Europe that Janne Pesonen is considering a return to Europe.” Then he says “I’ve contacted some of my Penguins insiders and even my main source has denied this rumor.” After that he continues to say, “Until I hear something different from my Penguins sources, I would still count on seeing Pesonen in camp.”

HUH?! So first off he says that he hears that Pesonen is going back to Europe then says his main source hasn’t said anything about Pez leaving. A bunch of BS if you ask me.

Plus this site has a bad reputation in reporting rumors and such. I’ll believe it if I see it in the “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette” or a REAL source/site.

Pez is staying in Pittsburgh folks, don’t worry.

LETS GO PENS!

Friday Night ‘Guins – First Edition

July 26, 2008

Every Friday night, I’ll be posting a Penguins related video that portrays how awesome the Penguins are (because we know it’s true). This is the first edition…

That was the night that I KNEW Sid was FOR REAL. It was also the first time I started to have a man-crush on Crosby (yes my man-crush is Sidney effing Crosby – every guy has one ladies).

When Crosby first came into the league, I was skeptical if he was really THAT good. Sure I was damn excited to have him, as was everyone else. But I wanted to see if he could transform his game into the NHL and he obviously has, very nicely so.

However, when he scored this goal I believed the hype. It was a pressure situation against his old, hometown team where he was expected to score since he came in with all the hype. He did just that when he was only 18 YEARS OLD. That’s pretty incredible.

LETS GO PENS!

Our Hopes Are Dashed…Again

July 25, 2008

http://penguins.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=368947

“It has been an exciting off-season for Paul Steigerwald, the television play-by-play voice of the Penguins.

And not just because he recently signed a new multi-year contract to continue his role with FSN Pittsburgh, the team’s long-time TV partner.”

*sigh*

I’m not trying to say that I hate Steigerwald because I don’t. There are other hockey announcers out there that do a worse job than Steigy and if FSN hired one of them I’d probably rip my ears off so I wouldn’t have to hear them.

However, Steigy has frustrated Pens fans for the past two years with his commentary like mistaking Sidney Crosby for Mark Recchi. How could you mistake Crosby for Recchi? They both have the number 8 on their jerseys but even someone who barely watches hockey can tell the differences between Crosby and Recchi physically wise. Add to the fact that he’s one of the most boring announcers to listen to and he doesn’t make the games fun. He takes the attention off the ice and to him by his many mistakes. It annoys us all to death.

But this isn’t about Steigy.

This is about a legend (yes a legend) who got totally dis-respected. That legend is former Penguins announcer, Mike Lange. After the 06 season, Lange was unexpectedly fired with no reason cited which surprised many considering his loyalty to the Penguins and FSN Pittsburgh.

Lange announced Penguins game from 1975-2006. He was there during the rough times of the 70s and 80s Penguins hockey. He was there when the Pens won two straight back-to-back Stanley Cups. He was there during the Lemieux-Jagr era. He was there during the rough years from 2002-2004. And he would’ve been here during the Crosby-Malkin era. Why? Because he loved his job. He loved announcing Penguins games and being apart of that organization and city.

We all loved him too. He was a great hockey announcer that knew about the game and kept up with the pace of the game which some announcers struggle at doing. He had the most hilarious, crazy and awesome goal commentaries that were known as “Lang-isms”, which is what he’s most famous for.

Here are the “Lang-isms”…

Point is, he was there through thick and thin. He announced when they were good, he announced when they were bad. He announced before the lock-out, he announced after the lock-out. Then all of a sudden they fire him? All I was thinking the day he was fired was, “what the f***?” Now I obviously wasn’t ‘behind the scenes’ or anything so maybe something happened that we don’t know. But if he did do something, it would’ve have to been something HUGE and even then I doubt they would’ve fired him for it (probably a serious warning, fine and suspension  though).

And as noted before, Pittsburghers loved him. That’s exactly why Penguins fans have done anything and everything to get him to come back. Everything from petitions to ranting and raving on Penguins message boards. He was an icon here and was loved on the same level as some players.

The guy that fired him is now gone and they’re STILL not re-hiring him. What gives? The ratings will boost high and fans will be satisfied. They have a hall-of-fame hockey announcer open and they don’t go after him? HUH?! Yeah whatever FSN Pittsburgh.

I’m really intrigued to find out why they fired him in the first place. Was it something he did? Did Lange not like it broadcasting on TV anymore? I don’t know. All I know is…

BRING LANGE BACK!

LETS GO PENS!

Maybe not better than the Cup team but…

July 20, 2008

After the Penguins lost that heart-breaking Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals, we all knew that the Pens were going to lose some key players. Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Jarkko Ruutu, Gary Roberts, George Laraque, and Adam Hall – yeah, that’s a lot of players. Obviously losing players like that will make your team worse. Hossa was an elite player, Malone was a solid second line player and the rest were our grit.

So then Shero goes out and gets a scorer in Miroslav Satan and a decent second line player in Ruslan Fedotenko. Then tries to get the grit in Eric Godard and Matt Cooke. But in my opinion, that’s not as good as the 2008 playoff roster, no one thinks it is.

However, the point I’m trying to make without it sounding all doom and gloom is – this team is much better than last year’s opening night team.

Satan, Feds, Cooke, Godard + one year of experience of Cup run >>>> Mark Recchi, Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Ruutu, Laraque, Hall.

That’s all I could ask for really. To have a better team than started out the previous is something that any and all fans would want. Last year the Pens went into the season with being a possibly ‘Cup sleeper team’ to now being the ‘Cup favorite in the East’.

This whole team has matured so much from last year. Fleury is a much better goalie, we know that we’ll be fine if Crosby goes down because we’ll always have Malkin and our defense is actually good (wow can’t believe I’m saying that about MY Pittsburgh Penguins).

Got to give credit to Ray Shero for this one. He’s made the moves, he’s made the tough decisions and now look where this team is at. BIG time kudos to you, Ray Shero.

If this team can start out at least decent this year, watch for the Penguins to take the East and have home-ice advantage.

LETS GO PENS!

Therrien Gets New Three-Year Contract

July 19, 2008

http://penguins.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=368733

Oh boy, three more years of constant line changing and no pluralization from the Penguins head coach.

I think we all knew that Therrien was going to be the coach of the Penguins considering the insane turnaround the Penguins had from two seasons ago when they were one of the worst in the league and are now one of the best. He took an extremely young team to the Stanley Cup Finals and was two wins away from having his team win the Stanley Cup. So yeah, I feel that should allow him to have one or two more years.

But I feel this contract will be one year too long. The reason Therrien won so much was because he had a pretty damn good team in front of him and he didn’t have to do much to make them a winner with two of the best players in the league.

What most Penguins fans, including myself couldn’t stand was the constant line changing. Last season, Petr Sykora had a bad stretch of several games where he wasn’t scoring. Of course only a little handful of players don’t go through this but Therrien decides to put Sykora on the third line instead of keeping him on the second line. What? Why? A move that made everyone scratch their heads. Why take a player that is struggling on a player like Malkin, on his line and put him on a completely different line that he has no chemistry with?

With Therrien, you also have the many reports that the players are against him. At the beginning of last year when the Pens were struggling, several media outlets reported that some of the players were displeased with Therrien and his coaching. An elite team like the Penguins can’t have this. They can’t have a guy like Therrien that takes their mind off the ice and screws up team chemistry. Do that and the Pens don’t get far in the playoffs.

I don’t know. Therrien hasn’t totally screwed things up yet so I guess he deserves a couple more years. But if he keeps doing what he has done the past couple years (ling changing, making players mad), my opinion will definitely change. Let’s say though the Pens do win the Stanley Cup in the next 3 years, well then I would admit to being wrong and give him the credit that would be due.

LETS GO PENS!

Penguins Release 2008/2009 Schedule

July 18, 2008

2008/2009 Season Schedule:

http://penguins.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=368639

I’d copy the whole schedule onto the post but it’d be incredibly too long.

Some tidbits about the schedule…

-I like that right after the trip in Sweden, the Pens will be home for 5 straight games. They’ll also have five days of rest before they play their home opener against New Jersey.

-However…the Pens notoriously poor starts + Stanley Cup hangover + Ottawa, Ottawa, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington could be brutal.

-Only two 10 PM or later games. At San Jose on October 28th and at Phoenix on October 30th – back to back games.

-I like seeing Edmonton, Minnesota, Vancouver, Anaheim, Columbus, and Calgary come to Pittsburgh as we normally don’t play them. Oh the luxury of playing every team in the NHL with the new schedule now-a-days

-November 11th and February 8th are days to remember and days of revenge!

-March 14th-April 1st 8 STRAIGHT HOME GAMES….melike.

-18 games start at or before 5 PM…that’s A LOT of daytime games. Guess that’s the reality though of having the most well known/endorsed player in the league (that’s Sidney Crosby for the uneducated).

-Sunday, February 22nd and Sunday, March 8th, the Penguins play the Washington Capitals in Washington. Oh you better believe half of the arena will be wearing gold and black!

-At Boston on New Year’s Day….melike.

-Penguins end out the season with a game at Montreal…possible tie-breaker game for first place for the Eastern Conference?

I love the NHL’s new scheduling format where every team will play every team in the league. Should be some exciting games against teams in the Western Conference.

Looking at the schedule makes me want October to come oh so badly! I can’t wait!

LETS GO PENS!