Archive for August, 2008

Friday Night ‘Guins – Sixth Edition

August 30, 2008

Here is the sixth edition of TPP’s Friday Night ‘Guins…

Now usually when the Penguins score, whoever it is, I obviously do what every other hockey fan does when their team scores. I throw my hands up in the air and do a celebratory “YEEAAAHH!”

However, when Geno scored this goal, I did nothing but laugh and said outloud ‘oh my Lord, Malkin’. It was so redicilous and in a way…sort of rude as well for him to just slap the holy crap out of the puck literally 10 feet away from Biron. I actually felt bad for Biron, he had NO CHANCE. Not even Marty Brodeur himself could’ve had a prayer against that.

But the funniest part is that you can tell Malkin was TICKED and it’s hilarious when he’s mad. He just got smashed by Mike Richards (or ‘Cannon’ as the lame Flyer fans call him) and he was looking for revenge. Well unfortuantely Biron was the victim of that revenge and all the hate Malkin has for the Flyers (which he has a good amount of hate for them) was taken in that one shot.

Awesomeness, just pure awesomeness.

LETS GO PENS!

All You Need Is Love…

August 28, 2008
Sid's ole' trained chimpanzee

Sid's ole' trained chimpanzee

A few days ago I made a post ripping Mike Toth for his article stating that the ‘Pens would struggle to make the playoffs’. Then just a couple days ago, USA Today sports writer Kevin Allen posted his 16 top teams where the Pens come in third in the entire NHL.

Now I’m not going praise this article just because he has the Pens third. Like I’ve said before, if you have solid reasons on to why the Pens will struggle to make the playoffs, I’ll understand and hear them out. However, as we all know I ripped Toth’s article for the reasons he so idiotically stated and not his opinion on why the Pens will struggle to make the playoffs.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: I’m not sure I believe Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko can make up for the loss of Hossa and Ryan Malone. But I do believe that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can be among the scoring leaders even if they had a trained chimpanzee on their wing. The Penguins will be in the Stanley Cup mix as long as Crosby is captain.

“But I do believe that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can be among the scoring leaders even if they had a trained chimpanzee on their wing”…HA! Scary thing is…it’s true.

To be truthfully honest, I don’t believe the Pens are a top 3 team in the NHL. I think they lost too much with top-shelf players like Hossa and Malone and lost too much grit and toughness in Ruutu and Laraque. The Pens are a top 5 team though. Any team with the caliber of Crosby and Malkin, plus a near (and improving) elite goalie in Fleury are a sure fire bet to be a top 5 team.

Along with his Penguins ranking, I do disagree with him about some other teams/rankings…

I do not believe that the Habs are the second best team in the league. Like the Pens, they ARE a top 5 team and have the potential to be the second best team, but I don’t think they’re there yet. First in the East? Well that’s obviously maintainable as they won it last year but I’m not buying the Habs as the number two yet.

Sharks and Stars should move up one spot.

I REALLY disagree with the Devils as the seventh best team in the league. Brodeur can only take them so far and last time I checked you need to score more goals than the other team to win which is something that the Devils struggle at. Sure the addition of Rolston will definitely help but I don’t think he’s enough. Add that Paul Martin is NOT a number one defenseman and don’t expect Colin White or Bryce Salvador to be either.

Though every year I say this and they end up winning the Atlantic…damn Devils.

I got a funny feeling about the Senators this year, I don’t know why but I think they should be a couple spots ahead. They experienced a lot injuries last year and a lot of adversity as well. If that team can stay healthy, they have a real shot at beating out the Habs in the Northeast. Don’t be surprised to see the Sens shock a few people and maybe even win their own division. Remember this team still has the three headed monster in Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza.

The Lightning are getting overrated so incredibly much this off-season. Sure they added a bunch of offense but the thing is…that wasn’t their problem last year. Their problems were at defense and goaltending and they did nothing to improve on that. Sure they should rack up a bunch of goals but I honestly believe the 08/09 Bolts = 05/06 Penguins. Bunch of hype of how good they CAN be but end up faltering because they didn’t sure up their weaknesses.

Other than that, it was a pretty good list (though I knocked him for his rankings a good bit). Of course though I’ll look at this at the end of the season and nothing that he or anyone else predicted became true (okay maybe the Wings predictions…they’re loaded…ugh).

LETS GO PENS!

Line Combo Predictions

August 25, 2008
Staal will center the third line...for now.

Staal will center the third line...for now.

As I’ve been pondering about what to write for TPP, I realized I never made my predictions for opening night lines…

Dupuis-Crosby-Satan

Fedotenko-Malkin-Sykora

Pesonen-Staal-Talbot

Kennedy-Taffe-Cooke

Probably the most obvious line combos but this is honestly the way I see it being played out.

On the first line, Satan on Crosby’s line is a no-brainer, it’s why we signed him. I like Dupuis on Crosby’s line because he was actually solid with Crosby and Hossa last season during the playoffs. I sort of like having a guy like Dupuis on a line with two goal scorers (well Crosby is more of a playmaker but you know what I mean). He’s not a typical first liner but what I like about Dupuis is that he takes advantage of the opportunity to be on Crosby’s line. Plus he has experience/chemistry with him already.

The second line will probably won’t surprise you at all either. Sykora should be on Malkin’s line the whole year as the both of them really started to produce towards the end of the year and during the playoffs. Even though I have Feds starting out on the second line to begin the year, I have a feeling he’ll be soon replaced by Staal who many have pegged as Malkin’s wing-man. However for right now, I see Feds on the second line to see if he can return to his old form when he was with Tampa a couple years ago.

On the third line, I obviously have Staal as the center (though like I said, I expect that to change). I like Talbot on the third line because I think he’s too good to be buried on the fourth line as the natural center. Plus his energy is too good for him to be on the fourth line. Then you have the man that everyone has been raving about…Janne Pesonen. Right now, I like Pez as a third liner because I feel he needs more experience to be on Crosby’s line (where a lot are predicting him to be). So for him to start out on the third line would be perfect. He has some good speed to be on the energy line and can chip in a few (but not enough to be on the first two lines…yet).

I don’t know why but I like Jeff Taffe. He’s a perfect fourth line player and is a big body (though he needs to throw it around more). I have Tyler Kennedy as a fourth liner but he’ll probably get bumped up and down from the fourth line to the third line. Kennedy is a great third/fourth liner as he’s like the Energizer Bunny, he never ever stops going and going and going. I also feel Cooke will make the lineup over Godard. Cooke is pretty decent agitator that can score every once in a while while Godard is good for fighting. I think Cooke too will be moved from the fourth line to the third line like Kennedy.

On opening day of course, you’ll see something similar to this but then Therrien, as well all know, will change up the lineups every other game.

LETS GO PENS!

Is That All You Got?

August 24, 2008
Ahhh sports journalists. Some are wise about the sport they cover, some are…well…not so smart. It’s summer time so whenever there’s a hockey article written, us hockey fans love to read and (what I’m about to do) pick it apart because whoever wrote the article is in the ‘not so smart’ category.

So as I was surfing around last night on the internet like I do and I found a new NHL article on Sportsnet. I then think “Sweet, hockey stuff!” Until I read one of the paragraphs/predictions…

8. With all the garbage I’ve been eating this summer, I shouldn’t be trusting my gut. But something tells me the Pittsburgh Penguins are headed for a huge fall. The darlings of the NHL last year when they gave Detroit all it could handle in the Cup final, the Pens go into the new season missing some key pieces to the puzzle. Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone are gone and key defenceman Ryan Whitney will miss the first three to five months with a knee problem. To make up for their missing offence, the Penguins are counting on getting some big minutes and big goals out of the mercurial Miroslav Satan, who lit the lamp just 15 times for the Islanders last season. Sure, the Penguins still boast the one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin. However, Tampa Bay finished in the cellar last year despite sending Lecavalier and St. Louis over the boards every night. Prediction? Coach Michel Therrien doesn’t last the season and the Penguins shock the NHL by struggling just to make the playoffs.

Okay, first off…

defenceman Ryan Whitney will miss the first three to five months with a knee problem

Nice to know he’s well informed considering Whits has a FOOT problem and not a KNEE problem.

Have a little problem with this statement…

the Penguins are counting on getting some big minutes and big goals out of the mercurial Miroslav Satan, who lit the lamp just 15 times for the Islanders last season.

Well considering Satan played for the NEW YORK ISLANDERS who were one of the worst offensive teams where-a-ways he’ll be heading to one of the best offensive teams in Pittsburgh and will be paired with the best in Crosby. This whole line shows the writer is just reaching for something here. I challenge anyone to find me a player who had a good year offensively for the Isles last season because I guarantee you, you won’t find one. 

So please, next time someone says something negative about Satan, let’s not bring up the fact that he played with the Islanders the past few seasons. He’s a true sniper playing with a true playmaker (Crosby) in a loaded offensive setting now….COMPLETELY different ball game now.

Sure, the Penguins still boast the one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin

Well don’t ya think that’s kind of important? I mean players like Crosby and Malkin make players around them much better. Ryan Malone doesn’t sign that big contract over this off-season without being on Malkin’s line. Mark Recchi and Colby Armstrong’s value went up because of the way they both looked playing with Crosby.

Crosby and Malkin’s impact mean even more this year since Crosby will have a true sniper on his wing (Satan) and Malkin will continue to grow chemistry with Sykora and will have Feds on his line that I think can still produce.

However, Tampa Bay finished in the cellar last year despite sending Lecavalier and St. Louis over the boards every night.

What does this have to do with anything? Yeah Tampa’s similar to Pittsburgh in terms of having two world-class players but that’s it. What the writer didn’t recognize was that Tampa had horrible defense and goaltending where Crosby and Malkin will have the luxury of having a solid defense and good (and still improving) goaltending from Fleury.

In no shape or form are the Pens even CLOSELY similar to what the Bolts were last year. Not sure where he was going with this one.

Prediction? Coach Michel Therrien doesn’t last the season and the Penguins shock the NHL by struggling just to make the playoffs.

Yeah that makes a whole lot of sense especially when Therrien just signed a three-year contract this off-season (though I’m not saying that’s a good thing).

I’m not saying there’s no way that the Pens will not make the playoffs this season. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Pens take the tumble that Ottawa took last year. The Pens have the Stanley Cup hangover over their heads, loss of some players, addition of new players (need some chemistry to finally click) and they start out the season in Europe which doesn’t bode well for most teams.

However, the writer of this quick paragraph gave some bogus reasons. Give me some good reasons and I’ll probably see what you’re saying and where you’re going with your logic.

With that said though, I’ll take my chances and say the Pens easily cruise into the playoffs next year.

LETS GO PENS!

Friday Night ‘Guins – Fifth Edition

August 23, 2008

Here is the fifth edition of TPP’s Friday Night ‘Guins…

Thought I’d post this in honor of the groundbreaking this past week as this was a truly great moment in Penguins history.

I will never forget that night. All the worries and all the stress that went through Pens fans for years was vanished. The arena deal was done and the Pens were going to stay where they belong.

I don’t think anyone else could’ve announced that better than Mario did. “Your Pittsburgh Penguins will remain right here in Pittsburgh, where they belong!” Saying it in such a bold and serious matter was perfect and right to the point. You can definitely tell Mellon Arena was ROCKING that moment and of course every Penguins fan across the country gave out a big ‘YES!’.

Of course, earlier that day when news struck that the Pens were staying in Pittsburgh, I went to my favorite place to talk Pens hockey at LetsGoPens. And of course, EVERYONE was buzzing and leaving “I can’t believe this day has come” comments. Even I had to pinch myself in disbelief this day HAS come and the Pens won’t be going to Kansas City or wherever.

(Suck it Kansas City)

That night was also the perfect night to announce it. It was a playoff type atmosphere against the best team in the East, in the Sabres and the Pens won an exciting game with an awesome finish.

All and all, it was an awesome day to be a Pens fan that night. Everything with the new arena deal to the game, it was just a flat out great day. EASILY one of my top 3 moments as a Pens fan.

LETS GO PENS!

Predictions You Can Take To The Bank

August 22, 2008
Methinks Flower will have a big year

Methinks Flower will have a big year

Since training camp is coming upon us soon, I thought I’d make my ‘Top 10 predictions for the 08/09 Penguins’…

(Some will surprise you, some won’t)

1. Penguins will win the Atlantic Division.

2. If he’s healthy the full year, Marc-Andre Fleury will win over 40 games.

3. Sidney Crosby wins the Hart, Art Ross and Lester B. Pearson trophies.

4. Max Talbot scores 20+ goals.

5. Pens start out slow early on (again).

6.  Pez will only play 20 games for the Pens due to not enough NHL experience and mostly plays in the AHL (but expect for him to have a big impact in the 09/10 season).

7. Gonchar will be screwed out of an All-Star appearance AGAIN.

8. Satan scores more than 30 goals but under 35 goals.

9. One of the AHL guys makes a big impact this season (like Pootie Tang last year).

And for the final prediction for the 08/09 Penguins…

10. The Pittsburgh Penguins will NOT make the Cup Finals again this year and get upset in the second round.

Agree with some? Disagree with some?

LETS GO PENS!

Wait…What?

August 19, 2008
Penguins Savior

Our Savior

I wasn’t going to talk about this because I thought it was a ridiculous topic to discuss. But since it IS Penguins news (there’s not much of it in August) and since it’s such a hot topic among newspapers, other than the Tribune and among fans as well, that I thought ‘why not’. 

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s some Penguins fans that are actually mad at Mario Lemieux for tricking fans that the Pens were going to leave Pittsburgh and making money for basically just himself.

Now when Lemieux came out and said that leaving Pittsburgh “wasn’t a possibility” was probably a mistake on his part by stating that. For the last few years, every Pens fan, including me, constantly worried about the Pens possibly leaving Pittsburgh for Kansas City or Las Vegas. So to come out and say leaving Pittsburgh was never going to happen is probably something he probably would want to take back.

But am I mad about it? No, not even close. Do I think it’s something to get mad about? No, not even close.

Let’s go over the obvious. Mario Lemieux has saved the Pens from leaving THREE TIMES. How many times in this day and age do you see that? How many times do you see the loyalty that Mario had for the Penguins? Exactly, not much. Other owners would’ve either given up or went to another city for the big bucks.

However, Mario knew how important the Pens were for not only Pittsburgh, but for hockey and the NHL in general. He saw the potential on how good the Pens could possibly be with all the high draft picks they were getting. He knew that the city of Pittsburgh would worship the great players such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (and we have) like we did for him (and we did).

So what did he do? He made sure the Penguins would stay at home in Pittsburgh for at least 30 more years…Super Mario has done it again.

However, many supposed “Penguins fans”, threw that out the window and started to get a little miffed that Lemieux ‘played them’ and the government. It’s an unfortunate world we live but hey, in order to beat a politician, you have to be one. Like I said, it’s unfortunate, but it’s true. He decided to get every little penny, nickle and dime out of this situation and he did. Though like I said before he’s saved this franchise three times so I think he has a right to do that.

Another issue that some of the ‘Mario haters’ are spewing is that they’re upset about the casino that will be placed on the North Shore of Pittsburgh. What they don’t know is that the casino was going to built there anyways, so why complain about it? Well supposedly it’ll cause more crime which if you think a casino will cause more crime, you’re clueless. Add to the fact that the city of Pittsburgh will be MAKING money and not losing it with the casino and I don’t see what the fuss is all about.

“He knew how to strike at the heart of the fans and the city,” she said. “I think he really duped the people of Pittsburgh, and he’ll definitely get away with it because of who he is.”

Or maybe it was because he saved the Pens from leaving three times now? Or maybe it’s because the Pens will have a new state-of-the-art arena for fans, like you, to enjoy for the rest of your life? But hey, let’s complain because Mario got more money for himself and played hardball with the politicians. Little crazy right?

Bottom line is that the Penguins will remain in their home in Pittsburgh for a very, very long time (add a couple Stanley Cups in the coming years to boot). We’re beyond lucky to have Mario as the owner of our Penguins and some people I guess just need to realize that…and that’s sad.

ALL HAIL 66

LETS GO PENS!

Pez Ain’t Going Anywhere

August 18, 2008
NA! NA! NA! NA! NA! NA!

NA! NA! NA! NA! NA! NA!

With rumors of Pez possibly going back to Europe and not playing for the Penguins, Pez has denied the rumors in a Finish article.

The article is in Finnish so if you can read that, then go right ahead….

“I’m going there (Pittsburgh) in the beginning of September and with an approach that I’m going to make the team.”Some rumours say that the salary is 600-800k and 100k in AHL.

 

If something doesn’t go well in NA he has a clause in the contract and he can return to Europe.

“It’s kind of a back port if things go bad there” says Pesonen.

I’ve been following Pittsburgh’s lineup. Tough/great bunch of older and younger players.

No surprise at all. The article that was posted about Pez was obviously a rumor on a RUMOR SITE. It was just something that was made up to ‘stir the pot’, I guess you can say.

Hopefully we can put this rumor to rest and forget about it. We don’t need a silly distraction like this to start the season.

I’m pumped to see Pez this year, whether it’s down in WBS or in Pittsburgh. If he can be as good as his videos on youtube, he should be on Crosby’s line in no time (though I doubt he’ll be able to transition his game that quickly).

LETS GO PENS!

Injury Bug Bites Early

August 16, 2008
Don't be so soffff

Maybe he won't be sofffff when he comes back?

Last season the Pens had injuries issues with Crosby, Fleury and others being out for long periods of time. Now the Pens are suffering already as there is an injury before the season even starts.

Ryan Whitney’s critics have considerably less ammunition today.

Turns out, the defenseman skated on one healthy foot last season.

Whitney, whose point total dropped from 59 in 2006-07 to 40 last season, underwent surgery to correct a left-foot misalignment Friday in Charlotte. Full recovery from the procedure, an osteotomy, usually takes three to five months.

I went from thinking Whits had a completely terrible, disappointing season to an amazing one last year. He pretty much played hockey on one foot and it never seemed to bother him.

Even though we all like to pick on Whitney, this does suck. I was actually looking forward to Whits having a rebound season this year and redeeming himself. Now he could be out up till five months with three being the minimum. Whits is a good puck mover and does bring a good bit of offense to his game. Plus he has chemistry and experience with this club so it isn’t like Whits is the chop liver Pens fan make him out to be. This loss is bigger than I think most Pens fans think it will be.

Though I do question on why Whits didn’t get the surgery done right after the season ended instead of waiting one month before the season starts. You’d think that Shero and Therrien would be pushing him to have the surgery as soon as last season ended so that he’d come back sooner. He could’ve had it right after the Game 6 loss to the Wings and only be out for a month or two of the season. Now he’ll miss a few months, then try jump right into the thick of things in the middle of the season hoping he hasn’t fallen far behind everyone else.

Don’t expect Whits to be 100% comfortably healthy till possibly the 09-10 season either. Most of the time with these foot injuries players don’t have the power and strength in the foot for a while. Give him a full offseason’s rest next year and he’ll 100% then, not right after the foot injury is healed up. Unfortunately though Whits will still be feeling the effects of this injury throughout the 08-09 campaign.

But hey, there’s always a silver-lining. Whits injury means that Pootie Tang will be moved up and Eaton is pretty much guaranteed to start in the top 4. Add that Gogo (Alex Goligoski) probably has a better chance to make the team after training camp and give him more experience in the big leagues. I’d rather have Whits starting opening night but hey, if we can get more younger guys gaining expierence off of this, I won’t complain.

GET WELL SOON RYAN!

LETS GO PENS!

Friday Night ‘Guins – Fourth Edition

August 16, 2008

Here is the fourth edition of TPP’s Friday Night ‘Guins…

As a Pens fan, that was an AWESOME, AWESOME day. That whole game, starting out with Colby Armstrong goal and to end it out on the Crosby’s clutch moment was a perfect game.

Of course I gotta comment on the classic blue jerseys. Man when I first saw them being actually worn, I fell in love with them. Can’t wait to see them next year.

But to go over the shootout…

Some people didn’t like it, but I did. When the players carried the puck into the zone in the shootouts, they couldn’t go their full speed in fear they’d lose the puck. However, for me, it actually felt like an outdoor game with the snow on the ice to prevent the players going full speed. It brought true REALNESS of an outdoor game and I thought it was awesome!

I remember watching Kotalik scoring and aweing at how LOUD it was in there. I wasn’t even there and I could tell the uproar was loud.

Then POOTIE TANG (Kris Letang’s new nickname) did what the announcers said he couldn’t do and that was get ‘fancy’ with it. He made a sweet move on Miller, then went backhand to tie the shoot-out. With all the circumstances considered, that was actually a pretty sick goal. To make a move like that, go backhand and lift the puck up with all the snow must’ve been really tough. I don’t know where Letang got those moves when he’s a defenseman…wow.

After watching this again, I never realized how good of a save Conklin made on Maxim Afinogenov. He was coming in fast and had a tricky wrist shot and it was an unexpected move for him to go that fast in an outdoors game. Conklin made a HUGE glove save and robbed him.

Then after Afinogenov went, the moment happened.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending. Sidney Crosby, the golden boy of the NHL, had the game on his stick. When I realized the game came down to Crosby, I said outloud, “GAME OVER!” I knew he was going to score. You knew he was going to score. EVERYONE including their grandmother knew he was going to score.

He scored.

I didn’t think he scored at first, then I heard Doc Emerick shreek “SKKKEEOORRE! CROSBY WINS IT!” I ran around and started to flip out. It was an exhilarating moment and an awesome one at that.

Like the saying goes, ‘big players step up in big situations’. And Crosby’s nickname that day was ‘CLUTCH’.

LETS GO PENS!