October 31, 1989
Mario Lemieux begins a 46-game scoring streak (39 goals, 64 assist; 103 points). This is the second longest in NHL history lasting until February 14, 1990.
Fitting that we leave you on Halloween with something scary, eh?
October 31, 1989
Mario Lemieux begins a 46-game scoring streak (39 goals, 64 assist; 103 points). This is the second longest in NHL history lasting until February 14, 1990.
What's so special about [Crosby]? I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago ... [Kane] is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb.
I think that if you take any player, even if he is "dead wood," and start promoting him, you'll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else. No one is going to care whether he possesses great skill. Let's say you put someone in front of the net and let him deflect pucks in, and he scored 50 goals; everyone will say "Wow!" and then hand him a $10 million per year contract. That's what they like here.
Have you forgiven the United States for stealing Russia's gold medal in the 1980 Olympics?
[Loud laughter] Why would I still be mad at them? Their team is weak now. The Canadians are our main rivals.
Like a machine not firing on all cylinders, things just aren’t adding up for the Penguins. It’s frustrating to watch and it’s frustrating for them to go through right now. There’s a variety of problems: not enough puck possession, not enough shots, too many shots against, bad penalties, not converting rare scoring chances, losing 50/50 pucks, losing key faceoffs that lead to goals, apparent lack of effort for most periods, and the list could go on and on and on. In fact, if it weren’t for the sterling work of Marc-Andre Fleury and Dany Sabourin this 5-4-2 team probably would be about a 2-9-0 team.
But before we all jump into the deep end of despair check that calendar…That’s right it still says October and no team ever won—or loss, a Stanley Cup eight months before they give it out.
It’s obvious though something isn’t clicking, in two sentences Sidney Crosby gave to the newspapers he used the word “urgency” four times, as in what the Penguins aren’t showing out there but need to be. As if things couldn’t be worse, Crosby didn’t play much of the 3rd period after appearing to have some sort of rib/torso injury that he would only specify as a little “discomfort”. It appears it should be a day-to-day thing, which is a good thing.
So what’s missing this year, why the lack of urgency? Is it simply all the new faces adapting to the system the Pens play? Undoubtedly the injuries to the top two defensemen on the team is a part of it, but the season would be lost if the Penguins hang on the crutch and wait for them to return.
Here’s three options the Pens have…It’s clear something is needed to kick-start them, but any of the proposed solutions could spell doom.
1—Fire the coach
Michel Therrien has always had his detractors and perhaps this time they’re right. He doesn’t look like he has control of the team, surely they’re not operating the way he wants them to. The coach’s job is to keep a team in game shape and prepared for the opponent. The Penguins don’t look motivated, they don’t really look prepared. In hockey coach’s come and go with the seasons, and when a team is struggling it sure is easier to replace the coach than the 12-15 disappointing players. But dismissing Therrien would be a huge push on the panic button, something that might not fly with a relatively young team that’s really only had one head coach at the NHL level.
2—Pull a trade
Jay Feaster, a knowledgable and respected hockey man, is saying the Penguins are having discussions with the Thrashers and he used the word “blockbuster”. At this point that could only mean one name: Ilya Kovalchuk. Jordan Staal+Kris Letang+a pick (and maybe Darryl Sydor to even out the salaries) could get it done. Is it worth it? Evgeni Malkin’s contract kicks in next year and that would mean the Pens are paying three forwards $24.9 million, add in other salaries of Fleury, Whitney and Brooks Orpik and that’s $37.65 million for just six players, with no guarantee the salary cap will rise in this rough economic time. Then after next year Kovalchuk would be a free agent and probably walk to the highest bidder, which surely the Penguins won’t be. Plus just nine months after the Marian Hossa deal are we ready to trade with Atlanta again? And would they part with their lone star a year and a half before they really have to?
3—Ride it out
The most likely option is the simplest, every team is forced to face adversity and this frustrating stretch isn’t the worst thing that could happen to a club. The players need to band together, hold themselves accountable and start chipping in. Down 2-1 last night, for instance, the Penguins had a 5 on 3 powerplay. They score and suddenly the momentum and energy is reclaimed by the Penguins. But guys like Malkin and Alex Goligoski couldn’t orchestrate it, they couldn’t finish it. Execution is the difference between winning and losing and, other than the goalies, no player can really claim to be happy with their season to this point.
If Minard does get the spot on Crosby's line, people will scoff. They'll say Pittsburgh must be desperate if they're putting a career minor leaguer in that role. They'll note that Minard is 26 and was never drafted and played in places like Pensacola, San Angelo and Anchorage on his way to the AHL. That, to me, is snobbery at best and bigotry at worst. What difference does it make where he came from? If he can play, he can play.
People will say Minard is too slow to keep up with Crosby, but that's not true. When WBS did its skills competition last year, Minard was second in the fastest skater contest, by one-thousandth of a second, to Jonathan Filewich. He can skate.
I'm not saying Minard is going to become an NHL all-star. In fact, I wonder if he can get his shot off against stronger, quicker NHL defensemen. But he's done everything he's been asked to do the last year-plus. At a time when the parent club's offense is struggling, it's worth giving him a chance in a scoring role. Who knows? He could become Crosby's Robbie Brown.
The 39-year-old unsigned right wing who'd been advised for months by GM Glen Sather to "sit tight" in anticipation of both a roster spot and salary-cap space opening up to create an avenue for his return to Broadway, Shanahan is no longer doing so.
Nearly four months after becoming a free agent, Shanahan is putting himself
onto the open market.
"I've told Rick [Curran] that I can no longer wait and that it's time to move
on," Shanahan, referring to his agent, told The Post this afternoon. "Until now,
Rick has been under instructions to tell inquiring teams that my focus was on
re-signing with the New York Rangers, and that I was not accepting any other
"That has changed."
For example, if Player A skates a shift in which he takes a shot that misses the net, his teammate then puts one on goal and another teammate blocks a shot at the other end before the end of Player A's shift, Player A will have a +1 Corsi Rating for that shift. To put it in context, Henrik Zetterberg had the League's best Corsi Rating a season ago and a bunch of Thrashers were at the bottom. Basically it's another tool in the analytical arsenal to gauge a player's even strength effectiveness. Got it? Good
As we noted in the preview, Michael Leighton's been on his game as of late and it certainly showed for the
So who thought the Pens would be 5-2-1 after eight games while missing Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney? Not many.
This neatly wraps up one segment of the season, the "Post-Stockholm Recovery" of having five of six at home...Now a new segment, a trip to New York to face the 6-2-1 Rangers and then three games out west. Tall challenges on the horizon for sure, but for now it's ok to sit back and enjoy the satisfaction of a two point night.
So here’s the stat-line for Carolina’s goaltenders, one is a young franchise goalie that already has a Stanley Cup trophy under his belt in Cam Ward and the other is journeyman Mike Leighton:
1-1-1, 3.29 GAA and a .892 save %
2-0, 1.93 GAA and a .935 save %
So you know the trick is in, Leighton is the statistically superior goaltender this early into the season and will get the start tonight. Also, due to injuries it looks like the Canes will dress seven defensemen which means our old friend Josef Melichar will be back in the NHL for the first time since his Penguin days.
This is also the Pens last chance for some home cooking before departing to New York and then out west for three games. The next time a game will be in Mellon Arena (November 8th) will be after a President is elected. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if it’s probably a train.
Carolina player to watch:
Something to keep an eye on is the Hurricanes haven’t really had a “go to” player. Sure, Eric Staal is the man there, but through five games ten (10) or more players have at least three points. Contrast that with your Penguins who have played two more games than Carolina, but only have half the number of players with at least three points. So even if E. Staal is limited, that doesn’t mean the third line might have one of those nights where they put a couple past the Penguins before we know it. And with perhaps a rusty Darryl Sydor back in the lineup they may just do that.
Penguins player to watch:
Jordan Staal –did you know he has a brother in this game? If not, the television people will let you know this any number of times. Anyways the 3rd of the Staal boys has had a rough season so far (he’s one of the Pens under three points) and hasn’t quite emerged from the sophomore slump yet. Also rumor has it if he doesn’t show something tonight the boys at the Pensblog are gonna put the Amber Alert up on his ass. Which, would he know what that means around the interwebs, well it would be all the motivation needed to break out. History doesn’t suggest Jordan will fare well, in 8 NHL games against brother Eric, J-Staal has 0 goals and 2 assists. Maybe, like a certain “other sibling” tonight will be his night to step up and outshine big bro.
Gill did not participate in the Penguins' practice at Mellon Arena today, and it is not known when he will be able to resume playing.
I'm tired of listening to other teams' chants and listening to everyone else's grand opening and anniversary ceremonies," defenseman Aaron Ward wrote on his blog. "I am so sick of sitting around on their blue lines listening to how great their organization is, and I can't wait to see a lot of black and gold in the stands at the Garden."
John Curry's back stiffened up when he was making a save midway through the second period and Adam Berkhoel had to come on in relief. As he skated to the
net, Berkhoel said the Bears reminded him about how his previous two outings went against them. (Not good for him.)
It can't be bad to try. This team needs to create at 5 on 5. The Pens doing well enough to make the other team take penalties (and then make them pay) but they need to bury some chances to get the confidence up and then we'll be rolling. There's no better way for a shot in the arm then to try Geno up on the top line.
7:52- Crosby goes down and slashes Andrew Alberts, negating what had been an unimpressive powerplay.
7:57- Max Talbot springs himself on a shorthanded breakaway and tries to go five hole (looked like he had too much speed to make a move.
7:58- A good shift for the Staal/Malkin/Sykora line, a lot of cycling down low. Malkin looks more authoritative out there.
8:04- Scrum time in front of the Flyers net that's almost a line brawl. We notice TFK and Albert going at it. Scumbag Mike Richards gives an otherwise occupied Penguin a face-wash and is sent to the box.
8:06- The powerplay without an identity continues, the crowd's getting restless now. They circled in their own zone for a little waiting to breakout and then subsequently iced the puck. This defense needs a puck-moving defenseman.
8:13- Long cycling shift for the Talbot line but no payoff. Gotta like the chances and energy that TFK is bringing to the table.
8:15- Rusty Fedotenko takes a holding penalty about 170 feet from his net with about 80 seconds left in the period. Foolish.
8:18- At the end of the first it's 0-0
8:24- Christine Simpson is interviewing Mike Richards....Is it just us or did she pickup a more noticeable Canadian accent over the summer? Granted, she is from Ontario but it seems a lot more prevalent now. Not that
8:36- Game's back on and the penalty's killed but not before Marc-Andre Fleury kicks a rebound out past everyone.
8:39- They're buzzing now. Crosby has the puck and motors around, set Dupuis up for four big shots, including one from point blank that would have been a goal had his stick not failed him.
8:42- Things are definitely looking up for the boys. The Crosby line was down low doing work and drew an Andrew Alberts hooking call. The last two 5 on 5 shifts for this line has, without exaggaration, looked stronger than the powerplay. Cue the tired hack joke about being able to decline penalties. 2nd period shots are 6-2 Pens.
8:45- The powerplay features a lot of great puck movement and control but no dice. One gets the feeling it might take an ugly goal to trigger a huge breakout.
8:48- Matt Cooke to the box for a cross-check, taking away all the momentum and confidence that's been building.
8:50- 5 on 3 time for the Flyers, as Brooks Orpik slashes a rushing Flyer.
8:51- Therrien used to use two forwards and one defensemen for these situations but went with the long stick of Staal, and human shields Mark Eaton and Rob Scuderi
8:52- Holy shit moment, Scuderi literally makes two saves. Gotta appreciate the scramble and sacrifice. 5 on 3 killed, powerplay killed.
8:55- Due to the powerplay, Malkin plays a shift with Satan and Sykora. They apply much pressure, including Malkin's impression of his Crosby-drop-to-a-knee one timer but hits the far post.
8:57- Glen Metropolit attempts a lobotomy on Jordan Staal, ready or not here comes the powerplay but (thankfully?) it's only for 2 minutes.
9:00- A fluttering Evgeni Malkin wrister pops off the post. Thisclose once again...
9:01- GOAL! Orpik shoots, Kennedy's in front. The ugly one we mentioned. Looks like an Orpik seeing-eye puck. 1-0 Penguins
9:04- GOAL! Nice keep in at the blueline by Goligoski to keep it in and then a quick pass out by Cooke to Mike Zigomanis. Eric Godard touched it to and will get an assist, so unfortunately the play by Goose won't be recognized. 2-0 Penguins
9:07- Welcome to the season boys.
9:08- Eric Godard is a goal away from the Gordie Howe hat trick. Not bad for a guy who's gotten just 2:00 of icetime so far.
9:10- Jeff Carter pinballs one in. The Penguins couldn't clear the puck and the Flyers had a down-low two on one and the puck bounces off of the USS Hal Gill. Yuck. 2-1 Penguins still lead.
9:12- Another one. Faceoff win by Briere over Crosby, Timonen snaps it on the net and Gagne gets a nice deflection goal. This game is 2-2 but it feels like the Penguins should be winning. If you want to get chewed out by a hockey coach, give up a goal in the last minute of a period. The Pens just gave up two of them. Mercifully, it's intermission.
9:33- Game is back and Bobby Orr takes a penalty. Don't disrespect Kimmo Timonen in the eyes of Flyers fans eyes.
9:34- Malkin breaks a stick. A lot of broken twigs tonight, and as usual it's at the most inopportune time.
9:37- Goligoski is doing a lot of the little things right, including now when he lugged the puck through the zone and fired a nice shot that just was deflected at the last second. He's learning his way in the NHL and seeming to look a little better every period.
9:38- A Sykora rebound bumps out to Jordan Staal. It hits his skate and he kicks it to his skate but his hurried shot goes just wide.
9:44- The Talbot line works the puck low and then Max gets a high stick from Scott Hartnell. Fortunately for the Flyers their only punishment is facing the Penguins top powerplay unit.
9:47- Powerplay killed pretty effortlessly. Ossi Vaananen slew footed Crosby pretty viciously but he appears to be OK.
9:52- Pascal Dupuis' doing some solid work on the PK (Ziggy went to the box). Whatever the Pens PP has must be contagious, now Philly's looks sick.
9:58- Jeff Carter takes it to the net and gets taken down...Penalty coming up. 4 minutes left in the game, huge kill coming up, if the Flyers score a goal here that's practically your ballgame.
10:02- Beautiful pinball flipper save by Fleury when a puck comes unexpectedly bouncing in on him. The Pens are doing well to clear the puck often and not let them set it up.
10:06- Last ditch effort by Malkin and Kennedy fall short, we're going to over-time.
10:11- 18 year old rookie Luca Sbisa just flipped the puck in and nailed Mark Eaton with a huge check. That's the first time we really noticed him. And he's out there the last minute of OT, shows you how much they trust him.
10:14- Pascal Dupuis!!!!!!!!!! Big shot down the wing after a terrific breakout pass from Brooks Orpik.
So that's that.
"Godard-Letang fight in practice
saw it on Savran on Sportsbeat
No punches thrown, but Godard's gloves came off and had Letang in a head lock"
Metallurg Magnitogorsk WAS offering Evgeni Malkin $11 million U.S., but he told them to forget it ... In a wide-ranging interview with the Russian Sovetskii
Sport publication, Malkin said he told Metallurg he had a new, valid contract with the penguins, and "I'm not Radulov."..
The Penguins have acquired forward Mike Zigomanis from Phoenix for
considerations. Zigomanis, 27, split last season between the Coyotes and San Antonio of the American Hockey League. In 33 games with Phoenix, he had two goals and an assist; he had 10 goals and 15 assists in 27 games with the AHL Rampage.
If you could pick one player to build your team around for the next five years, who would it be? A sniper like Alexander Ovechkin? A playmaker like Sidney Crosby? Maybe a stalwart goaltender such as Roberto Luongo?
the franchise player most coveted was Crosby, with 98 points in a 5-3-1 weighted system. Crosby was the top choice on 15 ballots.
Ovechkin topped Luongo 66 to 38 in terms of voting points, but its worth noting that Canucks captain had more first place votes (7) than the Russian gunner (5).
In conclusion, definitely a strange an unusual game in an unusual venue. It's bizarre to think this weekend's game mean just as much as a Wednesday night game in March, but that's the case. And though it wasn't necessarily pretty, the Penguins found a way to win. At the end of the day, that's all that matters.
"I wouldn't want to get caught in a line brawl with him."
"He's probably the toughest in the league. He's strong, he's powerful. It's one of those things where you watch his fights, meanwhile, when he's out there on the ice, he's coming after you, so you've got to be aware."
"I'm not really afraid of anyone, but if I were to fight him, I'd probably be shaking going in. That's just the respect you have for him and what you've seen him do in the past. If I want to play in this league, that's going to be my job and obviously I'd have to do it, that's life. Big deal, he breaks your face. Get it fixed."
"Did you see those passes," [Fedotenko] told NHL.com, his eyes lighting up. "That's why they are all talking to him."
Crosby's goal-making pass probably was the singular moment most fans will take from the evening.
Skating along the goal line, Crosby deked one way before firing a pass across his body to hit Fedotenko cruising into the slot. Fedotenko had little to do other than flick his wrists to get the goal.
Yep, Sid and the gang are ready to roll.
Oh and Rusty, keep burying them, Bub.