Tag:Pittsburgh Penguins
Posted on: October 14, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 5:04 pm

Asham calls Ovechkin hypocrite, expects fireworks

By Brian Stubits

Nothing like a fight to get things riled up once again in the NHL.

Arron Asham's knockout of Jay Beagle in last night's Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals game has been the talk of the day, the soup de jour. The fight itself was noteworthy enough. After getting his right hand free, Asham threw two punches square to Beagle's face, dropping him to the ice a bloody mess.

Obviously what took it from there to a bigger story altogether were Asham's actions immediately after the fight. On his way to the penalty box, he motioned that it was over and then did a go-to-sleep sign. Very soon Asham realized the severity of the injury for Beagle and was seen tapping the glass in support. He was further apologetic after the game.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who was yelling at Asham from the penalty box while serving Beagle's two-minute minor, wasn't happy in the postgame.

“It’s a fight. It’s hockey game but again it was pretty tough. Beagle, like, he’s just first-year NHL,” Ovechkin said Thursday night. “Asham, I don’t know if he knows that or not, but just put him on the ice,” Ovechkin said. Beagle is “not a fighter, it’s not his job to fight. I don’t know, it looked kind of not respectful for players on different team. I don’t know what people think, but I think it’s not respectful.”

Well that got the attention of Asham. The Penguins tough guy, who reached outto the Caps' Mike Knuble to apologize to Beagle, wasn't willing to take that from the Ovie without a retort.

More Capitals-Penguins

“I don’t know what Ovie’s talking about, disrespectful,” Asham told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “A guy who throws his stick down and warms his hands over it. He is being a hypocrite himself. The rivalry is back. I’m sure the next game is going to have a lot of fireworks.

"I woke up this morning feeling pretty stupid. Guys make mistakes. Mine could have been a lot worse than some of the mistakes that go on. I held him up at the end so he didn't smash his face up.

"I didn't know he was unconscious. I obviously want to win the fight but I don't want to hurt anyone. The thing is, I didn't go up and ask him to fight. I told him to settle down. He challenged me. He wanted to fight me."

I wasn't aware that the Penguins-Capitals rivalry had gone anywhere to the point that it's back, as Asham says, but this did solidify Dec. 1's rematch in Washington as must-see TV. After sitting out as a scratch the first three games of the season, it's probably safe to say D.J. King will be in the lineup for the Caps that day.

Meanwhile, Capitals defenseman John Carlson, only 21, took to Twitter to share some of his frustrations. After simply tweeting "#JayBeagle83", he was chirped back by a Penguins fan. Carlson's response? "Go screw yourself u mutant." Well, there's no doubting Twitter gets fans closer to athletes than every before.

Rivalries make the world go round. And in hockey, this has become one of the best and most intense out there. Now we just have some logs for the fire.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 4:02 pm

Asham won't receive punishment from NHL for taunt

By Brian Stubits

In an email to the Washington Times NHL spokeman John Dellapina says the NHL won't hand down any further punishment for Arron Asham for his post-fight gestures on Thursday night.

"While nobody liked the gestures, they simply did not violate the rules as currently written (Rule 75.2 (i) which calls for a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for 'any identifiable player who uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures directed at any person,'"

In case you somehow missed it, Asham stepped up to challenge the Capitals' Jay Beagle to a fight after taking exception to a hit Beagle laid on the Penguins' Kris Letang. Despite never dropping his gloves in an NHL game before and Asham being a veteran of the tussel, Beagle obliged. Once Asham got his right hand free, it was two punches square to Beagle's face and a bloody mess on the ice.

What drew the ire of some, though, was Asham's arm waving and go to sleep sign with his hands. It didn't take long for him to realize the severity of the situation, however, and seemed almost immediately repentant. When Beagle was helped off the ice, Asham was seen tapping his stick against the glass from the penalty box showing his support.

He was further apologetic after the game, calling his own actions classless and uncalled for.

I'm glad that the NHL isn't going to throw any discipline Asham's way for this. I don't disagree that it was an ugly display from Asham, but his repentance seemed genuine to me. It was a heat-of-the-moment thing that was simply not sportsmanlike. Any additional punishment will come from the Capitals the next time the two teams meet. That's old time hockey.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:04 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:14 am

Asham, Beagle fight overshadows Capitals win

By: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- Even though the climate surrounding the fighting in hockey debate is as hot as it's ever been, there's no denying that the vast majority of ticket-buying fans still absolutely, positively love its presence in the league. It's one of the few moments that takes place during a game -- any game -- that brings the crowd out of its seats.

Take Thursday's game in Pittsburgh between the Penguins and Capitals, a 3-2 Washington overtime victory, as an example. The loudest, most extended cheer of the night wasn't reserved for one James Neal's two goals, one of which tied the game with less than five minutes to play in regulation, but for  Penguins forward Arron Asham dropping Jay Beagle in a fight, delivering two huge blows to his face, apparently knocking him out, and leaving a small pool of blood on the Consol Energy Center Ice.

The fight itself, a mismatch between Asham, a veteran of over 60 regular season fights in his NHL career (via Hockeyfights.com), and Beagle, who has participated in just one regular season fight in his 43 NHL games, would have been noteworthy simply for the way it ended; a player getting knocked out and apparently removing a piece of tooth as he skated to the bench. It will probably get even more attention for the two gestures Asham made as he skated toward the penalty box (as shown in the above video).

The fight started after Beagle gave Penguins defenseman Kris Letang a jab to the face along the boards, with Asham coming to the defense of his teammate.

Following the game Asham said the gestures were uncalled for and classless, and that he was caught up in the moment.  Mike Knuble, who scored a goal in the second period, extending his personal point streak to 13 games against the Penguins, said that he believes Asham, who was a teammate of his during their time in Philadelphia, is an "honest player" and was simply "doing his job."

"You hate to see your teammate go down," said Knuble. "Arron's doing his job, I've played with him before and he's an honest player. He's tremendous at what he does and he did what he felt that he had to do."

"Jay got popped a good one," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "He was playing a really good game I thought and he challenged a pretty tough customer, and a guy that's used to fighting. Jay's not that used to fighting and he got tagged a good one."

Boudreau also said he did not see Asham's post-fight gesture, and while he was seen discussing something with the officials immediately after the incident, he said that he was asking about the distance Asham traveled to engage in the fight and what the referee's interpretation of the rule (presumably the instigator rule) was.

And that's what this night will mostly be remembered for as it becomes another chapter in the fierce rivalry between the two teams, one that dates back to the 1990's when both clubs were reguarly facing each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Both players received five-minute majors for fighting, while Beagle was also penalized for the shot he gave Letang prior to the fight, leaving the Capitals shorthanded, which was nothing new on this night.

The Penguins owned a commanding 41-19 edge in the shots department for the game, aided by the fact they had five power plays in regulation to Washington's zero. In the first and third periods alone the Penguins dominated the shot chart 12-3 and 18-3 respectively. It wasn't until overtime when the Capitals saw their first man-advantage of the evening when Penguins forward Jordan Staal was sent off for tripping at the 2:04 mark of the extra period. Just 44 seconds later Dennis Wideman scored the game-winner.

Tomas Vokoun, the subject of much debate over the first two games of the season due to not being in the opening night lineup and his rough debut in the following game, did his part to silence his doubters by helping to keep the Capitals in the game and giving them a chance to win, stopping 39 of the 41 shots he faced throughout the night.

"He was the difference for us," said Knuble. "Even in that first period, we finished 1-0 we could have easily been three or four. He made some big saves in the third period too when they started to push back a little. He was a big factor tonight." 

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:41 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 6:43 am

Sidney Crosby 'cleared for full contact'

By Brian Stubits

When Sidney Crosby took to the ice with his Penguins teammates on Thursday for their morning skate, something stood out. His helmet was the same black color as his teammates, meaning he has been cleared for contact. The change in helmet color was sign enough, but then Crosby confirmed it himself after the skate.

"I'm cleared for full contact, he said. "I've been good since around camp. Everything has gone really smooth."

This is a huge step in his recovery and now means we aren't that far from seeing him return to games -- relatively speaking. He has been taking part in team practices wearing a white helmet to signify no contact as he has been on a long road to recovery from a concussion suffered last January.

"When you've waited this long, you want to make sure you do everything right," Crosby said when asked if it is tough being patient. "It's exciting if anything. I don't think it's hard to be patient at this point. I'm getting closer and just want to make sure I respond to everything well here in the next however long it is."

Now, we still likely won't get a timetable for a return to playing. The Penguins will continue to do what they have been, and that's using patience and extreme caution. But I don't think there is any question that being cleared to hit and be hit was the biggest hurdle for him to clear physically.

"I thinks it's up to how I respond to getting hit, so I guess it's up to me," Crosby said. "We'll just have to see at that point.

"Its a big step but we'll see how things go. I've got to get hit in practice. Today wasn't hitting so it didn't feel any different. I've got to get hit here at some point during practice, but we're playing so much it's hard to get hit right now."

So who will be the first one to actually hit him? Your guess is as good as mine. I can't imagine any player will want to hit the star for fear of setting him back again. But coach Dan Bylsma thinks it won't be long before Crosby makes somebody want to hit him.

"Sid's the type of player that he instigates contact," Bylsma said. "He'll do something that will warrant that from a player. He'll go out and do something. ... I think every training camp when Sid's been healthy he's always ended up in some kind of jostling where the ire's gotten up on both guys and that'll happen again because of the way Sidney competes."

While his teammates have done their best to protect their captain during practice, Crosby has admitted to some jostling at times with no recurrence of the symptoms that have sidelined him since taking head shots in consecutive games in early January.

Bylsma says he may try to find some extra practice time for Crosby to help get him acclimated but added Crosby's participation in nearly every drill during training camp means Crosby might not have that much further to go.

"He's been with the line, he's been in drills, he's covered some drills that have contacted," Bylsma said. "He was wearing a different color helmet but he's been in those situations."

Sorry Jeremy Roenick, but expect to hear a lot more about Crosby after this development.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 11:05 am

Chris Kunitz re-signs with Penguins for 2 years

CK1By: Adam Gretz

Set to become an unrestricted free agent following this season, it was announced on Thursday morning that Chris Kunitz has signed a two-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The deal is worth $3.275 million per season according to the team, which is a salary cap hit that is identical to the that came with his previous contract.

Since being acquired by the Penguins, along with Eric Tangradi, from Anaheim in 2009 in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney, Kunitz has scored 43 goals in 140 regular season games, typically playing on a line with Sidney Crosby when both have been in the lineup.

He's not the flashiest player on the Penguins roster, but over an 82-game season he maintains a 50-60 point pace and seems to play the type of physical, aggressive game head coach Dan Bylsma likes, while also having a willingness to go to the front of the net and do the dirty work around the crease. He's been a good fit within their system. The only downside to his play the past couple of years is that he's had to miss 48 games due to injury over the past two seasons.

With Kunitz now in the mix for the next two years the Penguins have just about every core player on the roster signed signed through at least next season, including Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury. Many of them are signed for at least the next two years, with the exception of Crosby and Staal, who would be eligible for unrestricted free agency following next season.

As it stands now, the Penguins have roughly $54 million in salary cap committments to 17 players for the 2012-13 season, via Capgeek, which would leave them with somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million in cap space (assuming there are no changes to the cap).

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 12, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:26 pm

Jeremy Roenick doesn't want to hear about Crosby

By Brian Stubits

You know one person who is fed up with the Sidney Crosby talk? Jeremy Roenick.

Last night on the Versus extra postgame show NHL Overtime, which was preceded by NHL Live (I was waiting for "NHL After Dark" to come on next) he let everybody know about it. Clearly, J.R. has been pushed over the edge by questions about the recovery of probably the world's greatest hockey player.

Throughout that entire rant, I focus on Roenick's fellow talking head Ed Olczyk, watching to see if his will truly explode. At one point you really think he's going to raise his arms and try and strangle Roenick. The entire show had that tension hanging around. Let's just say there are a few kinks to iron out and chemistry issues to work on.

To the debate at hand: Roenick is speaking for a lot of fans on this one. While in his full-on crusade against asking questions, his tirade probably hits home with some. The Sidney Crosby talk has, indeed, been a bit wearisome.

But to not ask any questions at all? That's when things start getting out of hand. Case in point: Over the summer when Crosby was not doing interviews and no word came from his camp for months, I was beginning to hear serious rumors Crosby was going to retire. In the last week the drum was beating on Crosby possibly getting cleared for contact on Tuesday.

Without asking Crosby, those things fester and spiral out of control. The irony of it is that the insanity of so many updates on him and hearing him answer the questions actually keeps the recovery talk sane.

Plus, you know, Crosby is kind of a big deal. Just don't tell Jeremy Roenick about it.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 11, 2011 9:52 am

Daily Skate: Marc Staal still out; lame mascots

By Brian Stubits

STILL STAALED: Marc Staal is still trying to recover from the post-concussion symptoms he has been suffering since the summer, but he's still going to be out for the foreseeable future for the Rangers. He won't accompany the team on their four-game Western Canada road trip. He has gone from being held out for caution in the preseason to still sitting out weeks later. (Newsday)

PELUSO PICKS A FIGHT: Well, not really. But in a figurative sense, the former Senators, Blackhawks, Devils, Blues and Flames tough guy is standing up for fighting in hockey, saying a ban on it "would be stupid." He goes on to assert that depression after playing isn't from fighting, but instead it's poor self-esteem from years of being told all you can do is fight. (Slam Sports)

MASCOT METER: Ever look at an NHL mascot and say to yourself, "Gee, that's really lame?" You aren't the only one. Here is a list thrown together of the eight lamest mascots in the NHL and it's topped by the Canadiens' red-headed furball known as Youppi! The exclamation point is in his name, not my sentence. (Yardbarker.com)

THE BEST EVER: That's the claim of Dejan Kovacevic about Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He thinks the Flower will go down when it's all said and done as the best goaltender the Pens have ever seen, better than Tom Barrasso and the original netminder Les Binkley. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

TROTZ PLOTS MORE: The Predators are perfect at 2-0 even with starting the season the road, but that doesn't mean Barry Trotz is happy with his team. Saying the team has goalie Pekka Rinne to thank for the four points, they are getting back to working even more on defense. Ol' Barry back at it. (Smashville 24/7)

BLADES WEEK 3: Again, for anybody who might be wondering about the Battle of the Blades show in Canada, here is a recap from the third episode. Russ Courtnall and Kim Navarro were booted from the show. They were put together a short time before the show after the death of Wade Belak, who was going to be a contestant. (Puck Daddy)

WHIP IT: Judging from the first week of the season, you are going to hear a lot of a song called The Whip by a band named Locksley this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs are among a few teams that will be using the song when goals are scored this season. Here's a look at the music video. Now it's stuck in your head for good.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 10, 2011 8:36 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 4:16 pm

Sid to see docs this week, could get contact OK

By Brian Stubits

Rumors were beginning to circulate, again, last week that Sidney Crosby could be close to a return. Of course, that was about the seventeenth time that's happened in the past 10 months, but seeing as how Crosby has been doing non-contract skating with the Penguins lately, it seemed more realistic.

He could get some great news toward that end this week. Originally it was reported he would meet with his doctors on Tuesday where he could possibly be cleared for contact, but that meeting will now happen later this week, per Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Here is what Rossi's original story reported about the meeting with doctors.

[Clinical neuropsychologist Michael] Collins has overseen Crosby's treatment from the start and will determine if he can return to contact situations in practices -- the next step as Crosby prepares for his anticipated return to games.

Crosby addressed the situation himself on Tuesday, saying that he has a meeting this week, but it's nothing out of the ordinary.

Crosby said that he'd love more than anybody for the doctors to tell him he's OK to play, but that he has no clue when that could be. As far as how he's feeling, all he would say is that he feels better today than yesterday, whether that was used in a literal sense or more figurative, I'm not sure.

If -- a big if -- Crosby is given the green light for contact, then we might be able to truly set a timetable for his return. This will only be another step. Granted it would be a massive one if he is cleared, but it's still just another step. Don't expect to see him in the lineup for the Penguins' home opener Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.

Crosby hasn't played in a game since January 5 against the Lightning a game after he suffered a concussion against the Capitals. In that time, there has never been any definite recovery date set.

But you can at least get a little excited Pittsburgh. There was also this from Rossi:

There is a general feel within the organization that the face of the franchise is doing better now than at any point during his recovery.

A somewhat coy Crosby seemed to back that part up in the above interview.

At this point, it's getting hard not to notice a lot of signs indicating things are getting better. And most every hockey fan agree -- even those that hate Crosby -- that his return is good for the game.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com