Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:43 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:52 pm
By: Adam Gretz
When defenseman Kris Letang had to leave Wednesday's game in Dallas after being on the receiving end of a big hit from Stars forward Eric Nystrom, the biggest concern for the Penguins had to be whether or not their best blueliner suffered another concussion. He's already missed more than 20 games this season due to one concussion, which came after a hit by Montreal's Max Pacioretty. The Penguins have had their share of concussion-related issues this season including injuries to Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy, Arron Asham and, as already mentioned, Letang.
Following Thursday morning's practice in Denver, where the Penguins will play the Avalanche on Saturday, coach Dan Bylsma revealed that Letang is in fact suffering from concussion symptons and will return to Pittsburgh on Sunday for more observation.
Nystrom received a two-minute for roughing on the play, and there was much debate as to whether or not he would face any supplemental discipline from the NHL. Brendan Shanahan, vice president of player safety, announced that Nystrom will not face any additional discipline.
Wrote Shanahan on his official Twitter feed, "Our view is that Letang lunges forward just prior to contact and although it appears that the chin is grazed by the side of Nystrom's arm, the right chest and shoulder of Letang remain the PPOC (principal point of contact)."
NBC's Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick were among the people debating (screaming at each is more like it) whether or not Nystrom should face discipline, and it's probably a shock to anybody that is familair with his opinions on these matters but Milbury was actually on the side of supplemental discipline. Roenick, however, wasn't hearing it as the video below (via wyshynski) shows:
It's a tough play to judge, and it's impossible to figure out what Nystrom's intent was, but it does seem a bit interesting that after facing mounting criticism earlier in the season for the number of suspensions he had been handing out during his first months on the job, the amount of supplemental discipline coming out of the NHL offices has slowed down considerably. You could argue that players cleaned up their act, but there have been plenty of examples of plays that drew punishment earlier in the season but have been overlooked in recent weeks and months.
Two such examples: Ottawa's Kyle Turris and his hit on Boston's Joe Corvo last week, and David Clarkson's charging incident on Monday night.
Either way, the potential loss of Letang for any length of time is a big one for the Penguins. With him they are a serious contender for the Stanley Cup. Without him ... they're probably not.
Previously at Eye On Hockey
Video: Letang injured after hit by Nystrom
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 6, 2012 1:57 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 9:43 pm
By: Adam Gretz
There was some buzz coming out of Montreal on Monday morning as Penguins captain Sidney Crosby joined his teammates for practice at the Bell Centre ahead of Tuesday's game with the Canadiens. And while it appears that he's inching closer to returning to the lineup, he's still not quite there yet and there remains no timetable for his return.
Crosby said after the session, via Sam Kasan of the Penguins, that he will continue to skate by himself when the team returns to Pittsburgh this week and that he is still not yet symptom free, and that once he is, he will return.
So in other words: there's not much new regarding his status, other than that he practiced with the team as opposed to skating on his own.
In other injury news for the Penguins, head coach Dan Bylsma said that center Jordan Staal could return to the lineup within the next five to 10 days, which would be a huge addition to their lineup. He plays some of the toughest minutes on the team on a nightly basis, and was also having one of the best goal-scoring seasons of his career prior to his knee injury against the New York Rangers last month.
Forward Tyler Kennedy, who was injured in the closing minutes of Sunday's 5-2 loss in New Jersey, is also returning to Pittsburgh to have his lower body injury re-evaluated.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 1:37 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Sooner or later all of these injuries for the Penguins have to stop, right? Head coach Dan Bylsma announced on Monday that defenseman Zbynek Michalek will be sidelined between four-to-six weeks due to a broken finger that he suffered while blocking a shot during their 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Michalek signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Penguins prior to last season and has been a steady presence on their blue line ever since. He's been one of the best shot-blockers in the NHL throughout his career, and along with the addition of Paul Martin, was a big factor in helping the Penguins reduce their goals against average by nearly half a goal per game during the 2010-11 season.
His injury is simply the latest one for a Penguins team that's been dealing with them all season, and it comes just two games after Brooks Orpik, perhaps their best defensive-defenseman, made his season debut last week. Orpik missed the first eight games of the season while he recovered from offseason surgery. The Penguins have also been playing without their captain and best player, Sidney Crosby, as he attempts to return from his concussion, while Evgeni Malkin, their second best player, and Tyler Kennedy have also missed significant time this season with injuries. Kennedy is out indefinitely with a concussion, while Malkin is still day-to-day.
With Michalek sidelined that likely means Ben Lovejoy will have an opportunity to return to the lineup, as he was the odd man out once Orpik made his debut and Kris Letang returned from his recent two-game suspension.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:51 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The incredible run of injuries that arguably helped derail the Pittsburgh Penguins season a year ago has found a way to continue during the start of the 2011-12 season. Playing without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang (though, his recent absence was the result of a suspension) at various times, a group of players that adds up to nearly half of their salary cap commitments for the year, they have still managed to win five of their first nine games and earn at least a point in seven of them.
They've done all of this while being outscored during 5-on-5 play (18-14), and with a power play that has slumped down to a 10 percent rate over the past seven games, scoring on just three of its past 29 attempts. One of the most important aspects of their fast start has been a penalty killing unit that has been as dominant as any other group in the league. This isn't exactly a new development for the Penguins, as they finished with the top spot in the NHL last season at just over 86 percent. Through the first nine games this season they look to be even stronger.
Pittsburgh has found itself in a shorthanded situation 31 times this season and has only allowed one goal to the oppositions power play. That goal came during a 4-on-3 power play, typically considered a tougher penalty to kill than a traditional 5-on-4 due to the extra space the power play has to work with, in overtime during their loss to the Washington Capitals last Thursday.
Other than that? They've been perfect. Even more impressive is the fact the Penguins have already managed to score three shorthanded goals this season. They're not just stopping the other team's power play from scoring, they're flat out beating them on the scoreboard. At this point there is only one other team in the NHL on the "plus" side of the scoring while shorthanded, and that's Chicago which has a 2-1 edge during its 17 shorthanded situations.
When talking to opposing players after some of their recent games the one common theme everybody keeps bringing up is how aggressive the Penguins are on the penalty kill. And that's not really anything new. Every team says it wants to be aggressive, or take away time and space, or whatever other coaching cliche you can throw out there. But the Penguins seem to take it even further than most teams and never let up. Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell called them "relentless" following a performance that saw his team go 0-for-4 on the man advantage and surrender a shorthanded goal during a 4-2 loss last Tuesday.
Such an aggressive style while down a man has a potentially large payoff -- like, say, a shorthanded goal -- but also carries some risk if you're not wisely picking and choosing your spots, which is something Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban brought up following Thursday's game -- they don't put themselves in bad situations.
"They pressure the right way and they pressure at the right times," Said Subban. "They play a smart game. They don't put themselves in trouble, they play smart, they limit your opportunities and they have guys that are willing to sacrifice."
Goaltenders generally get the most attention for a team's strong penalty kill, and Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson have both been excellent in shorthanded situations this season. But Pittsburgh also does a fantastic job of not allowing teams to even get an opportunity to create shots or establish any sort of presence in the offensive zone. Through nine games the Penguins are allowing just .768 shots per minute in shorthanded situations, a mark that is eighth-best in the NHL and well below the league average (at this point) of .857.
They're willing shot-blockers and do an excellent job of not allowing teams to gain a clean entry into the zone or get an opportunity to set up their power play, and that's a testament to the play of forwards like Jordan Staal, Craig Adams, Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke, as well as defenseman Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. More than one Canadiens forward, including Brian Gionta, commented on Thursday night about his team's struggles to generate any speed through the middle of the ice
"I haven't seen many of their other games," said Gionta. "But tonight we had a hard time getting up through the neutral zone, and when you don't come clean through there and you're trying to win battles to get the puck back it's basically 50-50."
With players like Crosby and Malkin out of the lineup the Penguins aren't going to put up the type of offensive numbers typically seen from them, and they're going to have to keep grinding out wins. Completely shutting down the other team's power play is a good place to start.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adam Gretz, Brent Johnson, Brian Campbell, Brian Gionta, Brooks Orpik, Chicago Blackhawks, Craig Adams, Evgeni Malkin, Florida Panthers, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cooke, Montreal Canadiens, P.K. Subban, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins, Richard Park, Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy, Zbynek Michalek
Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 3:26 pm
The Penguins training room is looking more like an infirmary these days. In the beginning part of the season they have been without Sidney Crosby, Brooks Orpik, Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy for one or more games.
At least they will get one of the back for Thursday night's battle with Montreal. Orpik will return to the lineup the team announced. Also, a banged up James Neal -- the NHL's leading goal scorer -- is expected to play. That's the good news.
Of course there is bad news, too. Malkin's day-to-day approach will still have him out against the Habs as he is waiting for his knee to be completely ready. It continues, though, with Kennedy being diagnosed with a concussion, obviously meaning he's not playing. Finally, rookie defenseman Brian Strait, who hasn't played much in the early going, won't be available for a few weeks due to a hyperextended elbow.
Then add to the mix the suspension of defenseman Kris Letang and, well, the Penguins are just a little bit short against Montreal.
In Orpik the Pens get back a defenseman has been a fixture on their blue line since 2003-04. He has been a plus player each of the past five seasons while helping out a lot with the penalty-killing duties. Although Pittsburgh has been alright in that department without him; they have only given up one power-play goal while they have scored three short-handed.
Kennedy's loss will hurt as he has been growing into a more integral part of the Penguins offense. In the six games he played to start the season, he had five points (2-3). Now, with a concussion, there's no telling for sure when he might return. Pittsburgh knows all too well how that can go.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: October 18, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 5:33 pm
By: Adam Gretz
After a hearing on Tuesday afternoon for his boarding penalty on Winnipeg's Alex Burmistrov on Monday night, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was issued a two-game suspension by the NHL. As he has done since the start of the preseason, the NHL's new discipline chief, Brendan Shanahan, came out with a video explanation, breaking down the play and why the punishment was handed out.
Said Shanahan of the play that resulted in a two-minute minor for boarding during the Jets' 2-1 win, "Letang recognizes that Burmistrov will get to the puck first and Letang gets into an athletic, defensive position. At this point, this is no longer a puck that is up for grabs and Letang is going to play the man. In our opinion, Burmistrov's path to the puck is predictable, and there are no sudden movements just prior or simultaneous with the hit. In spite of the fact that Letang is looking at Burmistrov in the numbers, he finishes his check hard and with authority, and fails to minimize the check."
The NHL rule book (rule 41) says that "The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a vulnerable position and if so, he must avoid the contact," while also adding that the player on the receiving end also has some responsibility for not putting himself in a vulnerable position. In this case the NHL ruled that Burmistrov did not do that, and Letang should have made an effort to lessen the hit.
Here's Shanahan's complete explanation.
Letang was fined last April for a similar play.
He will now miss Pittsburgh's game on Tuesday against Minnesota, as well as Thursday's home game against Montreal. The Penguins, having played the most games of any team in the NHL at this point, are also dealing with a number of injuries and will be without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, Brooks Orpik and Letang against the Wild.
More NHL Discpline News Here
Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 4:56 pm
While all eyes are on Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh, GM Ray Shero took care of the in-house business first by re-signing Pascal Dupuis.
The deal is for two years and $3 million, meaning an annual hit of $1.5 million to the cap. The deal was officially announced this afternoon.
"[My family and I] really love Pittsburgh. It was the only place we wanted to go," Dupuis said Tuesday.
Dupuis came over to the Penguins in the deal that landed them Marian Hossa and Hal Gill, clearly the third of three players in the trade. Since then he has proved to be a very valuable player, fitting on any of the four lines Pittsburgh has and stepping into the leader's role a bit when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down with injuries.
Last season for the Pens, Dupuis scored 17 goals and had 20 assists in 81 games. Plus, he was one of the more memorable characters to come out of HBO's 24/7 series before the Winter Classic.
The Penguins now sit at just less than $58 million on the roster, giving them about $6.5 million to spend. They seem to be on the verge of bringing Jagr back to Pittsburgh, something that can't be done until Friday at the earliest, and also are still in talks with Tyler Kennedy, a player that they did not give a qualifying offer to.
-- Brian Stubits
Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:31 am
COSTLY RETURN: Would you like to go see the Winnipeg Jets make their return to the NHL for the home opener in the 'Peg? Do you have $1,645 handy? A search of ticketcenteronline.com shows only two choices available for any tickets to the game against the Canadiens, and the other price is $1,839. I'd say they have the concept of supply and demand down pretty well.
MAKE IT EIGHT: With news coming out Monday that Matthew Hulsizer has withdrawn his bid to buy the Coyotes, speculation immediately began that that could have been the straw that broke the camel's back and the Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have dried up. There's certainly hope in Canada that it means the Nordiques will be coming back to Quebec City. You might remember when Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the Coyotes that a site makeit7.ca was launched? Now, there's a makeit8.ca with as simple a web page as you'll ever see.
OVER-QUALIFIED: Want to know which restricted free agents were given qualifying offers and which, like Dan Carcillo, let go? Check the list here courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk. Keep in mind that any player who was not given an offer is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens July 1.
MR. KENNEDY, JAGR WATCH: One restricted free agent who wasn't offered is Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy. But that doesn't mean he won't be back in the black and gold next season. Penguins GM Ray Shero says Kennedy wants to come back and he wants Kennedy back; it's just that arbitration or a qualifying offer wasn't the best option. What's more? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins have a handshake that he will return to the first franchise he called home.
SHARK THINK TANK: When the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi and more to the Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns, they undoubtedly upgraded the blue line. But they lost a top-line winger in the process. So fearthefin.com takes the task of figuring out who should take the spot next to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. There is no shortage of names in the mix, from Dany Heatley to Ryan Vesce.
Flyers ARE FINE: Worried that changes the Flyers just made might damage their chances of winning the Stanley Cup? Senior vice president Bobby Clarke doesn't think you should be. It comes as no surprise, but Clarke believes the Flyers did exactly what they needed to do to get better and explains exactly why Philadelphia is in a better position now than at this time last week.
-- Brian Stubits