Tag:Pittsburgh Penguins
Posted on: April 8, 2011 8:46 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 8:55 pm

Bylsma doesn't see Crosby returning soon

With every passing day bringing us closer and closer to the playoffs, the mystery remains unsolved: Will Sidney Crosby play? Where's the Mystery Machine when you need it?

Well, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is leading us to believe that Crosby certainly won't be playing when the postseason begins next week. That much seems pretty certain.

From NHL.com:

"We've said it before and continue to say it -- he has a couple more steps to go in his rehabilitation before he can even think about returning to play," Bylsma told reporters. "I don't know how fast that's going to happen, I don't know if that's going to happen. There's no way to even make a timetable. And considering that he has two more steps to go through, it would seem like anything in the immediate future is out of the question."
Of course the return of Crosby would be huge for the Pens. They have surprised some by playing so well without The Kid and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. Here it is the final weekend of the year, and Pittsburgh is hanging in the race for the No. 2 seed on the division title. That would be an amazing feat for a team that lost two players of that quality midseason. But the power play has struggled for weeks. Oh, and he's Sidney Crosby, ya know, perhaps the best player in the game?

They for sure won't see Geno back this year, but Crosby remains possible. He's been out since New Year's when he suffered a concussion. But at this point, it's seeming less and less likely. With the way Pittsburgh has played despite his absence, though, imagine what the Pens would be capable of if their superstar can return?

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 7, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 1:25 pm

Bombastic Don Cherry again not on U.S. TV

Unless you’re one of the few who watches NHL Network on Saturday nights or pulls in a CBC signal by other means, you don’t get to see much of Hockey Night in Canada. That also means no Don Cherry, the personality known for his Canadian patriotism and loud sport coats. 

He’s been seen here and there on NBC over the years and he goes on the Jim Rome Show -- Smack-off is Friday by the way, clones -- on occasion. His sporadic showing stateside could have a little something to do with what he told a Pittsburgh TV station years ago when they put up an image of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr on the screen.

“There's Mario and his sister," the NHL coach turned analyst blurted out. 

Versus spokesman Meier Raivich said in an e-mail that there are no plans to use Cherry, either on Versus or corporate cousin, NBC .

For all the bravado and sniping by his critics, Postmedia Network columnist Alex Strachan writes that the man affectionately known as Grapes can impart some solid knowledge:   
Common sense is easily lost in the translation, whenever Cherry starts sounding off on such no-brainers as the need for no-touch icing; the real reason behind the game’s recent spate of concussions (players’ growing lack of respect for other players); the wonky safety glass in some hockey arenas (‘I tell you, one day, somebody’s gonna get killed”); stanchions that jut out onto the playing surface in some arenas (“I’m startin’ to sound like a broken record here, but somebody’s gonna get killed one of these days”); over-priced hockey equipment for middle-class families struggling to get by (“Now, you kids out there, you don’t really need that $3,000 pair of skates, just because your friend has them; give your mom and dad a break, OK?”); how only weenies, pinkos and the International Skating Federation call it “ice hockey”: and, perhaps, his most criminal offence of all, taking the time at the end of each Coach’s Corner to remember — and mention by name — those who’ve fallen in the service of their country in unknown, faraway fields.

Is hockey is better with Grapes in it? 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Category: NHL
Posted on: March 30, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 2:59 pm

Sidney Crosby cleared to skate with team

Sidney Crosby was cleared by doctors to participate in game-day skates and will join the Pittsburgh Penguins on their current trip.

Crosby will be on the ice with his teammates Thursday for the first time since a concussion forced him out of the lineup on Jan. 5. The Pens' two-game trip takes them to Tampa Bay (Thursday) and Florida (Saturday). Game-day skates are typically non-contact.

"I have no expectations of him coming back and playing in the regular season. That’s not going to happen," Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero told reporters Wednesday.  "In terms of playing in the playoffs for us, that’s something that’s still two or three weeks away (from exploring)."

In fact, Pat Brisson, Crosby's agent, tells CBSSports.com that there has been no talk about a return date. Crosby has been followed closely by team physician Charles Burke and concussion expert Michael Collins, who would have to first OK Crosby's return to full-contact practices. 

“Everybody involved recognizes that this takes time," Brisson said. "We haven’t even come to a point where it’s been discussed when he can return to contact hockey. There have not been any discussions among the medical staff, Dr. Collins, myself, Ray Shero and Sidney about when he’s coming back to play. Not at all.”

Still, Brisson said Wednesday's news is surely welcome.

“This is a nice step and we’re going in the direction toward his recovery," he said. "Still, we’re not jumping to any conclusions here. He’ll be able to participate in some sessions with his teammates, but not all of them.”

Crosby has done individual, on-ice workouts since March 14, upping the duration of each session over time. He did not skate today, although this was a scheduled day off. 

Shero said he doesn't expect Crosby to endanger himself by coming back too soon. 

"He knows his injury at this point," Shero said. "My expectation at this point is that he’s not going to push himself too much, but he’ll push himself enough where he feels good and if he doesn’t he’ll pull back a little bit."

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 4:07 pm

Playoff Watch: Pens can clinch against Devils

WHO CAN CLINCH: The Pittsburgh Penguins can clinch a spot with a victory over the New Jersey Devils combined with a Carolina Hurricanes loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Pens could also clinch if they get a point and the 'Canes lose in regulation. 

ALREADY IN: Vancouver, Philadelphia and Washington. 

GAME OF THE NIGHT: New Jersey Devils (34-35-4) at Pittsburgh Penguins (43-23-8), 7 p.m. ET

The Pens can clinch a playoff spot a couple different ways (see above), but the Devils are just trying to hang on. The Devils have nine games renaming, all but two against teams currently in the top-8 in the Eastern Conference. Only the Atlanta Thrashers have a tougher schedule for teams entering play Friday 12th place or better in the East. 

The Devils, who start the night nine points behind eighth-place Buffalo, are looking to avoid what would be their first two-game skid since Jan. 8.  New Jersey will get a boost as soon as Wednesday when Zach Parise could return. He's been out since Oct. 30 with a torn meniscus and began skating with the team this week. The Pens may get back center Sidney Crosby in the not-so-distant future as well. He skated again on Friday, but did not talk to reporters. GM Ray Shero told NHL.com that the team still has “no expectations, no timetable” for Crosby's return. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Carolina Hurricanes (34-29-10) at Tampa Bay Lightning (39-23-11), 7:30 p.m. ET
These two Southeast Division teams will become familiar with each other down the stretch. They will face each three times over the final nine games, contests that are little more vital for the 'Canes. Carolina in ninth place, tied points-wise with Toronto, and three points behind Buffalo. 

GOLF WATCH: The Ottawa Senators will need a victory plus a regulation loss by Buffalo to remain in it mathematically. The Florida Panthers will get the boot if they don't beat the Sabres in regulation. Colorado and Edmonton have already been eliminated. 
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:36 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 1:54 am

Morning Skate: Rookie Reimer keeps Leafs going

Toronto Maples Leafs rookie goalie James Reimer must be doing something right if he's getting compared to a Transformer.

A couple “Optimus Reim” posters were spotted Xcel Energy Center Tuesday night where Reimer turned in a 29-save performance in a 3-0 Leafs victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Toronto Star reports.

The 23-year-old from Arborg, Manitoba, is the chief reason Toronto still has a shot at its first postseason berth since before the lockout. He had fair amount of admirers as friends and family members made the 540-mile trek from his hometown.

“You always want to win and always want to put on a good show for family, especially when they drive a long way,” Reimer told the newspaper. “They’re the ones who put in the time and effort into my life and into my hockey career.”
Line Changes

Reimer is 11-3-4 over his last 18 decisions and his three shutouts have come since Feb. 3. Not bad for a guy who was sent down to the AHL three times this season.

The Leafs finished the night in 10th place in the East, five points behind the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs have eight games remaining and it’s a safe bet Reimer will get a chance to start in each of those -- especially when you factor in the outrage when coach Ron Wilson started J.S. Giguere in a loss to Florida last Thursday.

Beyond the playoff push, Reimer has also emerged as a candidate for the Calder Trophy. The discussion for the league's top rookie has been dominated by Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner and Sabres forward Tyler Ennis.

Unlike those skaters who are on lines with talented teammates, Reimer is often on his own --- like when he turned away two shorthanded breakaway chances on Tuesday. But what'll hurt his Calder hopes is his short resume.

He'll play at most 37 games, fewer than Chicago's Corey Crawford, Philly's Sergei Bobrovsky and Washington's Michal Neuvirth --- all rookie goalies with solid stats on playoff-bound teams.

But if he gets the Leafs into the playoffs, that'll cover up his short job history and transfrorm him into Calder contender. 

COOKE AFTERMATH: It appears New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh feels for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke, who was suspended Monday for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for an elbow he delivered last weekend to McDonagh’s head. 

He spoke with Rangers broadcast outlet MSG before Tuesday’s game (Here’s the quote transcribed by TSN.ca): 

“You're trying to get good momentum going into the playoffs or keep your playoff spot and that was a close game at the time and momentum could go the other way. I think he's trying to make a big hit and he just caught me wrong. I don't think it was his intent.

"The suspension … it is what it is. The league is really pushing to get these hits out of the game. If that's a statement, it's a pretty big statement, for sure."

Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh's two newspapers (The Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review) reported Cooke expressed regret for the collision: 

"I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change," Mr. Cooke said. "That's what I wanted my message to be."

"I'm fortunate that Ryan McDonagh wasn't hurt," he said. "I don't want to hurt anybody. That's not my intention. I know that I can be better. ... I made a mistake, and I'm the one who's accountable for that. And I take full responsibility for it."

WEST END: Four points separate the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes and 10th-place Calgary Flames entering play Wednesday. At the same point last season, that margin between the same two places in the Western Conference was 19 points.

NY Rangers 1, Florida 0
Boston 4, New Jersey 1
Carolina 4, Ottawa 3
Washington 5, Philadelphia 4 (SO)
Buffalo 2, Montreal 0
NY Islanders 5, Tampa Bay 2
Nashville 3, Edmonton 1
Toronto 3, Minnesota 0
Colorado 5, Columbus 4 (SO)
Phoenix 2, St. Louis 1

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:30 am

Morning Skate: Bylsma deserves Jack Adams votes

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma may have wrapped up the Jack Adams Award on Monday. 

There are plenty of deserving candidates for the NHL’s version of coach of the year. Alain Vigneault’s Vancouver Canucks were the first team to clinch a playoff berth and are likely to lay claim to the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy.  Jacques Lemaire was plucked out of retirement and led the New Jersey Devils from the basement to a chance at the postseason in few short months. Peter Laviolette has had the Philadelphia Flyers in first place in the East for most of the season. 

Still, Bylsma’s coaching effort can’t be overlooked. He’s lost Evegni Malkin for the season to a knee injury and his superstar center, Sidney Crosby, hasn’t played since the first week of January due to a concussion and his return this season remains a question mark. He’s also seen cogs like forwards Jordan Staal and Chris Kunitz along with defenseman Brooks Orpik miss time. 

The Pens entered play Monday night with 296 man games lost due to injury --- and that’s not counting the suspensions. The most recent was handed down before Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings as the league slapped forward Matt Cooke with a ban that extends through the rest of the regular season (10 games) and the first round of the playoffs.

Line Changes

Then the Penguins went on to beat the Red Wings, 5-4, in a shootout. While it’ll be a stretch for the Pens to overtake the Flyers in the Atlantic Division, the chance they could remain in fourth and host a first-round series is a feat all things considered. 

Bylsma shrugged off all the "woe is me" talk when he spoke to The Grand Rapids Press’ Michael Zuidema on Monday

“From within our room, we don’t feel like we’ve dealt with as much adversity as people outside our room think that we’ve dealt with,” he said. “We understand that there are injuries and I don’t think it’s a lot different than other teams. We’ve continued to focus on how we play and our execution level.”

GM Ray Shero and the Pens scouting staff deserves a nod brining in some help before the trading deadline. Forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen were acquired from the Dallas Stars for defenseman Alex Goligoski. Forward Alexei Kovalev was also brought back to Pittsburgh in exchange for a conditional draft pick with the Ottawa Senators

Bylsma, the easygoing former NHL player from Grand Haven, Mich., has made the pieces fit and that was recognized earlier this month with a three-year contract extension. Maybe he’ll get that Jack Adams Trophy -- an award voted on by the NHL Broadcasters Association -- to go next to the mementos from his 2009 Stanley Cup title run. 

Pittsburgh 5, Detroit 4 (SO)
Los Angeles 2, Calgary 1 (SO)
-- A.J. Perez
Credit: Getty Images
Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:15 am
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Posted on: March 21, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 6:55 pm

Cooke suspended through first round of playoffs

Matt Cooke, the Pittsburgh Penguins' controversial forward, was suspended the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, the NHL announced Monday. 

 “Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position," Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior V.P. of hockey operations, announced in a statement. "This isn't the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response." 

Cooke was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the head ealry in the third period of Sunday’s game. (Here's a look at the replay.) This is the fifth time he’s been suspended during his career and second time this season, making him a repeat offender under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. 

Penguins GM Ray Shero -- who advocated for a zero-tolerance policy on head hits at the NHL's general manager meetings last week -- agreed with Campbell's punishment.

“The suspension is warranted because that’s exactly the kind of hit we’re trying to get out of the game," Shero said in a statement. "Head shots have no place in hockey. We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.”

Cooke will forfeit $219,512.20 in salary. The suspension, which could be as much as 17 games if Pens' first-round series is stretched to seven games, is the longest in franchise history. 

Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg told reporters before Monday's game against the Penguins he'd like to have seen an outright ban for the rest of the season. 

"I think the suspensions he gets doesn't really bother him," Zetterberg told USA TODAY. "He keeps going out and doing that stuff."

The loss of Cooke compounds the Pens' lack of depth in the forward ranks. While Chris Kunitz recently returned from injury, Pittsburgh si still minus Sidney Crosby (out indefinitely with a concussion), Evgeni Malkin (out for season with a knee injury), Mike Comrie (hip) and Eric Tangradi (concussion).

"What puts us is a tough spot is when he misses games," Penguins forward Craig Adams told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He's a great player, and people don't realize how good of a player he is; if you don't watch him play every night you don't know. We know."

Cooke has 12 goals, 18 assists and is a plus-14 this season. 
-- A.J .Perez

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