Tag:Pittsburgh Penguins
Posted on: March 21, 2011 2:22 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Hobbled Wings, Pens renew rivalry

WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can secure a playoff berth today. 

ALREADY IN: Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Pittsburgh Penguins (41-23-8) at Detroit Red Wings (43-21-8), 7:30 p.m. ET

The combatants in two of the last three Stanley Cup Finals highlight a limited slate of games tonight. 
The Red Wings Wings begin a five-game homestand. (Seven of Detroit's final 10 regular season games are at Joe Louis Arena.) The Wings have an eight-point lead on the Chicago Blackhawks, who Detroit faces three times down the stretch. Forwards Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (groin) and Jiri Hudler (upper body) are likely to miss tonight's game, according to Ansar Khan of mlive.com. That could make winning 10 in a row against Eastern Conference opponents a little more difficult. 

The Pens have well-chronicled injury problems of their own with forwards Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (out for season with knee injury), along with defenseman Brooks Orpik (finger) out. Forward Chris Kunitz, out 13 games with a lower-body injury, has been solid in the five games since he returned the lineup. Over the last three games, he has six points (three goals, three assists.) 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Calgary Flames (37-27-10) at Los Angeles (40-26-6), 10:30 p.m. ET

This game is the only other game on the schedule, so it's not quite a tough call. Calgary comes to Staples Center a day after dropping a heart-breaker in Anaheim. The Flames overcame a three-goal deficit and even held a lead late in the third period before Teemu Selanne tied the game and Corey Perry gave the Ducks a 5-4 victory in overtime. The Kings enter the night in sixth place, two points ahead of the Flames. 

GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers won't get any new company tonight. 
Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Morning Skate: How long should Matt Cooke sit?



Zero? Eight? The 10 remaining games the Pittsburgh Penguins have left in the regular season and the playoffs? 

Exactly how long Pens forward Matt Cooke will be suspended for his elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh Sunday afternoon overshadowed a solid day of hockey as all six games on the slate had some sort of playoff implications. Here's a look at the hit  in case you missed it. 

Cooke, the third rail that he is, will do that to a news cycle. 

A look at his checkered past -- which goes well beyond the fact he’s only been forced to sit 10 games during his career -- and there’s no way Cooke can be considered a victim. Still, he picked the worst time in league history to blindside a player, even though McDonagh remained in the game. Cooke received an elbowing major and a game misconduct for the third-period hit. 

Pens GM Ray Shero is just a few days removed from advocating a ban on all head hits  -- including hits similar to the check that has kept Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby out for more than two months with a concussion -- at the league's general managers meeting. Majority owner Mario Lemieux even offered up a tiered fine system for teams whose players are suspended by the league. 

That fact it occurred on national TV where NBC analysts Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire labeled the hit as dirty doesn’t help either. 

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"I don't think you can talk about eliminating headshots as an organization and not expect that to be examined," coach Dan Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . "It looks to be contact right to the head. The league will look at that at treat it as such."

The Pens will likely soon get the ”clear and strong message” Lemieux wrote was lacking from the league after the NHL’s  response to last month’s fiasco between his team and the New York Islanders

If just about any other player -- maybe outside of maybe New York Islanders enforcer Trevor Gillies --  delivered the hit, this wouldn’t have lit up Facebook and Twitter like it did. The perceived hypocrisy for a team advocating for more stringent rules governing head hits despite continuing to employ Cooke was just too much for fans and pundits alike not seize upon. 

Here’s a quick roundup of opinions:

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal :  
If this isn’t a suspension for the rest of the season, then the NHL’s Lord of Discipline, Colin Campbell, is really going soft. Maybe the real message for Cooke, though, would also be a detention for the playoffs, when the games really matter — when Cooke will hurt not only himself but his teammates by his absence in a lineup that is already short-staffed.

TSN’s Darren Dreger :
With the red-alert sensitivity to head hits, especially illegal head hits like the one that earned Cooke a major and game misconduct, it's conceivable the Penguins veteran, a repeat offender with a reputation for delivering cheapshots, could earn a 10-game suspension or more. That's based on league-wide reaction. 


Former NHL player Jeremy Roenick :

“I feel bad for Mario. He stuck his neck on the line to clean up dirty plays and his own player again puts him in a tough situation.”


Alec Schall, agent for injured Montreal Canadiens player Max Pacioretty

“Should NHL rules protect players like Cooke or Crosby? I say let's protect (Cosby) and when we want flying elbows to the head we can watch MMA.”


 Mike Brophy of Rogers Sportsnet :

The eyes of the hockey world will be on the NHL's hockey operations department to see how it handles the latest Cooke catastrophe. Anything shy of a major suspension (minimum 10 games) will not be met with support.

“I didn’t see him coming,” McDonagh said of Cooke. “I had no idea. I know it hurt, that’s for sure.”

I don't think you can talk about eliminating headshots as an organization and not expect that to be examined," coach Dan Bylsma said. "It looks to be contact right to the head. The league will look at that at treat it as such.

SUNDAY'S RESULTS

NY Rangers 5, Pittsburgh 2  
New Jersey 3, Columbus 0  
Nashville 4, Buffalo3 (OT)  
Montreal 8, Minnesota 1
Anaheim 5, Calgary 4 (OT)  
Chicago 2, Phoenix 1  

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 17, 2011 4:25 am
Edited on: March 17, 2011 11:00 am
 

Morning Skate: NHL won't enter no-spin zone

You can understand why Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford immediately raised his stick in protest after Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis did his twirl between the circles and scored on a shootout last week. 

"It was pretty close," Crawford told  ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers . "It looked like maybe he stopped for a second and then kept going. They think they made the right decision so we just have to live with it."




A player can stop during the shootout as long as the puck keeps moving forward. USA TODAY’s Kevin Allen reports that NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell will attempt to clarify that rule. 

"The hard part is interpreting the puck stopping and it will be interpreted by video review," Campbell said. "When we first introduced shootouts the challenge was they were new and we had a number of questions to answer. This is one of the last lingering questions, what's acceptable and what is not."

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The Pittsburgh contingent is not a fan of the spin. 

"It's about entertainment, I understand that," Pittsburgh general manager Ray Sherosaid. "But when I see Pavel Datsyuk on the shootout, he is probably the most entertaining player I've seen, and he's never done a spinorama."


In a week where (baby) steps were taken to limit concussions, this seems like a minor matter to fiddle with -- especially since shootouts are limited to the regular season. But for those teams competing for the last few slots in each conference, that extra point means something this time of year. 

EXPANDED REVIEW: Some general managers on the final day of their meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., expressed interest for video review of double minor  high-sticking calls, according to The Canadian Press
"We've had situations where on video review it's the other player's stick and it's a hard call on the ice," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior vice-president and director of hockey operations. "We said we can live with it for 82 games, but in the playoffs that's a pretty big turnaround if you get the wrong call. The referees have supported us on that, they would like some help on that.

"That's our plea in hockey operations." It appears the biggest issue to be worked out is whether a video review would be triggered by referees, a coach's challenge or automatically with every double minor for high-sticking assessed.


WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS
Toronto 3, Carolina 1  
Detroit 3, Washington 2  
Vancouver 4, Colorado 2
Anaheim 2, St. Louis 1
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:50 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:52 am
 

Morning Skate: Should teams pay for head hits?



Possibly the most interesting of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s five suggestions to help curb the rise in concussions was penalizing teams and coaches who habitually run afoul of the league's supplementary discipline program.

“The notion is if there's a situation or a club where this seems to be out of the norm, something that continues to happen on a repeated basis, it should be addressed,” Bettman (above, right) told reporters at the GM meetings on Monday. 

We suggested yesterday that it should be called the “Trevor Gillies Rule” -- and that was before ESPN.com reported Mario Lemieux sent a letter to the league asking for a sliding scale. Here’s how Lemieux (above, left) would make the fine structure for teams: 
  • 1-2 games: $50,000 
  • 3-4 games: $100,000 
  • 5-8 games: $250,000 
  • 9-10 games: $500,000 
  • 11-15 games: $750,000 
  • More than 15 games: $1 million 

Gillies, an enforcer on the New York Islanders, received what the Penguins faithful felt was a lenient nine-game ban after a blindside hit to the head of Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi on Feb. 11. In his first game back from suspension, he delivered a similar hit to Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck that resulted in a 10-game suspension. 

The Islanders were fined $100,000 for thier role in the brawl against the Pens, although Isles coach Jack Capuano was not sanctioned.

“While there have been 50-plus suspensions since the start of the 2009-10 season, the suspensions themselves don't seem to be deterring these illegal acts and tactics," wrote Lemieux. "And we've often seen repeat offenders. We think it is time that teams also are held accountable for the actions of their players. We propose instituting a policy of automatically fining a team when one if its players is suspended -- with the amount of the fine based on the length of the suspension. This should serve as a disincentive for teams as well as players to employ these kinds of tactics."


And, as the letter obtained by ESPN.com points out, the Pens would be on the hook for $600,000 had this been put in place before the season thanks to Matt Cooke (four games) and Eric Godard (10 games). 

It will also be interesting to see what will be addressed from an equipment standpoint. The league and the players union have agreed to putting soft caps on elbow and shoulder pads in recent seasons, doing away with the equipment that looked like it was suited more for an offensive lineman than a forward. 

Still, not much has evolved when it comes to the helmet. Few players are using the more advanced Cascade Messier Project helmet introduced a couple years ago and Mark Messier, who teamed with sister on the project, thinks he knows why. 

"I think (NHL players) look at it sometimes and feel that because we live in such a bravado world that if they're wearing that helmet you must have a fear ... that you're afraid," Messier told The Montreal Gazette


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He should know. For years he wore the old Jofa lid that was marketed as a broomball helmet with the warning “not for hockey use” when I began playing the sport.

To solve this concussion issue -- if that will ever truly happen -- there needs to be change of attitude on a few different levels. If you’re not going to listen to Bettman for whatever reason, it’s hard to ignore the suggestions from Hall of Famers such as Lemieux and Messier. 

MONDAY'S RESULTS
Tampa Bay 6, Toronto 2 
Chicago 6, San Jose 3
Vancouver 4 Minnesota 2

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:32 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:48 am
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Posted on: March 14, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Video: Crosby talks after first practice in weeks

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby talked to reporters after he practiced for about 15 minutes on Monday. He denies that he ever considered retirement, one of many rumors that have floated around since he was forced to shut it down due to a concussion on Jan. 5. 

Posted on: March 14, 2011 2:38 am
Edited on: March 14, 2011 8:31 am
 

Morning Skate: Concussions again issue for GMs



The image of Pittsburgh Penguins agitator Matt Cooke’s brutal hit on Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard was still fresh in the minds in the league’s general managers when they met in Florida last March.

What resulted was Rule 48, language that banned blindside hits like the one Savard took days earlier and made violators subject to supplemental discipline. The rule was soon adopted by the competition committee and enforcement began days before the start of the playoffs.

It did nothing to protect Sidney Crosby or Max Pacioretty -- two players injured in incidents not covered by Rule 48 or any other guideline that put the players who injured them in peril of a fine or suspension. 

Crosby, out of the Penguins' lineup since Jan. 5 with concussion-like symptoms, took a shoulder to the head without the puck by David Steckel, who was then a member of the Washington Capitals.Montreal’s Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a broken bone in his neck when Boston’s Zdeno Chara sent him off a divider between the benches.

Pacioretty’s collision with the turnbuckle last week certainly was the scarier to watch of the two, but could either lead to more changes to the NHL rulebook when the three-day GM meetings begin today?

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"If you listen to the media and read the papers north of the border, there's tremendous pressure to at least revisit it (the subject of reducing head injuries in the game)," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier told The Buffalo News. "I think we're going to have to do that."

The number of man games lost blindside hits dropped, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters at the All-Star game in January. But he said types of concussions through “accidental” collisions are on the rise.

"The ideal number of concussions would be zero," Bettman said. "Our objective would be to come as close as possible to get that result without changing the fundamentals of our game. We are doing whatever possible to limit the amount of concussions."

One option is to make any type of hit to a player’s head illegal, even if it’s accidental. While that wouldn’t pertain to Chara’s collision with Pacioretty, Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier might have a few ideas.

SUNDAY'S RESULTS
Washington 4, Chicago 3 (OT)
Pittsburgh 5, Edmonton 1
Los Angeles 3, Dallas 2 
Buffalo 6, Ottawa 4 
Phoenix 5, Anaheim, 2
CBSSports.com playoff tracker 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 9, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Pens extend Dan Bylsma three more seasons



Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma agreed to a three-year contract extension that will run through the 2013-14 season, the team announced Wednesday. 

Understandably, the highlight of his 25-month tenure behind the Pens’ bench is leading the team to the 2009 Stanley Cup title, a run that began not long after Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien. But it could be this season’s tutelage that Bylsma might deserve even more credit as he’s kept the Pens in the hunt for the Eastern Conference crown despite a rash of injuries. 

The team has been without star center Sidney Crosby (concussion) for nearly two months and it lost forward Evgeni Malkin to season-ending knee injury on Feb 4. The team also had to start the first two months of the season minus forward Jordan Staal, who was sidelined by foot and hand injuries. 

“Dan has very quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League,” GM Ray Shero said in a news release. “He has been a perfect fit for our organization since day one, and we look forward to having him leading our team for the next three seasons.

Bylsma, 40, has accumulated a 104-52-19 record in Pittsburgh and he has the highest winning percentage (.649) in franchise history. 

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