Tag:Sidney Crosby
Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Jonas Hiller to wear mustache mask for 'Movember'

By Brian Stubits

October is breast cancer awareness month. Players in all sports, including Montreal's Carey Price, show their support by wearing pink. Price went so far as to have a special mask made that would later be auctioned off with proceeds going to charity.

When the calendar flips to November another honorable cause will be honored across the NHL.

It's known as Movember and has really caught on in the hockey world. The entire point is for men to grow the best and most wicked mustaches they can in the month of November while they get their efforts sponsored. The point is not only to raise funds for, but bring awareness to men's health, specifically prostate cancer. It's a very cool and fun way for guys to take part in a good cause. We end up with 'staches like Sidney Crosby's from last year.

But nobody, not even Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck's glorious mustache, will sport a tribute as awesome as Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. He'll trade in his customary mat-black helmet (still just looks weird to me) for this awesome piece you see above with faces of his Ducks teammates all over the cage.

Remember when you were a kid and you drew mustaches on pictures everywhere you could find them? Or if you didn't actually do that, remember seeing other kids do it? That's what happened here, and the result is awesome. Drawn on mustaches rock.

But the coup-de-grace? That's the back of the mask, seen to the right. Hiller saved himself for that coveted spot where he is in full goalie pose with handlebar galore.

The mask was introduced by the website (and great Twitter follow, btw) the Goalie Guild and was so popular, it actually crashed the website for a short while.

But here is what the Goalie Guild had to say about the creation. (Also, visit the Goalie Guild site to see more photos of the mask, including from above and the front.)

When speaking with Alec [Voggel from Airxess] on one of our many Skype conversations over the past few days, here is some great background information on this special-edition Movember mask:

“Airxess came up with the idea, as we needed a game-used Hiller mask that would later be for sale because of the big demand. Hiller came up with the Movember idea himself, so as always, he gave us the input, and I had to create the design. Besides the concept, the whole testing to place all the portraits on the mask [it’s not only done by airbrush] and the painting itself I have done, while Dan 'The Man' gave the mask a nice flat finish and left some parts shiny.”

I love it. Not only do I applaud Hiller and the rest for taking part in the awareness and fundraising campaign, but I'm just a fan of mustaches. What guy isn't it (sorry ladies)? A friend of mine had his bachelor party over the summer and we were all required to sport our best 'staches. Fun times.

As far as specialty masks go, this one is a keeper.

Photos: The Goalie Guild/Airxess

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

Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Penguins lose Michalek for 4-6 weeks

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.

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

Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Penguins PK fuels fast start

CA1By: 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

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

Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Penguins to get Orpik back; Kennedy concussed

By Brian Stubits

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

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


Posted on: October 18, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 5:33 pm
 

Letang suspended 2 games, Shanahan explains

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

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.

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