Friday, December 12, 2008

Islanders Perish in a Horrific Fashion

My Boss is an Isles fan, claims he doesn't really care (as would I after the 1990s and 2000s), and I may push him to the point where I am unemployed regarding last night's brutal drubbing. Garth Slow is trying to rebuild a team that, for all intents and purposes, has been terrible for twenty-three  years. 

All I'm going to say is: we lost a lot of hockey games in the beginning of this decade, made the right moves, drafted well, and now we're on the other end of a rebuild. Everyone acts like Sid just phones the Commissioner when times are hard, or that we're just lucky assholes who won the draft lottery, so now we have a good team. Get real, haters. If we hadn't drafted the good mid-round players we did, we would be like any of the contending minor league teams who have a few NHL first line players. From 1994-5 to 2000-01, NY missed the playoffs and proceeded to make draft picks like these;

9th overall, Brett Lindros. Hahahahahahahaaa in 1994.

95, Wade Redden, 2nd overall. Is this a joke? 

1996. 3rd overall pick = Jean-Pierre Dumont. 

97, they get it right, but we all know what happened. 4th and 5th overall, Luongo and Eric Brewer. 

Then... then in 98.... the Islanders, with the 9th overall pick select... select Michael Rupp. 

So what I'm trying to say is, they drafted poorly, made the wrong moves, and right now the Islanders should have a winning core they drafted in those lean years... Instead, they tried to Ranger™ it, got Yashin, let Chara go, drafting more poorly (Yo, Raffi Torres 5th overall?).... I understand my Boss a lot better now. Oh, yeah... they brought in Mike Peca, and Trevor Linden. And they wore those jerseys with the Gorton's mascot.... 

The, finally, you have this group. They had to buy a new first line, because they didn't have one. They can't support that first line with the mid-tier picks they made (Nilsson, Nokelainen, Bergenheim).... and who the hell is Ryan O'Marra? Signing DiPietro to that deal was a good one, too. Now we have, from the looks of it, 13+ more years of him dropping F-Bombs at League events. 

Here's a sample of one summer's work in the offices on the Island:

67 Million Dollar Contract for a goalie who's been injured long term seemingly once a season.

Sign Brendan Witt and Tom Poti. 

Try to make up for signing Brendan Witt and Tom Poti by signing Mike Sillinger.

In an attempt to distract the fans fron all the bad signings, sign Chris Simon.

The fruits of all that labor were all the goals against to the Sabres in the only playoff appearance since the lockout. To recap, that's 13 seasons, 5 playoff appearances, and 5 losses in the Quarters. 

Go Pens.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Penguins Destroy Carolina

Things couldn't have gone any better tonight for Pittsburgh. After blowing a good lead in NY last night, The Pens outgunned a hapless Southeast team and immediately got back to winning hockey games. I was impressed with the play of Danny Sabourin especially, as he made several saves after committing to the shot, scrambling to throw this limb or that at the disc. He was somehow credited with a giveaway by the statistician... It was otherwise a status quo evening for Sid, tallying 4 points and generally being unstoppable. 

Malkin came out in the first minute and hit the crossbar. He finished the game with 2 assists and continues to lead the NHL in scoring. He also apparently bought himself a house somewhere in Pittsburgh and is gaining confidence in speaking English. I remember reading that it "really takes two or three years" to adjust to North America for European players, according to Slava Fetisov. He also was nailed with a ridiculous tripping minor which prompted the Carolina color guy to say "That's what would make me choose Crosby over Malkin"... Unless of course you have both locked into long-term contracts and they're either laying down roots or living with a certain legend who happens to own a killer wine cellar. 

Peter Sykora has never scored a hat trick in his career, and he again finished with a brace tonight. He had an opportunity to score essentially into an open net but Joe Corvo got a stick check to connect, thwarting Syko. His wrister was a thing of beauty, floating inevitably into the far corner against the grain. The second goal was pretty much exactly how Miro Satan scored; a slick reverse-toe drag around Carolina goalie Michael Leighton's butterfly and into the traffic crashing the net. 

Ruuuuuslan Fedotenko scored an NHL 09 goal where the goalie drops the puck and you poke-check it in, only Fedo went naked skeleton on Leighton and, with a sweep check, sent renewed Carolina coach Paul Maurice into cardiac arrest. 

Then there was former Penguin Jo Melichar. You know, every so often a Pens defender suddenly and inexplicably sours. It happened to Brad Werenka, it happened to Hans Jonsson. It certainly happened to Melichar, who, when faced with the most bizarre and puzzling back pass from a changing teammate, found himself watching Sid and Pascal Dupuis take off with the puck alone on goal. I audibly said "What the hell are they doing" before celebrating the assured goal. 

Did Pesonen touch the puck at all tonight? I seem to remember him getting run over and taking off for the attacking zone too soon a few times, and little else. He clearly has good hands and instincts, so I'm pulling for him to find some rhythm and impose himself on the game in Ottawa.

I then quickly checked out the Red Wings game. They were quite busy scoring many goals on Vancouver and displaying incredible scoring depth. Since the jersey numbers aren't all that sharp, I kept confusing Wings' depth guys with All-Stars. Tomas Kopecky? Who the hell is that? I thought it was Hossa several times, as he wears #82 and looks the shit. 

I am in the San Jose market, so I flipped that game on. These guys think Joe Thornton is the best player in the NHL, and they've a right to their opinion. Joe is finally driving the net under their new coach instead of watching all those passes from the corner. He proceeded to bat a puck into the net out of the air for the winner. Nabokov is stellar. He challenges roughly 3 feet out from the crease, but is capable of making reaction saves like Leafs-era CuJo. San Jose has some impressive depth at forward, and they're all gigantic. They allow room for little worms like Roenick to cruise into the slot and roof PP goals, and their defence occupies the #2, 3, 11, and 12th spots on the scoring list. They're undefeated at home, rock a 22-3-1 record, and the goal difference is staggering. 100 scored, 61 allowed. They're 26 games into the season.

We've alternated wins and losses for some 9 games, so lets go to Ottawa and embarrass them. Heatley is going to score on us, he always does, but otherwise I think its a good idea to hit them mercilessly and play an ugly road game. If Ottawa turns the puck over like Carolina did (and they will), I expect to be in control of the game roughly half way through. I can only hope for more vintage Spezza no-look saucer passes. Go Pens.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I hate New Jersey

New Jersey is home to some of the most asinine, axe body spray wearing, track suit sporting, dual chain rockin, primped goatee growin, surly inbred psychos in the civilized world. The ocean waters, they burn the flesh. Everything has that "asshole" feel to it. One also has to be aware of their surroundings, as there are a ubiquity of places to dump a corpse in a State composed entirely of bogs. It stinks, and it has always been intriguing that there is an assumed massive superiority complex. New York dumps its trash in New Jersey, and uses it to sometimes escape taxation. 

Those who work in NYC proper whom do not live in the State live in Connecticut. The Madison Ave types don't like New Jersey because they do not like scraping feces off of their shoes. Even though the mayor of Newark, home of the Devils (12-7-2), has been trying to play the city up from its obvious role as the "Le Mans of the West, only with more gun crime", although Newark more closely resembles its' confirmed Sister City in China, Xuzhou.

You see, valued reader, Xuzhou is a formerly nice placed located in an historic piece of its Country's northern region. The climate often features long hot summers, cold winters, and Government corruption. Like Newark, its' once fertile soil has been rendered barren by its inhabitants. 

Xuzhou was the final front in the "Huaihai Campaign" in the 1940s, the Civil War that accounts for some of the city's numerous mass graves. Similarly, Newark was the central front in the under reported "Gittdafuk Merked" killings in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s, whereupon as many as 200,000 wiggas were slain as a social plea for the casement of "dumb white mothafuckaz assuming the African character in a deceptive manner, and shit". Of course, many other mass graves exist for many other reasons in both cities, but I found these similarities interesting. Indeed, much is held in common between Newark and the other industrialized Nations' contenders for "most dangerous City". 

The Devils are like a virus you catch a few times every year. They make you sputter, kick your ass, and in the end you overcome the ordeal and move on. You dread the symptoms, such as a wheezing cough (Zajac), runny nose (Parise), and of course, diarrhea (Elias). O, how I dispise what they represent, and handly beating them would be most savory. 

What will Therrien do? Will he play into the line match some more and have his team struggle to reach 20 shots? What does he plan on doing with Fedotenko? You see, I believe writing is an art, and that good art poses questions as opposed to providing answers. 

I want to know a few things regarding some of our Penguins, such as why they aren't forcing Pascal Dupuis and Miro Satan to use sticks that match their skating posture. Why are there 2 righty D men on one PP and none on the other? Why bother to acquire said d-man if your coach is indeed too stupid to realize what the intention was? Does Lou Lamoriello know the location of the body of Jimmy Hoffa? 

I would also like to know what response Penguins fans have given that NJ isn't tanking horribly after Brodeur's injury. Imagine Brodeur were a Penguin; Clemmensen is 4-2-0 with a .917% and 2.48 GAA. Brodeur was playing at a 6-2-2, 2.16, and .916 level pre-injury. In Pittsburgh, there would have been a "But he's winning" argument, imagining a trade-Brodeur-for-theoretical-Winger scenario. 

I can't imagine what Penguins fans were thinking. On one hand, Fleury has been injured for some time now, and he's still among the league leaders in Wins. Hell, only Lundqvist and Tim Thomas have been more effective given the number of games started. Think back to the recent past, and you have what was before Fleury: Assistant GM under Craig Patrick, Jim Beam, securing the services of the journeymen and unknowns of the world, the Tugnutt and Hedbergs, to haphazardly start playoff games. Is this really what certain Penguins fans prefer? At this time I would like to point out that Ryan Malone has just as many goals as Mark Recchi hahahahahaha.

Anyway, Penguins fans, tonight is a bounce-back opportunity for our boys. We're going to catch a NJ team at home, which may help us out during the tedium of breaking the dreaded road trap. No Rolston, Brodeur, Holik, or Ghost of Randy McCay. We still have to deal with some consistent Penguin killers, namely Madden and Langenbrunner, but I think we can pull this one out via a 4-2 score. 

Finally, I have to mention something that bothers me: the current standings system and the shootout. I don't have a problem with ties so long as it doesn't create a fifth column in the standings. Teams who end up tied don't deserve, in my opinion, the same amount of points as a team who wins on a given night. There are two remedies; create a new standings system in which a victorious team recieves 3 points for a regulation win. Teams who tie then split the points (1 apice) or win the additional point in OT, but still do not match the point total of the teams victorious in regulation. 

I don't like that. 3 point games, that isn't hockey. I propose simply bringing back the tie after an OT session. I don't mind 5 minutes of 4-0n-4. 

I would like to see the shootout eliminated. The Penalty Shot, at one time, was the most exciting play in all of sports. Now, it is a bland novelty where fans beg such questions as "Will he try that same move again?", or "Did Hartnell just dump it in the corner and run the goalie?".

The Penalty shot was exciting due to its' scarcity, but like the Winter Classic concept, the NHL has similarly overexposed it in an immediate fashion. Not only do I personally not like the shootout, but I don't like the NHL abandoning one of the primary rules of economics: Do not in any way devalue your own product. Scarcity, artificial or otherwise, is a good thing. Its why winning a Gold Medal at the Olympic Games remains special, and why the World is bored of shootouts. Otherwise, see you at the big Nashville vs. Columbus outdoor classic coming our way very soon, I'm sure, which will take place immediately after the Toronto-Buffalo-Assholes Talking To Their Friends Who Couldn't Get Tickets The Whole Game Standing Facing The Camera Bowl. Go Pens.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pain, Regret, and Reaction

Therrien's reaction to the loss: "They didn't work, its that simple". The problem is that he actually believes in such truly archaic "strategy". Its the old "square peg, round hole" quagmire. It means that Therrien believes working harder at trying to fit said peg into the hole will ultimately make a difference. It isn't a plan, its a liability. Maybe it is that simple to Mike; then again, not everyone is a blunt instrument.

It is easy to forget how insurmountable playing against Brodeur can be. If they trap, you dump. You dump, he plays it. He plays it clean to some asshole like Colin White, or he plays it to an area where its a 75-25 puck for a Devils forward. That's where you need to get creative with how you dump the puck, timing the forecheck, zone entry, and owning the half boards. Any of those things would have been a nice adjustment. 

We take away the half boards, especially on Brodeur's forehand, maybe we hold the zone more than twice during the final two periods. 

Perhaps we take a page out of Colorado's book when they beat NJ in the Cup Finals; the hard-around. Brodeur couldn't field it cleanly. It must have been agonizing for him to watch the disc sail around the glass. 

Here's an idea; use the dummy play. The two-line pass is legal now, so station a Penguin RW somewhere in the middle of the ice on the NJ blue line. Mix up the breakout by letting a defenseman blast the puck at said RW from deep in our zone. The RW gets a piece of the puck, negating the icing while getting the puck into the NJ end in a real hurry. The play is timed with the weak side forward, the C, entering the zone to pressure the assholes, New Jersey. Its similar to the hard-around in that Brodeur wouldn't have any idea where the puck was going and, hence, couldn't time leaving the crease to play it. The LW takes a Devil or two to the slot, just deep enough to peel out in case of a turnover. The "dummy" RW goes to the weak half-boards, taking away the soft dump of the NJ defender, helplessly trying to reverse the puck to the defender whom is covering the LW charging the net. 

The dummy play uses the very tendencies of trapping teams against them to create what the work so hard to deprive; odd-man situations. If you time it right, at the very least you're playing one-on-one. With Centres like Pittsburgh's, that's a match-up I like. Best-case scenario, the RW catches that weak reverse, and the C is waiting for the give-and-go from the strong corner. Maybe the weak point is open? Who knows, but you've gained the zone easily and nobody is trapped in case of a fast breakout by NJ. 

Therrien just doesn't understand this shit. He seems unable to adjust to really obvious tactics. Hard work doesn't make a hockey player able to skate through a brick wall. That is why, Penguins fans, man invented the siege tower, and I suppose Therrien is that dude at the foot of the wall with boiling tar being poured upon him. 

You know what would have been a decent adjustment? The Murphy dump. From our zone, flip the puck 30 feet into the air, over the Devils and into the far end of the neutral zone. Do you recover the puck? You just may. In any event, you aren't turning the puck over in your own end. You're making NJ  compete for the puck every time you gain possession, which for last night would have been a Revelation. 

The thing that kills me -KILLS me- about Therrien, is that the only adjustment he sees fit tot make are juggling the lines. I fail to understand how he can be patient... so damn patient he allowed time to expire last night listlessly playing into the trap... patient enough for that, but so impatient that he feels it necessary to remove Fedotenko from the 1st line. Dude, we're 2 1/2 games intot the year. Are you disappointed there's no chemistry yet? I counted 4 instances where Fedotenko caused a Devil to turn the puck over in their zone in Period #1, so I'm not sure what the hell prompted Mike to demote him. He also wasn't featured on the PP. Mike went with Matt Cooke for some reason... How could Therrien be 4-years-patient with Rob Scuderi, yet not have the trigger finger to wait an entire home-opener to make silly line decisions? 

What I'm trying to say here is that failing to realize you have to make in-game adjustments, playing favorites with Frenchies, and especially explaining to the media that you're not really sure besides work ethic why you lost a tactical battle gets you fired when you have the players we have. Look at Minnesota's roster, or look at Nashville. Look at Boston, watch them play and imagine what it must be like to at least be able to wonder if the adjustment will make a difference. Its almost like Therrien hates transition and only wants to gets shots on net during power plays. 

Before I forget...

If you haven't seen it, you have to watch a San Jose Sharks game. I can't stop thinking about how lethal their PP is. Basically, they use variations of the aforementioned dummy play to gain the zone, and have Marleau and Cheechoo recover the puck. Those two then go to the net. Joe Thornton sets up with the puck in the right corner, just above the circle. 

He then looks out. What does he see? Close to him, set up in the slot slightly to the right of the hash marks is Cheechoo, who scored the other night off a vicious one-timer from this very position. Behind him below the right circle is the still-eye-popping righty one-timer of Rob Blake. Its a real challenge trying to negate Cheechoo and Blake from firing ICBMs at net. It splits the PK enough, and Joe has such a great set of passes, that Dan Boyle, whom owns a pretty dangerous right-handed shot, is set up below the left circle. Anaheim was scrambling thoughtlessly while Giguere was screened, hammered, and beaten repeatedly. The rebounds, especially from Blake's shots, were quickly pounced on by Marleau. His foot speed is perfect for that situation; pressuring the PK and recovering a rebound. It looks unstoppable; check it out. 

Thankfully, we have a woesome and ramshackle bunch, namely the Flyers, coming to town next. That should be a fun game. To me, its a must-win. The fucking Rangers are 4-0 and we have to close ground right now. Washington and Toronto after that... we need to start putting up Ws, and I mean yesterday.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Almost forgot...

Martin Brodeur is going to use a new mask this season. This obviously will result in long, often inexplicable losing streaks and misfortune. Its nothing exciting, either, although it doesn't feature any incomplete NJ logos like the old one. There are pictures of it everywhere, all copyrighted, so its up to you. 

Actually, I don't like the mask. Its boring. It should say something more personable to Martin, like "once I retire, this franchise is going to move to Ontario almost right away", not the MB 30 thing. Also, as long as every inch of the Prudential Center is covered in Devils logos like some kind of rip from a Ramada Inn, their lettering around Center Ice should stand out by saying "We're Trying To Quietly Deal With All Those Environmental Concerns So Shove It Up Your Ass". 

Kris Beech... and Standardized Banners.

Right, so Kris Beech signed a new deal with the Pens this summer, and now apparently wants out of the deal via refusal to report to the WB/S Baby Penguins. He's been placed on "unconditional waivers", or "fuck you" waivers, and can have his contract terminated should he remain unclaimed and fail to report to The AHL. You know, sometimes having great promise, prototypical NHL size, and a lot of chances are meaningless without commitment and self-discipline. He's not a casualty of the salary cap, he is and will be a casualty of work ethic and attitude. A 27 year old former 7th overall pick who apparently is finished taking a piss in the NHL; Kris Beech. Nice knowing you.

Your friend and mine Dave Morehouse, Penguins Team President, announced that our 12 Art Ross and 5 Hart Trophy recipients will be displayed upon new banners which will be revealed at the home opener on Saturday. The existing banners which display our Stanley Cup, President's Trophy, Conference, and Division Titles will be "standardized", which means one style and color scheme. No word on the Michel Briere Blue and White banner - I assume that one is left alone. I'm guessing the banners are going to be really, really big, because they're going to be getting a lot of additions. Speaking of additions, I suggest some kind of board displaying Pittsburgh's obvious lording over our rivals, especially Washington. 

I live in San Jose's viewership area, so I catch a lot of Sharks hockey. Obviously they have made some splashes, and find themselves without cap room for 6 4', 235er Kyle McLaren. We should attempt to pick him up should he be placed on re-entry waivers. Why is that? Gonchar. 

McLaren has virtually no upside to his offensive abilities, though he has a pretty heavy, low shot. He doesn't have any business being on a PP unit, then again that isn't what we need right now. Gonch was our #1 guy when it came to shutting down the opponent, and now w/o Whitney, we're woefully unable to match against secondary threats. Orpik becomes the #1 guy on this defense now, whoever he plays with, but the drop-off is quite noticeable. 

McLaren brings a real sense of malice to the blueline. He stands out because he rocks that yellow visor, but also because he really destroys people. His scouting reports say things like "tends to put himself out of position" trying to go for big hits, but I disagree. He reads developing plays extremely well, and watches the eyes of the poor bastard he's about to send to the locker room. He does this thing where he points at the open man, and when the puck carrier takes that look out at open ice, Kyle closes in fast and explodes through the check. He isn't afraid to brawl, either. I like that in a guy.

So, just imagine getting a slightly bigger, more experienced Brooks Orpik for 1.25M. He's a UFA after this season, so its a high-reward, low risk pickup, much like Satan and Fedotenko. My guess is that the guy brings it; according to a recent interview in The SJ Mercury in which he says he's dedicated to "show 30 NHL GMs they were wrong" in not initially claiming him, unlike Kris Beech, had no trouble reporting to Wrcester, SJ's AHL team to start working towards returning to the NHL. Therrien would love him, and so would we the instant he lays out Scott Gomez. 

I'm just generally so happy Hockey is back. This blog is going to be more active now that there will be actual content, so lets drop the disc. Go Pens-

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pens in Sverige; Line discussion

I am about 30% Scandinavian. I'm into Scandinavian music and lore, as well as my longstanding belief that the best hockey players come from Sweden. That isn't the same thing as saying "The best player in the world  is  Swedish"; far from it. That title is, of course, touted by either a Canadian or Russian currently gearing up for a game against Jokerit.

Speaking of Scandinavians, I'm really wondering where one Janne Pesonen fits into this Penguins lineup.  Therrien seems to be going with Fedotenko-Sid-Satan as the top unit, one which is hard to argue against given the complimentary archtypes the wings represent, and Staal-Gino-Sykora as the 1A line, which again oozes chemistry and poses a threat every shift. I'm more excited about the Gino line. He and Sykora can read each other's mind. Its very special to have two players who compliment each other so well, but Gino and Staal are scary together. Finding that third guy who isn't just along for the ride is damn near impossible, and I think we may just have it.  Pesonen seems to be the top-six type wing, although it remains to be seen how he plays without the puck in the NHL. 

Also interesting is the fact that we're much more comfortable this season with our depth players. They have clearly defined roles. Placing Staal on the wing eliminates a lot of confusion. Max Talbot becomes the checking line center, who along with Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis make for an inredibly fast and aggressive unit. Honestly, I think Talbot and Dupuis are capable of playing LW on most NHL #1 lines. Matt Cooke is going to be great. He's going to be in heavy competition all season with Orps to lead the team in hits, he's going to score between 9 and 14 goals/25 points, and finish with a +/- between +15-20. 

Eric Godard knows. He knows why he's putting on that sweater, taping up those wrists. He's aware that he isn't going to see a regular shift. He understands something that I don't think BG Laraque fully appreciated. He realizes his job is strictly to introduce himself to any opponent guilty of tampering with Penguin superstars. Can he help a line sustain a cycle deep int he offensive zone? Frankly, I don't care. We don't need to find out. What we need is a sheriff, and I believe we've got one. 

Tyler Kennedy recently was signed to a contract extension and he's the #4 Center of the NHL club. This spells the end of Jeff Taffe's chances of remaining with Pittsburgh long-term. Again, it clears up some confusion. 

That leaves a fourth line wing position vacant. Janne Pesonen a fourth line winger? I really don't know. If I'm the coach, I keep Godard at arm's length while double shifting either Sid, Gino, or Staal with Kennedy and Pesonen. Having the fourth line skate with Godard seems more like a liability, even as we're talking about the occasional 40-second shift. Godard should sit between the defence and forwards, keep the bench morale up, and be prepared to fight people. 

Ok, The Rangers are done beating Magnitogorsk, so I'm off. Looking forward to annihilating Jokerit. Go Pens.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just when I thought...

That Ottawa was exemplifying maximum silliness, they signed Brad Isbister, further signifying, on all fronts, that its all over as true contenders for the foreseeable future. 

Other teams have problems such as "Can Lombardi hang onto the #2 C position?", but not Ottawa. Sometimes, the sense that the clock is ticking on your "window" comes from fans or the local media, but at some point it comes from your teammates and management. I wouldn't call what Bryan Murray does "management", but, as in earlier posts, I wonder if the players themselves are under the impression that commitment to winning (with the best of intentions) are sinking to the bottom of the East wearing Murray's cement shoes. Also, their playoff production involving a lardy pseudo-Roman soldier. 

My Penguins are preparing to once again give every team they face this season a lot of trouble. I want to look at, in this installment, something which I feel will be a strength unusually attributed to Pittsburgh: Penalty killing. 

Fleury obviously is going to be as solid as any starter not playing for NJ this year. I don't care if Canadians will always remember MAF for his shortcomings in the WJC back in the day, the fact of the matter is Pittsburgh has a top-five netminder for the first time since the early 1990s (Before Barrasso could be counted on to pimp his .759 save %). Pierre McGuire can tell you, your best PK has to be in net. 

What is different is that the PK units were extremely effective last season, and with the omissions of Malone and Hossa, look to be improved going forward. I'm not worried about Hossa, basically, because I think the ice time he ate will be taken by one Evgeni Malkin, who's shown himself to be a force shorthanded. Sure, that was international competition, but when are the stakes higher or the teams you face more complete? 

Ryan Malone, on the other hand, as a winger, can be compensated for by a new Penguin, Matt Cooke. Matt Cooke is an outstanding PK forward, both in terms of positioning and tenacity. 

Speaking of tenacity, we have the pair I'm most confident of, Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot. Dupuis has been a 30-goal man in the past, and while he possesses lips like a lemur, also is extremely fast... and he knows how to use it. Max is Max, a man who should be wearing an A, a man who should be used to check primary or secondary scoring threats. Max is hungry, watching video of top face off men, plenty in the bank to pay the price near the net, and a fan favorite. 

That leaves Jordan Staal, who will probably be playing wing on the #2 line, a somewhat enigmatic figure given his ridiculous performances shorthanded as a rookie. The overall theme with Pittsburgh's PK forwards is the constant presence of shorthanded danger. J Staal plays blueline-to-blueline hockey, and while somewhat mercurial, doesn't have any problem crashing the net. 

I don't expect to see too much Sid on the PK. He'll see plenty of minutes, but I don't think Therrien wants Sid blocking shots and wearing himself down. Sid isn't terribly good at face offs (No Penguin is), so there won't be any draw-dump-changing going on either. That leaves secondary wings to fill that 3rd unit role, the Kennedys and the possibly Stone/Taffe types. 

I'm not aware of any special abilities any of our recent signings' PK abilities aside from Cooke. Pesonen... nobody knows nothin. I think Satan would love him some shorthanded breakaways, but I think he'd be more of a liability. Fedotenko should stick to jumping over the boards and only worrying about 2 things: staying onsides, and staying in the goalie's sightline. That is really all I want from him. He's got a pretty good shot, but I want to see him shelfing rebounds. 

Face offs remain the glaring inconsistency. This is what happens when your centres are 20, 21, 22, and 25. While I wish we would have signed Yannick Perreault to win draws when it matters, especially since PKs start in your zone 100% of the time this season, I'm comfortable with our guys learning themselves. 

The D? The D is the same line up that annihilated the Eastern conference, plus a healthy Mark Eaton. Whitney is out until roughly some team signs Sundin. That's OK. Assuming Andre Savard actually has responsibilities, this gives him a nice NHL look at Goligoski and Kris Letang on the PP. I feel that one of the two is going to be traded, by the way, and it may be Letang since he's a much more sought-after righty... it depends on the plans of one Carl Sneep, the 6-4 200 R prospect from 06, playing at BC this season. 

Darryl Sydor continues to be dangled in trademonger circles, although I'm sure he'll only be deasirable as a means to reach the cap floor. Return? Minimal. 

There is a bit of everything on this seasons' defensive menu. Hal Gill continues to be a light-armor cruiser. Gonch is the same steady scoring threat he's always been, and is coming off a season where denying him Norris candidacy was shocking. Brooks Orpik, on the other hand, is a blunt instrument who seemed really determined to smash forwards into the dasher. 

Eaton and Scuderi, they are the kind of defenders who don't make the spectacular happen, and I don't think you'll see anyone wearing their jersey at the Igloo. The things they do, however, effect the outcome of a hockey game in a big way. Shot-blocking is paramount to PKing, and these guys are outstanding. Scuderi is a typical, hard-working positional stay at home, while Eaton has a bit more intelligence is his arsenal in terms of getting the puck up-ice. Even with Whitney out, we have the capabilities of matching Gill, Scuds, and Orps with complimentary partners in Letang, Sydor, and Gonchar. 

Goligoski? I think many tmes this season we'll be going the 7 D-man route, because having an additional offensive threat from the blueline is preferrable to yet another Chris Minard-Connor James type. At least I hope so, because to ice a line featuring Eric Godard for anything other than attempting to break someone's orbital bone isn't going to get us closer to 2 points. I want to see Goligoski when we're leading a game and on the PP. How he does will determine how long we have 9 NHL-calibur defenders. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ok, so its finally September.

September is here, and you know what that means. Ottawa is making silly moves to further reinforce their team concept; "Sens competitive regular season Hockey, cocaine, and lardy gladiators complete with mismatching historically inaccurate armor Nation". How could you be one of their good players sitting on the bench, knowing that the Penguins are going to sweep you, and watch that ridiculous spectacle take place on home ice without placing an immediate post-game call to your agent regarding an address change?

"Hi, this is Dany Heatley. Listen, did you see what happened tonight? Yeah, the shoulder is OK. Sid caught me by surprise... look, is there something we can do to get me out of this situation? Tonight I took off my jersey and the first thing I saw afterwards was Shean Donovan, then I was overwhelmed by a vision of our opening ceremonies and imagining the rest of the world's tears of laughter..."

Meanwhile, the KHL is trying to implement a transfer fee system using Alex Radulov as ante. It didn't work when they asked for money for Malkin, and it won't when they ask for money to release Filatov. So the plan was to sign away one of the NHL's players, then attempt to pay a nominal fee compensate for Nashville's loss. It works under FIFA rules, and many big clubs poach young players with bright futures away from smaller clubs, who honestly are thrilled to pocket the cash. KHL owners want to sell players to NHL clubs via direct club-to-club negotiation.

NHL officials, meanwhile, aren't sure that the Rangers paying some Russian cats upwards of $15M for Cherapanov's rights is quite the thing to do. The IIHF, NHL, and various European leagues have an agreement in place which pays a flat rate when a player leaves for North America. These leagues subside, generally, on players who prefer their home Continent or prefer not to play AHL hockey. Russians who won't accept a 2-way contract in North America play in their home country, unless they've been traumatized like Aleksey Morozov.

Finally in this installment, Bryan McCabe has finally bean dealt. Florida. You know, they always seem to have problems in Florida. Nevermind that I hate them for effectively halting the greatness of our dynasty once and for all in '96, forcing us to rebuild once again and not reach another Eastern finals for some time... but they seem to have the kinds of problems they can't solve. They can't seem to develop second-tier prospects. Their blue-chippers want out before their prime is over. Bouwmeester looks like this will be his last season in Florida, and he's just entering his prime. Free agents understand that their team identity is literally that of being outside of the playoff bubble. Who signs in Florida? Players who would have retired if not for the handfull of points they need to reach a milestone, or who really like the golf courses. Its not for the hockey, not for the player development, and its certainly not because of distinguishment. Nobody ever said "My dream was to play for the Panthers before I retired. I used to play pond hockey as a kid, imagining the plastic rats being thrown onto the slushy ice in my honor..."

The media is asking Bouwmy if he thinks McCabe will be his replacement. This is a team which still wants to apparently try to re-sign him after this year. The press, along with some of the worst personnel moves ever, should book Bouwmy's ticket out of town. McCabe is going to be fine, because the expectation is so, so low, even though Toronto and Florida are extremely similar in the modern NHL. Neither teams draft well, develop well, draw knowledgeable crowds, or make the playoffs. Neither teams' fan bases can hope of seeing a contending team before their own bitter, trite deaths. These same fans have to watch as teams like the NY Islanders, accomplice to the worst trade/drafting gaffes in the history of the sport, make the playoffs by 1 point. Sure, they lost miserably, and then both teams had to buy new first lines.

Would you rather have Jason Blake at $4M cap hit/5 years, Bill Guerin at $4.5M, or a quickly enlarging view of the foliage below the bridge you just jumped off?

McCabe, for all the obvious errors, is a good defenceman. It isn't his fault Toronto gave him a ridiculous contract, anyone would have taken it. Now its Florida's problem, or one of them. I'm secretly hoping that Florida moves to Hamilton before the McCabe era ends. It'll be one of those unforgettable moments on the ice. Go Pens.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August and Everything After

That's right, it seems like there hasn't been Hockey since that album was released. I know, we were in the SCF and then the NHL Awards... the closing of the 08 Season, and my feverishly erasing my primary NHL 08 file (which had my Create-a-93-goal-scoring-power LW) to send Hossa packing. No more riding Sid's digital coat tails on his way to 149 digital points.

So now, the only things in the Hockey world appear to be Toronto creating McCabe trades to see if they'll gain any traction, and Scandinavian all-star forwards who won't sign contracts, and the discussion of the proposed "Nordic League", which will have top Scandinavian club teams against each other. The early problem apparently is that this league would be made almost entirely of Swedish teams, with only 2-3 from Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

It is true that the Fins don't like to be called Scandinavian, but they won't actually confirm who they're tolerant of so as to link them to a major land mass. They're taking the aggressive "we hate everyone" stance. They share a border with Norway, Sweden, and of course, Russia... I'm really not sure where they feel they can leverage an argument that they aren't "part of Scandinavia" without being lumped into the Soviet sphere. You see, if you try to just say "We're independent of the larger countries", you end up being Estonia, the Haiti of Europe.

I also need to see more serious discussion about floundering NHL franchises being moved to Canada. I think this is the make-or-break season, hopefully, for such discussions. Atlanta doesn't have a shot in hell at signing Kovalchuk to an extension, and when he leaves via UF Agency, there will not be anything resembling an NHL franchise. This would be OK if the fans loved the team and could survive an honest rebuild, but I think there is already a lot of trepidation regarding the team's future. Sure, they drafted Bogosian, but who's their second most promising defensive prospect? Boris Valabik?

Florida, similarly, put half the rumor monger core out of business as they finally traded Olli Jokinen. They now cannot seem to gauge the interest long-term of awesome talent Jay Bouwmeester, who seems intent on playing for a legitimate team. That is the trend, players not wanting to end up like Kovalchuk or Hossa before him; making the dollars, but being out of the playoff hunt (in a terrible division) by February. Who can blame them? Who wants to only start making the playoffs by the time they've played 7 or 8 years in the league?

Carolina and Washington, on the other hand, have a future. Carolina has won a championship and remain competitive every season. There are quite a lot of transplants from the Northeast that keep their building rockin, and although there aren't any mega-stars in the lineup, they win games by committee.

Washington had better start selling their building out. Ovechkin is the most marketable commodity in the league (yes even more than Sid) because it is very easy for the casual U.S. fan to quantify his worth. Last time I looked, D.C. has a good economy in place and plenty of diversity in terms of who attends their games. Honestly, if they don't sell that building out every game after OV signed that ridiculous contract, I would rip that team away from them.

NHL Hockey exists for the most part on ticket revenue, so for the league to not squeeze every nickel out of their greatest asset is a horrific possibility. Washington can have a team back in 5 seasons or something, but a team worthy of playing in front of 80% capacity crowds. D.C. had better attendance figures on the road, which should be as embarrassing as shitting your pants in public, but the much-heralded love affair between the Southeast and Gary Bettman remains as incredulous as ever. Their ranking is #24 both at home and overall, meaning they're behind New Jersey in attendance.

Just for some perspective, Pittsburgh is #16, but not for lack of persons shelling it out to see the team. We average over 100% attendance at home (100.7) a n d on the road (105.5). Once we get the New Igloo with its' capacity of more than our average 17,076 fans, that will all change. We lead the NHL in average overall attendance with 103.2% of seats sold, with the only other teams breaking the 100% margin being Buffalo (101.8) and Calgary (101.7).

Washington? 88.2, good for 26th.

Look at the home % for Toronto, Buffalo, Ottawa, and Montreal. All above 100% home attendance, even as two of those teams miss the playoffs. Quebec and especially Ontario can facilitate these teams.

Before I forget, Tampa has a very respectable home attendance record. Also, it is a circus down there at the moment, too much fun to relocate... although you could argue the feasibility of creating 2 run-and-gun teams given the number of forwards under contract. Their strategy: Roll all six lines, like the trap-era teams of the mid-90's. Horrible.

Carolina, as it turns out, is putting up an 88.8% home figure. That isn't terrible, and their overall is padded by a 91.2% on the road. They remain competitive, have won a championship, and have a few legit NHL stars despite winning games by committee. There are tons of Northeast transplants in the Carolinas, and I could actually see each Carolina with an NHL team. That would be an instant rivalry... plus, the team concept is good. Yes, I just said South Carolina could have its very own NHL team, and still have one in North Carolina. What you do is take the team you erroneously placed in Columbus, change the logo's colors to reflect the Confederacy, move it to Charleston (Where Fort Sumter is), call the team "Rebels", and market the idea that "The Charleston Rebels; beating the North at their own game". Believe me, they'll support that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What can be called "news" in August...

So, Sid can get his drink on. Everyone is speculating over the Crown Royal vs. how stupid is a 21 year drinking age in America saga, but just you remember how massive Mr. Lemieux's wine cellar is.

What do you purchase Sid for his birthday? A duster for his trophies? He's got the shoe endorsement, still rocks Tim Horton's, and a can of mace for any and all trips to Greenfield.

We all look at the acquisitions Pittsburgh has made since the run to the Finals, the Fedotenkos and the Cookes. Keep in mind that we've got the superstar talents already; we don't necessarily need to go out and get them. A number of teams (see: Toronto) would murder some guys to pry a Penguin away. The latest from that black hole, by the way, is that they won't leave Bryan McCabe alone and are speculating that he'll be persuaded to waive his No Movement Clause for a King's Ransom, you know, because although he's not a very good defender, the virtue of him playing in Toronto enhances his trade value and the fact that everyone owes Toronto a favor for being ├╝ber stands as the singular point of reference. Bouwmeester is on the way out of Florida is exhibit A, and the extreme covetousness of one Jordan Staal is exhibit A1. All they need is a fulcrum, and they think McCabe is the guy. If I was Cliff, I would be waiting to see what Buffalo wants to do with Afinogenov.

At this time, I would like to point out something that I think applies to Sid and another former Penguin Captain.. Jags. In the history of the NHL, Jagr's style simply doesn't reflect any predecessor's. He is unique, something which cannot be said about very many players. The way Sid plays, in my opinion, is one of a kind. His rookie season, for instance, he backhanded his way to a ridiculous point total and continued to dig in every corner. He backcheckd to the point where Palffy was five steps behind the play. He wanted to do squats on the bench between shifts. Adam Hall at this point was still an auto mechanic who really liked Diamond Rio...

Ottawa continues to suck at running a hockey organization. I'll be interested to see what reaction Ruutu gets when he comes back to town, as if it isn't obvious. Eric Godard will most likely introduce himself, and the law will have been established. I just remember when former Penguin stalwart Darius Kasparaitis tried to produce one of his patented open-ice hits on Mario, whereupon Kaspar was stiff-armed a shocking 7 feet down and across the frozen water. We all remember when Ovechkin lined up Gino from 20 feet only to be repelled helicopter-style into the boards.

Brian Burke is looking everywhere for Teemu Selanne. Teemu, meanwhile, is sitting adjacent to Jim Morrison around a remote campfire, roasting a marshmallow discussing the psycho social ramifications of their PS3s "getting a bug just as they thought they triggered the event which leads to the Gray Fox appearing in Bruma". Just then, J. Edgar Hoover laments the absence of new strips of "Peanuts".

The NHLPA won't stop goading the League Office into defending their position on expanding to Canada. Any knowledge of basic economics promotes the idea that, even though the Canadian dollar is competitive in the World market, the complete lack of corporate industry in the key cities mentioned remains a wedge between even relocation of the NHL's "ugly sisters", specifically Florida and Atlanta, and the poor cries of bringing back the Nordiques or Jets which are falling upon dead ears.

I will reiterate that the Florida Panthers™ should play a very special "home game" in Hamilton, Ontario 41 times starting in 2009-10. "Hamilton Ice-adaptable Panthers" has a nice ring to it as well. Sooner than later, Phoenix and Wayne will loose its magic. Imagine Wayne setting up a play to try and tie the game with the goalie pulled.

"Ok. You, you will win the face off clean by slashing the other centre on and about the wrists and forearms. Our defender will then control the puck and pirouette around thier RW, working a give-and-go with (points at the Phoenix LW) you. At that point, make a 71-foot saucer pass to the centre who will be cutting to the middle of the ice, splitting the defence as his mullet sways and flutters with each elegant stride. Do a little forehand-fake, then roof it far side from the bottom of the hash marks. I used to do that all the time. The key to this working is you (nods to RW) will have to obstruct thier LW by pointing to a random space on the ice, distracting the second referee, and high-sticking thier LW in the neck. At that point, go in for the backdoor play in case we hit the post".

Finally, I wonder if this will finally be the year New Jersey stinks to high hell. It has to happen one of these years, why can't it be this one? It has been proven that Brodeur can win games even when left comletely unguarded. I seem to remember him shutting us out one home opener, eschewing an abysmal 20-game stretch resulting in multiple retirements and disappointment. I'll never forgive those assholes for letting the Rangers reach the Finals in 94, the worst year of my life. Kurt Cobain, Ranger mercenaries win, and The Cowboy Way™ is released in theaters. Brutal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Regarding Bettman

I give GB a wide margin of error basically for checking into the Westin for 2 weeks and leveraging a deal between the City/State and Lemieux LLP. We're not going to have to watch what Quebec did (Team moves and immediately wins a Cup) because he mediated that deal on behalf of the NHL.

On the other hand, he refuses to stand up for the marginalization of our game by re-upping with Versus and letting the rules committee diminish aggression. People in taverns in non-hockey markets are either watching ESPN, which has roughly 2 minutes of NHL coverage an hour, or ESPN2, the network of billiards, darts, and poker tourneys.

I wish the short bastard would promote Hockey as Hockey. Yes, people may indeed fight one another. No, there aren't mixed messages. They are there so that nobody is boarded at 25MPH or elbowed in their orbital bone, hence, enforcers.

The guys who know those oft-mentioned unwritten rules, ones which I hope Gary Bettman isn't planning on someday jotting down for the purposes of printing them on a tee-shirt for $29.99.

Promote them. Those types of men are the ones at every Hospital visit, in the communities, and generally giving of themselves on behalf of the team and their sport.
The Parroses and the Laraques are the guys taking little kids' slappers off the junk at the Boys and Girls clubs whilst retaining a smile, after all.

I don't wanna see Marty Turco hit in the face with a pie. I want to see the average NHLer's athleticism and toughness put on equal terms with any other sport. At least equal terms.

I'm talking to you, Shaq, and your injured toe. You big bitch. You know what? Dmitry Yuskevich played in a Quarterfinal series with 9 broken toes for the Leafs, and the mainstream would maintain that he's a Soft Euro, nowhere near as tough as, say, Kyle Farnsworth.

It would be nice to see NHL Hockey in certain Canadian cities again, but Bettman can't expect investors to start popping up to build arenas and take a multi-million dollar risk. Save for Hamilton, ON, that's exactly what it would be.

Until then, get back on mainstream TV, and stop marginalizing junkie fans like me, Gary. I hate Joe Bennenatti. Hit him in the face with a pie. Do it, Gary! Stay out of your own way.

Footnote: I can't wait to smoke Toronto 5-1 on "Dougie Night". He was a punk in Toronto, and especially in Buffalo. I'd fight him right now, left handed, but his punk buddies like Vaclav Varada would charge me when I was trying to pick up my morning paper next week.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

August starts when?

I've been looking for anything to write about. Perhaps the presence of Paine, Rikku, and Yuna on Kari Lehtonen's helm? Bringing back the "Hockey Fights cancer" pink stick weekend? Always nice to see Owen Nolan winding up one of those. Wrigley and its' historic content and the resurgence of Blackhawks hockey in Chicago? The unveiling of the New York Rags'™ latest sponsor, AARP, was announced; it, however, fell on deaf ears as most New Yorkers are currently occupying recently established territories along the New Jersey shore destined to spawn a new generation of horrible, weasel-like deviants, primed to revel in a toxic, Bruce Springstein-Bon Jovi sympathising hellscape.

There's that "free word association" thing in action again. Deviant » Ted Nolan. He got the axe, for reasons unknown, by Garth "I didn't draft Luke Schenn" Snow. Seriously, if I'm a NY Islanders fan, I'm wondering why there are such a succession of blunders piling up. Trading Chara for Yashin... not keeping Luongo... not drafting Luke Schenn. Then they signed Doug Weight. Hey, Doug Weight used to play with Ryan Smyth, so he's just as good, right? Glaring errors which have and will cost that franchise for decades.

Pittsburgh looks to have completed its' NHL roster last week, and there's really no news save signing Kris Beech to a 2-way and the schedule allowing those in The Steel City to know when to book passage to DC. We continue to look fondly to the North, where Ottawa's woes continue and their writers are creating trades to see if they'll gain traction. It is very Toronto-esque; however, Ottawa doesn't have the league by the balls like the Leafs, so the 3-way LA-Chicago-Ottawa rumor everyone is familiar with isn't looking very realistic.

Speaking of realistic, Montreal continues to astound me with their sense of entitlement. I've seen (but not read) long, long lists of reasons why Mats Sundin will wear bleu, blanc, yadda yadda instead of Vancouver. If that fails, of course, they're gonna top their woeful first-place finish from last year by not losing to a pretty average team in the playoffs. It is also expected that they can just "sarifice everything and go for it like Pittsburgh last season" before the deadline. They have to insinuate that we'd traded our whole future because their best young player just signed on Long Island. Anyway, they assume that San Jose, for some reason, will accept a trade of Marleau to Montreal for garbage player. See: 2007, Ryder.

Habs77953798524: "Man, Ryder sucks. We need to trade his ass. What would good market value be? Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. I just am havings such a boner for Steve Begin".

IrresponsibleMtrlWriter: "Excellent question. I heard a rumor just this morning that Marleau and a truck containing $10,000,000,000 US dollars were heading our way in exchange for Ryder, which is a shrewd deal for Montreal. There is no such thing as fair market value for a Canadien, because their players would obviously become the best on their new team. Ryder is a prime example, because while he totally sucks in our colours, he would make average non-Canadiens centres like Joe Sakic shit their mind. We can only have s o many hall of famers, you know?"

Finally, Pittsburgh South continues to become more entertaining as it is rumored that Craig Patrick is a candidate for the GM post recently vacated by Jay Feaster. If he's the man for the job, expect him to fire phone calls to German Titov and Sebastien Caron with great haste. Contract already rumored to be on the table for Krzysztof Oliwa. Seriously, once Recchi signed there, it just got pretty out of control. If they hire Crag Patrick, you can expect Jan Hrdina and Rico Fata to jump in the mix. Hey, why not. They already have an 8-line team with nobody to defend the goal except for Filip Kuba, and Darryl Sydor if they want him. Just add Stu Barnes and you have a gated community for Old Penguins.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Roster looking finished, Therrien expected to fig nose at 2-yr extension offer

First, apparently, Darryl Sydor has formally asked to be traded. Perhaps he's unaware that we've been trying to trade him since we waived Mark Recchi. Its an attempt to save some face... like that psychotic girl who interrupted you breaking up with her to interject that she was, in fact, breaking up with you first. Tampa remain the front-runners, naturally.

Remember all those who illustrated their obviously jealous "Tampa North" scenario? Irony mildly describes the scenario today; Tampa Bay is Pittsburgh South. Its a destination for Penguin retirement and/or mediocrity. I guess Jagr and Straka weren't Penguins recently enough to qualify? The even feature an all-lefty defence. So now, there are the WB/S Baby Penguins, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Tampa Bay Old Penguins.

If they import Sydor or Scuderi, who is being packaged to make Sydor more attractive, they'll be two of Tampa's top 4, rivalling The Rangers for "most pathetic blueline" this upcoming season. Their top guys as it stands are Paul Ranger and Shane O'Brien. I've seen enough Matt Carle to place him 4th, with the aging Filip Kuba just itching to try and avoid physicality en route to collecting his $3M.

We're signing depth players to 2-way contracts, so basically unless something irrefutable comes our way, the roster is looking finished. It remains to be seen who plays where, it is up to Mike Therrien and his assistants. This is troubling to me. Mike played Staal as the top line LW and Petr Sykora on the 3rd line at the beginning of last season. If we had started better, I think we could have won the President's Trophy and the SC Finals could have been much different.

Anyway, I'm not an NHL coach. I don't know what goes into the decision making process. I do know, however, that Therrien looked ridiculous getting shut out for 2 games, dressing Laraque, and scratching Kris Letang for Darryl Sydor. I remember the mid-season policy with rotating defence. Everyone except Gonchar (including new $4M Ryan Whitney) was going to be scratched occasionally so that Therrien could make room for his boy Scuderi. Shocking. He, of course, used the policy to single out Brooks Orpik and didn't simply ignore Sydor indefinitely.

I know that he really, really wants Dany Sabourin to succeed. He wants him to win 15 games. Its asinine, but he's going to get the minutes to try and do that. He wanted Michel Ouellet to score 25 goals once, but he's with the Tampa Bay Old Penguins now. The guy loves minor-leaguers. Jeff Taffe is going to be on the team all season, and he's going to play Scuderi a lot. Goligoski is going to have a very frustrating season, full of lengthy scratches and awkward situations so that Scuderi can be nice and comfortable. The career potential will remain meaningless.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The long and winding road

We signed Fedotenko, for whom I can't wait to have higher stats in all categories than Ryan Malone in 08/09, and Miro Satan. He's 33, 6'3, has only missed 3 games in the past 3 seasons. $3.5M. Because of all the 3's, I'm going to have to predict him putting up 33 goals in the regular season.

Will they be the top line? Who knows. Dupuis is back as well, but I think he'll be a depth guy/PK specialist. Apparently we're trying to import one Janne Pesonen, 26, who looks real sick online. He's been throttling the Finnish top division at 5'11, 180. Instantly the pundits say "his size awf fuh fuh fuh fuh"; watch this video of him pull a Drury under-the-poke-check move, get held but elbow the D-man, freeze the goalie, and proceed to pick the far corner on the backhand. There's a few vids of him dangling defenders, scoring on penalty shots, etc. The video is much better when you imagine the defenseman be Derian Hatcher.

Then there's Staal. What will we do with him? I guess last season he was supposed to be the #3 wing, not the #3 centre. Depending on who else we sign, its looking like Talbot is our 3rd line C, which is awsome. Whats with all the 3's? Anyway, I really don't know what is going on with Staalsy. Is he an even strength/PP wing and PK centre? I guess. Therrien will likely do something shocking like make Ryan Whitney the #2 LW for the first 5 games to try and get Sydor moved. In an unfortunately related note, Tampa seems interested in a Sydor/Scuderi/pick? in exchange for former Therrien saddle-bronc Michel Oulette.

If we for some reason bring Oulette back, that means he's going to be a top-six wing. No joke. All those times Mark Madden went on those rants about Therrien refusing to use better players in all situations were completely justified.

So what would I do? We've got ~$3.8M in cap space, and its looking like Sydor's 2.5 will be gone soon. I play Staal at 2nd-line LW, and I create a third line based around our PK unit of Talbot-Dupuis. Will Pesonen make the jump? It could make for a very fast two-way 3rd line. Will we come to terms with a guy like Matt Cooke? Unknown.

The first thing I would do with the cap room we d o have is sign Yannick Perreault. He scored 21 goals for a garbage Phoenix team for 38 pts in 66 games, could be had for $1.250M, and is the mac on face-offs. Sure, he can't skate. He's 5'11, plays as ruggedly as you would expect a Smurf. We need a face-off specialist, and our young guys need to learn the art from a guy who went 64.3% last season. Sick.

Something I saw Toronto do a lot last year, which was the only decent strategy they used, was have Sundin win all their PK draws and then change. I wouldn't have a problem with playing him ~6 minutes to take face-offs, especially since the new "face-off is automatically in your zone if you take a penalty" rule is going to create a lot of chances. He would be a specialist forward with a clear role, much like Eric Godard is a specialist forward with a clear role. In addition, that gives us the optional C after we load 2-3 onto our PP unit.

I would really like to sign Matt Cooke. If our third-line was Dupuis-Talbot-Cooke, we have a lot of speed, grit, and agitation. Part of covering top lines is skating with them, then again Therrien has shown no interest in paying attention to the tactics of the opponent. Anyway, Cooke is an outstanding PK forward as well. He's ultimately going to cash in with one of the NHL's ugly sisters, like St. Louis or Atlanta, so I'm not going to get my hopes up.

In any event, I love that we're not committed to quite a bit of salary after this season. Gaborik will be out there next summer, and from all indications, he'll be on our trade radar all season. What if that doesn't work out? When we're set to open our new building, point-per-game (466gp, 466 pts) and perrenial 50-goal threat Ilya Kovalchuk will be a UFA, probably of the defunct Las vegas Thrashers.. although his career -73 shocks and awes.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm leaving the house in my slippers to get more beer.

I'm hearing Fedotenko and Satan, please no, no no please argh.


Apparently both have signed a 1 year deal. That, in part at least, explains paying Satan $3.5M. I guess he's durable, having only missed 2 games the past 3 seasons.. but he had 16G and 41 points and a -11 rating last year. He was a top six wing 4 years ago, a top-2 wing 8 years ago.

So, with the new signings (that make me feel like a laughing stock), we have about $8.5M in wasted cap space. I made a big deal last season about how organizations in the toilet have to buy top lines, like the Islanders did with Guerin, Comrie, and Fedotenko last season. Now, it appears as though we've alleviated the NYI of their garbage.

Fedotenko will have better numbers than Ryan Malone this season. That doesn't mean its a good deal, it just means that what Shero said about Staalsy's ice time was a lie.

Satan will more than likely get benched by Therrien. 3.5M? What the fuck? What did Naslund want, anyway? Its a goddamn good thing that its a 1-yr deal, thats for sure. 3.5M? I'd rather have the cap space, thank you very much. I went to be last night thinking "as long as we don't return Satan's phone calls...". I understand its admirable to have guys who want to play for you (Syko), but damn. How's 2.75m for an undersized, aging lefty?

This also sews up the forward lines, although its a fruitless tast to try and figure out Therrien's lines, etc. Damn it. I feel like we haven't done any better than those asshole teams that are still trying to sign Mats Sundin.

Fleury Official

7 years, $35M.

July 3 ... Building a foundation

So, there we were, eyes stinging at 3:00 am, no beer left. No dirt on Cooke, nothing on Jarogr Jarmr. Naslund? Today is the day, and mum is the word. Satan still calling Ray Shero about "playink on the wink". Various sources report Sidney personally called Miroslav late last night to ask him to "go into your basement, find your hammer, and kill yourself".

We did lock Gino up. We brought back Orps, the guy who until last season I thought would never grow out of what I commonly refer to as his "blunt instrument phase". Indications are that we're going to announce Fleury's new deal soon, a purported $5.5M deal over 6 seasons. We've also decided to bring back Eaton and Dupuis.

Despite all the excitement, the first signing of July 1 was a mysterious 3 year deal for martial arts expert Eric Godard at 750k. I watch Calgary a lot, which is where Godarrd played last season, so I'll just say it now: He's Krzysztof Oliwa, but not from Tychy, Poland. People in our conference have no idea how broken their orbital bone is about to be.

Brian Burke is calling out Kevin Lowe for the inflation of RFA salaries. Big shock there. What I want to know is why he's stopped calling the Oilers a team in the sewer, etc, because that is quality stuff.

In another shocking development, on only day three of free agency, Philadelphia is roughly $1M over the NHL salary cap. It takes special talent to trade the wrong fringe winger (R.J.), signtrade for more unstable defenders (Ossi, reportedly have the inside track on Boyle), and provide easy targets for the fan base while doing it over the cap. Its OK though, they have the best player there ever was, Mike Richards.

So here is what we need to do today, granted we sign Fleury to this deal. We'll have roughly 9.089M of cap space with which to work, and we're going to need roughly 2.7M at the deadline for Gaborik's remaining 7.5M. It really is too bad he's got a back-heavy contract. Yes, I think we're going to aggressively pursue the other Marian, and I do think Ryan Whitney is headed the other way. Anyway, back to today, I think we offer Williams a 5 year deal. He's a great player, potentially a 20-goal scorer each of those 5 years. $3M a season? He's like a #6 or #7 forward on this team, but the versatility is worth the extra 750k.

We then try and get Naslund signed. We're missing one top-six wing, because I don't think they'll risk playing Williams and Dupuis with Sid all year if we want home ice this Spring. Matt Cooke is on the radar apparently, which would signify the bitter, bitter end of Jonathan Filewich's career as a Penguin and make roster spots almost impossible for WB/S Penguins.

Naslund to decide soon, also reports that Ottawa are close to trading for Boyle. I'm taking a breather, then I am going to post some plan A, plan B scenarios depending on signings/trades.

Shero is under pressure to get at least 1 top-six guy one way or another before training camp.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Penguins talking to everybody.

That about says it. Satan, Miettinen, Matt Cooke, Huselius, et all. Brooksie re-signed.

The Rags added Zherdev. He is a dick, which makes him a perfect Ranger. You see, NY has a superiority complex. Zherdev is an even bigger headache in the dressing room than Jags, so the decision was easy. Plus, he's going to team up with fellow pain in the ass Cherapanov to make a trio of Russian-born forwards who don't appear to be dedicated to anything except $USD.

My magic 8 ball says Naslund to Minnesota.

My dreams of a Rolston-Crosby-Naslund line are going to ruin. At least we didn't sign Wade Redden.

Doug Weight has joined the 4th team who will trade him for prospects at the deadline.

We want Bertuzzi (?) and we want Naslund. I expect one of them to sign, and I want to sign Matt Cooke. He's a menace to play against, and cheap-shot artist. Honestly, if we keep Staal at C, he needs some wings to help match up against top lines. We had Ruutu, considered a cheap-shot artist, so its not like we're signing someone irreputable.

Toronto has upped the offer to UFA Defenceman Lindy Ruff.

San Jose hasn't done a damn thing. What is their deal? Honestly, what is it? Their window is closing really fast, especially since they keep going out in round 2. NJ in talks with Fedorov, and says he "Does not mind the stench of Axe Body Spray­™, although he has concerns about trips to the beach due to the high percentage of Axe Body Spray™ in the ocean's waters".

Brenden Shanahan is looking for his car, as he cannot remember where he parked it.

Tampa Bay continues to offer contracts to everyone. They've considered John Davidson a prime candidate for their backup role, and have shown strong interest in Jason Smith. Clearly there is a youth-movement in TB.

Thenators add thome thandpaper; thign Ruutu.

As per TSN, Jarkko officially announces his homosexuality with the 3 year contract, $1.3M cap hit.

Avery cahses in down in Dallas; vacant spot in the NYR™ line-up for massive tool whom represents the teams' fans in the locker room.

The market for pests is slimming down.

Apparently Toronto had explored the availability of Brian Burke and Matt Schneider by dangling Jason Blake and Pavel Kubina. Sources also indicate that GM Cliff has offered a contract to UFA Defenceman Lindy Ruff.

Defence... we missed Ron Hainsey, who re-signed for big cream in Ohio. He could have been an impact player had he signed for a meaningful franchise. We went with Mark Eaton again, which should be interesting. When you start talking Eaton, then you inevitably start comparing him in your mind to Scuderi, and other #6-7 guys like Nasreddine and Bissonnette.

I wish Daniel Fernholm would have panned out... but then Jo Melichar signs in Carolina, and everything your team has done to this point looks like genius. Goligoski is here, Letang is a lock, and somewhere Darryl Sydor is photoshopping himself onto a box of Wheaties™.

July 2... what the hell?

So, the enigma of the Hossa signing is a shock to the Penguin Fans' system. We offered similar money, more years, Sid, a new building on the horizon, and an inside track to the HHoF. My only thought is that he wanted to sign in a city who's up against the cap (Boston) and this is a year he'll soon forget.

While we waited for Marian to finish taking his piss, Rolston signed in NJ and is already bored with the smell of Axe Body Spray™. It was too many years for it to have made sense here, but perhaps a 3yr wouldn't have been awful.

Ryder signed in Boston, where he will still suffer the merciless boo-ing of Montreal fans at every home game.

Naslund is still out there, but apparently is attached at the hip to one Pavol Demitra. I really don't know what to say except that we had better just wait this off-season out and get our guys inked before we go off signing pairs of BFFs and delving into perplexing situations with Jags or Huselius.

Meanwhile, rumors persist that Beauchamin in Anaheim is on the block, as will be one Marian Gaborik. Based on the market value of Jokinen, Gaborik could cost a couple NHL-ready prospects and/or a 1st round pick. As far as I'm concerned, we have so many high picks to sign even after the Malkin deal was announced, we can afford to deal them until perhaps the 2009-10 season. We're going to continue to pick in the last 3, and eventually you have to sign them. I think its a good thing that we forgo an entire season of potential RFA's and have that much more room for Fleury and Staal. If we can swing a deal and then actually keep the guy, that cap room will exist.

Lastly, among all the things we can list as assets that make Pittsburgh an attractive UFA destination; is it counter-balanced by the presence of black-Russian-drinking, fruitless-to-try-and-comprehend, loves-him-some-Dany-Sabourin (our new, then old, now new Backup) Michel (Mike?) Therrien? I know that Malone, Roberts, Orpik had issues. Guess what? Orpik remains unaccounted for, but it seems as though they didn't want any part of Mike (Michel?). Its as confusing as what the guy wants to be called.