Big Lead Sports Bar


Koz: Come On, Get Happy!



by Koz

As the sun rises on Pittsburgh this 20th day of February 2008, the following statements are true:

--The Flyers have lost eight consecutive games.
--The New York Rangers blew a five goal lead and lost in a shootout.
--The Pittsburgh Penguins scored three third period goals to beat Florida and take first place in the Atlantic Division.
--Evgeni Malkin is the NHL scoring leader.

You can't say enough about a third period comeback like last night. The thing is, I almost expected it. I probably had no reason to, but the team is just taking on that kind of personality.

Ryan Malone – Just like Dino Ciccarelli, but without the misdemeanors: Last week, I briefly mentioned the development of Bugsy as a legit power forward. He's second on the team in hits and sticks up for his teammates with some momentum swinging fights. He comes up big in key moments, tied for the team lead in game winners (4) and secondly only to Crosby with a +11 rating. Wasn't it about this time last year that he was rumoured (you have to use that spelling when referring to hockey trades) to be going to the Rangers? Good thing that never happened. It's been a while since the Pens have had a quality power forward playing at a high level; this is a position crucial for playoff success.

Three's Company?: After doubting Ty Conklin in last week's column, he's responded by allowing no more than two goals in each of his last three games. Marc-Andre Fleury is rehabbing well by all accounts in WB/S (Three games, four goals, .957 save percentage). Now there is talk of three goaltenders.

Unless Therrien starts the All-Star Game Rotation, there's no way for the team to keep three goalies. Down the stretch, goalies need to find a groove. It'll be hard enough trying to keep Conklin hot and get Fleury back into NHL shape without Dany Sabourin hanging around. Besides, how crowded can the runway to the locker room get?

If Ray Shero thinks the Pens are a legitimate Cup contender, it doesn't make sense to have three goalies. I realize Sabourin is likely to be picked up on waivers as he's a bargain when you compare him to the quality of similar goalies financially (and the team who picks him up would only pay half price). But sitting the bench and playing as infrequently as a third goalie would play isn't very good anyway. The only decent reason I could see to hang on to a third NHL caliber goalie would be for fear of another injury to MAF or Conklin.

The next three games for the Pens (at Montreal, Ottawa and San Jose at home) could clear this up nicely. These are crucial games against tough opponents. All three teams have at least 70 points, and of course, Montreal and Ottawa are battling for the top spot in the logjam that is the Eastern Conference. If Conklin continues his success into next week it would do a lot to solidify him as the #1 for now. If he's shaky and Fleury returns, it could stir some more controversy.

Of course, if Sabourin were to have an accident we could move him out of the way easily via IR...

Where's Tonya Harding's bodyguard when you need him?

Attention displaced Penguins fans: For those outside the FSN Pittsburgh viewing area, Sunday's upcoming game against San Jose is available online through Yahoo!

Hockey YouTube of the Week: In honor of last night's number one star and considering my hatred for both the Maple Leafs and convicted DUI offenders, let's enjoy this moment from earlier this year when Ryan Malone broke Mark Bell's face and put him on IR until mid-March.

Somewhere, Lucifer is trying on parkas: In the past week Jarkko Ruutu and Brooks Orpik scored goals. Rob Scuderi, you're on the clock.

Motivational Call-Out of the Week: After calling out Sidney's weak ankle ligaments last week, all the buzz now is he might be returning on the short end of the 6-8 week prognosis. This comes on the heels of successful tactics of call-outs leading to success (see Whitney & Letang, 2/7/08). This week, I'm going on record against the people at Powerball for never picking my numbers out of the machine. What's up with that?

NHL Improvement Idea of the Week: News from the GM meetings in Florida indicates Marc-Andre Fleury might not want to get too comfortable in those new white pads. He might need new ones again next year (maybe he can go all black?) after the GM's unanimously agreed to continue to streamline goaltender equipment. This is definitely the preferred way to go rather than increasing the net size. If you look at old highlights, the goalies were much smaller, but the nets were the same size. Changing the nets would have historical impact, but restricting the mammoth pads would just work the standard back where it used to be.

1 comment:

Koz said...

So, my mom informed me Tonya Harding's bodyguard/hitman is actually dead. I guess that means he's not available for any favors.