OUT OF THE GATES: December to remember

When the 2009-10 schedule was released, this stretch leading up to the holiday break stuck out to me as a time where the Penguins would prove themselves.

They haven’t disappointed.

After dropping back to back home games against Chicago and Carolina, the Penguins have strung together five straight wins. Most recently they took care of Philadelphia — which is always difficult given the rivalry — in a home and home series and then traveled to Buffalo and won in a shootout, 2-1.

In one week the Penguins have proven they are every bit as good as last year, if not better. And with games against New Jersey tonight and Ottawa on Wednesday, the Penguins can enter the three-day holiday break playing their strongest hockey of the year.

What’s scary is Pittsburgh has shown they still have a lot of improving to do.

Continue reading “OUT OF THE GATES: December to remember”

The challengers

For the Penguins to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, they’ll have to fight through some tough competition.

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The Atlantic Division is always stacked and this season should be no different. The proof is there: The Pens have just one division championship in the last 11 seasons.

And then there’s the rest of the East.

For the Penguins to get through the grind of the regular season and earn home ice in the playoffs, they’ll have to beat out not only a tough division but the rest of the Eastern Conference as well.

Here are my top 5 challengers to the Penguins for the Eastern Conference crown.

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Dan Bylsma, how long will his magic last?

There’s no question that Dan Bylsma was a major reason the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last year.

Many say he was THE reason.

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We all have to wonder if the magic he created to turn a 10th-place team in to the best in the world will continue in 2009-10.

Will the chemistry continue to grow? Will he be able to acclimate more free agent acquisitions in to the lineup? Can HCDB get a team that has now done it all to do it all over again?

Recent history can give us an idea of the likelihood for the Penguins to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.

Continue reading “Dan Bylsma, how long will his magic last?”

Honorable Mention — Darius Kasparaitis’ game winner

Not only was he the most unlikely candidate, but he did it under the most unlikely circumstances.

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It was the playoffs … Game 7 … on the road … overtime … against one of the greatest goaltenders in the game.

Robert Lang, a goal-scorer, skated up the right wing with the puck in to the Sabres’ zone and eyed the net.  He had a defenseman in front of him and a trailing Kasparaitis.  The last thing anyone thought was that he’d pass it to a clearly inept scorer in Kasper.

Obviously, Dominic Hasek thought so too as the puck sailed past him and in to the net.

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Honorable Mention – Pens back-to-back Cups

So this moment wasn’t within the last 15 years.  But you know what, this is a blog about the Penguins and we’d be remiss if we didn’t include it.  It’s close enough!!!

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The Cup wins officially made this town a hockey town.  Since the 1970s, Pittsburghers have expected greatness from the Steelers and Pirates.  Countless championships led to this city being named the ‘City of Champions.’

Hockey was always on the back burner.  The Penguins, at times, fielded a competitive team and gained interest in the 1970s.  They reached the playoffs in 1970, 1972 and 1975 — where they became one of the only clubs in any sport to ever build a 3-0 series lead and lose, 4-3 (sigh).  The beginning of the 1980s was rather successful as well, but from 1983-1989 the franchise missed the playoffs every year.

That drought diverted fans to the Steelers and Pirates, which were all enjoying success.  In 1984 Mario Lemieux was drafted and things started to change.  Just his name brought people to the arena to watch the team.

Still, wins were hard to come by.  The aura of a superstar player only lasts for so long.  But eventually the team improved, and after four years Pittsburgh was in the playoffs in the 1988-89 season.

Two years later, the Stanley Cup made it’s first appearance in the Steel City.

Continue reading “Honorable Mention – Pens back-to-back Cups”

Free Agency Updates

We’ll list notable free-agent signings here.  For other, more detailed updates, visit Faceoff-Factor.  Those guys are documenting every player all day.

We’ll be shedding light on notable players.

Free Agent Signings

6/30 — Johnny Oduya re-signs with New Jersey.  The deal is for 3 years and worth $10.5 million
6/30 — Rob Blake re-signs with San Jose for one year at $3.5 million
6/30 — Jay Bouwmeester signs with Calgary for five years for a total of $33.4 million

7/1 — Daniel and Henrik Sedin re-sign with Vancouver.  Both contracts are identical: $6.1 million a year for five years
7/1 — Alexei Kovalev re-signs with Montreal for two years, $8.8 million
7/1 — Radek Dvorak re-signs with Florida for $1.7 million a year for two years
7/1 — Marian Hossa signs with Chicago: 12 years, $62.4 million
7/1 — Ty Conklin signs with St. Louis: 2 years $2.6 million
7/1 — Dwayne Roloson signs with the Islanders: 2 years $5 million
7/1 — David Booth signs with Florida: 6 years $25.5 million
7/1 — Mike Knuble signs with Washington: 2 years $5.6 million
7/1 — Donald Brashear signs with the Rangers: 2 years, $2.8 million
7/1 — Scott Niedermayer signs with Anaheim: 1 year, $6 million
7/1 — Eric Cole signs with Carolina: 2 years, $5.8 million
7/1 — Scott Clemmensen signs with Florida: 3 years, $3.6 million
7/1 — Hal Gill a Canadien: 2 years, $4.5 million
7/1 — PENGUINS SIGN MICHAEL RUPP: 2 YEARS, $1.65 MILLION
7/1 — David Koci signs with Colorado: $575,000, 1 year
7/1 — Mike Cammalleri signs with Montreal: 5 years, $30 million
7/1 — Mike Komisarek signs with Toronto: 5 years, $22.5 million
7/1 — Steve Sullivan remain a Predator: 2 years, $7.5 million
7/1 — Mathieu Garon signs with Columbus: 2 years, $2.4 million
7/1 — Marian Gaborik signs with the Rangers: 5 years, $37.5 million
7/1 — Brian Gionta signs with Montreal: 5 years, $25 million
7/1 — Chris Neil re-signs with Ottawa: four years, $8 million
7/1 — John Madden signs with Chicago: 1 year, $2.75 million
7/1 — Martin Havlat signs with Minnesota: 6 years, $30 million

7/2 — Mark Recchi re-signs with Boston: 1 year, $1 million
7/2 — Nik Antropov signs with Atlanta: 4 years, $16 million
7/2 — Adrian Aucoin signs with Phoenix: 1 year, $2.25 million
7/2 — Mikhail Grabovski re-signs with Toronto: 3 years, $8.7 million
7/2 — Rob Scuderi signs with Los Angeles: 4 years, $13.6 million
7/2 — Jordan Leopold signs with Florida: 1 year, $1.75 million

7/3 — Ryan Clowe re-signs with San Jose: 4 years, $15 million
7/3 — Ville Leino re-signs with Detroit: 2 years, ???
7/3 — PENGUINS SIGN NATE GUENIN: 1 year, $500,000
7/3 — Rangers signs Tyler Arnason and Corey Locke
7/3 — Mikael Samuelsson signs with Vancouver: 3 years, $7.5 million
7/3 — RUSLAN FEDOTENKO SIGNS WITH PITTSBURGH: 1 year, $1.8 million

Elsewhere, Dany Heatley is still supposedly being dealt around by Ottawa.  Yesterday it was reported that Heatley was traded to Edmonton.  That was denied by the winger, who currently has a no-trade clause that he has yet to lift.

Chris & Dan | PPT