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”

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Montreal presents difficult scenario

All at once, Montreal presents a potentially dangerous situation along with a chance for the Penguins to change their recent struggles.

Pittsburgh Penguins (20-10-1, 41 pts.) at Montreal Canadiens (15-14-2, 32 pts.)

No team in the National Hockey League is better than the Canadiens at protecting an early lead — they are 10-1-0 when scoring the first goal this year.

That could spell tragedy for a Pittsburgh team that has fallen down 1-0 in the last six games and in seven of the last eight. However, knowing Montreal’s success when scoring first could serve the Penguins with the motivation needed to play a strong first period and earn an early lead of their own.

“They have a great crowd there so I’m sure they get momentum from that,” Sidney Crosby said when asked about why it has been so hard to come back on the Canadiens this year. “I don’t think we’re going to think about it a whole lot. We wanna make sure that we start well. Sometimes you can have a great first period and be down 1-0. We’ll look for our play to be where it needs to be and usually, if that’s the case, we’ll come out with the lead.”

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Crosby producing at a record pace

Bill Guerin scored the game-winning goal in the third period of a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Thursday, driving home yet another assists from Sidney Crosby as he continues a historic stretch of hockey.

Colorado Avalanche 1 — Pittsburgh Penguins 4

Quite honestly, this could be the best span of play in Crosby’s career.

The Penguins captain has seven goals and four assists in his last three games, but it dates back further than that. Since losing 6-2 at Ottawa on Nov. 19, the Penguins have won six of their last seven games. In those seven games Crosby has had a hand in more than half of the team’s goals, registering 15 total points.

And with a 4-1 win over Colorado, the Penguins advanced to their 20th win of the season (20-9-0) while Crosby set his goal-scoring pace to well over 50 goals and 100 points.

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Oct. 14 — Pens at Canes

First thing’s first — if you haven’t read this column disputing Pittsburgh’s No. 1 ranking as the best sports city in America then you need to. Join the masses of the Black and Gold Nation on the comment board.

It’s written by Jessica Isner, who decided to pick the worst argument ever to claim Boston is the best sports city in the U.S. Thank to Tony at The Confluence for shooting that over.

Now to the game.

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Pittsburgh Penguins (5-1-0, 10 pts.) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (2-3-0, 4 pts.)

The Pens travel to Raleigh tonight for the final game of their 4-game road trip. They are already 3-0-0 on the trip with wins over Philadelphia, Toronto and Ottawa — all by a combined score of 14-7.

Continue reading “Oct. 14 — Pens at Canes”

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

An eerily similar start

The Pens had to get on the board early.  It wouldn’t hurt to do so on the power play as well.  Less than five minutes in Sid Crosby went skate, to stick, to post, to Marty Biron’s foot and in.

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

1-0 lead … confidence boost.

That’s how goals are scored in the playoffs.  Remember last year?  Gary Roberts got the puck in front of the net and threw a blind bankhander to the net that trickled past Martin Gerber and in.  His goal was just 1:08 in to the game, which the Pens went on to dominate and win, 4-0.

This time Crosby’s goal came 4:41 into the game, which the Pens went on to dominate and win, 4-1.

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Penguins 6, Bruins 4

There’s two things that came out of the Penguins’ 6-4 win on Sunday, which came by way of a four-goal third period.

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Bruins 4 — Penguins 6

No. 1: The Penguins broke out of their funk and moved four points ahead of last place in the Eastern Conference.  They did so against the best team in the Eastern Conference and, after losing a game they should have won the day before against Ottawa, turned a disappointing start to the homestand around.

No. 2 isn’t as positive: Marc-Andre Fleury will have no help down the stretch from backup Mathieu Garon.  Garon allowed four goals on just 25 shots and, aside from the shorthanded goal that Boston scored, each was his fault.

But nevermind the bad.  A win like this should be basked in.

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