Penguins Weekend Notes: Saturday’s Big Win, James Neal & More

— I wonder what – if anything — Craig Adams and Ryan Malone had sniffed just prior to Saturday’s start before they squared off in a fight Malone won.

— Evgeni Malkin fired a puck from his own blue line into an open net after Lightning goalie Anders Lindback vacated it for an upcoming Tampa Bay power play. That had to upset a few Lightning players, but it was pretty good aiming by Malkin. Vincent Lecavalier certainly wouldn’t have liked it.

— ROOT Sports analyst Bob Errey waited 175 seconds before gushing about the strong play of rookie, Olli Maatta, in his own end. “He’s so composed, he knows exactly his surroundings, never seems to be overwhelmed by anything,” Errey said. “Loves the moment, he can handle the puck with his head up, which makes it so tough for someone to read where he’s going to go.”

— A Tampa Bay assistant coach is a dead ringer for “Wheel Of Fortune’s” Pat Sajak.

— Sidney Crosby had three goals on four shots against Lindback BEFORE Saturday.

— Paul Martin gets puck stripped by Steven Stamkos behind Pittsburgh net on power play. Not a good effort by Martin, but give credit Stamkos.

— Tough Tampa Bay defenseman, Radko Gudas, with an impressive with a power-play slapper.

— Stamkos has never scored a goal on home ice against Pittsburgh, according to Bob Errey, though he has 10 assists. Errey credits Brooks Orpik for Stamkos’s drought, but why would he have six goals scored in Pittsburgh? Probably nothing more than an anomaly. Later in the game, Stamkos would get his first home goal against the Pens.

— Last night I was listening to the radio broadcast. Phil Bourque noted how the Pens had held Tampa Bay shot-less in the first part of the third period while scoring two goals on five shots. But Bourque mentioned that a Lightning player had hit a post. That might not count as a shot, but it was likely more close to an actual goal than many of the so-called registered shots. I would prefer to hear total chances than total shots, with chances including bells rung.

— Fleury totally misplayed the puck behind his own net, leading to a Tampa Bay power play. Fleury looks like a kid in a sand box searching for his misplaced shovel sometimes.

— A Malkin faceoff loss following hybrid icing leads to a Tampa Bay goal. Is it difficult for Malkin because he doesn’t get good, low leverage? He ended up winning 6 of 9 draws Saturday, but no one will accuse him of being a good faceoff man.

— Errey, Paul Steigerwald and Dan Potash discuss the Pens making two trips to Tampa, one during Thanksgiving Canada and one during the American Thanksgiving. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on Monday while the United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the third Thursday of November. Canadians eat “dressing” while Americans eat “stuffing.” Glad we got that cleared up.

— Orpik just abused Richard Panik during one rush, cross-checking him and then punishing him into the end boards. Good to see Orpik back. The addition of Rob Scuderi has helped the team, but perhaps no other player more than Orpik, who probably likes that the team finally has another player who thinks defense-first.

— Crosby’s power-play goal early in Period 2 was testament to his hand-eye, foot-stick coordination. If it was a billiards shot, Side would’ve had to call it first. Lindback stopped a Jussi Jokinen shot but allowed a rebound. Crosby was camped out in the crease. The puck hit off Lindback, bounced to Crosby, who kicked the puck from his right foot to his stick, which was near his left foot. He then pushed the puck past the goalie. Incredible.

— What’s interesting is how hard Crosby practices. On Thursday, after the Pens did the shootout, Crosby stuck around with Fleury and Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis would pass hard along the ice from the points, with Crosby redirecting the puck on goal at Fleury. Carolina’s Eric Staal redirected a shot for a goal the previous night against Pittsburgh and Crosby took note.

— Orpik scores his first goal in 111 games. Errey goes out on a limb, calls it Orpik’s first redirection goal of his career. He now has 12 goals in 636 contests.

— Potash ends an in-game interview with assistant coach Tony Granato with “go back to work.” Granato graciously just says “thank you.”

— Steiggy-ism of the night: “The shots are even, the Penguins with 17, the Lightning with 16.”
Crosby’s re-directed goal 25 seconds into the third period was a perfect example of practice making perfect.

— Tampa’s Ondrej Palat pasted Maatta at the Pittsburgh goal line early in the third period. Maatta was sent flying, colliding with his partner, Deryk Engelland, and into the end boards. If Matt Cooke had checked someone like that into the boards, he might have gotten a fine. As it stands, the play wasn’t mentioned a second time.

Minutes later, the crew mentions Maatta, who is missing from the bench. Errey mentions that Maatta ran interference and Palat didn’t like it.

— Crosby with the hat trick (his eighth), including his second power-play marker. He had one goal on the man advantage in his last 24 games prior to Saturday.

— The referee pushing Stamkos off the ice after the forward broke his skate probably should have blown his whistle, especially with three minutes remaining in regulation. The Lightning scored on the ensuing rush, but Alex Killorn taking the ice after Stamkos was ushered off did not directly lead to the goal. Pittsburgh was set up in its own end prior to the Tampa Bay rush with Killorn.

— Richard Panik’s late third-period tripping penalty on Orpik in front of the ref had brain freeze written all over it.

–What a saucer pass from Malkin to Matt Niskanen on his game-winner. If the Pens do end up moving Niskanen when Kris Letang returns, play like that won’t hurt his stock or the return Pittsburgh gets for him.

*****

A trusted source tells me that James Neal has a torn muscle around the rib cage area and won’t be back for a while.

*****
Beau Bennett totaled just over six minutes of action (6:05 TOI) Saturday, including 4:57 at even strength and 1:08 on the power play. He saw six shifts in the first period and four shifts in the second and third periods, combined. The final shift he skated lasted 11 seconds, yet there were no injury reports after the game or questions asked about him. Chuck Kobasew took his line spot next to Malkin it’ll be interesting to hear his status in the next day or two.

*****

      Links ‘n At

Outdoor game to return soon?, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Rob Scuderi’s play might go mostly unnoticed, but he is a major contributor, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Pens’ Adams pulls off assist of lifetime, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

*****

      Penguins Audio Interviews

Dan Bylsma

Sidney Crosby

Matt Niskanen

*****

Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer

Penguins Weekend Notes: Saturday’s Big Win, James Neal & More

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