Penguin Olympic Notes: Diving into Sidney Crosby, Radulov better than Malkin?

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When you review the Sidney Crosby “dive” Sunday in Sochi, focus on Crosby’s skates. If you look at his skates and how they tangle with Jarko Immonen’s legs, it’s not hard to see why he went down. It doesn’t matter how strong a player is on his skates, the fall looks more than justifiable to me.

The gif’s take a look at the play in a vacuum and don’t account for the direction Crosby is looking prior to the actual collision. Crosby isn’t looking at Immonen when the two collide. He’s focusing on the puck in the corner. Some will say that Crosby has eyes in his back – and sometimes it seems that’s true, but the penalty was legit.

The venerable Teemu Selanne reportedly accused Crosby of diving on the play. While I don’t agree with his assessment, there were aspects of the game Finland deserved a penalty call or two. Crosby, for example, tripped Penguins teammate, Olli Maatta, behind the Finnish net and nothing was called. Jamie Benn also got away with a flagrant infraction.

Incidentally, Immonen’s penalty led to Canada’s only regulation goal, one in which Crosby not only drew the penalty but also assisted on the goal.

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What does Alex Radulov have on Vladimir Putin? Perhaps Radulov’s career KHL numbers override everything else one notices about the 27-year-old. He’s just been flat-out horrible in the Olympics. Whether it’s taking a dumb penalty against Dustin Brown or being needlessly offsides on a promising rush, he’s killing his team.

I thought Russia was set to make him a healthy scratch after his game against the USA, but there he was against Slovakia on Sunday.

Sitting Evgeni Malkin on Russia’s top power-play unit while Radulov blocks his own teammates shots on goal doesn’t make much sense. Malkin is a better player than Radulov. The way Russia handles its ice time on the man advantage would make more sense if the second unit – which Malkin is a part of – got more action, but the second unit plays only 30 seconds or so.

One player who would really help Team Russia’s power play is Sergei Gonchar. He’s a shell of himself defensively – smarts can only take a player so far when the mind is will but the body is not – but he would be an excellent delegator from the point. Malkin trusts him and I think the rest of his country respects him. It’s a stunner Russia left Sarge off its team. He’d be a good fit in a short competition like the Olympics.

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Maybe it’s not a bad thing Canada’s defense is top heavy, especially when we’re talking about Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty, but what are Daniel Hamhuis and Marc-Edouard Vlasic doing on the team? Vlasic is seeing some important moments, too.

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The qualifying round gave Canada a chance to figure out ice times, playing combinations, chemistry, etc. It will be interesting to see what worked and what coach Mike Babcock got out of his three games for the medal round.

Look at these ice times from Sunday.

Daniel Hamhuis: 3:58 TOI – if he left with an injury I missed it.
Shea Weber: 23:11 TOI – a no-brainer if ever there was one.
Chris Kunitz: 8:21 TOI – Only Rick Nash (7:18) saw less forward time while the player who should wing Sidney Crosby – Martin St. Louis – served as a healthy scratch.
John Tavares: 13:22 TOI – He needs to see the ice more.
Sidney Crosby: 16:23 TOI – Expect that total to increase in the medal round. I’d like to see Crosby look to shoot the puck more, but there’s nothing wrong with his passing.

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I’m worried more about Olli Maatta’s mental fatigue more than the possibility he wears out down the stretch physically for the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run. He’s playing tough minutes in the Olympics.

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The NHL trade deadline is March 5. Questions which pop to mind include …
1. Will the team trade for a top-six and/or top-nine winger?
2. And, can Beau Bennett come back and show the Pens he’s a fit for Crosby in the three games prior to the trade deadline?
3. Does the front office have more confidence in Brooks Orpik than Penguin bloggers?
4. Will Kris Letang come back in 2013-14 and should the team trade for a veteran NHLer in the event he doesn’t?
5. Has Jeff Zatkoff shown enough to serve as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup the rest of the way? Is this Fleury’s baby and should GM Ray Shero pin the team’s playoff hopes solely to Fleury?
6. Are you extra psyched for the Pens-Blackhawks outdoor game at Soldier Field on March 6?

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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