Penguins Notes: Detroit OT scoring discrepancy, Zatkoff’s value, Crosby’s pace

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The two above screen shots show the Detroit Red Wings scoring in the last second of overtime Thursday. I captured the shot at home in real time. According to the first photo I took, Detroit scored with :00.7 seconds remaining.

Looking at the overhead shot ROOT Sports showed — and what the Toronto league offices likely saw — the Red Wings scored with :00.5 seconds remaining.

What’s interesting is that the headlines stated the goal was scored with :00.4 ticks left.

This is probably an isolated event and won’t happen again in a more important game, say in the playoffs. But what if it does? Shouldn’t the clocks be synchronized?

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The Penguins are nice enough to invite me to games, occasionally. I went to the Pens-Bolts game Saturday and will see the Pens play Los Angeles on Thursday. I brought with me an old token of the past Saturday and a number of folks sitting in media row got a kick out of it.

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The above credential was to the Pens-Flyers playoff series in which Mario Lemieux scored on a breakaway against goalie, Garth Snow, in his last Mellon Arena shift before retiring (the first time). What an unbelievable experience that was, but that’s a theme for another blog entry.

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Last season, a majority of Hockey Buzz voters said the Penguins had to make it to the Eastern Conference finals for coach Dan Bylsma to keep his job. How far do the Pens have to go this year?

It’s looking more and more like winning the East would be akin to winning the championship. The West is a stronger conference, top to bottom, and Pittsburgh has done little to suggest it could take out Chicago or St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Final. The best team on paper doesn’t always win, so there’s hope the Penguins could add a fourth ring, but they won’t be favorites to do so.

Does Bylsma have to win his conference to retain his title as head coach?

Last year, the Pens snuck past the Islanders and beat Ottawa before scoring two goals in four straight losses to the Bruins. Would Penguins fans be satisfied or more importantly – would management be satisfied – if the team won two rounds and then lost in say, six games, to Boston?

Looking ahead right now is enough to drive a person crazy. Take Sunday, for example. Do we laud the Pens for limiting St. Louis to a single goal in game which went down to the wire? Or do we question why the team couldn’t produce a goal on a 98-second two-man power play? Or some of both?

In my opinion, the postseason forecast is all about perspective.

This is a team that has won three playoff rounds in four seasons since winning the Cup in 2008-09. Much has been made about health, but for the first time in forever both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are totally healthy and have missed a combined 11 games. Whoever thought that Crosby would get two maintenance days off last week just because he was tired? Crazy … in a good way.

Anyone who watches the Penguins on a regular basis can see their weaknesses. A lack of scoring depth, third and fourth lines looking for a home to hang their sweaters on, not much overall size or grit.

How much responsibility should coaching take for Pittsburgh’s lack of postseason success?

We saw in Sochi how assistant coach, Peter Laviolette, helped with matchups, something Bylsma doesn’t pay much attention to. We saw how a Penguins team gave up three goals in less than 14 minutes to the Flyers at home after getting pounded, 4-0, in Philadelphia the previous day. If a coach’s job is to prepare his players, then Bylsma failed that day. And what do we make out of a team whose best players lose their composure at the worst time? Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and even Sidney Crosby have a track record of blowing up in the playoffs when things don’t go their way.

General manager Ray Shero and Bylsma are so tight, that it might take the dismissal of Shero to relieve Bylsma of his duties. From all appearances, that doesn’t seem like a strong possibility anytime soon. So, whatever happens in the playoffs, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, the management team will almost surely stay intact.

Every organization has strengths and weaknesses. Some teams to a better job of finding a way to win in the playoffs than do others. For the last five seasons, the Penguins have done a marvelous job entertaining fans and giving them their regular-season dollar’s worth. They just don’t win much after that.

What a joy it would be to see Crosby and Malkin back on hockey’s biggest stage. To get there, matchups, strong goaltending, and contributions from unexpected sources will be needed.

Do the Penguins have what it takes?

We’ll know after the next couple months.

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With 11 regular-season games left, Sidney Crosby has 94 points in 71 games, averaging 1.32 points per game. If he continues on at the same pace, he would finish with 109 points – which would match his 2009-10 total. Crosby collected a career-high 120 points as a teenager back in 2006-07.

When he’s been healthy at the end of regular seasons, Crosby has put up the points. In 2011-12, he scored 25 points (6G, 19A) in his last 14 games. In 2009-10, he scored six goals and 21 points in his last nine contests. Pens fans might remember when Crosby went on a tear to close out his rookie campaign with seven goals and 22 points in his final 10 tilts.

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How sensational of a fit has Jeff Zatkoff proven to be as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup? He’s not a threat to take over his job – he has zero NHL playoff starts and yet he’s proven more capable than anyone imagined after a rough October start. Zatkoff holds a 12-4-1 mark with a .915 save percentage and 2.55 goals-against average.

The Penguins are only going to go as far as Marc-Andre Fleury takes them in the playoffs. Zatkoff isn’t the threat Tomas Vokoun posed a year ago. Fleury hasn’t suffered his customary late season meltdown (though there’s still time).

Zatkoff was seen as a scrambler on the ice, someone who got out of position too easily. He’s proven he belongs in the NHL and he’s given Pittsburgh the opportunity to keep Fleury’s starts at 65 or fewer. That’s an important number for goalies who have Stanley Cup aspirations. Very few goalies have gone over 65 starts and won the Cup in the same season.

The Pens’ team defense has struggled at times, but Fleury has been mostly solid between the pipes. Encouraging – but time will tell in the playoffs.

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Dan Bylsma:

Sidney Crosby:

Matt Niskanen:

Marc-Andre Fleury:

Ken Hitchcock:

Courtesy, Pittsburgh Penguins

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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