Penguin Notes: Despres, Shero, Malkin, Preseason Schedule Fail


by John Toperzer

— It didn’t take long for the Chicago Blackhawks to add Daniel Carcillo after the Penguins cut him Thursday. Chicago demoted promising rookie James Hartman a day earlier, giving Carcillo a chance. Super prospect Teuvo Teravainen remains with the ‘Hawks and probably has a better chance to stick at the beginning of the season than does Carcillo.

— Carcillo squared off in a fight against the Rangers’ Tanner Glass early in a game Friday night. Carcillo was wearing a face shield while Glass was not. I’d like to see the NHL force fighters to remove their helmets within five seconds of an anticipated fight or risk further penalization. Punching plastic can’t be good for the hand.

— Which Martin St. Louis is going to show up in 2014-15? The regular-season version who struggled after coming to New York from the Lightning or the one who rallied a team in the playoffs following the death of his mother? Age is not St. Louis’s friend, but then again the diminutive forward is used to overcoming the odds.

— “EJ 5” is a segment hosted by EJ Hradek on NHL Live every day. For whatever reason, he has no shame. He should. It appears he thinks the only other person who sees his horrendous dance moves is co-host Steve Mears. It’s so embarrassingly funny I’ve got to say I look forward to it.

— How could the Penguins not schedule a preseason game from Oct. 1 until the season opener Oct. 9? By comparison, the New York Rangers play on Friday (Oct. 3) and Saturday (Oct. 4). The Boston Bruins also play Friday and Saturday. Five days off is a long time, but eight days? You think new coach Mike Johnston would like to see Sidney Crosby skate with different potential linemates at even strength (like Kasperi Kapanen) and on the power play (Patric Hornqvist)? Few goalies want eight days between games.

— Too bad no one’s been able to interview Evgeni Malkin. He has a way of letting things slip out of his mouth that he’s not supposed to say. Malkin hasn’t even skated and the regular season starts in less than a week. The injury is almost surely a lower-body ailment, otherwise he’d be skating. Rumors have the injury relating to his foot ailment from the spring.

— Pierre LeBrun penned an ESPN article about Ray Shero here.

Shero says he does wish he could have persuaded Jordan Staal to stay (Staal rejected a 10-year extension, which propelled a trade to Carolina where Jordan was reunited with brother Eric).

“We really wanted him to come back,” Shero said. “We missed him after he left, but hopefully it works out long-term for Pittsburgh and Jordan.”

It’s telling that Shero regretted Staal and none of the deadline deals that didn’t work out or the lack of offensive draft prospects which left the cup board barren.

— Could Oscar Sundqvist have a greater rookie impact on the Penguins than Kapanen? Coach Johnston said that Sundqvist has forced some long conversations, that Sundqvist has played well with experienced teammates and young players alike. He’s certainly more versatile at this stage of his career than Kapanen, who can only skate with skill. Sundqvist can handle the tough stuff at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and make plays with the puck. Kapanen boasts the better upside, but Sundqvist might be better suited to step in right away and contribute. It’s a good problem to have.

— Rob Scuderi has rightly faced the wrath of fans and bloggers, alike, for his dismal 2013-14 command performance in Pittsburgh. He has nowhere to go but up, right? A broken leg sounds like a reasonable excuse for his sub-standard showing last season.

— Who is Simon Despres? Is he a shutdown defender, a puck moving blueliner, an inconsistent defenseman who has a tendency to get beat? The Penguins still don’t really know what the 2009 first-round draft pick can do and what he can’t do. The former management regime wasn’t inclined to find out despite Dan Bylsma suggesting that Despres could be a top-four defenseman (following the Pens’ playoff series loss to Boston).

Despres averaged better than a half a point per game for the Baby Pens last year — 23 points in 36 games, but has only 16 points in 85 contests at the NHL level. With Olli Maatta missing the entire preseason, Despres might have the chance to show what he can do. Plenty of folks believe Despres should’ve seen more playing time late in the regular season last year, with the Pens postseason slotting secured, but October could prove to be his best opportunity.


Links ‘n At

Penguins Management: Defensemen Harrington, Dumoulin ready for the NHL, click here.

If Maatta isn’t cleared, it would seem likely Harrington or Dumoulin would make the team.

Harrington appears to have momentum. He played on a pairing with Martin during the final two exhibition games, a sign the coaching staff wanted to take a long look at the Kingston, Ontario, native.

“Dumoulin has had a good camp,” Fitzgerald said. “Harrington has had a great camp.”

Fitzgerald said Dumoulin outplayed Harrington during the rookie tournament in London, Ontario, making it a potentially difficult decision between the players.


Marshall: Examining Patric Hornqvist, click here.

If it’s possession that head coach Mike Johnston covets, he may have found a gem in Hornqvist. He was on the ice for a total of 1,017 shooting attempts for the predators last season and managed to eat up 125 hits last season, a number that is 70 more than ex-Malkin linemate Neal.

Hornqvist has always been a fantasy hockey favorite, a player who consistently puts up 50 points and a whopping number of shots on goal. Last season, he seemed to wear out his welcome in Nashville, only to finish strong the last couple months to put up typical Hornqvist numbers.

I see a career path similar to that of Scott Hartnell. Hartnell labored in relative obscurity six years for Nashville before a move to Philadelphia ignited his career.

The two players feature different skill sets, but Hornqvist could find a second wind in Pittsburgh.

I wasn’t in favor of the James Neal deal. GM Jim Rutherford said the Hornqvist deal was the best available out of 15 different organizations, leading me to wonder what the worst trade offer was.

Regardless, that page has long since turned and it will be interesting to see exactly what Hornqvist brings to the team.


High stakes for Pens’ Fleury with future on the line, click here.

“Marc’s had a solid preseason,” goaltending coach Mike Bales said. “He’s looked good in practice, and he’s obviously looked good in the games.”

A few hours before shutting out Detroit, Fleury cited dealing with traffic around the net, following the puck as it makes its way through a jumble of legs, sticks and skates as his biggest challenge early in the season.

“Trying to find the puck through people is something that I always find the toughest,” he said.

The Flower pretty much relayed a standard goalie answer to the toughest part of stopping the puck – traffic. While that’s a no-brainer, Fleury needs to guard against his real bug-a-boo, the softie. Time will tell.


Over 6000 expected to participate in Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6K Run & Family Walk, click here.

Yours truly signed up but won’t be able to run. The money goes to the Lemieux Foundation. Click here to purchase something from the website and contribute.


Treasure Life!


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