Penguins Notes: Jagr’s Giggle, Downie’s Restraint, Maatta’s Maturity

By John Toperzer

— Tuesday’s game will mark the first time the Penguins have played New Jersey without Martin Brodeur on its roster since 1993. Does it matter, will it help? Even at 41 years of age, Brodeur beat the Pens in both of his starts last season – limiting Pittsburgh to one goal in each contest.

On a side note, one wonders if Brodeur would have the backup job he so desires right now if he’d been a little less cranky working with fellow goalie Cory Schneider.


IMG_8574Misty water-colored memories of the way we were


— If you’re Jonesing for a quick little Mario Lemieux fix, Click here for your daily dose.



— Olli Maatta’s announcement Monday that he has a thyroid tumor and possible cancer seemed eerily similar to Lemieux’s presser 21 years ago. Both players were scared, which isn’t the least bit surprising or unexpected. Maatta leads the team’s blueliners with a goal and five points in seven games and plays in every possible situation. The Pens might miss Maatta’s composure amidst chaos more than anything else, which sounds crazy to say about a 20-year-old – and one who still must complete his military obligation to Finland before age 28 — but he’s proven himself hockey-wise beyond his years. Surely he’ll handle his off-ice setback with equal aplomb.


Click here for an article from 1992 about Jaromir Jagr.

So popular is Jagr, teammate Rick Tocchet said yesterday, that “a bunch of us will go out for a drink and he’ll head straight for the video games. There’ll be 100 young girls giving him quarters to play. They tell me, ‘Get your own quarters.’ “


From Five quick points about the New Jersey Devils.

3. The penalty killing is terrible.

Having allowed seven goals in their last 13 shorthanded situations, the Devils’ PK now ranks last in the NHL (11 power play goals allowed in 35 shorthanded situations, 68.6 percent). What makes it so hard to believe is they’ve excelled at penalty-killing in recent years.


Jagr netted his record 19th overtime game-winning goal and 125th game-winner Saturday.

“The scoring (stats) don’t show it, but I feel the best I’ve felt in probably the last 10 years,” Jagr said. “I had confidence that hopefully my luck was going to turn around and it did today. But even when the scoring wasn’t there I felt okay.”

After 11 seasons skating in a Pittsburgh sweater, 2014-15 marks Jagr’s 11th season skating for a different NHL organization.


— Mike Cammalleri is not expected to play Tuesday. Penguins fans will remember his three-game stretch during the 2009-10 postseason when he blitzed Pittsburgh with four goals and five points, helping to bring the closing of Mellon Arena to an ignominious end.


— Listening to the Bob Pompeani radio show Saturday morning illustrates why he’s the fluff-master of Pittsburgh sports.

Pompeani corrected a caller on air for mispronouncing the name of a Pittsburgh Steeler who said “Mar-ta-vee-us” instead of “Mar-ta-vis.”

Then, Pompeani — who is the KDKA-TV Sports Director — interviews former Penguin, James Neal. Pompeani asks Neal how it felt to score a hat trick on James Neal Bobblehead Night in Nashville on Thursday. Neal didn’t call out Pompeani until he further pressed the topic. Finally, the forward told Pompeani that his bobblehead giveaway was scheduled for the upcoming game Saturday night.

So Pompeani goes out of his way to correct a name that is difficult to pronounce in the first place but doesn’t even prepare for an interview with Neal. I hesitate to write bad things about other reporters, but it happens all the time with him and it’s annoying.



— Back to hockey. Did anyone else see the restraint Steve Downie displayed Thursday? The Wings’ Jonathan Ericsson attempted to goad Downie into a retaliatory penalty during a third-period Pittsburgh power play. Ericsson struck Downie across the back of his legs but Downie kept his cool. Both players were flagged for minors though Ericsson was the initiator. Downie got a coincidental minor probably because of the name on the back of his sweater, but it was impressive to see his restraint. His talks on the bench with coaching mentor, Rick Tocchet, are fun to watch. One of these games Tocchet will tell Downie to “sic ’em” but only when it won’t hurt the team.



— One thing that sets Jagr apart from other people is his boyish enthusiasm for life. One time I met him at the Hooters near Station Square in Pittsburgh. I used to give him hockey cards of himself to give to kids in hospitals. So I met him and Martin Straka and their buddy, Dave at Hooters. Jagr introduces Straka to me and then says “that’s Dave, he’s nobody” and proceeds to chuckle for the next five minutes over what he said.


— Hopefully Maatta isn’t taking any risks by playing in the next three games before undergoing his thyroid procedure next week. Roberto Bortuzzo isn’t expected back for another five or six days, according to The Trib’s Josh Yohe. Maatta’s impending departure and Bortuzzo’s return sets up the timing almost too perfectly.



Sidney Crosby took some heat for his whining against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, but his reactions were warranted. Henrik Zetterberg might be one of the sneakiest dirty players in the NHL. Zetterberg repeatedly held Crosby’s stick, picked off Penguins players like Pascal Dupuis in the offensive zone. If Simon Despres played like Zetterberg he’d be in the box the entire game. Of course, Despres is no Zetterberg.


Penguins Audio (courtesy of the Pens)

Mike Johnston:


Sidney Crosby:


Kris Letang:


Pascal Dupuis:


Paul Martin:


Treasure Life!


5 thoughts on “Penguins Notes: Jagr’s Giggle, Downie’s Restraint, Maatta’s Maturity

  1. Good stuff. First time following. If I may add a correction on the Pomp bit. Neal did hat trick on his THURSDAY bobble head night. Pomp was correct.




    Neal’s hat trick lifts Predators past Blackhawks

    James Neal scored a natural hat trick on his bobble head night, and the Nashville Predators edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night to become the last NHL team still unbeaten in regulation this season.

  2. Well, this is interesting news I am finding out and probably why Pomp and others in news media got the call wrong on the bobble head night. USA Today had the story WRONG and others followed. That is great source and I also thought James Neal Bobble Head night was Thursday.

    Thanks friends

    • Frank, thanks for reading. Pompeani’s interview was Saturday morning, Neal had already potted the hat trick Thursday and the bobblehead game wasn’t until later Saturday. I can see how it’d could be confusing.


      • Indeed. Surprising a large news source as ‘USA Today’ printed the wrong info. Serves me right and most likely Pompeani for reading sports news in the USA Today a large news property that does not seem overly relevant these days.

        Thanks John

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