Penguin Notes: Ehrhoff Stock Up, To Penalize Or Not To Penalize, Pouliot Hurt

By John Toperzer

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— Thursday was an excellent showing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but keep in mind that the Stanley Cup champs played their backup goalie and were missing leading scorer Anze Kopitar, plus Marian Gaborik and the suspended Slava Voynov.

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— Pittsburgh recalling Jayson Megna makes one wonder if the team’s forwards aren’t completed healthy. Kind of like when Scott Harrington was with the team for a week-plus but never saw any time.

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— Christian Ehrhoff seems to be finally getting “it.” He attempted seven shots Thursday (though he compiled only two registered shots on goal) and came out strong from the drop of the puck.

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— Will Beau Bennett reunite with Steve Downie and Brandon Sutter when he comes back from knee injury in 10 days or so? Bennett has top-six forward ability, but the above third line played well in the preseason and coach Mike Johnston anxiously looked forward to displaying the trio before Bennett got hurt. Johnston doesn’t like to mess with a good thing – he’s made very few lineup changes through nine games – and Pascal Dupuis, Evgeni Malkin and Blake Comeau have looked pretty good over the last week.

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— Of course, the team is striking on the power play like nobody else. Olli Maatta will be lost on the second unit for November and it looks like Ehrhoff will benefit the most. Paul Martin has seemingly served as Johnston’s ugly stepchild and has averaged only 55 seconds on the man advantage.

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— Johnston was not pleased with the referees reversing a Penguins power play Thursday. “I thought it was unusual, usually’s a call’s a call. If the referee felt he made a bad call, usually he’ll say “that’s what I saw.” They were very adamant that they erred on the call and they got it right. I don’t think you can go with that approach because probably most calls can be debated between two officials. I’d rather see them always trust their instincts. When they make a call, they make a call.”

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— KDKA-TV’s Bob Pompeani was at it again Friday. The Pittsburgh Steelers will retire their second number in history Sunday night, Mean Joe Greene’s number 75. Here’s what he had to say during Friday’s sports report.

“None of the players on the current team of course were even born when Mean Joe Greene was leading the Steelers on a dynastic run through the NHL history books.”

Pompeani then interviewed longtime veteran, Brett Keisel, and it got me wondering how old Keisel was. It turns out that the defensive lineman was born on Sept. 19, 1978, when the Steelers from that era had won only two of their four Super Bowls. Incidentally, Greene retired after the 1981 season and I still have the “One for the Thumb in ‘81” bumper sticker for which he coined the slogan.

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— Perhaps the only funny part about the sombering Maatta news was the rampant speculation prior to the 1:00 PM press conference. Twitter went crazy with the possibilities. Whether the news was about owner Mario Lemieux or GM Jim Rutherford, everybody seemed to have a guess.

There’s not much more anyone can say about Maatta other than that he’s a brave person and we keep him in our prayers.

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— Does anyone else find it funny that ROOT Sports announcer Jay Caufield spends time during games in Mario Lemieux’s private box? Isn’t he supposed to be an objective reporter? I realize he’s in the inner circle, so I guess “it is what it is” as coach Cowher always used to say.

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— Coach Johnston noted that Kris Letang is played good defense, challenging forwards, using his physicality well. What the coach would like to see Letang improve upon is his decision making coming out of his own end with the puck.

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–Say what you will about the ROOT broadcast duo of Bob Errey and Paul Steigerwald, but I would rather listen to them (or HOFer Mike Lange and Phil Bourgue on radio) than any national outlet.

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— Penguin super prospect Derrick Pouliot is dealing with an upper-body injury and won’t play over the weekend for AHL Wilkes-Barre.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer

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