Scuderi Scores! Bylsma Speaks, Brent Johnson Remembers, Scenes From Practice

— Fun discussion with former Penguins goalie, Brent Johnson, the Pittsburgh Trib’s Josh Yohe and Twitter friends Josh Bagiackas and Josh Feitknecht after the Pittsburgh Steelers kickers got into a skirmish with the Baltimore Ravens team Sunday night.

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— Some visual evidence from Monday’s Penguins practice…

IMG_3381Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff

Ehrhoff has assists in his last two games and looks more comfortable taking shots from the point. He’ll be needed more than ever with Olli Maatta out for much of November.

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IMG_9482Roberto Bortuzzo and Patric Hornqvist

Bortuzzo will likely make his season debut Tuesday. Hornqvist showed no problems mixing it up with the big, physical blueliner Monday at Southpointe.

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IMG_9674Evgeni Malkin

Malkin has picked up a point in each of Pittsburgh’s first 10 games. This streak has a chance to be even more amazing than when he scored a goal in each of his first six NHL games as a rookie.

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IMG_3436Close-Range Combat

After working 2-on-1’s, the Pens put together cages at the top and bottom of the right faceoff circle, playing 2-on-2 with goalies defending each net.

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IMG_9706Rob Scuderi

Scuderi scored a big goal for the black team. Don’t think guys like Geno and Sid were happy? You’d think Scuderi just won the Stanley Cup in quadruple overtime!

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IMG_9700Malkin and Paul Martin

IMG_9701Malkin and others

Is it great to see a smiling Geno or what? Looks to me like he’s “buying in.”

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IMG_9707Sidney Crosby

Sid happy too!

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IMG_9716IMG_9717IMG_9718Sprint City Baby!

All good times must come to an end and after the mini-hockey matchup coach Mike Johnston had his guys skate lines just like the suicides many of us ran for baseball, basketball, etc. Notice the competition between Crosby, Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis. Intense.

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IMG_9720IMG_9723Malkin

Notice how Malkin puts his stick out in front to win the race, like an Olympics speed skater reaching across the finish line. No shootout at the end of practice. Death of the monthly Moustache Boy?

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IMG_3499Again!

Herb Brooks tribute. #RIP

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IMG_9803Crosby

Crosby took feeds from the right point to finish his work Monday. Look for him to follow that up Tuesday night against the Wild.

Many thanks to John Toperzer Sr. for his photographic contributions. Love you, Dad

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— Penguins super prospect Derrick Pouliot is day-to-day with an upper body injury. He skated Monday for Wilkes-Barre but wore a red non-contact jersey, according to the Citizen’s Voice.

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— Former Penguins coach, Dan Bylsma, co-hosted on NHL Live Monday and talked about Marc-Andre Fleury.
“He has to be himself, smiling, happy-go-lucky,” The former coach says that’s a tell with Fleury. He has to be showing shooters in practice the puck after he makes a glove save.

Fleury has three shutouts in his last four games. If GM Jim Rutherford was thinking about trading the Flower in his final season before unrestricted free agency, now would be the time! While that last statement is meant to be a joke, there’s something to the old adage “buy low, sell high.”

Fleury needs eight minutes and 57 seconds of scoreless hockey to become Pittsburgh’s all-time record holder for consecutive shutout minutes in goal. Tomas Vokoun currently sits atop the record with 162:42 TOI and Fleury now has 154:46 TOI.

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— Not surprisingly, Bylsma was very gracious in all of his talk about the Penguins. Yes, he’s still getting paid by Mario Lemieux and company, but the man is all about class.

Co-host Steve Mears asked Bylsma about Beau Bennett.

“Talented guy. Got great hands, real nice touch with the puck. Does have a shot to finish, would like him to use it a little more. Had strong training camp in the absence of Malkin. He was one of the better players with the Penguins. Looking for him to come back strong, I think he can play on the top two lines. He’s got a lot of puck possession skills, hopefully he can go down to Wilkes-Barre get some conditioning in, be inserted into the Penguins lineup. I’d like to see him play 65-plus games.”
Bennett has played just 47 games in the last two-plus years.

Bylsma on Pascal Dupuis: “My favorite moment of the season to this point (Dupuis’s four-point Opening Night). Had a long rehab. He was out with major knee surgery. He was really happy to get back in that game. He’s been effective for them. He’s got a couple power-play goals. He’s been on a line with Evgeni Malkin. He’s not been playing with Sidney Crosby but he is playing with Malkin, with Sutter at times but with Malkin all of the time.

“Ray Shero’s made a couple of nice moves. That one (Marian Hossa trade with Dupuis package) was a throw-in that turned out to be a real good one for the Penguins.”

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— If Olli Maatta can handle thyroid tumor treatments/surgery with such grace, just think how easy it will be when the Pens rely on him to stop a 2-on-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final some day.

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— The Washington Capitals allowed six goals to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. Mike Green and his $6 million salary need to go. Coach Barry Trotz stresses defense but Alexander Ovechkin is a coach killer. At least former Penguins Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen got paid.

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— When on-ice officials overruled a called penalty to the Kings’ Jarret Stoll on Brandon Sutter last week, Penguins coach Mike Johnston argued the call but didn’t go crazy or blow his top. Fans are still learning about the former Portland Winterhawks head coach, but so far the results are encouraging. That said, what a bunk ruling that was.

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Interviews, Courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins

Mike Johnston:

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Sidney Crosby:

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Scott Harrington:

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Links

Ryan Wilson of Hockey Buzz previews the Penguins-Wild Tuesday. Click here.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer

PS — If you are an American, vote today!

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Penguin Olympic Notes: Tavares, Malkin, Vokoun, Bennett

Bet you’d be bummed if I had told you one of the NHL’s top three scorers would tear his knee during Olympics play and miss the remainder of 2013-14.

Well, that’s exactly what happened to the Islanders’ John Tavares, who tore an MCL and meniscus in his knee. You’ve got to feel for the Long Island fans — losing the league’s third-leading scorer (66 points) and team captain likely ends New York’s chances of progressing through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tavares was the one player who I thought could really benefit from playing with elite linemates and show his true talent level on an international basis in the Olympics.

Here’s to wishing for a speedy recovery.

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Now, can you imagine if Sidney Crosby suffered a season-ending injury? I won’t even go there, but I’d rather see all of the Penguins return healthy from Sochi than the USA win gold. The Olympics make for great exhibition theatre, but the Stanley Cup is something the Pittsburgh Penguins need to win.

That said, Pens coach Dan Bylsma is having a great Olympics. He’s making the Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov look like Barbecue Bruce Boudreau. Evgeni Malkin had a poor showing, but he should have been on Team Russia’s No. 1 power-play. Russia lacked veteran leadership and apparently a thoughtful head coach. Numerous reports said Malkin had to tell Bilyaletdinov to pull his own goalie against Latvia on Wednesday.

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For all of Alexander Ovechkin’s struggles, I do give him props for making Malkin speak with the media. According to Dejan Kovacevic, Malkin would talk with Russian media but blow past the North American contingent.

Sometimes I think Malkin needs to learn to respect others. One thing that infuriates me is how he skates away from his spot before the American/Canadian national anthems finish in NHL games.

Malkin is neither American nor Canadian, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t show respect. Everyone else does, why can’t he?

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Raise your hand if you predicted Olli Maatta would lead all Penguins players in Olympics points. Okay, now put them down because I don’t believe you.

Maatta has four points, including two goals and two goals, for Team Finland. Jussi Jokinen has a goal and two assists. Malkin also finished with a goal and two helpers. Crosby has two assists, Brooks Orpik has one assist and Paul Martin has yet to point.

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Tomas Vokoun is back practicing with the Penguins in Pittsburgh. He’s missed time with a blood clot in the past and returned, so there’s reason to believe he’ll be ready prior to the playoffs. What impact will his presence have on starter Marc-Andre Fleury? Fleury has done well in 2013-14 with backup Jeff Zatkoff not a threat to take his job. As funny as it sounds, Vokoun clouds the picture. We might look back and say what were the questions about, when and if Vokoun comes through in a clutch playoff spot, but right now I’m oddly comfortable with Fleury and Zatkoff alone.

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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi reported on WPXI-TV a few days ago that the Pens are proceeding as if Kris Letang will not return this season. I think that’s a wise decision. Letang should undergo the procedure to close the hole in his heart and come back healthy next year. No reason to rush things.

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The NHL trade deadline is 13 days away. I was surprised Beau Bennett was not taking part in the Pens’ practice at Consol on Wednesday. If he’s the right wing answer for Sidney Crosby, then he better get healthy in a hurray.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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