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January 31, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Postgame: Extras from Friday’s 2-1 OT win

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NEWARK, N.J. — Greetings, hockey fans, from the beautiful Newark airport. About 30 minutes out from boarding my flight home, but I thought I would share some stuff that I tweeted last night.

Just too many solid quotes to let fall by the wayside.

First, go back and watch defenseman Simon Despres’ game-winner. Not his best work, but the Penguins will take it.

“It wasn’t the hardest shot, but it went in,” Despres said. “I was fortunate.

“I don’t think (Devils goaltender Cory Schneider) saw it. It was at an angle that was hard for the goalie. Low-blocker. I didn’t aim there. I just tried to put it on net. I got fortunate.”

Friday’s win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Penguins at Prudential Center. It was their first-ever overtime win and sixth overall there since 2007.

Those, though, were typical Devils snoozefests. Not that this one was back-and-forth, on-the-edge-of-your-seat hockey, but the Penguins did outshoot the Devils, 43-14.

“We’ve had games in this building where we haven’t really given ourselves much of a chance,” center Sidney Crosby said. “Still lost close ones. This one had a much different feel. We generated so much in the third there. Felt like it was a matter of time.”

I asked Crosby what the gameplan was for attacking the Devils’ trap game. Loved his answer:

“Just wanted to move the puck quick,” he said. “Obviously they can’t trap if we’re playing in their end. We tried to move it quickly to prevent them from getting set up. When we did get in there, we didn’t want to throw the puck away or allow them to get set up there again.

“We were smart. They’re a solid team. They play well defensively. But we played with the puck a lot and generated a lot of chances that way.”

He saved his best for last. Asked whether it was a bit ironic, given all the Penguins’ Grade A chances last night, that they would win it on Despres’ shot, here’s what Crosby had to say.

“That’s the way it works,” Crosby said. “You don’t ask how. You just take it and get out of there. Felt like we deserved one like that after some of the chances we had. (Defenseman Kris Letang) had a great one late there great off the post. I had a couple. Our third period was great. We really raised our level there in the third. It was nice to see one go post and in instead of post and out.”

Coach Mike Johnston broke out a basketball reference — he was a Trailblazers fan in Portland, remember — when he was asked if he wondered whether a puck was ever going to get past Schneider, who was making his NHL-leading 42nd start.

“When Letang rang one off the crossbar, he hit it pretty square, I was thinking, ‘Is this puck ever going to fall?’ ” Johnston said. “I give them credit. They kept the net clean on a lot of rebounds. We didn’t get a lot of rebound chances. We had some first-shot opportunities. He saw some pucks through traffic. I give him credit for that.”

Another important development that come out of Friday, I thought, was how Despres was used. No, Scott Harrington and Robert Bortuzzo weren’t great, but I’ll circle back.

Despres played 23:01, attempted 10 shots, put five on net and didn’t run himself out of position trying to hit people — a part of his game has excelled from the beginning of the season until now.

If the Penguins decide that Despres’ is a top-four guy — I think he is, for what it’s worth — they may be able to acquire a third-pairing defenseman for a relatively small cap hit. We’ll see. They don’t have much to play with without trading someone.

Elevating Despres is a cheap — and maybe smart if he keeps it up — way of addressing your top four. It would allow Bortuzzo to either play fewer minutes or Harrington to develop more or both. All I got. Josh has practice today, noon at Southpointe.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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January 30, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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A podcast and a tease

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NEWARK, N.J. — First thing’s first, earlier today Josh Yohe, Ken Laird and I talked some pucks. Here’s a link to the podcast. Hope you can check it out.

Secondly, wanted to tease my Sunday story. It’s an analysis sort of deal, a numbers-based look at where the Penguins are and where they could go over the final 33 games of the regular season after tonight.

One of the things I look at is how the Penguins have scored. I got an idea from good friend Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star.

They did something where they looked the first 3,710 goals scored this season via the NHL’s play-by-play breakdowns to see what play immediately preceded the goal.

I would recommend checking out that story here. It still amazes me how they combed through game sheets from every single NHL game this season.

In Pittsburgh, the numbers pretty much fall in line with the league-wide averages.

Here’s what I found going into the Devils game. Total of 143 goals:

Penguins shot on goal: 35 (24.5 percent)
Lost faceoff: 17 (11.9 percent)
Won faceoff: 16 (11.2 percent)
Taking a hit: 13 (9.1 percent)
Delivering a hit: 11 (7.7 percent)
Opponent’s shot on goal: 10 (7.0 percent)
Having shot blocked: 8 (5.6 percent)
Opponent’s missed shot: 7 (4.9 percent)
Blocking a shot: 6 (4.2 percent)
Missing a shot: 6 (4.2 percent)
Opponent giveaway: 5 (3.5 percent)
Penguins giveaway: 4 (2.8 percent)
Takeaway: 4 (2.8 percent)
Opponent takeaway: 1 (.7 percent)

What can we learn for this data?

Well, two things in my opinion.

Rebound goals are important, and one of the biggest reasons the Penguins have been spinning their wheels are because of injuries to Patric Hornqvist and Blake Comeau. They’re two of the team’s best.

Secondly, faceoffs. They’re winning draws at a 49.1 percent clip. That’s their worst number since posting the same winning percentage in 2008-09.

Ironic, right?

Well, the final 33 games offer a chance to change those numbers. Hope you can read about it in Sunday’s Trib.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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January 26, 2015
by Josh Yohe


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Yohe: 10 issues facing Penguins in second half

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Good morning, everyone.

Ready for the unofficial second half of the hockey season? Of course you are. But are the Penguins? That’s a pretty good question, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest issues facing a Penguins team that might be the X-factor of the Eastern Conference playoff picture come April.

 

  1. Sidney Crosby’s production

 

Crosby is averaging 1.19 points per game, which is a Hall of Fame number. It’s also the worst point per game average of his career and, in fact, Crosby’s points per game have declined in each of the past three seasons. His current mark of 0.41 goals per game is also a career low.

So, why are Crosby’s numbers so low? There are many theories, including the belief many hold that Crosby’s wrist remains injured. He does appear to tape his wrist more than in previous seasons, though I believe that to be a precautionary move. Is the wrist 100 percent? Probably not. It was seriously bothering him in the playoffs, according to numerous sources. But I have the privilege of watching him practice every day, and the way he fires the puck in practice leads me to believe that, if indeed his wrist is banged up, it isn’t horribly damaging his ability to shoot the puck.

I’d suggest that Crosby’s numbers are down because he has never played on a team that receives so few power plays every game. The numbers are way, way down. That hurts all great offensive players.

That said, Crosby needs to be better. Much better. He’s looked more himself since the turn of the New Year, especially in his willingness to work down low. His skating has been magnificent in recent games and I don’t believe his current injury is anything real serious.

The Penguins need to generate more power plays and, frankly, Crosby needs to perform better with the man advantage. He’s been a turnover machine at times on the power play, and this needs to stop.

Crosby hasn’t been bad. I still would pick him to win the scoring title, health permitting. But he needs to improve for the Penguins to make a legitimate Stanley Cup run.

 

  1. Who is the No. 4 defenseman?

 

This is a big, big deal. It seems the Penguins have three legitimate top-four options every season, and now, because of an injury to Olli Maatta that potentially could cripple the Penguins, the same situation is becoming evident.

Kris Letang, who won’t be out long with his current injury, is playing the best hockey of his career. He has become a true No. 1 defenseman. Paul Martin has been a little inconsistent this season, but when he’s with Letang, he’s terrific. Those two absolutely click and should not be separated.

Christian Ehrhoff has been an excellent addition. I didn’t particularly like his game in October, but since the beginning of November, he’s been wonderful. More offense will come, his defensive work is sound and Ehrhoff’s efficient, economic ability to make proper decisions with the puck has been a very big deal.

But here’s the bigger deal: Who plays with Ehrhoff the remainder of the season? I see the candidates as Simon Despres, Derrick Pouliot and Robert Bortuzzo. And frankly, Despres seems unlikely. The Penguins really like Despres with Rob Scuderi – I know, I know, most of you aren’t Scuderi fans – and I don’t see that pairing being split. In general, it has been a perfectly reasonable No. 3 pairing, so we’ll assume it sticks.

That leaves Pouliot and Bortuzzo as candidates. Bortuzzo provides some muscle and has played relatively well in short stints with Ehrhoff. But is Bortuzzo a top-four defenseman? I don’t see it. I like him as a No.6 guy, but not seeing more than 20 minutes per game.

Is Pouliot a top-four guy? Well, we know he will be. His talent is special as you saw in a tremendous performance against the Blackhawks last week. He will give the Penguins instant offense and can run the power play at any time. But is his defensive work ready for postseason hockey, especially in a top-four role? That’s a lot to ask of a kid. I love Pouliot’s game and, in fact, I think the Penguins would be wise to give him a 10-game look with Ehrhoff right now to see how they do. I won’t discount Pouliot’s ability to stick and he should be given a look.

But if the Penguins could use anything right now, it’s probably a top-four guy to play with Ehrhoff. Unfortunately, those guys don’t grow on trees and the salary cap remains a big problem.

 

  1. How will games be officiated?

 

If you were to privately ask the Penguins how they feel about the work of NHL officials this season, the answers from some players wouldn’t be fit for publication. They are absolutely livid.

And when you look at their special teams numbers, you’ll understand why this is a significant issue. One could make a sound argument that the Penguins are the finest NHL team in the area of special teams. Their power play ranks No. 6 in the NHL, this despite an almost unbelievable slump for more than a month. Think about that.

Meanwhile, their penalty killing unit ranks No. 3 in the NHL, which is no fluke. It’s almost always that good.

When games are called in a tight manner, it benefits the Penguins. When the refs “let the boys play,” things will quickly turn against them. The Penguins are only a slightly above average five-on-five team and likely aren’t capable of winning a Stanley Cup without receiving a positive impact from their special teams. You can’t realistically do that when penalties are being called.

The Penguins always are among the league leaders in yapping at refs. But it feels different this season. There is a lot of anger about how games are being called. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

 

  1. Getting healthy

 

This is stating the obvious, I realize. But it needs to be mentioned. This has been a remarkably unhealthy team for quite some time now. The Penguins are No. 6 in man games lost after finishing No. 1 last season.

Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Blake Comeau and others are currently banged up. Unhealthy teams do not win Stanley Cups.

The Penguins are banged up and have been for a while. Will this change anytime soon? Their postseason chances will hinge on it. There’s no way around this.

 

  1. Will the bottom-six start to score?

 

I’m on record as saying Crosby and Malkin need to be dominant players in the postseason for the Penguins to have a chance at sniffing the Stanley Cup. That said, they sure could use some help. The fourth line has produced almost no offense. The third line has displayed flashes – if Brandon Sutter, Beau Bennett and Steve Downie play together, there is potential there – but really hasn’t provided any semblance of consistent offense.

All four lines need to score in the playoffs. In 2009, the likes of Tyler Kennedy, Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and even Craig Adams scored memorable goals. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if Jim Rutherford made a move to help the bottom-six. Whether he does or not, this group needs to score more.

 

  1. Simon Despres…

He’s been so good most of the season, but lately, not so much. I don’t believe he has been 100 percent. But still, there has been a noticeable decline in his recent play, particularly his work in one-on-one situations. Those who defend him will say “he’s being held back playing with Scuderi,” but I don’t really buy that.

The fact is, Despres was outstanding the first two months of the season and hasn’t been awful since, but has been average at best.

Despres needs to be better than average for the Penguins to thrive in the playoffs, no matter his pairing. In general, this season has been a huge success for him. But as always, he needs to provide more consistency each game.

 

  1. Start spreadin’ the news

 

The Penguins have a big, big problem. One plays in Manhattan, the other on Long Island.

I didn’t find anything about what the Islanders and Rangers did to the Penguins this season fluky. Did you?

The Rangers outplayed the Penguins badly in three of four meetings and have won six of seven in the rivalry. They are in the Penguins’ heads, this I’m sure of. They’re a deeper team. Not a more talented team, but certainly a deeper one.

The Islanders? They’re just good. Really, really good, and the Penguins don’t appear to have an answer for their forwards.

John Tavares and his mates come to town on April 10. Maybe the division will be decided by then, maybe not. And maybe the Penguins need to beat them that night, no matter what the standings say.

 

  1. Does Fleury have another gear?

 

Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury has been magnificent this season. Yes, he deserves to have his name in Vezina talk. Yes, he keeps getting better under goaltender coach Mike Bales.

But can he steal a series against the Islanders or Rangers? That might have to happen for the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup, or even for them to get into contention.

When is the last time Fleury stole a series? Detroit in 2009, perhaps?

I’m not saying he isn’t capable. In fact, I suspect that he is. But we haven’t seen it in quite some time. Fleury clearly has emerged as one of hockey’s finest goaltenders this season, and he’ll be good in the playoffs. No question. But can he be better than good? His play against the Rangers and Islanders this season is a concern.

 

  1. Does GMJR have any bullets left?

 

Jim Rutherford has done a fine job dating back to last summer. Almost all of his moves have been correct, notably a wonderful job in acquiring David Perron.

Now, the salary cap and lack of forward depth is Rutherford’s enemy.

The Penguins could really use a big-time bottom-six forward. They could use a No. 4 defenseman, too. In a perfect world of luxury, they could use one more top-six forward, even though that seems wildly unlikely at this point.

The Penguins are right up against the salary cap. Any significant move they make will see them deal a player already on their NHL roster.

 

  1. All eyes on you, Mike Johnston

 

A significant portion of the Penguins fan base will tell with you certainty that Dan Bylsma is the reason the Penguins struggled during the past few postseasons.

Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. It’s a tough thing to gauge, you know?

But this must mean the head coach is important. I’ve been completely impressed with almost everything Mike Johnston has done. He’s good. Really good. He’s got a beautiful hockey mind and just has an easy going way about him.

But the playoffs change everything. How will he handle the playoffs? Will he push the right buttons? Will he figure out a team that has been mentally soft in recent years?

We’ll see.

 

Enjoy the second half, everyone. It should be interesting.

 

  • Yohe
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January 24, 2015
by Mike Palm


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On Penguins and fighting

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The hit that led to Rob Scuderi's first fight. (AP)

The hit that led to Rob Scuderi’s first fight. (AP)

So Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi got in his first NHL fight on Tuesday against the Flyers’ Jakub Voracek. (I won’t comment on it being not much of a fight.) What’s notable is that it came in Scuderi’s 683rd regular-season game.

What’s also remarkable is that there are five other Penguins who have played 300+ regular-season games without getting into a fight.

But first, here’s when current Penguins got into their first NHL fight (not including preseason and postseason games):

NHL fight chart

Now, onto the longest streaks without fighting in the NHL:

Paul Martin — 661 games

Evgeni Malkin — 563 games (3 postseason and 1 preseason fighting majors)

David Perron — 464 games (1 preseason fight in 2009)

Patric Hornqvist — 396 games

Nick Spaling — 343 games

Olli Maatta — 98 games

Mark Arcobello — 86 games

Beau Bennett — 64 games

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January 23, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Penguins Roundtable IV

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COLUMBUS — Talking pucks for the fourth time on the Penguins Roundtable show earlier today on TribLIVE Radio.

Ken Laird and Josh Yohe did the heavy lifting. I only chimed in (and whined about the cannon at Nationwide Arena).

You can hear the entire hour here. And, really, we hope that you check this out.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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January 22, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Postgame: Blackhawks 3, Penguins 2 (SO)

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The Penguins didn’t lack for chances in this one.

Whether it was David Perron missing an empty net in the third period or his golden chance off a Sidney Crosby feed, the Penguins very easily could have come away with two points instead of one.

Also misses in the shootout for Perron and Crosby that ultimately resulted in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It’s frustrating,” Perron said. “Had the game on my stick a couple times there. One in regulation. You have to put that one away. Eight times out of 10 I probably put that in. In the shootout, I had some room there, and I hit the post.”

Perron, Crosby and Chris Kunitz were especially productive as a line. The Penguins attempted 63 shots to 55 for Chicago, the NHL’s shots leader. That line was responsible for 21 of those attempts and 11 of the Penguins’ 35 shots on goal.

“Certainly tonight we had so many chances,” Perron said. “As a line, you feel like you could have had four or five goals. Tonight it was zero, and other nights it will be all five of them. We’ve just got to keep doing the same thing. They’re going to go in.”

>>Following the game, the Penguins reassigned forward Andrew Ebbett and defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, the thinking being to get those guys some games.

>>One focal point coming out of the break will be special teams play. The Penguins’ penalty kill has allowed power-play goals in four straight, a season-high stretch, including one goal tonight.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi liked the PK’s effort against the Flyers on Tuesday. Tonight, too. Now, they have some “details” to clean up after a four-day break.

“You want to clean up the details,” Scuderi said. “I think they shot through a screen tonight. Usually we have that one blocked or come up with a save. Those things happen. The PK has been pretty good. Hopefully after a little break we’ll get back on track.”

>>No word on whether Evgeni Malkin will be able to take part in all-star festivities. Coach Mike Johnston said Malkin was still being evaluated, and that a decision will be made after consulting with doctors and management.

>>Johnston was pleased with the depth scoring tonight, getting goals from Zach Sill and Steve Downie. No mention was made of Sill’s celebration, which nearly took poor Bryan Bickell’s face off.

“Our depth was really good tonight,” Johnston said. “Some of the young defensemen, Pouliot and Harrington, the way they played tonight, those are really positive signs.”

Sill, I thought, provided plenty of energy. He finished with a game-high seven hits. Linemate Craig Adams added six.

That’s it for me from Consol. Off tomorrow before heading to Columbus. Will talk to you from there.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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January 21, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Pregame: Penguins vs. Blackhawks, 8 p.m.

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How important is this one? Well, pretty important. Pretty tough, too.

The Chicago Blackhawks, as you’ve probably realized, are good at hockey. Check out these rankings:

Goals per game: 3.05 (5th)
Goals-against per game: 2.28 (2nd)
Shots per game: 35.6 (1st)
Shots-against per game: 29.7 (18th)
PP: 18.6 (15th)
PK: 88.2 (2nd)

So, the Penguins can barrel into the all-star break with a win over one of the NHL’s premier teams.

Or they can limp there with a four-game losing streak.

Yeah, pretty big one.

“They’ve been generating a lot of shots,” coach Mike Johnston said of Chicago this morning following an optional morning skate. “They’re a dangerous team in transition. Their defense are very active. They have four of the better defensemen in the league. We’ve got to work our matchups to try and really work their group. But it’s transition opportunities. It’s offensive zone. It’s controlling their defense. Those are the real keys to the game tonight.”

Ton of talk this morning about last night. About the Flyers and their Flyerdom. About Zac Rinaldo, his hit, his Flyerdom and what he said after. About a response.

They Penguins showed more fight than in back-to-back losses to the Islanders and Rangers, that’s for sure, but they failed to score on six power-play chances and tempted fate one too many times with penalties of their own.

Won’t be smart tonight.

Chicago is 8 for 37 over its past 11 games on the power play, a conversion rate of 21.6 percent. Their PK, however, has been uncharacteristically leaky, with power-play goals allowed in four of six; the Blackhawks have killed just 12 of 16 (75 percent) during that stretch.

“We want some momentum heading into the all-star break,” Johnston said. “We’ve got to regroup, recover and get ready for a tough team in Chicago.”

News out of the skate: Defenseman Kris Letang skated but wasn’t available to reporters afterward. His status for tonight will be a game-time decision, Johnston said. … Defenseman Simon Despres is out with an illness, his second consecutive missed games. … Eight skated this morning for the Penguins: forwards Mark Arcobello, Zach Sill, Andrew Ebbett and Marcel Goc, defensemen Letang and Scott Harrington and goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Thomas Greiss. … Blackhawks did not skate here, but coach Joel Quenneville will be available to reporters at 6 p.m.

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network/105.9 FM

About the Blackhawks: Blackhawks are coming off a 6-1 win over the Coyotes on Tuesday, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Andrew Shaw, after being benched for part of Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Stars, scored two goals. Goaltender Antti Raanta made 35 of 36 saves to improve to 7-0 this season and 14-0-2 over the past two seasons at United Center. … Gibsonia native Brandon Saad has five goals over his past five games, eight in his past 11 and 15 on the season, ranking second on the Blackhawks. … Patrick Kane scored his 200th goal Tuesday. … Chicago has the best goal differential (+39) in the NHL, and its 51 first-period goals are second only to the Penguins’ 53.

The series: The teams split 1-1 in 2013-14. … Penguins went 0 for 8 on the power play and were outshot, 66-59. … Pittsburgh is 4-1-2 over its past seven against Chicago. … Goaltender Corey Crawford is 2-1 all-time against the Penguins, with a 1.96 goals-against average. … Penguins are unbeaten in their last 10 games at home against the Blackhawks, a streak that dates back to 1997.

Next up: Tuesday, Jan. 27 vs. Jets, 7 p.m.

Links:
The Trib’s Penguins page
The Penguins’ home page
The Blackhawks’ home page
NHL.com’s preview and box score

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January 21, 2015
by Mike Palm


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In aftermath of Letang hit, here’s a closer look at Rinaldo’s suspension history

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A hit by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang last night could merit a suspension from the NHL. Rinaldo’s already been suspended twice by the NHL.

Here’s the hit on Letang:

Rinaldo’s suspension history

Feb. 13, 2012 — Rinaldo was suspended 2 games for charging Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

Here’s the charge:

Here’s the NHL’s announcement:

April 7, 2014 — Rinaldo was suspended four games for a hit to head of Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

Here’s the hit:

Here’s the NHL announcement:

For what it’s worth, Rinaldo also has a history with the Penguins, getting a game misconduct for cross checking Zbynek Michalek in a 10-3 loss to the Penguins in the 2012 playoffs.

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January 19, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Leftovers from a chat with the coach

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Mike Johnston sees it, too.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston

Penguins coach Mike Johnston

The Penguins have not played their best hockey over the past dozen games, a stretch where they’re 4-6-2.

The coach especially isn’t a fan of the past two, lopsided losses to the Islanders and Rangers.

“I didn’t like our last two games,” Johnston said by phone before the Penguins flew to Philadelphia. “I liked the first period of the Islanders game, for sure. Not the finish and (Sunday) afternoon, I didn’t think we had it at all, in any area of our game.”

The Penguins unexpectedly canceled practice Monday and instead had an off-ice workout. Many thanks to the Penguins media relations staff of Jen Bullano and Jason Seidling for getting Johnston on the phone. And thanks for him for doing it. Was very insightful and helpful in terms of providing quality coverage to you folks.

Got to ask Johnston about how crucial of a two-game stretch this is coming up: Tuesday at Philadelphia, Wednesday at home against the Blackhawks. I used part of his answer for Tuesday’s print-edition story, but I thought I might offer a little bit additional on here.

“For me, everything is about how we’re playing,” Johnston said. “Sometimes you may not come out on the right side of the score or sometimes you will. It’s still how you’re playing. That’s what you have to keep in focus as a coach: You may win some games. You may have a five-game winning streak. But how you’re playing may not be exactly the right way to be successful.

“Or you could be in a situation where you’ve lost a couple games in a row, and you’re actually doing some good things so you know you’re going to come out of it.”

Johnston and I talked about the impact of losing Patric Hornqvist and Blake Comeau, and I truly feel that’s what a lot of the recent struggles track back to. They’re tough. They play in front of the net. They lighten the load for other not-to-physical players.

Johnston likes the punch that Zach Sill brings. Bobby Farnham, too. But neither of them add much offensively. Hornqvist and Comeau do.

“Those are two key pieces and guys who have had great first halves for the team,” Johnston said. “Losing both of them at the same time, that was challenging for us.”

I also asked Johnston about his thinking behind playing Mark Arcobello with Evgeni Malkin on Sunday. I didn’t get it and still don’t.

Arcobello actually froze when Malkin fed him, wide-open, in the slot. Clammed up, unsure what to do. Another time, when Arcobello tried to work in front of the net, a Rangers defender knocked him over with a single whack.

He might turn out to be a fine fourth-line player, but those are two instances where Comeau thrived: Chemistry with Malkin, especially thinking at his speed and keeping it simple, and playing physical in front of the net.

“With Geno, the type of player we try to get with him is someone who can make plays, be a complementary player that way,” Johnston said. “It’s harder to play Farnham or Sill. Those are energy guys who are playing depth roles.

“Arcobello has eight goals so far. I don’t really know him as a player. I’m trying to see what he can do as a player. Comeau or Hornqvist would definitely be playing with Geno as they had been before.”

Hope you can read what I wrote for print. It’s worth your 50 cents, trust me.

Fellow beat man Josh Yohe has the club Tuesday in Philly. In case there’s one person out there who doesn’t follow Josh, his Twitter handle is @JoshYohe_Trib. I’ll be back for the Blackhawks game on Wednesday.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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January 17, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Penguins Roundtable III

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Earlier Friday, Josh Yohe, Ken Laird and I talked about pucks for the third installment of the Penguins Roundtable show.

Take a listen here.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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