PEGUINS 3, HURRICANES 2 (SO)
The Trib’s Terrific Trio:
1 – LW Chris Kunitz, Penguins
Key stats: 5 attempted shots, 6 hits, 1 assist, shootout-winning goal
Rossi: Sure, a few regulation goals wouldn’t hurt, but people need to back off Kunitz – a first-line force even when not tallying.
2 – LW Ray Whitney, Hurricanes
Key stats: 2 goals, 6 attempted shots
Rossi: His shot might not knock down buildings, but it almost always hits where he’s aiming it.
3 – G Cam Ward, Hurricanes
Key stats: 36 saves
Rossi: Keeping Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury off this list is no easy chore, but Ward was spectacular on all but C Evgeni Malkin’s second-period goal.
SAY IT, SIR
“They were both great.”
— Penguins RW Bill Guerin on Fleury and Ward
Rossi: Not to say I told you so, but: Fleury, Ward stand out among NHL goalies – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Sure, he is 6-0-0 with a 2.27 GAA, a .917 SV percentage and the look of a guy that knows he should but won’t play for Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Still, the most impressive thing about Fleury is his ability to put behind him the odd bad goal he has allowed.
I asked him last night about giving up two goals in the third, and if he looked at the overtime and shootout as a shot at redemption.
“No, because (the third period) doesn’t matter,” he said. “Once you get to overtime and the shootout you just try to get that extra point in the standings.”
The reason he has joined the game’s elite – not at his position, but overall – has nothing to do with his physical skills. Mentally, Flower has bloomed. Not a good sign for Penguins’ opponents.
ON THE BEAT ROAD: BILL GUERIN
Visiting dressing rooms are never easy for reporters to navigate. Even the one at RBC Center – which is spacious compared to Mellon Arena and the embarrassingly tight one at Verizon Center, which unlike Mellon is, you know, NEWER – requires footwork more befitting C Sidney Crosby than, say, a 31-year-old reporter that is, oh, a few pounds shy of ideal playing weight.
OK, quite a few pounds.
Anyway, so after filing my early game story Wednesday, I sprinted to the visiting room to speak with Kunitz, who was surrounded by only four reporters, but could be reached by yours truly only if I stepped over Guerin’s hockey bag. I did, but not before taking a verbal blow from Guerin.
“Thanks, Rossi!” he said.
I apologized first, and followed with a quizzical look as to whether I had stepped on his equipment.
Guerin, smiling, picked up his bag and moved it, giving me room to stand while interviewing Kunitz.
However, following interviews with several Penguins players, I bumped into Guerin. Still unsure if I had stepped on his stuff, I again apologized.
“Stop it,” he said. “You didn’t step on anything.”
I hadn’t thought so, but I was rude to step before excusing myself in advance. I told Guerin this, while again apologizing. (I’ve been told by several friends, and most every woman I know, that endless apologies for acts less than grievous are equally unnecessary and annoying.)
“Listen, I was just giving it to you,” Guerin said.
Indeed, as I had figured. Though, I wasn’t sure if he was serious.
“Usually, I’m never serious,” he said.
Something worth noting about Guerin: He has been around the Pittsburgh media less than five full months. However, he entered training camp last month referring to the local beat reporters by name. During the first week, he jokingly told me to “print that in the Tribune-Review.”
It is never a smart move for reporters to judge athletes by how they interact with us. However, at the risk of proving myself an idiot, I dare suggest Guerin is as good a guy as I’ll ever get to cover. Given the guys I cover that is saying quite a bit.
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