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Pens-Blues Postgame: Feeling Out Flower



The Trib’s Terrific Trio:

1 – LW Ruslan Fedotenko, Penguins

Key stats: 1 goal, 7 attempted shots, 2 hits, 2 blocked shots

Rossi: Now that was the ‘Feds’ we all saw during the playoffs.

2 – D Kris Letang, Penguins

Key stats: 2 assists, 3 attempted shots, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot

Rossi: If Sergei Gonchar is out for a lengthy period of time, Letang will have the opportunity to write his own extension check.

3 – G Chris Mason, Blues

Key stats: 31 saves

Rossi: He was pulled only because he deserved a break. He turned aside at least 10 Grade A chances.

“I had a talk with my linemates and decided I needed to shoot more.”

Penguins C Evgeni Malkin, to Trib columnist Joe Starkey, after being credited with 12 shots against St. Louis

Rossi: Malkin attempted 15 shots, which is an insane total for any current player not named Alex Ovechkin. Malkin had been credited with only 22 shots through eight games. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game was the Blues leaving Pittsburgh not on the wrong end of a Genological Event.*

*Defined as any NHL game in which Malkin posts at least four points. Eight have been recorded for the Pittsburgh area since Oct. 18, 2006.

ON THE BEAT ROAD: Marc-Andre Fleury

Some of my best chats are with “Flower,” though I’m pretty sure he’s getting tired of my good-natured (read: smart aleck) giving it to him.

My first hint was this:

Then, after his eighth straight stellar start, there was this exchange…

Rossi: You’re kind of the one guy that, if there is time missed by Gonchar, can kind of make up for that, right — because you haven’t had a shutout yet?

Fleury: No, I haven’t. Thanks for reminding me.

He went on to say some stuff — actually, it was quite a mature observation about the Penguins’ solid third-period defensive play without Gonchar — but me being, well, me, there was this following exchange…

Rossi: What did you do to keep yourself amused in the first period?

Fleury (laughing, though rolling his eyes): Ahh, stretch a little bit, skate to the corners; I just tried to stay warm.

Rossi: Did you carve anything into the ice?

Fleury (still laughing): Yeah. I was going to say something stupid, but…

He didn’t. Sigh.

A Canadian writer recently informed me that a perceived knock against Fleury’s status for that country’s Olympic squad is the belief that he doesn’t possess the temperament to handle not starting. This writer doesn’t buy it, but some of his colleagues do — only confirming my suspicion that some folks in Canada are going to great lengths to protect Vancouver hero and Canucks G Roberto Luongo, and legendary Devils G Martin Brodeur.

I’ve seen Fleury handle disappointment — losing the Cup after allowing a soft goal in Game 6 at home in the 2008 Final — and I can attest that his temperament is not an issue, nor should it be a concern.

He always smiles, always owns up to his mistakes and downplays his contributions.

Canada’s Olympic roster should include the country’s three best goalies. Fleury is certainly one.

Speaking of one, Fleury deserve that spot for Canada. (No, I’m not dropping this.)

–BY ROB ROSSI (10/20/09)

YINZ TELL US: Thoughts and questions are always welcome. Send emails to Emails without writers’ full name and current hometown will not be read.




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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