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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 has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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