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Pens-Bs postgame: A bizarre call on Dupuis, wondering about Crosby’s ASG status

Some thoughts from the Pens’ 3-4 win at Boston on Saturday afternoon – a win that, after which, the majority of players couldn’t wait to get on a charter plane for Pittsburgh. As one was heard telling FSN Pittsburgh’s Dan Potash, “We have a football game to watch.”

(Oh, by the way: As a result of that football game’s result, this hockey beat boy is headed to Foxboro on Sunday afternoon to cover his first NFL game since Super Bowl XL at Detroit. Anyway, back to pucks…)

 

= The bizarre double-minor for high-sticking assessed to RW PASCAL DUPUIS will be addressed in my print notebook on Sunday, but there were no shortage of his teammates who expressed shocked that Dupuis was penalized. Clearly, Bruins D ZDENO CHARA unintentionally clipped teammate D STEVEN KAMPFER, who didn’t finish the game.

“I think it might have been my stick that got him,” Chara said. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but obviously it was a battle and then my stick got high and hit Stevey. It was just an unfortunate play.”

It forced the Bruins to finish with five defensemen, never an easy task – though, with 20 third-period shots, the Bruins held their own.

Penguins C JORDAN STAAL on the call: “The ref came back and admitted he made a mistake.”

Predictably, the Penguins were brilliant on that four-minute penalty kill. There are games, more than less, during which the opposing power play doesn’t seem to have a chance.

(Side note: Chara looks a lot like Darth Vader when the Bs wear those alternate threads, at least from high atop media-area row at TD Garden.)

= Dupuis, for what it’s worth, scored his ninth goal in the second period – but he was robbed in the first period by a great glove save from Bruins G TUUKKA RASK and Dupuis also clanked a shot off a post in the third. Perhaps that is a sign he is about to get hot, as he did in the second half last season on his way to 19 goals.

Here is something to debate, dear readers: If Dupuis and LW CHRIS KUNITZ, who has 15 goals, combine for 35 goals on the season, would that total be enough production to generate faith in the Penguins’ top line wingers going into the Stanley Cup playoffs?

= Something I don’t really know how to address is C EVGENI MALKIN’S goal-scoring struggles. He hasn’t marked in five games, and he has scored a goal in only two of 12. He is playing hard, and he is shooting the puck with 42 shots over those 12 games. His shot does seem to be missing something in terms of speed and placement, at least when compared to two seasons ago.

Right now, though perhaps not all season, Malkin just seems to be having bad luck. These past two games (at Montreal and at Boston) he has been stopped on several quality chances. I may be setting myself up, but I feel like Malkin is about to break out in a big way.

Something else to consider: Would a second-line of Kunitz-Staal-Malkin actually be the Penguins’ best bet going forward if GM RAY SHERO can find a winger at the deadline to play with C SIDNEY CROSBY? Kunitz and Staal are great together, maybe even better than Kunitz and Crosby. Also, at this point, shouldn’t getting Malkin going the priority? Crosby has proven he doesn’t need a lot of help to be the best player in hockey.

= Nobody has told me this officially, but I am starting to have doubts that Crosby will play in the All-Star Game at Carolina in two weekends. He might not be concussed by then, but I could see an argument to be made for him staying out just to play it safe. He’s only played in one ASG, by the way.

= Speaking of concussions, oft-concussed Bruins C MARC SAVARD admitted he felt “a little woozy” after being hit hard late in the third period. He said he “hadn’t gotten a headache yet or anything like that.” This guy has to have answered more questions about head injuries than any player in NHL history.

= Penguins G MARC-ANDRE FLEURY on facing 46 shots: “It was fun.” Also fun (for this accused Fleury defender, anyway), watching him silence all critics the last two months. Since Nov. 15 there hasn’t been a better No. 1 goalie in the NHL, folks. The stats are there for dear readers in my Sunday game story, but just watch Fleury right now. He’s controlling the pace of play. That is the sign of a goalie atop his game.

OK, that’s a wrap for me. I need to read up on a couple of football teams that apparently don’t like one another – or one doesn’t like the other, with the other not really being all that concerned with the one… or, uh, something like that.

 

Cheers,

Rossi

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

Comments

  1. OneTimer says:

    Sorry to disagree Rossi, but the Pens lines should not be mucked up just to try to fix an underperforming Malkin. Sid, Dupuis and Kunitz; Staal, Kennedy and Cooke; lines make great music together. Bylsma is a fool if he messes those lines up.

    Geno is the only minus forward on the Pens roster for a reason…he cheats on defense and tries to do it all, without using his linemates….even when his linemates are Sid or Staal. Dejan at the Post wrote a great article after watching Staal and Malkin play together entitled “when did Malkin forget how to pass” commenting on how Malkin tried to go solo and didn’t pass to Staal. Malkin’s got to change his game before he is going to be a true TEAM player and difference maker.

  2. Tracey says:

    In total and absolute agreement with OneTimer

    Shero, Bylsma, & the organization don’t seem to see it. They’ll continue to juggle lines for Geno’s sake regardless of how it affects the team, he should be bumped to 3rd line with Conner & Letestu. Let him earn his spot on the 2nd line just like every other player. Malkin is handled with kid gloves in hopes that he’ll flip a switch & start playing like we know he is capable of playing. Most other players on the the team would’ve been scratched; at least a game, to get perspective & acknowledge the problems with his game & what it takes to fix it. I know that sounds completely crazy & will never happen due to Malkin’s pay scale(I never have agreed with them paying him Crosby wages when he has never played or taken on the same responsibilities. Sid’s was a “hometown discount” in Malkin’s case I can’t say the same is true. Also on a really petty viewpoint I never liked that Geno wanted the 8.7 he could’ve taken 8.69 just out of respect)

    Geno also wears an “A” which in part I thought was partially based on being a team player & leader. What kind of example does he set by not trusting in his teammates talents & abilities that he tries to do it all alone. Let’s hope this all ends up being a mute point & Malkin gets back his game back.

    Yes with Sid sidelined all eyes are on Geno, he is being criticized & feeling the pressure more than ever, but if he would realize he is NOT alone and just play his game he’d be able to straighten out some of his issues. Wonder if there is an underlying injury that is still present, but supposedly he’s healthy.

  3. Doreen says:

    I agree with One Timer. Why do you want to adjust everything around Geno? Geno needs to adjust Geno. He’s had good line-mates, he’s had line-mates he likes to play with. The bottom line is the fix lies within Geno. Everyone else on the team is held responsible for their level of play, Geno needs to find his game. It is the team that is going to be suffering because one tempermental star can’t find a way to bring it.

  4. Shawn says:

    What game are you guys watching?

    “They’ll continue to juggle lines for Geno’s sake regardless of how it affects the team..”

    FOR Geno? Name one line combo that has been assembled FOR Geno, rather than because of (or at the expense of) Geno.

    Geno has been asked to play with 8 or 9 different linemates this year. He’s played different positions. He started the year on the left point on the PP so Sid could play the half wall, even though Geno is better there.

    Geno has done everything the team has asked of him. None of it was good for Geno.

    Until the last two games, the only extended time he spent at center this year was with Arron Asham as his “best” winger. Year after year, we’d hear the cry “We need a winger for Sid.” Why no “we need a winger for Geno” calls?

    Also, as far as both players making 8.7 million a year….certainly Sid has done more in the past two years, but…at the time those deals were signed, you could (easily) make the argument that Malkin had done more in his career to THAT point than Sid had. Both won scoring titles, Sid won the Hart (Geno deserved it over Ovie, but…) but Geno had a runner up Art Ross year as well, plus the Calder, plus the Conn Smythe for leading us to a Stanley Cup.

    Geno deserves much (most) of the criticism for his recent poor play…his focus and concentration appear to be lacking…he whiffs on many shots and passes…but he deserves fair criticism.

  5. espo33 says:

    Shero shouldn’t be looking for a winger for Crosby. They should be looking for a winger for Gino. If and when Crosby comes back he should have Kunitz and Dupius back, the Cooke-Staal-Kennedy line should remain and Gino should play with Letestu (he can face off and just play with LW) and Connor. The 4th line should be Rupp-Talbot-Adams with Asham getting some time.

  6. Maureen says:

    Wonderful viewpoint, Shawn, and one that could only have been stated by someone who has watched Evgeni play for more than just the last two (2) years. The rest of you have no business in commenting on Geno’s commitment to this team and his desire to improve. He understands that he needs to do better and has communicated same. “Temperamental star”?!! Really?! Not once have I seen or read about Geno refusing to do what is best for this team since his arrival from Magnitogorsk. He does not have an ego. He has not demanded that certain players be placed on a line with him or that the team change its strategy to allow him to succeed. Wow, it sounds like several of you just want to run him out of town. What ungrateful fans you are, conveniently forgetting the time when Malkin led this team when Crosby was out of the lineup due to a high ankle sprain. He will do so again and very soon because he cares about this team.

  7. Tracey says:

    Sorry Maureen but i’ve been a Pens fan for more than a few decades & can still have an objective opinion of which I have every right to share as you have every right to disagree with that opinion. A lot of people feel if you have critical opinions about one of your teams players your not a “true” fan; does that mean the coaches & other staff who see problems with a players game that they don’t love the team? I don’t think so, they just want to figure out how to fix them.

    “What ungrateful fans you are, conveniently forgetting the time when Malkin led this team when Crosby was out of the lineup due to a high ankle sprain. He will do so again and very soon because he cares about this team”

    This just makes me laugh..fans that are ungrateful because we want Malkin to do his job and play at the elite level that we all know he can; even when Sid is in the line-up. And I don’t re-call anywhere that Geno should be run out of town…that’s making assumptions…he’s not playing his game for whatever reasons and needs to get back to it. When Fleury hit his rough patch in the beginning of the season he was sat & Johnny got some starts and stepped up til MAF got his game together. People were calling for his head as well & wanted him gone, the amazing saves he made in the past that helped return The Cup to Pittsburgh were somehow forgotten. This is the NHL & people aren’t interested in what you did or didn’t do a few seasons ago its a ‘what have you done for me lately business’. So how Geno performed in the past while Crosby was out has no bearing on the present situation. We know he is a GREAT player & just expect him to play more consistently like one with or without Sidney in the line-up.

  8. Shawn says:

    I’d still be interested to hear even one example of a change the team has made FOR Geno, rather than at the expense of Geno…

    Espo, Talbot has proven he can be one of Geno’s wingers…Letestu and Conner are not good enough…we need to trade for a winger who is at least as good as Fedotenko was in 2009.

    OR

    This might be counterintuitive, but…Eric Tangradi hasn’t done much since he went down to WBS. Maybe (somehow) putting these two struggling, but talented players together (with Max) could get both going….

  9. Greg T says:

    I wonder if we just move Malkin to the first line with sid when he comes back. The whole “depth down the center” through the top three lines has all but faded. With Malkin not scoring and having trouble in the faceoff circle be might be more productive playing with sid. Let Kunitz stay on the top line and bump Pascal down to the second line with Staal centering. I understand this breaks up the “best thrid line in hockey” but i think Pascal could more than fill the role of a TK. I also like Conner and TK together, good speed and gritty on the boards. Just an idea, what do you guys think?

  10. dwf says:

    The league has figured out how to play against Malkin, now he needs to learn how to adjust. Bottom line, Malkin needs to start playing like he wants to be here and produce like someone getting paid $8.7 mill!

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