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Pens Push: Malkin on Hogan video, and why Kunitz works as net-front on PP.

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Some observations after the Penguins’ 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center:

= C Evgeni Malkin, whose shootout goal lifted his club to a fifth straight victory, told me after this win that he is a fan of the “Malkamania” video that appeared after G Marc-Andre Fleury closed the shootout with a poke-save on Islanders C John Tavares.

“Is he going to be at every game?” Malkin said, full tongue-in-cheek mode.

The video is the brain child of Penguins game-night head honcho Billy Wareham, who somehow convinced pro wrestler Hulk Hogan to film a segment to be played on the Consol Energy Center video board after Malkin goals.

The setup: Hogan, who famously let “Hulkamania run wild” throughout the 1980s and 1990s, stands in wrestling ring and offers a variation of his biggest catchphrase. In the video Hogan, dressed head-to-toe in black and wearing dark sun glasses, looks into the video scope and screams, “Whatcha gonna do when Malkamania runs wild on you?”

The Penguins’ famous fan, Cy Clark, dresses up like Hogan for home games. His attire, as does Hogan’s, includes a bandana – except that on Clark’s bandana “Malkamania” substitutes for “Hulkamania.”

Malkin said he is “big fan of Hulk,” and that he planned to thank him via Twitter.

The Penguins now have two players with wrestler-inspired video board celebrations. Ken Anderson, former “Mr. Kennedy” when in the WWE, filmed a video for RW Tyler Kennedy that debuted during the 2008-09 season.

Consider Fleury jealous, and now actively campaigning for his own wrestler video.

“My favorite guy was The Undertaker,” Fleury said. “If I could get (a wrestler) to do a video it would be him.”

So, yes, as Trib colleague Josh Yohe noted after this game: Fleury, the happiest man on Earth, is a fan of The Undertaker, whose go-to move is a Tombstone pile-driver.

It DOES get weirder in that room after every game between the Penguins and Islanders.

At least the WWE knows who to contact if The Undertaker is interested: Wareham, who I’m sure would take the call.

= Great closing line from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the wild game between the Flyers and Jets, who won 9-8. While walking into the Penguins corporate offices after the game, Bettman overheard me and league COO John Collins chatting about that high-scoring affair. I asked Bettman if he was keeping one eye on that while watching the Penguisn and Islanders. “I said I’d stop keeping track after 17 goals,” he said. “So luckily I didn’t miss anything.”

= That pass LW Chris Kunitz made to set up RW James Neal’s power-play, tying marker, was a perfect example of why Kunitz, though perhaps unconventional, is the best-suited Penguin to provide a net-front presence on the man-advantage. He is feisty enough to get to the net, strong enough on his skates to work himself open, and patient enough to move the puck if a teammate is open.

Also, just a sharp effort by Neal to be hugging the post to the left of Islanders G Evgeni Nabakov – the same Neal, who (oh, by the way), is now seven goals from making my prediction of him scoring 17 look utterly stupid.

OK, so I give. Neal has already made me look utterly stupid. Remember, for every goal he gets above 17 this season I’ll donate $10 to a charity of his choice.

 

Cheers,

Rossi

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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.

Comments

  1. Dwayne says:

    I mean no disrespect or ill-will toward your pocket book, Rob, but I’d like to see you shelling out a few hundred bucks to a charity.

  2. Jason says:

    $10 bucks, that’s it. Come on Trib, start giving Rossi some coin already.

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