Some (late) quick hits from the Penguins’ practice Monday at Southpointe Iceoplex:
= Opening puck drop: Due apologies for the late file. Spent most of today chasing down some regional information regarding the hot-topic NHL realignment, a subject on which I’m writing from the Commonwealth’s perspective in Tuesday’s Trib. By now, no doubt, dear readers have heard the scuttlebutt/rumors, but for those who haven’t, please read this from a good friend, Elliotte Friedman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/opinion/2011/10/realignment-plus-30-thoughts.html
OK, so the general gist is there could be four unbalanced divisions starting next season, and there is a good chance the Penguins and Flyers – “Expansion Six” brethren and our Commonwealth’s two NHL clubs – won’t be playing more than twice each regular season.
Without giving too much away, I can report this: Penguins CEO David Morehouse is working tirelessly behind the scenes to assure the continuation of the region’s longstanding NHL rivalry. Some points he could make:
- The Penguins and Flyers have never met fewer than four times in a regular season. To go any lower than that would considerably take away from one of the league’s true natural rivalries that happens to involve two markets that are thriving.
- The Penguins have already agreed twice to move out of a division with the Flyers, when the joined the Norris division from 1974-81 and the Northeast from 1993-98. To request of them a hat trick seems a bit much.
In addition to gaining the ear of considerably influential high-ranking NHL officials, such as commissioner Gary Bettman and COO John Collins, the Penguins’ Morehouse, with his political background, is well educated in the art of bringing people over to his side of the aisle. He has a pretty powerful ally, too; as you can read in Tuesday’s Trib, the Flyers are completely against any realignment that would place them in a division without the Penguins.
= LWs Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz, Cs Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, and D Kris Letang all did not practice for the Penguins today. All but Staal seem a sure bet to play Thursday at San Jose, with coach Dan Bylsma offering this about Staal, who missed a loss at Toronto on Saturday with a lower-body injury:
“He’s still day-to-day,” Bylsma said. “He seems like he would be fine going forward, but we’ll see how that works out later in the week.”
= RW Tyler Kennedy (concussion) was at the rink today, playing with pucks before teammates took to the ice. He appeared to be in good spirits, but your guess is as good as mine regarding a timetable for his return.
“Some of the various symptoms for a concussion he’s had,” Bylsma said. “He has to be symptom free before he moves forward. Those symptoms are sometimes different each day. Sometimes they’re not there all day. So, it’s different for every day and every player sometime.”
= Speaking of concussions, C Sidney Crosby looked especially sharp in practice – roofing a few bad-angle shots at the end and skating with a considerably crisp stride in all drills. He won’t play on the West Coast trip, and here is what he had to say after his latest practice: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_764772.html
= The Penguins will practice again Tuesday, marking the first time since the regular season opened they’ve had the opportunity to hold a regular practice on consecutive days.
“We get some time to work on some detail and habit in our game that we don’t necessarily have,” Bylsma said. “Some of those details you’ll see in our next two practices. Some of it’ll have to do with systematically. Some of it will be net-front presence or a stick-on-puck drill. Today was (about) speed and pace, getting up and down the ice, a little bit of conditioning work. The next two days will be particularly detail-oriented.”
Cheers, and Happy Halloween,