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#TribHKY Insider: Niskanen sees benefit to recent inconsistency.

So, Matt Niskanen offered a thought Tuesday that is worth noting.

The Penguins battled back in Boston on Monday. That game is one that past Penguins squads may have let get out of hand, Niskanen said.

Hey, it’s something, right?

It is something, actually.

Thing of some of the things tasking the Penguins:

  • Failing to produce goals during otherwise dominant first periods
  • Offensive inconsistency
  • Establishing a third-line identity

Notice that injuries – and there have been many – was not among that group.

That was an intentional omission.

As Niskanen pointed out, this group is well versed in overcoming injury-related adversity. Been there, done that.

The other kind of adversity, the kind that a championship-caliber club is most often forced to overcome, has washed over these Penguins.

That is a great thing.

The Penguins are so talented, they often can reel off winning streaks without playing excellent, often without even improving during a run of victories.

They are 8-8-1 since a 7-1-0 start. They are being forced to find themselves, even though their two bright stars – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – have played in every game.

That the Penguins are not thriving with Crosby and Malkin as lineup staples is actually a blessing. Some searching should do these Penguins good.

Early struggles steel championship teams for the boiling pot that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.


>> Olli Maatta has begrudgingly skipped some off-ice training sessions the last few weeks. He is not hurt. He is aware that he has never played this many games at such a high level in such a short period of time. Maatta, 19, may be physically mature beyond his age, but he is even wiser. He talked Tuesday of knowing he needs to rest, how he is feeling that an 82-game regular season is a taxing grind.

Of course, the problem for the Penguins, who are dealing with injuries to two top-four defensemen (Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin), is there is not a great way of giving Maatta a blow.


>> Coach Dan Bylsma, speaking in advance of the Penguins’ 300 consecutive home sellouts, offered his top three moments of this streak. He failed to mention the raising of the Cup banner for which he was responsible. Proof, perhaps, that it really does feel like more than three-plus years since the Penguins played a game at Civic Arena.


>> Forward Brian Gibbons was re-assigned to the AHL on Tuesday. He scored a goal and produced two points in five games.


>> The latest on Martin:


>> Josh Yohe’s GAME RECAP from Boston:


>> Yohe’s report on Beau Bennett’s long-term injury:



That is all. Some 300 stuff is coming your way Wednesday, so do pick up a paper.


Be careful in the snow.


Be EXCELLENT to each other,




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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