Tuesday, October 31, 2006

...human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... MASS HYSTERIA! - Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog.....I was still fighting off the sickness I mentioned a couple weeks back. Several things have happened since my last post, most importantly, Jordan Staal is staying in Pittsburgh......on to the blog!


As the calendar begins to flip towards November, and the Witches, Ghouls, and Goblins make their Halloween rounds, something strange is happening 'round these parts. The city of Pittsburgh is aflutter over their "favorite" team having a successful October and discussion is ongoing about playoff aspirations and young superstars. No, I am not talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh's new favorite team is none other than your Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins currently have more wins than the Steelers, which no one would have believed coming into the season. The team did not have many games on the slate during the opening month of the season, but many of them were against formidable opponents, at least it seemed so when the schedule was released. The Penguins have answered the bell and posted wins against the Devils, Rangers and 2 against the Flyers. The most recent being an 8-2 laugher in Philadelphia, something that has been unheard of in years past.

The Penguins have gone from being a team picked to finish last in their division by most experts, to becoming the darlings of the league. The team boasts several of the NHL's brightest up and comers in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc Andre Fleury to name a few and many power rankings have the Penguins in the top 10. Teams around the league are beginning to respect and in some cases fear this hard working team.

The team is proving to it's fans that it is serious about trying to accomplish something this season, the most telling evidence, keeping Jordan Staal. This young man is bringing something to the team that they cannot get by just plugging another player into the line-up. No matter what is thrown at him, he rises to the occasion. The team has made a decision based purely on hockey and has proven that they are serious about continuing their success.

This success cannot have come at a better time for the Penguins. The region is up in arms about the defending Super Bowl Champion struggling horribly, but the city's hockey team has provided numerous story lines to appease the masses. Evgeni Malkin's scoring streak and breathtaking moves, Sidney Crosby being 3 points off the league lead in the scoring race (in 2 less games), a convincing win in Philadelphia, Marc Andre Fleury's development into a number one goaltender, Jordan Staal, and the fact that the team had it's most successful October in years.

This is a very exciting time for a team who has been in transition for many seasons. The Penguins seem to be on the road back and it doesn't look to be any trick or treat.

Happy Halloween!


Eric Cairns has been recalled from his rehab assignment in Wilkes Barre-Scranton.

Kris LeTang has been sent back to his Canadian Junior Team.

The City has acquired the final properties in and around the proposed new arena site, and hope to break ground as soon as July.

This can also be read at www.hockeybuzz.com

Friday, October 27, 2006

Some Friday Notes.....

Not a whole lot of news coming out of Penguins land right now....just rehash of what we have been talking about for the past week and a couple minor personnel moves. Here is a notes blog to hold you over until the Flightless Bird faces off against the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night....

  • Karl Stewart was waived on Wednesday and claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks. Stewart didn't get much of a chance in Pittsburgh, having been acquired days before Chris Thorburn was snagged from Buffalo. It doesn't seem to be much of a loss for the Penguins, who should be getting Ronald Petroviky back from injured reserve soon. Losing him didn't seem to cause any shudders in Wilkes Barre-Scranton either, here is a quote from Jonathan Bombulie's Penguins Insider blog: (JB is the Baby Pens beat writer) "Karl Stewart being claimed on waivers by Chicago is probably for the best for everyone involved. As I understand it, he primarily plays left wing. He'd seriously probably be fourth on the WBS depth chart at that position at this point, behind Ryan Stone, Daniel Carcillo and Stephen Dixon." Fourth on the AHL depth chart = being a healthy scratch for 5 of 8 Pittsburgh games, plus lots of frequent flyer miles. Stewart has been with Atlanta, Anaheim, Pittsburgh and Chicago since June.
  • After clearing the spot on the NHL roster, the Penguins activated Eric Cairns from injured reserve and sent him to Wilkes Barre-Scranton for a rehab assignment. Cairns had to be added to the NHL roster prior to his rehab assignment, or he would have had to go through waivers on the way down to WBS.
  • Brooks Orpik is close to returning to the line-up. He could play as soon as Wednesday night at Los Angeles.
  • Being in Pittsburgh, we get to watch the NHL's future develop before our eyes, but we don't have blinders on. There are a handful of very exciting rookies in the league again this year. Thank god for NHL Center Ice! It is great to get an opportunity to watch rookie scoring leaders: Anze Kopitar and Matt Carle on the West Coast.
  • For anyone out there worrying about Marc Andre Fleury tiring out this season, don't? He is relishing the opportunity to play so many games, and actually gets better the more he is relied upon. It is great that the team has stuck with him and his confidence is growing. It is also worth noting that Fleury played 51 and 55 of Cape Breton's 70 games each of his last two seasons in the QMJHL. He should be good to start 60-65 Penguins games this season.
  • Last Penguins 3 game winning streak: March 19-23, 2004.
  • Don't believe the Glenn Murray hype. I was very shocked to even see it mentioned anywhere. The Penguins would be making a huge mistake to give up an asset or assets to acquire a player in the twilight of his career, especially one who gets paid the way Muzz does.

Can also be read on www.hockeybuzz.com

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Response to a Couple Comments....

To Cardiac Hill:

The Penguins have met and far exceeded many of the expectations placed upon them so far this season. The team was picked by many hockey pundits to finish in the basement or close to it. They have already notched some pretty impressive victories against division foes: New Jersey, Philadelphia and both New York teams. They currently lead the Atlantic Division after winning Tuesday evening.

The team is definitely going with a youth movement. General manager Ray Shero made a point of acquiring players who who would fill a specific role and compliment the young core he inherited, with special attention paid to killing penalties, a facet that the Penguins struggled with last year. He grafted players like Jarkko Ruutu, Dominic Moore and Mark Eaton on to a line-up that features the last team's last 7 first round draft picks: Brooks Orpik 2000, Colby Armstrong 2001, Ryan Whitney 2002, Marc Andre Fleury 2003, Evgeni Malkin 2004, Sidney Crosby 2005 and Jordan Staal 2006.

The Penguins should be able to stay in contention for the division title this season, with how bad the Atlantic is shaping up to be. Even if they do not win the division, they should win a playoff spot, their first since 2001.

This team is definitely playing a high level of hockey right now, and many of their young players are gaining much experience. This is definitely a year to build upon and the team shapes up to be a potential dynasty in the near future.

To Cracktown! USA

Glad that you are supporting the Pens in Hockey Town. They are definitely one of the most exciting teams in hockey right now, and it is a thrill to watch them each night. Welcome aboard!

To address a couple things that Peegalo brought up....

It is good to see that Recchi is off of the top line and back to 2nd line duty. He was too slow to play with Sid and losing the puck too much!

As for the acquisition of Chris Thorburn, I guess we see what that was all about. He is in the line-up each night and made Karl Stewart expendable. Not sure if I am sold on him though....

It is nice to get some feedback and questions here. Please feel free to leave a comment or message. We would love to hear from you...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Malkin: Shades of Lemieux - Staal Here to Stay???

There was a clip floating around the Internet for months before Evgeni Malkin made his Penguins debut, it was called Malkin Montage. The clip showed many jaw dropping moments produced by Malkin in the Russian Super League and during International play. Well, the young Russian super star delivered a few to the Pittsburgh faithful in the flesh.

Malkin played left wing on Sidney Crosby's line for the first time tonight, and he looked like he had been there for ages. The two took a few moments to find their groove, but when they did, it was magical. The two did their best to set each other up for scoring opportunities in the first period, but were unable to produce any. That all changed in the second.

Malkin took a feed from Colby Armstrong, who must be feeling like a lottery winner playing on this line, and sent a beautiful pass to Crosby for the go ahead goal. Crosby got the puck over Marty Brodeur, something that he has been working on. Word is that he was at Mellon Arena by himself yesterday with a wooden plank blocking the bottom portion of a net, shooting an ungodly amount of pucks into the top portion of the cage. He had been disappointed with the amount of pucks he had shot straight into opposing goaltenders this season.

Malkin then stole the show with what can only be called a Marioesque goal. He took a feed from Crosby, who was at his own blueline. Malkin pulled the puck in at the opposite blueline and was met by Brad Lukowich and Colin White. He deked them using a backhand forehand move and bore down on Brodeur. Malkin used what used to be Mario Lemieux's signature move, the backhand. Brodeur had to think he had Malkin stoned, when he deftly used his monster reach to push the puck inside the far post. Malkin leapt to his feet and punched the glass with pure excitement, then greeted Crosby with a huge hug.

Malkin shared another quality with Mario on this night, modesty. After scoring that spectacular goal, Malkin could only say that he had some energy when he came off the bench and that it was a great pass from Crosby. They caught the Devils in a change and he was able to score the goal. Nothing more, nothing less. Tonight we saw how special this kid is going to be.

How can the Penguins send Jordan Staal back to Peterborough? I don't think that they can. He was promoted to the 2nd line tonight and continued to plead his case.

Staal showed the world that he does know how to score even strength goals, I know that there may have been some concern, notching his 3 in the past 2 games and 4th of the season. He also was a +2 and won 6 of 9 face-offs.

There seems to be a bit of an internal debate about Staal between Michel Therrien and Ray Shero. Nothing bad, just thinking businesswise as opposed to what is best for the on ice product. Shero would love to ensure that Staal does not become a free agent the same summer as Evgeni Malkin, and Therrien would love to plug a hole in his depth chart with a great defensive player with huge offensive upside.

In my opinion, Staal is here to stay.....he has handcuffed the Penguins. They cannot justify sending him back; he is too valuable to the team.

Can also be read on www.hockeybuzz.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pens Load Up Top Line - Recall A Pair

The Penguins are trying to power up their top line. Coach Michel Therrien has gone with many different line combinations this season and hasn't been able to settle on a left winger for Sidney Crosby. Especially, since current left winger, Ryan Malone will be out more than a month with a broken wrist. Crosby plays regularly with Colby Armstrong, with their left wing spot being a revolving door of sorts. They have played with Nils Ekman, Mark Recchi, Malone and a cavalcade of other Penguins forwards. This has also led to much line shuffling on the 2nd through 4th lines. Therrien has decided to experiment a bit, he has placed Evgeni Malkin on the left wing of his top line.

Therrien made a point of stating that "nobody said he is going to be a left winger." He did go on to say this of Malkin and Crosby: "We really like the way they play together. They make it really tough on the other team. They have skill, they have a lot of speed. They think the game the same way. It's a matter of execution, sometimes. With time, they're going to get better and better."

This is the type of line that could get Penguins fans thinking of a years past, when Mario Lemieux took the ice with Jaromir Jagr on his wing. These two young men have quickly developed a chemistry with each other and seem to know where the other is going to be. It is amazing to watch how players who speak two different languages can communicate through the game of hockey. Their skill just takes over and they read off of each other. Great players have that knack.

This line will give the New Jersey Devils some headaches tonight, but the case can also be made that the Penguins are putting all of their eggs in one basket, thus making the Devils job easier.

The move also effects another young Penguins forward. Jordan Staal, who still isn't sure if he will stay in the NHL this season, has been bumped up to center the second line between Mark Recchi and Nils Ekman. This will be Staal's first chance to get substantial ice time in an offensive situation during the regular season. He has been a regular on the 4th line and been very special in killing penalties. He has notched 3 short handed goals so far this season. Tonight will mark his 8th game in the league and the Penguins will have one more outing before they have to make a decision. With the injury to Malone, it is looking more and more like he will stay, time will tell.

Hopefully these moves will spur the Penguins to their third straight victory, one that would move them into first place in the Atlantic division.


The Penguins have recalled two players from their Wilkes Barre-Scranton affiliate.

Defenseman Noah Welch was recalled yesterday, all but signifying the end of Kris LeTang's cameo in the NHL.

Center Max Talbot, who leads the Baby Penguins with 4 goals in 5 games, 3 of them game winners, was recalled today.

Both players are expected to be in the line-up tonight.

This blog can also be read at www.hockeybuzz.com

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Quick Hits....

I am running around this morning/afternoon getting ready to attend a wedding, plus fighting off what feels like the plague! Ok, so it isn't quite the plague, but it seems like the worst chest congestion that I have had in a while......anyway, here are a couple quick hits to get us ready for tonight's game against the Blue Jackets.

I am fairly disappointed that I will not be able to attend tonight's game, I always appreciate an opportunity to watch the Jacket's young stars: Nash, Zherdev, Brule, and LeClaire....not to mention the stable that we boast here in Pittsburgh, but alas, duty calls. Plus my we have already decided to spend most of our evening in the bar area of the "Stone Mansion" watching as much as we can!

  • After beating the New York Islanders last Thursday night, Sidney Crosby is being called a diver and whiner again. These charges are insane, considering how well he has been controlling himself this season. Crosby was punched, jammed head first into the boards and pretty much abused throughout the game, all the while collecting 3 assists. Ted Nolan and Mike Dunham made themselves sound like poor loser more than anything else. Bottom line, Sid wasn't out of line in the Isles game....
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins have received formal notice of the lawsuit filed by Evgeni Malkin's Russian Super League team, but consider it an NHL matter. Malkin is expected to be in the line-up tonight. The young Russian has tallied 2 g 1 a in his two games this season, and has been impressive on most shifts.
  • Marc Andre Fleury is expected to make his 7th start of the season. He has been a workhorse and they are going to continue riding him. Fleury has been great this season, and head coach, Michel Therrien, looks like he is going to continue riding the hot hand.
  • It is starting to look like the Penguins will call Noah Welch up after Kris LeTang's 9 game look. LeTang, though impressive, has had his ice time reduced game by game. Welch has been groomed for this role for a long time, and just may get his shot in the NHL in the next week or so.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hockey Gods Smile On Pittsburgh Again....Plus Pens Notes....

Last night marked the latest example of the good fortune bestowed upon the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Hockey Gods. Evgeni Malkin made his professional debut and was amazing. This 2004 2nd overall pick is following in the footsteps of Mario Lemiuex (1984), Jaromir Jagr (1990), and Sidney Crosby (2005). Though the team has had much turmoil off of the ice over the years, they have been blessed with having one of the best players in the game each of the last 23 years.

Most people in Pittsburgh were disappointed when the Penguins lost out to the Washington Capitals in the Alexander Ovechkin lottery, not that he would look bad in Black and Vegas Gold, but it would have all but eliminated their chance to land Sidney Crosby in 2005. They would have had one less ball in the hopper, significantly reducing the odds of winning.

In not winning in 2004, they got a great consolation prize, Evgeni Malkin. Malkin, almost a full year younger than Ovechkin at the time they were drafted, was speculated by some to have an even higher upside. Though the two play different styles of hockey and the debate will likely rage for years, the Penguins are not complaining.

Malkin took the ice last night and looked a bit nervous early, but it didn't last for long. He worked the rust off of his game as best he could after not playing in a competitive hockey game for close to a month and soon began to look dominant.

One of the amazing things about Malkin is the way he does not lose the puck. Even when checked, he uses all parts of his body: feet, legs, arms and hands to keep the puck moving forward and in better position to get his stick on it. One play from last night stands out, Malkin carried the puck up the ice during one of the team’s lone power play opportunities; he achieved the blue line and dumped the puck into the zone. Malkin then rushed into the left wing corner, where he used body positioning to get possession of the puck from a New Jersey defender. This allowed his team time enough to get set up and effectively work their power play. Malkin coolly moved towards the boards and sent the puck to the point, and the team was able to generate a scoring opportunity.

Malkin also has a very slick backhand. On plays that look as if he is going to stick handle through a defender, he slyly uses his backhand to throw passes to open teammates. On several occasions, where pucks are moving towards him, he will sort of tap at the puck and send it in another direction. He makes these passes tape to tape.

Malkin did make some big plays last night and was occasionally used with Sidney Crosby, something that helped generate Malkin's first career goal. Crosby, Malkin and Mark Recchi moved into the zone. All players touched the puck but it was the give and go between Malkin and Recchi that resulted in the goal. As Malkin set Recchi up for a one timer, he followed the play and banged a rebound between Martin Brodeur's legs.

Malkin proved that his shoulder is fine by unleashing a one timed slap shot that broke a pane of glass behind the goal. When asked if he has broken a lot of glass in his young career, he smiled and answered: "Just once before. It was at practice for the national team, but this, I think it was just old glass," a humble comment from a budding superstar.

Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby have a very bright future together. Any team would be blessed to have one of these dynamic players; the Penguins have hit the lottery by having them both. It is true; the Hockey Gods have smiled on Pittsburgh yet again. Pittsburgh fans should relish these moments, and realize that they are some of the luckiest fans in the league.

Mario Lemiuex was named the number one toughest hockey player of all time by Maxim magazine. Here is their write up:
1. Mario Lemieux
Tough Guy Cred: He beat cancer
The six-foot-four, 220 pound Lemieux has scored with more guys on his back than Paris Hilton, but he really proved he wasn't as soft as his French accent would suggest when he stared down Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1992. Not only did he let the disease sideline him for all of two months, on the day of his final radiation treatment, he went out and scored a goal and an assist against Philadelphia. He also continued to be one of the game's all time greats for another 10 years.

TSN is reporting that the Penguins and the NHL may soon be receiving legal papers. Magnitogorsk is expected to file a suit over Malkin's departure. This is seen as a move to try and get some compensation from the league and or the Penguins.

The City of Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force has thrown its support behind the Isle of Capri plan. The Task Force has sent a letter to the State Gaming Control board, voicing their support. This is another plus for a plan that was seen as an underdog 3 months ago.

Marc Andre Fleury is expected to make his 6th start of the season tonight against the New York Islanders.

Also seen on www.hockeybuzz.com

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Malkin's Long Journey Comes To An End

Over the past two years, Evgeni Malkin has talked openly about playing in the NHL. It was his dream since he was a boy growing up in Magnitogorsk, Russia. Although he was the star player on his hometown team, he always wanted to see how he would stack up against the best in the world. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of other Great Russian players who had crossed the Atlantic with much success!

Malkin felt that there was little more to gain by staying in the Russian Super League another season. He actually had hoped to join the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, but was persuaded to stay in Russia for one more year. The management of Malkin's Russian Super League team assured him that he could leave for the NHL this season with their blessing. Something that changed as soon as it was time for him to leave.

The team reneged on their agreement and put the pressure on Malkin to stay. He felt that there was no other option and signed a renegotiated contract with Metallurg. The signing set into motion some of the most intriguing events of the young hockey season, as we saw Malkin vanish from an airport in Finland only to resurface in LA. From there he began on ice training sessions, got into playing shape and arrived in Pittsburgh to sign his first professional contract on September 5.

Malkin reported to Penguins rookie/training camp and he was as advertised. He was impressive against the rookies, but really began to shine when he was matched against other NHL players. He was starting to wow the Mellon Arena crowds during the intrasquad scrimmages and was flashing all the tools that had him dubbed: "The best player in the world not in the NHL." Though it wasn't a true game situation the 6'3" 185lb Malkin was getting a taste of the success he hoped to have in North America.

It looked as though nothing could keep Evgeni Malkin from achieving his goal of being on the Penguins opening night roster. Unfortunately, fate was still working overtime and Malkin would be forced to miss the start of the season after all. He was injured September 20 during his preseason debut, when he collided with teammate John LeClair. Malkin had been impressive in the first period and was skating his first shift of the second, when he tried to feed LeClair in the slot. He laid a perfect saucer pass across to LeClair who lost his footing and crashed into the end boards. Malkin, who was circling the net, tried to avoid LeClair, but ended up crashing headfirst into the ice, dislocating his shoulder in the process. Malkin's status wasn't clear at that point and his season was suddenly in doubt. His dream on hold again.

Malkin remained in high spirits and started his rehab program. Rumors were rampant that he would be out 3 to 6 months with shoulder surgery, but the team was very tight lipped about the injury. Almost overnight, Malkin was making significant progress. He accompanied the team on its final road trip of the preseason and began skating with teammates. He continued his quick progress but was expected to miss all the month of October. Positive reports continued to leak out of his skating sessions, and he began going through full practices with the team this past week. No one was sure of when he would debut.

That question was answered yesterday when the team announced that Malkin would dig his blades into an NHL sheet of ice for the first time this Wednesday, October 18, against the New Jersey Devils. Malkin couldn't be happier. "I'm in good shape, I feel good and my arm is good so everything is well," said Malkin through interpreter Sergei Gonchar.

Malkin will skate on a line with Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone, a duo he developed some chemistry with during training camp. The Penguins are hoping that getting this talented young center into the line-up will jump-start the offense. Malkin hopes to jump-start his chase for the Calder Trophy, and to finally reach his goal of playing in the NHL.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Penguins Set To Face Hurricanes....

The Pittsburgh Penguins face the Caroline Hurricanes tonight at 7:30. The Penguins look to build upon their improved play and add another to the win column. Carolina picked up it's first win of the season last night and have not gotten off to the start that they had hoped as reigning Stanley Cup Champions.

The Penguins did not fare very well against Carolina last season, going 1-3 in their 4 meetings.

Tonight will mark the first time that Jordan and Eric Staal square off in an NHL game. Is there a bit of a family rivalry brewing here? According to the Jordan there may be: "We always try to do better than the other, and that's probably what brought us all to the next level, our competitiveness and pushing each other to do better."

Jordan is playing everyday in the league as if it will be his last of the season. There are only 6 games left until the team will make a decision on sending him back to his junior team. He has been doing his best to make it as hard as possible. The younger Staal has not looked out of place one bit. He is sound defensively and Head Coach Michel Therrien is using him in all situations. Staal scored his first career goal Thursday night against the Rangers on a short handed break away.

Players to Watch:

Sidney Crosby: Crosby tied his career high with 4 points in New York on Thursday. Some in the Hockey Pool world were beginning to panic when "the Kid" only had 2 points after 2 games.
Ryan Whitney: Whitney scored 2 impressive goals Thursday night, but has had his defense called into question on several occasions this year, look for him to make adjustments in the defensive zone.
Marc Andre Fleury: Look for Marc Andre Fleury to continue his strong start to the season against a Carolina team that has struggled as of late. Though he yielded 5 goals in his last start, he has only allowed 7 on the season.

Eric Staal: Look for Staal to pick it up against the Penguins, a team he tends to have success against. This 100 pt scorer will be looking to add to his point total that stands at 3 (2G 1A) through 5 games.
Justin Williams: Williams who has 11 pts in 17 career games against the Penguins is something of a Penguins killer. The Penguins young defense will have their hands full with him tonight.
Cam Ward: Ward is looking to bounce back after a sluggish start to the season. He has notched only 1 win in 4 attempts and is hoping to bring down a GAA of 3.43.

Penguins win 4-2


Crosby, Armstrong, Staal, Gonchar

Staal, Brind'amour

This blog can also be read at: www.hockeybuzz.com

Cuban To Join Balsillie???

Is Mark Cuban going to partner with Jim Balsillie to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins? It is a possibility. It is being reported today in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that Cuban sent Balsillie an email to inform him of his interest in joining him. Balsillie supposedly sent a nice reply to Cuban, but he didn't give him an answer.

Cuban, who was part of the Andy Murstein group along with Dan Marino, has been rumored to be interested in the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates for quite some time. He is a passionate sports fan, as evidenced by his antics court side as he cheers on his Dallas Mavericks. He is willing to spend money to win and doesn't like to lose. He would do what it took to keep Pittsburgh's young core together.

Cuban would love to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh and this can only be looked at as a good thing. More to come...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Copps Coliseum Deal Cancelled By Mystery Group

The group that had previously purchased exclusive rights to the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario has cancelled its agreement with the city.

This news comes a week after Jim Balsillie signed a purchase agreement to purchase the Penguins. Though not officially confirmed, Mr. Balsillie was thought to be the moneyman behind the aforementioned group. The cancellation of the agreement is thought to be a move to dispatch fears of the team’s possible move out of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Balsillie has been very adamant about keeping the team in Pittsburgh as long as a favorable arena plan is reached. Which seems a lot more feasible today than even 6 months ago. The move also comes hand in hand with news of the Isle of Capri's bid gaining momentum in the chase for the stand alone slots license in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh may just keep their Penguins yet!

This Blog Can Also Be Read at www.hockeybuzz.com

Malkin to Make Debut Soon!

Evgeni Malkin is set to make his debut soon according to coach Michel Therrien. He has been out with a dislocated shoulder since September 20, when he collided with teammate John LeClair. This is great news. The team has been shuffling it's lines since the season started, but are expected to go back to their original top 2 lines when Malkin returns.

Line 1: Crosby, Armstrong, Ekman
Line 2: Malkin, Recchi, Malone

From www.postgazette.com:
Penguins' Malkin could make NHL debut in days

Friday, October 13, 2006By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin could make his NHL debut in a matter of days.

Malkin received contact in practice today for the first time since dislocating his left shoulder Sept. 20, and coach Michel Therrien raised the possibility that, pending further medical evaluation, Malkin could be in the lineup as early as Wednesday, when the Penguins will face New Jersey at Mellon Arena.

"I hope (he'll play in) less than a week," Therrien said. "We'll see. But he's close."

Malkin wore a black shoulder support under his hockey gear during practice and had ice on his shoulder afterward, but his play betrayed no problems related to his injury.

"He's making some great progress," Therrien said. "Evgeni's working really hard to get back into the lineup as soon as possible. We're excited about the way he's come along with that injury. He's close. He's close."

Pens Win Shootout At The MSG Corral

The Penguins won a 6-5 decision on a Sidney Crosby goal with 3 seconds left in regulation. This will do wonders for the team's confidence level. They have proven, though it is early, that they can play multiple styles: wide-open and tight defense oriented. Plus they can win doing it.

This game was back and forth all night as the Rangers and Penguins exchanged goal after goal. It didn't start out that way though, as each team seemed to have some problems getting things going in the first period. The ice seemed to be a bit soft and it was very noticeable as the puck bounced around often. No score after one.

The second period started with a bang, as Jordan Staal scored his first NHL goal in spectacular fashion. Staal stole a Jaromir Jagr pass in the defensive zone and went end to end for a short-handed tally, all the while being hooked by former Penguin, Michael Rozsival. Staal shoulder deked and blew a shot past goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Things opened up from there, and the Rangers tied it on a Jaromir Jagr wrist shot from the slot. The boys in blue quickly took the lead on a Matt Cullen backhand and the Rangers seemed to have control of the game.

Kristopher LeTang stole some momentum as he fired a laser guided wrist shot into the upper right hand corner off a slick feed from Sidney Crosby to tie the game at two. The goal was LeTang's first in the NHL making the night special for he and Staal, who are both rumored to be heading back to their respective Junior teams.

The teams went on to exchange power play goals and the period ended tied at 3.
The third frame was wide open and the teams went goal for goal until Crosby notched his late winner.

Both teams had been struggling on the power play, but that changed tonight. The Penguins went 4-9 and the Rangers 3-9.

Sidney Crosby looked very good in tying his career high with a 4-point night (1G 3A). He was at his playmaking best tonight and could have had another couple points.

Ryan Whitney played one of his better games and scored 2 goals. Could this be a sign of things to come?

Marc Andre Fleury doesn't have a great statistical line tonight, but he player very well again in stopping 37 of 42 shots.

Goal scorers:

Pittsburgh: Staal, LeTang, Ouellet, Whitney (2), Crosby

New York: Jagr, Cullen, Hall, Nylander, Shanahan

Pregame predictions were off. However, it was correct about a 1 goal Penguin win. I also nailed 4 of 11 goal scorers. If I were a major league baseball player I would be a superstar with that kind of success rate. Shots were close though..... It is the small victories in life.


Next Game: Carolina Hurricanes - Saturday 7:30

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Pens Finally Get Back To Business

The Pittsburgh Penguins will finally get back to game action tonight at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Or as we like to call them: Penguins East. That is sort of an exaggeration these days, considering that they are down to 4 former Pens: Jaromir Jagr, Marty Sraka, Darius Kasparaitus and Michael Rozsival.

The Penguins/Rangers rivalry dates back to the late '80s when the two teams were regular playoff opponents. Most recently the Rangers have lit the goal lamp with regularity against some pretty pedestrian Penguin teams, with the Flightless Bird stealing a few periodic wins. This season could be more of the same, as the Rangers have a fairly prolific offense, featuring the aforementioned Jagr, Straka and the newly acquired Brendan Shanahan.

Though the Penguins have been much improved defensively, they have only been able to generate 34 shots in their 2 games, resulting in 4 goals. They will have to pick up the offense tonight to hang in with their former superstar and his mates.

They have gotten spectacular goaltending from 21 year old, Marc Andre Fleury, and he will have to be sharp tonight. This is the third consecutive opponent who placed in the top 1/3 of the league in scoring and had notched 100 pts last season.

Sidney Crosby and Nils Ekman will both suit up after being injured in separate incidents earlier in the week. Crosby will most likely skate with Colby Armstrong and Mark Recchi, while Ekman will take the ice with Ryan Malone and John LeClair. The same line-combos that head Coach Michel Therrien crafted midway through the Detroit game Saturday night.

The Penguins power play has yet to notch a goal, but they have not allowed one either. The team has focused on their power play during the layoff, and hope that it can be the difference tonight.


Predictions for tonight:

Penguins 3New York Rags 2

Goal scorers:


Gonchar, Crosby, and Malone

New York:

Jagr, Shanahan

Pens outshot 39-24

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crosby Poised for Big Sophmore Season - Staal and LeTang to Head Back?

Sidney Crosby broke into the league last season as one of the most hyped rookies in the history of the National Hockey League. This came with an unprecedented level of pressure and he spent the season under a microscope. All he did under those circumstances was go out and earn the respect of his teammates, become the youngest player in history to notch 100 pts, come in second in the rookie of the year race and bring Penguins fans out of their seats on a nightly basis.

How does a 19 year old top that? Well, he trains harder than ever before, works on his face-off ability, his skating, his defense and comes to terms with the fact that he is now a team leader in Pittsburgh. Once surrounded by "vets in the room," he is now one himself. At least on this young Penguin team.

The hard work has paid off for him and he is clearly faster. Crosby was no slouch in the skating department, but he has an extra step this season and it has been obvious since the earliest days of training camp. He regularly accelerated past teammates to create scoring chances for his line, and it continued in the preseason. He posted 2 G 7 A in 4 games played. He hasn't gotten off to as blazing a start in the regular season, but the team has only played 2 games. He has still managed 2 points against two tough opponents, Philadelphia and Detroit.

Crosby is a fiery competitor and he plays with a ton of emotion, this has occasionally gotten him in trouble. However, he seems to have harnessed his emotions and his only 2 penalty minutes came in an altercation with Peter Forsberg on opening night. Crosby hasn't barked at the referees and is leading teammates by example.

A player like Crosby cannot stand to lose, he is a winner by nature. The thing that makes him so amazing is that he doesn't seem to realize how good he is. He doesn't, at least publicly, set statistical goals for himself. He just does goes out and plays. If he faces adversity, he gets through it. Conflicts do not bring him down and he rarely has a bad word to say about anyone. This quote from the "Kid" sums it up: "A lot of different things have happened, but that's why you don't go into a season with any expectations. There are things you can't always prepare for. That's hockey. That's life. If you think about what could happen or what may happen, your energy's not in the right place. The game hasn't changed on the ice, and I don't think it ever will. I came here to play hockey. That remains my job and my focus."

This young man has grown exponentially since he was drafted 2 summers ago, and now he is challenged to write an even more spectacular chapter in year two. A challenge he is more than capable of overcoming.

Mark Madden, in Pittsburgh, has reported that Evgeni Malkin participated in a full workout with his teammates today. However, word leaked out today that he will likely not play in a game until the team heads out west for a road trip the first week of November.

It is also believed that the team is likely going to send Jordan Staal and Kristopher LeTang back to their respective Junior teams. General manager Ray Shero has been pleased with both players, but the team may not want to lose a contract year on either, especially when they are averaging 10-12 minutes a game. Both would be stand out players back on their junior teams.

Shero once had to break this news to Marion Hossa, and feels that it did him a lot of good. He is hoping for the same result with his two young guns.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Isle of Capri Gets a Boost!

According to a news report that circulated this afternoon on MSNBC, "experts" are now saying that the Isle of Capri gaming company is now in very good position to win the stand alone slots license in Pittsburgh.

The info comes from Equity Research Gaming published by the Susquehanna Financial Group. It states that there are new odds predicting who will win the stand alone slots license, and they are very favorible when it comes to IOC. The report shows that the odds for the IOC bid have increased, the odds for Station Square Gaming have decreased and the odds for PITG have stayed the same. These changes, according to the report, put IOC in the strongest position to win the license.

This news breaks just days after the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-CEO of Research in Motion - a company that markets Blackberry wireless products and services, has signed a purchase agreement to purchase the team.

Many people feared that Mr. Balsillie's intention was to move the Penguins out of Pittsburgh and into Hamilton, Ontario, but those fears may have been premature. Mr. Balsillie stressed the fact that he wants to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh if a new arena can be built.

Local government in Pittsburgh has attached themselves to Plan B, an alternative to the IOC partnership with the Penguins, and claims that a new arena will be built here regardless of who wins the Slots license. This is by no means a sure thing, but it is a ray of hope.

If the Isle of Capri wins the stand alone slots license, it guarantees that the Penguins stay in Pittsburgh. Lets hope that becomes a reality.

Something else to keep an eye on is the fact that Harrah's Entertainment Inc. is being sued by a couple of it's shareholders. The shareholders are crying foul over the proposed Texas Pacific Group and Apollo Management stock buyout. If this grows into a bigger situation it could hurt Harrah's chances for winning the Pittsburgh slots license even more. This is part of the reason for their odds dropping in the first place.

Cross your fingers Pens fans.....

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Penguins Impoved to Start Season

The Pittsburgh Penguins look to be much improved in several facets of their game from last season.

They have gotten the goaltending that they were hoping for from Marc-Andre Fleury, even after a sub par camp. The young goaltender has been very solid against two tough opponents, shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers on opening night and allowing only 2 goals to the Detroit Redwings last night. Fleury has controlled his rebounds and made big saves when the team has needed them. Though the team scored 4 goals opening night, it was Fleury who deserved the most credit for the victory. He has allowed 2 goals in the first two games, and if the team could have gotten any sustained pressure against detroit they could feasibly be 2-0. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Ray Shero made improving the penalty kill one of his priorities when he took over as GM of the Penguins and that has been very evident so far. He brought in defenseman Mark Eaton and forward Jarkko Ruutu. Both have already proven their worth in helping the team kill off 12 power plays in the two games. Eaton is not flashy, but he always seems to make the right play with the puck, especially short handed. He gets himself in great position to make the right plays. Body positioning seems to be a big part of his game, cutting opposing forwards off from the puck. Ruutu has sacrificed his body to block shots during each game. He is not afraid to drop in front opposing shooters and take one in the chest for the team. Both players have been and will be great assets throughout the season. Their tenacity has rubbed off on their teammates, and Therrien has used multiple combinations to kill penalties.

Unfortunately, as well as the team has played short handed, they need to cut down on scoring chances and shots for the opposition. In the two games they have been outshot 66-34. This is not a formula for success, eventually the law of averages is going to catch up to you and more of those shots are going to find the back of the net. Fleury has been great, but he can't do it all. The team has got to play better in their own zone, getting the puck up the boards and out, while at the same time getting shots on net in the offensive zone. Too many times this year, they have past on open shots trying to set up the "perfect play." If you have an open shot, take it. You never know what is going to happen. Deflections and rebounds generate just as many, if not more points that tic tac toe passing. Part the solution to the problem will come when Evgeni Malkin rejoins the line-up in the next couple weeks.

What is going on with the lines?
Michel Therrien kept his core lines together throughout the preseason, but suddenly abandoned them last night. Sidney Crosby, Colby Armstrong and Nils Ekman are a strong unit and need to play together. They have really settled in together and have looked very good. Could it be that Therrien realized that the current number 2 line of Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Ryan Malone is just to slow? Maybe. That could be the reason that he switched Ekman and Recchi. It wasn't an effective switch. Recchi has seemed to turn the puck over more in the first two games than I ever remember and didn't seem to be a good fit with Armstrong and Crosby. Ekman had a couple chances with Malone and LeClair, but it also didn't seem to mesh. Hopefully this situation is straightened out before Thursday night. A scheduling quirk has given them 5 days to get work out the kinks.

When Will Malkin Return?
Early word had Malkin missing as little as two games, but the prognosis has changed a bit. He is still working out with the team and went through his first full practice since the injury yesterday. He was moving fine, showing some speed and taking some shots at full force. All signs pointed to the original time table, unfortunately, the team seems to be leaning towards holding him out a bit longer. It is not a guarantee, but he may not play for a few more weeks. They are being very cautious with the injury and do not want to risk further injury to the young star. The one positive is that the league has only scheduled the Penguins to play 9 games in October, a small price to pay for an extra month of recovery and if Malkin is capable of what we all think he is, it shouldn't hurt his quest for the Calder.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Line-Up for Opening Night.....

Here is the Penguins line-up for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers....

Sidney Crosby, Nils Ekman, Colby Armstrong
Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi, John LeClair
Dominic Moore, Jarkko Ruutu, Michel Ouellet
Jordan Staal, Chris Thorburn, Karl Stewart/Andre Roy

Sergei Gonchar, Mark Eaton
Ryan Whitney, Josef Melichar
Rob Scuderi, Kristopher LeTang

Marc-Andre Fleury, Jocelyn Thibault

Should be a nice indication of how far the Pens have come from last year. They always play tough against their cross-state rival, but have been dominated by Philadelphia over the years. Especially and most recently, by the Flyer's top line or Petr Forsberg, Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble.

My prediction: Pens with a 4-2 victory. Crosby, Armstrong(2) and Ouellet on the PP. Philly, Gagne (2).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

From Blackberrys to Penguins....

The Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have found their buyer, and it is Blackberry founder Jim Balsillie. Balsillie, who has not commented as of yet surfaced as the buyer earlier today. The sale is rumored to be in the area of $175 million and could be officially announced at a press conference tomorrow.

This is scary news for a lot of Penguins fans, and is playing into a lot of what I have mentioned in the past. Balsillie is on record as wanting to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario and if the stand alone slots license in Pittsburgh is not awarded to the Isle of Capri, there is no real reason for him to keep the team here.

Balsillie would be obligated to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh if IOC gets the license, if they don't??? Well, he would have to consider plan B. Which is exactly the kind of deal that local government in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said wasn't available in the past. They told the Penguins that public financing wasn't available and that they should find a private interest who would build the area. Well, they did that and while they were at it, they turned up the heat. They were also willing to redevelop a part of the city that is in great need, the lower Hill District.

Once local government saw that the Pens were serious about their plan and were willing to leave town without a new building, they acted swiftly on plan B. Knowing full well that the Penguins were in line to get a check for $290 million, they offered a deal that would cost the Penguins upward of $8.5 million up front and $2.5 million per season for 30 years. If I were the Penguins I might scoff at this, and of course they have been slow to commit.

Local government has sort of painted the Penguins as the bad guy in this situation, and have been doing so for almost a year. They have talked openly in the media about the Penguins forbidding possible buyers from negotiating a long term lease with the city for a new building, even though that could possibly cause a problem with a business partner. They have also stated that they are doing everything possible to keep the team here. That may be true today, but it wasn't so over the course of the past 7 years that Mario Lemieux has owned this team. Lemieux had a handshake agreement that stated if he bought the team out of bankruptcy, there would be a new publicly funded arena at some point, and it hasn't happened. There has been a lot of run around and false promises.

Mellon Arena is the oldest building in the league, and though it has its personality, it is time for a change. I agree that local government may be trying their best today, but my biggest fear is that the politicians have realized the importance of a new building a bit late. At this point, it looks as though Pittsburgh is going to get a new multipurpose arena, but will they have a team?

The only hope in Pittsburgh is that the league blocks any move, since Commissioner Gary Bettman believes in the market and plan B could be considered a viable option. There is also the whole Hamilton situation to consider. The fact that the team could possibly be moving into a situation where they may have a building issue could halt any move.

The building in Hamilton, at least from what I have heard, is in the same generation as Mellon Arena. It does not have enough luxury suites to meet the needs of an NHL team. Plus, is the fan support there? I know it was only a preseason game, but Hamilton's own media pointed out the lack of interest in the Penguins appearance there last week. There were not enough bodies in the seats, and it was a game featuring a "local" team (Buffalo), and Sidney Crosby. You would have thought that they would have come out in mass for a chance to see their future team, it didn't happen.

The optimist in me thinks that this will all be water under the bridge and the Penguins will continue in Pittsburgh. Balsillie has said he is willing to consider the options and keep the team here, but I am not feeling very comfortable. The Penguins have one of the brightest futures in the league....please let it be in Pittsburgh.

Link to story from Hamilton Spectator after Pens Preseason game with poor attendance: Hamilton Spectator

Penguins Lose Sabourin - Orpik Hurt

The Vancouver Canucks have claimed goaltender Dany Sabourin. Sabourin was waived yesterday to clear space on the 23 man roster for Chris Thorborn. Sabourin was the AHL's goalie of the year last season and had a very impressive camp for the Penguins. He will be missed, especially in Wilkes Barre-Scranton. He will most likely be the primary back-up to Roberto Luongo.

Brooks Orpik sustained a hand injury during a training camp scrimmage and it has gotten progressively worse. He will be out of the line-up for tomorrow night's home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. It hasn't been determined if he will require surgery or not.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pens Acquire Thorburn

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired rugged, 6'3" 210 lb forward, Chris Thorburn. Thorburn was waived by the Buffalo Sabres after having a very strong camp for the team. The Penguins had ample opportunity to watch him in action after meeting Buffalo several times during the preseason.

The Penguins will have to make a roster move to get back to the 23 man limit.

Staal, LeTang sign......Malkin Update..

Jordan Staal and Kristropher LeTang each signed entry level deals Monday prior to the 5:00pm deadline. Staal's deal calls for a salary of $850,000 plus incentives. Letang's was in that same range, but believed to be less. Both players will be with the Penguins on opening night and are expected to spend at least 9 games with the team, at which point a decision will be made on both.

Evegni Malkin has been working out with the team, trying to get into playing shape. It is doubtful that he will be ready for the Thursday opener, but he is making progress. Malkin is slated to be re-evaluated on Friday, and could be ready by next week. No time table has been released for his return, but it sounds like it will be sooner rather than later. Malkin has not officially been ruled out of the first two games, but it is speculated that those are the only games he will miss. Stay tuned.....could be an interesting week as the countdown to face-off continues!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fleury to Start Opener - Staal Makes Team

Michel Therrien has announced that Marc-Andre Fleury has made the opening night roster and will start the Thursday night against Philadelphia. The team will go with 3 goaltenders for the short term, with Jocelyn Thibault and Danny Sabourin competing for playing time behind Fleury.

The team also announced that Jordan Staal and Kristopher LeTang have made the team. They will each have to work out contracts before 5:00pm today or be sent back to their respective junior teams. It is being speculated that Staal has already agreed to a contract that has not been announced yet.

The final players sent to Wilkes Barre Scranton are as follows: Dan Carcillo, Libor Pivko, Ryan Stone, Max Talbot, and Noah Welch. Stone and Carcillo were thought to have the best chance of making the team, but the acquisition of Karl Stewart made them expendable.

Pens Season Preview

The Penguins brass met yesterday to determine who will begin the season in Pittsburgh. General manager Ray Shero has been quoted as saying that he would love to keep the 23 guys who had the best camp in Pittsburgh, but due to the contracts of some players, who has to clear waivers etc, he will have to consider all options. Shero has also gone on record as saying that he will most likely keep less than the maximum roster, because he would like to have some flexibility to claim a player or two from waivers. It seems as if he is expecting a decent player or two to be passed through as teams trim their own fat in preparation for the season. The final cuts will probably be announced at some point today.

Shero is also negotiating with the agents for Jordan Staal and Kristopher Letang. Both of these players, due to age, will have to return to their junior teams if a deal is not worked out by 5:00pm today. If deals are not negotiated for these two players it will make a couple of decisions easy for Shero. No deal, no 9 game look and they head back. Shero stated that he will continue to negotiate with these players, even if the deadline is missed.

On to the preview.....

The Penguins forwards should definitely be the strength of the team. What more can you say than Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. These two will make up one of the most dangerous 1-2 punches in the league.

The top line looks like it will be fabulous with Colby Armstrong picking up where he left off last year, and the newly acquired Nils Ekman looking as if he has been playing with Crosby and Armstrong for years. Malkin will center Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone forming what could be a top line on many teams. Dominic Moore, Ryan Stone, Jarkko Ruutu and Max Talbot will bring high energy to the rink every night. John LeClair will find his niche and will contribute 20-25 goals. Michel Ouellet will most likely play a 3rd or 4th line role, but will spend time on the power play in sort of a specialist role. Andre Roy is still on board and will play a checking role and bring some toughness. Jordan Staal looks as if he will be in the mix, at least short term, after having a good camp.

Sergei Gonchar has looked like the player the Penguins thought they were getting last season, when they signed him to a 5 year, $5 million deal. He has been solid defensively and getting his shot on net, which has translated into goals. He should have a nice year playing on a team that boasts such quality forwards. Mark Eaton was brought in to solidify the defense and he has looked solid throughout the preseason. Brooks Orpik has looked better than in past years and seems to be developing well. Ryan Whitney has struggled during the preseason, but has settled down a bit the past couple of games and will most likely make the roster. The team also has Josef Melichar and Eric Cairns who can fill in on any given night. Noah Welch looks like he will be the odd man out during the final cut. He hasn't been head and shoulders above his peers, plus he does not have to clear waivers to be sent down. The team is hoping to sign Kristopher Letang, who has impressed throughout camp and looks to be a future power play quarterback in the league.

This is a major area of concern heading into the season. Marc-Andre Fleury was handed the keys to the proverbial car coming into camp, but he hasn't done too much to keep them. Fleury has been inconsistent at best, and just hasn't looked comfortable. He has been getting beaten over his glove hand, an area of weakness last season and has allowed some big rebounds. He did have a decent outing to end the preseason Saturday night, but will it be enough to keep him in Pittsburgh. I think that it was. He will get a chance to start the season. Jocelyn Thibault, coming off of season ending hip surgery last year, is the most likely back-up candidate. He has had a decent camp, but hasn't dazzled in games either. Thibault seems to get tired late in games, and that has resulted in allowing some questionable goals. That can't happen in the regular season. Danny Sabourin has probably been the best goaltender in camp, but will most likely be the go to guy in Wilkes Barre-Scranton.

Special Teams:
The Penguins power play almost seems like a fantasy league team, and should produce at a great clip. The number one unit will probably look something like this: Crosby, Malkin, Recchi, Gonchar, Ekman. John LeClair, Colby Armstrong, Michel Ouellet, Ryan Whitney and Kristopher Letang could also see time. This group won't have too much trouble moving the puck and should be dominant. The one problem could be over passing looking for the pretty play.

The penalty killing unit has been dramatically upgraded from last season when the Penguins should have just conceded the power play goal to the opposition because they couldn't stop them from scoring. General manager Ray Shero focused on this area in free agency and brought in Jarkko Ruutu and Mark Eaton, both great penalty killers. Eaton was among the league leaders in blocked shots last season. He then made one of his shrewedest moves, trading for Dominic Moore. This kid has a ton of potential. Not only is he a great checker and full of energy, but he has some nice hands. My bet is that Moore is among the league leaders in short handed goals before the season ends. Crosby, Malkin, Recchi and Malone will also see time on the penalty kill. The unit should be a positive for the team.


Some personnel moves will be determined by the moves Ray Shero makes with his injured players. Ronald Petrovicky, signed via free agency, and Eric Cairns will begin the year on the injured reserve list. The team is also making a determination on Evgeni Malkin, who is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder. He could start the season on injured reserve as well, but it would be retroactive to the date of his injury and will be eligible to come off at any time. These will most likely be the flex roster spots that Shero wants to keep open for possible incoming waiver claims.