The NHL closes up the regular season tomorrow and the playoff race in the Eastern conference is no where near settled. The Penguins can finish anywhere from second to fourth and there are three teams not named the Penguins fighting for their playoff lives.
Pens winger Alexei Ponikarovsky has been suspended by the NHL for two games for boarding Josh Bailey of the NY Islanders on Thursday night, Kunitz will miss the game also tonight with a suspected shoulder injury. Talbot and Rupp will be seeing time on Malkin’s line and Eric Godard will also be skating for the Penguins this evening. Once again, I would post lines, but Bylsma will mix them up after 5 minutes anyway.
NBC seems to have made a big mistake scheduling the Washington Capitals vs Boston Bruins game tomorrow afternoon. The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, two of the NHL’s biggest markets will be battling it out in a winner take all scenario that has the winner getting a playoff spot and the loser heading out to the golf course.
The Penguins organization was pressing the NHL to have the All-Star Game played at their new home the Consol Energy Center next year but lost out to the Carolina Hurricanes. I think it would be a bit much and the NHL would be showing favoritism if the ALL-Star Game in Winter Classic were held in Pittsburgh in the same year.
If the Pens end up finishing in fourth place, they will be facing the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs. The Senators just announced ex-Penguin Alexei Kovalev who is 4th on the Senators in overall scoring will be sidelined the rest of the season and playoffs with a torn ACL.
Sidney Crosby is locked in a goal scoring race with Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. Ovechkin has 50, Crosby 49 and Stamkos 48. Crosby has 2 games left, Ovechkin and Stamkos each only have 1 game left.
Sidney Crosby is also battling for the Art Ross Trophy with Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin. Ovechkin has 109, Sedin 108 and Crosby 104. Crosby has a game in hand over both Sedin and Ovechkin.
Sidney Crosby is also in the race for MVP. How many players in the NHL locked in the race for the prestigious goal scoring trophy, who got credit for a goal and with no video evidence otherwise, would contact the stats people and say he didn’t get the goal. Only 1, the leagues MVP Sidney Crosby the 100% unselfish team player who wanted to win the game against the Capitals the other night more than he cared if Ovechkin passed him up in goal scoring with an empty net goal.
Last year the Capitals fans all claimed Ovechkin deserved the MVP because he did not have a supporting cast around him. This year he all of the sudden has one of the best supporting casts around. A supporting cast so good, they have a higher winning percentage and goals scored per game when he is not playing.
Boy do I feel like a dufus. Last night I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named Bob Grove at a restaurant in the north hills and we debated hockey for a while and he told me he does Penguins post game shows on WXDX. He was extremely nice and courteous as I probably babbled on and on beings that I had a few beers in me. The name Bob Grove sounded familiar to me but I had no idea who he was, and everyone I know said yeah, the Grover, that guys great, I listen to him on the way home from games all the time. I’ve been going to games since the mid 80′s and have never turned the radio on while driving home. I will now.
In my defense, most of my friends that are very familiar with Bob Grove are the ones who leave games early. That’s a no no in my book.
Jaromir Jagr was not at the final regular season Penguins game because if he left his team in Russia he would have had to forfeit a million some dollars even though his teams season is over. The Penguins maybe should have had Jagr do a video taped message for arena. Other than that, the job the team did putting everything together was spectacular and is the main reason they keep filling the seats. Well, that and the on ice product.
Where was Kevin Stevens on Thursday night??? Stevens works as a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins, yet couldn’t show up for the big event? Was he scouting something that important? When they named all of the Penguins that couldn’t be there because of prior engagements, Kevin Stevens’ name NOT was mentioned. Hmmmm.
This is the last game of the season for the Atlanta Thrashers and many of their regulars will be out of the lineup tonight with injury.
Gametime is 7PM and can be seen in HD at the Philips Arena or on FSN. *I’m guessing Bob Grove will be doing post game on WXDX FM.