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Penguins Stun Capitals 2-0 in Game 7 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Stun Capitals 2-0 in Game 7

The benumbed expression on the faces of the Washington Capitals as they lined up for the traditional post-series handshake pretty much said it all.

After stumbling through the previous two contests in zombie-like fashion, the real Pittsburgh Penguins showed up last night at the Verizon Center in DC. Indeed, for the first time in a good, long while the Pens produced an effort worthy of defending Stanley Cup champions, resulting in a stunning 2-0 Game Seven triumph.

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“That might be the best game that we’ve played in the playoffs to this point, and I thought that was the closest thing to the Penguins identity that we’ve seen in the playoffs so far,” noted Pens coach Mike Sullivan.

I fully understand the Capitals’ collective shock. It wasn’t the outcome I expected, either. Truth be told, I thought I’d be writing the Pens’ epitaph this morning. Especially when the first five minutes or so resembled a continuation of our horrific Game Six loss.

While the Caps—flush with recent success—attacked with fire and purpose, the Pens collapsed almost by reflex into a defensive shell. Marc-Andre Fleury resembled a puppet dancing on tangled wires, scrambling this way and that in a desperate attempt to keep the puck out of his net.

Frankly, I thought we were goners.

“Go!” I yelled in wide-eyed exasperation as Sidney Crosby cleared the puck but failed to follow up, instead chasing off for a line change. “Goooooooooo!

It was gut-check time, plain and simple.

Mercifully, our guys responded. Slowly at first, with a cautious thrust or two. Then, in a bold stroke, as Evgeni Malkin stripped the puck from countryman Dmitry Orlov, zoomed into the Washington end and tested Caps goalie Braden Holtby with one his patently brilliant maneuvers that remind me so much of Mario Lemieux.

Unfortunately, “Geno” tripped T.J. Oshie seconds later to open the door for the Caps. Carter Rowney, one of two prescient lineup additions by Sullivan, led a determined penalty kill.

Soon, we were skating on even terms with our hosts. A little puck luck didn’t hurt, especially when ex-Pen Daniel Winnik shanked his breakaway attempt after turning Chad Ruhwedel inside out in the neutral zone.

Ruhwedel soon made amends, flattening the pesky Oshie with a jarring check inside the Pens’ blue line. That’s when I truly knew we’d come to play.

Following two iffy outings, Fleury was superb once again. Flashing the leather, No. 29 blunted a rapid-fire shorthanded salvo late in the first period and made game-saving stops on Andre Burakovsky, Alex Ovechkin and Lars Eller early in the second.

“Flower’s” heroics paved the way for a Pens counterstrike near the nine-minute mark. Ian Cole made an alert play at the point to push the puck to Crosby. Sid immediately fed Jake Guentzel, who spotted Bryan Rust cruising below the right circle. Guentzel hit Rust with a slashing, cross-crease pass and the Notre Dame grad did the rest, launching a one-timer over Holtby’s shoulder.

The Pens padded their lead at 4:14 of the third period on a lightning-bolt of a goal by Patric Hornqvist, courtesy of a turnover by “the Great Eight,” Ovechkin. The salty Swede flagged down a hurried chip from teammate Justin Schultz, stickhandled around Kevin Shattenkirk, and roofed a backhander off the crossbar and in.

Backed by Fleury’s immaculate goaltending, the Pens shut down the Caps the rest of the way.

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“It was a long series against a good team,” noted Fleury afterward. “They came hard at us till the end, and we’re proud of the way we played tonight and the way we handled the pressure and these guys over the series.”

Amen, Flower. Glad to finally have the Caps in our rearview mirror.

Eight down. Eight to go.

Kudos to Sully

Sullivan and assistants Jacques Martin and Rick Tocchet made a ton of key adjustments. The black-and-gold forwards appeared to venture deeper in the defensive zone to help with the transitions. Especially active, the Pens’ defense pinched at every prudent opportunity, enabling the locals to keep the pressure on the Caps.

“Sully” was quick to credit his troops for the victory.

“I don’t know if I can say enough about this group of players,” he said. “We’ve been through so much since I’ve been here. They just always find a way to respond the right way to any of the challenges or the adversities that this league throws at us, and they did it again tonight. I think these guys are at their best when the stakes are high.”

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Puckpourri

Washington again controlled the action from a statistical standpoint. The Capitals held an edge in shot attempts (61-48), shots on goal (29-28), faceoffs (36-23) and hits (32-29). In typical black-and-blue fashion, the Pens blocked 19 shots to the Caps 9.

It truly was a team victory, as 10 Penguins finished the game a plus. Fleury made 29 saves to earn star of the game honors. Rust was named the second star.

Rowney and Scott Wilson dressed in place of Carl Hagelin and Tom Kuhnhackl. Carter registered three hits, two shots on goal and two takeaways. “Willy” dished out two hits and swapped punches with former Pen Brooks Orpik in the third period. It was the first fight in an NHL Game Seven since 1993.

Brian Dumoulin played a particularly strong game on defense. The Maine native led all skaters in ice time (23:40) and recorded three hits and three blocked shots. Hornqvist and Olli Maatta paced the Pens with four hits apiece.

Ovechkin was on the ice for both Penguins goals.

It’s the Pens ‘n’ Sens in the Eastern Conference Final. The series opener is slated for Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
 
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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47 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 11, 2017 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick
    FYI
    I see Russian media is saying Ovi was playing with a lower body injury during the Caps- Pen’s series. Plus he will not be playing in the World championships being played now in Europe.
    Maybe he got hurt in Toronto when Nazeem
    Kadri gave him a legal open ice hip check.
    Now some are saying Trotz moved Ovi from the top line to the third line because he was injured.
    Interesting stuff Rick.

    On a another matter the Ottawa news paper just said Erik Karelson has 2 fractured bones in his foot. Not 1 but 2!
    Plus he has bruised ribs. He means a lot to their team.

    That could be a difference.

    • May 12, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      hey Jim, They announced those foot fractures before the Rangers series. The guy is a machine. First I’ve heard about the bruised ribs.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 12, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Hey Phil,
        He must be a machine. How do you play on 2 fractured bones in the same foot and skate the way he does? The pressure on his foot just turning and stopping would be immense. Constant pain !
        They must fill him up ever night with Morphine before he goes on the ice. He was walking with a special cast on his foot and a cane at the rink in Ottawa earlier this week.
        He means a lot to their team.

        Lets go Pen’s.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 12, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      Just saw a couple of interesting articles on the NHL web site;

      First discussed the possible dissolution of the Caps. I have heard this from as far back as the beginning of the PO from my friends in DC. Interesting enough the Article discussed 2-scenarios. One the Caps try and do what the Pens did two years ago, retool in flight while they may still have some years left in Ovie. In that sceario Trotz is sacrificed, since he has never made it passed the second round in his coaching career. In the other, the Caps sacrifice Ovie, look long term to acquire new, young players, but keep Trotz to develope the kids the bring in.

      The other interesting article; the 5 keys to the Pens – Sens series.

      Karelsson, who they said was the marquee player of this round. They named Karelsson the biggest name in a series that has both Crosby and Malkin in it. They based their choice on what he has done so far in this play-offs. I find that very interesting since Malkin is leading the league in scoring despite having faced 2 of the 3 Vezina candidates and Crosby, Guentzel and Kessel are no sloughes this play-off year either. I don’t want to minimize anything Karelsson has done and he may be the broghtest star in Ottawa, but seems to me, at least at this point, those 4-Pens are better candidates for that marguee moniker.

      Second, They also said Murray was healthy enough to play game 7 last series and that MAF will be on a short leash this series. First, that was a gutsy move by Sully and one I applaud him for. After back to back stink shows, in an elimination game, to go with MAF, a player wearing the title of chock artist, to let him exorcise those demons rather than go with the Kid who has so far proven he has ice water in his veins and possibly better positional play, at least better rebound control. This revelation could blow up your idea of seeing Jarry and possibly seeing Murray unless Fleury is injured. Looks like Sully comes from my school of not changing horses in mid-stream unless you have to. It appears he is committed to live or die with MAF this play-off year.

      The other points weren’t as big to me, one dealt with Methot, who is the player Crosby broke the finger of, Kessel vs Phaneuf, and Sens as cardiac kids barely winning games.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Hey Coach,
        My best source of info is my nephew who manages a restaurant for my sister that is located very close to the Ottawa/Kanata rink where the Sens play. Almost across the street.
        The players,coaches and managers frequent it several times a week. He has managed it for at least 15 -17 years since he graduated Ottawa University, so he knows most of the them on a first name basis.
        It is a well known international food franchise specializing in Healthy Foods, so the guys often eat Lunch or a late supper there.Their families as well.
        I KNOW from real time information that Ottawa are a hurting bunch because the Rangers and the Boston series before nearly killed them.
        Plus Coach, the restaurant chain are a corporate Sponsor of the Sens so my brother in law, sister, and their 4 sons who all manage different locations, all have great bowl seats.( lucky them).
        Half jokingly, I asked my sister if her poor brother from down East could come and use her game 6 ticket and finally see the Pen’s play live. She said sure, but the Sen’s will be gone in 5 games she said. That is how I know about the bruised ribs, one guy has a badly injured wrist, one guy has a concussion, and various other injuries.
        Truth is we are not much better Coach. We are banged up pretty good too !
        Lets go pens …

        * also the Restaurant Chain is a sponsor of Montreal as well so they are always going to Montreal games. Very close by. They can get tickets which in Montreal is hard to do.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          May 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          No Team wins a Stanley Cup without giving up 2 or 3 pints of blood in the process. Of all team sport Championships, the Stanley Cup costs the most in physical punishment and pain. Nor do teams readily admit their injuries until the smoke clears. No one wants to give an opponent any edge, by showing where their weaknesses are. So I don’t doubt Ottawa is battered and bruised.

          If you remember, Cullen played the last 2 series injured, no body knew until it was over. Hagelin may very well be injured. As much as Bonino sacrifices his body, I don’t doubt he may be nursing something. Domoulin is supposed to be nursing something too.

          I don’t like posturing, but I don’t think anyone would deny the Pens are the deeper team.

          Half way home!!

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            May 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

            Hey Coach
            Very true what u say about the NHL playoffs. No other sport has to endure so much for so long.
            Most Ottawa fans were surprised to make the playoffs because they were in a mini rebuilding process.In Ottawa most fans thought Florida and Tampa would be playing instead of them.
            So when their season ends most fans will be very happy to lose to the Cup Champs.

            Remember when u said maybe next year you may come and visit hockey in Montreal and Ottawa…Maybe even Toronto. ..now you know my connection. It is a real possibility …practice your French…haha

            Let’s go Pens

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              May 12, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

              Je fais vraiment un léger français. J’ai pris trois ans de cela à l’école et ma femme et moi sommes allés à Paris lors de notre lune de miel. Il y a environ une vingtaine d’années depuis que j’ai vraiment eu une conversation avec quelqu’un en français. Comment ma commande de la langue est-elle en attente? Je trompe un peu. J’ai dû rechercher quelques mots et je suis incertain, c’est que je l’ai bien écrit. Je devrais probablement demander à ma femme de m’aider. Elle parle beaucoup mieux le français que moi et on m’a dit qu’elle avait un bel accent par les parisiens.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              May 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

              Mon ami.. You surprise me once again.
              Je parle Francis un peu.Votre vocabulaire est plus meilleure que le mien. Ma derneire clase de francais etait plus que 42 ans passe quand j’etait de dans l’Ecole secondarie. Je parle francais meilleure que j’ecris. J’ai donne un appel a ma fils pour m’aider transcris ce message. Je NE veux pas t’insulter par accident! Haha!
              So you will be big help for us at the Bell Center in Montreal.
              Cheers/ Salut.

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              May 12, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

              Okay, so French isn’t either of our strongest language. I definitely will have my tutoring me. Or I guess I could ask her to come along. Neither of us have had a vacation in a long, long time.

              The funniest tale from my time in Paris was one day when me went up to Montmatre and then through Pere Lachaise. She was the only person I really spoke to all morning, Naturally we spoke in English. By the time we got through Pere Lachaise it was lunch time. We had promised each other that we would try and be stereotypical Parisians (by American standards that is). So we only ate in window seats or outside. The Cafes were all crowded by the time we started wanting to eat. We could only find 1 Cafe that had a window seat and none with a seat outside, so I secured the table while she went to wash her hands.

              As I said above she speaks French much better than I do, and I was out of thinking in French since I had only spoke with her all day. When the waiter came up to me and said, “Voulez-vous avoir un verre d’eau” I panicked ,instead of thinking in French I was trying to translate and not doing a good job of that under stress, so I said to him “Je ne parle pas très bien français. Je parle français mal”, I then switched to English because I couldn’t translate in my head fast enough, “My wife speaks French better than I do, wait until she gets back.”

              The Waiter start laughing, good-naturedly and said “I just asked if you wanted a glass of water”.

              We ended up getting much larger portions at that Cafe than we did anywhere else.

  2. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    May 11, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rick,

    Good recap, as usual. Not much to add here except to say, as I said before, I thought if this series went to seven it would be Washington’s triumph. But, I’m usually wrong anyway (It’s why I rarely make such predictions), so no harm done.

    Weighing in on Kunitz, I, too, have been down on him in the past, but he IS a warrior. However, I think what I admire most about him, aside from his grit, is he’s smarter than just about everyone on the ice with him at any given time. I wouldn’t mind if he stuck around another year for a cap-friendly number. I wouldn’t make it a priority, but it could be a nice save if it worked out that way.

    One other thing, re: what I liked about last nights win. For most of the five previous games in this series, the Pens seemed a bit panicked every time they got the puck. Last night they seemed to hold on for an extra beat, or two, to survey the situation. They played a more thoughtful game. They seemed to realize you don’t always have to go up the boards. They were smarter, and more careful, with the puck than they’ve been in some time. It certainly curtailed Washington’s zone time.

    Bring on the Sens, but don’t slough them off. They are a team that, no matter their standing, has a knack for giving the Pens fits.

    And, tOR, dig your “lyrical” post. The Byrds… Yeah!

    55

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 11, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Hey 55,

      Thanks,

      Also, It did seem like they skated more and that may have been the key. The Caps may have gotten used to them stopping and dumping the puck as soon as they got the puck that they may have been letting up a little on their forecheck, just enough to give them skating room. True enough the first forecheck may still have been coming hard on them, but the second and or third forechecker may have been sitting back a little more waiting to read pass.

      Change is good. Keep the opponent guessing and you keep them back on their heels.

  3. May 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    You touched on Dumoulin & Maatta in your Puckpourri. Wow did they have a game! The defense completely changed their game to a puck possession system.

    As soon as the defense got the puck they skated with it to an open area and took a look from the move the puck to someone else as soon as you get it. Dumoulin & Maatta sort of took control of their defensive lines and were the ones clearing their end of the ice and throwing the passes out most of the time. That really cut down on the bad passes out.

    Maatta’s seems to have really taken to clearing & hitting anyone around the net. Pens need to sign Dumoulin long term. I can see these two leading the D-Corp for a long time to come.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 11, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Hey Phil,

      I thought they played really well, too. Actually, all of our defensemen did.

      Amazing how different they looked going forward instead sitting back on their heels, as you so duly noted.

      Dumoulin has remarkably quick feet for a guy his size. He can really skate. And I was pleasantly surprised at how physical he was. He even put a good lick on nasty ol’ Tom Wilson.

      Maatta, too, has blossomed. He’s asserting himself in all facets of the game.

      It bodes well, especially since nearly all of our other defensemen, Letang and Cole aside, are pending UFAs. (Dumoulin and Schultz are arbitration eligible RFAs, according to capfriendly.com).

      Rick

      • May 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        It will definitely be a crazier off season than last year. The goaltender situation itself is craziest. This is way in the future, but if the Pens win the Cup without Letang, that makes the defensive situation just a tiny bit more interesting. I don’t know if it’s tOR or Jim that says the defense needs a lot of work, but I agree.

        There are a lot of players that need signed, and it looks like there may be some money available from the likes of Kunitz, possibly Hagelin and Daley. Can or would the Penguins put Letang in the expansion draft just to have the money to sign others????

        This isn’t the best year to lose Botterill, that’s for sure!

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          May 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          Hey Phil,

          Letang, like MAF has a NTC, they can’t leave him unprotected. But I agree if the Pens win the Cup without him he does seem extraneous, particularly at $7mil.

          With only 3 D men allowed to be protected, the question becomes which other 2 will be protected. I would think, even if the Pens don’t feel they could resign him, they would protect Schultz, just to make sure they get the compensation for losing him. So, after the Pens win their last game this season, the question will be, who is the last on to be protected; Cole, Maatta, or Domoulin?

          • May 11, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

            I think Letang could pick 19 teams each year he wouldn’t accept a trade to. The exact same as Fleury’s. I seem to remember a ruling by the NHL that only players with an absolute no trade clause before the NHL’s notice of expansion could be protected. I could be wrong.

          • May 11, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            Ok, I just read that, Sidney Crosby
            Marc-Andre Fleury, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang & Evgeni Malkin are exempt from the expansion process and do not count against the amount of players the Penguins are allowed to protect. Interesting!

            Even more interesting is that Washington doesn’t have one player on the exempt list.

            The list of 66 players:

            http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/official-nhl-expansion-draft-exempt-list-contains-surprises/

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              May 11, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

              Hey Phil,

              Thanks for listing the web site.

              Reading it, “With that in mind, here’s the full list of players who are currently required to be protected by their teams in the expansion draft:”

              I think they mean that the Pens are required to protect;

              Sidney Crosby
              Marc-Andre Fleury
              Phil Kessel
              Kris Letang
              Evgeni Malkin

              So 3 of our 7 forwards, 1 of our 3 D and our goalie are picked for us, barring a trade of one of those players.

            • May 12, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

              OK, that make more sense than when they also say the players are exempt from the draft.

              So if the Penguins wait and don’t sign Shultz until after the draft I doubt Vegas picks him up knowing they could lose him to free agency.

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          May 11, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          Hey Phil
          I am happy we agree .
          1. Do we need to spend 7.3 a year on a guy who is injured half the year? No. Put him in the expansion draft…
          2.Resign Dumo 5 years at a good value. 2 mill + ?
          3.MAF trade value just went thru the roof and will only go up when we win the Cup.Trade him and Derrick P. as a package plus our 30th pick to NJD or Dallas for their 1st.You may have to add another veteran. DALEY? Gives us a 1 or 3 rd pick.
          4.Try to resign Justin but to a reasonable price. I believe he will get a crazy offer and we can not match it. Both Dallas and NJD need d men. Make the deal before he becomes RFA. We get another first round pick.
          5. Resign Kunni to a 2 way contract for a million. Both NHL and AHL salary is the same. If you find that one of our kids are developing well , you send him to WBP and he returns for the playoffs on our expanded 25 man roster. I like Chris and his value is in the playoffs. If he did not clear waivers then he simply resigns and works in administration. Nobody picks up a contract like that.
          6. Hagelin…..He better be still injured or U get rid of him.4 million dollars. ?
          7.Sheary. …Do you pay him big dollars or trade him.
          Warren Young all over again.
          So Phil not looking to far ahead…haha….I am glad we are both looking to this summer.

          No matter what the Pen’s do , this summer will bring a lot of changes. ☺

          • May 11, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

            Jim, I agree on jsut about everything. Sounds horrible, I’m really hoping Hagelin isn’t playing full capacity. If he is, use the $4mil elseware like you said. Sheary, I wouldn’t give him much more than he is getting. His playoff numbers are horrid. Maybe $750k 2 year 2 way contract for him.

            Only one thing is Fleury. Now, I want to know if Jarry is ready. If Murray is going to miss all of the games like he is, Fleury might be worth keeping and sharing the goalie duties.

            Just an incredibly hard decision. All I know is that I would not want to be the one making it.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              May 11, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

              Hey Phil
              Why not give Jarry a chance to play a game or 2 in the Ottawa series. See what he can do under pressure. He has won every award you can at the Junior level and WJC. If he screws up, then you do something. But right now we know nothing….Just like Matt Murray was last year. What a difference about 15 month’s make.
              With regards to Letang, he has a No Movement, Modified No trade clause meaning he can be traded to EIGHTEEN teams !! He must give the Pens a list every June of the 18 teams before the drafts begin.
              Only Crosby and Malkin have NO TRADE clauses and can NOT be moved unless they agree to it. So Mr. Letang, your choice buddy. Your going to LA or I will trade you to the worst team on your list, even if I have to retain some salary. Phil he will cooperate.
              Cheers

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              May 11, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

              Hey Jim,

              Consider this though, coming back from herniated disc surgery in his neck and with a history of Concussions, there may not be a whole lot of interest in him until he can show he has shaken off this latest set back.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            May 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            Hey Jim and Phil,

            The way I have read the expansion stuff, we have to either trade MAF, work a deal with Vegas or lose Murray. As much as I agree with you Phil, in that I haven’t seen enough of Jarry to be comfortable with him as the back-up just yet and I do like MAF, especially is he is exorcising his demons, I really think it would be a serious blunder to lose Murray.

            As for Letang, as I said if we do win the Cup without him, he is extraneous and would love to use his $7mil player who can play 70 or so games a year or split the money over several other players. Unfortunately, again, the language I have read indicates we have to protect him. So, Domoulin may be the odd man out here, the player Vegas goes for, unless they leave Murray exposed.

            In Sheary’s case, I agree with Phil, he is not doing his negotiation value any with his play this play-off. Of course there are more games to come, so he may build his value back up.

            Hagelin, if I thought there was a chance Hagelin would get back to his form when he first came here, then it is a no brainer, protect him. If I feel that his potential has been reduced to what we have seen this play-off, sayonara.

            Schultz – You need to protect him as I said, so that if you can’t resign him, you still get compensation.

            Kunitz – if he can be signed to about a Mil, you keep him as a Cullenezque type player, playing about 60 – 65 games; to keep him fresh for the POs and give some kids a chance to grow.

            One you missed was Bonino, he too is FA. He still is not producing much offense but his FO and Blks are strong, so the question becomes, how much $$$ value does that mean. How much do FOs and Blks mean to Wins so that can be translated to dollars.

            Daley is also FA so if you plan on trading him, you will need to resign him.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              May 11, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

              Hi Coach, Phil
              That is the problem. We do not have the money to resign them all. The caps not moving much.
              The Short and Skinny…
              1. You move your players asap or you lose them..
              2. Phil, you were right , it is now 19 because the league is now 31 Teams come June 30 th , not 30 as before.
              MAF and Letang can only protect 12 Teams but they are MOVEABLE assets.
              3. We are all big boys here and all know our stuff, at least you guys do anyway, about the Pens , the NHL and the game itself because we have all played it and or Coached it or studied it for decades. So think outside the box for a minute guys….. respectfully saying ..
              4. D men are going to fetch a premium this year.
              Schultz will get a 6 million +, and a 7 year contract. He made almost $ 4.5 million when you count signing bonuses in Edmonton 2 years ago. He is not going to sign for 5 million and nothing short of a 7 year deal. He played this year for 1.4 million because he wanted a long term,BIG contract next season. Coach last year Justin turned down a 3 million deal to play in Europe for 1 year. He is not stupid and he has a great agent. That is why as soon as we win the cup, the next day you trade him and get your 2 or 3 draft picks. (1st & 3rd or 1,2,3 ).
              If you pay 6 or 7 million you can get better. Schultz has issues in his game.
              4. Resign Dumo the same day. We can afford him. 2 million +… range.
              5. You trade Letang to one of the 18 teams or cut a deal with Vegas and trade him, maybe get a second round pick as a prize.
              6. The reason I left out Bonino was this . I believe we can package a deal to Ray Shero for his first round pick. MAF, Pouliot, Sheary and Daley. Now I take either 2 competing center men for number 1 spot in the draft. One Guy is 6’2 and the other guy is 6’4… Both big boys.
              So now I do not need Bonino. Crosby, Malkin, #1 pick and Jake G..( A natural center man). I just saved 2.3 million dollars. Bonino’s 1.9 mill salary and the 400 k difference between Jake and Cullen. My center position is fixed.
              7. I saw Daniel Sprong play several times this year in Moncton and Saint John. He has changed a lot. He is a young Phil Kessel with a mean streak. So on my right side I trade for a free agent with size for Sidney.A 40 goal scorer. Phil plays with Geno. Sprong plays with # 1…. There going to buddies a long time on my team.Their the future. Rusty plays fourth line with Jake. Right side is done.
              8. On defense I have Maatta,Dumo, Cole, sign a free agent with size for 6-7 mill + to replace Letang. Then I add an 18 year old, top 5 pick d- man from the draft.( Obtained from the Schultz trade..) and sign another free agent ( 3- 4 million dollar range ) d man with some grit and size. My d is done. Yes there is a big change to the d corps… 50 % change.
              9. In goal ..Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry.
              I can handle that.
              10.This leaves left wing. So far we have spent 6-7 million for Crosby’s new big right winger, another 6-7 million on a new big d man. Plus maybe 3 million on a new 5-6 d man.
              17 million in total in new expenditures..
              However,
              I have saved 5.75 million on MAF, 7.25 million on Letang, 1.4 million on Justin Schultz, 3.85 million on Chris K.,3.3 million on Trevor Daley, 1,76 million on Mark Streit, 1.9 million on Nick Bonino,1 million on Matt Cullen and 4.25 million on Hornqvist…
              30.5 million saved on eliminated salaries.
              Plus next year approximately 1.85 million in deferred salaries comes off the books for Pascal Dupris.
              15.35 million in savings to be invested on left wing.
              Hagelin stays for now on the third line.
              Tommy K. stays for now on the fourth line.
              I resign Chris K. for 1 million as my 21 reserve player. Still have Wilson on the payroll too.
              He is my 22 nd player.
              We have over 14 million left to invest into 2 new left wingers for Geno and Sid.
              Star power left wingers.
              So guys I know you think I am crazy, half the time I think I am too, but never the less IF we make the right moves at the right time then everything I hypothetically outlined in detail above can be done…. But if we let our hearts decide and keep MAF and fail to move Letang then we risk losing a lot more.
              One last point. I absolutely love what Patric Hornqvist brings to our team. But in my illustration Sid has a new 6’4″, 230 pound 40 goal scoring winger with grit, skill and speed. Kessel play with Geno. Sprong plays 3rd line and that leaves Rust at 690 K a year or Patric at 4.25 million playing on a 4th line … I love him , but not that much !! He goes as part of a trade package. Maybe I keep Daley as insurance at a reduced salary of 1.5 million for 1 year and Patric is part of the trade.

              This is all fantasy arm chair GM stuff, but as you guys were the ones to first mention it , I thought I would cherp in.
              Lot’s of fun to talk hockey with good friends.
              Thanks for indulging me.
              Buker must think we all have a screw loose.!
              Good night.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              May 11, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

              Great stuff
              I was to busy writing mine !!!
              haha

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              May 12, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

              Hey Jim,

              With 8 more wins needed to complete this season I am not going to look that far into the future, however, you raise some interesting ideas.

              I too like Sprong and have been wondering how his game has really changed, so I love to hear your first hand impressions. I have wondered if he could crack a top 6 role.

              I read yesterday that NYR is looking for a young R handed D man to skate with McDonough, I really wouldn’t want him in NY and I still would like to try and keep Schultz. I am not all that opposed to giving him a 6 or 7 year deal but although he was the Pens best D man this year, I am not all that sure I would want to pay him $6mil. I would have to look around the league first a bit to see where I would rank him against others. He really hasn’t put himself in contention for the Norris, but he is still young.

              Here are somethings to consider;

              Looking to trade and trading are two different beasts, you need to find a partner to trade with and you may not find any takers, particularly with Letang (Injury questions not talent) and if you do and you trade away both Schultz and Letang you have no QB for the PP. One though I had reading through your proposals is try to deal with Calgary again. They passed on MAF last year and got little out of Elliot, maybe this year they would be more willing if you add either Schultz or Letang into the trade and ask for Hamilton to be your QB on the PP.

              I have also read where Sakic is still posturing about change, you may be able to deal for your big time LW; Landeskog preferably but take Duchene? If you do, get Zadorov for me in that deal.

              Ashton-Reese had a fairly good start to his AHL career in a similar fashion to Guentzel. He is listed as C-RW but I think WBS was using him as a RW, you may need to keep your options opened.

              Even if you do deal Letang and Schultz, as I said you will need a QB for the PP and will need to protect him from the expansion, so you still need to expose either Cole, Maatta, or Domoulin.

              You will also need to find a G to leave exposed to the Expansion draft, so while wheeling and dealing you will need to find 1 G. If he isn’t taken by Vegas then you have your insurance policy if Jarry still needs another year or two in the AHL.

              I do have some thoughts but will wait until I see what happens the res tof the way. I will wait to see whose stock will still raise and whose may drop. However, as good as this offense is, I see it being even better next year, even without trading for any LWs.

              Oh and I will throw this out there, with teams possibly stealing Guerin and Tocchet to try and get a piece of the Pens Mojo, does Cullen or Kunitz fit one or both of those bills?

            • May 12, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

              Hey Jim, Wow, that is a lot of stuff! Love that you saw Sprong and he has a mean streak. Hopefully not a idiot mean streak like some of the idiots running around the league.

              I’m with most of what you are saying, except for a few things:

              First, Hornqvist & Bonino. I would not part with these guys in any way or form. These guys give it all every single game. Hornqvist seems to get cross checked in the back of the head while mixing it up in close every game. Bonino is not only one of the best defensive forwards I’ve seen, he even provides offense. Yeah, his numbers are down without Kessel on his line, but he always comes up big.

              Second is Guentzel. The Penguins have spent a lifetime and a fortune trying to find a winger for Crosby. Hossa, Iginla, Kessel and the other twenty guys that have come and gone. Guentzel has an insane mojo with Crosby by the likes of which I have never seen. It would be a 1000 times easier just to keep Bonino.

              Keep
              Crosby-Guentzel
              Malkin-Kessel
              Bonino-Hornqvist

              Then fill the rest in with Rowney, Rust, Sheary, Archibald, Sprong, Wilson & Kunitz.

              Cullen looks like he could play another season, he is flying!

              That’s just my 2¢

            • Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
              May 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

              Adding my $.01 to Phil’s $.02, I’ve been on the Hornqvist bandwagon as long as he’s been a Penguin, and I’m hanging onto my seat. I hate the bad math expression of saying he gives 110%, but if it’s true of anyone, it’s true of Patrick – game in, game out. Like Phil says, he seems to get himself cross-checked in the back of the head every game, but it doesn’t seem to phase him. How’s that old saying go? Takes a licking and keeps on ticking? It’s got to be terribly frustrating to the opposition when they give him their best shot, and he just looks back at them with that puzzled Swede look, like they were a nuisance fly buzzing around his head.

              GO PENS!

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          May 11, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          Phil
          You mentioned Botterill. You are so right. This guy has built the team from the ground up, player development, ran WBP, hired Mike Sullivan at WBP…Finances. He knows a lot about us.
          Most definitely we will lose some talent, either off ice or on ice to him. HNIC has said that Rick Tochett will be interviewed for the Head Coaches job in Buffalo and for a lot of money.
          So it has began ..

  4. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 11, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    To everything – turn, turn, turn
    There is a season – turn, turn, turn
    And a time to every purpose under heaven

    I know you remember that Tune Rick, Its the Birds.

    What a thrill ride. A thrill ride I could have done without, thank you. There were too many turns in this series and not all the cards turned were friendly (That would be an allusion to the “Alan Parson’s Project” since I am in a lyical mood).

    Pens jumped out to a 2-0 lead with 2-road wins, largely on the strength of timely goal-tending and uptight Caps shooters that couldn’t hit the ocean with a beach-ball, missing several opened nets, leaving the Caps in an “Unstable condition….”

    But then despite their home dominance in the first series they decided to drop one in front of the home crowd, giving a desparate and demoralized Caps team back “a symptom of life” (RUSH for our Canadien breathren).

    That was short lived as the Pens turned and push the Caps to the brink as the hockey fates were much like a Yes’ “Roundabout”

    But that was not even close to the final turn as the Pens nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with two extremely lack-luster performances and horrible goaltending as Vicki Sue “Turned the Beat Around”.

    The Byrds borrowed heavily from Ecclesiastes;

    “A time to build up, a time to break down
    A time to dance, a time to mourn
    A time to cast away stones
    A time to gather stones together….”

    I wish we could insert the Gunner’s old quote “We had them all the way”. But in the end, there really is no “Time” to Primp and Preen. There really is no “time to dance” over this series. The Pens can’t boast about this round. They need to steal away quitely, regroup, thank the monkey on the Caps back, and prepare for the ” Time” of next tilt.

    “…before its to late”

    They had better not come try and start looking passed Ottawa

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Sorry I was interupter by work at the end and had one of my all too frequent typos, I meant to write;

      “They had better not come out and try to start looking past Ottawa”.

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        May 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, Other Rick.

        The 1993 series with the supposedly inferior New York Islanders is permanently scalded into my memory.

        Rick

        PS–Nice job with “Turn, Turn, Turn” … 🙂

  5. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Great commentary my friend ….Now you can finally take a deep breath. I know you were very concerned, and rightfully so that this injury depleted team was going to get beat by the Caps, and maybe even Columbus.( let us not forget them and the incredible success they had this year….16 wins in a row in the regular season. They will be back next year.)
    Now we move on ! For a brief moment I want us all to remember last year . We faced the dreaded Ranger’s, who were a very good opponent for us last year. We won. Then we faced the Cap’s, our bitter rivals and thanks to HBK and the play of Matt Murray we won. ( I honestly thought this 2017 Cap’s team was better than last years! )
    Now here we are !! Same place in time. 8 down and 8 to go.
    Last year we went on and had to face what would be our BIGGEST test of the 2016 play offs…Tampa Bay ! They were a great team and thank you Lord, Stamkos was just coming back to soon off injury, was not a factor and we won.
    Today as much as I respect my fellow Countrymen, the Ottawa Senators of 2017 are not even close to the caliber of the 2016 Tamps Bay Lighting team !
    This series in Ottawa is ours to lose . I repeat, ours to lose !
    In Hockey anything can happen, but as I told my sister this morning, make up an extra bed in your house for game 6…..If it is played I and your husband are taking your season ticket and I will drive 11 hours to see the game live.
    Never going to happen Rick. Ottawa is really injured and local media has stories about it and we should win in Pittsburgh in game 5 . My sister agrees .

    Back to last night….The look on the Owners face of the Capitals was priceless after the game … You know he is thinking,
    ” What do I have to do to beat these guys ? Lord give me a break.”
    Then of course the look on the face of my favorite Capital of all … Numb nuts . # 8 .. Was worth it . He looked like a deer caught at night in the headlights of a car. Stunned…. To think he gets paid about 12 million dollars a year.
    He will go back to the KHL and play in the Olympics for Russia … You wait and see.
    Lets go Pen’s ….

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      Honestly Jim, the only injury that I think has depleted this team this year is Murray.

      The record when Kunitz and Hagelin were reinserted into the line up, I think is mute testament to there drop off this year. Their replacements played much better.

      Do the Pens miss the Letang of last year, h377 yes!!! Are the missing the Letang of 2017, h377 no!!! He may still be considered a top 4 on this roster but that is because the roster is paper thin this year, in terms of what they have brought.

      I do agree with your assessment though that this Offense is better than last years offense. Rust just keeps finding ways to get the bog goals as he did last year and what can be said about the rookie Guentzel, he is a serious upgrade on the Left side to anything we have had since Kuntiz’ hay day.

      I am not going to posture yet about how the Pens and Sens match up, nuff said.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 11, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      I agree that, at least on paper, we should be able to handle Ottawa. But they always play us tough.

      And, as I’d mentioned in a response to Other Rick, our dynasty-derailing loss to an underdog Islanders team back in ’93 still sticks in my craw.

      Still, it’s nice to draw a deep breath … at least for a couple of days … 🙂

      Rick

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 11, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        A big amen men to that Rick, it is nice to have a couple days to relax, even if we are just fans and not having to be the ones giving blood on the ice.

  6. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    May 11, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Hey all,

    It’s really tough to cover everything in a game summary, so I wanted to add a couple of extra points.

    I can’t stress enough what a great job Sullivan and the coaching staff did. In addition to the adjustments mentioned above, I thought he hit on two good line combinations for the bottom six.

    The Sheary-Bonino-Hornqvist unit really showed a lot of jump and chemistry. I thought the Wilson-Cullen-Rowney combo did a great job in limited action.

    Also, props to Chris Kunitz. While his offensive skills have eroded, Kuny played a gritty, highly effective defensive game.

    Rick

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Sullivan was reading your last Article Rick as many here proposed to at least get Rowney and Wilson back together and sit Hagelin.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I agree. Balls. We talked about Sullivan not afraid to sit the money players. Sullivan sat a $4 million a year game seven hero from last year to play $600 thousand Wilson. The Rowney move was solid also.

      I know a few people here were down on Kunitz, He has looked great to me. Well, as great as a $4 mil a year player can playing the 3rd or 4th line. His contract is up this year, and he is showing he still provides value, just not at that price. Pens should keep him for a 1 mil a year.

      The H-BS line Sheary-Bonino-Hornqvist had great chemistry, I agree. Looked like the HBK line of folklore.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Agreed Phil, I am not really all that down on Kunitz, especially if we get him at a Cullenesque price. I love his work ethic and pride. My only concern is having him bottle neck development of younger players. And how much he may hav ein his tank. He has looked like one of those players that play better with built in rest days, so you can have him strong in the play-offs.

        I sort of like your line moniker H-BS, it sort of appeals to my sarcastic side.

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        May 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        I confess to being somewhat on the fence regarding Kunitz.

        On one hand, I love his grit and heart. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a backward step in all the years he’s skated for us. He plays the same way whether the guy he’s up against is 5’10” or 6’5″.

        A true warrior in every sense of the word.

        It’s just that his offensive skills (and skating) have degraded to the degree that he has trouble taking passes and getting shots off. Happens to everyone, sooner or later.

        I’d probably be less bothered by it if the Pens didn’t keep putting him in a top-six role, which he really isn’t suited for any more. Having said that, I thought he played a really good game on Malkin’s flank last night, especially on the defensive side of the ledger.

        My real issue? I wish we had room for Josh Archibald, who reminds me of a younger, faster, slightly less skilled version of “Kuny” in his prime.

        Rick

        • May 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          Hey Rick,

          I really like having a Kunitz guy on the roster. To me he’s a Guerin type player who is willing to do anything, hit anything and at his age probably already teaching the tricks of the trade to younger Pens. Players go up to him and ask “hey, I keep getting beat in the corner, what am I doing wrong?” Something you just don’t ask the coach.

          If the Pens go all younger guys, we would have an Edmonton sort of team with lack of direction and the calming presence in the locker room. I believe you need the young and the Kunitz’s to co exist to make it work.

          He is also a poor man’s Hornqvist in front of the net on powerplays when Hornqvist is not up to the task. I would sign Kunitz 2 years at $1 mil a year if he would do it.

          And about Archibald…

          At 5-10 and someone who hasn’t really proved much at any point in his career, 62 points in 182 games with the WBS Pens, I’m not really getting the love that is being thrown around the comments for Archibald. I thought everyone here wanted bigger guys?

          If I was making room, I’m making it for Sprong! He didn’t make that big of a splash in his brief stint in the NHL at 18, but he is ready now. On top of some kick ass numbers in the regular season on the teams he’s been on, he has also rocked some big time playoff numbers.

          • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
            May 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            Outstanding points, Phil.

            You couldn’t ask for a better leader than Kunitz, or a better guy to set an example for the kids. No argument there.

            Regarding Archibald, I just really like the way he plays. True, he’s undersized. But he can flat-out fly, and he brings a lot of grit a la Kunitz.

            He earned my respect in a game against Ottawa this year when he blew up Mark Borowiecki, a pretty tough cookie who had something like 10 or 11 hits against us. There’s a fearlessness in him that I like.

            No, his numbers with the Baby Pens weren’t huge. Still, he had one of the best plus/minus ratings in the AHL. Must be doing something right.

            Just my sense … I think he could produce along the lines of Bryan Rust, while playing a similar (actually, feistier) style.

            Don’t forget, Archibald was a Hobey Baker finalist, and had a lot of success playing on a line with Guentzel in college.

            Rick

            PS–Still want some bigger guys. Yes, I want it all … 🙂
            PSS–I like Sprong, too.

            • May 11, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              Interesting, I did not know any of that about Archibald, and I definitely didn’t know about his +/-. This Senators thing might come in handy also!

              It would seem that Sullivan has created a very healthy sense of competition. Just sitting a player for a game or two really lights a fire beneath them so throwing Archibald in a game or two I’m sure wouldn’t hurt!

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              May 11, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              There in lies the problem Rick, The Pens are loaded on the right side. I like Archibald, particularly the work he did when teamed with Rowney and Wilson.

              However, trades and expansion draft could possibly make some room for Archiballd to climb.


            

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