Pittsburgh Penguins make minor league coach Todd Reirden an assistant

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they hired Todd Reirden as their assistant coach. Reirden was the head coach of the Penguins’ AHL team in Wilkes Barrie/Scranton before GM Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma decided to give him a promotion.

Here’s more from the team.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Reirden, who spent the previous year and a half coaching the Baby Penguins following Bylsma’s promotion to Pittsburgh on Feb. 15, 2009, was hired by Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero on Saturday to fill the void that opened earlier this summer when Mike Yeo left to become the head coach of the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.

“We interviewed between 10 and 15 candidates and conducted an extensive search, and the most qualified coach was in our organization the whole time,” Bylsma said. “Todd and I have developed a strong working relationship, which started when we played college hockey together at Bowling Green and continued in our time together in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He’s a valuable asset to our coaching staff.”

For Reirden, this promotion marks his first National Hockey League coaching assignment. The 38-year-old Deerfield, Illinois native began his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Bowling Green, in 2007-08, before spending the past two seasons in WBS, where posted a head coaching record of 55-43-8 in 106 games.

One reason the Penguins promoted Reirden was to help manage their young defensive group. He played five seasons at the NHL level with high-end guys like Chris Pronger but – most importantly – worked with many of the young D-guys in training camp and at the AHL level.

Of the Penguins’ projected top-five defenseman, Reirden has worked with Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang in Pittsburgh, while Alex Goligoski was Reirden’s top defenseman in WBS in ’08-09. Reirden is also familiar with newcomer Zbynek Michalek after the two spent the ’04-05 lockout season playing together with Houston in the AHL.

[snip]

“The only defenseman among those who will be competing for roster spots that I haven’t been around is Paul Martin, but I’ve seen him play at a high level for a while. He makes our group that much better and makes it a core that I can’t wait to get to work with.”

Reirden definitely held the familiarity advantage over other candidates. Who knows how much of a difference that will actually make, but at least Penguins fans won’t be able to blame everything on former assistant coach Mike Yeo anymore.

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    Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

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    Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

    Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

    The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

    So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.

    Dupuis, Jagr, Zuccarello are Masterton Trophy finalists

    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18:  Pascal Dupuis #9 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in action against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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    Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, and the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello have been selected as the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

    The Masterton Trophy recognizes “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” In 2015 it went to Devan Dubnyk, who struggled mightily in 2013-14, but dramatically turned his career around the following season and led the Minnesota Wild to the playoffs in the process.

    Dupuis attempted to play in the 2015-16 campaign while taking blood thinners, but on Dec. 8 he announced that he would stop playing “because of a medical condition related to blood clots.”

    Jagr celebrated his 44th birthday in February, but despite his age he managed to score 27 goals and 66 points in 79 contests this season. With that, he became the oldest player to reach the 60-point mark in a single NHL campaign.

    Zuccarello played in 81 games and set career-highs with 26 goals and 61 points this season after suffering a skull fracture and brain contusion during the 2015 playoffs that left him temporarily unable to speak.

    Can there be parallels drawn between the 2016 Ducks and 2014 Sharks?

    Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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    The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.

    After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.

    After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.

    There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.

    “We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”

    Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.

    Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.

    Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

    Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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    Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

    The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

    “First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

    Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

    Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.