Pittsburgh Penguins announce their all-time team, surprise no one with selections

penguinsalltimers.jpgIn an effort to help get fans in Pittsburgh excited about the upcoming season and opening of their new CONSOL Energy Center, the Penguins have announced the Penguins All-Time team. As you might expect, the team is loaded with players from their back-to-back Stanley Cup teams of the early 1990s.

Mario Lemieux

Ron Francis

Jaromir Jagr

Kevin Stevens

Rick Kehoe

Jean Pronovost

Paul Coffey

Larry Murphy

Ulf Samuelsson

Tom Barrasso

Joe Mullen

Syl Apps

Dave Burrows

Les Binkley

Pierre Larouche

Nine of those 15 players were all members of at least one of the Penguins Stanley Cup teams of the 90s. Success can help fill out memories of the past pretty clearly. While this team is likely to add a few members in about 20 years time, this group as it is pretty amazing to see when you reflect back on those championship teams.

Lemieux, Francis and Jagr all speak for themselves. Kevin Stevens was the power forward hired gun that worked along side Lemieux adding extra muscle down low to allow Lemieux the extra room to maneuver on the ice. What Coffey and Murphy did on defense is incredible considering Coffey was coming over from Edmonton where he’d already won three Cups. Winning one more with Pittsburgh helped cement his legacy. Larry Murphy was part of both Penguins Cup winners, meanwhile Ulf Samuelsson cemented his own legacy as one of the most vicious defensemen in the league.Tom Barrasso was the ornery goaltender who backstopped both of those championship teams and Joe Mullen was the unsung American winger that provided extra goal-scoring punch working alongside Ron Francis.

It’s a solid list and while there’s no doubt that we’ll see the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Gonchar on such a list in years to come, you’ve got to wonder who would coach this team based on the Penguins past. Would it be “Badger” Bob Johnson who coached the 1991 team? How about Scotty Bowman who coached the 1992? Do you give it to Dan Bylsma just because he’s the new guy on the scene? Perhaps just giving it to Rick Kehoe since he made it as a player on this list would be most fun. You don’t see player-coaches anymore so why not do it for a fun list instead.

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    Kyle Connor expected to be healthy scratch for Jets

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    Jets rookie Kyle Connor played just 10:09 in Sunday’s outdoor loss to the Oilers, and tonight in Dallas it appears he’ll be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career.

    Connor was not among the 12 Winnipeg forwards taking line rushes this morning. The 19-year-old has just one assist in his first five games as a Jet. He’s a minus-5 and has also struggled in terms of possession, as evidenced by his 38 percent Corsi.

    The 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Connor spent one year at the University of Michigan before leaving school to turn pro. He’s eligible to be sent to the AHL this season, something the Jets are no doubt considering.

    Winnipeg has a number of potential call-ups on its farm club, including Marko Dano, Quinton Howden, Andrew Copp, Nicolas Petan, and Jack Roslovic.

    Babcock’s had his fill of goalie questions, thanks

    SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Head coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on prior to the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Mike Babcock is aware Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good this season.

    He’s also aware that Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good the last few seasons.

    Thing is, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

    “It’s five games in, isn’t it?” Babcock replied on Tuesday, when asked about the Leafs’ shaky netminding so far, specifically the play of Frederik Andersen. “Let’s just take a deep breath here.”

    And here’s a transcript of what followed (courtesy Sportsnet)!

    Reporter: The guy on Saturday night said the Leafs goaltending has been lousy this year.

    Babcock: Who did?

    Reporter: The guy on Saturday night — Don Cherry.

    Babcock: Oh, OK. Well now that I know where I’m getting my facts from, here we go. Come on. Let’s move on. What’s next here? Holy [expletive].

    Reporter: No, but seriously, it’s been an issue for this market probably since Ed Belfour left, and I’m wondering if there’s anything to that.

    Babcock: But I’m not dealing with that. This is what I would tell you. We think we have a really good goaltender. At the World Cup I had three outstanding goaltenders, and they all talked about how much time it usually takes to get ready.

    Our guy didn’t have that opportunity because of his injury. We’re real comfortable with him. Do we think he’s played as good as he’s capable of playing? No. Do we think he’s going to? Yes.

    Babcock’s right to suggest it’s too early to start grading Andersen. First, there’s the adjustment from playing behind a good team in a small market (Anaheim) to playing behind a “growing team” in a massive, pressure-packed market like Toronto.

    There’s also the additional pressure that came with Andersen’s acquisition price (a first- and second-round pick) and his subsequent contract extension (five years, $25 million).

    The injury suffered playing for Denmark in Olympic qualifying was definitely a setback, as there’s no doubt some games for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey would’ve better prepared Andersen for the season.

    Still, it’s hard to look at his numbers — 1-0-3, .879 save percentage, 3.63 GAA — and not be at least a little concerned.

    Unless you’re Mike Babcock, that is.

    Related: The list of struggling netminders is a long one, as it’s been goals galore to start the year

    Elliott gets the start in return to St. Louis

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    Brian Elliott will be in Calgary’s crease against his old team tonight in St. Louis.

    Even though Elliott played last night in Chicago, it was an easy decision for Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. Elliott had easily his best game of the season against the Blackhawks, stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory. The 31-year-old turned away all seven Chicago shooters in the breakaway competition, helping the Flames to just their second win of the young season.

    “I definitely wanted that one,” Elliott told reporters afterwards. “We haven’t been playing like we wanted to and the guys came out and had a heck of an effort.”

    Elliott started 164 games for the Blues during his five years in St. Louis. Last season, he backstopped them to their first conference final since 2001. He was then traded to Calgary in June, paving the way for Jake Allen to become the full-time starter in St. Louis.

    Related: The list of struggling goalies is a long one

    Crosby on track to make season debut tonight

    NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 30: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face-off against the 
New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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    Yesterday, Sidney Crosby participated in a full-contact practice.

    Today, it appears he’ll make his season debut when the Penguins host the Panthers tonight in Pittsburgh.

    “He had a strong practice this morning,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the club. “Everything is pointing in the right direction. If he’s comfortable, he could play.”

    Crosby has missed just six games due to the concussion he sustained during practice on Oct. 7. Given his history with concussions, if he plays tonight, it has to be considered a best-case scenario. Certainly, there had been fear he could be out much longer.

    For the record, Crosby told reporters he’ll be a game-time decision.