2010 NHL Free Agency: Penguins sign Mike Comrie (Mr. Hillary Duff) to one-year, 500K deal

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hillaryduffclaps.jpgAfter all these years, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally added some real star power.

I mean, sure, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could occasionally light up a scoreboard and Marc-Andre Fleury provides the occasional highlight reel save. But when, exactly, were those guys going to pop up in US Weekly? Expect a few more tabloids to show up to Pens games next year, as the team signed Mr. Hillary Duff, aka Mike Comrie.

Check out the contract details and a few tidbits about Comrie straight from the team.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Mike Comrie to a one-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

The contract is for the 2010-11 season and is worth $500,000.

Comrie, 29, has played nine NHL seasons with Edmonton, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and the NY Islanders. In 568 career games, he has posted 167 goals, 192 assists, 359 points and 48 power-play goals. Comrie has appeared in 32 postseason contests, totaling 10 points (4G-6A).

Comrie (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) has scored 20 or more goals five times in his career, and twice hit the 30-goal mark. The Edmonton, Alberta native, who broke into the NHL in 2000 with his hometown Oilers after the club drafted him in the third round (91st overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, set career highs with 33 goals and 60 points (tied) in 2001-02.

mikecomriegoal.jpgTo be honest, I didn’t realize Comrie hit the 30-goal mark twice in his career. Of course, his last two seasons haven’t been nearly as productive as he only scored 21 points in 43 games during the 09-10 season and 27 in 63 games played in 08-09. That being said, he’s a player with an underrated mean streak and a nice amount of versatility to his game. When you consider his minimum wage salary, this could be a solid pickup for the Penguins.

If you’re not satisfied making lazy celebrity jokes (I am), you can also enjoy the puns that come with the last name Comrie. Perhaps Penguins fans who take a liking to the forward could refer to themselves as “Comrie-nists?” Maybe the Pensblog will produce some Cold War inspired Photoshops that place Comrie’s face upon an image of Karl Marx?

Whether you’re looking at it from a humorous perspective or a hockey vantage point, adding Comrie is a low risk move with a decent amount of upside. It’s unclear if the team signed him in a post-Jordan Staal injury panic, but I like the move regardless of context.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.