Eric Tangradi knows how to stick with the Penguins: make life miserable for goalies

erictangradiscreen.jpgBack in the Mario Lemieux Era, the Pittsburgh Penguins were at their greatest when they sported an incredibly deep lineup that included Kevin Stevens, a power forward who enjoyed his best years skating alongside Super Mario.

While the “current” edition of the team already won one Cup with a twilight-years power forward (Bill Guerin) and a hellacious forechecker with suspect hands (Chris Kunitz), the team seems like it misses a certain presence at the forward position. With that quibble in mind, perhaps the biggest wild card for the Pens this season is prized prospect Eric Tangradi.

At 6’4″ 221 lbs., Tangradi knows what he needs to do to crack the Penguins lineup: create havoc, particularly in front of the net. Mike Colligan wrote about Tangardi possibly being a diamond in the rough for The Hockey Writers and might be able to play a role that hasn’t been filled properly since Ryan Malone bolted to Tampa Bay for big bucks in free agency.

The combined length of Tangradi’s goals in this 3:16 AHL highlight reel (via Eric P. of The PensBlog) wouldn’t add up to the length of an NHL ice surface and should remind many Penguins fans of Ryan Malone. Malone had a career year with Malkin and Petr Sykora in 2007-08, scoring 27 goals and landing a 7-year, $31.5m contract with Tampa Bay.

When I asked Tangradi about other NHL players he feels play a similar style, he pointed to two of the premier power-forwards in the Western Conference:

“I think [Tomas] Holmstrom is one of those guys especially and [Johan] Franzen as well from Detroit. They’re skill guys, but they use their big frame to get to the front of the net and they’re able to play with high-level players. As a group they’re very effective because of the big guy driving down the middle to the net.”

OK, it might be a little hasty for Tangradi to compare himself to a true technician at screening goalies (Holmstrom) or a player with scary drive and scarier hands (Franzen), but I think the message is that he’s prepared to crowd the crease to the best of his ability. Such a presence would be especially welcome on the Penguins power play, as the unit has often been a little “too cute” and guilty of making too many passes in the last few years. Screening a goalie is one of those “easier said than done” tasks, but blocking a netminder’s vision can force all those hours of positional training to dissolve into seconds of sprawling desperation.

Tangradi may very well be one of those subtle wild cards for the Penguins, a guy who determines the team’s “ceiling.” If he flourishes as a rookie, the Penguins would have Kunitz, Tangradi and Staal/Malkin as suitable wingers. If he doesn’t then the team will once again rely on Crosby and Malkin to produce nearly all their offense.

He might not be a likely Calder candidate, but Tangradi is nonetheless a rookie to watch in 2010-11.

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    BREAKING: Flames fire head coach Bob Hartley

    Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley gives instructions during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 5, 2016. The Flames won 4-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    The Calgary Flames have decided to move on from head coach Bob Hartley. The team made the announcement via their Twitter account on Tuesday morning. Associate coach Jacques Cloutier has also been informed that he won’t be back next season.

    Hartley and the Flames surprised many last year when they won 45 games and made the postseason. Hartley was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s top coach.

    What a difference a year makes. Unfortunately for the Flames, they won just 35 games in 2015-16 and finished 26th in the overall standings.

    More details to come.

    Kris Letang will have a hearing for hit on Marcus Johansson

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    Many expected it to happen and now it has. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety confirmed that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will have a hearing for his hit on Caps forward Marcus Johansson in Game 3.

    After Brooks Orpik was suspended three games for this hit on Olli Maatta in Game 2, many people are expecting a similar outcome for Letang. It’s important to note that there are certain similarities between the two hits, but there are also some key differences.

    Both victims definitely took shots to the head, there’s no doubt about that, but to say that the hits are identical isn’t accurate. First, although Letang’s hit appears to be late (0.6 seconds after the puck is gone is considered late), it isn’t as late as Orpik’s hit on Maatta. Another key factor to consider is that unlike Maatta, Johansson returned to the game.

    Letang was given a two-minute penalty for interference on the play.

    TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie breaks it down perfectly:

    A decision is expected to be made later on today.

    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with three games on Tuesday night. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Tampa Bay at NY Islanders (7:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    San Jose at Nashville (9:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on the USA Network. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Dallas at St. Louis (9:30 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Here’s some reading material to get you ready for tonight’s action:

    Lightning strikes: Bolts even series with Islanders

    The Sharks are the only team to grab a 2-0 series lead in the second round

    Seguin resumes skating in Dallas, Ruff notes ‘they have flights to St. Louis every day’

    PHT Morning Skate: Adam Henrique wants to make NHL 17 great again

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Martin Jones is a calming presence in the Sharks’ net. (Sports Illustrated)

    –The Rangers should go after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (The Hockey News)

    –Some people have pretty wild hockey tattoos. (BarDown)

    –Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

    –A great piece on how Bruce Boudreau impacted the Ducks and Capitals. (Sportsnet)

    –It should be an interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks. (Daily Breeze)

    Adam Henrique is a funny guy. He took to Twitter to try and get himself on the cover of NHL 17: