Mario Lemieux

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Pittsburgh Penguins

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Best: The Penguins have a long history of different looks to their sweaters, but they became legendary when Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Ron Francis led the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in the early 90s. The black and gold look that’s synonymous with Pittsburgh sports teams was it for the Penguins and that coupled with the skating penguin logo gave the Pens an unrivaled look. Having a team loaded with talent helped make it look even better, but their road sweaters were a great look made even better that they looked like the classic movie villains rolling into town in all black to beat your home-standing favorites.

Worst: It started out as a third jersey (shocking!) for two seasons and ended up being their road sweater for another five. With the newer Pens logo it had some sort of color band effect on it that perhaps was meant to make it look like the logo was in motion. Instead it looked like the logo was leaving behind skid marks. What helped make the sweater look even dumber was that the design on each sleeve. If you can’t even get the sleeves to match and it looks like someone dragged the sweater through a litter box, perhaps it’s not such a great design.

Old-timey favorite: While the Pens have one old fashioned design that they wore in the 2008 Winter Classic and it became their third sweater, I’m more of a fan of their original look. Those sweaters they broke out with during the inaugural 1967 season were sky blue, black, and white and had “PITTSBURGH” in script going down diagonally on the front of the sweater. The lettering and numbers were like that you see on Rangers sweaters and that style looked damn fine. The lace-up collars are a great touch as well. Sure there’s no penguin to be seen on the sweater at all, but for an old time hockey sweater it was a beauty.

Assessment: The Penguins’ current sweater arrangement is a new twist on an old favorite. The skating penguin on the front with a black and gold color scheme on a simple looking sweater is fantastic. Bringing the skating penguin back was such a smart move because it got new fans to identify better with the teams from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. After all, if you’re going to have a lot of new fans getting them to appreciate the team’s history can be difficult.

Adding in the old timey sky blue third and you’ve got a great collection of team sweaters for fans to choose from.  Having Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal to choose from, the Penguins have plenty of jersey sales to back up their look. Of the modern batch of sweaters, the Penguins are amongst the best in the league.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.