Tag: Kris Letang

Steve Downie

Downie: ‘I can’t take penalties this time of year’


Penguins coach Mike Johnston is concerned over Steve Downie’s lack of discipline and has been talking to the 27-year-old forward about it since at least November.

And yet Downie still leads the league in penalty minutes (221) and minors (43). He also has nine misconducts in 2014-15, which is triple the next highest player. That factors in the two 10-minute penalties he received on Sunday, including one for pushing a linesman.

With all that in mind, will Downie change his game at this stage of the season? That’s his goal.

“It’s tough (to be physical but avoid the penalty box), but at the end of the day I can’t take penalties this time of year,” Downie told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Discipline-wise, I haven’t been very good the past two games. But that will change. I will be better now.”

It’s worth adding that Pittsburgh’s penalty troubles don’t start and end with Downie. The Penguins are the second worst team in the league with 304 minor penalties and even if you remove Downie entirely (and assume whoever took his minutes never got into trouble), Pittsburgh would still be in the bottom third of the league. In addition to Downie, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are also in the top-30 when it comes to minor penalties. Fortunately for them, the Penguins also have one of the best penalty kills in the NHL.

Additionally, while Downie hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2011, he was very effective in that run, scoring two goals and 14 points in 17 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. If he has another strong playoff showing in 2015, then it will be easy for the Penguins to look past his regular season penalty troubles.

Video: Downie surpasses 200 PIM mark by pushing linesman


No one has surpassed the 200 penalty minute mark with the Pittsburgh Penguins since Rick Tocchet and Ulf Samuelsson did so in 1992-93 (252 and 249 PIM respectively). Then the Penguins signed Steve Downie to a one-year contract.

Downie went into Sunday’s game with a league-leading 199 penalty minutes in 60 contests. He became the first player this season to get over 200 minutes by pushing a linesman, which resulted in a 10-minute misconduct:

The 27-year-old forward also got two minutes for cross checking late in the second period and another 10-minute misconduct in the third frame.

Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang were handed 10-minute and game misconducts respectively. Kunitz shot a puck at a referee following the first period, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe while Letang was booted for arguing with an official.

Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7

Of all the trades completed today, was there one that left fans angrier than the one that saw Pittsburgh trade 23-year-old defenseman Simon Després to Anaheim for 31-year-old blue-liner Ben Lovejoy?

If there was, we missed it. Based on the comments we got here at PHT, the majority of Penguins fans were positively irate with GM Jim Rutherford for trading away young Després. 

According to Rutherford, however, Lovejoy was a player that was highly coveted by those within the organization.

“He’s developed into a solid, consistent player,” he said. “Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring this player.”

The Pens also acquired d-man Ian Cole, 26, from St. Louis, in return for 25-year-old defenseman Roberto Bortuzzo.

“When we looked at our defense, despite the fact that it’s played pretty well at this point, we were concerned about the experience,” Rutherford explained, per the club’s website. “We were looking to upgrade, add more of a veteran presence.

“We felt to have a good run in the playoffs we needed more experience and that’s why we made these two deals.”

The Pens certainly have experience back there now, with Lovejoy joining a blue-line corps that already included Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, and Rob Scuderi.

And to be fair to Rutherford, perhaps he felt giving up Després was worth the risk with youngsters Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot in the organization.

That being said, these deals will only increase the pressure on the Penguins to make a deep run in the playoffs. You can bet the fans will remember today if things don’t go well.

Penguins stretch streak to four with win over the Jackets

Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin scored twice and added an assist for his third consecutive three-point game as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 Sunday night.

David Perron, Derrick Pouliot and Steve Downie had the other Penguins goals.

Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang each had two assists in the win.

With the win, the Penguins have now won four straight games. Pittsburgh also avoided a third straight loss against Columbus this season.

Crosby and Malkin are now tied with 64 points one back of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, New York Islanders captain John Tavares and Flyers’ forward Jakub Voracek for the league-lead.

“I thought there was a time two weeks ago when [Malkin] had a little bit of a lapse in his game,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said per NHL.com. “Other than that, I have not seen it all year. I’ve seen a lot of intensity in his game, and the more emotion and intensity he has in the game, the better his game is. You saw it right away. You can see it early in the game with him. He gets out there, he’s skating.
“He’s hard on the loose pucks, he’s lifting sticks, and when he’s engaged like that in the game as he has been, he can be a dominant player like he was tonight.”

Marc-Andre Fleury improved to 29-13-6 with a 22-save performance.

Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist in the loss. James Wisniewski and Nick Foligno had the others for the Jackets.

Curtis McElhinney made 36 saves in the loss.

Get your game notes: Penguins at Capitals, Rivalry Night

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, collides with Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the Pittsburgh Pengins on Rivalry Night at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:


• Last game: Both last played on Sunday…PIT won at home over FLA, 5-1…WSH lost at PHI, 3-2.

• WSH sits in the 1st wild card spot in the East, 9 points ahead of BOS (2nd WC).

• PIT won its division the last 2 seasons, but has never won 3 straight division titles (currently in 47th season).

• PIT: 7-11-4 vs. Metropolitan Division teams this season

• No other team currently in a playoff position has below a .500 points% within its own division.

• Caps dominating Pens this season (Potential Playoff Meeting?): This is the 4th and final meeting of the season; Washington has beaten Pittsburgh in all 3 previous meetings this season, scoring 3+ goals in each game and outscoring the Pens 10-1 including 2 shutouts…PIT was last swept by WSH in season series in 2009-10 (0-2-2).

• 3 of the top 6 scorers in the league will be on display in this one, including the league’s top goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 38 goals.

• Since Nicklas Backstrom entered the league in 2007-08, his teammate Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals & points – Evgeni Malkin & Sidney Crosby rank 2nd & 3rd (Crosby 2nd in points; Malkin in goals – the other 3rd in each)…Backstrom ranks 8th in both goals & points.

• However, Crosby leads all NHLers in points/game since ’07-08 (Malkin – 2nd, Ovi – 3rd).

• 4 of 10 players with 550+ points since ’07-08

• Feb. for both clubs…WSH has gone 8-4-0 in the month…PIT is 6-4-1 in Feb.

• PIT comes in looking to win 3 straight for the first time since Dec. 15-20.

• WSH looks to win for the 5th time in the last 6 games (4-1-0 in last 5).


• PIT power play: 0-for-the-month (0-20) until its last 2 games when it went 1-3 in each (2-26 on PP in Feb.).

• Sidney Crosby is one goal shy of reaching the 20-goal mark for the 8th time in his 10-season career.

• Crosby had 2 assists vs. FLA to improve his points/game to 1.09 (1st in NHL).

• Evgeni Malkin recorded his first 2goal-1assist game of the season vs. FLA.

• He has 5 points (3G-2A) during a 3-game point streak.

• Career vs. WSH: 39 points (9G-30A) in 28 games

• Kris Letang had an assist vs. FLA to continue his hot stretch. He is tied with CGY’s Mark Giordano for most points among defensemen (47) and leads all blueliners in assists (37).

• Letang is 1 goal & 3 pts away from tying his career high in both (11G last season, 50 pts in 2010-11).

• Patric Hornqvist posted 2 goals & 1 assist vs. FLA to match a career high for points in a game (last done on Nov. 8 at BUF). The 1st-year Penguin is 2 goals & 1 assist shy of his 4th career 20-20 season.

• Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 34 of 35 shots vs. FLA for his 27th victory of the season.

• Fleury has allowed no more than 2 goals in each of his last 7 starts dating back to Feb. 4:

• 4-2-1 record, 1.00 GAA, .964 SV%

• Career vs. WSH: 16-10-2, 2.48 GAA, .916 SV%

• Fleury leads the league in shutouts with a career-high/franchise-record 8 this season

• The Rangers (9), Wild & Canucks (both 8) are the only teams w/ as many clean sheets as Fleury

• Braden Holtby (WSH), Ryan Miller (VAN) & Devan Dubnyk (MIN) are t-2nd with 6 shutouts.


• Alex Ovechkin (goals) & Nicklas Backstrom (assists & pts) are at the top of the league rankings this season.

• Despite 0 points in his last 2 games, Ovi still has 11 points (6G-5A) in his last 8 games.

• Ovi leads the NHL in Feb. with 9 goals and 16 points.

• Backstrom’s 4-game point streak was snapped at PHI but he has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 5 games.

• The highest Backstrom has ever finished in the scoring race is 4th when he had 101 points back in 2009-10 (Ovi finished t-2nd that season w/ 109)… The highest Backstrom has ever finished in assists was 3rd – done 4 times. His career high in both was set in the 2009-10 season (68A-101PTS).

• Last season Sidney Crosby (PIT) led the league in assists (68) & points (104).

• Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy 4 times including each of the last 2 seasons.

• Six players have won the league’s goal-scoring title 5 or more times including Maurice Richard himself.

• Ovechkin has won the Art Ross Trophy once in his career (2007-08) – it is the only season a Capitals player has ever led the league in scoring.
Ovechkin was the last player to win both the Rocket Richard and Art Ross Trophy in the same season, doing so in 2007-08 with 65 goals and 112 points (both career highs)…Jarome Iginla in 2001-02 with CGY is the only other player to have won both awards in the same season.

• Ovechkin is a 3-time Hart Trophy winner (MVP) – 2012-13, 2008-09, 2007-08.

• No two teammates have more points this season than Ovechkin & Backstrom (125).

• Not since Joe Thornton (assists & points) & Jonathan Cheechoo (goals), in 2005-06 as members of the Sharks, had two teammates ended the season leading the league in each of those categories.

• Braden Holtby has started the Caps last 4 games and despite giving up 3 goals vs. PHI, he has allowed only 7 goals total in those 4 starts (1.73 GAA, .938 SV%)