Tag: Pittsburgh Penguins

New York Rangers v St. Louis Blues

Blues’ biggest question: Are they good enough down the middle?


Jonathan Toews. Anze Kopitar. Jeff Carter. Patrice Bergeron. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg.

Teams that win the Stanley Cup almost always have an elite center. As you can see, some of them even have two.

Do the St. Louis Blues?

The answer to that will depend on your definition of elite. If it’s a generous one, then maybe Paul Stastny gets the nod. Otherwise, it’s hard to answer yes.

Next season, the Blues’ top two lines could look something like this:

Alex Steen – Paul Stastny — David Backes
Jaden Schwartz — Jori Lehtera — Vladimir Tarasenko

If one of Dmitrij Jaskin, Ty Rattie or Robby Fabbri can step into a top-six role, coach Ken Hitchcock has said that Backes could be moved to the third line.

Regardless of how the lines shake out, it’s no surprise that the Blues were left wanting more from Stastny, their big free-agency signing from last summer.

“Paul Stastny needs to be a bigger part of our group,” GM Doug Armstrong said. “We need him to be a bigger and better part of our team.”

Stastny had 46 points in 74 games last season. He then managed just one goal, with no assists, in the Blues’ six-game playoff loss to the Wild.

Not enough from a player who was supposed to be a difference-maker in the tough Western Conference.

“I think in every sport if you’re strong up the middle you’re usually a strong team,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per Yahoo Sports. “The center icemen seem to be the catalyst, usually offensively. They’re the guys who have the puck the most and make maybe the most decisions on the ice based on the number of touches they have in a game.”

Which is why there’s so much excitement in Washington about young Evgeny Kuznetsov.

But we digress.

The Blues are obviously a strong team. Their regular-season record is proof of that. But they haven’t been able to win that elusive Cup, so it’s only natural to pore over their roster in search of why.

Their lack of a truly elite center — and this goes for good teams like the Wild, Predators, Canadiens, Rangers, and Jets — may be as good an answer as any.

Related: Doug Armstrong is under pressure

My, Adidas: Company will reportedly design NHL jerseys in future

LA Kings/NHL Stadium Series jersey unveiling and Team LA Store Grand Opening

It sounds like shoe company adidas will design NHL jerseys instead of Reebok in the near future.

The details get a little hazy beyond that, which makes sense, as the league and outfitter didn’t confirm anything to TSN’s Rick Westhead (who broke the news).

Westhead reports that the new deal will kick in during the 2016-17 season, but it might begin in 2017-18 instead, according to Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.

adidas owns Reebok, the current designer of NHL sweaters, so you’d assume it would be a smooth transition. Instead, Westhead reports that there may be some pretty “radical” changes. Here are some of the key ways things might be different:

  • There are no details regarding how it might happen, but this may open the door for advertisements on jerseys.
  • Granted, sweaters already have a key “ad” on them beyond a team logo: the brand name for whoever makes the jersey. It sounds as though adidas may want to implement its iconic three-stripe trademark in some form. Westhead reports that the deal could double the NHL’s takeaway compared to its current agreement, so that would likely dull the sting of controversy over such an implementation for the league.

“If you’re already deciding on a major NHL jersey overhaul, maybe with adidas striping on the jerseys, then it seems like it would be a good time to introduce the ads, if you plan to do it anyway,” a league source told TSN.

  • It sounds as though Connor McDavid will be featured heavily in ads, while Sidney Crosby may transition from his Reebok pitching.

There are plenty of other interesting details in Westhead’s report, so give it a full look.

Please note that this hasn’t been confirmed by the league, even if there were some murmurs dating back to February. Even so, it may be wise to consider upcoming changes if you were originally planning on buying a bunch of sweaters for the holidays.

Side note: PHT isn’t alone in making Run DMC jokes.

Go ahead, listen to the song, you know you want to.

Poll: Are the Lightning the favorites to win the Stanley Cup?

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Standing still can be better than the alternative. While any improvement the Tampa Bay Lightning see will have to come from within after their quiet summer, they also haven’t endured any major losses.

Chicago was the oddsmaker’s favorites to repeat in mid-June, but since then the Blackhawks have parted ways with Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, and Johnny Oduya. To be fair, Chicago has also gotten some noteworthy additions like Artem Anisimov and they have some promising youngsters that might help fill the gaps like Artemy Panarin and Marko Dano.

Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the Blackhawks have made some considerable sacrifices this summer in the name of cap compliance and that’s without talking about the elephant in the room.

Tampa Bay finished two wins shy of Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final, so has the uncertainty created by Chicago’s turnover at least made the Blackhawks not quite as good of a bet as the Lightning?

Of course, even if you’re inclined to say that Tampa Bay is now in a better position than Chicago, that’s not the end of the debate. The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have strong teams led by elite goaltenders and either one is capable of having a standout season. Then there’s the Anaheim Ducks, which came closer to eliminating Chicago than Tampa Bay and the St. Louis Blues, which has fielded a great team for years, but hasn’t been able to put it all together once the playoffs start — yet.

You could bet on a Los Angeles Kings comeback or the Pittsburgh Penguins’ overwhelming squads with Phil Kessel joining Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Even then we haven’t covered all the teams that can legitimately claim to be serious contenders going into the season.

But this isn’t about who could win the Cup, it’s who has the best chance of doing so, even if it is by a narrow margin in a large field. Is Tampa Bay that team?

Gonchar returns to Penguins for pro tryout

Sergei Gonchar

With his career winding down, Sergei Gonchar is returning to Pittsburgh in the hopes of playing once more with the team he helped lead to a Stanley Cup championship.

The Penguins have announced that Gonchar will attend their training camp on a professional tryout contract.

Gonchar has recorded 220 goals and 811 points in 1,301 career games with the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, and Montreal Canadiens. He’s reached the 50-point mark on nine separate occasions and has traditionally logged big minutes.

He’s 41-years-old now though and saw his role decline substantially with Montreal last season. He had a goal and 14 points in 48 contests and wasn’t used at all in the playoffs.

At this stage of his career, he might find it difficult to secure a job with the Penguins. Pittsburgh has six blueliners inked to one-way contracts, not including Olli Maatta. On top of that, defensemen Adam Clendening and Derrick Pouliot are expected to compete for roster spots during training camp.

Boston Bruins ’15-16 Outlook

Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron

Considering the significant changes that took place this summer, you’d think that the Boston Bruins fell from contender to cellar-dweller.

In truth, they didn’t miss the 2014-15 postseason by much, falling two points behind eighth-place Pittsburgh. Losing Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic won’t help matters, yet it’s not outrageous to imagine them back in the playoffs next season.

They do still employ Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, after all.

Now, it’s reasonable to wonder if they’re still a Cup contender, but what are their chances of making the playoffs?

Let’s ponder that in a slightly different way: by looking at how they compare to the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Division opponents

Lightning – Tampa Bay made a huge leap last season, but they didn’t lose any significant players and are buoyed by young talent. They’re likely out of Boston’s league right now.

Canadiens – Some question Montreal’s possession merits, yet the Habs’ results have been satisfactory so far.

Senators – A clash of fading veterans in Boston and up-and-comers in Ottawa made for an exciting stretch run in 2014-15. Expect a sequel.

Red Wings – A franchise experiencing comparably large front office changes, although Detroit made some key additions instead of subtractions this summer. These two veteran-heavy teams may just battle it out in the bubble.

Panthers – The Bruins must watch out for a team brimming with young talent and familiar faces from the past in Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo.

Sabres – Much improved, yet it’s an open question regarding how far Buffalo must go to merely be respectable again.

Maple Leafs – Lottery fodder, you’d think

Metro considerations

Capitals and Islanders – Two teams that may only climb further out of Boston’s reach in the race for playoff spots.

Rangers – Could this team be a little vulnerable? Martin St. Louis’ retirement and Carl Hagelin’s trade lowers the skill level a bit, while a regime change is in order with Jeff Gorton taking over GM duties for Glen Sather. One would think that the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners hold an edge over Boston, perception-wise.

Penguins – Pittsburgh was right there with Boston as far as almost missing a playoff spot goes. The Pens’ outlook sure looks different with former Bruin draftee Phil Kessel in the mix, though, right? If it does come down to these two teams, just imagine Kessel being the deciding factor.

Blue Jackets – A dangerous team that almost seems like it’s being built in the bruising, Bruins’ mold.

FlyersDevils and Hurricanes – You’d think these teams will struggle in 2015-16, but at the same time, it’s dangerous to write these franchises off entirely. Still, you’d think that the Bruins would pass them by.


Looking at the East teams, do you think the Bruins might make the playoffs? Could they even threaten to win the Atlantic or, conversely, fall into the lottery? It’s an interesting outlook when you try to ponder Boston’s place compared in this mix.