Pittsburgh Penguins

Goalie nods: Red-hot Ortio gets fifth straight start for Flames


All the latest from the blue paint…

Joni rides again

Talk about a luxury of wealth in goal.

Tonight in Anaheim, Calgary will give Joni Ortio — the 23-year-old Finn that’s spent the majority of the year in AHL Adirondack — his fifth consecutive start as he looks for his fifth consecutive win.

Ortio, called up after Karri Ramo landed on IR, has been nothing short of brilliant during his brief stint in Calgary, moving ahead of Jonas Hiller on the depth chart by posting a .958 save percentage and 1.23 GAA in victories over Vancouver, Arizona, San Jose and Los Angeles. All four wins came on the road and Ortio started his run with a 36-save shutout against the Canucks… in his season debut.


The Calgary Flames just keep winning and winning, Part 2

Awkward or not, Flames will carry three goalies as Ortio shows ‘swagger’

For the Ducks, Frederik Andersen will get the nod in goal.


Leafs at Sens: Craig Anderson for Ottawa, no word yet on a Toronto starter.

‘Hawks at Pens: Marc-Andre Fleury for Pittsburgh, Corey Crawford likely for Chicago.

Jackets at Jets: Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg, no word yet on a Columbus starter.

Bruins at Avs: Semyon Varlamov for Colorado, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Kings at Sharks: Antti Niemi likely for San Jose, no word yet on a L.A. starter.

Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’


According to Pittsburgh-based columnist Dejan Kovacevic, who was in attendance for last night’s fight-filled game at Wells Fargo Center, the “mayhem” we saw on the ice was “orchestrated” by Flyers captain “Claude Giroux and a few of his mates,” who “met at a local steakhouse and decided this night, this opponent would make the perfect foil for turning their season around.”

And just for good measure, Kovacevic called the Flyers “the most repugnant franchise in professional sports with all due apologies to Bill Belichick’s Patriots.”

The crux of Kovacevic’s column was that the Penguins, for the most part, kept their cool despite the Flyers’ attempt to “raise a circus tent over the proceedings.”

But it’s the charge that the Flyers cooked the whole thing up, as opposed to something that happened organically, that was most interesting. Especially considering what Zac Rinaldo said about his hit that injured Kris Letang.

Just another chapter in the rivalry, we suppose.

The Steakhouse Scheme.

Has a ring to it, no?

Letang going through tests after Rinaldo hit, game-time decision vs. ‘Hawks


Quick update on Pens defenseman Kris Letang, who was forced from Tuesday night’s powder keg versus Philly after a nasty hit from Zac Rinaldo.

Letang took Wednesday morning’s optional skate ahead of tonight’s game versus Chicago, but wasn’t made available to media. Per Pittsburgh head coach Mike Johnston, Letang is “still going through tests,” presumably related to concussion protocol, and “will be a game-time decision for sure.”

The Pens have also recalled Derrick Pouliot from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, though that could be a move related to Simon Despres, who won’t play tonight due to illness.

Letang’s status would, presumably, play a role in Rinaldo’s punishment from the league. The Department of Player Safety has already offered him an in-person hearing for the hit — time still to be determined — and, as we’ve seen in the past, injuries do play a role in length of suspension.

Meeting Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz inspired Jakub Voracek to fight


Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek came into his draft year with the nickname “Baby Jagr” among some, but that doesn’t mean that he only finds inspiration from finesse players.

As it turns out, Voracek fought in part because he had the chance to meet legendary Flyers enforcer Dave “The Hammer” Schultz before Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“I saw Hammer (Dave) Schultz before the game,” Voracek said, “so I wanted to show him that I got something.”

Did he ever, as this fight against Rob Scuderi drew rave reviews from the likes of Wayne Simmonds.

… As if Voracek wasn’t already endearing himself to Flyers fans thanks to breakthrough scoring seasons on top of breakthrough scoring seasons.

(Granted, some might hope that he preserves those magic hands on most occasions, though.)

For more on that brawl-fest, click here.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins vs. Blackhawks on Rivalry Night


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

After battering the Arizona Coyotes, the Chicago Blackhawks travel to Pittsburgh to face a Penguins team that must be a little battered following a violent loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Technically, both teams are on a back-to-back, yet the Blackhawks won 6-1 while the Penguins faced their cross-state rivals in a bitter overtime feud, so one almost feels inclined to give the edge to Chicago going in.

Another factor in pegging the Blackhawks as mild favorites: while Chicago’s been up and down in its own right, the Penguins have really been struggling lately.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Pittsburgh has lost three games in a row and five of seven. They only have four wins (4-6-3) since Dec. 22.

The Penguins hope to enter the All-Star break on a high note, then, as they’ll start a tough stretch afterward with a home game against the (currently) red-hot Winnipeg Jets and then face a road-heavy haul.

Things won’t be any easier in the likely event that Kris Letang won’t be able to play thanks to Zac Rinaldo’s controversial hit from Tuesday, either.

Technically, the Blackhawks begin a seven-game road trip tonight, although the All-Star break essentially boils it down to a six-game jaunt.

Regardless, they probably want to set a tone for that considering a tough array of California opponents followed by what could be a harrowing trio of games against hungry Central Division rivals.

Even with Letang out, there should be no shortage of star power on hand on Rivalry Night.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin may see linemates change due to injuries and other circumstances, yet they remain elite as ever. Thomas Greiss played last night, so expect Marc-Andre Fleury in net.

The Blackhawks are a in a similar boat as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane continue to lead a band of very talented players. Much like Fleury, Corey Crawford got last night off, so he should be fresh for this one.

All in all, these rare games between two model NHL franchises serve as delicious hockey treats. Savor this one on NBCSN tonight.