Sidney Crosby

Pens’ Ehrhoff ‘frustrated’ with time in Buffalo

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In 2011 defenseman Christian Ehrhoff came one win shy of capturing his first Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Canucks.

Following the deep playoff run Ehrhoff decided to sign a 10-year, $40 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres as an unrestricted free agent.

After being bought out of the deal just three years in, Ehrhoff, now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, all but calls his decision to sign in Buffalo a mistake.

“I thought it was a team on the uprise,” he said. “They had a good roster and I felt, with a few additions, that they could take the next step to be a competitive team. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way and they went into full rebuild mode. That was obviously a little frustrating because that’s not the reason I (signed) there.”

Ehrhoff signed his deal with the Sabres after Buffalo finished the 2010-11 season with a 43-29-10 record. The Sabres were third in the Northeast Division that season and qualified for the playoffs.

After Ehrhoff joined the Sabres, they failed to make the playoffs in three seasons.

Ehrhoff, who had 28 goals and 94 points in 159 regular season games in two years with the Canucks, saw his numbers slowly dwindle in Buffalo scoring 16 goals and 87 points in 192 games with the Sabres.

On July 1 the 32-year-old signed a one-year $4 million deal with the Penguins.

“Last year was obviously very frustrating finishing last in Buffalo – not what I had hoped for when I signed there,” Ehrhoff said. “It’s a new opportunity (in Pittsburgh) and I’m excited to be on a very good team that has a good chance, all the tools, to compete for the cup.”

Under new head coach, Mike Johnston, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby notices the team’s defense more involved.

“Our D is probably more active than they’ve been in the past,” he said. “I think recognizing that as a forward, kind of on both sides of puck: offensively knowing that you might have an extra guy with you, but defensively understanding you might have to stay back more knowing the D is joining the play so I think that’s one major thing I notice here right away.”

It’s a system, which should benefit the offensively gifted Ehrhoff.

“A lot of experience, he’s played a long time,” said Crosby of the defenseman. “On the power play he’s got a big shot, sees the ice well and then defensively, he’s playing with Tanger (Kris Letang) and they’re going to see a lot of top guys so a lot of minutes. I think all the way around he’s a big acquisition for us.”

Ehrhoff struggled to point out where things went wrong with the Sabres.

“It’s tough to say,” he said. “The fact is, it didn’t work out and I’m happy with getting another shot at it here with Pittsburgh.”

The German native admitted the opportunity to play along side Crosby was a big selling point for him.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said Ehrhoff. “You can see it every day in practice and every night out there, it’s pretty special and obviously that was one of the reasons why I signed (in Pittsburgh).”

Ehrhoff’s buyout from the Sabres will ensure he gets a check of roughly $860,000 each season until 2027-28, but doesn’t feel it leaves him needing to prove anything after failures in Buffalo.

“I don’t think I have to prove anything to myself,” he said,  “but obviously I want to be a big part of this team and help this team win.”

Ehrhoff is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent once again next summer.

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin in a music video almost too weird to exist

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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.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell believes that 3-on-3 overtime would “all but kill” the shootout. (The Hockey News)

Fascinating stuff about Taylor Crosby – sister of Sidney – trying to carve out her own niche as a goalie at Northeastern University. (SB Nation)

Speaking of Sidney Crosby, The Score’s Justin Bourne provided a great breakdown regarding why his shot tends to leave goaltenders guessing. (The Score)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $10,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday night’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $1,000. Starts Wednesday at 8pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Jarome Iginla explains that his near-fight with Dion Phaneuf was merely a “heat-of-the-moment thing.” (Denver Post)

Simon Gagne’s signing could mean notable changes for the Boston Bruins’ fourth line. (CSNNE.com)

The Philadelphia Flyers are in a tough spot right now, but fans in need of a pick-me-up merely need to watch Claude Giroux’s ridiculous shootout goal on a loop:

Last, but certainly not least bizarre, Alex Ovechkin appeared in a music video for Katya Lel that’s just … *stares off into space like Ovechkin does for most of that really, really bizarre clip*

That clip comes via Russian Machine Never Breaks by way of Slava Malamud, although kudos are in order for Puck Daddy’s description of the video:

If you ever wanted to see a woman who looks like a mash-up of Robyn and Drea de Matteo groping a stone-faced Alex Ovechkin as he holds in a fart for three and a half minutes … Merry Christmas.

Can’t sum it up much better than that.

Plekanec, Kuemper, and Crosby are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper and Penguins center Sidney Crosby have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Plekanec tied for the League lead with four goals (4-1—5), helping the Canadiens pick up a trio of road wins to open the season with a 3-0-0 record for the first time since 2005-06.

Kuemper stopped all 46 shots he faced in helping the Wild become the fifth team since 1943-44 to begin a season with consecutive shutouts (a feat also accomplished last week by the San Jose Sharks).

Crosby shared the League lead with six points (3-3—6) and four power-play points (2 2—4) in lifting the Penguins to a pair of victories to open the season.

All good choices. But for the record, we would’ve gone with Brock Nelson instead of Crosby. Identical stats. Tie should go to the younger guy.

source:

PHT Morning Skate: The search for Colorado’s offense

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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.

Gabriel Landeskog says he “can’t put his finger” on why the Colorado Avalanche haven’t been able to score a single goal in two games against the Minnesota Wild. How long will it take for Colorado to find some answers? (Denver Post)

Speaking of the Wild, head coach Mike Yeo thinks his team has a chance to win it all … yet he’s also scared about missing the playoffs altogether. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock believes that his team got its “identity back.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $5,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $800. Starts Wednesday at 1pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Chris Kunitz’s remarkable journey from “never being drafted” to becoming Sidney Crosby’s partner-in-crime … not to mention winning Olympic gold. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Despite the fact that the 2014-15 season is in gear, there are six interesting goalie options out there if injuries or poor play force a general manager’s hand. (The Hockey News)

Meet “the original” Nazem Kadri, grandfather of the rising Toronto Maple Leafs forward. (Sportsnet)

Evan Sporer put together a nifty profile on hot 2015 NHL Draft prospect Jack Eichel. (SB Nation)

Calmer Crosby enjoying early season success

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Bill Guerin still shows up to the rink in a suit on game days; however, when the puck drops he’s high above the ice watching from a suite as the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager.

The view gives him a new found appreciation for the game’s biggest star, Sidney Crosby.

Guerin was a teammate of Crosby’s for parts of two seasons (2009-10) capturing his second Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009.

“Night-in, night-out you get spoiled watching him,  said Guerin. “One of the best things is watching him in practice, watching his work ethic, watching what he can do with the puck when it’s practice, when you’re working on things and you’re trying different things.

“That’s when you get a real appreciation for what he does.”

Originally the fifth overall pick at the 1989 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Guerin appeared in 1,263 games with the Devils, Oilers, Bruins, Stars, Blues, Sharks, Islanders and Penguins scoring 429 goals and 856 points.

Guerin first played with Crosby six years ago, with a then 21-year-old ‘Sid the Kid’.

According to Guerin, the biggest improvement he’s seen in the now 27-year-old Crosby has nothing to do with his on-ice skills.

“I think he controls his emotions a lot more,” said Guerin. “I think he’s really brought a calming affect to the room.”

Crosby admits he’s learned to pick his spots better and approaches the game with a calmer demeanour.

“Hopefully with more experience you learn that it’s a little bit better to stay even keel,” Crosby said following his second three-point performance of the season Saturday. “I don’t think you want to take the emotion out of the game. I feel that passion and energy is something that I need to play with.

“But I think just knowing when to maybe turn it down is important so hopefully that’s something that gets better as you get older.”

Added former linemante Pascal Dupuis, “He matured as a hockey player, matured as a person and it shows on the ice.”

With three goals and six points through the first two games of the season, Crosby is off to his best start since the 2011-12 season when he had seven points in the first three games of the season.

He appears further motivated by how the 2013-14 season ended – a loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Easter Conference semifinals.

In the offseason the Penguins cleared out the front office firing GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma.

“You come in with the mentality that you want to start quick, get some momentum, get some confidence,” said Crosby. “Had a long summer, had a lot of time to think about last year, we’re all pretty excited to get started. I think everybody’s excited to get started, but it’s nice to see it translate into a couple wins.”

He’s also learning to play with a new linemate in offseason acquisition, Patric Hornqvist.

“It’s really fun; he competes hard, goes to the net hard. He’s got a great shot,” said Crosby. “I think between the three of us we try to dig lose pucks out, go to the net and generate chances.”

The line, which includes Chris Kunitz, has combined for six goals and 12 points through the Penguins first two games of the season.

They’ll have plenty of time to grow as a line this week as Pittsburgh doesn’t play until Thursday when they host the Dallas Stars.