Home Tags Posts tagged with "Pittsburgh Penguins"

Pittsburgh Penguins

0
Morgan Rielly

From the Official Site:

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Monday the schedule for the 2013 Rookie Tournament in London, Ontario. This year, Maple Leafs’ prospects will compete in three games at Budweiser Gardens beginning Thursday, September 5 versus rookie teams from the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.

“The Maple Leafs are thrilled to return to a great hockey city like London for the annual Rookie Tournament,” said Leafs Senior Vice-President and General Manager David Nonis. “It’s a great opportunity for us to evaluate the players in our system against their peers from other NHL clubs.”

Tickets for the 2013 Rookie Tournament officially go on sale Saturday, June 8 at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Budweiser Gardens Box Office, by phone at (866) 455-2849 or online at www.budweisergardens.com. Ticket prices for the evening games are Adults – $19.25 and Students/Seniors/Kids – $14.25. Prices for the afternoon games are Adults – $16.75 and Students/Seniors/Kids – $11.75. Additionally this year, Full Day Passes will also be offered at $26.00 for Adults and $21.00 for Students/Seniors/Kids.

Toronto, Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Chicago’s 2013 Rookie Tournament rosters will be announced at a later date.

2013 Rookie Tournament Schedule

DATE                     TIME                       EVENT                      LOCATION
Thur. Sept. 5         2:00 PM            Pitt vs. Ott                       Budweiser Gardens
7:00 PM            Chi vs. Tor                       Budweiser Gardens
Fri. Sept. 6             T.B.A.                Practice                          Budweiser Gardens
Sat. Sept. 7           2:00 PM            Ott vs. Chi                       Budweiser Gardens
7:00 PM            Tor vs. Pitt                       Budweiser Gardens
Sun. Sept. 8          2:00 PM           Chi vs. Pitt                        Budweiser Gardens
7:00 PM            Tor vs. Ott                        Budweiser Gardens

420
Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs

After a good comeback/confidence-building game against the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Toronto Maple Leafs  have perhaps created more questions than answers. The Penalty Kill keeps improving (now 6th in the East) and, even as a “work in progress” defensively, they can at least score in bunches to get themselves out of trouble. They are starting to show the signs that the elite teams in the league show on a regular basis. While they are probably a couple of roster moves away from being mentioned in the same breath as a Pittsburgh Penguins, the rebuild is starting to see the light of day, it appears.

It was one of the first times this season that Nazem Kadri was paired against another top offensive line, but he did it the whole game. We’re not talking about any ol’ line, but the best goal scorer in the league and his better-than-ppg-avg wingman. He beat Steven Stamkos on draws, engaged in the game physically and on the score board. It was yet another coming out party for Kadri and what a nice live viewing for the 30 GMs that were in town to discuss various NHL issues. Most were at the Air Canada Centre taking in the game against Tampa.

Up until this game, Randy Carlyle has been riding the Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and—at least most of the time—Jay McClement line hard against the other team’s top lines. Too much so? That’s hard to say. Kulemin has had many opportunities that he simply is not bearing down on; he was on pace for 10 goals this season before his 2-goal effort against Tampa Bay on a line with Kadri.

Grabovski was paired with MacArthur and Frattin against Tampa and was still looking a little lost. As Grabo goes, those two go. And something that was enlightening in Randy Carlyle’s post-game  interview:

The one thing that we are going to do is we’re going to test Kadri against the best players,” Carlyle said after his team snapped a five-game winless skid with a 4-2 victory over the Lightning. “He wants that, he cherishes it and tonight it worked for him.”

“I think this is just another step in the maturing of a young hockey player,” Carlyle said of his decision to increase Kadri’s responsibility. “And I’m sure there’s going to be some speed bumps along the way and he’s going to turn the puck over when we don’t want him to … [but] the good things outweigh the poor judgments that he’s making by 10 to 2.”

Could #FreeGardiner and #FreeGrabo happen in the same week? It looks like Kadri wants to run with the top match-ups and wants the ice-time that is associated with it. Time will tell if he is up to the task, but this appears to be equal parts a praising and a scolding. Praise for Kadri and his excellent play to date, and a scolding for Grabovski who appeared, to me at least, that he didn’t like all his defensive zone face-offs and having to skate 200ft for his goals. It could very well be a case of lost in translation, but changing brands of sticks isn’t going to help Grabovski at this stage. He’s looking lost and it’s affecting his confidence badly.

Also troubling—to my eye—is how ineffective the Phil Kessel line is. Clearly, Phil Kessel’s game is all about speed, attacking off the rush, his release and his quick hands around the net. This may be oddly timed because Kessel is on a 5 game point streak, a testament to his ability to produce regardless of his circumstances. Kessel tallied a single assist last night giving him four goals and four assists in that span. He sits second on the team in scoring with 28 points but shifts go by where I hardly notice Bozak, him or JVR. They are clicking to a certain degree, but they are not dominating the way that Kessel and Lupul were last year with the absence of a legit number one centerman.

James van Riemsdyk, while a great addition to this team and yet another lop-sided trade from Brian Burke, is reaping the benefits from playing with Kessel, it’s just that Kessel is not reaping the benefits of playing with JVR as much as he could from a center and a winger who could play the game as his pace. MacArthur, Frattin and now Lupul have all “found chemistry” with Kadri. I think it’s more of a case of Kadri is just making everyone around him that much better. Lupul can convert those chances better than the others can. JVR would, more than likely, benefit from a good centerman more than Lupul, who has shown in the past that he can play just fine without one—no offence, Bozak.

Tyler Bozak, it seems more than ever before in his career, is playing way above his head on the 1st line. It’s dragging his, Kessel’s and JVR’s play down. He’s constantly a step behind  and is not able to make the plays that the other two are able to.  If you were to change JVR and Lupul, that would be magnified.

Grabovski, if we can believe what Carlyle says about Kadri, will be freed up to experiment up and down the lineup.  The only logical reason that Kessel and Grabovski have never played extended periods of time together is because, it can be assumed, they both love to have the puck on their stick and both love to carry the puck through the neutral zone—they play a similar game, not a complementary game.

The caveat to that, I would contest, is that elite players will figure out how to get the puck to each other. Grabovski can skate, stick handle, navigate through traffic and shoot at absolutely top speed–the same as Kessel can. They’re good enough to play on the PP together, but that is a different discipline where it’s rarely ever off the rush and is instead done with puck movement inside the offensive blueline. Both players’ strength is scoring off the rush and, if you are going to keep Kessel on this team long term and get the most out of him in his prime years (his peak year is historically this year—his 25th year), you need a center that is as fast as him and not lagging behind the play like Bozak constantly is. I don’t think a “Big 1C” would work with Kessel’s game very well.  If Kessel, Grabovski and Lupul could play their game at top-speed like they can—and execute—it would be a devastating line that would be able to handle some defensive assignments that Kessel/Bozak/JVR just aren’t able to do right now.

Carlyle is not afraid to put the blender away and try players together for more than 1 shift together. As much as arm coaches scream for change, it’s refreshing to have a coach that will play a line together for a full game, and even for bunches of games before he puts the blender to it. The one thing that has never happened with Kessel and Grabovski is them being played together, on the same line, for a week of games (or more).

Tyler Bozak is a solid hockey player trying to keep up with an elite goal scorer and an elite skater in Kessel and he just can’t keep up with the speed at which the plays are made.  Bozak playing with MacArthur and Frattin on the third line would be a much better fit—soft starts, good chances at dominating the faceoff dot—and starting each play with all-important possession—and playing with players of his calibre and his foot speed. It will improve his output tremendously if he can slow the game down to his speed and play with two good, solid wingers in MacArthur and Frattin.

Under Ron Wilson, this experiment would likely have never happened; he had all the opportunity in the world to try it. Under Randy Carlyle, if he does experiment with them on the same line, you would hope that, in keeping with tradition, he’ll give them the appropriate allotment of games together to either sink or swim with this idea for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

As far as statistical data, Left Wing Lock is said to be wildly inaccurate, but it’s all we have.

  1. 2010/2011 Even-Strength Forward Combinations
  2. 2011/2012 Even-Strength Forward Combinations
  3. 2012/2013 Even-Strength Forward Combinations

There’s enough data there to say that Grabovski and Kessel have hardly played together at even-strength.

Toronto’s 1st line centerman might have been under their nose all along.

866

Toronto saw a hard fought one-goal lead disappear in the third period against Pittsburgh, as the Penguins Sidney Crosby staged a second consecutive third period comeback to steal the game in regulation.  It’s a tough loss to swallow after a thorough effort across the lineup kept the Penguins scoreless until the final eight minutes of the game.

1322
Tyler Bozak

I took in what felt like a one-point win last night at the ACC. I of little faith was thinking “blow out” after the bang-bang goals in the first, but there seems to be something different about this team (visible in the Bruins game as well). They didn’t slip silently into the night, and by the end of it you had the feeling Crosby, Malkin and co. snuck away, or limped away, with the extra point.

I’ll ignore the awful first period from the Leafs – and how deeply underwater the first line was in its head to head with Crosby’s line, or how off Reimer was for the first 20 – because in many ways the fight back was just that good. Reimer played one of his poorer periods of the season in period 1, but his overall performance matched the trajectory of the rest of the team – started slow, but without him the Leafs don’t get the point.

746

The Leafs welcomed the Penguins in what was their second meeting of the season. A win in the first game in Pittsburgh certainly felt good, but this was a Penguins team that has 7 wins in their last 10 games and has just now started to push for the top of the Conference standings. It was a different game entirely.

81

After watching the playoffs from the sidelines for the past few seasons, the Lightning have made the most of their first post season appearance since 2007. Tampa Bay looked shaky in the first two games of the series, but has settled into the series and have given the Penguins all they can handle.

Head coach Guy Boucher, one of the most promising young coaches in recent memory, has had a calming influence on his team. He has prepared his team to overcome back-to-back elimination games and fought back to tie the series at three games apiece. Led by Steve Downie’s game winner and a series of terrific saves from veteran backstopper Dwayne Rolson, the Lighting earned a 4-2 win to force game 7.

With all of their momentum of their side, Tampa looks to secure a spot in the second round when they visit the Pens in a do-or die situation on Wednesday.

    272

    Anybody still want to debate the wisdom of starting Gustavsson against the Penguins?

    For my money, this was the right play.   Anyway you slice it, after a 2-0 start against two undermanned/terrible teams,  tonight’s game against the Penguins was set to be a measuring stick of sorts (despite the fact that they were somewhat undermanned themselves).  If Wilson runs his number one guy out there and he gets torched, the Leafs’ momentum comes to a crashing halt: we are measured, and found wanting.  Instead, the coach pitches the Monster at a talented (and desperate for a home win) Pittsburgh team, and sends a message to the rest of the squad: bring your lunchpail and hardhat, it will be necessary to win the little battles along the boards and elsewhere on the ice to have a chance at two points in this game.

    771

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to visit the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at the Consol Energy Arena. The Penguins have yet to win at home this season and get another opportunity to erase that stat tonight against a Leafs team that is hoping to remain undefeated. Jonas Gustavsson will get his first start between the pipes according to Sportsnet.

    78

    The following is live in game, up to the minute coverage of the rookie tournament game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.  Remember to refresh the page for the latest updates.  Remember also to check out my Twitter for notes and pictures

    107

    Finally the day many of us have been waiting for has arrived.  The NHL Toronto Maple Leafs rookie tournament kicks off this afternoon in London, Ontario, and for many it’s a chance to catch on ice hockey for the first time in quite a while.

    Today’s action features the Pittsburgh Penguins rookies taking on the Ottawa Senators rookies in afternoon action.  Also on the bill today, the Maple Leafs rookies will play the Chicago Blackhawks rookies in the nightcap.

    Here is all you need to know about today’s games.

    360

    In part ten of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the importance of a good early start, and if the Leafs can avoid another disastrous start.

    There really isn’t any other way to put it.  No matter how you slice it, no matter how you try to spin it, or how you try to put a sugar coating on it, the cold hard fact still shines through.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs were not a very good team last year.

    Although their stats, and their general play, improved dramatically following the late January trades that saw them overturn nearly half their lineup, the fact remains that the 2009-2010 edition of the Maple Leafs fought inconsistency, as well as young inexperience that had them struggling most of the year.

    But it could be argued that never were they worse, than in the first month of the season.

    330

    In part six of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Leafs sniper Phil Kessel, and whether he can hit the 40 goal plateau.

    While January 31st 2010 will go down as a day Leafs fans will never forget as the Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrik Sjostrom, and J.S. Giguere in the span of about two hours, the date of September 18th, 2009 will also be remembered, yet highly debated, and much scrutinized.

    It was on that day in September, following a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got his man.  After lots of rumours throughout the year, including one that involved Tomas Kaberle going the other way, Burke signed off on a deal with the Boston Bruins that landed him American born sniper Phil Kessel.

    516

    In case you haven’t already heard, the Maple Leafs have broken off negotiations with prospect Bill Sweatt, acquired in the Versteeg trade from the Blackhawks. In a statement to the Toronto Sun, Burke explained that the club would rather keep a spot on the 50 contract limit open than continue discussions with Sweatt. As the talks continued to stall, the Leafs likely turned and upped their offer to Marcel Mueller, whose ELC contract value sits at $1.12 million. Sweatt is likely looking for a figure close to Blake Wheeler’s $2.825 cap hit as a 4-year college free agent, which is a steep price to pay for a player with speed but limited offensive upside.

    452

    Great to see such an active group of readers. Here are a couple of FanPosts for your Friday afternoon reading enjoyment with today’s theme being youth, youth and more youth. Paul LeMay (B. Leaf) takes an in-depth look at the team’s organizational prospect depth while Chuck Johnson compares Nazem Kadri’s chances of making the NHL as a 2nd year player with those of previous high draft picks.