I caught up with Hooks Orpik of Pensburgh for some Q&A before tonight's HNIC matchup.
#1. The Pens are scoring a ton of goals, but they're also having difficulty keeping the puck out of their net. It seems like they haven't addressed the problems from the playoffs last spring. What's the solution? Do they need to go out and get another goalie?
It doesn't seem like the Penguins haven't addressed the problem because they flat out haven't addressed it. The idea was to make a shutdown pair of Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik to match the other team's top offensive threats and play Kris Letang every minute he possibly can (anywhere from 24-28 a game). That is the defensive philosophy of the Pittsburgh Penguins. For better or worse, this is a team constructed to run and gun and try to win by out-scoring the opposition. They're comfortable with every game being a 5-4 game, because they feel like they have the offensive weapons to score more than their opponent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
#2. The Penguins have a plethora of good, young defensemen in their farm system and the Pens have been an oft rumored destination for Jarome Iginla. Is there a match there? Should the Penguins be willing to move players like Morrow, Depres, Pouliot, and Maata in order to get pieces that can help the team win now? Are any of those guys pieces the team would refuse to trade?
Word around the organization is that Joe Morrow is probably the only untouchable defensive prospect. I'd be floored if they traded him. I don't see the Pens making a strong push for a rental player like Iginla because I think they're willing to get a lesser player (say a guy like Devin Setoguchi) if it means they have a few years of contract control. Kind of like how they got James Neal who was then considered a good young player, but not an elite one. I just don't see Pittsburgh trading 2, 3 or 4 top assets for a rental forward this season.Right now the Pens are trying 2010 first round pick Beau Bennett on the Malkin-Neal line. It's early, but he's fitting in so far. They don't need an all-star in order to make that line work, and with bigger needs defensively I think the Pens ideal hope is that Bennett can show enough to keep that position and they can look to acquire a defenseman at the deadline.But this is a team, in year's past that has brought in big names like Roberts, Hossa, Guerin and Kovalev in at recent deadlines. They haven't been afraid to add at the deadline, and if they do again I guess it shouldn't be shocking.
#3. Sidney Crosby has once again proved himself to be the greatest player in the world. How difficult was it for Pens fans to go through the last two years or so, not knowing if he would ever be the same player after the concussion issues?
It was really difficult, especially since no one really knew what was going on as the doctors and the team seemed to be learning as the situation kept unfolding. Also, it was pretty disheatening that Crosby missed the 11 months in 2011, he comes back, looks OK for a few games then gets put right back on the shelf by a fairly routine, accidental elbow from David Krejci.That Sid could go down a path of recurring concussions with increasing ease to derail his whole career (ala Eric Lindros) was pretty depressing, but a definite possibiblity.It's still in some fans' minds as they watch him, I know some fans literally hold their breath when he goes into the corner with a defenseman bearing down. But I guess, personally, I get so swept up in his ability and the enjoyment of watching him play that his injury history really isn't on the top of my mind anymore. From the way that he's playing, it's pretty clear he's not thinking about it either.I mean, it could just be a matter of time and he could get another concussion any game in any shift. But, unfortunately, so could any NHL player. We all know the game is so fast and played with such speed that it's a risk every player takes every time they go out there.
Beau Bennett - Evgeni Malkin - James NealBrooks Orpik - Paul MartinMatt Niskanen - Kris LetangMAF