Baby New Year didn't just ring in 2008. He also delivered SB Nation's latest addition to the family of hockey blogs PensBurgh written by FrankD. In light of his arrival it's time to resurrect one of my favourite features: 5 Questions.
FrankD also put my feet to the fire and you can read my brilliant responses here.
Before we get to that, remember to read the Festivus Contest Entries and vote for your favourite entry.
1. Did the Winter Classic ending seem a little too perfect to you?
In the Great Book of Hockey it was most certainly a cliche fit-for-Disney ending. There are a lot of Pens fans who love to have Crosby and brag about it to no end. There are also the reasonable ones who say, "Man, the NHL is marketing the hell out of this guy." There's so much talent around the league that sometimes, even as a Pens fan, you can get a little tired of seeing Crosby-this and Crosby-that. [Ed.'s Note: Um...yes.] All in all though, I'd have to say it was good to see Crosby come through on the shootout.
Since the NHL was using this game as a marketing agent, I think the excitement of a shootout and the goal from one of the rising stars of the league in such a clutch situation certainly paid for itself. Up until that goal on Miller though his record was something like 8-25 in the shootout. Clearly not his strongest stat.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury is still out with a high-ankle sprain, Dany Sabourin couldn't quite cut it, and now Ty Conklin is undefeated in 5 starts. How is the goaltending situation in Pittsburgh going to play out and what effect will it have on the team's chances in the playoffs?
Right now I say stick with what's working. The longest stretch of victories for the Pens this season is four-straight. A win over you guys can make that five. (Note: subtle jab) Conklin is definitely holding his own in net. He let up only one goal against the Sabres in the Winter Classic, shut them out two days before and has been stellar in the shootout. When Fleury comes back around from his injury in another 3-4 weeks, I think Sabourin is going to be up for trade fodder. With Gary Roberts out for what looks like the year, we could use a seasoned vet in the locker room.
3. What kind of effect will the loss of Gary Roberts have on the team?
Well as I just mentioned in question 2, you lose a leader. He may not have been the biggest goal scorer or point leader, but when the Pens got rid of Recchi the veteran leadership duties fell on Roberts' shoulders. Jarkko Ruutu was often a scratch [Ed.'s Note: and always a POS] in favor of Roberts/Laraque, so now I think we'll see just what Ruutu can do on the fourth line. All in all though, I think it'd be wise for the Pens to hunt for a vet to help boost the locker room and keep things in order on the bench.
4. What did you think of the move to waive Mark Recchi?
On one hand I think it was well deserved. He wasn't producing, racking up only 8 points in 19 games. But on the other hand, Coach Therrien did it all in what I'd say was poor taste. You don't take a 39-year-old veteran and send him down to the minor league squad. I don't care if he was picked up from Atlanta or not. It's a horrible way to see a guy who had spent, on three seperate occasions, time in Pittsburgh and even scored his 500th goal in the black and gold. The treatment of Recchi actually stemmed a lot of negativity throughout the team. Gary Roberts, Brooks Orpik and Jarkko Ruutu have all been rumored of asking to be traded.
After Recchi left, he had some words to say as well. Without quoting word for word, it was along the lines of, "I'll show them." I think he sure as hell has. In 11 games with the Thrashers Recchi has 10 points. [Ed.'s Note: Performing well after leaving the team? Recchi's a Leaf at heart.]
5. Any special memories of previous matchups between the two teams?
Well, yeah but the one I'd like to most forget is the game back on October 25 of this season. Both teams were heading into the third tied at one a piece, only for the Leafs to fire out of the gate in the third and score four straight to win the game 5-2. It got to a point where I just prayed the Leafs would let up and stop the bleeding. [Ed.'s Note: Beware of Clemmensen!]
On the other hand, that 6-4 Pens win on October 13 was pretty sexy. The series between the two teams is tied at 1-1 on the season. After this game, one of us can secure temporary bragging rights at least.