Sidney Crosby

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Exploring Eric Tangradi as Sidney Crosby's Winger

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a sweetheart extension this June, but after missing out on Zach Parise, it appears he'll begin the 2012-13 without the scoring winger Pittsburgh has long coveted.

Whether they get that player this summer or not, the franchise center will spend the next 12 years in Pittsburgh at just $8.7 million per season, shaving off roughly a third of what he could have earned in a spend-happy free agent market.

With the cap space he left on the table, the expectation has become that the Penguins will reward his loyalty with his own version of James Neal.

Given Crosby's (relative) sacrifice, they should. When the time is right, t...

Penguins Sign Grit Early, Showing Signs Of What Is To Come

On free agency day one, the Pittsburgh Penguins attempted to woo a few key additions, but as they decided to make everyone wait, Pittsburgh made a few strong depth moves.

Already acquiring strong two way forward Brandon Sutter via trade, Pittsburgh wanted to boost its toughness level.  After being beaten in all facets of the game in their opening round playoff series, the Penguins wanted to make sure that they were no longer going to be push over’s. Enter in Tanner Glass.

The UFA forward Glass spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets.  The 28 year old winger posted 246 hits and 51 blocked shots last season while averaging 1:46 shorthanded.  His physical pr...

Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Quick, and the mega deal

With the recent huge contracts signed by Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Quick, some pundits have started to speculate. They wonder whether or not this is good for any player, even if that player helped his team to a Stanley Cup and has a room full of hardware.

Most fans would like to think that their favorite team's coach, general manager, and owner are thinking long term and looking for consistency throughout the organization.

On the surface, these contracts show a couple of things. First and most obviously, it shows the club is looking to lock up one of their most valuable assets.

Secondly, it shows the player is committed to staying with the organization and become on...

A Closer Look At Plus-Minus

The object of a hockey game is simple. Score more goals than your opponent. I know earth shattering, right? Anyways, if your team manages to score more goals than it has scored against it, it hopefully will have a chance to compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup in the playoffs. I say hopefully because the teams that outscore the most over the course of a season don’t always end up making the playoffs based on which division they play in, blowouts inflating differentials, or other chance factors. Below in the chart you can see the results from 2006-2012 with each dot representing a team’s goal differential vs. how many points it collected over 82 games. As seen by the high R2 va...

Is Puck Possession Dead?

As hockey fans gear up for the Western and Eastern Conference Finals, a few common themes among the remaining teams resonates: trap style play, tight checking, and a reliance on elite goaltending. Every year after the Stanley Cup is lifted, the champs are analyzed as to why they won, and other teams then spend time scouting youngsters and spend cap space on UFAs that resemble the Cup winning roster. The NHL is definitely a copy cat league. For the past five years, teams have been trying to mimic the style of play of the Red Wings, Penguins, and Blackhawks. After all, why wouldn't want you to copy what wins? But take a look at the puck possession-like teams that are eliminated: Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver, Pittsburgh. Both Conference Finals will send shock waves through the NHL, and the Red Wings better be paying attention.

After Mike Babcock's puck possession team lost to the Oilers in '06, their style of play didn't change at the root, however; they were told me be more physical and work harder in the dirty areas. That paid off the next three years by making to the Conference Finals in '07, Winning it all in '08, and coming within 1 goal at a chance to win it all again in '09. Now, it sure seems Red Wing hockey needs to be re-evaluated. Ken Holland and Mike Babcock should be watching every game of the playoffs from here on out. The Western Finals have been settled, and it will feature the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings. These two teams skate hard, trap, are defensively responsible, and heavily rely on their goaltenders to steal games. (By the way, is it not a coincidence that the year Phoenix lets Bryzgalov go they make it this far? He's never been a proven playoff goalie, and probably never will be.) The same goes in the East; The Devils (who are the definition of the trap) are waiting to face either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals. The Rangers have consistently been a defensively disciplined team with a couple of decent scoring lines, but overall block tons of shots and make things easy for their world class goalie Henrik Lundquist. The Capitals on the other hand, were born a puck possession team when they inherited forwards Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin. Since Dale Hunter took over as head coach, he has somehow got them to play a style of hockey whereby no all-stars are praised, but an entire team can reap rewards from teamwork. Players like Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, and Joel Ward are laying their bodies on the line for their coach, and Ovechkin is learning a valuable lesson.

The Shanahammer Should Be Dropped On The NHL Media

The playful metaphor that was used by The Checking Line at the beginning of the season is the only thing playful about the NHL Discipline Office these days.  It has become once again the mainstay of controversy in the NHL playoffs.  Fining coaches unnecessary amounts for comments made, yet allowing player safety issues to be countered by useless fines.  The NHL has lost its hold on itself and there is only one thing to truly blame, its own media.

The most perfect example of this, recent comments made by New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella.  Why is this, the perfect example? Well that can be answered by just checking the NHL web site.  Coach Torts&rsq...

Role Reversal: Flyers in Penguins' Heads

The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in a playoff game. One team lost its cool and went over the line. They seemed to come close but never had enough to get over the hump.

One team looked like it was trying to exercise its demons and yet seemed so far from actually doing it.

Normally, that team is in black and orange. However, this time the orange has been swapped out for gold.

Sunday’s 8-4 game three win for Philadelphia felt like it was played in an opposite universe. Not long ago, Daniel Carcillo was running amok and Max Talbot was shushing the Wells Fargo Center crowd.

It seems like yesterday when Captain Mike Richards was losing his cool and letting the Pittsburgh superstars get under his skin. With those teams, it seemed like they’d never get over the brink against the Penguins.

Sunday, they were far beyond the brink.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Display The Problems With NHL Officiating

The NHL fined the Isles last year $100,000 for the brawl game vs. the Pens, but the Pens did not get fined anything despite a player leaving the bench as a sixth skater to join a fight on the ice - which, by the way, means the head coach should be suspended for one game - he wasn't. But owner Mario Lemieux stated that the NHL didn't do enough to punish the Isles for that disgrace of a game.
Keep in mind that Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies received suspensions. They rightfully deserved them, and Godard got the 10 games required for leaving the bench, but the Penguins didn't receive any other suspensions or fines of any kind.
Lemieux, despite the one-sided disciplinary action, still felt that the league didn't do enough.

TCL Round 1 Staff Predictions: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

 

 

( 4 ) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS vs. ( 5 ) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Bloodbath. That's the word that Flyers forward Scott Hartnell used to describe the mindset of these two teams heading into this series. Some of us here at The Checking Line may be proponents of pacifism and the reduction of violence in hockey, but even we get a kick about what's probably going to happen between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in this first round match-up. The two teams set up their series in a game in the final week of the season, and if that was any indication, this one shouldn't disappoint. Expect a lot of violence, lots of scoring, contr...

Where Are They Now? Jeff Tambellini

Jeff Tambellini has succeeded at every level of hockey.

Except one.

Jeff Tambellini is the epitome of what baseball scouts would call a 4A player; too good for Triple-A but not good enough to stick in the ‘big leagues’. His junior career began in 1999, at the tender age of 15. He joined the Port Coquitlam Buckaroos of Pacific International Junior Hockey League (PIJHL). The league is stationed near Vancouver, British Columbia. He had 31 goals in his only season with the Buckaroos, netting him a multitude of honors including Rookie Of The Year.

After the 1999-00, he went on to play two seasons with the Chiliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League. This was an ‘A’ level league and brought Tambellini that much closer to his goal of becoming a professional hockey player. After an average 2000-01 season, his next campaign blew away any of his wildest dreams.