Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari

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Q: With Mark Recchi doing so well in Atlanta, isn't it right to assume that the Penguins pulled the plug too quickly on him? Although I approved of him being let go by the Pens, they sure look like they made a bad move.

Patrick Hughes, Montreal

MOLINARI: Recchi had seven goals and seven assists in 15 games with Atlanta before the Thrashers faced Florida last night. He has fit in nicely on their No. 1 line, has been quarterbacking the Atlanta power play and has been praised for the veteran presence he has brought to the Atlanta locker room.

Understandably, the Thrashers are very happy that they claimed him on re-entry waivers Dec. 8, and it's hardly out of the question that they will try to re-sign Recchi after his contract expires at the end of this season. Especially if he continues to produce the way he has during his first month in Atlanta.

However, it's hard to make a convincing case that the Penguins have suffered greatly from cutting their ties to Recchi. Their record without him this season -- including the games when he was a healthy scratch and the ones played since he joined the Thrashers -- was 17-6, a winning percentage of .739, before they faced Tampa Bay last night. Over an 82-game season, that translates to 121 points, which would be a franchise record.

Now, it would be absurd to suggest that Recchi's absence has played even a small role in the Penguins' surge over the past month --it also would devalue the work of guys like Ty Conklin and Sidney Crosby, among others, and the general upgrade in the Penguins' defensive performance -- but likewise, it's pretty tough to argue that being without him has caused major problems for them.

Frankly, this seems to have worked out as well as could be hoped for all concerned. Certainly, the Penguins never would have waived Recchi if he'd shown up on the scoresheet as often as he has in Atlanta, but it didn't work out that way (he had two goals and six assists in 19 games). They've gotten by quite nicely without him, though, and Recchi has ended up in a place where he's contributing in a prominent role.

If nothing else, though, the Recchi saga certainly will create an interesting backdrop for tomorrow night's Penguins-Thrashers game at Philips Arena.




Q: When was the last time an NHL team had three goalies record at least 10 victories each in the same season? The Pens haven't done it yet this year, but it is well within the realm of possibility.

Mike Anitori, White Oak

MOLINARI: That feat actually isn't as rare as some might believe. In fact, Montreal did it last season, when Cristobal Huet had 19 victories, David Aebischer 13 and Jaroslav Halak 10.

And you are correct that the Penguins are a good bet have three guys reach double-digits. Going into last night's game at Tampa, Marc-Andre Fleury had won nine games, Ty Conklin eight and Dany Sabourin seven.



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