Ross: Hockey seems to be the only sport who does not list the players injury until after they come back. Is it just a rule or do they feel somehow an advantage can be taken if the other team(s) know where a player is hurt? Its frustrating as a fan to wonder why Neal is week to week without seeing him in a full body cast!
Shelly Anderson: It is not any sort of NHL rule, but there apparently is a handshake agreement on the management level to keep injuries out of the news, I don't buy any contention that there is a competitive disadvantage to disclosing injuries -- it doesn't seem to be a problem in the NFL, where injuries are required to be disclosed -- so it comes down to control. The Penguins don't ever announce the nature of most injuries, even after a player returns. The exception seems to be when there is something major and/or involves surgery, such as Rob Scuderi's broken ankle. And the players and staff have apparently been firmly instructed not to discuss injuries in any way. When we can find out the nature of a player's injury, we report it.
Sam: Good Afternoon Shelly, What change in the Pens have you noticed with new coach Jacques Martin?
Shelly Anderson: Nothing directly, actually. I believe the idea to use a version of left-wing lock at times defensively was made during the offseason before Jacques Martin was hired, although I would imagine he has some fingerprints on what we see there, given his experience working with defensive schemes. The Penguins have never clearly defined his specific duties other than helping all around.
SDWC: Who do you see, if anybody, capable of challenging the Pens for the Metro division title? Or will it continue to be a runaway?
Shelly Anderson: Boy, it really doesn't look like an overly competitive division at this point. Washington certainly has talent, and the Rangers could settle in now that they aren't vagabonds. The Islanders are an improving club. The rest are not much of a threat at this point.
Sam: Hi Shelly, Also, have you noticed a difference on the Pens' goaltenders with new goalie coach Mike Bales?
Shelly Anderson: Nothing that I can specifically attribute to Mike Bales, although he has worked with Marc-Andre Fleury on some things such as game preparation.
Pens n at: I would rather watch the Steelers give up 610 yards and lose 55-31 against the Pats than watch the Pens play the Blue Jackets...Such a boring franchise, will they ever make a run at relevance in my lifetime Shelly? The home-and-home series against them was boring to say the least
Shelly Anderson: Columbus has some good minds in management. I won't count them out in the long term. There are a lot of young players -- several of whom had never played in the same regular-season game as Penguins stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, etc. It would be great if the Blue Jackets come along, seeing as how geographically it could be a nice rivalry for years to come.
JamesinNYC: How is Voulkun(SP) doing?
Shelly Anderson: Good, unless something has changed recently. The danger passed when he had a procedure to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis. It's standard in those situations to then be on blood-thinners for some number of months as a precaution. It's too dangerous to play a contact sport such as hockey while on blood-thinners. That's, as far as I know, the only thing holding him back.
Bev: With the way Megna is playing, is there a chance he sticks with the team?
Shelly Anderson: It's going to be tough in terms of numbers/roster limit when players begin coming off of injured reserve. Jayson Megna has looked pretty good -- very good for an undrafted rookie, actually. He has the speed and has shown good hockey sense, such as going to the net. Odds are that he will spend some more time in the AHL this season barring further injuries, but he's put himself on the map for the future at this point.
Shelly Anderson: OK, we need a few more questions.
Tom: It appears that Geno is just trying too hard. Is that your take?
Shelly Anderson: I think that's certainly true at times. Evgeni Malkin sometimes seems to want to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders. That's not a bad thing, in terms of his wanting to contribute, but it's not always smart hockey. He certainly has had some stellar moments, but the Penguins need a more measured, confident version of Malkin, not the frustrated one.
Pens n at: Good article today on Fleury trying to make the Canadian Olympic team (not sure if you wrote it Shelly?)...Do you think its possible for him to make the cut even though he wasn't invited to the summer camp?
Shelly Anderson: Agreed. Excellent story by colleague Dave Molinari. It certainly is possible. The Canadian Olympic management, led by Steve Yzerman, has said it will closely monitor players into December before determining its roster. The roster for the summer orientation camp was preliminary and not exclusionary. Fleury could play his way onto the roster -- as could winger Chris Kunitz.
Semi-: Teams seem to be playing almost a "Man to man" defense against Sid. Shadowing him where ever he goes. Is that new or just more pronounced?
Shelly Anderson: I can't say that I've noticed it any more or less this season. A team that is playing smart defensively can't give Crosby too much, as they say, time and space. But he's pretty good at beating guys one-on-one, and in a lot of different ways, so it's not some newfound way to stop him.
jk: Any rumors or trade news on the horizon for the Pens that you have heard? Or keeping steady?
Shelly Anderson: I have not heard anything. We'll see what happens when Rob Scuderi comes back, assuming the other defensemen are healthy. And the team seems content to give Jeff Zatkoff some more time, particularly after he has played pretty well the second two of his three games.
RP: If everybody (just focusing on forwards/defense) were to come back healthy at some point in the season. Assuming Megna returns to WBS, what other move do you think they make to become roster compliant?
Shelly Anderson: That's assuming a lot, considering the Penguins have not been healthy all season. Really not sure what happens if they do get everyone back at the same time. We could see a trade or see them risk losing someone to waivers.
Pens n at: Lots of outdoor games scheduled for this NHL season Shelly (8 if I remember correctly?). Are the Pens involved in any this season? I love the outdoor games!
Shelly Anderson: Yes, they are part of the stadium series and will play March 1 against the Blackhawks at Soldier Field. We'll see if there is oversaturation with so many outdoor games. We might not see so many in the future.
Guest: When Neal and Bennett return, do you Megna could skate with Sutter and Bennet for a third "scoring" line?
Shelly Anderson: James Neal, of course, will slot back in alongside Malkin. Beau Bennett is probably ticketed for the third line. So many options for the other winger on that third line. It might be Megna or Matt D'Agostini or Chuck Kobasew (who is hurt right now) or even remain Tanner Glass or Craig Adams. I like the idea of a third line that can score but also is responsible defensively, though. Sort of like the old Cooke-Staal-Kennedy line.
Shelly Anderson: OK, everyone. Thanks for the questions. We'll go again next Monday, same time.