Successful formula works for Penguins, Blackhawks

PENGUINS NOTEBOOK

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CHICAGO -- The Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks -- opponents Saturday night at Soldier Field in the finale of the NHL's Stadium Series outdoor games -- have been top teams in the NHL for several years, with three Stanley Cup titles between them in the past five seasons.

Chicago general manager Stan Bowman outlined a formula he believes has worked for both clubs.

"Sustaining some stability is No. 1," he said. "We've had the same coaching staff in place. The main players are there year to year. When you have success, you want to try to keep the guys who are most pivotal in getting that success. I think we've been able to do that. Pittsburgh's done the same thing."

Bowman also had some interesting thoughts on the NHL trade deadline, which is 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"We're not focused on the deadline," Bowman said. "We're really happy with the team we have."

That's not unlike what a lot of GMs say at this point in the season, but Bowman backed that up by pointing out that the Blackhawks made moves earlier this season, adding players such as winger Kris Versteeg and center Peter Regin.

"We did that intentionally to try to get a player in for a longer period of time," Bowman said. "I think it's harder sometimes when a guy comes in for a couple of weeks and then you jump into the playoffs. You can't really get him acclimated to your system you play, who he's going to play with. So we're not looking at that at all."

The Penguins, in contrast, regularly have made moves at or just before the trade deadline, some involving significant players. Of the four they acquired at or leading up to the deadline a year ago, only Jussi Jokinen remains, and the biggest name they got, Jarome Iginla, did not have the impact that might have been expected.

Kane studies Penguins

One of those key Blackhawks players is winger Patrick Kane, who, it turns out, is something of a Penguins fan.

Kane said he watches Penguins games, but he tunes in for a specific reason.

"I just like, obviously, watching [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, to be honest with you," he said of the Penguins star centers. "Just to kind of see how they're playing or if there's something I can pick up on the ice. It's not like I'm watching the Penguins, to be honest with you, in general."

It's not too cold

The temperature at the start of the game was 14 degrees, with snow falling.

Asked if there was a point at which it might be too cold to play the game, Crosby smiled the smile of someone who grew up playing pickup games outdoors in the most bitter of weather conditions.

"I don't know what too cold is," he said. "I like to think I've played in some pretty cold conditions at some point in my lifetime."

Helmet headaches

Having a new helmet designed has become a standard order of business for goaltenders who play in the NHL's outdoor games. It didn't go all that well for the starters in this game.

Friday, Marc-Andre Fleury's Steelers-themed helmet slid off of its perch above his stall in the Penguins locker room at the stadium and caused a cut and swelling above his left eye.

Also that day, Chicago's Corey Crawford revealed that the helmet he hoped to wear in the game had never gotten to him. He checked with his equipment company and with the delivery company, but there was no trace.

Those events apparently didn't add up to some sort of helmetgate.

Asked a couple of hours before the game whether Crawford had tracked down the mask, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville just smiled and said, "He's all set."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was asked a rather leading question of whether he knew anything about the missing mask.

"I don't know anything about it," Bylsma said.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly. Seth Rorabaugh contributed to this report.


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