Does Pesonen fit in?
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Q: About Janne Pesonen, Michel Therrien recently said, "When you call up a player like this ... you want some answers" and, "It's going to be a test for him. What exactly is he "testing," other than Pesonen's ability to ride the pine? Janne has barely gotten seven minutes of ice time per game, the third-lowest total on the team in the last two games. Janne is a candidate to play on Sidney Crosby's left side, but Therrien seems to be going out of his way to put him everywhere but there. What gives? Talbot is a great player, but not a top-six forward. Janne has amazing potential, but is not a third- or fourth-line guy.
Brian Altmann, Kitchener, Ontario
MOLINARI: The questions about whether Pesonen is ready for the NHL, and precisely where he should fit in at this level, became moot, at least for now, when he was returned to the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre shortly after their 4-1 victory against New Jersey Saturday.
Pesonen, who was recalled last Thursday after Max Talbot took a shot off the foot on Long Island the previous night, showed very little in games against Buffalo and the Devils over the weekend, but he didn't get much of an opportunity, either. He had 10 shifts (a total of six minutes, two seconds of ice time) against the Sabres, and 12 (a total of seven minutes, 16 seconds) in the Devils game. Forget asking whether that's a fair test of what he can do; it's not even a pop quiz.
Although there were times on Saturday when the Penguins seemed to be conducting open tryouts for the left-wing job on the line with Crosby and Miroslav Satan, Pesonen never got an opportunity there. That's a little surprising, given that the Penguins haven't found anyone with the skill level they'd like to have there (except, of course, when Evgeni Malkin is shifted there) and that Pesonen projects as a top-six forward if he is going to play at this level.
Pesonen has established himself as a reliable point-producer in the American Hockey League, where he has five goals and 16 assists in 19 games, but hockey history if full of guys who put up great numbers in the minors, but couldn't do it in the NHL. Pesonen might be one of the latter. Then again, maybe he isn't.
The Penguins signed Pesonen as a free agent in July and if, after seeing him play all of 23 minutes, 10 seconds in three NHL appearances, general manager Ray Shero and his staff have concluded that he can't be counted on to contribute at this level, they should investigate what he would bring in a trade, since it's hard to imagine Pesonen would be interested in returning to a team that doesn't seem to have a significant place in its plans for him.
Q: I have always felt that the NHL blew it by abandoning the in-the-crease rule. Now, players run the goalie every night. I think players would have adjusted if the old rule were kept. That said, I was annoyed by the Sabres' fourth goal (Friday), when the Buffalo player was two feet inside the crease. I know that the ticky-tack calls when a player's skate was barely inside the crease when the goal was scored on the other side of the net were uncalled for, but I think the league needs to address the fact that other than the goalie, players are supposed to stay outside the crease.
Michael Litzenberger, Blandon, Pa.
MOLINARI: As the rules now stand, attacking players are allowed inside the crease as long as they don't intentionally make contact with the goalie, interfere with his ability to move around the crease or otherwise impede his ability to defend his net.
In the case of the game-winning goal last Friday, the Penguins allowed Paul Gaustad of the Sabres to stake out a place almost on top of goalie John Curry and eventually to jam a shot between his legs with less than 3 ?? minutes to play in regulation.
Under the old rules, Gaustad's goal would have been waved off immediately. Under the ones now in place, the only violation was one in the unspoken agreement between a goalie and his defensemen that opposing forwards won't be allowed to linger unchallenged in the crease for so long that they could be charged rent.
First Published December 1, 2008 12:00 am