Should Therrien zip it?
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Q: Shouldn't Michel Therrien follow Sidney Crosby's lead and keep his mouth shut over this Alexander Semin thing? Why fan the fire?
Mark, Harrisonurg, Va.
MOLINARI: No. There was no good reason for Therrien to avoid discussing this subject when he was asked about it during a press conference, and he certainly didn't say anything inappropriate (or inaccurate, for that matter) that would fuel whatever fire was ignited by Semin's incendiary remarks.
Per Post-Gazette colleague Shelly Anderson, Therrien said: "Is he talking about the youngest guy to get 100 points in the history of the National Hockey League?" Is he talking about the [second-youngest] guy to win the Hart Trophy and [the youngest] leading scorer? Is he talking about the youngest captain in the history of the National Hockey League, and to bring his team to the Stanley Cup final? That's all I have to say."
Therrien was guilty of nothing more than sticking up for one his players. Nowhere in his words was a single syllable critical of anything about Semin (aside from the implicit suggestion that Semin's statements were beyond moronic, which is pretty tough to argue), his game or his team.
For those who somehow missed Semin's remarks, which were made to a Russian reporter and initially posted on Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog, here is an abridged version:
"What's so special about (Crosby)? I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago ... (Kane)] is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb. I think that if you take any player, even if he is 'dead wood,' and start promoting him, you'll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else."
Crosby has been a high-profile figure for long enough that, as he noted, Semin's criticisms were not the first he has faced, nor will they be the last, and it's safe to assume that he didn't need to have Therrien come to his defense. Nonetheless, it can't hurt Therrien's standing with his captain -- or anyone else in that locker room -- that he had Crosby's back when someone from outside the organization took potshots at him.
Q: I was surprised to see the New York Islanders pull their goalie at the end of overtime Saturday night. Even though there was less than two seconds left, the Pens could have won the draw and scored an empty-netter. Rule 84.2 states that if one team pulls its goalie in OT and loses, it forfeits its point for getting to OT. To your knowledge, has this ever happened?
Tony Verdream, Shadyside
MOLINARI: That really was a no-risk move by Islanders coach Scott Gordon, for several reasons.
The first is that, with a defensive-zone faceoff that late in overtime, the focus of Penguins center Jordan Staal was going to be on not losing the faceoff cleanly, which could have translated to a quality scoring chance for the Islanders. Finding a way to get the puck the length of the ice and into an open net wasn't even an afterthought for him at that point.
What's more, even if the Penguins had been inclined to put their emphasis on scoring a goal, not preventing one, in that situation, it's almost inconceivable that they could have pulled it off. They would have had to gain possession of the puck, find a clear path to the net at the far end of the ice and then launch a shot that covered the better part of 200 feet, all in less than two seconds.
Perhaps (and only perhaps) there's a way that could be done in a clinical set-up, but it just isn't realistic to believe that it could happen under game conditions in such a short period of time.
And no, the moderator of this forum can't immediately recall a team that lost a point by pulling its goalie and surrendering an empty-netter. However, it's easy to believe that it will happen at some point -- especially if a coach really needs two points and decides that the risk of allowing an empty-netter is outweighed by the perils of having the outcome determined by a shootout -- even if it hasn't already.
First Published November 10, 2008 12:00 am