Penguins' Goligoski seeing more ice time
Share with others:
Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski will be among those keenly interested in the one-game American League Central Division playoff today. This native of Grand Rapids, Minn., is hoping his Twins can beat the slumping Detroit Tigers for the privilege of meeting the Yankees in baseball's playoffs.
"Hopefully, they can get a couple Dome balls and get a win," Goligoski said yesterday of Minnesota, which with every extra step from here on is extending the life of its lame-duck Metrodome.
Goligoski grew up going to games there and sees the parallel between that enclosed stadium and his workplace, Mellon Arena. He has a personal interest in both buildings bowing out with a championship.
"Definitely a few more games there, I hope," Goligoski said of the Metrodome, which will be replaced next season by Target Field. "It's cool, but it's time for a new building. They definitely need one. It should be awesome next year."
Mellon Arena will go dark next season when the Consol Energy Center opens across the street. For now, the dome-shaped Igloo is a place Goligoski is all too happy to call home -- this time, by all indications, for a whole season.
In fact, Goligoski, 24, never felt as at home during his rookie campaign a year ago as he does now after signing a three-year, $5.5 million contract over the summer and being assured the team projected him among the top six defensemen.
Through the Penguins' first two games going into a home date tomorrow against Phoenix, he has been partnered with defensive defenseman and first-year Penguin Jay McKee, has two assists and has logged an average of 22:18 of ice time playing in all situations -- including a substantial amount of time at left point on the top power-play unit.
Off the ice, he's in the process of finding a permanent home here after spending months at a hotel last season -- "It got old quickly," he said -- all the while dreading what he knew was likely to come: a reassignment to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
That came in early February after 44 games with the Penguins. The team made it clear the move was based not on performance but on business -- Goligoski, on a two-way contract then, couldn't be lost to waivers on his way to the American Hockey League.
"It was something that I thought might happen, but what do you do? It was what it was," he said.
"Wherever you're playing, you can get something out of it. It was definitely a lot different going down there. It was a lot better for me being up here, playing with these guys. It was hard to go down there after playing that many games up here."
He got one more NHL game last season, in March, on an emergency call-up, and played in two games against Washington in the second round of the playoffs. He had six goals, 20 points in 45 regular-season games and two assists in the playoffs.
That was enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup along with the rest of the Penguins.
The theme surrounding Goligoski during training camp was his increased confidence. Coach Dan Bylsma mentioned it again Friday after a season-opening 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers.
"That's not always easy to do, playing defense in this league and as a young player," Bylsma said.
Confidence only goes so far, but Goligoski seems satisfied with his performance.
"For the most part, I'm happy," he said. "It's good to get the first couple games under your belt."
And, between hockey games, find a little time to track the Twins.
NOTES -- Winger Ruslan Fedotenko, who left Saturday's game for a time after absorbing a hit from the Islanders' Brendan Witt, did not practice. Bylsma said Fedotenko was given a "maintenance day" and will return today. ... The Penguins will wear their blue third jerseys tomorrow night, the first of 13 games (two on the road) in the alternate color. ... Friday night's game against the New York Rangers drew a 10.5 average rating on FSN Pittsburgh, according to Nielsen, the network's best rating for a Penguins season opener and among the top five in ratings for a regular-season Penguins game.
First Published October 6, 2009 12:00 am