Penguins Notebook: For openers next season, it'll be 2 games in Stockholm, Sweden
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Penguins will open next season with games against Ottawa in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 4 and 5.
The NHL will confirm the matchup during All-Star activities in Atlanta this weekend.
The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay will play a two-game series in Prague, Czech Republic, on the same dates.
The Penguins, who will play four preseason games in North America, will add a fifth here or in Europe before facing the Senators. Contrary to a report out of Canada, however, they are not committed to an exhibition game in Finland, although there have been preliminary discussions about one.
It could have been one of the most compelling aspects of the Penguins' game against Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center last night.
Instead, what had the makings of a memorable showdown between Penguins enforcer Georges Laraque and Ben Eager was rendered moot when the Flyers traded Eager to Chicago Dec. 18.
That was one week after the Flyers' beat the Penguins, 8-2, here. Eager ducked an on-ice confrontation with Laraque during that game, but initiated an off-ice one with Penguins coach Michel Therrien afterward, lurking near his post-game press conference outside the Penguins' locker room and yelling at Therrien that he was "a joke" after the session concluded.
Earlier, Eager had triggered one of several third-period skirmishes by going at Laraque with a head-high elbow.
Although Eager showed no interest in trading punches with Laraque after their run-in, he was pummeled a few seconds later by Gary Roberts.
It's virtually certain that he and Laraque would have crossed paths last night -- Laraque would have seen to that -- if Eager hadn't been sent to the Blackhawks.
"Obviously, we had something a little special for him," Laraque said. "But he's gone."
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, free to sign with any team.
But the one he'd like to play for most is the one he is with already.
Even though there have been times this season when Orpik has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, he said he'd be "very receptive" to negotiating a deal to remain with the Penguins.
"I've loved all the time I've had here," he said. "I love the guys here, love the direction Ray [Shero, the general manager] has put the organization in. Everything here is done first-class, very professionally."
While there clearly would be a market for a defenseman with Orpik's willingness -- and ability -- to play the body, he expressed no great desire to test the open market.
"Some guys get really upset with where they're at," Orpik said. "They can't wait to get to July 1 to get out of a situation. ... I've talked with a lot of guys I've played with here who have gone other places, and they kind of wish they could come back."
Ty Conklin's 10-0-1 run in goal for the Penguins began with a 5-4 victory Dec. 20 in Boston, but his first game actually came nine days earlier, when he replaced Dany Sabourin for the third period of that 8-2 loss to the Flyers.
Conklin stopped 12 of 15 shots in 20 minutes of work that night.
Nothing about his relief performance suggested he was about to give the Penguins consistently strong goaltending, but obviously nothing that happened after he took over for Sabourin prevented him from doing it, either.
"Every team has games where the team as a whole doesn't play well, and [the other team] plays well, and it goes the wrong way in a hurry," Conklin said. "That was the kind of game we had then."
First Published January 25, 2008 12:00 am