Penguins Notebook: Malkin touted as All-Star replacement
Share with others:
The Penguins got a second representative for the All-Star Game when defenseman Sergei Gonchar was named last week to join starter Sidney Crosby, but the team feels a little shorted.
There is strong sentiment among the Penguins that forward Evgeni Malkin belongs on the Eastern Conference squad for the Jan. 27 game in Atlanta.
- Matchup: Penguins vs. New York Rangers, 7:08 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.
- TV, radio: Versus, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Ty Conklin for Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist for Rangers.
- Penguins: Are on 8-0-1 streak. ... Power play (80.1 percent) ranks 25th in NHL. ... C Sidney Crosby and D Sergei Gonchar are part of three-way tie for most power-play assists, 18.
- Rangers: Snapped 0-4-1 slide Saturday. ... Lundqvist has allowed four goals in eight of his past 15 starts. ... Are 3-0 in games decided in overtime.
- Hidden stat: Rangers RW Jaromir Jagr had 15 goals, 29 points in 28 games vs. Penguins before this season, but has just two assists in four games in series this season.
"He is an all-star in this league," winger Petr Sykora said yesterday. "He's a top-five forward in this league, not to mention in this conference.
"There's a lot of good players, but in my mind, Geno's a complete player. He's not just a scorer. He can do everything. He can create. He can skate. He's not afraid to go through traffic. He hits. He plays good defensively. So in my mind, he is good enough to play in the NHL All-Star Game."
When word filtered through the Southpointe locker room after practice that Ottawa's Dany Heatley got hurt Saturday and likely will miss the All-Star Game, the Penguins expressed a hope that the NHL will select Malkin as a replacement.
"I think he deserves to be there," coach Michel Therrien said. "I think he's an elite player.
Malkin through yesterday was tied for 14th in the NHL and ninth in the Eastern Conference with 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) and had a five-game point streak.
With their three-game, six-day road trip and their eight-game winning streak behind them, and a division game at home tonight against the New York Rangers, the Penguins might have been expected to get a day off yesterday.
They convened at Southpointe, but instead of a routine workout, Therrien instructed them to play a game he calls baseball.
The squad is divided into four teams, two at each end of the rink. A player "at bat" lobs the puck in the air, then takes off from one corner out to and along the blue line and down to the other corner.
The opposing team has to collect the puck, make at least three passes and try to beat the goaltender. If the skating player completes the circuit before the other team scores, he gets a point.
"We had a good road trip, five points out of six, so we just wanted to make sure the team spirit was still there because we have a big game coming up and we want to make sure we are sharp," Therrien said.
On the heels of the success of the Winter Classic outdoor game, in which the Penguins beat host Buffalo on New Year's Day, the Rangers are in talks with the New York Yankees about staging an outdoor game at Yankee Stadium next winter, possibly against the New York Islanders.
"We'd love to do it," Rangers general manager Glen Sather told the New York Daily News.
The newspaper said talks include Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been out since sustaining a high ankle sprain Dec. 6, skated hard in full gear before practice and faced some shots from the first few skaters on the ice. ... Even though they're wrapped up in the game, players do notice things in the stands. Penguins winger Ryan Malone did Saturday night. "In Atlanta, the first goal Sid [Crosby] scored, I looked around and saw a lot of Penguins fans, which was great to see," he said. ... Rangers top-line center Martin Straka missed two games because of a concussion but returned Saturday night and scored the winner in a 4-1 victory against Montreal. ... The Rangers played that game without veteran winger Brendan Shanahan, who had hamstring and hip problems.
First Published January 14, 2008 12:00 am