Shelly Anderson's Penguins chat transcript 02/25/08
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skirace217: Who do you think gets the start in net tomorrow?
Shelly Anderson: The prevailing thought has been that Marc-Andre Fleury would make his first start coming off his ankle injury tomorrow night on Long Island. That's still a strong possibility, although coach Michel Therrien cast some doubt on that yesterday when he said he thought Fleury needed a full practice with the Penguins. The team was off today. Of course, Therrien declined to say who would start yesterday against San Jose, leading many to believe it would be Dany Sabourin, and Therrien came back with Ty Conklin. I doubt the coach does those things to annoy fans; it's probably more about keeping players on their toes.
cheapseats: Why didn't Ryan Whitney crush Cheechoo yesterday? Whitney doesn't play the man enough.
Shelly Anderson: There are ways to play your position as a defenseman without being a crushing defenseman or throwing monstrous checks. The Penguins' Ryan Whitney, who got beat by Jonathan Cheechoo on Cheechoo's way to the net, has size and skill but he just isn't an overly physical defenseman. That's not his game. But you point out an area in which the Penguins could upgrade. Really their only physical defenseman is Brooks Orpik, and for whatever reason he is not one of coach Michel Therrien's favorites.
skirace217: When would you guess that Crosby returns to the lineup?
Shelly Anderson: That's the question of the season, isn't it? The answer is, only he will know for sure when he's ready, and all indications are that he doesn't feel ready. Friday will mark six weeks since Sidney Crosby got the high ankle sprain, and that was considered the minimum amount of time he would miss. So he's not behind schedule, even though people got their hopes up when he began skating and practicing. He's a remarkable athlete, but those lower-leg ligaments tend to have a long healing rate for everyone. Look at goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has missed almost half the season with the same injury.
rhamner: Is there any upcoming unrestricted FAs on the current roster that you don't see returning next season?
Shelly Anderson: Well, it would seem that defenseman Brooks Orpik might top that list. He's been playing well and, as noted earlier, brings a physical style lacking throughout the rest of the defensemen, but, also as noted earlier, for whatever reason he is not one of coach Michel Therrien's favorites.
cheapseats: Observers of two of MAF's games in the AHL said he is still giving up big rebounds. This team is best suited for a goalie of Conklin's talents, do you agree?
Shelly Anderson: Having not seen Marc-Andre Fleury's five games during his conditioning assignment in Wilkes-Barre, it would be difficult to agree or disagree about his rebound control. That and his puck-handling have been the two aspects of his game he has most needed to improve -- and those are two areas in which fill-in Ty Conklin has been solid if not strong. Having said that, Fleury's numbers in Wilkes-Barre were superb, indicating that either the Baby Penguins cleared those rebounds very well, or Fleury was able to make nearly all the saves on second or third attempts created by rebounds. The bottom line for a goaltender is stopping shots and limiting goals. That's something Fleury and Conklin are capable of doing, which makes any decision about who gets the lion's share of playing time all the more difficult.
skirace217: Do you get any indication that Shero is looking to make a deal? If so, any idea of who he might be targeting?
Shelly Anderson: There is no indication general manager Ray Shero is in the market for any of the so-called bigger names who seem to be available before tomorrow's trade deadline. It seems his biggest desire is a solid defenseman, but there's a chance he could make a different minor move -- or no move at all.
avp: Suppose a replay would have determined Malones OT shot went in Saturday instead of ringing off the pipe. After Ottawa scored and the game was over, would it have required the refs to call for a review in Toronto of the shot to count the goal, or if it was determined later by television replay that the shot went in - could the Penguins have won without the refs involvement in calling for a replay?
Shelly Anderson: If there is call for a review on a potential goal, it takes place after the next stoppage. If replay determines there was a goal, it is awarded and the clock is reset to that time, wiping out everything -- including a subsequent goal by either team -- that happened afterward. That's the way it works during regulation, and I'm pretty sure it would be the same in overtime. So in that case, the Penguins could be declared the winner. However, Malone's shot did, in fact, ring off the post behind San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and did not cross the goal line.
cheapseats: Do you see the Pens moving anyone by the deadline?
Shelly Anderson: This is a slightly different question from the one about whether general manager Ray Shero will make a trade. It's possible for him to make a trade that adds to but doesn't subtract from the current roster -- dealing prospects and draft picks, for example. That would probably be his preference, but it doesn't always work out according to anyone's wish list.
skirace217: Do you think that Staal and/or Esposito will eventually be moved to wing? If not, could one of them end up being traded?
Shelly Anderson: There is no chance Jordan Staal will be traded this year, and it's hard to see the Penguins giving up so quickly on Angelo Esposito, last year's first-round draft pick. Staal has played well at both winger and center, so versatility is not a problem. If he ends up being a third-line center, that's no disgrace when the two ahead of you are Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. What team wouldn't want those three as their top centers. Or Staal could end up being a power forward type of winger on one of the top two lines.
Jim66: Shelly, Where do you guys get your info about Trades? Is there a wire service or do you wait for Pens release?
Shelly Anderson: Both through old-fashioned reporting and, when trades become official, from press releases. That is, if there are any trades.
rhamner: Any chance the Pens go with the hot goalie come playoff time and alternate between Conklin and Fleury? That got the Wild to the Conference finals a few years ago...
Shelly Anderson: There's always that chance. It's sometimes tough to read coach Michel Therrien, although he has said he likes to stick with the goalie who is producing. In an ideal world, someone will grab the job before then.
cheapseats: Is there any chance Mark Eaton will return this season or in the post-season?
Shelly Anderson: No, unfortunately not. Surgery for a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament requires several months of rehabilitation. Defenseman Mark Eaton has been ruled out for the duration of this season.
First Published February 25, 2008 3:13 pm