27 February 2007

More dickering than a used car salesman

As with everyone, I've been reading the trade deadline rumors, and so far the Penguins have been rather quiet on the trade front.

At least, until now, with the recent speculation about Georges Laraque, and more recently, Gary Roberts. He has said before that the only thing that will make him waive his no-trade clause is a deal by Ottawa or Toronto so that he can be closer to his daughter who lives up in the big T. It seems, however, that of this morning he has been rumored to have waived said clause and it in the process of finalizing a deal with the Pens to move to Pennslyvania. What made him change his mind? It certainly couldn't have been the bait, a one Noah Welch, who hasn't been doing much of anything with the Pens as of late...but then again, Toronto is only a measely 5 hour drive from Pittsburgh, and apparently Ottawa and Toronto haven't given any nibbles on the hook for him. Who knows, but it sounds like the Pens are leaning that way at the moment. Right now he's got 13 goals and 16 assists, but he was also out with a hip problem earlier...he's also on the far side of playing and might be looking at retirement soon. However, these problems aren't really a huge deal (except for the hip), as it sounds like he would be a rent-a-player for the playoff run and I'm sure that Therrien has no problems duct-taping him up and shoving him back out on the ice. You've got the whole summer to heal, right? The Pens could do worse, but really, the issue is where would you put him? It doesn't sound to me like he's 1st line material, so who gets booted out of the 2nd set up? 3rd line, perhaps? Guess we'll find out.

I won't go on about who's been traded where too much, because you can just go and find it plastered all over the internet on espn.com and nhl.com (oh, and TSN has said that they are going to be showing a little marathon tomorrow for the end of the trade deadline with commentary and apparently cheerleaders), but there are a few things I've heard that surprised me:

-No deal yet for Ryan Smyth. I can't imagine that they would trade him after all this, but I suppose that if a deal can't be worked out, they'd send him out the door. People are speculating that Sykora and possibly Lupul and Torres are headed out as well. I've even heard that Jussi, who is a UFA at the end of this season, might also be dealt. This makes me very sad, not only because I love the man, but because I think he and Roli make a great goalie team, and he's a solid backup for Roli (most of the time). It's sad that the Oilers are about 10 points out of the playoffs right now (behind Minnesota and Calgary), but unless they start one hell of a drive, they aren't going to make it. Well, maybe they have a chance, let's see what games they have coming up...oh look, Minnesota...Calgary...Tampa (bastards)....Anaheim...well, maybe next year?

-Rumors have started to float around that the Rangers are considering dealing Jagr. True, he's slowed a bit this year, and the Rangers have taken a nose-dive (12th in the East, and tied with Boston, surprisingly, with 64 points), but with his record and effort I would have expected him to be a Ranger for the rest of his career.

In other news around the NHL, Tampa Bay, after handing the Pens their asses on Sunday, are in 3rd with Ottawa and the Pens trailing after in 4th and 5th. The boys have a nasty schedule coming up, packed with a lot of divisional games (Flyers, Rangers, Devils), and 4 back to back games. I hope they're eating their Wheaties, because this month is going to suck. Hopefully they get back on the horse after Sunday (wtf, why does Tampa just not work for the Pens? They haven't won there in 4 years), and beat the crap out of the Devils tonight.

Against the Rangers this season the Pens are even at 2 wins and 2 losses, and the Devils we're behind with 2 wins and 3 losses. Ottawa we've lost the one game we've played, and Boston has shown the Pens some Beantown magic by beating us both times this season. We're playing Boston twice in the last week of March, neatly sandwhiching a Washington game. There are a few Montreal, Toronto and Atlanta games thrown in there, but the ones against the Devils, Rangers, Sens and Bruins will be telling (not that they're not all important at this stage, but...). Really, the Pens are looking at a hard month, and not only from the packed schedule. Yes, I like to state the obvious. If things keep going like this, and I'm sure that the Penguins' hold on a playoff spot will become more tenuous (only 5 points out), the last game on April 7th against the Rangers might be a deciding game. Good thing I got tickets.

No word on an arena yet, at least, that I can find, but I did hear that they were taking deposits on tickets for next season...at the Mellon. I don't even want to speculate.

Some other Pens news:

-Nice little comparison article that tells us that Sidney is a good hockey player. No kidding. The attempt at a scientific approach was nice to read, though.

-Fleury to start tonight. Also, I never noticed this before, but there are random segements on nhl.com that have little gems like Fleury getting locked in his basement. Really.

On the subject of Marc-Andre, this article brings up a good point: what if Therrien's bashing of Flower damages his mental stability between the pipes? He's got the skills, but he's been notoriously soft after psyching himself out if he lets in a bad goal or three. On one hand, it's a good thing that he goes, 'oh shit, I should have had that. Damn damn damn...' (probably all in French), because that means that he's noticing what he should have done, and hopefully trying to rectify whatever issue that led to the goal...and then let is roll of you and get back in the game. Sometimes, however, garbage gets in no matter what you do, and if the defence isn't there to help and clear away rebounds/get guys out of scoring position, then there are only so many miraculous saves that can be made before one slips past those toxic yellow pads (the last Boston comes to mind, although more dramatically on Sunday in Tampa Bay). I'm not a goalie, but hearing your coach rag on you publicly, mulitple times, has gotta do something to your mind set. Hopefully something good, in this case.

Penguins and Devils tonight at 7:30 at the Igloo. Go Pens.

No comments: