In case you haven't noticed, the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of falling of the face of the earth. It hasn't been a very good couple of months for the boys of winter, but I have a feeling that a major change is coming. I don't know if Therrien will be fired or if Ray Shero will bring in a winger to play with Crosby, but somthing will happen.
With that being said, a possibility is that Miroslav Satan could be traded. I haven't heard or read anything, but statistics show that Satan is on pace for his lowest goal output (24 goals) in more than a decade....and he is playing with Sidney Crosby. Ouch! I guess if it's not meant to be, it's time for a change.
The penguins are in a horrible slump. It's so bad that they have officially fallen out of the playoffs. They currently have 44 points, leaving them in a tie for 9th place in the Eastern Conference with Florida. Boston leads the East with 64 points. The good news is if the Pens get their shit together, they aren't too far out to get back into the playoffs. Montreal is 4th in the East and has 54 points, which is the last spot in the East that has home ice in the playoffs. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The Pens are only 20-18-4 as of today and before their slump, they were 14-6-4 at the end of November, so at least they are still above .500. The Pens are typically a second half team, so they may turn it on at any moment. Keep the faith.
3 Stars In a Row
This has to be a dream come true for the NHL. Guess who the top three scorers are in the NHL? Malkin (63), Ovechkin (53) and Crosby (53). Ovechkin has the edge over Crosby because of his goal total, which is leading the league (27 overall). Ovechkin appears to be on pace to lead the league in goals with some total in the 50 to 60 range. Malkin at one point was on pace to score 160 points, which would have made him the last player since Mario Lemieux (161) in 1995-96 to do so. Malkin is capable of doing it, maybe more so than Crosby or Ovechkin, so just remember you heard it here first. Malkin is currently on pace to score around 120 points.
This is somthing that went unnoticed, but I think it always goes relatively unnoticed anyway, but an interesting anniversary (20th Anniversary) passed on New Year's Eve. It was in 1988 that Mario Lemieux became the only player in the history of the NHL to score 5 goals 5 different ways (even strength, power play, shorthanded, penalty shot, and empty net). I doubt that anyone will ever do that again. But I'll bet that nobody thought it would be done before Super Mario did it anyway, so who knows.
Another anniversary that I think goes unnoticed all the time is a sad one. Roberto Clemente died on New Year's Eve in 1972. This was the 36th anniversary of his death in a plane crash. He died doing somthing that no athlete would ever think of doing, except maybe Tim Tebow. Clemente was taking relief supplies to Nicaragua, which had just suffered from an earthquake. Clemente has exactly 3,000 hits on MLB's hits list.
December 23, 1972 was also a special time. It happened to be day of arguably the greatest play in football history. Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Oakland Raiders in a playoff game and when all hope was lost, the football gods smiled down on Steeler Nation and rookie Franco Harris galloped into the end zone on a freak play and scored to win. The play is known as the "Immaculate Reception" and it still has controversy to this day.
One Last Thing...
The Penguins rewarded Jordan Stall with a new contract. It's a 4-year deal worth $16 Million. I like the signing because Stall is young, although I know I bashed him last year for slumping. Stall obviously had a great start to his career, but I hope that his best years are ahead of him. He has the potential. But remember that his trade value is up too. If people in the organization lose faith in him they won't hesitate to trade him and I doubt that any team would not hesitate to grab him. Hopefully he is in Pens black and gold for years to come.
Here are my playoff predictions for the NFL Divisional Round...
Baltimore @ Tennessee (Sat. 4:30pm)
I know I will take some heat for this, but I'm gonna do it anyway. The Ravens will win this game. I just like them over the Titans. They have a better defense and I just think that regardless of what Flacco does, the Ravens D will come up with big plays and score points. It wasn't an impressive with over Miami, but the Titans are just a bit overrated to me.
Arizona @ Carolina (Sat. 8:15pm)
I like Arizona becuase they have Larry Fitzgerald and a Clarion guy in Reggie Wells, but Carolina is a better team and has a much better running game. Oh, and solid defense. Steve Smith will have a big day as well as Jake Delhomme.
Philadelphia @ New York Giants (Sun. 1:00pm)
This is a tough one. Maybe the toughest to call all weekend. It's hard to go against the defending world champs, but the Eagles are tough and HOT. It will be a close game no matter what. Plaxico not in the lineup may hurt the Giants, but they seem to be going fine without him too. Defense will decide the outcome.
New York 23-21
San Diego @ Pittsburgh (Sun. 4:45pm)
This should be a good game, but I also think that it has the potential to get ugly. The Chargers are a good team, but without LT, I don't know if they can win. Sproles scares me, but not enough. The only reason the Chargers won last week was because the Colts shot themselves in the foot 3 times in OT. And they don't have as good a defense as us. Ben scares me too, because it depends on which Ben shows up. Still defense wins championships and the Steelers were number 1 across the board. Yinz guys get the towels ready!
Have a great weekend Everyone...Here We Go!