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Danny: Hey Shelly! Can you give me YOUR personal opinion on who will be in the lineup come March? Sid, Geno and Staalsy finally healthy for playoff run?
Shelly Anderson: Evgeni Malkin hasn't seemed to have much if any problems with his knee for months, although he is still occasionally given a day off. Jordan Staal should be back from a knee injury after the All-Star break. If I had to guess about Sidney Crosby, I would say he could be back before the playoffs, but as we all know, with concussions there are no guarantees. Sorry. I don't have a stronger opinion on that, just as I don't have a strong opinion on what the weather will be like on a particular day in late March.
Mark: Hey Shelly, if Sid and Staalsy come back to join Geno come playoff time, there's no way you can't pick them to make a deep run. Staalsy and Sid will be healthy and rested while Geno will continue doing his own thing. What do you think?
Shelly Anderson: Agree completely. Don't forget Kris Letang, though. He's in that scenario, too.
Mike: Say we get Letang and Staal back (which seems reasonable to expect) and Sid remains sidelined, do you think Shero would pull the trigger on any deadline deals and if so what would be in your estimation the biggest area of need? One minor thought might be to strenghten the backup goaltending situation but obviously that isn't a primary concern.
Shelly Anderson: Well, general manager Ray Shero isn't going to replace Sidney Crosby with a trade, and he doesn't have a lot of cap room -- maybe $2 million -- to work with unless he gives up someone on the roster in a deal. He's rarely idle around the trade dealine, which is Feb. 27 this season, but I don't see something major. He has told me he likes this team and did his tweaking last summer. As for a backup goalie, Brent Johnson needs to get back to form, but they won't carry three guys and I don't know whether a swap of backups would improve much.
Guest: Shelly what is your take on playoff seedings? Seems to me we just need to make the tourney, not be highly seeded. Home ice seems to matter little in the playoffs. I advocate resting players late in the season and making sure everyone is fresh come playoff time.
Shelly Anderson: The problem comes in "rest" becoming "rust." You might see some reduced ice time for the top players on a team whose playoff spot is pretty well sealed up, but that's about all.
Shawn: What are your thoughts of trading Kunitz for another winger?
Shelly Anderson: Can't see it. Chris Kunitz is a good fit, physical, reliable. What would the Penguins get in return that would be an improvement and would be feasible?
Guest: Did DJ's Tribune Review column catch you by surprise--in terms of his assertions that there are rifts between teammates and between 'Crosby's camp' and the Penguins top brass? Are your sources saying different things?
Shelly Anderson: No evidence whatsoever of a rift or of any thoughts by players to try to undermine Sidney Crosby's captaincy. Players don't choose captains, as I believe is the case in the NFL. In the NHL, they are designated by coaches/managment. The players admire and respect Crosby and look forward to having him back.
Guest: Pure speculation, but do you think Crosby plays again this year? C'mon Shelly, go out on a limb and give an answer
Shelly Anderson: There's no going out on a limb about it. Haven't we all learned that these brain injuries are a different bird? There is optimism that Crosby will be back this season. Great. He knows his body and this injury, and he's at least cautiously optimistic. I simply don't have a feel for it beyond that. How could I?
Guest: Why the lack of real editorials from you and Dave regarding Crosby's status or lack thereof on PG+? I mean, isn't this what the site allows you to do--opine? I would love to hear opinions on how you two think things will play out with this guy. If I want to read your material cited from sources, I can read the Post-Gazette's regularly published stuff.
Shelly Anderson: Opining is one thing; it's not our job to clean up another news organization's mess, particularly a direct competitor. If we had sources saying there was a rift, we would be all over Plus and the Post-Gazette with it. They don't exist.
George: Too many injuries to the Penguins center iceman.
Shelly Anderson: Well, yes.
Rob: We've heard Letang is just about ready to return to practice. Are you expecting that to happen tomorrow? Is Kris ready for contact practice or will he be wearing a different colored helmet for a while? Any indication or precedent for how long Kris might need to practice before returning to the lineup?
Shelly Anderson: There is optimism Kris Letang, who has a concussion, will join practice soon. He's been doing rigorous on-ice workouts. The protocol typically is for a player to practice without contact until the player and his medical team are convinced he's ready for contact. Then the same step from contact in practice to a game. We've seen that time vary among athletes, so it's hard to guess, but he's probably not going to be playing before the All-Star break.
Rob: What does does Crosby visiting Carrick mean for his recovery? Is this a good sign that he is healthy enough to undergo this treatment or is it a bad sign that he is still having issues and needs to resort to this? Also, is there any indication of how long this treatment takes? When will Crosby return to the team?
Shelly Anderson: I have plans to speak to GM Ray Shero later today (watch for updates on Plus and the Post-Gazette) and might know more then. I am being told that this is a checkup more than anything, not a situation where Crosby has reached some impasse in his recovery. Unless there are different developments, I would expect Crosby to rejoin the team later this week or next week.
DaveVA: Do you think the Pens need to bring in a more physical D-man? Michalek and Lovejoy seem to get pushed around a lot.
Shelly Anderson: There needs to be a balance, and the Penguins need defensemen who can retrieve and move the puck and skate adequately for this speedy system. Brooks Orpik and Deryk Engelland certianly qualify as physical. Kris Letang isn't the biggest hitter, but he's solid. How many (good) teams have more than two or three really physical defensemen?
DaveVA: On TV yesterday, Paul S. mentioned that there would be a statue of Mario outside CEC someday. Why hasn't it happened yet?
Shelly Anderson: That's been talked about and supposedly in the works for sometime. Not sure what the holdup is, but can you imagine anything more deserved?
Mike: Does Lajoke get any supplementary discipline for coming unglued yesterday?
Shelly Anderson: It doesn't look like the NHL is going to pursue anything with Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier for his actions against the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin. If you read my post about it, I believe that while it was classless, the penalties Lecavalier got -- two roughing minors and a 10-minute misconduct -- were probably appropriate. Hate to see that from someone like him, though.
coco: i hope sidney crosby comes back
Shelly Anderson: So do I.
Jeff: Has the emergence of Despres/Picard/Bortuzzo made Michalek/Martin expendable? We need to account for that James Neal payraise sometimes?
Shelly Anderson: No, not really, or at least not yet. Simon Despres is the real deal and Robert Bortuzzo is a solid prospect, but neither is ready to displace someone. Alexandre Picard is fine but of the caliber of Paul Martin or Zbynek Michalek.
Jeff: i don't think trading kunitz is a good idea- hes a legitimate top 6 forward thats a perfect fit in the system
Shelly Anderson: I like the way you think.
Guest: With the contracts of staal, neal, crosby, and malkin all coming up in the nex couple years is there a way shero can keep them all. If not is there a order you see of importance for him to get done?
Shelly Anderson: One big factor is the salary cap -- it keeps going up, which will be helpful -- and the fact that the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players association expires in September. Perhaps the Penguins will benefit from something there, maybe a new franchise-player type of designation or something. My order of importance for those four right now is Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Neal, but really all four are key.
jacob: Shelly do you believe Sidney Crosby should consider a hiatus mini retirement for maybe a year or two?
Shelly Anderson: Not unless that's what the medical experts recommend. Concussions are a newer and evolving medical field, but we don't know more than they do. At least, I certainly don't.
Shelly Anderson: OK. Good, lively chat this week. Please join us again next Monday
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