atkpitt12: How concerned should the Penguins fans be with the upcoming matchup with the Flyers? I understand that it doesn't matter what team you play, you'll be beat up if you make it to the 2nd round, but the Flyers have owned us this year especially on home ice.
Shelly Anderson: Well, anyone who thought the Penguins would just cruise to the Stanley Cup hasn't taken a step back to look at how hard it is to win that thing. Fans should always be concerned. The Flyers have been golden in the Penguins' new arena. All that said, the Penguins didn't stop being a deep, talented team capable of contending all of a sudden. That just makes the matchup all the more intriguing.
atkpitt12: Do you think the Penguins have gotten too relaxed since Crosby returned? Feel a sense of entitlement and not working as hard like they were before?
Shelly Anderson: I can see why there might be such sentiment. The Penguins are 6-4-1 in Sidney Crosby's latest comeback. However, there is probably some adding two and two and getting five. No one works harder than Crosby does every shift, every practice, etc. I don't think the team takes him for granted for feels as if he can do all the work. Perhaps some players have had to get past watching him a little.
Mac: Folks keep harping on putting Malkin and Sid on different power plays. The difference maker this year has been Neal and Kunitz. Together they have 26 goals. Geno is around his usual powerplay pace with or without Sid. If one cares to look, the powerplay percentage began to drop when Neal began his "end of season funk" three or four games prior to "Sids return." The PK efficiency dropped then also. My question is: does any of this fan hysteria seem to affect the relationship between players? or on the team? Do the players want Sid and Malkin split?
Shelly Anderson: Any talk of splitting Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby onto different power-play units has been strictly from the outside. No one in the organization, to my knowledge, has ever considered not having two of arguably the top players in the world on separate units, and I can't imagine any players would push for such a thing.
Janet: What did you think of McGuire and Olczyk calling Schenn's hit on Sid a "character play" - repeatedly - during the Sullivan goal review? Especially considering McGuire is standing right in between the two benches at the time? I noticed they both changed their tune a little once the melee broke out.
Shelly Anderson: We don't get TV sound in the press box, so I wasn't aware of the comments. Sounds pretty old-school to me.
Mike: The power play is a joke right now. Malkin and Sid can't play the point regardless of how much Blysma wants them on the same unit. As well as Kunitz has played up front aren't the only real options to put Sid in Kunitz's spot or have 2 balanced units? Top unit - Kunitz Neal Malkin Letang Sullivan and 2nd unit of Staal Crosby Dupuis Niskanen and Martin? I mean to me that sounds like 2 great units. Is Bylsma having a tough time adjusting to all the egos in the room? Let's face it having Sid back has been more rocky than anyone will ever dare say out loud.
Shelly Anderson: I very honestly can say that there are no ego problems among Penguins players. As stated earlier, don't count on seeing Crosby and Malkin split onto two power-play units. You just don't water it down like that. Steve Sullivan, though a forward, has been fine at one point as the power play quarterback. Kris Letang probably should be the one on the other point, not Crosby or Malkin. The question is, which forward comes off the top unit? I agree it's probably Chris Kunitz, but then you're giving up a guy who is willing and able to set screens and look for deflections in front of the net. Crosby probably can do that, but are you muting his skill that way? Kind of a tough call.
flowerinbloom: Kris Letang on the second PP is a travesty, can we hope the 5 forward PP is using very sparingly in the post season?
Shelly Anderson: Same lines of thought here. Coach Dan Bylsma was a bit evasive about this after Sunday's game. He said he would probably use both looks (five forwards, or Letang on a point) this week and perhaps going into the playoffs.
cao: Hi Shelly. Do you think that it make sense at this point to continue to send Crosby out with the 1st PP unit.
Shelly Anderson: I think we have found our main topic of the day. Here are the three players I would list as untouchable on the top unit: Crosby, Malkin, Letang. Crosby is way too good to sit, and remember that the way it usually works out, the top unit gets a lot more time than the second unit -- and some players stay out the whole time depending on the situation. Don't forget that for as good as he's looked at times, Crosby is still working on some timing. Let him work through that. Have you guys forgotten how skilled he is?
cao: Shelly, going into the playoffs, what do you see as Pittsburghs greatest strength and their most glaring weakness?
Shelly Anderson: Well, I'll take a wild stab at the weakness thing and say maybe the power play, if only because it's in a slump right now. Most of the season, it's been very good. As for strength, that would be scoring and depth in their lines, which can make matchups difficult for opponents.
Pablo: What does Bylsma see in the 5 forward power play? Hard to understand why it is better to have Sullivan at the point instead of Letang.
Shelly Anderson: Which is why a lot of people are hoping it ends up having Sullivan and Letang both out there on the points. With five forwards, the problem hasn't been so much getting puck movement, but more with some defensive liability. A team like the Flyers can be very aggressive killing penalties.
jake: Its makes me mad when people call out Crosby for cross checking but yet Crosby gets cross check and everybody is silence such double standard with the Philly media
Shelly Anderson: Crosby got in a late shove on Philadelphia's Braydon Schenn, and Schenn got in a cross-check on Crosby. Crosby didn't get a penalty. Schenn would have, but under the rules it was waved off because of a rule pertaining to a goal that is called retroactively, as Sullivan's was. You can spin that any way you want. Reporters usually write for their audience, which follows the team they cover. I don't think the newspaper people have been biased in either city.
jake: Crosby is going to have a target on his back come Saturday I'm not liking this weekends game against the Flyers
Shelly Anderson: So will Joe Vitale, who it turns out left two Flyers players hurt, Nicklas Grossman and Daniel Briere. That's life in the NHL. Vitale can handle himself, and Crosby isn't exactly easy to line up during play. No doubt he'll be a little more aware after whistles.
JamesinNYC: Could Cooke be to Crosby as Brown was to Lemieux? Except Brown was a scorer who reinvented himself as a grinder and Cooke is a grinder who reinvented himself as a scorer? My point is you never know who might mesh well with who, OK I get that I could probably have scored 20+ goals a year with Lemieux but you get my meaning.
Shelly Anderson: Good point. It's not always easy for wingers to play with the great centers, strange as that might sound. Matt Cooke seemed to have the right sense with Crosby when the two played on a line together. However, Dan Bylsma has pretty obviously gone back to more familiar looks. In addition, Cooke played with Crosby primarily when Crosby was still working his way back up to a full workload in terms of ice time.
JST: Any more starts for Brent Johnson this week?
Shelly Anderson: Dan Bylsma was a bit elusive today about that. He hinted that Brent Johnson might play another game, but he didn't go much beyond that. The guess here is that it depends some on what happens in the next game or two and what's still on the line as the week unfolds. For instance, if Saturday's game against the Flyers means nothing in terms of the playoffs, perhaps Johnson will start.
Deb: The Pens goals against have hovered at 2.7; 2.6, 2.6; 2.8 each month all year. Sid's return has not resulted in a decrease in defensive play. Pens are average. The pens powerplay is currently #6 in the league at 19.3%. Philly is #5 at 20%. the best rating is 22%. Why the focus on the powerplay? There seems to be a lot more wrong with Pens 5 on 5 play. What are your thoughts/assessment about this Shelly?
Shelly Anderson: Fans focus on what they want, and they have centered on the power play, probably because there has been a marked dropoff recently. And because Mike Yeo isn't here to field venom about the power play anymore.
dave: What was the reaction in the press box during the brawl?
Shelly Anderson: Just watching to make sure we were as observant as possible. We don't get emotionally involved, but there was a strong sentiment that Joe Vitale's hit on Daniel Briere looked perfectly clean to us.
Pablo: I'm sure I'm in a small minority of Pens fans, but I really like the way Hartnell plays. Strong on the ice, great at the mental games, and really seems to enjoy himself. Like a much more skilled Max Talbot.
Shelly Anderson: He's one of those players Penguins fans would love if he played here. I doubt his feelings get very hurt in knowing that it's a bit different with him in Flyers orange.
mike: Sullivan has two great games playing Crosby 3 goals and 2 assist I think good chemistry showing
Shelly Anderson: Dan Bylsma will be tickled you noticed.
JamesinNYC: I don't mind Cooke being with Crosby if it gives the other team second thoughts about taking shots on Crosby.
Shelly Anderson: Matt Cooke has grit, but he's not an enforcer. It's hard to say whether teams would play differently against Crosby with Cooke on the ice.
Shelly Anderson: OK, lively one today. Thanks, everyone. Please come back next week as we chat going into the playoffs.
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