Shelly Anderson: I'm not sure about "overhaul" as it's used here. In Game 3, the Penguins melted down and turned into, well, a version of the Flyers with their hitting and fights, etc. The overhaul they needed was to settle down and play the same type of game that got them 51 wins in the regular season. As far as personnel, the question is whether there needs to be a large change -- such as ditching the center-strong format and perhaps trading a marquee player -- or tweaking. At this stage, I'm on the side of tweaking. I still believe this is a good team, and it should be able to make a long playoff run. It's puzzling that it did not, but part of that has to do with running into a really good team that was really clicking in the first period. I don't know yet which side Ray Shero and the Penguins management falls in in terms of which way to go in personnel.
Jake: Hey Shelly! Sidney Crosby took a couple of big hits in games 5 and 6 how is he feeling health wise after game 6 I hope hes gets rest and ready for next season.
Shelly Anderson: Yes, Sidney Crosby seemed to take the worst of it in a collision with teammate Evgeni Malkin in Game 5, then got leveled right after the opening faceoff in Game 6 by Flyers center Claude Giroux. He indicated after Game 6 that he's OK, but there's no doubt he could benefit from a normal offseason, training camp and 2012-13 season after all he's been through the past year and a half with concussion and neck problems.
Kipa: What does the defense corps look like next season? Does Matt Niskanen get re-signed?
Shelly Anderson: Matt Niskanen is a restricted free agent, making it easier to re-sign him. He developed into a steady regular, and my sense is that he and the team are interested in working out a deal. I'd like to see Simon Despres get a strong chance to stick out of training camp. Joe Morrow should get at least some NHL time. Kris Letang should still be the key guy on defense. Hoping Brooks Orpik can have a healthy summer and rebound a bit. And Deryk Engelland has proven to be a solid if not spectacular regular. Not sure beyond that, although contracts and no-trade clauses present an obstacle.
TM: Going into the off season we will read and hear all kinds of rumors and suggestions as to what will happen with the Penguins. How much access do you, as Pittsburgh media, have to the workings of the management, namely Ray Shero? I respect you and Dave Molinari, and count on your reports as accurate and well thought out assessments of the team and organization. There are also some other local media who will report that they "spoke with people close to Shero, Bylsma, etc." Is there really that kind of access out there and how much stock should we put into that type of reporting?
Shelly Anderson: Can't give away too many trade secrets. We probably will talk to GM Ray Shero on Tuesday or one day this week, then periodically up until the draft, when he usually speaks a few times. We have people we can check with about things. By "we" I am referring to the Post-Gazette. I don't know or really care about other media outlets and their policies.
Kipa: Does Kris Letang have the kind of shot from the blue line on the power play that can become an effective threat or should the Penguins try to find someone with that skill? It seems like the Penguins don't often shoot from the blue line when on the man-advantage, so other teams don't have to worry about that possibility.
Shelly Anderson: Yes, he does. Kris Letang has a cannon, and he's done a better job of getting the puck on net after struggling a couple seasons ago.
dis appointed: I'll ask the same question from last week,only updated. NOW, after 3, early exits from the SC playoffs...nevermind you'll blow that off with excuses again.
Shelly Anderson: As someone around the Penguins, I saw very reasonable explanations for early playoff exits the past two years. In 2010, they were a fatigued bunch after going to the Cup final the previous two seasons and they ran into a hot goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, who took advantage of that. Last year, the Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cooke in their first-round series against Tampa Bay and just didn't have enough offense. I don't see how anyone could be terribly upset or surprised by the Lightning's win. So while i don't necessarily see a pattern, this year was different. It really stands out. The Penguins were healthy. This was finally the intact team that was built to make a long playoff run. Crosby might have still been a bit rusty, but at least he was rested. Malkin was coming off an Art Ross and probable Hart Trophy season. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had a very strong season. The loss to the Flyers, and even just the 0-3 start in the series, is concerning.
Kipa: Which Penguins do you think will or should play in the world championships?
Shelly Anderson: The plan is to ask them on breakup day, which probably will be Tuesday. Here's my working list of guesses: Canada -- Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury; Russia -- Evgeni Malkin; United States -- Brooks Orpik. Czech Republic -- Zbynek Michalek.
Guest: Were there not enough adjustments by the Pens top line to be productive, or is the Flyers top line just that much better?
Shelly Anderson: The Flyers worked hard to match Evgeni Malkin's line (assuming you're calling that the top line) against Sean Courturier's line, and Courturier did his best Jordan Staal imitation. Malkin was left frustrated. He did not get possession of the puck enough for him to really play his game. Defenseman Braydon Coburn also helped shut down Malkin's line pretty effectively. As for Philadelphia, Claude Giroux and his line (normally Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell) were outstanding.
Kipa: Based on his suspension and the management's stance on cleaning up the game, have we seen the last of Arron Asham as a Penguin?
Shelly Anderson: If Arron Asham isn't re-signed, the thinking here is that the Penguins decide he's gotten a little too far past prime, or he seeks and gets a better offer. It likely won't have anything to do with his (one and only ever) NHL suspension. He wasn't the only one who lost his cool, but he has a hard shot, adds grit and over the years has been a pretty good playoff performer.
mike: How is Sidney Crosby feeling health wise after his two hits from Malkin and giroux
Shelly Anderson: Answered this earlier, but he seems to be fine. We will ask him again this week.
BenderHeel: Brooks Orpik has largely evaded criticism, but he was awful in the Flyers' series. At times it looked like he simply was refusing to cover anyone in the slot. Is he injured? Or is there another reason for seemingly being in concrete skates?
Shelly Anderson: He didn't have his best series. Neither did a lot of the Penguins defensively. Not sure he's 100 percent healthy after abdominal surgeries the past two summers. It also seemed as if the Flyers had the Penguins defense on edge because it orchestrated so many odd-man rushes, and the defensemen didn't seem sure how to play the gaps.
dan: Hey Shelly with Sid having neck problem any indication that he might need a checkup or possible surgery in the future
Shelly Anderson: None at this point, but we'll ask him that, too. There has never been any hint of a possibility of surgery.
BenderHeel: Think that Shero needs to re-evaluate whether it is smart strategy to have three talented centers, in that it just waters down three lines? In other words, one of those centers could be parlayed into a great winger who could ride shotgun with one of the two remaining great centers.
Shelly Anderson: That is the popular question right now. Trading Malkin, Staal or (less likely) Crosby would represent a sea change in the way Ray Shero has built this club. In other words, he would be blowing up the blueprint. I'll be curious to see what he says about that, but my guess is he's willing to give it one more go with this core -- depending, of course, on what happens or what he thinks might happen with the new CBA.
JamesinNYC: Of all the teams the Flyers were the Pens worst draw I think. How much could that contribute to the fast exit? Is there a particular weakness that they need to plug exposed particularly by the Flyers?
Shelly Anderson: Yes, that was a tough first-round draw, but we're seeing across the NHL that lower-seeded teams can present a difficult task. If they got a rematch with another seven-game series starting this week, the Penguins would need specifically to work on team defense (including penalty-killing) and composure. Funny, those things really weren't a problem with any other team through the season.TM: Who do you view as the "untouchable" players this off season?
Shelly Anderson: Crosby, Letang, Neal and Fleury. But that's mostly a guess since I don't yet know what Ray Shero's overall offseason philosophy will be.
Sheerdog: Hi Shelley - If Simon Depres starts out of training camp, at whose expense does that come at? Michalek and especially Martin have been beyond busts, but I love the future (provided we can keep them) with Nisky, Engo, Depres, etc. I could see Strait working his way in as a Scuderi type as well. Thoughts on the Pens D moving forward?
Shelly Anderson: Answered a lot of that already, The Despres question is a good one. Let's see what happens over the summer to see if room is created for him.
joe: Is Fleury on the hotseat going into next season as Penguins number 1 goalie
Shelly Anderson: I don't think so. He had an off series, but it's probably too early to put him on the hot seat, particularly when so many teams are struggling with a lot worse.
Shelly Anderson: Thanks, everyone. A lot of questions. Tried to hit most or all of the topics. Thanks for logging in all season. Personnel changes probably won't come for a while, but please monitor the Plus blog and we'll keep you up to date.
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