The Pittsburgh Penguins figured out how to win a close game on Friday, so for them it is time to take that knowledge and put it to good use. And during all of the craziness of this series, a star has emerged…. that star is Jordan Staal.
There has been a great deal of talk in Pittsburgh on which of the 3 Center’s they need tie up long term. I think in the Penguins eye’s it is a forgone conclusion that they plan on paying Sidney again to tie him up long term. But the difficult question is whether to pay Staal or Malkin. Their is little chance they will be able to sign all three going forward. So let’s talk about that for a bit.
Evgeni Malkin is the odds on favorite for the Hart Trophy, so how do you not pay him? The problem with Malkin is that when he plays well, he is the best player in the game. The other issue is that he disappears for games at a time. You want your stars to come through when you need them most. During this series, Jordan Staal has been all of that and then some. Jordan is still young, not that Malkin is not, but he still is getting better. I think that if you can not keep all 3 and you plan on Keep Sid, then Jordan is the guy you sign long term.
As for the Playoff Series. On the ice during practice today their were 3 players not out their and those would be Paul Martin, Matt Niskanen, and Zybanek Michalek. When asked about it, Coach Bylsma said there was nothing to the 3 not practicing. I would expect Niskanen and Michalek to be out on the ice on Sunday, but not Martin. He is still nursing and injury and he is not playing well.
Expect Sidney Crosby to be ready and a bit more revved up for tomorrow’s game also. For as much as he is despised in Philly, and trust me the feeling is mutual, the momentum is just enough to put him over the top. Also, I would expect to see the Pens come out and play with 7 defensemen again. It seems to be working and I like having Despres and Strait in their to spell the regulars. Plus it is great getting those young players this type of experience. And you don’t mess with what is working….Period!