LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 19, 2019
Online: 81

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Bill Guerin
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Did you hear the news? Bill Guerin might get traded!

Yeah, I don’t care, either.

Really, why all the hype over Guerin’s impending departure from Long Island? I mean, is this the same Bill Guerin who has three goals and seven points in his last 23 playoff games? You know, the Bill Guerin who, at 38 years of age, has more candles on his birthday cake than points this season (36)? Seriously, Bill Guerin? What year is this?

Incredibly, there appears to be a mad scramble to land the veteran winger, with Washington, Montreal, and even Philadelphia rumored to be in the mix. It was expected a deal would be announced on Sunday, but now the Isles are saying there’s no timetable for any sort of trade.

Either the deal has fallen through or Guerin’s new team is merely trying to get things ready for his arrival by clearing cap space. Let’s hope they’re also putting the finishing touches on a time machine.

So far so good on Pittsburgh’s critical five-game road trip. The Birds opened things Friday night with a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory in Chicago, squandering two two-goal leads before Geno Malkin blasted home a power-play marker in the extra session. And Marc-Andre Fleury stepped up, stopping 41 shots to keep the Pens in the game despite getting outshot 20-4 in the third period.

Fleury only needed 20 saves to beat an undermanned Dallas Stars squad Sunday, 4-1. Malkin had a goal and two assists to run his league-leading point total to 92, which is 10 more than second-place Alexander Ovechkin. Get a haircut, you dirty hippee.

Pittsburgh is now 5-1-1 under Dan Bylsma and 3-0-0 since Kid Crosby left the lineup with a groin injury. Word on the street has Sid returning against Tampa Tuesday night, meaning he’ll be good to go for the monumental clash with the Cats Thursday. The Pens close out the trip in Washington Sunday.

Chris Kunitz has a goal, two assists, and nine hits in his first two games as a Penguin, and he’s looked right at home on a line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. With Kunitz flying up and down the wing, Staal had his most complete game of the season in Chicago, bagging a goal and an assist, actually using his size to his advantage, and passing the puck with surprising skill. Staal turned in another solid outing against the Stars, notching his 17th goal of the season. He’s either making a case to remain a Penguin or driving up his trade value. Either way, Ray Shero is smiling.

It’s believed Shero still wants to add at least one more top-four winger at the deadline. The Pens will be in Tampa on Tuesday, so expect the Martin St. Louis rumors to swirl. If Marian Gaborik passes his physical, he could still be a possibility. Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley are pipedreams.

When Staal plays like he did against the Hawks, it seems foolish to even consider moving him. Then again, are the Pens willing to wait another two or three years for him to develop when Crosby and Malkin are ready to win right now?

Even if Staal matures into a monster, he’ll still be no more than a third-line center on this team. And he’s shown no willingness or ability to play the wing. Of course, if Shero manages to get a Kovulchuk or Heatley, how does he fit everyone under the cap next season when Malkin's salary jumps to $8.7 million?

No matter what he decides to do with Staal, Shero needs to address team toughness with some gritty guys like Ian Laperriere, Chris Neil, or Jamal Mayers. Any or all would be welcome additions.

Keep in mind, the Pens have an extra third-round pick, and Eric Tangradi, if not a bargaining chip himself, could make the team’s first-round pick expendable, since Tangradi is better than anyone they’ll likely find at the draft.

But if I had to guess, I’d say Shero keeps Staal, adds one or two low-priced, veteran wingers, and takes his chances this season without mortgaging the future.

I was able to watch some of the Sens-Leafs game Saturday night. The Leafs won 4-3 in overtime. But do yourself a favor. When you’re watching the Sens, keep your eyes on Spezza the entire time. It’s a great lesson on how not to be a hockey player.

Spezza is a dog. He coasts around, doesn’t move his feet, doesn’t compete, and never sacrifices. It’s disgraceful. And he’s going to be making $7 million a year for the next four years. Banner work, Bryan Murray.

Spezza’s contract makes him unmovable. Well, maybe Edmonton would be willing to bite, but the Sens would have to take on one of the Oil’s absurd contracts, and there’s plenty to choose from with Dustin Penner, Shawn Horcoff, and Lubomir Visnovsky all grossly overpaid.

I knew Nashville had a hockey team for a reason. The Predators stuck it to those filthy Wings on Saturday night, pounding them 8-0. Suck it, Detroit!

Wow, do I love the Predators. Let me count the ways…

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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