With a mere 32 games left in the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins (21-25-4) find themselves struggling to hang on to a playoff spot. The bright side rests with the Penguins of tomorrow.
The “Jr. Pens” left winger Robert Dome has found his scoring touch again. He had 4 goals in three games, then 2 assists in a 5-3 loss against Hartford. Another bright spot on the “Jr. Pens” roster is Alexei Kolkunov, who has four goals in his last five games after a 14-game drought. Then there is rookie defenseman Andrew Ference who has 2 goals and 6 assists in a span of 9 games.
The brightest spot in the organization however, is not a “Jr. Pen,” he is a “Raider.” Besides putting on a brilliant show on the world stage in Sweden, Milan Kraft has 44 points (18-26) in 34 games with the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL).
Perhaps the best thing the Penguins can do right now is hold on to the hope of the future. If they cannot find heroes, and cannot find defenseman who truly can play a European style game, making necessary passes to those in motion, then stick to tomorrow. Try to imagine the havoc Kraft and Jagr will create playing side by side. It may take another year for this to happen, but it is a realistic goal and one to keep the Penguins optimistic.
Let’s also not forget about goaltending. Despite being replaced by Skudra after stopping just 16 of 21 shots in the game against Anaheim, Jean-Sebastien Aubin has a great deal of promise. Given a chance to grow, he too could become a “go to” guy in the future, especially now that Barrasso’s days in Pittsburgh appear to be numbered.
So you see, there is a bright side to everything. Unfortunately, having a bright doesn’t guarantee success. It will be interesting to see exactly what unfolds over the next few weeks. Philadelphia has expressed interest in obtaining Barrasso in the future, but is their management honestly willing to take such a gamble on a veteran goaltender that is brilliant in the spotlight, but spends most of the season on the injured reserve list? You be the judge.
Wilkes-Barre Stats (Top 10)
GP G A PTS PIM
*John Slaney34 20 24 44 19
Tom Kostopoulos41 16 15 31 66
Martin Sonnenberg34 12 19 31 62
Valentin Morozov39 11 18 29 2
Greg Crozier38 14 14 28 18
Sven Butenschon42 10 15 25 58
*Dennis Bonvie29 2 20 22 210
*Tyler Wright25 5 15 20 86
Alexei Kolkunov42 8 11 19 15
Boris Protsenko35 7 10 17 26
*On Pittsburgh roster (1-29-00)
Prospects in Pittsburgh stats:
GP G A PTS PIM
Michal Rozsival 49 4 11 15 24
Tyler Wright 20 5 4 9 18
Hans Jonsson 44 2 7 8 6
John Slaney 11 1 3 4 8
1/31/00 – Goalie Tom Barrasso returned to the Penguins lineup and made 27 saves to pull off a 2-1 victory over Atlanta
1/29/00 – Tom Chorske and Steve Leach both cleared waivers. Chorske shall remain in Pittsburgh, while Leach heads down to the AHL Penguins in Wilkes-Barre. Also, LW Kip Miller was traded to the Mighty Ducks for future considerations.
1/27/00 – The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin and defenseman John Slaney from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
-Penguins’ Captain Jaromir Jagr returned to the lineup as Pittsburgh faced the Atlanta Thrashers.
1/22/00 – The American Hockey League announced the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins would host the 2001 AHL All-Star Classic.
1/21/00 – The American Hockey League suspended Wilkes-Barre goalie Ryan Bach for two games
Thu2/3/007:30NY Islandersat Pittsburgh