No Rest For The Wicked

In the most frenzied season in NHL history, the Penguins are flourishing.




Photo © 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins
 

The Pittsburgh Penguins have never played as much hockey as they are now. Forty-eight games in 99 days. That’s what a lockout-shortened season amounts to — a grueling dash to play a decent number of hockey games and determine the competition for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It’s slightly less than a game every other day, if you’re doing the math. In a normal NHL season, the Penguins would play six or eight fewer games in their first 99 days. The elite Robert Morris University Colonials took the ice 20 times over the opening 99 days of their 2012-13 season; James Neal’s old juniors team, the Plymouth Whalers, played 34 times in the same time period.

In short, the Pens are playing a lot of hockey.

Taking on one of the world’s most physical and violent sports at a breakneck pace is an intimidating prospect — and that fact did not escape fans (or the hockey media) in the weeks leading up to the abbreviated season’s launch: Will more games mean more injuries? With limited opportunities to rack up points, will it feel like the playoffs all season? How will the players adjust and adapt?

When the puck dropped, though, the questions quickly went from macro to micro: Should Marc-Andre Fleury start 50 or 60 percent of the games? Who’s going to play alongside Evgeni Malkin on the second line? Is it too soon to call up Beau Bennett?

Amidst the fog of hot streaks and coaching decisions, those big-picture questions weren’t answered. It’s the toughest NHL season in memory. How are the Pens handling that?

“We’re playing a lot of games, and sometimes it gets to you a little bit,” Fleury says. “But everybody [in the league] has it the same, you know? Everybody travels a lot, and everybody has a lot of games.”

Sure — but the Penguins seem to be playing better than most of those other teams and have a trio of players (Neal, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz) who have dominated the leaderboards in just about every offensive category. Even when playing a second night in a row — or for a third time in four days — the Pens have come out of the tunnel crisp. Obviously, there will always be good teams and bad, but aren’t the Pens enduring just a bit more ably than their counterparts across the NHL?

Matt Niskanen has a theory: “Commitment to the details of the game is a focus of ours, here. Even when you’re tired, if you have good details in your game, you’re not sloppy in certain areas. Guys have done a good job of staying focused and coming to the rink with the right attitude.”

“We don’t have as much time to have good practices,” Brooks Orpik admits. “But it hasn’t been too bad. I think we’ve managed it pretty well — it’s important that you get your rest and be more disciplined off the ice.”

Jay Caufield, former Penguin and current Root Sports Pittsburgh analyst, credits the team’s conditioning. “Every year, they come into camp in shape and ready to play,” he says. “And the coaching staffs are making sure they get the proper amount of rest between games.”

The captain concurs. “I think we’ve managed our days off, managed to take care of ourselves the best we can,” says Crosby, who spent the early part of March with a stranglehold on the league’s overall point lead. “There are times [when] you can tell that we played last night. But once you get into it and get going, it gets better.”

Perhaps that’s an apt description of the season as a whole. When the puck dropped Jan. 19, 48 games in 99 days may have seemed daunting. But when life in the NHL got into full swing, it was back to passionate, focused hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2016 Homes of the Year

2016 Homes of the Year

Our independent panel of judges recognizes three local, unique residences as our Homes of the Year in the categories of New Build, Renovation and Green.
Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Aside from a Giant Eagle, the mall has been empty for the past three years.
Great Catch: Easiest Way to Tasty Lenten Fish Frys

Great Catch: Easiest Way to Tasty Lenten Fish Frys

Looking for a delicious battered fish sandwich or golden-brown pierogies on Friday? Here’s a handy guide plus a few fun facts about our fascination with fish.
Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

From a hotel “Love Lockdown,” to a museum breakfast in bed, to a rooftop singles event - there's plenty to eat, drink at do in Pittsburgh on this weekend for love.
Beer News: East End Brewing Moving to Bigger Space in Strip District

Beer News: East End Brewing Moving to Bigger Space in Strip District

The new space, called the East End Brewery Taproom, will offer lunch and dinner service, expanded hours and a place for customers to sit and enjoy a pint of beer from one of the brewery’s 12 taps.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2016 Homes of the Year

2016 Homes of the Year

Our independent panel of judges recognizes three local, unique residences as our Homes of the Year in the categories of New Build, Renovation and Green.
Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

In Lawrenceville, a love for letterpress leads to a business whose greeting cards reach audiences across the country.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Aside from a Giant Eagle, the mall has been empty for the past three years.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

City leaders considered many options for Pittsburgh's confluence including something that looked like it was designed by the Jetsons, or an absolutely bonkers, batpoop insane idea by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Chef Move: Lily Tran New Executive Chef of Soba

Pittsburgh Chef Move: Lily Tran New Executive Chef of Soba

Tran takes over big Burrito's Ellsworth Ave. restaurant from Dustin Gardner, who moves back to Casbah on Highland Ave.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


End Your Work Day at Muddy Waters' Oyster Happy Hour

End Your Work Day at Muddy Waters' Oyster Happy Hour

Some of the best oysters available in Pittsburgh can be yours for a steal at the new East Liberty spot.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Denver's upset win over Carolina -- predicted by hardly anyone (including yours truly) -- should be interpreted as good news for Steelers' fans.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Let your heart do the talking with these fun sweaters from Rosewood Boutique.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Leave Your Kids at Home and See 'Deadpool'

Leave Your Kids at Home and See 'Deadpool'

The R-rated superhero flick is foul-mouthed fun. Plus reviews of "How to Be Single," "Where to Invade Next" and more.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
This is How You Pop the Question: Four Fabulous Proposals

This is How You Pop the Question: Four Fabulous Proposals

On Day Four of our Week of Wedded Bliss, we said “yes!” to these four beautiful proposals from our Real Pittsburgh Weddings couples.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Say Hello (and Goodbye) to These Home & Lifestyle Shops

Say Hello (and Goodbye) to These Home & Lifestyle Shops

Divertido and Jack + Jules close in Lawrenceville, while the neighborhood welcomes Brambler Boutique. Plus, Splurge expands to a new location in Fox Chapel.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

The event is for high school students who are interested in criminal justice, law enforcement and forensic science.

Comments