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Pens Points: Avalanche Game Day

Your daily look at Pittsburgh Penguins and NHL news and stories.

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There probably hasn't been a week quite like these past 7 days in the nearly half-century of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Still, the season goes on and the Colorado Avalanche are in town. Here is your game preview. []

The mumps outbreak that has affected several players and staff on the team has forced canceling team events and functions. The one good deed that did happen and ended up worrying many - the visit to Children's Hospital - so far at least seems to have gone unpunished. Let's all hope it stays that way. [PPG]

Despite less than rosy circumstances surrounding the team, the players coming down and up and coaches shuffling the lineup like a deck of cards, the show is going on and the points are being racked up. [PPG]

It's going to get worse before it gets better. Four games in six days before Christmas break, and no Marc-Andre Fleury and several other guys. Thomas Greiss and those who are still standing are ready to pitch in. [Trib]

Backing him up will be last year's backup Jeff Zatkoff, who has been playing really well recently, going 4-0-1 in his last 5 starts. []

Also, it's kind of nice to see the Pens haven't lost their sense of humor, with an epic prank of Simon Despres. []

When the Pens signed Blake Comeau in the off-season, several teams' fan bases shrugged and thought "whatever". Comeau's been terrific but just saying "he's thriving in the talent-rich environment in Pittsburgh" doesn't tell the whole story. He has legitimately raised his level of play and become more than a depth fill-in. [The Pensblog]

Seth Rorabaugh caught up with former Penguins defenseman/emergency forward Deryk Engelland during the Flames' visit to Pittsburgh last week. He admits being just as shocked as anyone at the contract he was offered. Engo was always a great, hard-working guy and good for him. [Empty Netters]

Dan Bylsma joined Hockey Central on Wednesday to talk about the Penguins and when he might be back behind the bench. [Sportsnet]

The NHL is cracking down on those divers and embellishment artists! We have ourselves the first player docked $2,000 for a repeat offense following an official warning, and it's James Neal. Shocking, I know. That dive was quite something even for him. [The Hockey News]

Damien Cox takes a look back at the career of former NHL defenseman Tom Kurvers and how a trade from New Jersey to Toronto turned his promising career upside down (video). [SportsNet]

Several KHL teams are teetering on the brink of collapse as oil prices and the ruble are plummeting. Slovan, Atlant, Dinamo Riga and from what I hear also Medvescak Zagreb are in dire financial straits as sponsors are bailing out. With no major gate and merchandise revenue to speak of, this is how it goes. [Globe & Mail]

According to former Canadian WJC star Jeff Glass who currently plays there, the players are getting hosed in the process as their contracts and salaries are paid in the declining Russian currency. [The Hockey News]

Following his team's surprising start, Flames coach Bob Hartley gets a contract extension. I'm really, really curious to see where the Flames end up in April. I don't think that's a playoff team. [Inside Halton]

Senators goalie Craig Anderson nearly scored an empty-net goal in the win over the Devils. [The Score]

Senators' AHL affiliate goalie was another story. Andrew Hammond gave up 3 goals on the first 3 shots of the game in the opening 36 seconds and was pulled with a GAA of 300.00. [CBS Sports]

And here is your recommended read of the day. I was going to write an ode to Tomas Vokoun's career when I found some time, but Alex Prewitt already wrote this great piece. Next time you're drinking beer, wine or something stronger, raise a glass to the goalie whose short time in Pittsburgh was the last stop on his great journey. [Washington Post]