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Pens Points: At Half-Season, Pens Are Alive and Kicking

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

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The first half of the season is on the books, and the Pens are sitting comfortably near the top of division and conference. Team leaders reflect on a weird few months spent adjusting to all the new faces and the many health scares and disasters. []

Here is your must-read for the day: Trib's Jason Mackey hits it out of the park with this fantastic profile of Mike Johnston, the man and the coach. I can't praise this enough. What an insightful, informative read. [Trib]

The acquisition of David Perron has clearly injected more special skill into the Pens lineup. Assistant coach Gary Agnew, who coached Perron while in St. Louis, had a very detailed knowledge of exactly what Perron would bring to this team. Good read. [Trib]

The Pens power play was amazing, then awful. The penalty kill, tested frequently (as the team was shorthanded 153 times, third-most in the league), was reliable and as steady as can be. A good article by one of their new writers. [Pens Initiative]

Another recommended read: we've spent a lot of time over the past two weeks talking about why Sid isn't scoring more goals. In light of that, here is a well-timed article examining when elite goal scorers hit their peak. Well worth reading. [CBS Sports]

The Pens play the reeling Minnesota Wild tomorrow, who lost their umpteenth game last night to the Blackhawks. They are a much better team than they can show for, but they need more competent goaltending ASAP or it'll be too late to salvage this misery of a season. [USA Today]

Obviously if you're blabbering uselessly on TV like Jeremy Roenick, you will argue that the coach needs to go. But if you read the very first paragraph from the excellent article above, you will see Jim Rutherford's quote on being asked to evaluate a coach, his first question is "Who's his goaltender?" [Pro Hockey Talk]

Matt Cooke tried to cross-check Shea Weber in the face and regretted it immediately, as the Predators captain responded by beating him to a pulp. Oh how I wish someone taught Sid to do the same thing and annihilate people like Marc Staal when they try to rip his head off. [The Score]

Jimmy Howard will be out 2-4 weeks with a slight groin tear. LA Kings lost Tanner Pearson (ankle fracture) and Tyler Toffoli (mono). Cody McCormick was hospitalized with a blood clot. All your assorted injuries and illnesses are tabbed here. [Left Wing Lock]

Many trade speculations are involving Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, but he is firm about not waving the no-trade clause. Would be pointless to drag his brother there only to get traded a year and a half later. [Too Many Men of the Site]

Very interesting in regards to Kapanen and Sundqvist: the Leafs have recalled WJC standout William Nylander from MODO. He will join the Marlies and play in the AHL the rest of the season (regardless of injuries to Leafs he won't be re-called to the NHL). The goal is to get him used to the North American ice and type of game. [Toronto Sun]

Forbes Magazine published their annual "30 Under 30" list of the brightest young stars in the world of sports (thus not necessarily athletes). Evgeni Malkin made the list in the company of such stars as Neymar, Novak Djokovic, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Paul, and others. Nice to see Geno shine and be recognized. [Forbes]

What about Sid? Did everyone forget he exists? Seems so. Didn't make the list of top 50 Canadians, Milos Raonic won Canadian athlete of the year, not on the Forbes list... He was atop various hockey end-of-year lists, though. [CBS Sports]

Gordie Howe is making quite a recovery following experimental stem cell treatments, and has progressed enough that he is able to go grocery shopping and do small chores. What an improvement in quality of life thanks to breakthrough medical advances. [Detroit Free Press]

It’s fair to say that, for as long as the sport has existed, there’s been a connection between hockey and fighting. So this is a great read (when you have a bit of time): from deaths to monsters, a history of fighting in hockey. [The Hockey News]

Anaheim Ducks retired Teemu Selanne's #8 jersey last night in a beautiful, emotional and somewhat overwhelming ceremony. At times, as the camera zoomed in on him, Teemu looked pensive, thinking probably "this is like being at my own funeral - lots of speeches and everyone is crying". []