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Pens Points: Remembering the Pocket Rocket

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And also the Penguins have a big game today against the bitterest of rivals.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was a sad day for hockey as Henri Richard passed away at the age of 84. He won an NHL record 11 Stanley Cups in 20 years as a player. You can barely even do that in video games nowadays. He truly was a legend and actually just had a birthday on February 29th last week, which was a rare occurrence for anyone born on Leap Day, but he sure had quite a life to be celebrated.

Montreal signed Henri Richard in 1955 and he won five Stanley Cups in his first five seasons while centering a line for his just as recognizable brother Maurice “Rocket” Richard. He scored the game winning goal against Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final in his second season in 1966 and then scored the tying goal in regulation and then the Cup winning goal in overtime in Game 7 against Chicago in 1971 and is one of only five players to score two Stanley Cup winning goals. []

While that Cup winning goal in 1971 sounds like a dream come true, it was actually a rocky time for the Canadiens. Former Penguins player in their inaugural season and his final playing year in 1967, and first year Montreal head coach, Al MacNeil benched Henri in the playoffs. That went over about as well as scratching Sidney Crosby would this spring in the Cup Finals. Richard went on to famously score both goals to tie it and win it. Al MacNeil was fired that offseason, and Richard was very candid on the topic, referring to MacNeil as “the worst coach I’ve ever played for” after getting benched. It was a grudge that he likely took to his grave. [Sportsnet]

“When I scored the winning goal in Game 7, everybody knew I’d been right,” he told the Montreal Gazette in 2004.

He will forever be remembered the vast amount of times his name was written on the Stanley Cup. Obviously he was a lock for the Top 100 Greatest Players. Take a look back at his biography when the NHL announced the list back in 2017. []

Penguins Game Day against the Capitals

The Penguins have had an even split in goalie starts for several weeks running until Matt Murray broke that trend against Buffalo. With Jarry being much more aggressive playing the puck, could he have an impact against a team that forechecks well like the Capitals? Time will tell this afternoon if Murray doesn’t get the start. [Post-Gazette]

Starting this afternoon, the Penguins begin a stretch of fourteen out of their next fifteen games against the Metropolitan Division with only the season finale against Ottawa and the March 25 game in Chicago as the only two out of division game. With how tight the Metro is this year, this is the make-or-break part of the schedule. [Trib Live]

The Capitals are fresh off watching Mika Zibanejad score five goals against them in an overtime loss on Thursday night. They came away with the pity point but still found themselves tied with Philadelphia for the Metro lead as the two teams are heading in different directions. The Capitals are 10-12-2 against the Metro this season and are coming into a hostile environment in Pittsburgh and there’s still one more meeting at PPG this season. [Washington Post]

The folks at Japers’ Rink dive deep into the numbers and compare coaching regimes and results dating back to 2007. One thing is for sure, the Capitals know how to put the puck in the net. Stopping other teams from doing that is what’s more important, however, and the Capitals are struggling to do that this year. [Japers’ Rink]

For the Ladies

The NWHL playoffs began last night in Buffalo with a do-or-die game with the Buffalo Beauts hosting the Connecticut Whale. Colton Orr got his squad going early and Connecticut won only their third game of the year but it was enough to move on the next round. The Boston Pride are quite the contrary and went 23-1 this season and are the favorites for the Isobel Cup. Check out a preview for the playoffs. [The Hockey News]

Despite not even standing five feet tall, Marie-Jo Pelletier fought and clawed her way and paved her own path to being a professional hockey player. Pelletier was second in the league in goals scored by a defender and third in points in her rookie campaign. Her season came to an end last night with the loss to Connecticut, but Pelletier is determined to continue to prove her naysayers wrong. [The Hockey News]

The NCAA Women’s Frozen Four tournament begins next week. Here’s an in-depth piece about the rankings, who’s in already and who’s still alive. []

Around the league

Roberto Luongo was one of the most popular guys off the ice and one of the best on the ice during his prime. Tonight the Florida Panthers are going to retire his number one after spending two stints and 11 years with the Panthers. [Yahoo! Sports]

While nobody can no longer wear number one in Florida, the number has slowly been being forgotten in the NHL these days. []

Greg Wyshynski breaks down the likely name candidates for the new Seattle franchise. There are a few I haven’t heard before but most are the same rumors been going around since they’ve been awarded the next team. I’m a big fan of the Seattle Sasquatch but I’m also not as against Seattle HC as I feel I should be. [ESPN]

On this day in Pittsburgh Hockey:

  • 1989 - Mario Lemieux scored on penalty shot against Los Angeles goalie Kelly Hrudey.
  • 1995 - The Penguins played their last game in Pittsburgh against the Quebec Nordiques and skated to a 5-4 loss. Pittsburgh’s overall record against the Nordiques: 27-22-4.
  • 1998 - Pens goalie Ken Wregget recorded his 200th career victory in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • 2004 - In a game against the NY Rangers, Rob Scuderi scored his first NHL goal.
  • 2012 - Le Magnifique, a statue to honor the career of Penguins Mario Lemieux, was unveiled outside the CONSOL Energy Center.
  • 2015 - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves against the Los Angles Kings for his ninth shutout of the season and the 37th of his career. Fleury, single-handedly tied the team record for shutouts in one season set by Petr Skudra, J.S. Aubin and Tom Barrasso in 1998-99.

Happy Birthday!

Greg Hotham and Eric Godard!