Barrasso still silent but more visible
Former Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso didn’t speak with Pittsburgh reporters before Saturday’s game at Consol Energy Center.
No surprise there. But Barrasso was more visible than in previous visits here.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice recently moved Barrasso, the team’s goaltenders coach, from the press box to the bench. Maurice likes having Barrasso nearby to provide insight.
But just because Barrasso is on the bench doesn’t mean he will talk at length with the team’s starting goalie, Cam Ward.
“I don’t know of a goalie coach that goes down and talks to the goalie during the game,” Maurice said, who then poked fun at Barrasso’s penchant for being left alone.
“Lord knows no one ever did that to Tom Barrasso,” Maurice said, drawing laughter from reporters. “His style wouldn’t lend itself to that.”
Maurice spoke at length about the value of having two former Penguins, Barrasso and Ron Francis, as members of the team’s coaching staff.
Barrasso has not spoken with a member of the Pittsburgh media since his trade to Carolina in 2000.
Little big guy
Left wing Chris Conner is starting to look more like a fixture than a mere mid-season replacement. His speed was particularly effective in a recent win against Detroit.
He has scored six goals, been reasonably solid defensively and even shows a physical side on occasion. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma noted a play from earlier this season during which Conner knocked down one of the league’s biggest men, Atlanta defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
“In training camp he probably didn’t get a great opportunity to do what he’s doing now,” Bylsma said.
Bylsma said making the squad was a difficult for Conner because of the excellent preseason by now-injured center Mike Comrie.
However, Conner clearly is making the most of his most recent opportunity.
“He’s brought a lot,” Bylsma said. “It’s a spark to our team. It’s a tenacity, and it’s a speed to our game that has really been a plus in the last 30 games.”
Saturday night fever
Last night’s game was the final Saturday night game at Consol Energy Center this season. Only three Saturday night games were scheduled for the Penguins’ new arena, a far smaller number than most seasons at Mellon Arena.
Bylsma was asked to predict the winner of today’s AFC Championship Game between the Steelers and New York Jets. Naturally he went with the home team.
Bylsma said the quarterback advantage belongs to the Steelers, and that will be the difference.
“Ben (Roethlisberger) versus (Mark) Sanchez,” Bylsma said. “I think it is Ben in the end.”