QUESTION: Marc-Andre Fleury really seems to be coming into his own as an elite NHL goaltender. I know it is foolish to take too much stock in a week and half span, but it is certainly an encouraging thing to see for the years to come.
Grant from Pittsburgh
BOB GROVE: I think all Penguins' fans would share your reaction to the recent play of Marc-Andre Fleury. Beginning with the consecutive home victories over New Jersey and Philadelphia, Fleury has played his best hockey of the season over the past 10 days. What the Penguins have to hope is that this is not an aberration but a reflection of Fleury applying lessons he's learned over the past few seasons. He's still got things to learn, for sure, and he's still going to have ups and downs going forward. But this little stretch should do wonders for his confidence in this difficult season.
Fleury is at his best when he's not relying solely on his reflexes and his ability to make acrobatic saves but instead is making the smart plays: covering shots when he should, steering rebounds to corners where teammates can get them; handling the puck efficiently; and playing his angles aggressively. This kid has done a very good job of keeping the Penguins competitive all season long, and all indications are that Fleury is going to be every bit as special as most people figured when he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.
QUESTION: It seems almost a lock that the Penguins arent going to get the slot license. What do you think the chances are of an outside Company financing the arena for the Pens? The same way that the Columbus Blue Jackets got there arena.
Tim Cope of Donora, PA
BOB GROVE: Let's start at the beginning. The Penguins are not "almost a lock" to get the slots license, despite the obvious superiority of their proposal with partners Isle of Capris, Inc., and Nationwide Realty Investors. This is a political process, and one thing I would caution Pittsburgh hockey fans about is feeling comfortable anytime between now and the day the license is awarded. That's why we all need to continue communicating with our elected officials, talking to friends and other interested parties and making our wishes known.
Nationwide Arena was constructed with $150 million in private funds because it was part of a larger development plan that will bring profits to Nationwide Realty and its partner, the Columbus Dispatch; because the county's convention authority put up $12 million to purchase the land; and because the city of Columbus got behind the idea as a way of revitalizing a rundown section of the city and bringing in its first major sports team. Having been told for years that there is no public money available for a new arena here in Pittsburgh, the Penguins teamed up with a private company that is ready to provide it. Isle of Capri, Inc. is the outside company financing the arena for the Penguins.
Could another private company do the same if the Penguins fail to win the slots license? Sure, it's possible. But it's not probable. Let's remember that Mario Lemieux's ownership group has been talking about the need for a new arena since 1999 and, until Isle of Capri, Inc. stepped up, no one had come forward to privately finance a new building. That's why we need to focus on the tangible -- the deal that is already on the table from Pittsburgh First.
QUESTION: I would like to know what has happened to Aleksey Morozov and Milan Kraft. I know Morozov is playing in Europe but why isnt he playing for pittsburgh?
Nick Wilfling of Melbourne, Austrailia
BOB GROVE: If there's one consistent question we've gotten all season long, it's the question about Milan Kraft and Aleksey Morozov. Kraft started the year in the Russian Super League (Omsk) and then returned to the Czech Extraleague (Karlovy Vary); Morozov is the leading scorer in the Russian Super League with Kazan.
Neither player is playing for the Penguins because they could not come to contract terms with the team. Kraft's skating hurt him a bit in the old NHL and obviously wouldn't serve him well in today's game. The Penguins retain his NHL rights. Morozov is a skilled player but never had the consistency the Penguins would want to see. Morozov will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so we'll see if anybody else wants to give him a big raise.
QUESTION: When two players from the same team each recieve a minor penalty on the same play, how does the ref know whether there will be a 5-on-3 for 2 mins or a 5-on-4 for 4 mins? In the Philly game last Sunday, the Pens killed Andre Roy's penalties for 7 mins. Could Ken Hitchcock have chosen to have a 2-min 5-on-3 then have a 5-on-4 for the rest of the major penalty?
Ben Schott of Kolding, Denmark
BOB GROVE: When two players from the same team receive minor penalties at the same time, that team must play two men short for two minutes. There's no judgment necessary from the referee. Neither does an opposing coach have the liberty of choosing how to mix minors and majors given to the same opposing player. Rule 26 (C) specifies: "When one player receives a major penalty and a minor penalty at the same time, the major penalty shall be served first by the penalized player."
That order must be specified because an unlimited number of goals can be scored during a major penalty. The Flyers could have scored as many goals as possible during the first five minutes of Roy's seven-minute stay in the box, but had they scored anytime during the final two minutes of that seven-minute period, Roy would have come out of the box and the power play would have been over.
When you have multiple penalties to one team and none to the other, the way to remember how these penalties are served is by concentrating on the number of players penalized: if two players are penalized, the team will be two men short; if one player is penalized, the team will be one man short.
Crash the Net is a weekly web feature appearing Wednesdays on pittsburghpenguins.com. Click here to submit a question.