And speaking of Satan......Satan aware he needs to pick up goal pace
Friday, January 30, 2009
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins gave Miroslav Satan a $3.5 million contract in July to score goals for them, and he has.
Just not as many as they had expected.
Especially during the past six weeks.
Satan enters their game tonight against New Jersey at the Prudential Center with 13 goals in 49 games, but only one in the past 18. That's nowhere near the pace the Penguins had anticipated when they signed him as a free agent in the hope that his goal-scoring ability would mesh with Sidney Crosby's playmaking talent.
"He certainly needs to be better, in terms of production," general manager Ray Shero said yesterday.
Although Satan got extensive work on Crosby's wing during the first half of the season, the two never developed any real chemistry, and Satan now is laboring on the third line with Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy. Satan also has lost his spot on the No. 1 power-play unit.
But even though he isn't cast in the kind of scoring role to which he had become accustomed since breaking into the NHL with Edmonton in 1995, Satan still has the skills needed to make a positive difference.
"He's a guy we count on," coach Michel Therrien said. "We have big expectations. We're definitely looking for him to step up his game during the second half."
Satan averaged 28 goals during his first 12 seasons in the NHL, including a drop-off to just 16 goals in 2007-08 while playing for the New York Islanders.
What's makes his goal-scoring problems so troubling is that he has a largely one-dimensional game. He doesn't play physically, doesn't kill penalties and rarely gets involved in one-on-one battles, let alone wins them. All of which means that unless he is scoring goals, Satan isn't giving the Penguins a fair return on their investment.
He is understandably unhappy about his offensive struggles, but seems to view his slump as the kind of drought many goal-scorers experience at times.
"Everybody has that," Satan said. "It's nothing unusual."
Because he isn't a superstitious sort, he won't alter his pregame routine or experiment with new equipment in an effort to regain his touch.
"Once in a while, you try to change something," Satan said. "But nothing dramatic."
Actually, he has a more pragmatic solution in mind.
"Keep shooting," Satan said. "Don't think about it. Eventually, if you get enough chances, you're going to break the spell."
He had two shots on goal in the Penguins' 6-2 victory Wednesday against the New York Rangers and three against Carolina in their final game before the All-Star break.
How many shots Satan gets against the Devils tonight will depend, at least in part, on his linemates. And while everyone associated with the Penguins recognizes the importance of trying to get him on untracked, Talbot said it would be counterproductive to make feeding the puck to Satan at every opportunity a top priority.
"If the play's there, I'll give it to him, but I won't force it," he said.
Satan, like teammate Petr Sykora, is most dangerous when he's relatively close to the net. Unlike Sykora, however, Satan hasn't ventured into those high-traffic areas much lately.
"He's got to upgrade his intensity and go to the net," Therrien said. "Those types of goal-scorers have to go to the net. If they're going to stay on the outside, they're not going to be successful."
The Penguins are counting on Satan to make that kind of commitment because, in Shero's words, "we need for him to be a factor."
Satan understands that kind of thinking and insists that he knows the formula for working his way out of a slump.
"You just try to get chances and create chances for your teammates," he said. "Eventually, something's going to happen."http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09030/945620-61.stm