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Updated 2 hours ago
Defenseman Ian Cole has turned heads with his offensive production this season.
Coming into this weekend, he had four goals, one off his career best, and 19 points, two more than he'd recorded in any of his previous six NHL seasons.
The way Cole sees it, however, it was last season — when he had no goals in 70 regular-season games — that heads should have turned.
“I've always had a pretty good shot. I've always been able to produce goals from the point,” Cole said. “Last year was kind of weird. Confidence wasn't necessarily there. Rather than saying this year is an anomaly, I think last year was an anomaly, and since it was my first full year here, maybe people don't realize that.”
Further proving his point that he's not some plug who can barely handle the puck, Cole had eight goals in 43 games as a freshman at Notre Dame.
“You know, first-round pick, look at me, free-wheeling,” Cole said. “Maybe trying to rush the puck every time I touched it.”
— Jonathan Bombulie
Degrees of Hainsey
Ron Hainsey's history with a few members of the Penguins dates to well before the trade that brought him to Pittsburgh on Thursday.
His connection to Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford from their Carolina days is well known, but his relationship with another front office member, assistant general manager Bill Guerin, goes back almost three decades. At the age of 8, Hainsey crossed paths with Guerin through the Springfield Pics, an amateur hockey organization based out of Springfield, Mass. Guerin was one of the Pics' prized alums, and Hainsey represented one of the organization's most promising youngsters.
Then there's Hainsey's connection with center Nick Bonino, a fellow Connecticut native. Hainsey grew up in Bolton, Conn., a town just east of Hartford, Bonino's hometown.
“I worked out at the same gym as him,” Bonino said. “When I turned pro, I got to know him a little more from the summers.”
On-ice familiarity already exists between Hainsey and Eric Fehr as well as Trevor Daley. Fehr and Hainsey played for Winnipeg during the 2011-12 season. Daley and Hainsey became teammates during the 2004-05 lockout, when both dressed for the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs.
If there's anybody who should be sick of outdoor hockey, it's winger Carl Hagelin.
Counting two college games he played outside while at Michigan, Saturday night's matchup with the Flyers was the sixth outdoor game of his career.
Hagelin, however, remains a big fan of the events. He likes them for himself.
“It brings back a lot of memories from when you're a kid skating on the pond back home,” Hagelin said. “It's a real spectacle. People come to enjoy the event. It doesn't matter if you're a hockey fan or not. You can go and enjoy the event.”
He also likes them for teammates like Matt Cullen, who never had played in an outdoor game before Saturday.
“They want to play in one,” Hagelin said. “To give everyone a chance, you have to have more than one a year. I'm for a lot of outdoor games.”
— Jonathan Bombulie
When the Penguins reached their bye week in early January, some fan anxiety stemmed from the disparity between the team's record on the road (8-6-3) and its home record (17-2-2).
A number of signals, most notably shot metrics, identified the unusual splits as unsustainable.
Nothing about the Penguins' performances away from PPG Paints Arena actually suggested they struggled as much as their record indicated.
Recent road results finally are stabilizing as the Penguins improved to 5-1-2 in their last eight road games with a win over Carolina last Tuesday.
— Bill West
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