Pens' Roberts plans late-season impact
DANICA BEACH, Fla. - What will Gary Roberts do?
"I'm closing in on 42," Roberts said of his May 23 birthday. "It would be a nice birthday gift to still be playing hockey at that time of year."
That kind of gift would require the Penguins, who visit the Florida Panthers tonight, to win a few rounds in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It is a realistic goal, Roberts believes, and one he would like to help achieve.
His plan is simple and direct. Return from a high left ankle sprain - his broken left leg has healed - to play in at least five regular-season games and then do what Roberts often does in the playoffs: hit anything that moves on his way toward the crease, park there and score a handful of big goals.
"One thing we know about Gary Roberts ... he's about pride," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "When it comes to the playoffs, it's about pride. That's what makes it different for players.
"I know he has something in mind. He wants to come back as strong as he can be."
That certainly was the case last season, when Roberts won over Pittsburgh by scoring seven goals in 19 games after arriving from Florida at the 2007 NHL trade deadline. His berserker-like voracity to impose upon opponents endeared him to fans that longed for a punishing Penguin to rival former hard-hitting defensemen Darius Kasparaitis and Ulf Samuelsson.
Of course, the rub is that Roberts has been around the league long enough - he debuted during the 1986-87 season - to know those two guys as pups.
Age has proven part of any discussion about Roberts for most of this century. It is a reason, despite his 30 career playoff goals, including two in five games with the Penguins last April, there remains doubt if he can help the Penguins win the Cup this season.
Another reason is his limited activity this season; Roberts has appeared in only 37 games.
He has not played since Dec. 29, when he valiantly refused assistance off the ice after his left fibula was fractured in a game against Buffalo at Mellon Arena. Two games prior, Roberts scored two goals in a victory over Boston - a sign, he believed then, his game was rounding into form after early struggles with a viral infection and asthma.
He has resumed skating with teammates, though is not yet participating in full-contact portions of practice. There is a lineup slot waiting for Roberts when he is ready to play.
"He could be a really important player for us because he is always recognized as being a warrior in the playoffs," Therrien said.
And what would Roberts do if the playoffs ended with him taking a second sip from Lord Stanley's chalice?
"At age 23, I won the Stanley Cup in Calgary, and I thought, 'Boy, how many more of these am I going to win?'" Roberts said. "It is 19 years later and I haven't been back to the Cup final.
"You have a short window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, and we all know that window is the next couple of years. Hopefully, that is sooner for me."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet wants Letang to shoot more on power play
- Penguins notebook: Team celebrates ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ event
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up
- Penguins notebook: Jagr still an impact player in 23rd season
- Penguins’ Crosby OK with Neal comments about trade
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Penguins notebook: Bennett close to returning
- Maatta had been back in groove after offseason surgery
- Penguins rebound with shutout of Predators
- Penguins’ defenseman Maatta confident of full recovery