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Empty Netter Assists - 12-27-12

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-"I didn’t feel like I had any power last year." - Brooks Orpik (right) on battling injuries last season.

-"I managed to have success last year. But the critics are never going to stop, and I don't expect them to." - Matt Cooke on cleaning up his game.

-Jeff Zatkoff made 18 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 2-0 loss to the rival Hershey Bears.

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Simon Despres returned to the lineup after missing six games due to an undisclosed injury.

-Evgeni Malkin had two assists for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in a 5-3 loss to Sibir Novosibirsk in Russia's KHL.

-"There are so many games that are so predictable. When do you see a guy fly down the wing and take a slap shot any more? Never." - Former Penguins defenseman Paul Coffey on the state of the game.

-Former Penguins defenseman the great Martin Skoula has joined HC Litomerice of the Druhá liga in the Czech Republic.

-Happy 54th birthday to former Penguins coach Kevin Constantine. Hired in the 1997 offseason, Constantine spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. In 1997-98, he directed the club to a 40-24-18 record and a Northeast Division title. In the postseason, the team lost in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to the Canadiens, 4-2. He followed that up in 1998-99 by leading the Penguins to a record of 38-30-14. The club reached the postseason as a No. 8 seed. After defeating the Devils in the conference quarterfinal round, 4-3 - one of the largest upsets in franchise history - the Penguins were eliminated in the semifinals by the Maple Leafs, 4-2. After 25 games and an 8-10-3 record, Constantine was fired early in 1999-2000 and replaced by Herb Brooks. In 189 games as the Penguins coach, Constantine had a record of 86-67-35. His wins are the eighth-most in franchise history.

-Happy 41st birthday to former Penguins forward Bryan Smolinski (right). Acquired in the 1995 offseason along with Glen Murray and a draft pick in a trade which sent Shawn McEachern and Kevin Stevens to the Bruins, Smolinski spent on seasons with the Penguins. In 1995-96, he played in 81 games and scored 64 points. The 1996 postseason saw him compile eight points in 19 games. After holding out to start 1996-97, Smolinski was traded early in the season to the Islanders in exchange for Darius Kasparaitis and Andreas Johansson.

Atlantic Division

-"I’m embarrassed for the game It’s coming down to the wire right now. We’ve just got to trust the people that are involved. I’m embarrassed we are where we’re at. That’s the best expression I can use." - Devils executive Lou Lamoriello on the lockout.

Northwest Division

-Flames forward Jiri Hudler, currently playing for Trinec in the Czech Extraliga, was hospitalized after suffering a skate cut on his neck. The injury required stitches but was not considered serious.

-Canucks forward Mason Raymond has joined Örebro of Sweden's Allsvenskan.

World Junior Championships

-Penguins defensive prospect Scott Harrington had one assist, two shots and was plus-3 for Canada which routed Germany, 9-3.\

-There's no audio, but check out this smooth shot/pass by Harrington to set up teammate Jonathan Drouin for a goal:

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-We're not goaltending experts or anything, but we think Germany goaltender Elmar Trautmann took the wrong angle here on Canada forward J.C. Lipon:

-Happy times for Canada. Not so much for Trautmann:

-Penguins defensive prospect Olli Maatta had one shot and was plus-1 for Finland in a 5-1 defeat of Latvia. Penguins forward prospect Teddy Blueger had two shots for Latvia.

-Senators defensive prospect Mikael Wikstrand recorded two assists for Sweden which beat the Czech Republic, 4-1.

-Lightning goaltending prospect Andrei Vasilevski made 32 saves for Russia in a 3-2 overtime win against Slovakia.

(Photos: Orpik-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Smolinski-Tim DeFrisco/ALLSPORT/Getty Images; Canada/Germany-Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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