Pittsburgh Penguins' Miroslav Satan Rising to the Occasion

Chris MillerCorrespondent IMay 10, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 06:  Forward Miroslav Satan #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Mellon Arena on May 6, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Miroslav Satan surely hasn't earned his $3.5 million salary in the NHL this season.

The AHL got a taste of the veteran after the trade deadline for the first time since his rookie year.

It may have seemed to have been a worthless acquisition for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they sent him to the minor leagues, but with Petr Sykora struggling towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, they were forced to give Satan a second chance.

He hasn't disappointed.

For the second time in consecutive games, Satan set up important goals, both leading to Pittsburgh victories, and assuring the veteran sniper a spot on the roster as long as the team is fighting for the Stanley Cup.

Satan set up Jordan Staal early in the second period to give the Penguins the first goal in the game, a lead that wouldn't last long but contributed to the Penguins' 4-3 overtime victory that gave the Penguins a 3-2 edge in the series headed back to Pittsburgh for Game Six on Monday night.

Working along the boards, Satan effectively stick handled his way to a sharp angle shot that came out towards the point.  With Brooks Oprik pinching to keep the play alive, Jordan Staal lurked behind the net and dropped the puck to Satan.  With a defenseman bearing down, Satan lobbed a nifty pass to Staal, whose sharp-angle shot eluded Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov.

Satan has often been criticized for his lack of effort and speed, a dynamic part of the Pittsburgh offense.  With the acquisitions of Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz at the trade deadline, it seemed Pittsburgh saw the last of the former 40-goal sniper.

Insert Petr Sykora.

With Sykora struggling recently, coach Dan Bylsma decided to make a roster change, and plugged Satan into the lineup for the second time in the playoffs. 

Satan's role has mostly been on the fourth line, with some time on the second power play unit.  In Game Five, however, Bylsma elected to mix and match his lines. 

Satan's assist came as a third line substitute for Matt Cooke.  He also saw playing time with Sidney Crosby during the course of the game, who scored off a 2-on-1 pass in Game Four on Friday.

Fans can criticize Satan's poor play throughout the season, but they will have to accept the fact that he has contributed immensely to the team, as the Penguins have turned a 2-0 series deficit into a 3-2 series lead.

His feet are moving.  Satan fights for the puck in the defensive zone.  He throws his body even though it's not made for contact.

This is playoff hockey, and he has met and earned the qualifications to earn a spot in the lineup, even over Pascal Dupuis, who was a scratch in Game Five.

Whether Satan will be back next season is up for grabs, much like each game with the Washington Capitals has been in their second round series thus far.

But if you're looking for a reason why Satan shouldn't be in a Penguins uniform right now, you may take a while to find a valid opinion.


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