Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Game #20 - at Flyers

Game Night - 7:00 EST

Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh - 5-8-6 - 16 pts - Last in Atlantic
Philadelphia - 11-4-1 - 23 pts - Second in Atlantic

No Lemieux. No Gonchar. No problem? Missing Lemieux for a game might not be a bad thing. It will be sink or swim time for some of the other guys that need to step up. It may also allow the Pens to play a more up-tempo style, with lots of skating and quick passes. Sometimes Mario likes to carry the puck and be as patient as possible. That works well when you're one of the most talented players on the planet, but it can get you into trouble when you're name is Koltsov and the puck and your stick are sometimes like the repelling ends of a magnet.

Thibault will get the start again. I'll be starting to believe that he's turned the corner if he turns in a solid effort against a good club on the road. This is a game where he needs to make saves he isn't supposed to be making to give the Pens a chance to win.

Philly has a great power play, clicking at over 21%. They are 9-1 in their 10 home games. Forsberg is averaging just about two points per game. Gagne isn't far behind. Pitkanen is over a point per game. It's like they're a steamroller!!

But hold the phone for a second here...

The Flyers have been outshot in 5 of the last 8 games.

Their last four home victories haven't exactly been against Murder's Row - they beat Washington, Boston, Atlanta and the Islanders. The last three were all by a single goal.

They are coming off of a loss at Tampa Bay on Monday.

And perhaps most important of all for the Pens... the Flyers are weak on the penalty kill. They have the worst PK in the NHL. Of course, in the spirit of competition, the Penguins are trying to out-do them for that title. Maybe we should call the game "The Battle of the SPK (Sucky Penalty Kill)".

If the Pens can come out and skate well, draw some penalties, and stay out of the box themselves... we could be smelling a victory. Either that, or I'm just smelling the pot that someone down the street is smoking. Suddenly I'm hungry.

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