Thursday, November 10, 2005

Game Night - Game #17 - avoid the roadblock

Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins

Montreal - 12-3-1 - 25 pts - First in Northeast
Pittsburgh - 4-7-5 - 13 pts - Last in Atlantic

This is a game for some mixed statistics. Consider the following about the Habs:
  • Montreal is undefeated on the road - 6-0-1
  • They've won 5 straight games
  • They draw lots of penalties
  • In their four losses (one in OT), they lost by a total of 7 goals
  • They've won 12 games by a grand total of 15 goals
  • They've only won by more than one goal twice
  • Their PP on the road sucks (7 goals in 49 chances - 14%)
  • They have Richard Zednik (nothing special about him - I just don't like him)
In other words, while this is a team with an impressive record, I think they're beatable. If the Pens can muster the strength coming off of their road trip, use their speed, draw some penalties early (they were very bad at that last night), they can beat the Canadiens. Of course, given that they're probably tired, and that Montreal was waiting for them in Pittsburgh (thanks, NHL, for the second time this season), I'm not holding my breath. Lemieux is going to have to find the energy somewhere to play better - he was a -4 last night!!

The Habs are led by Koivu and Kovalev. You have to like both of those players, especially Alexi after his years of service here. I still wish he would have wanted to come here during the off-season - the new game is well suited to his talents.

The x-factor in all of this is the goaltender for the Pens. I haven't seen anything yet, but I'd be surprised if we didn't see Thibault in goal. Who knows how he'll play, but we can hope that seeing the Canadien's uniform will take him in a time-warp back to his days when he played (quite well) for the Habs. If we're really lucky, some of that will rub off on him and we'll see him start to succeed on a consistent basis.

Here's hoping for our second home win of the season tonight.


Will said...

So Caron is out with a quadricep strain. Thibault will get the start tonight and Fleury has been called up. I'm kinda worried about tonights game. The one thing that really kills the Pens, and was proven last night, is speed. When you have players that can fly the slowish Pens D and forwards can get into trouble. I'm hoping that being home after a long road strech will motivate them to play well, but we'll see.

I think Caron being hurt could help the Pens in the long run. Caron is a good goalie and can be great at times, but he's not the guy you want to depend on on a nightly basis, that's what they brough Thibault in for. Hopefully this injury will give T-Bot the chance to get comfortable and regain his and the teams confidence. He got kinda unlucky at the begining of the season. Started off against the Devils, got worked then hurt, then came back only to face the Devils again. (He got worked over again too.) I think him starting a few games in a row and playing well could lead to a better season for the Pens.

My last thought (sorry this is so long) is about the lines Eddie put together last night. I was really surprised to see Malone on the top line. I know with LeClair out is changes things around be I think Malone should be on the thrid line becasue he is good but not in the set up a great play and finish way, more in the work like a dog and scrape a goal out of it. I noticed a lot of other mixing too. I know with injuries that you have to mix it up some but the sooner we can hammer down some lines, the more comfortable they'll be together and the better they'll play.

Pat said...

Thanks for the update, Will! Personally, I'd rather see them play Fleury myself, but I do think they'll need Thibault playing well if they hope to go anywhere this season - I still think the playoffs are within reach for this team.

I do also agree that Malone needs to be on the third line right now. Unfortunately, they don't really have any other "power forward" type of player to put on the top two lines. Pirjeta is big, but he doesn't seem to be that type of player.