Monday, December 26, 2005

Game #35 - vs Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins

Toronto - 19-14-3 - 41 pts - Third in Northeast
Pittsburgh - 8-19-7 - 23 pts - Last in Atlantic

I know it's becoming cliche, but it really doesn't matter who the opponent is lately. The Pens are their own worst enemy right now. They seemingly possess the ability to play with anyone, but not well enough to beat anyone. They've been in all three of the games under Michel Therrien. They were capable of winning any of those three games. They showed the most signs of improvement in the last two periods of the Flyers game. I'll let Michel Therrien assess the situation in a quote from this article on the Penguins website:

“Our penalty killing has to be better; our defensemen have to be better; our goalies are going to have to be better,” he said. “I think we’re scoring enough goals. I think we’re scoring around three or four goals a game and that should be enough to win hockey games, as far as I am concerned. Our offensive game should not hurt our defensive game. Offensively, I believe we’re all right. There’s times where we have bad coverage in our end or we don’t kill the penalty right and we give up a bad goal. Right now, I am looking for improvement from those aspects.”

So, in a nutshell, he's fairly happy with the offense. The goaltending, defense and PK need to clean their act up. Fleury isn't losing the games by himself right now, but he's not winning any of them either. He needs to get his game going, or he could find himself going back to the minors. It's just as easy to miss the playoffs without paying his $3 million in bonuses that he'll certainly qualify for by playing here.

How about a few words about Toronto?

They just played last night at home against New Jersey, winning 2-1. They've netted three power play goals in the last two games, but their penalty kill hasn't been anything special lately, especially yielding SIX power play goals against Ottawa recently.

Toronto is a different team on the road, with a record below .500 - they've lost three of their previous four road games, winning only at Atlanta.

This is another conference game where the Pens need two points. They haven't been too successful at getting those points lately. Let's hope that changes starting with this game.

Let's go Pens!

1 comment:

Will said...

I'm looking forward to tonights game. I think the Pens have had some real good play the last few games, with the exception of still taking too many penalties, and I think getting that first win and confidence that comes with it could spark a winning trend...it could also spark another 10 game losing streak, but let's hope not. I think in general the team looks a lot better with Therrien running the show. If they can just start winning it might be fun to watch the Pens again...even though I'll keep watching either way ;)