Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Game #43 - at Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh - 11-22-9 - 31 pts - 14th in East - 14 pts out of playoffs
Columbus - 13-27-2 - 28 pts - 14th in West - 23 pts out of playoffs

Well, here's a team the Pens should beat. The Blue Jackets don't score, averaging just over two goals per game. They've scored the fewest goals (92) in the NHL by a margin of 12. They give up goals at a rate that's close to the Pens, who are the worst in the NHL. Their power play is the second worst in the league, scoring only 12.9% of the time. The only thing they seem to do decently is kill penalties, and they're in the middle of the pack in the West.

There are two things to give the Pens reason to worry tonight -
  1. Rick Nash has been hot lately, scoring in five straight games.
  2. The team has been decent in close games lately (which the Pens have a penchant for playing) and is 4-2-1 in their last seven games.
For the Pens, the gauntlet has been thrown down by Coach Therrien. It will be interesting to see who will pick it up. You get the feeling that this is just the beginning, and that if things don't get better, life will be pretty miserable in that locker room. I can't blame Therrien either - he wants an honest, hard effort from his players... and he has a right to expect that in my opinion.

The biggest factors for the Pens continue to be getting the first goal and having the lead at the end of the first. They win over 70% of their games when that happens. It's critical tonight, as the Blue Jackets have a winning record when they score first as well (not as pronounced as the Pens, but it's still over .500).

No word on who is in goal tonight for the Pens. I can't imagine Therrien going back to Thibault, but in back-to-back games, you never know.

1 comment:

Will said...

It for sure won't be Thibault in net tonight, I think he's a scratch or on IR because they called up Dany Sabourin from the Baby Pens today. If I never see Thibault in net for the Pens it will be too soon.