Pittsburgh Penguins (11-11-5, 27 pts) at Atlanta Thrashers (18-8-4, 40 pts)
First order of business against the Thrashers - remember the past! Last year, the Pens went into a home and home with Atlanta with the chance to really turn the season around. Instead, this and this happened. It pretty much put the Pens season on ice (as if it wasn't already at that point). The first game was the telling one with Kovalchuk pointing at Crosby in the penalty box after Kovalchuk had scored. No one did anything except for Max Talbot at the end of the game, as I remember, and no one did anything to Kovalchuk. Someone please tag him tonight.
Anyway, more to the point of tonight's game - the Thrashers can flat out score. They are 4th in the NHL in goals scored. However, they also have allowed more goals than the Pens. If the Pens can play a decent defensive game and shut down the big guns from the Thrashers (namely the aforementioned Kovalchuk and Hossa), they have a shot.
The Thrashers have taken more penalties than the Pens have, and allowed just as many power play goals. From what I'm seeing, the Thrashers will give up some goals, but hope to out score their opponents. That plays well into the Penguins strengths of controlling tempo and flow (when they're on their game).
Rob Scuderi won't play tonight again. He wasn't a healthy scratch - he has a virus that has caused him to lose 10 pounds! Sounds like a nasty stomach flu if you ask me.
Thrashers blog - today we'll go with the Blueland Blog, which is on the official team site of the Atlanta Thrashers. In the entry for this morning, we see that Bob Hartley doesn't expect any trouble from last season. Easy to say when your guy got away with the trash talking. We'll see how the Pens feel about it tonight.
I'm looking for another strong road effort, with a few more goals against the less disciplined Thrashers. Malkin and Malon both score and the Pens win.
Let's Go Pens!