Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Game #60 - at Florida Panthers

Pittsburgh Penguins (32-18-9, 73 pts) at Florida Panthers (23-26-12, 58 pts)

Prior meetings:
Panthers 3, Penguins 2 on December 5th in Pittsburgh
Panthers 5, Penguins 2 on January 10th in Florida
Penguins 3, Panthers 0 on January 30th in Pittsburgh

The Kitty Cats traditionally murder the Penguins. They've won 14 of the past 16 and 8 of 9 in Florida. Olli Jokinen is a one man wrecking crew against the Flightless Birds. The heat of Florida seems to get into the brains of the Pens, making them play quite poorly.

To make matters worse, the Pens are catching the Panthers at a bad time. They've won two straight home games and are 3-1-1 in the past 5 overall. They still have an outside shot at the playoffs, but that's mostly a pipe dream, as they're 9 points out of the 8th spot.

The Pens are having struggles of their own, mostly on the part of the goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury. He's been having a rough go of it lately, and he's not starting against Florida. Michel Therrien said the following about Fleury:
"We're not satisfied. He's got to upgrade his game and he knows it. It's part of my responsibility to make sure that he'll get better."
I think with a guy like Therrien, you probably don't want him making sure you get better. You want to do it all on your own, thank you very much. Hopefully the Flower will respond.

Thibault didn't play badly in his last game, but the Pens will need a solid defensive effort around him to get the win in a hostile environment.

The Pens really need this one - they've really struggled to get a win after a regulation loss this year. They need to nip this in the bud before it becomes a losing streak, especially judging from where they play next - Tampa Bay.

Panthers blog - I'm protesting. There aren't any besides the one published by the Miami Herald. Nothing against that guy, but I've pointed to it three times already this year, and he's paid to write it. I like blogs that people do because they have a passion for the game and their team. So I'm taking my ball and going home (figuratively). Literally, I'm just not pointing to a Panthers blog.

I'm looking for a turn-around game with a renewed emphasis on defense. I'd also like to see Maxime Talbot stick a bulls-eye on Jokinen so the Pens have an easy time spotting him.

Let's Go Pens!

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