Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-1-07

Record last night: 1-0
Record this month: 0-0
Record this season: 15-10
P/L Yesterday: +5.35

Last night the Cats roared and laid four on the Canes in the third period. Looks like Carolina chose a Trick, because Florida sure pulled one on them.

There are a bunch of games on the schedule tonight. I'm not sure I like any of them all that much, but I'm going to pick one or two...

Nashville at Vancouver - $6.30 - The Canucks have been pathetic at home. The Preds have been worse on the road. I'm going with the Canucks to end the madness tonight.

Atlanta at Ottawa - $7.05 - I know I was burned by the Thrashers in Montreal the other night. I can't see them beating the Sens. Ottawa has played just one game in the last 12 days. They'll be rested and ready.

Game #12 - at Colorado Avalanche

Pittsburgh Penguins (6-4-1, 13 pts) at Colorado Avalanche (7-4-0, 14 pts)


The Pens will face another big challenge when they play the Avalanche in Denver. The Avs have a few things going for them:
  • They're undefeated at home (5-0)
  • They're pretty loaded offensively with Sakic, Stastny, Smyth, Brunette, Svatos, Wolski, and Arnason.
  • Their special teams at home are good (power play 6-25, penalty kill 19-23)
  • Did I mention they're undefeated at home?
Each team most recently beat the Minnesota Wild. Peter Budaj has played most of the home games, and I'd expect that to continue against the Pens. The Avalanche have been helping him out by keeping the shot totals quite low. They've only had one home game where they've allowed more than 30 shots, and that's despite being short-handed at least 5 times in three of those games.

The Pens need to continue their good play from the other night in Minnesota. If the Avs have a weakness, it's on their blue line. Only two defensemen have a goal, and the one with the most most minutes (Hannan) is a -7.

Avalanche blog - check out Jerseys and Hockey Love. The review of the game against the Wild is secondary to the paragraph about the sadness of watching the Rockies lose in the World Series. Feels like 1992 all over again.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 10-31-07

Record last night: 1-1
Record this month: 14-10
Record this season: 14-10
P/L Yesterday: (2.70)

Last night the Habs managed to lose at home to the Thrashers, but the Flames beat the pulp out of the Preds. I have to stop with the 1-1 stuff...

It's Halloween! That makes the picks today extra SCARY! I'm going with an underdog, just because I can.

Carolina at Florida - $4.65 - The Panthers are a different team at home. The Canes should throttle them, but it is Halloween. Let's do something frightening. Go Kitty Cats.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Box Report - 2007-08 Upper Deck Victory

I bought two boxes of UD Victory at Target. Each box had 11 packs (66 cards) and cost $9.99. See my review of the cards here.

The really interesting thing is that when combining the two boxes, there wasn't a single duplicate, except for the Draper Faceoff advertisement insert.

Here's what was in those boxes:

Box 1
53 Base Cards (no duplicates)
6 Rookies (1:2)
3 Game Breakers (1:4) - Bergeron, St. Louis, Hemsky
2 Stars on Ice (1:4) - Jagr, Brodeur
1 Gold Base Parallel (1:36) - Kariya
1 Face Off NHL 08 Ad (?:?) - Draper
1 Jumbo card (1 per box) - Raycroft

Box 2
54 Base Cards (2 doubles)
4 Rookies (1:2)
5 Game Breakers (1:4) - Selanne, Lundqvist, Brodeur, Fleury, Elias
2 Stars on Ice (1:2) - Havlat, Sundin
1 Face Off NHL 08 Ad (?:?) - Draper
1 Jumbo card (1 per box) - Saku Koivu

  • The rookies I got weren't very good. The only one I even recognized was Halak, the goalie in the Canadiens system who is now stuck behind Carey Price.
  • I did get Crosby, Staal and Malkin between the two boxes. That's a score (this is a Penguins blog, in case you're not aware).
  • The jumbo cards are useless if they're just blown-up versions of the smaller ones. Make them special! It didn't help that I only got Raycroft and Koivu... Maybe if it was Crosby and Malkin I'd like them more.

Penguins 4, Wild 2

Nothing happened in this one until Gonchar rang a puck off of the crossbar in the second period. Literally - NOTHING. It may have been the most boring period of hockey I've ever seen. There may have been some skating and calling people names, but that's about it.

After the Gonchar shot, things got a little bit looser. The play started to go end-to-end, but even with that, the Pens were limited to the outside cycling game. There weren't able to really generate any chances from the slot or the middle of the ice. They tried working shots from the points, but no go (other than the Gonchar shot).

The Penguins first goal was a bit of a fluke - Crosby faked like was going behind the net and tried to come out on the short side. The puck rolled off of his stick, behind the net, where it was picked up by Malkin who stuffed it in on a wrap-around.

The first goal by the Wild was also a fluke. The shot by Radivojevic rang off of the crossbar, straight out to Veilleux who put it into an empty net. It's worth noting that the shot by Radivojevic was made possible by a really bad turnover by Eric Christensen, just outside his own blue line.

Malkin's second goal was much the same - Crosby's shot deflected straight over to Malkin, who had a slightly tougher shot.

Rolston tied the game with a nice move in the third, but then the Pens got their only power play chance of the night. Sykora converted to give the Pens the lead. Crosby added a breakaway later to put the icing on the cake.

Sabourin played pretty well, making all of the saves he needed to make. Crosby had four points, Malkin has two goals and Malone had two points.

The Wild work really hard. You can see their effort on the ice. They're relentless. The Pens would do well to take a page from their book.

Next up: the road trip continues on Thursday in Colorado

NHL Picks - 10-30-07

Record last night: 1-1
Record this month: 13-9
Record this season: 13-9
P/L Yesterday: (2.05)

Last night the Rangers lost some teeth (poor Jagr), but found some goals. The Leafs were cow-kicked and the Sharks won in Dallas, which is no easy trick.

I'm tempted to pick Detroit, because they're on a roll. I'm also tempted to pick St Louis, but Phoenix is 2-1 on the road and I'm not sold on the Blues just yet. Here's who I am willing to pick:

Predators at Flames - $6.35 - Calgary is a tough place to play, and the Preds haven't won away from home yet this season. I don't think they'll start tonight.

Thrashers at Canadiens - $6.35 - The Moose is loose for Atlanta, but it won't matter. The Thrashers have won two of their last three games in this long road trip, but the competition just got harder than the Hawks and Leafs. Habs win.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Game #11 - at Minnesota Wild

Pittsburgh Penguins (5-4-1, 11 pts) at Minnesota Wild (7-2-2, 16 pts)


The Pens are coming off of a game where they had to fight to earn a point. They've been inconsistent so far this year, but it's still early.

The Wild started the season 6-0-1. They've since lost three in a row on the road. They're returning home, where they are perfect on the year (4-0). Their hot start has been a result of defense and goal tending, with much of the credit going to Niklas Backstrom.

Backstrom missed Sunday's game with a tweaked groin. No word yet on his availability for the Pens game.

This will likely be two different games, depending on whether or not Backstrom is in goal. If he is, the Pens will be hard-pressed to win. If not, they may have some better offensive opportunities.

The offensively challenged Wild will have an even harder time scoring, since they're likely to be missing both Gaborik and Demitra.

Wild blog - check out Mike Russo's blog on the Star Tribune website.

Let's Go Pens!

Hockey Cards - 2007-08 Upper Deck Victory Review

2007-08 Upper Deck Victory

200 Base Cards
45 Rookies (inserted 1:2)
50 Stars on Ice (inserted 1:4)
50 Game Breakers (inserted 1:4)

Gold Base Parallel (inserted 1:36)
Gold Rookie (inserted 1:240)
Black Base Parallel (inserted 1:720)
Black Rookie Parallel (inserted 1:2880)

Victory is the cheap, entry level line of Upper Deck hockey cards. They can be had just about anywhere, for a buck per pack. Boxes at Target with 11 packs can be had for $10.

Victory features action shots on the card front, mostly standard poses. The forwards and defense are shown mostly skating without the puck, mostly upright. The goalies are also similar, standing with their pads facing the camera. Occasionally you'll see someone with the puck or after a shot. It is a big step from last year, when they took away the background, so all you saw was the player with a bland background that had the word "Victory".

The card backs are pretty standard. I like that they show power play goals. I also like the player pronunciations. I don't like that they only show the previous 5 seasons.

Dude, where are my seasons?

The inserts are pretty sad. There's nothing really special about the cards, other than the foil lettering that says either "Game Breakers" or "Stars on Ice". I've included an example of the Game Breakers. See the black fading in from the top? That's how Bergeron felt after the hit he took the other night.

I'll leave you with the Crosby base card, both front and back. His pronunciation looks pretty funny.

Ratings (out of 5):
Fronts: 3
Backs: 3
Inserts: 2
Overall: 3

NHL Picks - 10-29-07

After a brief hiatus, NHL Picks is returning as a regular feature of this blog.

To recap the general idea, I'll pick as many games as I like (usually none, one or two) on a given night. I'll almost never pick the Pens game, because I'm totally biased when it comes to the Pens. I'll also encourage you to treat these for what they are - dumb guesses made for fun. Having said that, I'll also post (time and availability permitting) the Tradesports profit (or loss) for each game I pick, just for fun, to see just how fast you could lose your money.

Record this month: 12-8
Record this season: 12-8

Since this is the first post in Picks in a week, I'm going out on a limb today.

Lightning at Rangers - $5.95 - The Rangers can't score. Really, really, really can't score. They have 11 goals in 9 games since their opener. The Lightning have given up 5 goals per game in three road games. Irresistible force meets immovable object? Maybe not quite that dramatic, but the Rangers finally get a few goals and win.

Capitals at Maple Leafs - $6.10 - The Caps can't score either. The Leafs certainly can, and their defense and goaltending are finally coming around a bit, thanks largely to Toskala. The Leafs have won two straight, while the Caps have dropped 6 of their last 7 after starting out 3-0. Go Leafs.

Updated with dollar amounts from

This ruins it!

Now I have an excuse for my lack of a recap after the Pens 4-3 shootout loss to the Habs on Saturday. Never mind that I was at a Halloween party - it's even better than that:

I had 666 posts, before this one. Yeah - I can say that I didn't want to ruin that perfectly demonic number around the Halloween season. Especially considering the party was the 10th anniversary of the day I met my wife. Maybe they're related? Of course they are aren't!!

Tomorrow, the Pens play in Minnesota, and I'll finally get to watch a game. That means a better recap, and a happier blogger.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Game #10 - vs Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens (5-2-2, 12 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (5-4, 10 pts)

Prior meeting:
Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 on October 10th in Pittsburgh

The Igloo hasn't quite been the friendly confines this year for the Pens. They're only 3-3 at home. This is troubling to see, since 7 of their first 10 games (including this one) were here. If they come out of the first 10 with a 4-3 (or 3-4) record at home, I think that has to be disappointing.

The Habs, on the other hand, have been playing well on the road. They're 3-1-1 in their 5 road games (I think we'd all feel better if they Pens were 3-1-2 at home right now) and they've won three straight games, including a 7-4 pasting of the Canes last night. Hopefully they'll be tired!

Canadiens Blog - Four Habs Fans - check out the great preview from the Canes game yesterday. Wonder what they'll put up today for the Pens?

Let's Go Pens!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Leafs 5, Penguins 2

Missed this one. Pretty glad I did. Here's the short version:

Pens play well for two periods and the score is tied at 1-1 going into the third. In the third, meltdown occurs and the Leafs score 4 unanswered. That's the game in a nutshell.

Next up: vs Canadiens on Saturday at the Igloo

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Game #9 - vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs (3-4-3, 9 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (5-3, 10 pts)

Prior meeting:
Penguins 6, Leafs 4 on October 13th in Toronto

I think this season is cursed for me. I haven't been able to watch a Pens game since last Wednesday, and I won't get to watch one until next Tuesday. Yeah, yeah - I know - quit whining.

Anyway, tonight the Pens get to say a special Thank You to the team that helped them to turn around their early doldrums. When the Pens played the Leafs on October 13th, they were 1-2. Fleury had been shaky, and the offense hadn't really woke up. Since then, the Pens are 4-1 and have found ways to win the close games. Fleury has turned it around recently and the offense is doing just enough to win. Most importantly, the defense has been doing enough not to lose.

Toronto, on the other hand, is 1-2-2 from October 13th onward. They've been leaking shots like a cracked dam and their special teams have been inconsistent at best. They have only three chances (or less) on the power play in three of their past four games, and their PK is hit and miss.

Despite the opposing directions of these teams, the Leafs have historically been trouble for the Pens. Recent times have shown signs that course may be reversed, but the Pens will need to play well to keep the good times going.

No time for a Leafs blog today - if you're interested, check the side bar - I have a few listed there.

Hopefully I can now get back to a regular posting schedule.

Let's Go Pens!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Posting suspended for a few days

Nice to see the Pens won last night. I'm away from the blog for a few days, so no picks, previews or game reviews this weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Game #6 - vs Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes (4-1-1, 9 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (2-3-0, 4 pts)

Prior meetings:
Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1 on October 4th in Carolina

The Canes have rattled off three wins in a row, all on the road, including an impressive win at Ottawa to hand the Sens their first loss of the season.

The Pens have been inconsistent, and their defense hasn't been doing the job in front of the net. Fleury is still somewhat shaky, but the power play is looking like it's starting to click well.

For the Pens to win this one, they'll need to play a good road game (yes, I know the Pens are at home, but I think they need to treat this one like a road game - get their ducks in a row with solid, simple play). They'll need to control the Canes at even strength and take advantage of their chances on special teams.

This is the first of back-to-back games for the Pens, so expect to see Dany Sabourin either tonight or tomorrow.

Canes blog - Canes Country
Check out Canes Country for a nice preview of tonight's game from the opposing perspective.

Let's Go Pens!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-19-07

Record yesterday: 0-0
Record this month: 12-7
Record this season: 12-7

Yesterday in the NHL:
  • Atlanta won it's first game, at home against the Rangers
  • The bloom is off of the rose in DC
  • Are the Flyers for real, or do they just have a hot goaltender? They beat the Devils while being out shot 38-18 (15-2 in the first, when there was no scoring).
I like one game tonight:

Columbus at Buffalo - The Blue Jackets are improved, but they haven't won on the road yet. The Sabres have won three in a row at home. Tradesports - $6.65 (I'll explain what this means one of these days, in case you're not familiar)

NHL Picks - 10-18-07

Record yesterday: 0-0
Record this month: 12-7
Record this season: 12-7

The only game I even remotely like tonight is Montreal at Ottawa, but the Habs are tough on the road, so I'm not going to touch it. I'm interested to see what Toronto and Atlanta do.

Picks tomorrow, for sure.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Devils 5, Penguins 4

This was a wild and crazy game. The Pens were down 2-0 in the first period. They came roaring back to take the lead, 3-2, much like they did the other night against the Leafs. This time, however, the Devils fought back.

The second period featured 6 consecutive penalties against the Pens. The Devils scored twice on the chances. The Pens scored two PP goals of their own in the second (three in the game in total).

The first two penalties of the game were on the Devils, the next 6 on the Pens and the next three on the Devils. Ryan Malone made sure the Devils streak didn't continue by taking a holding call and then threw a temper tantrum that earned another two. Fortunately, it didn't burn the Pens.

I was looking to see who the referees were, to check against my research earlier this year, but I can't find their names in the box scores yet. I know Dean Morton was one of them. Dean wasn't a regular referee last year - he did just 16 games. There weren't a high number of penalties called in his 16 games last year, so I'm really interested in who the other guy was. Once I find out, I'll update the post.

The third period was almost anticlimactic. Where the second was full of emotion (both highs and lows), the third didn't have nearly the excitement. The Pens couldn't generate any real pressure once the Devils took the lead. This was largely due to the Devils going back to the trap, and away from the forechecking style they started the game with. It was a smart move by the Devils, but it's a bad move for the NHL - anyone outside of Pittsburgh and New Jersey watching this game would have been put to sleep.

In the end, Brodeur made some key saves and the Pens defense was maybe a bit too soft when they needed to muscle up.

Next up: the party continues with Carolina visiting the Igloo on Friday

Thanks to Freeptop - the other ref was Dennis LaRue. LaRue did one game at the Igloo last year. During that game, the Pens were called for 74 minutes in penalties (he also did one road game and the Pens received 12 PIM). I'm not sure if it's a coincidence, because most of the calls seemed legit, but it's certainly something to keep in mind...

NHL Picks - 10-17-07

Record yesterday: 1-1
Record this month: 12-7
Record this season: 12-7

P/L yesterday: (2.35)
P/L season: TBD (when I stop being lazy)

The Kings beat the Wild last night, going 3-3 in the shoot out. That's a little unusual, but what can you do?

Four games tonight, and if not for my general rule of not picking the Penguins, I sure would pick the Penguins. Other than that, I'm reluctant to pick Anaheim at home - they seem to have righted the ship with their win over Detroit the other day, but I'm not sold yet.

No picks today. Come back tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Game #5 - vs New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils (2-3-0, 4 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (2-2-0, 4 pts)

The Devils have been struggling this season. They've been close in all of their games except the loss to the Panthers. In the other two losses, they had pulled Brodeur only to allow an empty net goal.

Brodeur has been facing a high number of shots early this season. The only exception was the last game against the Thrashers, and in that one he allowed 5 goals on just 17 shots (ugh).

The Pens haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire in their games. They've been inconsistent in their level of effort early in the season, but they are coming off of a good win in Toronto.

Special teams have been decent, but not great, so far this year. The Pens have managed a power play goal in each of their first four games, but only one goal in each. They have also not allowed more than one in any game yet.

Last year these two teams played in the Pens fifth game of the season. Their record was the same as it is this year, but the Devils were faring far better last year - they had only taken ONE penalty that resulted in a power play for the opposition in two of their first five games. Last year's result? 2-1 loss for the Pens. Let's hope this year is better.

Devil's blog - no one is really writing about the game tonight, but check out In Lou We Trust for a nicely run Devil's blog.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 10-16-07

Record yesterday: 0-0
Record this month: 11-6
Record this season: 11-6

Last night in the NHL:
  • Anaheim officially showed they're not dead yet by beating Detroit.
  • Buffalo scored 4 in the third and then had McCabe hand them the game with an own-goal to win in OT.
No picks the last few days. That changes today - there are four games on the schedule. I like two of them:

Atlanta at Philadelphia - The Flyers are improved, but just how much remains to be seen. They have improved more than enough to handle the Thrashers, who are just plain bad so far this season. Tradesports cost - $6.50

Minnesota at Los Angeles - The Kings have been almost as bad as the Thrashers so far. The Wild have been doing it with defense, which should translate nicely into a road win. Tradesports cost - $5.85

Updated with dollar amounts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-15-07

Record yesterday: 0-0
Record this month: 11-6
Record this season: 11-6

No pick again today. I like the Sabres at home against the Leafs, but it's too close to game time, and I don't know that I like it enough to pick it.

I'm not leaving you high and dry, however, I'm working on adding a new feature to these picks, namely how you'd do if you were hypothetically betting on the games I chose. I'm hoping to have that up today or tomorrow, and it'll become a regular part of the roundup from yesterday.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-14-07

Record yesterday: 2-1
Record this month: 11-6
Record this season: 11-6

The Bruins beat the Sharks yesterday, handing me my loss. Tim Thomas is on fire early in the season, but how bad are the Sharks that they can lose their home opener to a team from the bottom half of the East? Maybe the East has better depth than the West...

Two game today, and while I'm tempted by the Detroit at LA game, I'm not going to pick any.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Penguins 6, Maple Leafs 4

This one started off great for the Pens. Christensen took a face off win by Adam Hall and blasted it high on the stick side of Toskala. Great goal, though it was annoying listening to Steigy and Errey falling all over themselves gushing about how great it is to have a right-handed face off man (Hall).

Shortly after that, the urge to put Mike Lagne back on returned, as Steigy had no sooner said "Tucker is looking for his first goal of the year" than Tucker scored. Ugh.

The Pens went on to give up the next two goals to fall behind by a 3-1 deficit. Sabourin started, but was run over by Tucker, and was replaced by Fleury.

The Pens started their comeback on Crosby's first goal of the year. It was a bit of luck in that it deflected off of the defensemen in front.

Talbot kept things going with a great individual effort and Malone tied the game.

I thought things were going to go south when the Leafs tied it at 4 on a goal by Jason Blake. I guess we're all supposed to talk about how wonderful Jason is now that he has a form of leukemia, but I still remember his friendly little slash on Crosby last year, and the fact that he's a point-per-game guy when playing the Pens. I'm glad it appears that he'll be okay from the cancer, but when he's on the ice, I don't like him.

Going to the third, the score was tied, and it remained that way until there was about 5:00 left in the game. Along the way in the third, the Pens had about 58 power play chances and couldn't cash in, but Sid cleaned up the garbage behind Toskala on the Pens 6th power play chance of the game. Talbot added an empty net goal (short-handed, no less) to seal the deal.

The Pens had 52 shots on goal tonight. They absolutely peppered Toskala, who has a save percentage over 90% despite giving up 5 goals. Talbot, Sykora, Malkin and Staal all had 5 or more shots. Malkin could have had about 3-4 more, except that he passed the puck. I think Jay Caufield was right after the game in saying that it wasn't all the Pens - it was also the Leafs shoddy defense in their own end.

Malone and Gonchar both stood out tonight - Sergei for his solid play in his own end and Malone for his hard work (he drew two penalties). Fleury also played really well when the Pens needed him most.

Next up: Wednesday at the Igloo versus the Devils

NHL Picks - 10-13-07

Record this month: 9-5
Record this season: 9-5

Stupid Blackhawks just had to go and pull off a stunner in Detroit last night, didn't they? That's going to happen sometimes. The Blackhawks are a good young team.

Also last night:
  • The Caps took their first loss of the year in the Garden against the Rangers.
  • The Kings really suck so far - Boston beat them in LA, 8-6.
  • Calgary won their first game, and it was on the road in Dallas, where it's usually tough to play.
Tonight there are 13 lucky games in the NHL. I like three of them:

Washington at Buffalo - The Sabres got things straightened out the other day against the Isles. The Caps just lost last night in MSG. Look for the losing to continue for the Caps.

Islanders at Philadelphia - This one is a bit iffy for me, but it is Philly's hope opener, and I don't think the Isles are very good.

Boston at San Jose - Home opener for the Sharks, end of a long road trip for the Bruins. Go Sharks.

Game #4 - at Toronto Maple Leafs

Pittsburgh Penguins (1-2-0, 2 pts) at Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2-1, 5 pts)

Last season was unusual for the Pens in that they played really well against the Leafs. They were 3-0-1, kicking the stuffing out of them at the Mellon Arena and going to OT both times in Toronto. I'm expecting to see a close game tonight.

If Marc-Andre Fleury can't get his act together, however, it's going to be a blowout. Fleury hasn't been very sharp yet this season. He's had moments of brilliance, like his sprawling save in the second period of the Habs game, but he's also been inconsistent. He needs to be sharp.

The offense for the Pens has been slow to get going. Crosby only has two points, Staal hasn't scored and the power play is just 3-16.

Toronto has played in two straight blowouts - one on the wrong end against Carolina and the most recent game at home against the Isles.

Mats Sundin is hot right now, with 8 points (2+6) in his first five games. That might be the worst sign for the Pens - the last thing they need is Sundin lighting them up, and we all know he's good for that.

Jason Blake is still looking for his first goal of the season. He usually does pretty well against the Flightless Birds.

Leafs blog - check out the Battle of Ontario for a game day thread. No one in Toronto blog land really seems to do game previews...

Let's Go Pens!

Friday, October 12, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-12-07

Record this month: 9-4
Record this season: 9-4

Last night:
Sabres won in a big way.
The Leafs clubbed the Islanders.
The Canes gave the Sens their first loss, in Ottawa.

There are six games on the schedule tonight. I only like one:

Chicago at Detroit - The Blackhawks gave the Red Wings their only loss of the season. It won't be as nice this time for the Blackhawks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-11-07

Record this month: 8-3
Record this season: 8-3

Last night was 3-0. I don't know how many nights like that I'll see, but it feels nice.

Tonight has 5 games on the slate. I like two of them:

Atlanta at Buffalo - The Sabres have had all week to think about their home and home loss to the Isles. The Thrashers lost last night to the Sens, and they'll play again tonight without Hossa. The Sabres will have their first win of the year.

Phoenix at Nashville - The Predators have won their first two games at home. The Coyotes aren't very good.

Canadiens 3, Penguins 2

The Pens outplayed the Habs early on in this game. They dominated the game for most of the first period. What they didn't do was pepper Price with shots. They seemed to be holding onto the puck, trying to get him to make the first move. They also didn't get many shots from the point. Gonchar wound it up a bit later in the game (though he missed the net most of the time), but that's not going to cut it.

The Habs slowly turned the tide in the second period with a power play goal. I don't blame Fleury for that one - that pass to Plekanec went straight through the middle of the box, from one side to the other. There's no way that pass should go through. I do think Fleury could have stopped the second one, but it was Kovalev, and he is really good.

The Pens made it interesting in the third, but even though they were down 2-1 going into the third, they were out shot 14-7. At home. In the third period. That seems to speak of a lack of effort, but I'm sure that some of it was the aforementioned holding of the puck to get Price to move.

In looking at the stats, Crosby had 6 shots to lead the team, but I'll be cow-kicked if I can remember any of them. I'm guessing most of them were in the garbage area.

Malkin had a sick pass from behind the net on the backhand to Talbot, who wasted no time in ripping a nice shot. Other than that and his late game drive to the net (which HAD to be a penalty, though I haven't seen any good replay), Malkin seemed to be a step slow.

Fleury still seemed a bit shaky. He made some great saves, but also suffered from poor rebound control. I think he'll be okay in the long run. The bigger picture here is that the Pens allowed 35 shots and Marc-Andre stopped 32 of them. A .914 save percentage isn't bad.

I do have some photos from the game, but those will have to wait for a separate post.

Next up: at Toronto on Saturday

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-10-07

Record this month: 5-3
Record this season: 5-3

For just the second time this season, we have a relatively full slate of games. There are a few that I like:

Boston at Anaheim - The Ducks will be out to show everyone that they're better than their current record (1-3-1), and it's their home opener. The Bruins are completely hosed, having to open the season on a five game West Coast swing. They don't have their home opener until October 18th! Does the NHL really have this much trouble with their schedule?

Phoenix at Columbus - The Jackets are looking tough early on with a home victory over the Ducks and a near miss in Minnesota, where it's really tough to win. The Coyotes are not very good.

Florida at Tampa Bay - The Kitty Cats are win-less, and Tampa hasn't lost. Look for both trends to continue tonight.

Game #3 - vs Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens (1-0-1, 3 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-0, 2 pts)

The Pens play their second home game of the year against the Habs. Our Friends to the North are playing their third straight game on the road to open the season. Aren't the NHL schedules goofy this year? Anyway, the Canadiens have earned three out of four points and look pretty tough.

The biggest question for the Pens is which team will show up? We've seen two distinct teams in the first two games. Hopefully it's the team that beat the Ducks.

Habsblog is reporting that prized goal tending prospect Carey Price will make his NHL debut against the Pens.

Sidney Crosby will play after x-rays showed his foot wasn't broken.

Canadiens blog - Check out the aforementioned Habsblog. They seem to have a bunch of ads on the site, but the information is good.

I'll be at this game, so hopefully I'll have some good pictures to put up in the review.

Let's Go Pens!

Monday, October 08, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-9-07

Record this month: 5-3
Record this season: 5-3

Only one game today, Carolina at Toronto, and I'm not willing to pick it. Nothing until tomorrow.

NHL Picks - 10-8-07

Record this month: 4-3
Record this season: 4-3

Only three games on the slate today, but two of them are early afternoon games. This happens on Columbus day here in the US. It also happens on President's day (remember the Pens and Isles on President's day last year).

I like Ottawa to beat Jersey, but I'm not willing to pick that one, mainly because I really don't like the Senators very much.

The Isles hosting the Caps is also an interesting match up, but I don't think it's a good one to pick. I don't think either team is very good over the long haul - both will struggle to make the playoffs.

Here's the game I AM willing to pick:

Edmonton at Detroit - The Oilers have won their first two games, both at home. The Red Wings have played in two straight shoot outs. I'm going with Detroit here, mainly because I think they'll shut down the Oilers offensively.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-7-07

Record this month: 4-3
Record this season: 4-3

I finally crossed over the .500 mark. Hot diggity.

Only one game today on the NHL schedule, and I don't like it (San Jose at Colorado). No picks for today.

Penguins 5, Ducks 4

Above - the Ducks surrender.

Missed this one - only saw the last two minutes. Great win for the Pens. Make sure to check out the video highlights on the Pen's website.

Malone ripped a nasty shot for his first goal of the season.

Army had a Crosby-like move for his first goal. Remember last year when he didn't score until game #23? Wouldn't it be nice to see him chip in with 20-25 goals? Heck, same for Malone...

Sykora had a big night, cleaning up the garbage twice and setting up Malkin on the doorstep.

The Pens looked like they were going to have some trouble holding on, but managed to cling to victory.

Next up: at home on Wednesday versus the Canadiens.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Game #2 - vs Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim Ducks (1-2-1, 3 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1-0, 0 pts)

The Pens didn't get off to a good start last night in Carolina.

The Ducks have had a poor start to their season, splitting with the Kings in the UK and losing in Detroit and Columbus. They get to be another team's home opener for the third time tonight.

Columbus provided a blueprint for how to beat the Ducks. The Blue Jackets jumped all over the Ducks in the first period, out shooting them 16-5 and left the first with a 2-0 lead that they never gave up. The Ducks were tired, and I don't see that getting any better tonight.

The Pens need better goal tending and more consistent offensive pressure. They also need more desperation early in the game. We didn't see that from them last night until the third period. The Ducks are weary, so if the Pens can come out with the same intensity the ended last night's game with, they should come out with a victory.

Ducks blog - check out Battle of California. They're the only one I could find with a preview of tonight's game. They also don't like the Pens because we beat them out for the magic ball that let us draft Sidney Crosby.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 10-6-07

Record this month - 3-3
Record this season - 3-3

You might think that if you had to pick a game or two that it wouldn't be very hard. I'm learning that's not the case. Not a complete surprise, to say the least.

There is a full slate of games tonight with some interesting matchups. The Isles and Sabres play on Long Island, a night after the Isles spoiled the Sabres home debut. The Rangers and Senators play in Ottawa. Detroit plays in Chicago, as the Blackhawks try to get in the win column. I don't really like any of these games to pick. Here's the game I do like:

Columbus at Minnesota - The Blue Jackets just played last night in their home opener. Minnesota is tough at home and Backstrom picked up right where he left off last season with a shutout on Wednesday.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1

Not much to say about this one. The Canes kicked the stuffing out of the Pens tonight, largely due to the play of Cam Ward.

The Pens had a good first period, but still found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-0 deficit. There were a couple of key moments, most notably Christensen hitting the crossbar and Roberts being stymied in the crease, that went against the Pens. The Canes picked up a few goals that were a bit more luck than anything and the Pens were in trouble.

It was very similar in feeling to the opening of the 2005-2006 season against the Devils, when Brodeur stopped everything that came his way.

Tomorrow is another day. The Pens will be back in gear against the Ducks tomorrow night. You could feel their intensity pick up during the third. That should carry over into tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Game #1 - at Carolina Hurricanes

Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0) at Carolina Hurricanes (0-0-1, 1 pt)

Carolina lost their home opener in OT, so they're going to be angry. They were also lit up like a Christmas tree on the power play by the Habs. Here's hoping the Pens can do the same.

The Pens, for their part, welcome some new faces. Sydor, Hall and Sykora will all make their Penguins' debut. If there's an offensive weakness, it's that there are only three right-handed players, and none of them are defensemen or big time goal scorers. Do you know who they are? Think quick before you read...

Armstrong, Hall and Laraque

Another quick fun fact - the Pens have four guys that are 6'4", which is the tallest on the team. Know who those four guys are? Three are pretty easy - Staal, Malone and Whitney. The fourth? Dany Sabourin! I didn't know that...

Hurricanes blog - Take a look at Stormbringer's Blog of Madness. She has some thoughts on the loss to the Canadiens and the crappy announcers she had to put up with.

This will be tough for the Pens. Playing in Carolina under the shadow of Ron Francis is always difficult.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 10-5-07

Record this month: 2-2
Record this season: 2-2

I've been burned in OT and the shoot out in my two losses the last two nights.

As a general rule, I won't pick a Pens game unless I feel REALLY strongly about it. Wagering on the home team is never a good idea, as you're prone to being less than objective.

Only 6 games tonight, though I like two of them:

Boston at Dallas - The Stars lost their opener to Paul Stastny, er, I mean, the Avalanche. The Bruins might be better, but it is the home opener in Dallas.

New York Islanders at Buffalo - Yes, the Sabres are depleted, but the Isles still aren't in the same class.

NHL Picks - 10-4-07

Record this month: 1-1
Record this season: 1-1

The NHL season is starting slowly - only 4 games on opening night, 8 tonight and 6 tomorrow night. Things don't really get going until Saturday (14 games).

Here are the picks for today:

Florida at New York Rangers - As much as I don't like the Rangers, they have improved during the off-season (even if they overpaid for Gomez). Florida is, well, Florida. They're not very good yet. They traded for Vokoun, but Olli Jokinen isn't the same player on the road.

San Jose at Edmonton - The Sharks are largely the same, but so are the Oilers. Okay, to be fair, the Oilers did overpay for Dustin Penner and signed power play threat (and even-strength liability) Sheldon Souray. That's still not going to be enough, even opening up at home.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

NHL Picks - 10-3-07

In an attempt to prove that I know absolutely nothing, I'm going to try picking one or two games per night this season. If there aren't any games I like, I won't pick any.

Opening night (not counting those games in the UK) has several intriguing match ups. My picks are in bold.

Anaheim at Detroit - I'm taking Detroit to win at home against the travel-weary Ducks. Anaheim is without Giguere (though they do have Bryzgalov). Detroit has a guy that is 45 years old (Chelios) and a goaltender that might see more shots by going drinking with a priest.

Montreal at Carolina - Montreal stumbled their way out of a playoff spot last year, and even though they dumped Souray (yay), I still don't like them. I think Carolina is due for a return to the playoffs this year. I'm hoping Montreal isn't.

525,600 minutes... times two

It was two years ago that I started this blog. Back then, there weren't nearly as many blogs about the Pens as there are today. It seems like everyone and their brother has started one, but that's not a bad thing. It raises the overall quality of the writing, because people don't stick around to read crap.

Anyway, after a break of about a month, I'm back and ready for the new hockey season. I'm excited to watch the Pens this weekend, and I'll have the normal preview / recap structure going this year, along with some more statistical madness, if I can get motivated enough.