Friday, November 30, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-30-07

Record Wednesday: 0-2
Record this month: 21-23
Record this season: 35-34

I was ready give up after the Kings won in San Jose - AGAIN - and Buffalo allowed three third period goals to lose to the Blues. Then I remember this is just for fun. So I'm back at it.

There are seven games on the schedule tonight. I'm two games under .500 for the month, so I'm picking three in the hopes that I can nail all three of them.

Washington at Carolina - The Canes won't lose again to the Caps, especially not at home. Go Canes.

Dallas at Pittsburgh - I almost never pick a game involving the Pens, but I need one, and so do they. Go Pens.

Colorado at San Jose - I think I'm picking the Sharks at home until they manage to win one. Call it persistence or stupidity, just make sure you also call it a win for the Sharks. Go Sharks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Game #24 - vs Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars (13-8-4, 30 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (10-11-2, 22 pts)

The Pens have been playing better, there's no doubt. They're 3-1-1 in the past 5 games. This is a team that is still under .500 and is second from the bottom in the conference. They have been on a hot streak, but they've yet to prove it's anything more than a streak.

The Stars are a perfect model for the Pens to follow in their improved play. On Friday, November 2nd, they lost 5-0 at home to Phoenix (before Phoenix got Bryzgalov) to fall to 5-6-2. Since that point, they are 8-2-2, largely due to their defense and goal tending. They'll put up some scoring occasionally, but they mostly score three or fewer.

There's lots of talk about Mark Recchi and Daryl Sydor - I think this isn't the best thing to talk about right now. This team doesn't need any distractions - they need to be focused on building a nice long streak of consistently good play.

Stars blog - five for fighting
Aside from having a name that matches the one-hit wonder, Tracey is a beat writer covering the Stars. Good perspective on the blog. She's also surprised that it's windy here in Pittsburgh - it's always windy in the fall... something has to mess with me and my leaf blower!

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 11-28-07

Record this month: 21-21
Record this season: 35-32

The last time I picked games (last Saturday), I went 0-3. That, combined with a lack of Pens games and a lack of time has led me to avoid any picks so far this week.

Until now.

Three days worth of games remaining in November. Can I get the record over .500 for the month? Boy I hope so...

There are 9 games on the schedule tonight. I'm picking two.

St Louis at Buffalo - The Sabres have won 5 straight. The Blues are hot too, but I'm going with the Sabres at home.

Los Angeles at San Jose - This is my newest obsession. The Kings have won in San Jose twice this year. It won't happen tonight. Go Sharks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Penguins 5, Thrashers 0

Missed most of this one - only saw the last bit of the third, and by then it was all decided.

Great to see Fleury get the shutout.

Nice to see some balanced scoring, as well as seeing Crosby unleash the one-timer. That's not something you see him do very much.

Hopefully Army's play will keep him in the lineup for an extended stretch. It's hard not to like the guy for the way he plays.

Nothing for the Pens until Friday, when they play Dallas.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-24-07

Record last night: 1-2
Record this month: 21-18
Record this season: 35-29

Last night in the NHL:
  • Washington won their first game under their new coach, Bruce Bordeau.
  • Columbus went into Minnesota and won - not an easy task.
  • The Stars saved my night by beating the Leafs.
  • Phoenix continued their road magic as Bryzgalov beat his former team, in a shoot out no less.
There are 12 games scheduled for today. I like three.

Philadelphia at Ottawa - The Sens rebound from consecutive losses and beat the Flyers at home. Go Sens.

Carolina at Washington - I usually don't pick road teams, but I don't think the Caps can do it twice in a row. Go Canes.

Los Angeles at San Jose - The Sharks are getting things straightened out, while the Kings are sinking. Go Sharks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Game #23 - vs Atlanta Thrashers

Atlanta Thrashers (11-11-0, 22 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (9-11-2, 20 pts)

The mini-jerseys worked with the Sens game, so why not do them again? Plus, I have mini-jerseys for both the Pens and Thrashers, so that makes it easier.

Don't look now, but the Pens are 2-1-1 in their last four games. That sounds like the beginning of a reversal of fortune. I'm not counting the chickens before they're hatched. The Thrashers are tough since they dumped their coach.

Despite losing 3-0 last night to New Jersey, the Thrashers are 11-5 with GM Waddell behind the bench. They're even better on the road, having won 4 in a row and 6 of their past 7.

So what has been the difference for the Thrashers? They'll still give up goals in droves sometimes, but they're scoring has been more consistent. Their power play has started to heat up too, but it hasn't been very consistent. Overall, they've improved their play at even strength, and that's where the Pens will have to beat them tonight.

I'm not sure who the goalie will be tonight - the Post-Gazette is reporting Sabourin as the probable goalie and the Trib is saying it will be Fleury. What that probably means is that Molinari thinks it should be Sabu and Rossi thinks it should be Fleury.

Thrashers blog - Talking Thrash
George has a funny post about the Thrashers record at home when they have a sellout. Here's a hint - it's not good.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 11-23-07

Record last night: 0-0
Record this month: 20-17
Record this season: 34-27

I'm not counting the Pens win over Ottawa in the official standings. I was 1-2 on Wednesday night, when both Columbus and Minnesota lost at home. Blech.

Today there are 10 games on the schedule. Some of them start early (games in Boston and Philly start at 12:00 and 1:00 respectively). I like three games today.

Washington at Philadelphia - New coach for the Caps, same old result. Philly is too good at home for Washington to win (though the new coach thing does make me a bit nervous). Go Flyers.

Columbus at Minnesota - Columbus isn't as good on the road, and Leclaire is struggling. Go Wild.

Toronto at Dallas - Picking East vs West games make me nervous, but I like this match up - Dallas plays well at home, and the Leafs aren't very disciplined. Go Stars.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Penguins 6, Senators 5 (OT - SO - 2-1)

The Pens twice rallied from two goal deficits tonight. They didn't back down, earned their way into OT and got to a shoot out. Each time you thought the team was done, they found a way to stay alive for another chance. Think about these parts of the game:
  • The Sens go up 2-0 and Fleury is pulled. The Pens rally to take the lead 3-2.
  • The Sens score three in a row to take the lead 5-3. The Pens rally to tie the game at 5.
  • The Sens threaten late in OT with a 2 on 1 and Eaton makes two great defensive plays.
  • The Sens score on their first shoot out attempt (Spezza got his first SO goal in his career), but Sabourin doesn't allow another one (the Sens hit two posts).
We haven't seen this kind of determination paired with execution all season. The Pens simply wouldn't stop, and tonight things finally went well for them.

One particular play from tonight stands out - Gonchar's goal. We were talking with Hoss last night while watching the Pens lose to the Devils, and he (Hoss) commented that Gonchar seems really reluctant to jump into the play in the 5-on-5. Sarge must have felt the psychic vibes, because jumping into the play is EXACTLY what he did, scoring on a one-timer from a great feed by Army.

Several guys had good games tonight, especially some of the secondary players like Malone and Armstrong. Kennedy had another one of his turning goals that seem to take goalies by surprise. I think that could wind up being the 2007 version of the Christensen wrist shot (though it's not quite as easy to get off).

I'm reminded of the game last year against the Capitals where the Pens were down 4-0 and battled back to win the game in a shoot out. That win turned around a middling season and got the Pens going in the right direction. Let's hope this one can do the same.

Great win, and even nicer considering it was the top team in the NHL they beat.

Next up: Iyla Kovalchuk and the Thrashers come to town on Saturday.

NHL Picks - 11-22-07

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone that celebrates the holiday. Since it's a special day, there are no records, no serious picks, nothing like that at all. Just one pick for the day:

Pittsburgh at Ottawa - LET'S GO PENS!

Regular picks posting will resume tomorrow.

Game #22 - at Ottawa Senators

Pittsburgh Penguins (8-11-2, 18 pts) at Ottawa Senators (16-4-0, 32 pts)

The Pens and Sens are both coming off of losses last night. The Sens lost on the road in Buffalo, while the Pens dropped a 2-1 decision at home against the Devils.

Let's put this one in realistic terms - the Pens will be lucky to get out with a point. The way they've been struggling to put the puck in the net, combined with the stellar goal tending of Gerber (the likely starter) makes this a tough match up.

The Sens seem to be willing to play in any style of game. They've been equally successful this year in games with 50 shots as they've been in games with 80. They don't have a noticeable weakness, except that their special teams haven't been performing as well of late (the PK has allowed a goal in 7 games and the PP has been struggling a bit). With the way the Pens haven't been drawing many penalties lately, I'm not sure the Sens struggles on the PK will matter.

Senators blog - Scarlett Ice
Sherry has the panic meter set on low for the Sens after last night's loss. Hey, the Sens lost two of three on their road trip! Maybe that setting should be a little higher. Wonder where it would be for the Pens? Maybe it's best not to think about it...

Let's Go Pens!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Devils 2, Penguins 1

It's still early in the season. Those were the only words spoken by Michel Therrien in his post game remarks. He said them twice, the second time more slowly than the first, in response to two questions from reporters (both questions were about slow starts and being in last place). He also appeared to stare down the second guy who asked if they expected to be in last place at this point in the season.

It wasn't quite a meltdown from Coach Therrien, but a few more losses and there's no telling what we'll see.

But, this is a game review, so let's talk about the game.

The Pens played well. They were betrayed by their special teams - the couldn't come up with a timely stop or a timely goal. That was one of the main differences in the game.

The other big difference between the teams was the Devils have Martin Brodeur. He was great tonight, and the Pens were just a little bit off. Whitney hit the post of an open cage, Letang blew through Colin White and shot the puck into Brodeur's glove, Sid missed a breakaway attempt and Sykora couldn't lift the puck quite enough on a great backhand shot.

In short, the Pens had great scoring chances and couldn't cash in enough to tie the game or take the lead early on.

Fleury played well tonight. He made the saves you'd think he would. He didn't allow many rebounds that were out in front of him - most of them were directed to the corners.

Army played well in his return. Both he and Gary Roberts played well, making the simple plays and establishing a presence on the fore check.

I don't know about anyone else, but it feels like all of the ingredients are there for the Pens. They're not playing poorly - they're just not quite able to get it done. I still think they'll get there, and do so in enough time to at least make the playoffs this year.

Next up: Off to Thanksgiving dinner in Ottawa, where 6-8" of snow is expected.

NHL Picks - 11-21-07

Record last night: 0-0
Record this month: 19-15
Record this season: 33-25

Last night in the NHL:
  • Toronto continues to suck, allowing three third period goals and losing 4-2.
  • Edmonton and Calgary both get home wins. Both were tough places to play in previous years. Neither has been so far this year. Maybe this is the reversal they need.
There are 11 games on the schedule tonight. I like three:

St Louis at Detroit - The Wings have lost three in a row to the Blues. They haven't lost four in a row since the early 1990s. They won't let that change. Go Wings.

Florida at Columbus - The Kitty Cats managed to win a road game recently. They won't do it again - the Blue Jackets are good at home. Go Blue Jackets.

Vancouver at Minnesota - The Canucks are hot, and they've been good on the road this year. The Wild will be ticked after Ohlund's slash to Mikko Koivu, and that counts for more in my book. Go Wild.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'm giving thanks and picking the Pens game (in Ottawa, no less). Yikes!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Game #21 - vs New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils (8-10-2, 18 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (8-10-2, 18 pts)


Pens against the Devils! Battle for the Basement!

That has a great ring to it, no? Okay - no, not really.

There's a secret to beating the Devils - they haven't won a low-scoring game yet this year. If they score fewer than three goals, they lose. Score three or more, and they've won all but one, which they lost in OT. Sounds like a good blueprint.

For the Pens, during their 3-9-2 stretch, they only time they've won is when they've held the opposition under three goals. In fact, they're 3-0 when the other team scores less than three. If they score three or more, the Pens are 0-9-2.

Two great tastes that taste great together. Now let's see if the Pens can execute.

I'll be glad when the NHL stops with the "play everyone in your division 8 times" trick - I'm already tired of the Devils.

Devils blog - Interchangeable Parts - Check out their Devils quarter season review, done in a slightly different style.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 11-20-07

Record last night: 2-1
Record this month: 19-15
Record this season: 33-25

This one is late. Last night, the Blues and Stars won at home, while the Rangers lost to the Isles. More interestingly, the Panthers won on the road. Boy, do the Caps suck right now! The Thrashers continued their turn around, though Tampa usually isn't very good away from home.

No picks tonight - only three games and I don't like any of them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-19-07

Record Saturday: 1-2
Record this month: 17-14
Record this season: 31-24

Skipped a day. Don't think I would have picked any games yesterday anyhow. Maybe Minnesota, because Colorado can't seem to win on the road, but whatever.

Tonight there are six games in the NHL. I'm picking three:

Islanders at Rangers - The Rangers are great at home. The Islanders can't score. Go Rangers.

Nashville at St Louis - The Blues have been inconsistent this year, but they won the road half of the home and home series with Nashville. Now I think they'll win the home half. Go Blues.

Los Angeles at Dallas - Dallas can't score, but they are playing the Kings, who can't seem to win consistently. Go Stars.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rangers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

In OT, when Gonchar took the puck in deep, behind Lundqvist, and threw a centering pass, I had visions of Laraque's centering pass that burned the Pens against the Devils. The end result was the same. Neither of the forwards (Christensen and Sykora) rotated back, and the Rangers took off the other way. Strangely, it was the two defensemen that were involved, with Mara making a great pass across to Strudwick. You wouldn't have known that Strudwick didn't have any points this season.

In the end, I was glad to see the Pens get a point. It was also good to see them manage to get the tying goal and get to OT.

It was just as disappointing to see them give up yet another two goal lead.

Letang seems to be feeling his way through these games. I think he'll be fine with more time, and he seems to have a great shot.

Ruutu might be back in the doghouse - after he took the extra two minutes in his fight with Dubinsky, he only played one more shift in the game.

One other thing - I wonder the last time there were four goals all scored by defensemen. I can't see that happening very often. I think only one could be considered weak on Fleury's part...

I thought it was a bit surprising to see Recchi back on the ice. Usually Therrien rides the winning lineup...

Next up: the Devils visit the Igloo on Wednesday. I imagine there will be a few spirited practices between now and then...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-17-07

Record last night: 2-1
Record this month: 16-12
Record this season: 30-22

Yesterday in the NHL:
  • Tampa trounced Washington.
  • Buffalo managed a win at home on a Friday night! Wow!
  • Brodeur couldn't get any offense and lost 1-0.
  • Atlanta went into Carolina and shut them out. Pretty impressive.
There are 10 games tonight. I'm picking three:

Ottawa at Toronto - The Leafs are really struggling and the Senators usually kick their butt. Go Sens.

Florida at Carolina - The Kitty Cats haven't won in Carolina since before the lockout (13 straight). Go Canes.

Chicago at Detroit - This one makes me nervous, but I can't stay away. I don't think the Hawks can beat the Red Wings in four straight games from the start of the season, especially in Detroit.

Game #20 - vs New York Rangers

New York Rangers (11-7-1, 23 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (8-10-1, 17 pts)


I wasn't going to use Fleury and Lundqvist, but they were consecutive cards in a pack of Upper Deck Artifacts. I figured that was good enough.

The Rangers come to town having won three straight games on the road, four straight overall and 8 of their past 9. They've made quite a turn-around from their slow start.

The Pens are hoping that their win over the Islanders on Thursday is the spark to fuel their own revival. They were slumping badly before winning at home against the Isles. Now they'll try to finish off the other team from New York.

As usual, the Pens need to avoid the shootout against Lundqvist. He's stopped 8 of 9 shots in the shootout so far this season.

A stat I didn't realize was that the Rangers have lost three straight here, and five of the past six. Here's hoping that streak will continue.

Rangers blog - New York Rangers Blog - check out the new Rangers blog - they're quite prolific with 67 posts so far in the month of November!

Let's Go Pens!

Friday, November 16, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-16-07

Record last night: 3-0
Record this month: 14-11
Record this season: 28-21

Last night in the NHL:
  • San Jose killed Phoenix on the road.
  • The Sens held on to beat the Sabres.
  • Nashville won in OT at home against Chicago.
Good night - 3-0 is nice anytime it happens.

Tonight, there are seven games on the slate. I'm taking three:

New York Islanders at New Jersey - Brodeur has to get his 500th sometime, right?

Montreal at Buffalo - I'm going to keep picking Buffalo on Friday night home games until they win one. It's an obsession. The Devils pick might fall in the same category, come to think of it...

Washington at Tampa Bay - Washington is the worst in the East (tied with Buffalo), and the Lightning are good at home.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Penguins 3, Islanders 2

Missed this one.

I was amazed to see Recchi and Sydor were scratched. Glad to see Therrien isn't afraid to get the team's attention.

Even more glad to see the Pens got the win.

Better yet to see three goals from guys not named Crosby or Malkin. Now if Staal can just get going...

NHL Picks - 11-15-07

Record last night: 0-2
Record this month: 11-11
Record this season: 25-21

Last night in the NHL:
  • The Devils couldn't seal the deal at home and get Brodeur his 500th win.
  • The Blue Jackets showed they're not dead yet, especially at home. The game, though it was 4-2, featured a grand total of 39 shots. That's one shot every 1.5 minutes. zzzzzzzzzz....
  • The Lightning put up FIVE second period goals on the Canes.
Tonight there are 9 games. I'm picking three:

Chicago at Nashville - The Preds are on the rebound, while the Hawks lost last night.

Buffalo at Ottawa - Can you believe the Sabres are last in the conference? Spezza is back. Go Sens.

San Jose at Phoenix - The Sharks are good on the road, and haven't lost to Phoenix since 2006.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Game #19 - vs New York Islanders

New York Islanders (9-5-0, 18 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (7-10-1, 15 pts)


The Pens are just three points behind the Isles, but the Islanders have four games in hand over the Pens. It feels a bit like last year, when the Pens had games in hand against just about everyone for much of the year. This year it's a different story, and the Pens need to start to make hay, as they won't have the luxury of extra games this year.

The Isles, despite having lost to Philly on Monday, have won six of their past eight games. They're not quite the same on the road, however, having won only two games on the road all year.

The Islanders have also been staying light on the penalties. They've faced only 10 short handed situations in the last five games, killing off nine of those chances. The Pens will likely need to do some damage at even-strength.

The Pens, for their part, have been in a tailspin. They are just 2-8-1 in their last 11 games. They're struggling in just about every facet of the game. They really need someone other than Crosby and Malkin to step up and score. They need a big time performance from between the pipes, no matter whether it's Fleury or Sabourin. They need increased offense on the power play. They need Kris Letang to contribute. We're not going to get all of that in one game, so let's just ask for the win to start with.

Islanders Blog - The Islanders have this thing called the Blog Box. The blogs they highlight (I think they sit in a special box at the games to cover the team) don't seem to be on the ball - most of them don't update with any kind of frequency, or recap their games. For a blog that looks good from that list, check out Isles Blogger. Mike takes some nice photos and writes about the games he covers. Nice site.

Let's Go Pens!

Pens New Arena updated info

Since I've been getting about 30 bazillion (that's a technical term) search results for the Penguins new arena, I'll at least point you all to the newest information.

Take a look at the article on, and then look at the photo gallery - that's the best because it shows you what the site currently looks like followed by an artists rendering of what it will look like afterwards.

Now, a few fun facts:
  • The arena will seat 18,500 - about 1,500 more than the Igloo currently holds.
  • There will be an adjacent 500 space parking garage. It's further towards Duquesne than the Igloo is right now... there goes my regular parking at DU.
  • It's on pace to open in the fall of 2010.

NHL Picks - 11-14-07

Record last night: 1-1
Record this month: 11-9
Record this season: 25-19

Yesterday in the NHL (I always hear this as "Previously on Lost"):
  • The Thrashers went to OT to beat the Kitty Cats.
  • The Red Wings had a meltdown in the second period, allowing four goals (Hasek was yanked in the second), and lost in St Louis.
Two picks tonight:

New York Rangers at New Jersey - Brodeur returns to the net and gets win #500 at home.

Chicago at Columbus - The Blue Jackets will continue to slump as Chicago builds momentum from their win over Detroit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pens recall D Kris Letang, demote two

The Pens recalled Kris Letang from Wilkes-Barre. He fills the obvious need of a right-handed shot from the blue line. He's not here to sit, so I'd expect that we'll see either Scuderi or Sydor sit down (unless there's an injury we don't know about).

The two players sent to Wilkes-Barre were Alain Nasreddine and Tyler Kennedy. With the games that Ruutu and Laraque played against the Devils, Kennedy is probably not needed. Nasreddine just couldn't get any playing time. He has to clear waivers, but I don't think that will be an issue.

NHL Picks - 11-13-07

Record last night: 0-0
Record this month: 10-8
Record this season: 24-18

  • Nashville continued their turnaround with a nice win in Columbus. Is the bloom off of the rose in Blue Jacket land?
  • The bloom is certainly off in Phoenix (was it ever on?) as they lost in San Jose. The Coyotes, who had been good on the road early on are not simply not good anywhere.
  • The Canes manage to win one in Florida, though they lost Erik Cole.
Tonight there are five games on the slate. I'm taking two:

Florida at Atlanta - The Kitty Cats lost at home last night. They'll lose again tonight at the much-improved Thrashers.

Detroit at St Louis - The Blues have lost 4 of their past 5. The Red Wings have killed anyone that's not a Blackhawk or Duck. The Wings have struggled in St Louis recently, but I think they'll get this one.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Devils 3, Penguins 2

Good effort tonight. Same result.

The Pens got behind the eight ball in the first period... again. Travis Zajac started things on what can only be called a soft goal (though Sabourin was really good most of the night), beating Dany by going to the 5-hole.

On the PK later in the period, Mark Eaton slips on the crappy ice (it was bad all night), allowing Brian Gionta to walk straight towards the net. More importantly, Gionta had a pretty clear lane to pass across the ice to Zach Parise. Sabourin had no chance once the pass went though, though you'd like to see him poke-check the pass on it's way there.

The Pens couldn't seem to get anything going until the fourth line created some havoc. According to the score sheet, Ruutu had 4 hits and Laraque had 7. The momentum started to shift when Ruutu knocked Vishnevski (I think) into his own bench. That led to an extended shift in the offensive zone for the fourth line guys, eventually drawing a penalty.

The Pens didn't score on the ensuing power play, but Sidney Crosby did, just a few seconds after the power play ended on a beautiful move (go see the video at

In the third, the Pens managed to tie the game on a power play goal by Evgeni Malkin. He blasted the puck past Weekes, and you seemed to have the feeling that he blasted the Pens out of their frustration.

That lasted until Laraque threw an ill-advised centering pass that no one was able to reach. The Devils broke back three-on-two, and Elias buried a cross-ice pass on a terrific shot. He roofed it. Sabourin again had no chance. Game over.

Nice to see the lines worked out pretty well. The fourth liners, especially, were able to generate some consistent pressure.

It would be nice if someone other than Crosby or Malkin could score some goals.

Next up: The Isles visit the Igloo on Thursday.

NHL Picks - 11-12-07

Record last night: 0-0
Record this month: 10-8
Record this season: 24-18

Yesterday, the Blackhawks continued their mysterious domination of the Red Wings, improving to 3-0 against them. The Avalanche beat the Wild in Colorado. Minnesota is still struggling, especially away from home.

Tonight there are five games on the docket. I don't like any of them. I'm tempted by the Canes in Florida, but the Kitty Cats are tough at home, and have already beat the Canes there this season. Phoenix have been great on the road this year, but they're playing the second of two straight in San Jose (yet another weird scheduling quirk) and they lost the first one.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Game #18 - vs New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils (6-8-2, 14 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (7-9-1, 15 pts)


UPDATED - line combinations are up at Pittsburgh Sports Insider. Army is a healthy scratch. Sid and Malkin are split up.

The Devils have the chance to kick the Pens around, repaying them for the thrashing they received at home last week. With the way the Pens have been playing lately, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to see that happening.

Since starting the season 5-3, the Pens have struggled, going just 2-6-1 over the last nine games. Their penalty kill, reliable until recently, has allowed 6 goals in two games. Their power play has been unable to get the timely goal.

There is hope on the horizon. The Devils are in town. They are 0-3-2 in their last five on the road (their last road win was here in Pittsburgh on October 17th).

The Devils have also been taking penalties at a rate that is alarming, for them. They've allowed a power play goal in three straight games.

The key is to get a lead on the Devils. They like to deploy an aggressive fore check, get the lead, and then use their trap in the third period. If they get to deploy that trap, the Pens will have a hard time winning the game.

Devils blog - Fire and Ice - Tom fills us in on the availability of Lagenbrunner and Colin White.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 11-11-07

Record last night: 2-1
Record this month: 10-8
Record this season: 24-18

Yesterday in the NHL, the Sens and Canes got back on the win track. The Flames continue to sputter. Other than Detroit and maybe Columbus, I should stay away from the Western Conference. There's no rhyme or reason to their games right now, and no one is doing very well.

No picks today - just two games and I'm not willing to pick either one. I am interested to see if the Wild can win on the road, especially in Colorado.

Flyers 5, Penguins 2

There's really not much to say right now about the Pens. They're struggling. There's no doubt about that. I'm waiting for the Therrien meltdown, just like he did two years ago after he was first hired.

The penalty kill allowed four goals last night. They've now allowed six in two games. It has been an unexpected meltdown, even though they were weak on the PK away from home last year.

The only other thing to note was the nice play by Ryan Whitney on the Pens first goal. He drove to the net with the puck and fed a great cross-ice pass to Malkin to bang into an empty net. He was missed in the four games he was absent.

Next up: Monday at home against the Devils

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-10-07

Record last night: 1-1
Record this month: 8-7
Record this season: 22-17

Last night the Red Wings put the upstart Blue Jackets back in their place. The Canucks managed to win a home game and Atlanta continued it's improvement by winning in Florida.

The Sabres somehow lost at home on a Friday night AGAIN. This time they were shut out by Andrew Raycroft and the Leafs. That's really embarrassing. This is a quote from the ESPN writeup on the game:
Raycroft needed to turn aside only six shots in the final frame, thanks to a suffocating defense that neutralized the Sabres' pop-gun offense.
How bad is it when you can only manage 6 shots in the third period against the Leafs?

Tonight there are 11 games on the NHL schedule. I like three of them:

Edmonton at Calgary - one reason to pick the Flames - Kiprusoff. He has dominated the Oilers.

Montreal at Ottawa - The Sens just had a bad home loss against the Caps. They'll be ticked. Montreal will be a victim.

Carolina at Atlanta - I don't often pick road teams, but I think the resurgent Thrashers are due for a bit of a letdown. The Canes will be unhappy after their home loss to Tampa.

Game #17 - at Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins (7-8-1, 15 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (9-6, 18 pts)


The Flyers beat the Penguins earlier in the week, assuring the Pens won't go undefeated against them this year. Now it's the Pens' turn to do the same.

The Pens need to come out tonight with a sense of urgency. They need to finish off their checks, pepper Biron with shots and get to the net for the rebounds. The effort in the third period against the Rangers was great to see, but it needs to be there for 60 minutes.

The Flyers haven't lost at home yet this year, though they've only played there four times. The last time they were at home was three weeks ago.

Simon Gagne is uncertain for this game. He sat out Thursday after he experienced some dizziness, evidently due to a collision with Gary Roberts.

Flyers blog - check out Flyers Goal Scored By. Ryan has a nice post from Thursday's game, asking pertinent questions to several Flyers.

Let's Go Pens!

Friday, November 09, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-9-07

Record last night: 0-2
Record this month: 7-6
Record this season: 21-16
P/L Yesterday: (13.85)

The fickle winds of fate blew the wrong way last night as both Ottawa and Carolina lost at home by big margins. I'm tempted to pick the underdog sometimes, but I can't ever bring myself to do it.

Tonight in the NHL there are 6 games. I'm taking two:

Toronto at Buffalo - Twice so far this season I've been burned by Buffalo at home on a Friday night (they lost to Columbus and Florida). I'm not backing down - these guys will win one of these games! Go Sabres.

Columbus at Detroit - The Wings almost blew the game against Nashville on Wednesday. Hasek will be back in net, and he's not been as good as Osgood this year. Leclaire has been insane for Columbus lately. I'm still taking the Wings at home in a statement game.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rangers 4, Penguins 2

Too little, too late. That's the story of this game.

The Rangers staged a jail break against the Pens in the first period. After the shots were tied at 4-4, the Rangers ran roughshod. The shots at the end of the first were 22-6, and the Pens were down 2-1. There's no way you can expect to win on the road when you play a first period like that. It was only due to some good goaltending that the Pens were within one goal.

Things slowed down a bit in the second period, and the Rangers added a third goal on the power play by the latest most infuriating player - Sean Avery (even the name is annoying). That would prove to be enough.

The Pens turned the momentum in the third, but it's tough when you're down by three goals. They managed to make it 4-2, but couldn't get any closer. This was due in large part to the play of Lundqvist. He made several HUGE saves, the biggest of which was robbing Sykora on the doorstep.

A few thoughts:
  • It was a great third period from the Pens, but where was that effort the first 40 minutes?
  • How do you give up four goals, two of them on the power play, to the Rangers? They haven't been able to score all year.
  • Can Laraque please get Avery to fight? Isn't that why BGL is there?
  • At the risk of being struck by lightning, one of the early turning points was the double minor taken by Roberts. He lost his cool with Avery and took an extra two. Not good from one of the GOM (Grumpy Old Men).
The Pens are now under .500, and are 2-5-1 in their past 8 games. This is not going well recently.

Next up: The Pens try to break out of their recent slump in the lovely city of Philadelphia on Saturday.

NHL Picks - 11-8-07

Record last night: 2-0
Record this month: 7-4
Record this season: 21-14
P/L Yesterday: 5.85

Yesterday, both of my picks went to a shoot out, but both Detroit and Colorado were able to pull it out. I wonder if there's any correlation between home ice and shoot out results... In other games, Anaheim continues to puzzle, and they lost at home to Phoenix. San Jose lost at home to Dallas... that division is WIDE open, because they all can't get out of their own way right now.

Tonight there are seven games on the schedule. I'm picking the Sens today - guess I'll keep doing that until they burn me. Here are the picks:

Tampa Bay at Carolina - The Bolts have won their last three in Carolina, but they haven't won on the road yet this season. They just played last night, so I'm going with the Canes.

Washington at Ottawa - This one shouldn't be close. Go Sens.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Game #16 - at New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins (7-7-1, 15 pts) at New York Rangers (7-7-1, 15 pts)


The Pens are still trying to find that nice consistent effort from night to night. They're really good one night, and pretty average (or even bad) the next night. They're in every game, but the simple fact is they've lost five out of their past seven and are in danger of slipping under .500 if they don't pull out a win tonight. That won't be easy.

The Rangers have won 5 of their past 7 games, and are very good at home this year (7-2). They're still not scoring goals, however. They've only managed two or fewer in each of the last four games. They've scored the fewest goals in the NHL (27 in 15 games). Their PK has been great, averaging almost 90% for the season, but their power play has been just average (about 15%).

I'd imagine we'll see Fleury tonight, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Colby or Jarkko back in the lineup either.

Rangers blog - Check out Ranger Pundit. There's a nice writeup of the road miseries of the Rangers.

Let's Go Pens!

Flyers 3, Penguins 1

The magic couldn't last forever.

After a perfect 8-0 against the Flyers last season, the Pens fell victim to the fast start of the Flyers tonight. They gave up two early goals and were down 2-0. At the end of the first period, they managed to get one and get back into the game. It wasn't good enough.

Biron made a big save on Gonchar from the high slot in the second period. This led to a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Flyers. Sabourin, who played reasonably well, committed the cardinal sin for a goalie - he gave up a short side goal from the shooter on a two on one. That was a back breaker.

The Flyers didn't really dominate to put the game away - they just played a solid road game. They allowed only 8 shots in the third period. The Pens, despite having FIVE power play chances after the score was 3-1, couldn't punch one in. Biron was on fire tonight.

The Pens streak of power play goals to start the season ends at 14 games. They continue to hang around .500, and continue to miss Ryan Whitney, whose offensive talents were visibly missed tonight.

Next up: no rest for the Pens - they're in MSG tomorrow night against the Rangers

NHL Picks - 11-7-07

Record last night: 0-0
Record this month: 5-4
Record this season: 19-14
P/L Yesterday: 0.00

Looks like I should have gone with the Sens last night - they killed the Maple Leafs, even though the Leafs did out shoot the Sens 31-21. The Thrashers continued their turn-around with a 2-1 win at home against the Caps.

Tonight there are eight games on the slate. I'm going with two of them:

Nashville at Detroit - $7.00 - Yeah, the Preds are hot right now, winning their last three on the road. Detroit isn't Edmonton, Chicago or Vancouver, however. I'd be lying if I said this one didn't make me a bit nervous. Go Wings.

Edmonton at Colorado - $7.15 - The Avs hope to continue their home domination with a game they need if they seriously hope to contend for the division.

Game #15 - vs Philadelpha Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers (8-5-0, 16 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (7-6-1, 15 pts)


The Flyers are going to be hopping tonight. They'll certainly want to change the tenor of these games from the 8 losses last year. I'd expect that to involve lots of hitting and aggressive play. Fortunately, one of the main aggressors, Derian Hatcher, is hurt right now. Supposedly, he has cartilage damage in his knee, but I think he may be taking some time off to do some acting in this new show.

There's no doubt, the Flyers are much improved this year. They've added some good talent in Briere, Hartnell, Lupul and Timonen. They still have Simon Gagne and Martin Biron is playing really well.

The Pens, for their part, just laid a convincing beating on the Devils. The Flyers won't be quite so easy.

Flyers blog - check out flyers.femme for the keys to the game from the Flyers perspective. Nice blog.

Let's Go Pens!

Monday, November 05, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-6-07

Record last night: 2-0
Record this month: 5-4
Record this season: 19-14
P/L Yesterday: 6.35

Good night last night. The Wild won convincingly at home, as did the Canes. Let's hope I can keep it going. The Ducks lost 5-0 at home against Dallas. Looks like they might be in the same boat as Buffalo - namely that they're floundering early on since they've lost some of their star players.

Tonight I'm abstaining from any picks. I like the Sens, but I'm nervous going back to that well so often, and I think the Leafs could be due. It's that, or I'm full of crap - either one is likely :) The Thrashers bear watching, as they started out 0-6. They're now 5-9 and returning home from a seven game road trip. They may have turned a corner, but I'm not sure about their defense. Kovalchuk can't notch a hat trick every night.

Penguins 5, Devils 0

The Pens did what was routine, for them, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period. This time, though, before you could say "Avalanche", the Pens did something unusual; they scored a third goal. They didn't stop there - they added two more, chasing Brodeur in the process.

It was a convincing win in every aspect and it was really encouraging to see the Pens put together a total effort. Consider the following:
  • In the second period, when the Pens have started to falter recently, they out shot the Devils 10-3
  • The Pens held to Devils to just 20 shots, reversing a recent trend.
  • The Pens took fewer penalties than the Devils, who are notoriously stingy in that department.
  • The Pens scored a power play goal for the 14th straight game.
  • Sabourin earned a shutout, making the saves he needed to make.
Other fun facts:
  • David Clarkson has a REALLY bad night - he was a -3 and was the recipient of 3 minor penalties.
  • Eric Christensen scored and played a healthy 14:23 of ice time
  • Crosby and Malkin both got a bit of rest, playing just 16 and 15 minutes respectively.
Great game. Great win.

Next up: a quick stop at home against the much-improved Flyers on Wednesday

NHL Picks - 11-5-07

Record last night: 0-0
Record this month: 3-4
Record this season: 17-14
P/L Yesterday: 0.00

No action yesterday. Good thing, too - I probably would have gone with the Blackhawks at home over any other game, and that didn't turn out well for the Hawks.

Tonight, there are two games I like:

Washington at Carolina - $6.70 - The Canes have been lighting it up on the scoreboard. The Caps have lost 8 out of 10. This one makes me a little nervous, because Ollie the Goalie owns the Canes in his career, but I'm still going with the fellows from Carolina.

Edmonton at Minnesota - $6.95 - The Wild have come down from their lofty heights recently, but Backstrom is back in net, and he has single-handedly beat the Oilers in his short career. Edmonton is short-handed on the blue line (no Souray or Pitkanen, to name a few) and not very good away from home.

Also of interest will be the outcome of the Ducks and Stars game in Anaheim. It would be another step for the Ducks to get back to their championship form, while Dallas lost three in a row at home, the last loss being a 5-0 shutout loss to Phoenix. Could be the wheels coming off in Dallas, eh?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Game #14 - at New Jersey Devils

Pittsburgh Penguins (6-6-1, 13 pts) at New Jersey Devils (5-6-2, 12 pts)


The Devils have been mud early on this season, but they're 2-1 in their new home, which they just opened on October 27th. They've also been getting back to not taking penalties. They've been short-handed just three times in three of their last four games. On the flip side, the Devils power play has struggled, going just 2-29 in their last seven games.

The Pens have jumped out to 2-0 leads in their last two games on the road, only to lose both games 3-2. The power play continues to be great statistically, but they're just not drawing enough penalties. I really don't see that changing against the Devils.

Check out the picture at the top of Alain Nasreddine. I'm glad he's in the lineup, because I really wanted to use this card. Here's a picture of the back, just so you can see how young Alain looks.

Devils blog - check out 2 Man Advantage for some great writing about the Devils. Anyone that lays the smack on Sean Avery is fine with me.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 11-4-07

Record last night: 1-1
Record this month: 3-4
Record this season: 17-14
P/L Yesterday: (3.30)

Yesterday was better than Friday, but I need to get over the .500 mark for the month. The Canucks managed to hand the Avs their first home loss of the season last night. The Sens keep rolling at home.

Today, there are only three games on the schedule. I'm tempted by all of them, but I'm not going to pick any. I like the Sens, but Boston is tough at home. I like the Blackhawks, but they're not very good at home and I like the Blue Jackets, but the Blues are decent, and haven't allowed more than three goals in *any* game this year. Best to stay away.

Islanders 3, Penguins 2

For the second consecutive game, the Pens built a 2-0 lead on the road and lost 3-2. The Pens are slumping a bit right now. I'm not sure what's happening, because they don't seem to be playing poorly. The numbers speak for themselves, however. The Pens have:
  • Lost 4 out of 5 games, earning only 3 points over those 5 games
  • Had two or fewer PP chances in two of their last three games
  • Been out-shot in EVERY game since putting up 52 shots against Toronto in game #4
  • Have allowed 30 or more shots in three straight, including 39 last night, which was the high-water mark for the season
Last night's game was exciting to watch, with end to end rushes occurring regularly from the second period onward. The Pens jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a rebound goal by Malone and a great shot by Tyler Kennedy for his first NHL goal.

On Kennedy's goal, play continued for several minutes until there was a stoppage. Once there was, the refs were called over to the scorer and took a phone call, presumably from Toronto (maybe upstairs) to let them know that Kennedy's shot had indeed been a goal. The refs stood over there for several minutes. My question is this: if they knew that Kennedy's shot was a goal, how could they not be ready with all of the necessary info (mainly that it was a goal and how much time to set the game clock to) when play stopped? Why was there a need for a several minute delay? That just seemed kind of dumb to me.

Anyway, the Islanders started to creep back in when a weird bounce off of the end boards came straight out to Trent Hunter, who buried the puck with a nice shot. Satan scored the last two - the last one by taking a hard rebound and pushing it right behind Fleury. It was nice hand-eye coordination, and a TON of luck. I really don't like that guy (he is the Lord of Darkness, after all).

All in all, disappointing game to lose. They need to start finding ways to win these games.

Next up: the start of 4 games in 6 nights in New Jersey on Monday

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Game #13 - at New York Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins (6-5-1, 13 pts) at New York Islanders (6-4-0, 12 pts)


The Islanders are a different team than the one that went to the playoffs last year. Ryan Smyth left after being traded to Long Island. Jason Blake is gone as well. Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin joined the team and they've basically picked up where they left off last year.

Former Penguin Andy Hilbert has struggled this year. He's a -5 and has no points in 10 games, despite averaging almost 15:00 per game.

I think they key to the Isles is their penalty kill. In six of their first 10 games, they haven't allowed a power play goal. Their record in those games is 5-1. They're only 1-3 when they allow a PP goal.

The Pens, for their part, have scored a power play goal in every game so far this year, but have only notched more than one in two of their first 12 games.

The Pens desperately need some production from someone other than their first line. They need someone to step up, like Armstrong, Talbot or Staal. Crosby and Malkin can't completely carry the load.

Islanders blog - check out Islanders Army, which seems to be a pretty active blog.

Let's Go Pens!

NHL Picks - 11-3-07

Record last night: 0-2
Record this month: 2-3
Record this season: 16-13
P/L Yesterday: (12.75)

Wow - yesterday was rough. The Kings won in San Jose and the Panthers won in Buffalo. Blech.

Today is another day. 11 games on tap tonight in the NHL. I like two of them:

Vancouver at Colorado - $6.30 - The Avs are undefeated at home. The Canucks are missing two of their top players on the blue line. Go Avs.

Boston at Ottawa - $7.00 - The Sens have been rolling. The Bruins are much better at home than they are on the road.

Friday, November 02, 2007

NHL Picks - 11-2-07

Record last night: 1-1
Record this month: 2-1
Record this season: 16-11
P/L Yesterday: (3.35)

Last night the Sens held on to beat the Thrashers at home. The Canucks are really struggling, having lost two of their top four on the blue line, as well as the game last night to the Predators.

Tonight I feel like there are about 5 games I like, but I'm only going to pick two, both of which I'm nervous about as these are teams that burned me earlier on this year.:

Florida at Buffalo - $6.15 - I know the Kitty Cats made it a special Halloween by winning at home in a third period comeback over the Canes, but this is on the road against Buffalo. The Sabres aren't as good as last year, but they're still good enough to beat the Panthers.

Los Angeles at San Jose - $6.60 - The Sharks have also been inconsistent this year, but they've only had three home games. The Kings aren't very good on the road.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Avalanche 3, Penguins 2

I think the recap for this one is quite simple - the Pens had three power play chances beginning in the last two minutes of the second period through to the end of the game, along with pulling Sabourin at the end, and couldn't mount any sustained offense. I know they had 12 shots in the third, but I'd be hard-pressed to label any of them a good scoring chance.

Whitney went out with a strained groin and that seemed to completely upset the apple cart. No one seemed capable of playing the other point, and Gonchar and Crosby just ran out of gas.

Sabourin allowed a few he probably would like to have back. Does this mean we'll see Fleury on Saturday? I would bring him back, but that's just me.

One other thing - did you notice who received significant ice time when the Avs were on the penalty kill? How about Sakic, Smyth, Stastny and Hedjuk.

Next up: on Long Island to play the well-rested Islanders