Friday, October 31, 2008

Coyotes 4, Penguins 1

These late games are killing me.

This is another one I saw very little of, but the numbers show the maddening inconsistency:
  • First period: 2 shots
  • Second period: 18 shots
  • Third period: 8 shots (trailing)
The Pens had a 5 on 3 for over a minute in the third, trailing by one, and couldn't get one home.  That's the ballgame right there.

Therrien has to be losing a bit of patience.  He was quoted after the game as saying: 
"The system's only 50 percent of the game, after that, the players have to play hard. It's an excuse."
Sid was hurt with five minutes remaining in the second.  He's listed as day-to-day currently.

Next up:  a Saturday night fiesta in St Louis, who have an insane power play.  If the penalty killers aren't ready to go, it'll be a long night.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Game #11 - at Phoenix Coyotes

Pittsburgh Penguins (5-3-2, 12 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (3-4-0, 6 pts)

The Coyotes have been among the havenots in the league for several years running, despite the presence of Wayne Gretzky.  The young Coyotes have played better in limited action at home (2-1), and Bryzgalov is still an excellent goalie.

Sid and Geno are being split up to generate a more balanced attack across all lines.  The interesting thing is that Staal is being used as a center as well, on the third line.  I'm anxious to see how the ice time is divided up.

Olli Jokinen has been a Penguins killer in the past.  The Coyotes have not done the same, losing the last three to the Pens.

Let's Go Pens!

Sharks 2, Penguins 1

Just a placeholder post.  I didn't see the game, and honestly all I know about it is that the Pens showed no offense.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Game #10 - at San Jose Sharks

Pittsburgh Penguins (5-2-2, 12 pts) at San Jose Sharks (7-2-0, 14 pts)

Quick preview tonight.  

The Sharks are tough at home so far this year, which is in direct contrast to last year when they struggled mightily early in the season.

The Pens are decent on the road so far this year, the kick in the nuts over the weekend at MSG notwithstanding.

The only problem with these West Coast games is that they're past my bedtime.

As a side note, if you're looking to put some money on the Pens, it's not often that you'll get them at +150...

Let's Go Pens!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rangers 3, Penguins 2 (OT - SO, 1-0)

The Pens blew a two goal lead in the third period. That's the bottom line of this game. They built a 2-0 lead, only to allow the Rangers to turn the third period into an offensive onslaught. Not good for the Pens.

The Pens withstood an early charge from the Rangers, who had the first several shots of the game. They didn't make any noise offensively until the midway point of the period when they started to change the momentum.

The only other thing of consequence was the goal that was credited to Sydor. It was a Pinball Wizard shot that bounced off of both Rosival and Kalinen behind King Henrik.

The Pens power play didn't look good at all tonight. Sydor's goal was right after a power play ended, but those two minutes were pretty bad.

The Pens did kill off a full two minutes of 5-on-3 power play during the second, which was huge. The Rangers had several good chances but Fleury was up to the challenge, and the penalty killers did an excellent job.

The Rangers turned the third period into a shooting gallery. They got an early power play goal from Naslund to start things up in the third. The Pens almost weathered the storm, but Zherdev blasted a puck high on the short side past Fleury. The thing that troubled me about the Zherdev goal was that the Pens didn't have a good defensive presence when the game-tying goal was scored. Crosby had missed the open net, and the Rangers somehow wound up with a three-on-two. That's what you call a defensive breakdown.

The Pens were able to turn it back on for OT, which is pretty unusual. They had the far better chances, but Lundqvist was up to the challenge.

The shootout was pretty simple. Crosby couldn't beat Lundqvist to keep things alive. King Henry was just better than Fleury in the shootout.

  • Nice game by Ziggy specifically, and the fourth line in general. I like Bissonnette, but I think Cooke is a better player right now. It was no accident that Cooke and Ziggy were out there with Talbot with two minutes left in the game.
  • If I saw the replay correctly, the refs absolutely blew the call in the third when Fleury was called for touching the puck in the restricted area.
  • Boy, the ice seemed pretty bad. In the shootout, the Rangers didn't try to deke much with the puck.
  • Fleury was really good. Without him, this game could have ended much ealier.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Game #9 - at New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins (5-2-1, 11 pts) at New York Rangers (7-2-1, 15 pts)

Biggest game of the year so far for the Pens tonight.  The Pens and Rangers are two of the top four in the east right now, the Sabres and Habs being the other two.  It's certainly the game of the night in the NHL on a busy Saturday.

The Pens struggled at MSG during the regular season last year, but certainly didn't have trouble dispatching the Rangers in the playoffs.

The strength of both teams so far this year has been the goaltending.  The Rangers don't allow as many shots, but both Fleury and Lundqvist are on equal footing this year in terms of the stats.

The Pens need to take advantage of their chances tonight against the Rangers, because they likely won't get too many of them.

Both teams have been inconsistent with the offense, but the Rangers have struggled even more lately, with just 6 goals in their past 4 games.  Their power play has also been pretty poor so far.

The Pens can take care of business by scoring on special teams and keeping the pressure on offensively.  The Red Wings torched the Rangers with 45 shots last Saturday, so it can be done.

Let's Go Pens!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Penguins 4, Hurricanes 1

The Pens were a bit slow of foot in the first period.  Paul Bissonnette tried to get them fired up, fighting Dan LaCouture pretty effectively, but the Pens were missing that spark.

The Canes took advantage of a flubbed pass by Brooks Orpik, allowing the latest in the Sutter family (Brandon) to walk in alone and flip a backhand shot past MAF.

That goal was the only gaffe by Fleury on the night.  He did mishandle the puck one or two times, but none led to a goal.

The Pens woke up in the later half of the second period with two amazing shifts of puck possession in the offensive zone.  They out shot the Canes 13-6 in the second and generally dominated the period, but had nothing to show for it going to the third down 1-0.

It's a testament to the mental state of the team that they came up and kept up the pressure in the third.  Malkin put on a dazzling display of puck possession, though he was probably trying to do too much and wound up losing the puck and taking a hooking penalty.  That was the Canes only power play, and the Pens killed it off.

Just a few minutes later Malkin was hooked, sending the Pens on their second power play chance of the night.  Malkin fired a puck that Sid somehow tipped past Leighton, the Carolina goaltender who had stood on his head until that point in the game.

The Pens, playing with renewed confidence quickly added two more goals, one by Fedotenko just 32 seconds later, and one by Talbot three minutes after that.  They were the first goals of the year by those players, and they were much needed.

Malkin added an empty netter after Fleury had missed an attempt to score when the Canes pulled Leighton.

Great win for the Pens.  They kept working and never gave up.  Tonight, it paid off.

Next up:  Out on the road for the start of a four game trip on Saturday at MSG.  Big game.

Game #8 - vs Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes (3-1-1, 7 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2-1, 9 pts)

The Hurricanes are an enigma so far this year.  They have a decent record, but the three teams they beat have a combined 6 wins in 17 games (Tampa, Florida and Anaheim).

Cam Ward continues to be one of the most overrated goalies in the NHL.  Yes, he won the playoff MVP in his rookie year, and yes, his stats have improved each year.  He also plays a TON of minutes.  Here's the bad part for Ward:  in his 2 full seasons, he hasn't been in the top 30 in goals against average OR save percentage.  That's not good.

The Pens seem to have the ship going in the right direction lately.  They dispatched a bad Leafs team and had great goaltending from Sabu to win in Boston against a very tough Bruins squad.

The bad news for the Pens is that the Canes always seem to give them trouble.  Let's hope that can change tonight.

This is the last home game for a few weeks for the Pens, who go out on the road for four games after tonight.

Let's Go Pens!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Penguins 2, Bruins 1 (OT - SO, 2-1)

Tough road game tonight for the Pens.  They matched the intensity of the Bruins and didn't get flustered over some early penalty calls that went against them.  The Bruins, as expected, came out with a purpose.  They were punishing the Pens every time they had the chance.  The Pens took some bad penalties (three of them) during the first, and Boston had the better of the scoring chances early on.

The story of the night, however, was Dany Sabourin.  He turned away the Bruins early push, and almost every other push they would muster on the night.  He made an insane save in the third on Marc Savard's blast from the slot.  Sabu couldn't have seen the shot - he just guessed where the puck was going and got a piece of it with his glove.

The shootout was a bit on the tense side, especially when the opposition shoots second.  Sykora scored in the initial three shooters, as did Kessel, but no one else was able to score until Geno put the Pens up.  Savard couldn't get one past Sabu, which ended the game.

  • Godard really showed a few things tonight with his speed and forechecking game.  I know BGL had good hands, but I think Godard's speed and tenacity will be a bigger benefit to the Pens.
  • Can the Pens survive long term with a fourth line that barely plays?  Godard got more time tonight (a bit over 6 minutes), but Bissonnette played less than four.  I think in the long run, Therrien needs to be able to roll four lines.
  • I know they're a long way off, but what do you do when Whitney and (eventually) Gonchar return?  Sydor is already sitting - who else do you pull from the lineup?
  • Boston seemed a bit on the cheap side, especially Aaron Ward, who reminds of Brendan Witt a bit.
Next up:  The Pens play Carolina at the Igloo on Thursday before heading out on the road.

Game #7 - at Boston Bruins

Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2-1, 7 pts) at Boston Bruins (2-1-1, 5 pts)

This one has a bad feeling to it.  The Bruins are finally getting their home opener, just in time for the Pens first North American foray outside of the Igloo.

The Pens haven't managed to put together a complete game yet, and Boston is always a tough place for them to play (Boston is 6-1-1 against the Pens at home since the end of the lockout).

Wagerline has Boston as the favorite, but the public consensus is on the Pens at over 56%.  The bookies don't like to be wrong, so that is usually a recipe for trouble (road underdog being the public favorite).

The Bruins have two good goalies in Thomas and Fernandez, but they've had some trouble stopping pucks so far this year.

If the Pens can play solidly on the defensive front, they should be able to get some good chances on the Bruins.  The key will be to weather the storm in the home opener - the Bruins are sure to be charged up.

Let's Go Pens!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Penguins 4, Maple Leafs 1

The Pens, while they made the game interesting for two period, really had too much offense for the Leafs tonight.

It was a night of both team and individual achievements:
  • Sid notched point #300, goal #100 and assist #200
  • Geno managed his 200th point
  • The team won a game they were supposed to win
  • Jason Blake didn't win the game by himself
All of these things were worthwhile, and when you add to that the Pens getting two points out of the deal, it was a successful night.

The Pens did allow the Leafs too many decent chances late in the second and early in the third, but Fleury was there to shut the door even when the Leafs did break through.  It looked like whenever the Pens' forwards thought the puck was heading out of the zone, they'd take off without making sure it actually *did* leave the zone.  That led to a few odd-man chances that Fleury and his D had to stop.  Both were up to the challenge.

Nice win for the Pens.  They were supposed to get two points, and they did.

Next up:  The first trip away from home in North America, to Boston on Monday night.

Game #6 - vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs (1-1-2, 4 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (2-2-1, 5 pts)

The Leafs have struggled early this season.  They won their season opener against Detroit and have lost three straight since then.  The silver lining tonight for the Leafs is that they're playing a much more defensive style on the road.  In two road games, they've allowed just three goals total, compared to 11 in two home games.

The Leafs need to play that defensive style away from home, because they're a bit weak on the offense.  They have just 8 goals through four games, including just two on the power play.

The Pens have their own issues, with Michel Therrien trying to get their attention early this season.  After the bad loss to the Caps, HCMT called the team "immature" and labeled their performance as "unacceptable".

This is a team the Pens should beat, given their respective positions.  The Leafs are rebuilding, while the Pens should be stepping up.  Look for a solid performance tonight, or look for some extra pain for the Flightless Birds on Sunday.

Let's Go Pens!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Capitals 4, Penguins 3

Bad loss for the Pens. They jumped out to an early advantage, leading 3-0 early in the second. The Caps started to chip away, and before you could say "badly outshot", they were losing the game.

The Pens sat back too early and weren't able to ramp it up when they needed to.

Someone really needs to kill Ovechkin. He's turning into a real pecker.

First period:

Just 30 seconds into the game, Crosby decides to demonstrate that he's still better than O-Face by taking a puck through two defensemen and nearly beating Theodore.

Ovechkin quickly got back to his man-crush on Malkin by trying to kill him again. I'd say that Alex should let sleeping dogs lie, but Malkin hasn't shown very much yet this year.

I no sooner wrote that than Malkin took a bad hooking penalty. Blech.

Nothing doing on the early power plays for each team. The Caps had some decent chances. The Pens? Not so much.

Early on, Bissonnette is trying to use his size and dish out some punishment on the forecheck. Not much luck catching anyone so far, but he should keep trying.

Wow - Godard gets no respect. He was called for icing when he deflected the puck from just behind the red line. Usually on those calls, if the player can even see the red line, they let it go.

The Pens went back on the power play. Malkin blasted a shot that deflected off of the end boards right to Goligoski. Alex tried to settle the puck, fanned on an attempted shot and then whipped it at the net from a bad angle. It somehow found it's way behind Theodore. 1-0 Pens.

Pens back on the power play to close out the first period. Sure would be nice to get two PP goals in the first...

Ask and ye shall receive. Malkin ripped a shot off of Jurcina that found it's way behind Theodore. 2-0 Pens.

Great first period. Fleury made a few big saves and the Pens got some timely scoring on the power play.

Second period:

The Pens start the second period on the power play, thanks to the lack of focus on the part of the Caps - they took a Too Many Men penalty with under a minute left in the first. Not smart.

The Caps, trying to kill the penalty, flip the puck over the boards. Their heads really aren't in this so far tonight. Five on three for the Pens. If they can score here, it's a knockout punch.

Malkin shot the puck to the net and the Pens crashed the net. Satan finished things off. 3-0 Pens.

Godard took a dumb slashing penalty. I'm not sure that gets called if the Pens hadn't had 37 power play chances in a row.

Steigy did his best to deliver the kiss of death by letting us know the Pens have killed 11 straight penalties.

Nothing can seem to hurt the Pens right now, and they killed the penalty pretty easily.

The Pens couldn't clear the puck - Satan didn't get it out and the Caps jumped on it. 3-1 Pens.

Paul Bissonnette decided things were not going to continue in a sloppy fashion. He and former Penguin Matt Bradley squared off, and Bissonnette absolutely destroyed Bradley. Matt was bloody and dazed. Total domination by Paul.

Ovechkin was still trying to kill Malkin with several attempted hits on Geno. Someone needs to catch O-Face with his head down and send him in to the middle of next week.

Malkin took a boarding penalty when he hit Semin. Ovechkin immediately skated over to Malkin - you thought he was going to drop the gloves, but someone slowed down O-Face (wisely). Big PK for the Pens.

No problem on the PK. Penalty over, no dice for the Caps.

Gill got between Crosby and Semin and somehow took the only penalty. Errey volunteered that it was an even-up call. Nice job, Clueless Zebras.

Green hooked Letang when Kris was trying to clear the zone, and to their credit, the refs actually made the call. Way to go, refs!

The Pens had a backside power play after the Gill penalty expired.

O-Face just tried to kill Malkin... again. Will someone from the Pens step up and knock O-Face on his butt? He's taking runs at Malkin, and it's actually getting kind of cheap. Respect-o-meter is dropping, O-Face...

Third period:

Probably important to slog things up a bit early in the third. The Pens can't let the Caps get any early momentum. A goal would be nice, but just shutting down the Caps defensively would be good.

Annnndddd... the Pens lost a defensive zone faceoff and Semin ripped a wrister past Fleury. 3-2 Pens.

Slog slog slog... not much happening as the midway point of the third period approached.

UNTIL the Caps break in 3-on-2 and have a nice tic-tac-toe passing play with Nylander finishing things off. 3-3 tie.

Fedo lost his stick, and the next 90 seconds looked like a Caps power play. The Pens have lost it, and the Caps have it right now. The Pens have to weather the storm.

Kennedy and Talbot ignite a bit of fire under the Penguins with some hustle. Malkin gets on the ice and the Pens keep it in the offensive zone for awhile. That's a good start, but they can't be content to keep it on the outside - they need shots.

Gill got hit in the face with a stick with no call. The Caps took the puck down on a 2-on-1 with Gordon ripping the puck over Fleury. 4-3 Caps.

The last four minutes started to tick away quickly with continuous play. Fleury was off and the Pens were trying to get things setup. Ovechkin made the really selfish play of shooting for the open net from his own zone, giving the Pens an offensive zone faceoff. The Pens couldn't make them pay for that.

Game #5 - vs Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals (2-1-0, 4 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-1, 5 pts)

So here's a mildly troubling sign - the Pens are currently a huge consensus pick at Wagerline (over 70%).  That's probably too high given how these teams have performed this year.

The Pens are finding a way to get through their early games.  They're clearly not clicking yet, but they still have points in four out of their five games.  So far, the strengths of the team have been goaltending and secondary scoring.  The biggest weakness would have to be the lack of success of their top two lines.

The Caps, after being ambushed in Atlanta in their opener, have won two games at home over Western Conference teams.  The Caps have struggled with their goaltending (neither goalie has a save % over .850), but have managed two nice home wins.

I think tonight will be a closely contested battle, and hopefully Ovechkin doesn't find a way to kill Malkin, because you know he's trying.

Let's Go Pens!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Penguins 3, Flyers 2 (OT)

Quick recap tonight.  Sadly, I missed the first period, so I didn't see anything but replays of the Goddard - Cote bout.  It looked pretty intense.

The Pens found a way to win tonight.  They struggled to put the puck in the net, despite numerous great chances, but still got the big goal when it counted.

The Pens struck with two quick goals in the second period, the first by Orpik and the second by Zigomanis.

With under one minute left in the second, the Pens iced the puck.  You knew if they didn't clear the zone after the icing that it was going to lead to trouble.  What could happen did happen, and the Flyers got the puck past Fleury.  Before the end of the period, they added another to tie the score when Richards won an offensive zone faceoff back to the point.  The shot was deflected - Flower never had a chance.

The third period had several good chances for each team, but the goalies were on their respective games (and there was a bit of luck involved too).

In OT, Dupuis finally buried one of his many chances on a great slapper from the left circle.  That's probably a goal that Nittymaki wants back, but I'm sure Pascal will take it.

I can't talk about a Flyers game without mentioning what goons the Flyers are, especially Scott Hartnell.  In OT, Letang got good position on him and got the puck.  When Kris started to skate away, Hartnell gave him a two handed shove (two of them, actually), knocked down Letang and took the puck.  It led directly to a scoring chance that almost decided the game.  Nice play by the Goon Squad and even nicer job by the CLUELESS Zebras.  It wound up not making a difference, as the Pens struck back in the only way that matters, on the scoreboard.

Oh, and it was pretty funny hears Max Talbot on the radio before the game calling the Flyers "a**holes".

If the Pens keep getting goals from guys like Zigo and Orpik (ie, well rounded scoring), they're going to be dangerous when the big guns start clicking (because they haven't really been clicking yet).

Next up:  O-Face and his boys come to the Igloo on Thursday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Game #4 - vs Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-1, 3 pts)

The Pens are getting their second straight opponent on the second game of a back-to-back.  Saturday had the Devils coming to town.  Tuesday brings those lovely fellows from Philly.

The Flyers had to get rid of their captain, Jason Smith, and local boy, RJ Umberger due to salary restrictions.  Don't feel too bad for them, however, because they still have plenty of firepower.

The Flyers also just got bigger and slower on the blue line, adding 6'5" Andrew Alberts from Boston via a trade.  They do have some size on their defense, but not too much speed.  Hatcher and Jones are both on IR.

Just looking at their roster brings back all of the happy thoughts I had last year during the playoffs.  PFC Downie is there, as are the Scotties (Upshall and Hartnell) and Riley Cote.  I hope Michel Therrien plans to have Goddard at the ready...

The Pens need to try to play a complete period, and after that, a complete game.  They've struggled so far this young season to put it all together.  There are flashes, and Marc-Andre has been excellent, but no consistency.

Let's Go Pens!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Devils 2, Penguins 1 (OT)

A disappointing home opener for the Pens, as they came out strong for about 10 minutes and tried to hang on for the last 50, unsuccessfully. At least they earned a point.



Nice introduction of each player. Sykora is still out - he's supposed to return on Tuesday.

First period:

The Pens generated a ton of offense early. They had several decent chances, but no dice against Marty.

The puck possession game was working really well early on too. Several really nice rushes and crisp, quick outlet passes.

We heard how Letang worked on his speed by running all winter, and now Brooks Orpik (the reigning fastest skater on the Pens) can't catch him. Somehow this reminds me of the "he's in the best shape of his life" discussions.

Sydor was playing tonight on the wing on the fourth line, joining a fine tradition started by Orpik and Whitney last year.

First power play was given to the Pens. They looked much better than in Sweden. So much better, in fact, that it took just 24 seconds for SATAN to claim the lost little puck and shepherd it to it's final destination. 1-0 Pens.

The Devils immediately swarmed the Pens after the power play with some desperate play. Unfortunately for them, they also committed an offensive zone penalty, sending the Pens back on the power play.

This power play didn't look nearly as nice. They had maybe one decent chance, but no dice.

And then, before you knew it, the first period was almost over. The only things of consequence were a Zubrus hit on Cooke and Elias taking a roughing penalty after the end of the period.

Second period (Pens lead 1-0):

The Pens started the period on the power play. Goligoski showed some nice presence handling the puck. The Devils were trying to gang up on him and he didn't panic or get rid of the puck. He just showed some patience and bought some time.

Sid decided they'd had enough time on the power play, so he took an interference penalty to even things up.

The Devils had a backside power play for a little over a minute. They didn't do much with it, and the score stood at 1-0 as we got into the meat of the second period.

Gill and Clarkson broke up the tedium of the second period with... a pretty boring fight. Even a boring fight is better than watching the Devils play their system.

The Pens started having some problems clearing the puck out of their zone. Letang failed on a clear, which wound up in a nice shot by Parise. Nicer save by Fleury.

Dupuis took a tripping penalty, sending the Devils onto the power play. The power play felt like the culmination of the heat the Devils have been generating for the last 5-8 minutes of the second period, and they couldn't beat Fleury. Good sign for the Pens.

There was some nice pressure by the Pens. Crosby's line in particular showed some nice skills in the offensive zone. Brodeur was up to the challenge, but it was nice to see what Fedo and especially Satan can do.

Crosby finally drew his first penalty of the season, putting the Pens back on the power play. They couldn't convert.

The Devils had some nice chances before the second period ended. They couldn't cash in, but the Pens would have some work ahead if they want to win the game. They can't keep letting the Devils plaster Fleury with good chances.

Third period (Pens lead 1-0):

Dan Potash interviewed Sid's grandmothers before the period. You were just waiting for one of them to pinch his cheeks and say something like "What a nice boy you are!"

Mike Yeo lets us know that the coaching staff is pretty unhappy with the Pens' performance so far, saying that they're being too cute and not being aggressive enough.

Early on, Staal and Kennedy worked a nice give-and-go, but Jordan couldn't get enough on the shot to do anything with it.

Malkin only has one shot to his name to this point in the game. That's not enough. He needs to get more on the net.

Malkin tried to get the puck to Scuderi out high in the offensive zone, but didn't do a good job of it. Rolston jumped in and took the puck the other way. Not only did he get a good scoring chance, but he drew a penalty. Power play for the Devils, and it was a 4-on-3 for the first minute because of prior matching minors.

The Devils had a bit of heat on the power play, but the Pens also were aggressive on the puck, and they killed off the man-advantage.

Orpik had his stick taken away (literally) by Parise with no call. He then was knocked down by Lagenbrunner. As he was falling, he grabbed the stick of Jamie and pulled him down to. Penalty to Orpik. Nice job on missing the first one, Clueless Zebras.

The Devils nearly scored on the power play when a puck glanced off of Fleury and ran parallel to the goal line. The defense then cleaned up the mess by knocking the stuffing out of any Devils near the crease.

Some nice pressure by Malkin, Staal and Kennedy. Malkin had a nice shot and Staal just missed a chip-in chance.

Crosby gave the puck away to Mighty Mouse. Fleury would have none of that, with a nice save on the slapper by Gionta. Crosby got back and broke up a centering pass with a diving effort. Good recovery by Sid.

The third period was starting to wane (but not fast enough), and the Pens just couldn't get the puck out of their own end for any extended period of time.

A bad turnover by Malkin out high in the offensive zone led to a great scoring chance for the Devils. Fortunately it didn't turn into anything.

The Devils would cash in, however, when the puck took a bad bounce off of the right skate of Hal Gill. The Devils actually deserved it, having dominated the Pens for the entire second and third period. The crappy part was that it came with less than three minutes left in the game. 1-1 tie.

Satan hit Malkin cutting towards Brodeur with less than a minute to go, but the puck jumped over the stick of Geno. That was the third period in a microcosm for the Pens.

The game went to overtime.


You had to hope that playing 4-on-4 would shake things up for the Pens and change their luck.

Michael Therrien sensed something and called timeout just 40 seconds into OT.

Pittsburgh fans show that they understand sarcasm when they gave Fedo the big round of applause after a shot on net.

The Pens had a 3-on-2 and didn't shoot the puck. Letang tried to make an extra pass, and it was broken up. It led directly to a Murphy dump, taken by Parise and FIRED to the far top corner over Fleury. It was an amazing shot, but one that should have never happened.

Only one relevant stat to mention in review - shots:

Devils - 48
Pittsburgh - 15

Just plain bad.

Next up: Those lovely folks from Philadelphia visit the Igloo on Tuesday.

Game #3 - vs New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils (1-0-0, 2 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-0, 2 pts)

It's the home opener tonight for the Pens after opening the season in Sweden. I'm sure they're happy to be home and anxious to get on the ice.

The most obvious area in need of improvement is the power play, which faltered badly in their split of games with Ottawa. They also could use some work on their puck possession game and figuring out how to play without having Gonchar and Whitney to eat up big minutes.

The Devils won their home opener last night by beating the Islanders 2-1. Brodeur, who is just 12 wins shy of the career wins mark, was stellar in goal. The only goal he allowed was a deflection off of the skate of his own defensemen (Martin).

New Jersey also has added some firepower in the form of Brian Rolston, and some grit in the form of Bobby Holik. Some of those guys, Brodeur included, are getting up there in years. Maybe Marty will be too tired to give a good effort tonight.

The Devils rolled four lines last night. Everyone, with the exception of Mike Rupp, played at least 10 minutes. That should serve them well tonight.

Kevin Weekes has the role of Mr Irrelevant in the NHL this year - he's the backup to Brodeur, who almost never sits.

If you're going to the game, get ready for a traffic nightmare!

Let's Go Pens!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pens acquire Mike Zigomanis

The Pens traded for Mike Zigomanis today, in exchange for future considerations.

Zigomanis is a center, is right-handed and has a scoring touch, at least in the minors.  He's 27, and the Pens aren't really in need of any centers right now, so you'd have to think this is a depth signing to help in case of injury.  Maybe a better version of Jeff Taffe?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Senators 3, Penguins 1

At least they spoiled the shutout.

First off, a quick note to Versus:

Dear Versus,

You Suck.

Your announcers all seem to have variations on how to pronounce names. Whoever runs the score display can't ever get the power play information onto the screen until there are at least 30 seconds gone in the power play.


Igloo Dreams

Back to the game recap, already in progress:

The Pens had a few chances early in the game, but couldn't beat Auld.

Goddard too another dumb penalty (he was the recipient of four minutes) that led directly to the first goal for Ottawa while on the power play. Another power play goal in the third pretty much put the game away.

The Pens were completely ineffectual in special teams situations. They allowed two power play goals against, while not being able to get one of their own until there was literally one second left in the game. That will give them something to work on once they get back to the states.

The new Pens haven't contributed much. You did notice Cooke a bit more today, as he got his physical game going more than Saturday. Satan and Fedotenko? Not so much... Don't even talk about Goddard yet. He didn't see the ice after his penalty in the second period.

The Pens will have some work to do before their next game.

Next up: The first of four straight games at the Igloo on Saturday night against the Devils.

Game #2 - vs Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators (0-0-1, 1 pt) at Pittsburgh Penguins (1-0-0, 2 pts)

Round 2 for the Pens in Sweden.  Second verse same as the first, right?

I'd like to see them cash in on the power play in this one.  I thought they were going to regret missing out on those chances yesterday.

After today, there's a break of almost a week, so let's hope the lay it all on the line.

Pens 4, Senators 3 (OT) - Video Highlights

Here are the video highlights from the Pens' victory over the Sens in Stockholm.

Penguins 4, Senators 3 (OT)

That was a nice way to start the season, wasn't it?

The Pens struck early when TK did his patented move.  It's the equivalent of the fade-away jumper in basketball, as he skated out from below the goal line to the left circle, turned and fired a wrister that either went short-side or under the right arm of Gerber.  Bad goal for Gerber to allow.  Great goal for Kennedy to score.  1-0 Pens.

The Sens tied the game on a redirect by Sean Donovan.  Not much Fleury could do about that.  1-1 Tie.

The Pens took the lead again on a short-handed breakaway by Evgeni Malkin.  The Sens dump-in attempt hit the back of Chris Neil, and Malkin took off with the puck.  It was the only true breakaway of the game, and Malkin buried it.  2-1 Pens.

The Sens tied the game again on a power play goal by Heatley, and took their first lead on a short-handed goal by Spezza.  3-2 Sens.

That setup the game tying goal by the person you might least expect, Rob Scuderi.  He took a seeing-eye pass from Sid, took another step and wristed the puck past Gerber.  Great goal for Scuds.  3-3 Tie.  

The game went to OT, and with just 25 seconds left, Tyler Kennedy stripped the puck from Dany Heatley, skated up ice and fired the puck past Martin Gerber.  Pens win, 4-3.

A few notes:
  • Ruutu wasn't all that annoying.  He tried to start some nonsense, but really didn't get anything going.  Dupuis did get away with a slash across Ruutu's hands.
  • Chris Neil, on the other hand, likes to run players, but won't actually fight.  Goddard tried to get him to drop the gloves, but he wouldn't, and Goddard drew the penalty.  The announcers called that a "veteran" move.  I call it a "chicken" move.
  • Having said that, Goddard needs to recognize the limits and not go over them in drawing penalties.  If Neil won't fight, then just keep agitating him within the rules.
  • Fleury didn't have to make many difficult saves, but he made all the ones he should.  The only time I was unsure of him was on the Spezza short-handed goal.  Flower seemed to be too deep in the net.
  • Huge boost in secondary scoring.  Getting two from Kennedy and one from Scuderi was a big plus.  The Pens are going to need more of that this year.
Next up:  Quick turnaround against the Sens at 2:30 on Sunday.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Game #1 - at Ottawa Senators (Stockholm)

Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators

It's finally here.  You've been waiting all summer.  The Pens start their quest to prove that last year was only a stepping stone to bigger things.

You know the Sens want a piece of the Pens.  You know they have a bad taste in their collective mouth.  If that wasn't bad enough, Jarkko Ruutu is now one of the Sens.  We'll get to see just how aggravating he can be on the opposition.  My guess is it'll be pretty annoying.

The Pens are a marked team in the East now.  They have the biggest names in the conference, and they've proven that they're for real by making the Cup Finals.

The Sens are trying to prove that they're not a team on the decline.  They've made some big changes since the last time we saw them in March.  Redden and Meszaros are gone.  Jason Smith was signed, along with three other new defensemen.  Brian Murray is gone from behind the bench (he's still the GM) and Craig Hartburg takes his place.

The Pens will be trying to avoid an early season slump.  History is not on their side.  The Ducks struggled mightily after opening in London last year, and the Pens have started slowly in each of the last two years.

The game is at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

Let's Go Pens!