Sunday, February 27, 2011

Penguins 6, Maple Leafs 5 (OT - SO - 1-0)

So what happened?
A great win for the Pens in one of the most exciting games of the year so far. This was an old-fashioned shootout, with pucks flying past the goalies with frightening regularity. It is a credit to the Pens that they found a way to come out on top.

The Pens had just one lead in regulation, at 3-2. They were playing catch-up hockey for much of the rest of the night, and they never gave up. The drive and the legs were there all night long.

Give credit to the Leafs, who played a good game. They probably could have become more conservative once they had the lead in the third period, but where would be the excitement in that? Of course, the same could be said of the Pens, who had the lead going into the third.

You have to admire the work ethic brought by the Pens after playing on Friday night against the Canes.

Who scored?
Kovalev (15), Letestu (11), Jeffrey (5), Talbot (7), Rupp (6)

The Good?
  • You could see the difference in having a player like Mark Letestu back on the ice. He really has that offensive instinct and ability to keep plays alive.
  • Kovalev was great on the shootout. He saw Reimer stay deep in the net with Letang, so he was ready to blast the puck past him when Reimer tried the same thing. That's called veteran awareness, combined with the skill to make it happen.
  • Max Talbot had a HUGE short handed goal to tie the game at 4-4.
  • Mike Rupp made a tremendous effort in sticking with the play on the goal that tied the score at 5-5.
  • Kris Letang with nearly 33 minutes of ice time, and he was flying in the OT.
  • James Neal had himself in the right place at the right time again tonight but just couldn't finish. He'll get there.
The Bad?
  • Fleury's play, while making some key saves, was inconsistent. It was that kind of night, however. Reimer was worse, allowing all kinds of rebounds.
  • Too many penalties. Again. This time the PK allowed two goals.
The Ugly?
  • Despite the goal by Kovalev, the Staal, Neal, Kovy line was a -2. That means they were on the ice for three goals against at even-strength. Ouch.
Any Surprises?
  • The news that had Tyler Kennedy not missed the game, Max Talbot would have been scratched. HCDB must really like what Joe Vitale brings, especially in the faceoff circle.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 37-21-6. They are four points ahead of Washington for the #4 spot in the East. Somehow, they're 4th overall in points in the NHL.

Who's next?
A few days off and then it's a replay of this one, on Wednesday night in Toronto.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Game #64 - at Toronto Maple Leafs

Game 64
Penguins (36-21-6, 78 points) at Maple Leafs (27-27-7, 61 points)

Why does it matter?
The Leafs are hot right now, with an 8-2-2 record in their past 12 games. They have dreams of making the playoffs. They also have a hot goalie. This will be another good test for the Pens, who badly need two points.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - The lunch pails and hard hats keep showing up, but the payoff at the end just isn't there right now.
  • Maple Leafs - Hot play recently has them back to .500 hockey for the first time since November 6th.
Questions to be answered
  • Will the effort level be maintained given the short turnaround from the game last night? It needs to be, because the way the Leafs are playing right now, they'll blow the Pens out of the building.
  • Who will sit with the probable return of Mark Letestu? I'm guessing Vitale, which is unfortunate, because I like what I've seen from him so far.
  • Which power play will shot up for the Leafs? One that was 5-10 in two of their previous eight games, or the one that was 0-26 in the other six games?
Keys to the game
  • Get to the power play. The Leafs PK has been porous all season long. Some extended time with the man-advantage would give us a chance to see what Kovy can do.
  • Use the (relative) depth at center and roll four lines all night. With Letestu back, the Pens will have four solid guys down the middle.
  • Crash the net and get bodies in front of Reimer.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hurricanes 4, Penguins 1

So what happened?
The Pens weren't at their best in the first period and the Canes capitalized with two goals, one on the power play. That's really all it takes these days - get a multi-goal lead on the Pens and they're going to have trouble coming back.

Kovalev was great in his return. He may have been a bit too fired up, because he took two penalties in the offensive zone, one while the Pens were on the power play with less than three minutes left. He still has the hands, however. He sent several great passes onto the tape of his teammates. I think he'll work well when the Pens get closer to full strength.

The second two periods, despite the goal differential, were great Pens hockey. They were able to control the puck in the offensive zone for long periods of time. They just weren't able to get anything for their effort. No significant time on the power play, and just the one goal.

Results need to follow from the effort.

Who scored?
Dupuis (11)

The Good?
  • Joe Vitale - 7-2 on faceoffs - another great effort. Dustin Jeffrey a close second at 5-1.
  • Good job by HCDB in keeping the minutes down for just about everyone (only Letang was significantly over 20 minutes) and giving Flower the hook. The Pens need to be ready for tomorrow night.
  • Cam Ward was sharp, to say the least.
  • Great hit by Matt Cooke on Cory Stillman. He also drew a penalty when Jay Harrison took exception to a clean hit.
The Bad?
  • Fleury probably wants those first period goals back.
  • Hopefully Eric Staal isn't hurt from the hit by Niskanen. I don't think Niskanen was trying to hit him as hard as he did.
The Ugly?
  • This was a fairly clean game, without much nonsense. The Canes just capitalized on their chances and the Pens didn't. Nothing ugly about it.
Any Surprises?
  • No - the Pens lack of scoring isn't a surprise at this point.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 36-21-6.

Who's next?
Toronto is at home waiting for the Pens to arrive. They play tomorrow night.

Game #63 - at Carolina Hurricanes

Game 63
Penguins (36-20-6, 78 points) at Hurricanes (28-24-9, 65 points)

Why does it matter?
Another game, another new forward. This one marks the return of Alexei Kovalev to the Penguins. I, for one, am very excited to see how he fits in.

As for the game itself, the Canes are in the eighth and final playoff spot, but they need wins because Buffalo has enough games-in-hand to knock them out of the playoffs.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - More hard work against the Sharks, along with a point well earned. This team is going to be scary when Sid comes back.
  • Hurricanes - The month of February has not been kind to the Canes, with losses in 8 out of 11 games. That's not the way to get into the playoffs.
Questions to be answered
  • How will Kovalev fit into the system? Will he be willing to put in the work that Bylsma is going to require?
  • Tonight will feature the return of Dustin Jeffrey as well. Remember when he was in Wilkes-Barre because there was no room for him here in Pittsburgh?
  • Can the power play get things going with Kovalev on one of the points? He's certainly capable of playing there, and he has a great shot.
Keys to the game
  • Stop Cory Stillman. Seriously. Stillman has 33 points in his last 21 games against the Pens.
  • Keep on chugging. The effort has been there, even if the results haven't. Keep the groove going and the results will come as players start to return from injury.
  • Play it safe on defense - without Orpik and Martin, the Pens are weakened on the blue line. Be careful when jumping into the play, especially with two new forwards on the ice in Kovy and Neal.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Penguins acquire Alex Kovalev

The Pens have sent a low draft choice to the Senators for Alex Kovalev.

The pick is a seventh round choice. It will become a sixth round choice if:
  • The Pens win their first round series
  • Kovalev plays in at least half of the games in the first round
I have to say I was wary of bringing Alex back to Pittsburgh, but at this price I absolutely love it. This is a nearly no risk move by Ray Shero. The biggest cost is the money out of ownership's pocket. There was room under the cap, and room on the roster given the injury situation.

What happens next is entirely up to Kovalev. He has a well-earned reputation as a playoff performer, but he is going to have to buy into the system that the Pens play. He'll have to be willing to work hard and play defense. He did waive his no-trade clause to come here, so he has to have an idea of what he's getting into.

I think he earns his spot in the Top 6 and solidifies the goal scoring from the wings. The Pens now look downright dangerous once they get healthy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sharks 3, Penguins 2 (OT)

So what happened?
Another hard luck single point result for the Pens. A dramatic late goal with 50 seconds left in the third period by Tyler Kennedy sent the game to OT.

They did just about everything they could to stay with the Sharks but just couldn't finish them off in OT. The one thing they could have done better? They went to the box too much early in the game with dumb penalties, especially the Engelland cross check and the Adams hook in the offensive zone (which is the one the Sharks scored on).

Fleury was amazing, making several HUGE saves, none bigger than the same on Marleau on a breakaway in OT. Unfortunately, they were about four seconds short on getting to a shoot out.

Who scored?
Kennedy 2 (13, 14)

The Good?
  • Joe Vitalie - 8-0 on faceoffs!!
  • TK with two more goals tonight. He's on a tear.
  • Antti Niemi was really good, making several saves where he shouldn't have been able to see the puck.
  • Flower, as mentioned, was great.
The Bad?
  • Too many penalties through the first two periods, and it cost them.
  • Brooks Orpik took a shot off of the hand. He left and didn't return. Hopefully it's not bad.
  • After Orpik left, the Pens had to play with five right-handed defensemen. Remember when everyone was worried because the Pens had all left-handed d-men?
The Ugly?
  • The refs. The amazingly bad non-call on Ryan Clowe for his retaliation hit on Engelland was embarrassing. If you didn't see it, Engelland delivered a solid, clean hit on Heatley. As he (Engelland) was skating away, Clowe knocked him over from behind, right in front of everyone. You can't tell me one of the zebras wasn't watching - everyone takes notice when a big hit is delivered.
Any Surprises?
  • What's up with the lights? For the second game in a row, they wouldn't come back on to start the period. This time the delay was almost 20 minutes, leaving Steigy and Errey to talk continuously.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 36-20-6.

Who's next?
Out onto the road for five games starting with Carolina on Friday night.

Game #62 - vs San Jose Sharks

Game 62
Sharks (34-21-6, 74 points) at Penguins (36-20-5, 77 points)

Why does it matter?
Another tough game against a foe from the other conference. This will be a big challenge. Aside from that, it is the debut of James Neal and Matt Niskanen.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Lots of hard work with nothing to show for it on Monday against the Caps.
  • Sharks - Since the end of a six game losing streak back in mid-January, the Sharks are 13-2-1 with all three losses coming on the road and by one goal each.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the system the Pens play hold up tonight? Consider that they'll have two new players (Neal and Niskanen) that will be expected to fill prominent roles without having had a full practice with the team.
  • Who will score if Jordan Staal has to shut down Joe Thornton? The Pens don't have anyone besides Staal that can match up with his size.
  • How will Niskanen and Neal fit in on the top power play? I'm especially interested in Niskanen - will he be able to step up to the plate after having his confidence shot in Dallas?
Keys to the game
  • Stay conservative as long as the Pens have the lead or the score is tied. This will protect Neal and Niskanen, who don't know the system very well yet (though it will be similar in nature to what they played in Dallas).
  • Keep working. The effort and scoring chances were there against the Caps. The goals will come if the effort continues.
  • Say a prayer? Joe Thornton's teams are 15-1-2 against the Pens all time (Bruins and Sharks).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Capitals 1, Penguins 0

So what happened?
The Pens did everything right except put the puck in the net. They kept the Caps bottled up for large parts of the game. They were able to establish an effective forecheck. They played physical and clean. They just couldn't score.

The Pens were playing even more short-handed, if that were possible, due to the trade of Alex Goligoski and the injury to Paul Martin (he was hit from behind by Patrick Sharp against Chicago yesterday afternoon). That meant that both Engelland and Lovejoy dressed, and Brian Strait made his NHL debut.

Who scored?
No one.

The Good?
  • The Pens were ready to go from the drop of the puck. They had the drive and intensity all night long, es evidenced by the shot margin.
  • Fleury was great all night long.
  • Neuvirth was, unfortunately, better.
  • Orpik played a great physical game against Ovechkin.
The Bad?
  • Someone needs to bury a puck against the Caps. There were numerous chances, including breakaways for Staal and Talbot. The effort is there - the results need to be there too. Fortunately this should get better soon when Neal arrives and injured guys return.
  • I thought Strait looked a little slow out there. He probably needs a few games to get up to NHL speed, but he's not likely to get any more time this season with the Pens barring injury.
The Ugly?
  • Listening to the Versus announcers was ugly. I don't have enough fingers (or toes) to count the number of times they fawned over the Caps defensive improvements. It's not hard to look good when you're facing a depleted team like the Pens.
Any Surprises?
  • Seeing Backstrom try to punch Letang for a clean hit was a surprise - I didn't think Backstrom was that kind of player.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 36-20-5.

Who's next?
The road gets tougher when San Jose comes to Consol on Wednesday.

Penguins acquire LW James Neal,D Matt Niskanen

The Pens traded away Alex Goligoski today in exchange for James Neal and Matt Niskanen.

Neal is the key to this deal. The Pens have him under control for this year and next with a cap hit of $2.875 M. He will play on the top two lines and can score. He had 21 goals in 59 games this year for Dallas, following up campaigns with 24 and 27 goals, respectively.

Niskanen is a bit of an enigma. He was taken as the Stars first pick in 2005 (right before James Neal) but has seen his playing time (and his +/-) decrease each year. This season he has been playing less than 16 minutes per game but is only a -1 on the year (-11 and -15 for the two years prior). If he can regain some of what he showed in his rookie year, he'll be a steal.

I'll be sad to see Goligoski leave. I think he didn't get the credit he deserved in Pittsburgh. Letang went through growing pains before he became the defenseman he is today - I think Goose was on the same path. Hopefully he succeeds with Dallas.

The really interesting part is that the Pens have set themselves up for trouble following this season. Goose for Niskanen is nearly an even move against the cap (Goose counted nearly $400,000 more against than Niskanen will). Neal will count $2.875 M next year. That means the Pens are either setting themselves up for a blockbuster trade, salary-wise, or they will be limited in how they can spend this summer (limited as in about $3 M left to sign 5-6 players).

For the remainder of this season, however, I like what I see. Niskanen isn't that much of a drop off from the role that Goligoski was playing (except maybe on the power play) and Neal is a definite upgrade at forward.

Game #61 - vs Washington Capitals

Game 61
Capitals (31-19-10, 72 points) at Penguins (36-19-5, 77 points)

Why does it matter?
A top conference opponent comes to Consol tonight to face a Pens' team that is still short-handed. The Pens need to keep the ship moving in the right direction and earn points.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - There's no such thing as a good loss, but the Pens did well to get out of Chicago with a point yesterday.
  • Capitals - Inconsistency has been the name of the game. The Caps have won two out of their past three, but are 8-7-5 since the Winter Classic.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the Pens put pucks in the net? The last meeting two weeks back was decided by the Caps defense more than anything.
  • Who will win the special teams battle? The Caps haven't been taking many penalties, but they've allowed a power play goal in four straight games. The Pens have been getting to the power play but not converting with regularity.
  • Will Jordan Staal be available? His absence could be the nail in the coffin for the Pens right now, at least until some of the other guys return.
Keys to the game
  • Lock the down. The Caps have out shot their opponents in their last four wins. Win the battle of the shot margin and control the game.
  • Out work the Caps. This will lead to chances on the power play.
  • Stop Mike Knuble. He has three goals in three games against the Pens this season.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

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

So what happened?
You never like to let that extra point slip away, but this one can't sting too badly for the Pens.

There wasn't much of a sustained offense for the Pens today, and they were just trying to stem the tide in the early part of the game. They managed to tilt the ice back to a more level playing surface but never really took control of the game.

If not for the efforts of Marc-Andre Fleury, this game would n0t have been close.

So, take the point and head back home.

Who scored?
Cooke (11), Sterling (3)

The Good?
  • After a slow start, the effort was there. Cooke's shorty was a perfect example of that. Aside from the one defenseman that was back, Talbot and Cooke started out pretty much even with the other Hawks players. It was their effort level that got them the two-on-one which Cooke converted.
  • Brett Sterling again showed a nose for the net. He has five points in his first five games (3 + 2).
  • Flower was great. I think the lone stinker (the Bickell goal) deflected off of Michalek, but of course NBC didn't slow down the replay enough for us to get a good look.
  • Good job by HCDB in not shortening the bench too much given that the Pens play tomorrow night.
The Bad?
  • The power play really struggled in some of their early chances. They couldn't seem to enter the zone in an organized fashion.
The Ugly?
  • You want to see how not to play a two-on-one? Take a look at the Cooke goal. Special mention also goes to the other Blackhawk players - the effort simply wasn't there.
Any Surprises?
  • Brett Sterling's continuing point streak is a surprise.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 36-19-5. They are six points behind the Flyers for the division lead, but five points ahead of the Caps for the fourth spot in the East.

Who's next?
The Caps come to Consol tomorrow night. No rest for the weary.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Game #60 - at Chicago Blackhawks

Game 60
Penguins (36-19-4, 76 points) at Blackhawks (29-23-6, 64 points)

Why does it matter?
This is a big time nationally televised hurdle that the Pens will have to get over. The Hawks are sitting out of the playoffs at this moment and would love to make a statement that they're still alive and kicking.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - A nice rebound win over Colorado on Wednesday after last weekend's New York debacle.
  • Blackhawks - A month ago, it looked like they had the ship righted and then they go out and lose 7 out of 10 games, capped by a home loss to Columbus on Friday night.
Questions to be answered
  • Could the defending Stanley Cup Champions miss the playoffs? If they do, they'll certainly be held up as the poster boys for salary cap mismanagement.
  • Can the Pens take advantage of a very leaky Chicago PK?
  • How can a team that has a +20 goal differential (good for fourth in the West) be in 11th place in the conference?
Keys to the game
  • Keep them to the outside. Let Chicago take as many long range shots as they like - don't give them the middle of the ice.
  • Stay out of the box. If Chicago has a strength, it is their power play, which is second in the NHL at 24%.
  • Keep grinding it out. Matt Cooke will return to the lineup, which should make some of the grinding easier.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament

For the third year in a row, Sean over at Sean's Ramblings has selected this blog to be part of the Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament.

Two years ago, I was seeded 8th against PSAMP. Needless to say, those Mini-Ponies trampled me.

Last year I was seeded 7th against Pitt Blather. Somehow, this blog pulled the big upset, getting onto Round 2, only to lose to One For the Other Thumb.

This year, I'm conflicted. I'm seeded 7th, but my opponent is my all-time favorite Pittsburgh sports blog - Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke (WHYGAVS). Pat's blog was the one that really inspired me to start Igloo Dreams back in 2005. Plus, he has a cool name.

So, I'm not going to shill for your votes - I'll just tell you to go and vote - this tournament is all about fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Penguins 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)

So what happened?
A solid effort on the road against the Avalanche, who sure didn't look like they'd lost a bunch of games in a row.

The Pens were able to withstand several storms as the Avalanche flung pucks in spurts at Marc-Andre Fleury. Flower was able to stop almost everything.

The really encouraging sign was the strong third period played by the Pens and the counter-punch in OT to score the winning goal after the Avs had dominated much of the OT session.

The Wilkes-Barre guys were all pretty solid, and Dan Bylsma was able to roll the lines for the most part (with the exception of Tim Wallace, who only played about six minutes).

Who scored?
Vitale (1), Staal (6), Kennedy (12)

The Good?
  • Jordan Staal was the best player on the ice. He responded to Colorado taking a 2-1 lead by scoring less than a minute later to tie the game right away.
  • Joe Vitale scored his first NHL goal tonight on a nice shot coming down the middle of the ice. He looks like he will be a great third or fourth line guy.
  • The PK stood tall and killed about 40 seconds of a 5-on-3. That was a key moment of the game.
The Bad?
  • Not enough shots on the power play. No shots on three of the five power plays for the Pens.
  • Really bad penalty taken by Porter, tripping Michalek to put the Pens on the power play in OT.
The Ugly?
  • Nick Johnson? Please... no more fighting. You made Ryan Malone look like Mike Tyson in his prime.
Any Surprises?
  • Pascal Dupuis is the invisible man right now. I know he's playing big minutes, but he hasn't scored since January 22nd (and has just two goals since Christmas). That's a surprise for a guy like Dupuis, given the top line role he plays.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 36-19-4.

Who's next?
The road trip continues with a stop in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Game #59 - at Colorado Avalanche

Game 59
Penguins (35-19-4, 74 points) at Avalanche (25-26-6, 56 points)

Why does it matter?
The Pens will have a chance to get back in the winning column against a team from the West. That recipe worked well for them last Thursday against Los Angeles. Unfortunately, they may be catching the Avs at the wrong time.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - New York was a city of horrors this past weekend for the Pens.
  • Avalanche - 1-10 in their past 11 games pretty much says it all for the Avs, unless you count the brief return and sudden departure of Peter Forsberg.
Questions to be answered
  • Are the Pens catching the Avs at a bad time? Consider that the Avalanche seem to have hit rock bottom, lost 9-1 on Monday to Calgary at home. I'd look for a strong rebound performance from Colorado, or some frustration at the very least.
  • Will the Pens experience with the nonsense against the Isles help them stay calm if Colorado gets desperate, or will it make them that much quicker to react?
  • What is wrong with the PK? Five goals allowed over the past two games won't get it done.
Keys to the game
  • Stay calm. The Avs are likely to be frustrated, given that only one of their losses was a one-goal game (meaning, they've been getting whipped). Nonsense is likely to follow (see Phillipe Dupuis knee-on-knee hit on Jokinen on Monday).
  • Keep them bottled up. The Avs have managed just 41 shots over the last two games combined.
  • Make Friday a distant memory. A win would go a long way towards moving the team forward from the ugliness.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New post at Hockey Independent

I have a new post up over at Hockey Independent. It's called "Garth Snow - Comedian of the Year". In it, I used both and quoted The Princess Bride. Can't say I've ever done both of those in an article about the NHL before. Go have a look!

Rangers 5, Penguins 3

So what happened?
The Pens didn't play a bad game today.

At even strength they were pretty solid (other than one letdown that allowed Boyle to be all alone in front of Fleury for a deflection goal).

The PK certainly let them down. I'm going to attribute that not only to the absence of Matt Cooke, but also to the lack of depth at the forward spot. Guys that normally don't get big mintues (Talbot, Dupuis) are suddenly being asked to do more than they're used to. I think the overall effort level is down because they're more tired than they're used to.

Having said that, any time you take a two goal lead and allow five unanswered goals, something isn't working.

Hopefully they can get it figured out, because things are about to get really difficult schedule-wise.

Who scored?
Engelland (3), Johnson (1), Sterling (2)

The Good?
  • More contributions from the young guys. I like what I'm seeing from the prospects like Johnson and Vitale.
  • You have to give the Rangers credit. They got to the front of the net, and that earned them two deflection goals. Those are more luck than anything, but luck is when preparation meets opportunity. The Rangers took advantage of that luck.
The Bad?
  • Special teams. The PK allowed three and is suddenly extremely leaky. The power play scored one, but when they had four minutes straight in the third, they couldn't get one. That's when they needed it most.
The Ugly?
  • Fleury needs to find a way to stop some of those goals. Prospal's goal especially was on a pass that Flower should have poke-checked out of the way.
Any Surprises?
  • Eight goals scored between these two teams is a big surprise.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 35-19-4. They've lost two in a row and four of their past five games.

Who's next?
The Avalanche are coming to Consol on Wednesday night.

Game #58 - at New York Rangers

Game 58
Penguins (35-18-4, 74 points) at Rangers (29-24-4, 62 points)

Why does it matter?
The Pens get to play another frustrated team in the Rangers, though I think we can count on the fact that they won't respond like the Islanders did.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Friday night was a game to forget as quickly as possible. Time to move on.
  • Rangers - Six straight losses have the Rangers on the skids.
Questions to be answered
  • Will the Pens be able to score enough to win? Three power play goals on Friday could help jump start that effort.
  • How will the team respond after the craziness on Friday night? Can they quickly get back to playing hockey again after all of the extracurricular stuff?
  • Can the Pens keep the Rangers offense quiet? The offense has been the biggest reason for their six game losing streak - they're scoring just enough to lose games.
Keys to the game
  • Be careful on the power play - the Rangers would love to get a short-handed goal to get them going.
  • Stay with Gaborik. He doesn't quite have the blazing speed that Grabner has, but his ability to accelerate quickly is something to be aware of.
  • Establish a physical presence. I don't think this will be a problem, but get onto the forecheck and play clean, physical hockey.

Two Islanders suspended - Gillies gets 9, Martin gets 4

Godard, as expected, got the automatic 10 games.

The best part about this for me as a fan is that the suspensions will hit Gillies and Martin in the pocketbook. It will cost Martin about $41,000 and Gillies about $24,000.

The Islanders were also fined $100,000 as an organization.

Both Gillies and Martin were ruled as deliberate attempts to injure. Here's the quote from Colin Campbell:
"The actions by the Islanders' Gillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves. The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension."
If the NHL really wants to get rid of the nonsense, these suspensions need to be longer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Islanders 9, Penguins 3

So what happened?
The New York Islanders embarrassed themselves and the NHL more in winning this game than they have in all the losing they've done over the past several years.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The game itself was a rout, almost from the start. The Islanders were clearly the better team and the Pens just didn't have it going tonight. Johnson was bad, and the players in front of him were worse during the first period.

Things really got out of hand when Matt Martin attempted a Bertuzzi-like sucker punch on Max Talbot (Bertuzzi-like because he skated up to him from behind, dropped his glove and tried to punch him in the face with no warning). Fortunately Max saw it at the last second and turtled to protect himself. Martin was kicked out of the game and the Pens wound up with a 5 minute power play.

You might think things would calm down between the second and the third, but that's when the Isles let Trevor Gillies out of his cage. He took a flying elbow at Tangradi along the boards, which hurt Tangradi. That didn't stop Gillies, who started punching and kept punching even after Tangradi was down. The linesman kicked Gillies out immediately, putting him out the door to the runway. Gillies still wasn't done. While Tangradi was receiving medical attention from the trainer, Gillies stood in the doorway yelling at him.

I can't possibly imagine a more classless human being than Trevor Gillies right now.

If you hurt a guy and keep punching him, that's bad enough, but to stand there and taunt him while he's down on the ice with the trainer right beside him? Really? In the NHL? Are you a human being or a caged animal?

Once the fracas broke out when Gillies hit Tangradi, Michael Haley took the opportunity to grab Max Talbot and fight him. Once that was separated, instead of going to the penalty box, Haley went directly after Brent Johnson. That was another case of "I can't belieive what I'm seeing". Eric Godard came off of the bench to protect Johnson, as there was no one else around. Godard will be suspended for leaving the bench, but it was necessary in this case. Haley is a clown who belongs in the AHL. You don't try to fight the goalie if you're a skater - that's another cheap, classless move.

The Pens' skaters didn't touch DiPietro after he cheap-shotted Matt Cooke last week. I'd say it didn't even enter their minds to do so. That's because they have respect for the game. The Islanders (some of them, at least) certainly don't.

Tangradi and Paul Martin (who blocked a shot) may be hurt. Bylsma said Tangradi had "concussion-like" symptoms.

I have to applaud whoever gives out the Three Stars at Nassau. They could have pandered to the crowd and named Haley one of the three stars. They didn't. That shows some respect for the lines you shouldn't cross.

I also have to applaud the Pens for not crossing the line tonight. Yes, they plastered some people, but it was all on the ice, in the context of a hockey game. There were no flagrant cheap hits (ala Gillies) or any nonsense about going after their goalie (since the Isles were so hellbent on getting to Johnson). The Pens certainly could have made this much uglier than it was, and they didn't.

I've got nothing else. The Isles are a joke.

Who scored?
Letang (8), Staal (5), Kennedy (11)

Who's next?
The Pens stay in New York to face the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. We should know some of the fallout from this game by then.

Game #57 - at New York Islanders

Game 57
Penguins (35-17-4, 74 points) at Islanders (18-29-7, 43 points)

Why does it matter?
After a stirring win last night, the new-look Pens try to keep the good time rolling on Long Island.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - A nice win over the Kings last night while seemingly losing another player to injury - this time it was Dustin Jeffrey.
  • Islanders - Three wins in five games, though the Isles are onto their 5th goalie this season, with #6 (Montoya) sure to see action at some point.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the guys from Wilkes-Barre keep the drive and intensity going? They visibly injected energy into the lineup last night.
  • Anyone know anybody that can play center? The Pens have Staal, Talbot, Adams and Vitale... maybe Ryan Craig too. It's not exactly murderer's row right now.
  • Who can slow down Grabner? He has four goals in three games and is starting to play big minutes (over 20 for the first time in his NHL career last night).
Keys to the game
  • Keep them bottled up. The best way to neutralize the Isles is to have a strong game on the forecheck. Get the puck in deep and go to work.
  • Roll the lines. This is a Pens' team with the talent spread much more evenly. Get everyone involved and keep the legs fresh, especially after the game last night.
  • Keep your head up - the Pens can't afford any more injuries.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Penguins 2, Kings 1 (OT)

So what happened?
Jordan Staal was exhausted. He came onto the ice with 2:21 remaining in OT. His shift was due to change when the Pens iced the puck with 0:54 left in the game. HCDB was concerned, so he called timeout. That gave Staal and Dupuis (also on the ice, along with Letang and Martin) time to breathe.

After the timeout, the Pens got the puck out and worked it down the ice. After a Jack Johnson turnover, Staal had what seemed like his 37th good scoring chance, and he buried this one, with just 0:19 remaining in OT.

It was the type of shift the Pens were hoping to get from Staal in the absence of Sid and Geno.

The Pens brought the heart and desire tonight. They were certainly outgunned against the Kings, but they didn't let that stop them. Four lines rolled, and everyone (except Jeffrey, who got hurt) played over 10 minutes. That's terrific, especially when you consider it was the first NHL action of the season for all four of the Wilkes-Barre players.

This was a great way to earn two points.

Who scored?
Sterling (1), Staal (4)

The Good?
  • Sterling has the offensive instincts, doesn't he? His goal was a great shot.
  • The defense, especially Michalek, stepped it up big time. The Pens could not afford breakdowns and lapses, and they really didn't have any. The Kings nearly had a few odd-man rushes, but the Pens always shut them down.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury was also great. He made every save you'd want him to.
  • Jordan Staal played like a #1 center.
  • The Pens were able to weather the storm and counter the momentum in the second period, which is good since I think the Kings would have blown things open had they kept going like they were in the first.
The Bad?
  • Nothing really - a few dumb penalties to take in the first period that help put the team behind the 8-ball.
The Ugly?
  • The Clueless Zebras decided that nothing would be called for the last five minutes of the third period. The result was essentially a free-for-all kind of melee. One of my least favorite phrases is "let the players decide", because it is a complete cop out on the part of the refs when it comes to doing their jobs.
Any Surprises?
  • The four guys from Wilkes-Barre - who would have thought they'd all play this well in their debut? Certainly you hope things go this well, but I don't think anyone expected 10+ minutes and a big goal.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 35-17-4. They have 74 points and are still three points behind the Flyers for first place. The Flyers won tonight over the Canes and also (through the magic of NHL scheduling) have two games-in-hand over the Pens again.

Who's next?
The newbies need to get some rest because they're back at it tomorrow night against the Islanders.

Game #56 - vs Los Angeles Kings

Game 56
Kings (29-22-2, 60 points) at Penguins (34-17-4, 72 points)

Why does it matter?
Tonight is the return of Rob Scuderi to Pittsburgh. Scuderi was one of my favorite players when he was here. Other than being a great defensive guy, he had the role of the last guy on the 5-on-3 perfected. He was able to get down on one knee (to take away the cross-ice pass) and back up faster than anyone I've seen.

Oh, and the Pens could use some offense and two points while they're at it.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Two straight losses and a rash of injuries (plus a suspension) has the Pens in some deep trouble.
  • Kings - 5-0-1 over their past six, along with some signs that the power play might be waking up.
Questions to be answered
  • Who will score? Paging Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis...
  • How will the Wilkes-Barre guys fit in? For those of you just joining us, Tangradi and Wallace were sent down and Vitale, Craig, Johnson and Sterling were called up.
  • Can the defense step up and carry this team? That's where the money is, and they've been pretty good at shutting folks down. They need to do it now more than ever.
Keys to the game
  • Circle the wagons. Play the "no respect" card if needed.
  • Stay out of the box - no lazy penalties.
  • Use the D. Have Letang, Goligoski and Martin get involved more offensively.

Pens running Wilkes-Barre shuffle

Some interesting roster developments this afternoon in the wake of Matt Cooke's four game suspension:
  • Eric Tangradi and Tim Wallace were sent to Wilkes-Barre.
  • Four players were called up from the Baby Pens (which has be be some kind of record) - Joe Vitale, Nick Johnson, Ryan Craig and Brett Sterling.
Of the four players coming to Pittsburgh, Craig has the most NHL experience with parts of 5 seasons and 184 games under his belt. He plays center.

Sterling is a winger and he has put up some BIG goal totals in the AHL. The knock against him, however, is his height. He's listed at 5'7".

Vitale is a center in his third professional season. He kill penalties and plays a good two-way game.

Johnson is the best prospect of the four. He has some size (6'1") and has produced at a respectable level the last few seasons. He's played well this year, leading Wilkes-Barre with 20 goals.

The Pens now have the Baby Pens two best players up here (in terms of point production) - Dustin Jeffrey and Nick Johnson. Let's see if they can make some noise.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Want to meet Mark Letestu?

Go to Ross Park Mall today, Wednesday, February 9th!

He'll be at Steel City Collectibles from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

You'll have to purchase an autograph ticket, from what I understand. Nothing was provided in the email I received that indicated how much said ticket would cost, which makes me slightly wary. Contact Steel City Collectibles if you want specifics.

This blog does not do advertising, and I received nothing for posting this notice. In fact, I normally ignore most of these types of things. In this case, Mark is one of my favorite Penguins, and anyone that just had surgery could use some cheer.

Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 1

I managed to completely mess up this post (writing a review of the Kings / Pens game), so this is now just a place-holder for what was a review of a crappy game the Pens played against the Jackets.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Game #55 - vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Game 55
Blue Jackets (25-22-5, 55 points) at Penguins (34-16-4, 72 points)

Why does it matter?
The Pens need to figure out how to put some pucks in the net after getting shut out on Sunday. The Blue Jackets may be showing up at just the right time. Two points would get the Flightless Birds heading back in the right direction.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Is the glass half-empty (shutout loss) or half-full (eight wins in ten games)?
  • Blue Jackets - Two nice wins over the weekend against Detroit and Edmonton.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the top lines generate offense on a consistent basis?
  • Will Matt Cooke calm down? He seems awfully agitated lately.
  • Score first, right?
Keys to the game
  • Win at even strength. The Jackets are really bad with the extra man, but the Pens power play isn't exactly playing well right now either.
  • Avoid the slow start. The Jackets record is okay, but their supporting numbers are mediocre. Jump on them early and don't let up.
  • Nothing cute - get the puck in deep and work from below the goal line. If Kennedy breaks a good cycle to bring the puck out high, someone shoot him.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Capitals 3, Penguins 0

So what happened?
The problem today for the Pens wasn't the offensive firepower of the Caps, it was their defense. The Pens simply didn't have the firepower to get the scoring chances they needed. Neuvirth was solid and made all of the saves you'd expect, and the defense locked down any second chances.

Who scored?
No one.

The Good?
  • There were no other injuries today. The Pens can't afford to lose another center.
  • Tim Wallace, called up for today's game, drew the honor of fighting Steckel, which was a direct response to the hit on Crosby. Nice job by Wallace. I'd rather have seen Steckel have to fight Engelland, but Wallace did the job.
The Bad?
  • The Pens weren't able to get their forecheck going, and weren't able to bring their physical game into play.
  • The Pens weren't able to roll four lines - they played Wallace and Tangradi less than 14 minutes combined.
The Ugly?
  • Five shots in the first period. The Pens need to find a way to generate more offense.
Any Surprises?
  • Ovechkin got hit... and it was around the knee area. I can't think of a nicer guy to get a knee-on-knee hit after his blatant hit on Gonchar in the playoffs.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 34-16-4.

Who's next?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Game #54 - at Washington Capitals

Game 54
Penguins (34-15-4, 72 points) at Capitals (28-15-10, 66 points)

Why does it matter?
Life without Geno begins with a difficult road match against the Caps, who have their superstars available to them. This game will be a measuring stick for the 20 guys that take the ice tomorrow since they don't have Malkin and there's no telling when they'll get Crosby back.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Eight wins in the past nine games, including five in a row.
  • Capitals - They are a mediocre 5-3-5 since the Winter Classic, but Ovechkin and Backstrom each had four points as the Caps beat the Bolts on Friday.
Questions to be answered
  • How does the team react to their first serious long-term injury to a star since the end of the lockout?
  • Which Ovechkin will show up - the one with 8 shots and nothing to show for it or the one that scores on the power play and sets up three other goals?
  • Can the Pens avoid the slow starts that have plagued them against the Rangers and Sabres?
Keys to the game
  • Stay disciplined. The Caps have not been drawing many penalties - don't give the refs a reason to change that.
  • Stay close on Ovechkin - let him fire all the pucks he wants from near the blue line, but once he gets near the slot area, take away time and space.
  • Get ugly goals. That's how this team needs to win right now - get the puck to the net and crash hard.

Evgeni Malkin has torn ACL and MCL

Per Dan Bylsma, via the Pens website.

This certainly changes the outlook for the Pens at the trade deadline. You'd think they'll certainly go after a scoring forward if they're able to reclaim the cap space that Geno was using at least for the remainder of this season.

That would limit the alternatives to guys in the final year of their contracts, since they don't have the ability to add bigger salaries over more than one season.

Here are the direct quotes from Bylsma on Malkin:
Evgeni Malkin had an MRI this morning. The results show that he has a torn MCL and a torn ACL. At this point in time we are discussing options with the doctors on what to do next.

This is a difficult injury for him. It was kind of a fluke situation going into the boards with a guy. That's a tough injury for Geno. We have dealt with games without him. We've managed to find our way without him. That's what we're going to have to look at now.

We're discussing options with our doctor. Surgery is a possibility. I'm not sure if there are rehab possibilities. But right now I just got the news on the MRI.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Penguins 3, Sabres 2

So what happened?
The Pens were not ready for the start of this game. Just 17 seconds in, Paul Gaustad was left all alone in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. He was able to elevate the puck over Flower for a quick goal. The same line (Gaustad, Greer and Niedermayer) would account for a second goal just 7 minutes later to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead.

Geno was hurt in a collision with Tyler Myers, and that seemed to wake up the Pens (according to Tony Granato between the second and third periods). Where the Sabres had been winning the little battles and being more physically aggressive early in the first period, the Pens were able to turn the tide. They delivered 54 hits to the Sabres and rode the momentum to three second period goals.

That would be all they needed, as Flower was able to shut the door the rest of the way, with some help from his defense (Martin and Goligoski both had nice blocks).

Who scored?
Jeffrey (4), Kennedy (9), Cooke (10)

The Good?
  • Matt Cooke got the game winner, and it was especially nice to see given the level of punishment he was taking (and handing out). Nice to see the hard work pay off.
  • After a shaky start, the Pens were able to answer the intensity and desperation of the Sabres. I think the Sabres made a mistake in trying to be chippy and physical early in the game - it woke up the Pens. At that point, the boys in black staged their own version of the Under Armor commercial ("We must protect this house!")
  • As physical as this game was, the Pens only gave the Sabres one power play. To be fair, that is due as much to the ref as it was to the Pens, but at least they didn't do anything that was blatant enough to warrant a call.
  • Alex Goligoski had a strong night defensively, being in the right place at the right time (especially on blocked shots) on several occasions.
The Bad?
  • Do they need to get down 2-0 and watch Geno get hurt to wake up? Self-motivation will be a key for this team going forward.
  • Hopefully Geno isn't hurt too badly.
The Ugly?
  • Cooke trying to kill Montador when both were on the ground (and a linesman had separated them). That earned Matt a 10 minute misconduct and is generally a no-no in terms of sportsmanship.
Any Surprises?
  • Cooke again - he was as animated as I can remember seeing him as a Penguin. He usually doesn't blow up or get overly emotional (that we see on camera), which is a must given the type of game he plays. Maybe after the crap with DiPietro the other night, this just put him over the edge...
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 34-15-4. Still one point behind the Flyers in the Atlantic.

Who's next?
The Pens go to our nation's Capital to play the Caps on Sunday. It's the warm-up for the Super Bowl, and it'll be on NBC.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Game #53 - vs Buffalo Sabres

Game 53
Sabres (23-21-5, 51 points) at Penguins (33-15-4, 70 points)

Why does it matter?
We're slowly heading for desperation time, when the teams like the Sabres (and Thrashers and Hurricanes right now) who are either just in or just out of the playoffs start to try to pick things up a bit. That makes them tough to play against, but it also acts as good preparation for the intensity level that the Pens will see in the playoffs.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Seven wins in their past eight games.
  • Sabres - Four wins in their past five games, though the last two wins were over the Islanders and Senators.
Questions to be answered
  • How will the Pens react to Geno's return? Can they keep things going the same way?
  • Can the Pens take advantage of the Sabres leaky PK? The Sabres have allowed a power play goal in seven of their past eight games.
  • Will Malkin bump Tangradi or Godard from the lineup?
Keys to the game
  • Stick to the formula. Don't change the game plan just because Geno is returning. Keep things simple.
  • Stay disciplined. The Sabres have been a puck possession team in the past. Don't take unnecessary chances and get out of position, because it will burn you.
  • Keep the shifts short - the Sabres will roll four lines all night long. No forward averages even 20 minutes per night. Don't get caught with no legs out there in the second and third periods.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Penguins 3, Islanders 0

So what happened?

Here's what happened - late in the third after the game was decided, DiPietro (moron that he is) decided to take a shot at Matt Cooke. He went high and then flopped like a fish. Everyone got their underwear in a bunch, and then like a bolt from the blue, Brent Johnson came all the way over to fight DiPietro. I only say "fight" because they both started out standing. After one punch by Johnson, DiPietro was down on his backside (Johnson respectfully didn't pound DiPietro when he was on the ice).

It was easily the best thing I've seen all year.

The game itself was honestly pretty boring. The two teams combined for 43 shots, and while there were some excellent scoring chances, there certainly was not a good pace to the play.

The Pens played this game like they knew they were the better team, and it showed. They were helped by some poor goaltending by Glass Jaw (DiPietro).

Who scored?
Kennedy (8), Kunitz (18), Talbot (6)

The Good?
  • Talbot finally scored (an empty netter). He rang a shot off of both posts earlier in the game.
  • Paul Martin had a quiet two-assist night.
  • More great penalty killing again tonght.
  • Brent Johnson's excellent goaltending was only surpassed by his fighting skills.
The Bad?
  • DiPietro wasn't good on the two that he allowed. They'd both have to be considered soft.
  • I'd like to see Tangradi get more than 10 minutes of ice time.
The Ugly?
  • DiPietro's fighting skills.
Any Surprises?
  • Dustin Jeffrey centering Sid's line and playing well. Hopefully he can be a contributor if Letestu will be out for any length of time.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 33-15-4. They are just one point behind the Flyers for the lead in the Atlantic, though the Flyers do have a game-in-hand.

Who's next?
The All-Star game is this weekend. The Pens are back in action next Tuesday against the Rangers.

Game #52 - vs New York Islanders

Game 52
Islanders (16-27-7, 39 points) at Penguins (32-15-4, 68 points)

Why does it matter?
Malkin may return tonight, but the important thing to note is another chance to get two points and improve the divisional record. The Isles are pretty bad right now - this would be a missed opportunity if the Pens didn't come out with a W.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Six wins in their past seven games. Last night's game at MSG was a good example of the resilience this team has shown this year.
  • Islanders - They just won last night in Atlanta... Poulin has been decent in net... Grabner is really fast... other than that, the results have not been good.
Questions to be answered
  • The biggest question for me tonight is how will many of the guys who played big minutes last night react? They aren't used to getting over 20 minutes of ice time. Will there be tired legs tonight?
  • Can the Pens get back to drawing chances on the power play? It seems like some of the "keep the legs moving" kind of stuff isn't there right now.
  • How effective will Tangradi be if he gets into the lineup?
Keys to the game
  • Keep it simple. Get into the grinding mode right from the beginning of the game.
  • Pace yourself. Don't look to get into a track meet early - keeping the legs for the third period is important.
  • Stop Okposo. He's the biggest threat on the Isles, and he just scored two goals last night.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (OT - SO - 1-0)

So what happened?
The Pens played a great road game, getting some timely scoring and then hanging on to get to overtime. Once into the shootout, anything can happen (even against Lundqvist).

The Rangers scored the first two goals of the game, but the Pens came back by scoring three in nine minutes in the second period. The Rangers managed a power play goal late in the second to tie the score, and it stayed that way until Dustin Jeffrey gave the Pens the lead in the seventh round of the shootout, followed by Flower's save on Marian Gaborik to seal the win.

Nice to get two points, and nice to not have to listen to those horrible Versus announcers for a little while (tomorrow's game is also on FSN).

Who scored?
Jeffrey (3), Rupp (5), Kunitz (17)

The Good?
  • The goalies were great tonight. Several of the goals were deflections or bad bounces around the crease. Neither of them were beaten cleanly until Jeffrey in the shootout.
  • Speaking of Jeffrey - he's going to make it tough to get him out of the lineup, and with the news that Mark Letestu is on crutches, Jeffrey may get an extended look in the lineup.
  • The penalty killers were tremendous tonight. Killing five of six isn't perfect, but they had to kill a five minute major penalty to Staal.
The Bad?
  • Tyler Kennedy was a -2 on the night. Not great. He also didn't seem to have a physical game, getting bumped off of the puck too easily.
  • Not good enough in the third period with just three shots to eleven against. The Pens were lucky they didn't lose the game in the third.
The Ugly?
  • The Versus announcers were tremendously bad. The whole thing with Staal was a perfect example - Prust pretty clearly got him with an elbow in the chops. Staal retaliated and was whistled for it. It probably shouldn't have been a match penalty, but either way, the announcers watched the same replay over and over and made no mention of the Prust elbow, or that it was probably a bad call. The Versus crew between periods brought it up... but not Beninati. It's almost like he's an announcer for another team...
Any Surprises?
  • The Pen won a game without the top three centers for most of the year. I'd call that a surprise for certain.
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 32-15-4. They are in second place in the Atlantic, three points behind the Flyers, who lost tonight to Tampa Bay.

Who's next?
The All-Star game is this weekend. The Pens are back in action next Tuesday against the Rangers.

Game #51 - at New York Rangers

Game 51
Penguins (31-15-4, 66 points) at Rangers (29-20-3, 61 points)

Why does it matter?
The All-Star break is over and we've made the turn for the home stretch of the season. The Pens badly need to improve on their mediocre divisional record of 6-5-2. Two points over the Rangers tonight would be a good start.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Five wins in six games heading into the break makes for a nice change after losing six out of eight.
  • Rangers - The Rangers reached their high-water mark of 10 games over .500 back on January 8th. They've been treading water since then (4-5-0), but have won two of their past three games.
Questions to be answered
  • Will the Pens be able to dictate the pace and put some shots on net? The Rangers have allowed no more than 23 shots in each of their past three games.
  • Can the Pens control the NHL's fastest skater, Marian Gaborik? The defense will need to be on their toes.
  • Who will step up and provide the offense?
Keys to the game
  • Avoid the shootout. Lundqvist is good at those, and the Rangers have lost just one all year.
  • You know Tortorella will have his guys ready to work. The Pens need to be able to exceed the Rangers' effort level.
  • No more Pittsburgh North at MSG - Fedotenko and Christensen are both out and Rosival was traded to Phoenix.