Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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).

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