Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Game #22 - vs St. Louis Blues

2011-12 Game 22

St. Louis Blues (10-8-2, 22 points) at Pittsburgh Penguins (12-6-3, 27 points)
Steen is the leading scorer for the Blues this year.  I like the look of these Season Ticket cards.
Why does it matter?
The Blues are a new team (and a tough challenge) for the Pens under new coach Ken Hitchcock.  The Pens will be trying to avoid the hangover from the return of Sidney Crosby on Monday.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Sid came back and the Pens kicked butt against the Isles.
  • Blues - Two straight losses, but the Blues are a new defensive team under Ken Hitchcock, with a 4-1-2 record since he started.
Questions to be answered
  • What will we see from Sid and everyone else once the initial excitement of his return wears off?  How will they respond?
  • Can the Pens score against the Blues?  Under Hitchcock, they've allowed three goals just once (not counting the extra goal allowed in losing two shootouts).
  • Can the defense continue their strong play and avoid further injuries?  They're essentially at full strength for the first time in a long time (minus only Ben Lovejoy).
Keys to the game
  • Get to their game.  If the Pens are able to "get to their game" as HCDB likes to say, they'll generate lots of shots.  The Blues are excellent at limiting shots against (during their recent three game winning streak, they allowed 22 or less in each game).
  • Win at even-strength.  None of the top three goal scorers on the Blues have a power play goal.  Steen, Oshie and Backes have done almost all of their damage at even-strength.
  • Watch out for Chris Stewart (who I think is returning from suspension tonight).  He has started slowly this season, but he's a tough hard-nosed player who can score (he had 28 goals each of the last two seasons).

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