Friday, December 16, 2011

Game #32 - at Ottawa Senators

2011-12 Game 32

Pittsburgh Penguins (17-10-4, 38 points) at Ottawa Senators (14-14-4, 32 points)

Sarge will always be a Penguin to me.

Why does it matter?

Two points are needed, and they are needed badly.  The Pens are in danger of entering a prolonged slump, so they need to grab points when they have the chance.  Tonight, they have the chance.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Three losses in four games, all to strong teams.  That's not an encouraging sign.
  • Senators - The Sens have been maddeningly inconsistent so far.  Right now they're on the bad side of inconsistent, with six losses in their past eight games.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the Pens slow down the Sens offensive attack?  They dropped over 40 shots on Buffalo and Boston in their past two games.
  • Who will play center?  Geno is the only one that is a lock for the lineup tonight.  Staal and Vitale are both uncertain to play.  Tangradi has been recalled from Wilkes-Barre, but where are the pivots going to come from?
  • How much will Zybanek Michalek be able to do?  It's supposed to be his first game back tonight.
Keys to the game
  • Get through the game without any more injuries.  We thought the Pens were the walking wounded last year - this is getting silly.  At least they have Geno this year.
  • Help out on defense.  Even with Z in the lineup, the Pens will need to be extra supportive of their guys on the blue line.  That means that Geno will need to be willing to come back deep into his own zone over and over.
  • Win the special teams battle.  The PK has allowed a goal in five straight games, and the power play hasn't been the best at either generating chances or cashing in on them.

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