Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Game #36 - vs Carolina Hurricanes

2011-12 Game 36

Carolina Hurricanes (12-19-6, 30 points) at Pittsburgh Penguins (20-11-4, 44 points)

Cam Ward is not good enough to have such a bizarre signature.  I see the "30", but what the heck is up with the rest?

Why does it matter?

The Pens want to come out after the Christmas break with the same level of success as they had going into it.  The Canes have been better recently, so this will not be easy.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - A nice three game winning streak led by Geno, Fleury and some excellent special teams play.
  • Hurricanes - 4-2-2 in their past eight games.  The Canes have been playing well.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the Pens continue to get healthy?  Michalek returned in Winnipeg... they need Paul Martin next (though he won't play tonight).
  • Will the power play stay hot?  The Pens have power play goals in four straight.
  • Can the Pens slow down Jussi Jokinen?  He has nine points in his last six games against the Pens.
Keys to the game
  • Special teams.  The Canes have simply not been taking penalties (one per game for three games straight).  Their record when they allow a power play goal is just 3-15-3 (which is amazingly bad).  The Pens need to get to the power play and convert.
  • Matt Niskanen?  Yep - in the month of December, Niskanen has averaged over 21 minutes of time per game and has 9 points in 10 games.  He's also a +3 over that span.
  • Play 60 minutes.  The Canes have been winning games by scoring at even strength.  The Pens need to be ready to match the intensity for a full 60 minutes.

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