Monday, January 21, 2013

Penguins off to fast start after strong opening weekend

The Pens opened up the 2012-13 season with two straight on the road, in Philadelphia on Saturday and in New York on Sunday.

They came away with four points, and even better, won both games in regulation (meaning, they prevented their division rivals from earning any points).

Things went about as well as you could hope for - here are the positives I took away from the first two games:

  • No injuries -  Seriously - this is #1 for me given that these guys had almost no training camp and most of them were not used to game speed just yet.  I don't know if it's just me, but I still get nervous every time I see Sid get hit hard.  Not sure that feeling will ever go away.
  • Distributing the minutes for the forwards - Every forward played less than 20 minutes in both games.  Geno only played 16:50 in each one.  Admittedly, it is much easier to roll the lines when you have a lead, but for the opening weekend, it was good to see everyone get into the flow.  The lowest minutes total for either game was Dustin Jeffrey in game 1 with 8:49.
  • Glass - Tanner Glass has fit in very well with the team so far.  I don't think people realized what the Pens were getting when then signed him, ostensibly to take Aaron Asham's spot on the roster.  Glass is the #5 forward on the penalty kill (Adams, Cooke, Sutter and Dupuis are the top 4), and he brings a physical presence.  He also plays much more than Asham did and is a much better overall hockey player.
  • Goaltending - Fleury and Vokoun give the Pens an excellent 1-2 punch in net.  There's no question in my mind that Flower is your #1 guy, but Vokoun gives them the best backup they've had during Crosby's tenure with the team (no disrespect to Brent Johnson, but he's no Vokoun)
  • Power play - Remember all the talk before the season about James Neal on the point, and how disjointed the power play looked?  Starting out by converting four times on eight chances kind of kills that line of thought, doesn't it?  Even if one PP goal was a empty-netter, and two others were by the second unit and / or off of the rush (Dupuis' goal).

All things considered, you probably could not have scripted a better start to the season for the Pens.

The Maple Leafs will be in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.  Hope the magic continues.

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