Monday, September 28, 2009
Pre-season ends with another loss, this time to the Wings in Motown
-If Jason Williams (pictured above) is the best player on the ice in a Wings/Pens game, you know something is wrong. As was the case Sunday night at the old Joe Louis Arena, where only 3 months ago the Pens shocked the world by dominating the Wings on their own home turf in game 7. Only this game featured no Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Ozzy, Geno, Sid, or Gonch. Although Franzen and Datsyuk were in the lineup and both had very good games.
-Jordan Staal was given the assignment of centering the 1st line with Kunitz and Guerin. He did a good job but he also had 4-5 great looks at the net (including a penalty shot) and he wasn't able to convert on any of those chances. One positive was his faceoff winning %, which was 61% on the night. The Pens were clearly the better team in the 1st period and seemed like the more solid overall team for the majority of the game. But there were way too many stupid penalties. Orpik, Adams, Guerin, etc. The Wings scored 3 PP goals on the night and that was basically the whole story: penalties penalties, and more penalties.
-It was fun seeing a 4th line of Godard Bissonette and Rupp muck their way on the ice against the likes of WW II vets Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper. There were plenty of scrums in this game, Franzen and Letang were going at it and then Guerin comes in and starts punching and Kunitz just tackles Franzen from behind and stars wailing punches. Orpik and Maltby were also going at it throughout the game, Adams and Draper were jawing, and the funniest moment was when Godard tried to get Mattias Ritola (young 'spect) to drop his mits. The ref broke it up before anything went down, but Godard still got a good punch away on him.
-Chris Conner has shown some good speed and forechecking thus far during the pre-season. Whether he makes the team or not is still in question, I think Bayda has the edge on him because of his size and strength. Conner is much quicker but he is also muscled off the puck very easily by opposing players. At 5'8 it's going to be hard to be succesful in the "new" NHL, unless your name is St. Louis or Gionta or some other guys. Defenseman Nate Guenin is the lock to get the #7 Dmen spot. Lovejoy hasn't been impressive at all this pre-season and on top of that, he's now injured.
-I know it's the pre-season and Sid/Geno/Gonch weren't even playing but still the Pens should've had a better effort, particularly the D-men and the PP. The Pens have had problems scoring on breakaways/shootouts for the past couple years. I'm not talking about scrubs like Adams who had a backhand sail far and away on a 1 on 1 chance in this game, I'm talking about Geno, Sid, Staal, and the list goes on. These are top notch players performing atrociously on breakaways, doesn't make sense. The Pens did show a lot of toughness in this game, Godard was out to kill someone and one camera angle showed the most angry and mean looking face a man could ever have. I think Godard was mad Detroit didn't have an enforcer, who would fight him?
-Next Friday night I expect to see Geno and Sid fully recovered from their groin strains and in the lineup against the Rangers. What an opening night, ay? The banner gets raised, Godard will likely fight Brashear, Avery will get punched by someone, and Geno will have a hat trick. Management has some tough decisions to make regarding the roster and who gets cut/sent down. Curry was sent down shortly after the game so that signifies Brent Johnson as the backup goalie on opening day. Conner, Bayda, and Guenin are the top candidates to break the lineup, which two stay still remains in question.
Stay tuned for more news tomorrow....