Sunday, October 4, 2009
Pens Finish Weekend with 2 big wins...Fleury Looking Sharp
-Mr. Kennedy had a big first game against the Rangers on Friday night in scoring a game winner and being a speedy force all over the ice. The night began about 20 minutes before the drop of the puck when the banner was raised and the players watched as the 08-09 banner made its way up into the rafters. It was very emotional, even for me as a hockey fan, I almost cried. Comedian Dennis Miller (former MNF announcer) was the voice over for a jumbotron special which recounted the story of Dan Bylsma and the historic run into the finals.
-The Rangers looked much better than they did last year in this game. They have a couple fantastic young puck moving D-men in Michael Del Zotto (19) and Matt Gilroy (25). Gilroy was flying around the Off. zone like a forward the majority of the game, pretty scary to watch. Speaking of flying, newly signed forward Marion Gaborik was also fun to watch. He had a breakaway that would've tied the game but luckily it went thru Fleury's padding and out. He did manage to score a goal, and he looked very good on a line with Dubinsky and Prospal.
-The 9 new players on the Rangers roster all played fairly well besides maybe Kotalik. Interesting to see so many soft Europeons on one team but what the hell. Highlights of the game included Fleury making an incredible save on Prospal on a 2 on 1 earlier in the 2nd. Brashear and Godard squared off in a heavyweight tilt a couple minutes into the game. It was a great fight with Brashear getting Godard early but then taking some beatings himself as the fight prolonged. Mike Rupp played well on a 4th line with Godzilla and Adams. The two towers of death had a couple great scoring chances and a couple post whistle scrums as well.
-The Pens offense suffocated the Rangers D for 2/3 of the game and it looked like the Pens team of last year's playoff run. All 4 lines were cycling the puck and creating scoring chances. Geno and Sid had great games, Letang looked sharp, Gogo was tremendous on the PP, Fleury was stellar, etc. The Rangers had a chance to get back in the game because of how well their top 2 lines were playing: Drury/Callahan/Higgins, Dubs/Gabby/Prospal. But fleury stood tall and the defense/penalty kill was strong the whole night.
The Pens prevailed 3-2.
-On Saturday night, it was time for the Pens to meet the #1 overall pick in this year's draft, John Tavares. Tavares had a beautiful backhand goal and an assist in this game but it was the Pens behind two shootout goals (both 5 hole) by Letang and Crosby, who would eventually win this game. The Pens have dominated the Isles the last couple years, but every game has been super competitive and very hard to win. Steigy and Bob pointed that out during the broadcast. The Isles defense is now healthy with the likes of Streit, Witt, Sutton, Gervais, and Martinek. All 5 spent much of last year on the IR but they were noticeable in this one. Especially Mr. Witt.
-Brendan Witt loves taking liberties on Pens players over the years. He caught Feds crossing the blue line but thankfully Ruslan saw the hit coming and didn't get hurt too badly. Shortly after this hit the game turned in the Isles favor. Geno pushed Witt, then Dupuis, and then newcomer Jay Mckee flew in and started fighting Witt who's a very tough customer. Mckee got a game misconduct, but in the third period he entered the game again, very weird set of events. Bob Errey was confused. Shortly before the Witt hit, other newcomer Rupp fought Tim Jackman. So slowly but surely, the game was getting very physical.
-During the first 2 periods the Pens seemed to play into the Isles hands. They were sitting back and waiting for them to make mistakes rather than initiate the attack themselves. The Pens were a little tired from playing on Friday night and the Isles on the other hand were fully energized for their home opener. The question was, how long could they keep up this type of play? Answer: not very long. In the last 5 min. of the 2nd period and the whole the 3rd period, the Pens dominated play. Feds came back into the game and scored another huge goal to tie it at 3-3 late in the 3rd. He's had a knack for scoring big goals in his short career as a Pen. Think back to game 5 last year against Washington in Rd. 2.
-After the Pens tied the game the first time at 2-2, Trent Hunter (Pens killer) responded on the next shift with a one timer goal from a pretty pass from 20 yr old Josh Bailey. But after the Feds goal, it was 3-3 heading into the SO. Tanger and Crosby helped ice the deal against goalie Dwayne Roloson, who was terrific in this game. The Pens outshot the Isles 18-5 in the 3rd, and 42-28 for the game. It took 2 periods until the Pens really got their mojo going. And it was eventually going to happen, knowing our Pens. Cooke, Kunitz, Staal, Feds, Geno, and Sid were all bringing 100% on each shift. Kunitz had a crunching hit on Martinek in the 2nd which I had dreams about last night it was so beautiful.
-In conclusion, the Isles are a much tougher team to play against this season with all their D healthy and with the young talent that they have: Okposo, Bailey, Tavares, Moulson, and Tambellini. I haven't even heard of Moulson and he was very effective on the 1st line tonight. Tavares will be a stud in this league, he showed it tonight. He could've had a couple goals in this one had it not been for some bad ice or opening night nerves. It's good to see people in the stands in Long Island, I think they'll be there to stay after seeing #91 (no not Sergei Federov).
-Hopefully nothing is wrong with Feds or Jay Mckee and don't be surprised to see Chris Bourque start Wednesday against the Coyotes. Godard will need some knuckle resting with the Flyers coming up on Thursday..... : )
-Quote of the day: "Marion Gaborik saw one 2 on 1 every couple weeks playing in Minnesota." -Steigy on FSN.