Friday, December 4, 2009

Billy G Scores the GW as the Pens Stop the Avs in their tracks, 4-1

The Pens finally overcame their home struggles against the Avs in a very hard fought victory. Defense was the name of the game for two notoriously offensive minded teams. The Avs young players impressed me including Stastny, Duchene, O'Reilly, Galiardi, and Quincey. Galiardi should've had 2 goals in this game and it might've changed the final outcome but it was not to be. Thank you ref. for losing sight of the puck and blowing the whistle early.

For the first goal of the game the Avs scored via a redirect goal by Galiardi. Tucker was off to Fleury's left and just passed it off to the youngster who tipped it in, 1-0 Avs off a PP goal. Godard took a sloppy penalty in the off. zone and didn't have a great game tonight. The Pens ended up outshooting the Avs 14-6 in the 1st period but it was not indicative of the actual flow of the game. The Avs seemed to possess the puck more and the shots the Pens were getting were all outside the circle and nowhere near goalie Budaj.

But as the period was coming to a close, the two-headed monster of Geno and Sid took the ice along with newly turned sniper Rupp. Geno banked a pass off the boards up to Rupp who stormed past Foote and then had a 2 on 1 with Sid. It went tick-tack-toe back to Sid for the wide open net. 1-1 with 6 seconds left in the period, talk about timely goals.

The Pens were outshot 9-5 in the 2nd period as the Avs forwards and D-men did an excellent job of taking time and space away from the Pens. There were a lot of deflections, blocked shots (Avs lead league in blocked shots), and misdirected passes caused by this aggressive puck pursuit of the Avs. Adams had a nice middleweight fight with Hendricks of the Avs early in the period. And soon after the Pens had to kill off a couple Avs PPs. Hejduk was dangerous as he always is. Even at 34 he can still skate well and has tremendous hands.

In the 3rd period the wheels began turning for the Avs as they could no longer keep their high tempo offense and aggressive defense approach up any longer. Their two key defenders Foote and Clark took minor penalties and the Pens got a 5 on 3 PP, almost an automatic goal for this team. As the 1st penalty ended Sid passed it off to Guerin on the right side of Budaj and he buried an empty net, 2-1 Pens. As bad as Budaj was last year in a starting goalie role for the Avs, he was terrific in backing up Anderson tonight.

Budaj didn't give up any soft goals and his rebound control was also impressive. The game was evenly played by both teams the bottom tier players were used a lot. Stewart for the Avs was effective and Quincey was everything people have been saying he is, a beast. He's big, mobile, can shoot, hit and makes smart plays. That Ryan Smyth trade has worked out nicely for both the Kings and the Avs.

As good as the Avs D and forwards were the Pens' were just as impressive. Gonch did a wonderful job of shutting down Stastny and Duchene on the first line and Skoula was fantastic in doing the little things in his own zone. We know how he gets the puck on net and he's always been a big guy with not much physical jam to his game, but I think that's starting to come out. He had a couple hits and plays where he muscled the Avs out of the Pens off. zone. He also takes a lot of hits to make good plays, what a 7th d-men Shero found himself, eh? I thought Shero would sign him in early July, now you see why I was so high on this guy.

Geno had a solid game and drew the penalty that would result in the official game winning goal. Feds had 3 good scoring chances where he just missed the net, the man's obviously snakebitten, he'll bury his chances sometime soon, I hope. Staal scored the 3rd Pens goal on an empty net and Sid added his 2nd of the game (3rd pt of night) for a 4-1 Pens win. Geno also had 3 pts.

Give the Avs young guns credit. They played a tough game last night and were a little tired on the 2nd night of back to back games, but they didn't play fatigued hockey. The offense and goaltending (Anderson) is there, it's just gonna take a little while for the kids to develop. Look at the Pens. Amazing that the Avs are one of the best teams in the West in a year where they were picked last and in the middle of a "rebuilding" process. They sure ain't playin like a young and inexperienced team. Keep it up boys!


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