Monday, December 14, 2009
Let's See How Far We've Come
The season is 33 games old for your Pittsburgh Penguins and as it stands now the Pens are 4th in the Eastern Conf. and 2nd in the uber competitive Atlantic Division. The Rangers and Flyers have been sub-par but the Isles and Devils are exceeding most expectations, especially those Isles. But the Pens are still dominating, even with the number of injuries they've had. Now they're as healthy as ever and with that has come a series of winning streaks.
What's been the formula for success thus far? Goaltending, depth scoring, Crosby, and a never say die attitude. The Pens always play till the last second of every period regardless if they're winning or not. Over the summer Shero was faced with the hard task of replacing Scuderi/Gill, the team's shutdown pairing in last year's playoff run. Gogo was promoted and Mckee was bought out from the Blues. He's currently one of the leading shot blockers in the NHL.
Mike Rupp was the other summer pickup but the team wasn't counting on him to have 9 goals by mid-December. But yes it helps. Rupp was supposed to be the Zigomanis replacement but with a much more physical and offensive edge. Who in their sane mind saw this type of offense coming from him? He's looked like Geno at times on the ice, has a nice wrister, and skates beautifully for a 6'5 guy. If need be, he can muck it up and stick up for his teammates, just pay attention to tomorrow night's game.
Dupuis has also been a pleasant surprise but he always had some offensive flair in him, right? Since his arrival from Atlanta in March of '08 Dupuis has played a lot of minutes on the top lines and when needed he can fill in on the 3rd or 4th line. His speed and defensive play was always superb, but now he can actually handle the puck. Hallelujah. How many times has Dupuis had the puck just role off his stick, or his shot go into the stands, or some other weird play. He's handling the puck more effectively and Bylsma has given him the green light to go go go.
The Pens lack another scoring threat on the top 2 lines. But what if Kunitz starts turning it up? What if Feds finally finds his mojo and begins scoring? Those are legit points but Kunitz hasn't performed all too well in a scoring role as a Pen. His physical play is evident but is that enough to win another cup? Time will tell. Geno's numbers (9 g 22a) aren't exactly Geno-esque but he's been injured this year and WILL find his stride. How scary is that for the rest of the league. Moreover, once the PP gets going there will be less 1 goal game victories, amen.
Secondary players are having career years for the Pens. Cooke with 6 goals, Rupp with 9, and Dupuis with 9. Guys like Adams, Godard, and Talbot have also been contributors. They hit, make smart hockey plays, and don't put the team at risk when they're on the ice. Well ok maybe Godard can but his play has improved tremendously this year as well.
The Pens have a tough little stretch of games coming up: 2 vs. Philly, Buffalo, New Jersey and then Ottawa. The Flyers are hungry for wins and playing the Pens will only get their juices flowin' even more. I see the Pens continuing their current pace of wins and at the trade deadline look for the Holy one, the brains behind the train, and the genius that is Ray Shero to pull off a trade to put the Pens in a position to win another Cup. Names like Mueller, T. Ruutu, and Ponikorovsky will pop up and others will join the bunch as well.
Look for a Flyers preview tomorrow afternoon. And check out my friend Rishi was mentioned in this ESPN article:
-IN DAN CARCILLO SUSPENSIONS WE TRUST