Friday, November 19, 2010

Eric Staal and the Canes Swoop Into Town

Win big or lose big seems to be the Canes motto this month. They've scored 7 goals in 3 of the past 7 games and allowed 22 goals in 3 of those games. But overall they are a not so bad 9-9, not bad at all given the lack of star/quality players outside Eric Staal. Rookie Skinner will be one to follow closely tonight as he has 6 goals and was dead silent during the last Pens/Canes tilt nearly a month ago.

The Canes added overpayed d-men Ian White in a trade with Calgary a couple days ago. White has been known to score some big goals against the Pens over the years.
On the Pens side of things Geno is heating up, Orpik has looked as good as ever, and Michalek is slowly developing into the shutdown guy we paid the big bucks for. Geno and Asham have developed some good chemistry over the past week and they seem to glide side by side when they come up ice.

The Pens are correcting early problems one step at a time, the way it should be done. First off, Fleury has been terrific, his rebound control especially. The softies and goals on the 1st few shots of the game have diminished. The Pens have also improved defensively allowing a league low 26.8 shots/game. Letang and Orpik have played well together as have Martin and Michalek. Finally Disco Dan took Engelland away from the other teams top lines and has him playing a more comfortable role.

Coming off the first (or one of the few) 60 minute efforts, the Pens will look to win their 4th out of their last 5. The Canes have some gritty forwards who can score like Tuomo Ruutu and Chad LaRose who has 6 goals on the year. Look for Pitkanen to play at least 30 minutes tonight and Corvo as well. The Pens have eaten up Corvo over the years, playoffs included. Much of the Pens recent success has come from lack of turnovers and speed. Lines 1-4 are getting the puck deep, crash and banging, and tiring opposing d-men down. Chris Connor who's all of 5'9 has shown tremendous speed and strength while playing alongside TK and Letestu.

The Canes are coming off an offensive blowout where Staal netted a hat trick. But the Pens don't have Elliot or Leclaire in net, thankfully. Look for Michalek/Martin to get matched up against the Staal/Samsonov unit. The lineup will be the same as Wednesday's game. I like how the Sedin's and Luongo said they were unimpressed with the Pens and feel they are the inferior team. Yeah that's why the score was 3-1 Pens and should've been 4-1. The Nucks are deeper at wing, yes but they're D is just as good as ours IMO and Luongo doesnt' show up for the big games (Olympics don't count that team was sick).


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gustavsson Comes up Big Late, Leafs Win 4-3

The Monster as they call him in Toronto nation, was huge tonight. 25 shots isn't necessarily a lot but he seemed to make key saves when the Leafs needed it the most. Former Sabre and Thrasher Macarthur had a solid game scoring 2 goals and creating offense for an otherwise quiet night by the whole Leafs team. Kessel and Versteeg were less noticeable than Adams and Rupp, yet 4 goals on 14 shots still managed to beat Fleury.

Fleury let in a few he'd like to have back but there were several big faceoffs in the Pens zone which they lost and the Leafs would score right after. The PP goal by Macarthur comes to mind, as does the Beauchemin goal after a Zigomanis (former Pen) faceoff win. The Leafs did an excellent job of taking away the outside shot by the Pens D (for the majority of the game), the Pens did not. The Leafs D had good looks all night and were able to score 3 goals that way.

The most impressive part of the Leafs team is their defense. All 6 guys are big, physical, and do a solid job of moving the puck up ice. Even a guy like Gunnarsson made very few mistakes. The highlight of the night for the Pens seemed to be the Engelland fight vs. heavyweight Colton Orr. I was surprised to see Engs drop them with the big man who's taller and about 20 lbs heavier. Yet Engs KOed him at the end and the crowd seemed to wake up. Good to see Crosby with his 1st of the year and Geno continue to be a beast.

It still boggles me how Geno is so bad on shootouts/penalty shots. He never makes a move and just shoots it and misses most of the time. Some positives for the Pens include the net front presence, Kunitz is doing a great job on the PP or whenever he's out there of screening the goalie, and getting rewarded with a goal tonight. For a defense playing without the likes of Orpik and Michalek, their shutdown pair, they were solid in transition. Lovejoy had his best game of the year. Great play to breakup a 2 on 1 Sjostrom and made a nice pass to Crosby for the 3rd Pens goal.

The most noticeable forwards were Sid, Geno, and Kunitz. Geno is playing like a monster this year he's creating so much havoc for opposing teams and its creating scoring chances like its nobody's biznass. Sid got better as the game went on and Kunitz's MO seems to be those little passes up to the forwards. He did it back in game 7 when the Pens won the Cup and he's doing it again now. But the top 6 wingers like Dupuis, Tangradi, and Letestu are non-factors. Putting Geno and Sid together is effective but separately there's very little chemistry. Those 3 aforementioned guys are getting their chances but are not burying them. Dupuis was robbed by the Monster, Tangradi bobbled a pass from Crosby near the net, and Letestu had some point blank looks at the last minute of the game and couldn't score.

Paul Martin is an animal. There were at least 3 plays where Toronto attempted to clear the puck high out of the zone and Martin jumps up and saves the puck from exiting. He is very confident with the puck on the point and is able to make high percentage passes to the other guys. He doesn't have Gonch's slapper (basically no one does) but he doesn't give up too many bonehead passes and is very good defensively.

Give credit to the Monster and the Leafs for playing a team game when their stars (Steegs and Kessel) weren't shining. The Pens need to find some flow in their top 6. The 3rd and 4th unit are grinding away, hitting, and providing energy but the top 2 lines need to produce. It's hard to blame Fleury when you see so little shots but he can be better.


link to fight:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bobrovsky, Flyers Play Spoiler, beat Pens 3-2

Don't expect Mike Comrie to get any sympathy from Hilary, at least not after tonight's play. He had 4 shots and was all over the puck in the 1st period, then went into hibernation mode never to be seen again. What started out as Lemieux pouring some of Mellon Arena's ice onto the new turf, ended with the Pens desperately trying to tie the game at 3. Newly named starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was pretty calm in net and gave the Flyers a chance to win. He had excellent rebound control unlike Mr. Fleury but he also got lucky when he had no idea where the biscuit was, the Pens were just unable to capitalize.

Crosby wasn't a factor in this game and his linemates Kunitz and Dupuis were just as bad. On the other hand the Tangradi/Comrie/Geno line generated a ton of offense and hemmed the Flyers in their own zone on several occasions. Once Comrie learns to lift the puck maybe they'll put some numbers up. But Geno was a machine. He was playing with that hop we saw in him a couple years ago and he was constantly creating turnovers and making things happen.

Besides the Geno and Tangradi the Pens defense (namely Michalek and Martin) were outstanding. Martin made a great backhand dish pass to TK for the 1st goal of the game and Michalek created the shot that lead to the 2nd goal of the game. But it was Michalek's defense on the PK and against the Richards/Carter unit that was just as impressive. Those two will definitely be worth the big $$$. Then again Martin's style of play is reminiscent to Leopold, they even look alike but Martin's a better player, and hence the bigger paycheck. Goligoski really impressed me, he played well on the PP point and played as good defensively as I've ever seen him play.

Bobrovsky's 29 saves highlighted the victory for the Flyers who look a lot more dangerous and a lot like the team we saw in the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. They have skilled players down through their lineup. And as long as Hartnell and Carcillo aren't taking bonehead penalties, they are very tough to beat. The Nikolay Zherdev experiment will be one to watch but having a 3rd line of Giroux/Zherdev and Van Riemsdyk is scary. TK and Letestu both had good games, when TK's hopping around the ice like a gazelle you know he's on his game.

Don't worry Pens fans, it's only one game and the Pens played well enough to win. A couple posts go in and it's a different score. Letang's flu-like symptoms were evident in his terrible pass to Martin on the PP, which lead to a Giroux goal. I like the physicality that Engellend brings on defense but he had a tough time moving the puck up ice throughout the contest. Look for Lovejoy to be inserted on Saturday night vs. the tiny and Halak-less Canadiens. Oh and that Fleury save on Carter looked all too familiar didn't it? Flashback to game 2 a couple years back, almost a carbon copy. Carter failed to lift it again.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hawks One Win Away

Game 5 was an outright downpour by the Chicago offense. Work ethic and desperation finally matched the talent level of the Hawks. The 1st period in particular featured 3 goals and an offensive display the Flyers weren't ready for. Leighton wasn't too sharp, but it was far from his fault.

Versteeg, Sharp, Kane, Byuf, and Keith have been catalysts throughout the series. I still think Toews can elevate his game even more but the fact that he leads the playoffs in points makes him a legit Conn Smythe candidate, along with his teammate and standout d-men Keith. Seabrook/Keith are an exciting pairing to watch because they can not only shutdown opposing top lines, but go on the offense when needed as well.

As good as Chicago looked in game 5, Philly is far from done. For one thing they finally have a coach in Laviolette who has them playing smart and physical hockey, not just physical. It woulda took thousands of dollars to pay Stevens to bench Carcillo in favor of Lappy or Powe. Remember a couple years ago how knucklehead Downie cost the Flyers 2 games against the Pens in the Conference finals? Downie has since become a much better player. The Flyers also have one of the best d-men of our era, Chris Pronger. His media antics help relax the team and sway the focus away from guys like Richards/Carter to himself. He's won a Cup in Anaheim and lost in the Finals as a member of the Oilers in '06.

Don't forget the Flyers fans either. They are loud, abusive, energetic, and will help revive the Flyers back into their good 'ole Flyer form.
The team never seems to give up, game 5 was evidence of that. And they also have 2 great scoring lines with a very potent 3rd line to go along with it. Leino, Giroux, and Briere have been instrumental throughout the Flyers Cup run. Leino was on the losing side last year for the Red Wings while being nowhere near the player he has become now. He is playing like Sergei Federov with a hint of Peter Forsberg. He's been that good.

Will Michael Leighton get the go for Philly? Obvi. The waiver pickup leads the playoffs in Gaa and save %, so yes he'll be there. Niemi will need to be more sharp in Game 6, as will the Chicago defense. Both Philly and Chicago are very weak with their bottom 2 defense pairings. Veteran Boynton was put in the lineup in favor of Hendry the last couple games, and he has looked slower than Gill and Sutton combined. And on the Philly side, I think half of Flyer nation cringes everytime Kraijcek gets the puck, not to mention when Bartulis gets it. He's only played 3-6min a game lol.

I'm rooting for the Hawks and I know they have what it takes. On paper they are far and away the best team in this series. They have 4 dangerous scoring lines and some solid (surprise) d-men in Sopel and Hjalmarsson. Will Philly rise to the occassion and feed of the crowd once again? We shall see, but expect them to give a Russell Crowe( in Gladiator) type effort.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cinderella Lives On as Habs Take Game 7...What happened?

Nights can happen where nothing just seems to go right. The refs make bad calls, the goalie let's in a softie and so on. But how often do those nights happen to the Pens in high pressure moments in the playoffs? Can't remember the last time the Pens got rattled, maybe in the first couple games of the Detroit series in 2008, but that's it.

Tonight the Pens were doomed and all of us including critics, fans, and experts thought this would be a tight hockey game going into the 3rd period. But the dam would break just 10 seconds in, 10 seconds!!! Sid knocked down Gorges and was called for boarding, very iffy penalty but that's fine. On the PP just 20 seconds into it Gionta deflected a PK Subban shot and somehow some crazy way it snuck in between Fleury's right arm and right pad, 1-0 Habs.

A goal like this, just seconds into the game, was clearly deflating for the Pens. It wasn't the start they wanted nor were expecting. But so what? It's only a one goal game, time to regroup because there are still 59 minutes to play. The Pens had a very hard time generating any offense in the first period. There was no forecheck and no speed, nor composure. The frustration would be evident on the Habs 2nd goal off the stick of former Pens forward Dominic Moore. Gonch failed to clear the puck out and Orpik was too busy pushing Lapierre behind the net while Moore was left wide open for a turn around shot, 2-0 Habs.

Being down 1-0 seemed like the end of the world for the Pens, at least that's what their body language was telling me. They knew scoring the 1st goal in this game would be huge, especially when Halak is the goalie your facing, goals will be very very hard to come by. But the game prolonged and Cammy sniped the 3rd Habs goal on a nice play off another Pens defensive miscue. And the worst play of the night came when Gonch simply let Moen skate around him and score a shorty for a 4-0 lead. I think Fleury should've been pulled after the 3rd goal but it didn't matter at the end.

The Pens would finally get to their game during the 2nd half of the 2nd period. As the referee kicked the puck up to Kunitz and he shot it five hole, 4-1. After an expired PP with under 5 min left, Poni fired a shot from the point and it was deflected by Staal, 4-2 Habs and the building began rocking. Every fan stood up cheering as loud as they possibly could. For good reason too, I mean Staal was the first Pens player to screen Halak since they did it in game 1.

The tables were quickly turning towards the Pens favor as the hitting and forecheck picked up like none other. TK and Cammy got into a scuffle behind the net and that was a trade anyone would take. TK who has 0 goals in 10 playoff games vs. Cammy who leads the playoffs with 13 goals. As the period was winding down Gorges took a penalty and the Pens would have a 4 on 3 PP to begin the 3rd period, can you ask for anything better? The hockey gods were giving the Pens every opportunity to get back into the game.

But some of that momentum seemed to be lost during the intermission. The Pens failed to score on the 4 on 3 and failed to score on a Gill holding penalty. The best PKer for the Habs in the box and still no goal is scored. Both Sid and Geno had glorious chances right in front but they couldn't lift the puck. Anything low is easy pickens for Halak. It shouldn't take 7 games to realize that.

The Habs added a 5th goal by Gionta who looked like a baseball player and the game was over. The Pens outshot the Habs 18-3 in the 3rd and still no goals to show for it. Brent Johnson did a terrific job in relief of Fleury, especially early on he made some huge stops on Cammy and Gomez. But what happened to the Pens this series? Was this game just a fluke or did some similar patterns from previous games continue here?

For one, Fleury was not the same goalie as last year. He had one good game where we won 2-0 and he made some great saves but otherwise he was mediocre at best this series and this playoff season. Where was that big save in a timely moment the past couple games? And most importantly where were the Pens big guns? The Habs big guns: Gionta and Cammy outperformed Geno and Sid by a considerable margin. Cammy had 7 goals while Gionta had 5, Sid and Geno had 1 each. In game 7 Sid and Geno's level of play was even worse than in previous games.

We're used to seeing Sid explode past defenseman and forwards alike, not once did that happen here. And what about our defense, who was our shutdown pair? Orpik/Gonch? You kiddin' me, and its def. not Letang/Eaton. Don't get me started with how bad Gogo/Leopold were either. The likes of Gill/Scuds were clearly missing for the Pens all year long. There was a clear lack of a big d-men clearing space on the PK and shutting down or containing the oppositions top guns.

Gonch's age is finally catching up to him and although he is an outstanding offensive talent, his defense is downright awful. The Moen goal and the Moore goal were just a few examples of it. Sure a lot of pressure should be put on Geno, Sid, and Fleury but what about their wingers? Poni had 3 goals in 27 games and just 2 points in the playoffs. Feds was nowhere and like Poni, saw himself a healthy scratch for a couple games this series. Guerin's age has also caught up to him as his 5 on 5 play was terrible.

The strongest part of the Pens playoff run was their secondary scoring production from guy's like Cooke, Talbot, and Adams. Cooke played above and beyond his expectation and the other two seemed to continue where they left off during last year's Cup run. But other supporting cast members such as TK, had 0 points in 10 games, wow. Staal was decent, but not great. An upset like this shouldn't come as unexpected as it might seem.

The Pens are far and away a better team on paper than the Habs, but the Habs had heart, hunger, and a desire to win which the Pens couldn't match. Sure the Pens wanted to win, but the physical side had finally taken toll on them. They've played 303 games (including the playoffs) the past 3 seasons and roughly 50 playoff games. As we all know playoff hockey is a whole different monster from the reg. season. It's been an incredible run and when you run into a hot goalie and an opportunistic/energetic team, it's never gonna be easy. Remember in the 1st round, the Sens almost took the Pens to 7 games. Without Michalek and Kovy (2 top 6 wingers) and without Kuba , a top 4 defenseman.

If the Pens did prevail past the Habs, Philly/Boston wouldn't be a problem. But whoever wins the Chicago/San Jose series will annihilate anyone coming outta the East and they woulda beat us. So a repeat Cup performance is basically a pipe dream, at least with this group of Pens players. The Pens had another solid season and with the core still in place, the future still looks as bright as ever. But GM Ray Shero will have some major re-tooling to do, especially on the backend. Maybe starting summer off early is the best recipe the doctor could've ordered for these defending Stanley Cup champs, somethin' Ovie can't even say.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The "Other" Goalie Comes up Big at the Bell...Pens win 2-0

Where have all the Canadiens gone? The boys in red were storming up and down the ice in the 1st period of play but then they disappeared and in came the Pens offensive attack. Dump pucks in deep, crash and bang the Habs D, and initiate a ferocious forecheck. This lead to some quality scoring chances from Cooke, Gogo, and Sid which were all turned away by the force field called Halak in the 2nd period.

But then a scrum ensued at the end of the 2nd where Sid got into it with Gill, Gorges and company. You can only wish for a power play situation where both the USS Gill and Gorges are in the penalty box. And after going cold the past couple games, Mr. Malkin one timed a cannon of a shot past Halak as Kunitz/Sid were providing a pair of screens in front. No goalie, not even Halak can stop Geno's shot when it's on the money like that.

Fleury stopped all 18 shots he faced and a few of which made Halak's saves look ordinary.
Once off a Gionta stop Fleury slid side to side then again on a try by Cammy, MAF was in the zone. The smiling assassin is 8-1 in game 3's since the 2008 playoffs, not too shabby.
But it was a collective team effort tonight at the Bell Center, where the fans are always makin' some type of noise: booing the refs for a non-call, singing the soccer anthem, or booing Sid.

Persistence, investment, and speed were the key components to a Pens victory tonight. After weathering the storm in the 1st period the Pens didn't let up. They came out with 14 shots in the 2nd and completely took over the game from a territorial standpoint. This lead to penalty calls which lead to the eventual Geno game winner. The Habs were having an impossible time exiting the zone the 2nd half of the game. Even with speedsters such as Gomez, Cammy, and Gionta the Pens were able to forecheck and get to their game.

Letestu, who was inserted in Guerin's place in the lineup, looked very good centering the 3rd line with Cookie and TK. Cooke has been engaged on nearly every shift he plays, we know he can hit and agitate but the guy is showin some skill as well. Once Geno scored his PP goal he had a couple shifts after where he was just flying around the ice. Let's hope the monster has been unleashed. Halak played well, but Fleury was better.

PENS LEAD SERIES 2-1, GAME 4 on Thursday


Friday, April 30, 2010

Jaroslav Who?...Pens Win 6-3 in Dominant Fashion

Nope, it wasn't the Washington Capitals you were facing huh Canadiens? Instead, it was a team that knows how to play a team game and has a leader in Sid who keeps his mouth shut and lets his play do the talking. The Pens registered 6 goals tonight and surprisingly none were from Sid or Geno. Granted Sid had a couple great setups and Geno was a force throughout.

Coming off 6 days of rest the Pens looked very sharp. The Habs on the other hand looked a bit tired, sloppy, and emotionally drained from their epic upset over the Caps just a few days ago. Has Halak been cracked? Will the Pens breeze through the Habs? Will Price start in game 2? Halak I'm sure will start in the next game although he got pulled with the Habs trailing 5-2 with 11 minutes left in the 3rd. I think Coach Martin realized it'd be good to give Jaro a good rest because they'll need him in the next game.

The Pens weren't overly-dominant, in fact the Habs outshot them 31 to 24. But the Pens made their shots count where it mattered: on the PP. They went a perfect 4 for 4 with 3 goals coming from D-men (Gonch, Letang, Gogo) and one from Staal on the 2nd PP unit. After the Habs drew first blood off a PK Subban goal the Pens took over the game. Geno drew a penalty, goal. Cooke nails Markov (clean hit) and then Gomez retaliates, goal again.

The Habs wouldn't go away as Cammy made it 3-2 in the 2nd period but Adams scored a huge goal to make it 4-2 and solidify the victory. Secondary scoring is a crucial part of winning in the playoffs. Cooke, Dupuis, and Adams were tremendous. Finishing checks, backchecking, and adding some offensive flair as well. Dupuis and Cooke were key parts to the game 6 victory in Ottawa last weekend and they were back at it tonight.

What about the Habs? How could they shut down the Caps PP and limit them to 3 goals in 3 games? The Habs were clearly emotionally and physically drained. And they do NOT have the offensive depth to match the Pens. Moore, Metropolit, Lapierre, and Pyatt were pretty much invisible. While the Pens 3rd and 4th lines created most of the offense for the black and gold. Frankly I only see Chicago and Detroit with depth up front to match the Pens.

Bylsma mentioned in the post-game presser that he'd like to see more shots. The Pens D were pinching in the off. zone throughout this game because the Habs offense is so bad they can afford to take some risks. The Habs had trouble exiting the zone and creating any off. zone time, just like in the Caps series. Cammy was a threat tonight, Gionta was solid, and rookie PK Subban is a gem. He scored the 1st goal and his fancy moves lead to the Habs 3rd goal.

The Habs are clearly overmatched in this series and guys like Plekanec, Kostistyn, and Cammy will have to elevate their level of play if this series is to prolong. But the Pens can't take them for granted like the Caps did after going up 3-1. The minute you relax or think the series is over, the Habs will capitalize and score. After all Gomez/Gionta and several others have Cup rings on their resume, they won't give up.

Markov and Staal both left the game and did not return. Hopefully Staal is OK but the collision with Subban looked nasty. Staal has played in 358 consecutive games including the playoffs. Let's hope the streak keeps going. Meanwhile Markov is the Habs' PP QB and a huge off. threat from the backside, let's see what happens. Adams now has 2 goals in 7 playoff games after going scoreless during the regular season LOL.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Crosby Leads Pens to 2-1 Victory Over Sens, Series Tied 1-1

-Fleury didn't have to be the hero tonight for the Pens, but when called upon he delivered a number of solid saves. 18 secs into the game, the talented Dane (Peter Regin) hammered a wrist shot glove-side, 1-0 Sens. Uh-oh. But this didn't seem to rattle the Pens one bit. Instead they turned it up and went about business by playing Pens hockey: outhitting the opposition and controlling the puck in the offensive zone.

-Orpik was hitting left and right, Rupp nailed Phillips, and Kunitz continued his bashing of Ottawa d-men. The Pens came to play with a purpose and had passion on nearly every shift. Alfy and Spezza were nearly invisible. The lack of offense for Ottawa is clearly evident. So by shear talent alone, if the Pens play solid/smart hockey they can't lose this series.

-Elliott had another good outing for the Sens in making 29 saves. The Pens PP had a 4 on 3 PP in the 2nd that failed and another PP in the 3rd that failed. They have to get their MO going. Their seemed to be much more energy in their 5 on 5 play last night but not with the man advantage. Kunitz's high shot and the big juicy rebound lead to a Crosby goal and a 1-1 tie after 1 period.

-In the 2nd the hitting just got outright brutal. Sutton nailed Leopold with an elbow to the head. I thought it was illegal but Leopold did have his head down and Sutton is a giant, so who knows. But Rupp pushing Smith into the Zamboni gate was hilarious and then Talbot dropping the mits with Smith was nice to see as well. Granted Max can't fight to save his life, he does have a lot of heart though.

-The 2nd line of Poni/Geno/Dupuis played pretty well in this game. It was one of Poni's best games. His name didn't appear on the scoresheet but he was making several good passes and using size to create room for his wingers. Give the Pens D credit for taking away time and space from the Sens. There were still good chances where the Sens players would skate up 10 ft from Fleury uncontested, not good.

-Notice how the Pens stopped making passes through the middle and started using dump ins which in turn lead to big hits. It's all about the "investment" philosophy that Bylsma loves referring to. The 51 hits the Pens generated clearly tired out the Sens by the end of the game. Crosby outdanced Spezza and made a nice pass to Tanger who sniped it past Elliott. First time Tanger's shot actually got on net and didn't miss by 20 feet.

-Leopold is day-to-day and Ben Lovejoy was recalled today from WB/S. Look for Mckee to step in tomorrow night in Ottawa.
Game 3 on Sunday at 6:38pm.


Friday, April 16, 2010

PREVIEW: Game 2, Sens vs. Pens...Must-win?

-Game 2 is only a few hours away and the Pens need this win big time. Fleury HAS to play better and it's time for the Pens to use the glass, high dump ins and deep dump ins behind the Ottawa D as a means of generating offense. There was hardly any puck possession in game 1 outside the first 5 minutes.

-Rupp will be making his Pens debut in place of Fedotenko. Feds was nearly invisible the last game. And Rupp's presence on the 4th line will be surely be felt. Moreover, Bylsma likes throwing Rupp in with Sid/Geno whenever he can as well. It's time for the "other" guys to start producing. Sid and Geno can't run the show for 60 minutes. The off. d-men have to help out as well. Letang especially.

-Michalek being out for the series is a big break for the Pens, time to exploit that.
Staal/TK/Cooke have to start doing their thing in wearing down the Ottawa D. Then it'll be easier for Geno/Sid to do their thing. The Pens shouldn't be nervous tonight or hesitant tonight and they cannot play into Ottawa's hands.

-Expect Ottawa to continue clogging the neutral zone and trying to capitalize off Pens turnovers. The Pens have the speed and the offensive firepower to break that sort of game plan, they just have to execute.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ruutu Haunts Old Team...Leads Sens to 5-4 Victory

-Sure wasn't the start you were expecting, huh? Well they actually started out on fire the first 5 minutes. Elliott was clearly nervous after bobbling the TK shot and then soon after Geno hammered it on the PK, boom 1-0 Pens. But then the Pens seemed to sit back and didn't have a shot for 16 minutes. Wow right? Truth is several of those shot attempts were either blocked or missed. Good bet that the shots that missed came off Letang's stick, hehe.

-But where was Fleury when he needed to make a big save? Where was the defense when he needed to get bailed out? Gogo was the best Pen d-men on the ice, and that's not a good thing. But Fleury's big rebound on the 1st goal, his lack of covering the side on Neil's goal and Ruutu's 5 hole game winner are inexcusable goals. Especially for a goalie the caliber of Fleury.

-Secondary scoring 5 on 5 was the story in this game. Neil, Ruutu, and Kelly all scored goals while only Adams got one for the Pens. First in 82 games lol. But Feds, Poni, Staal, Cooke, and Guerin weren't too visible offensively. They were close and had some chances. Kunitz was a physical machine and I thought Talbot/Adams did a good job of playing their game. But the Sens D really shut down on Crosby and Malkin knowing that their wingers weren't going to do much.

-Look for Feds to be a scratch tomorrow in place of Rupp. Rupp at least adds some physicality and could give either Geno/Sid more space on the ice. The Sens did what the Devils have done to us this year and what Tampa did on their last visit to the Mellon: clog the neutral zone and eliminate passes up the middle. The pens weren't dumping it in enough and when they were, they were beat to the puck by the Sens d-men.

-There was fight in the Pens as they came within 1 goal on several occasions until the Sens would score one more and the Pens would get deflated again. But they have to play with more passion and energy. Use their speed rather than play into their opponents hands. You saw how effective the forecheck can be in the first 5 minutes, but that has to continue for 60 minutes, or somewhere close to it. Spurts of dominance and spurts of sloppiness defined the Pens play in this one.

-Michalek tore his ACL so he'll be out for the post-season, that's great news, another legit top 6 winger down for the Sens. Look for a better game plan from Bylsma tomorrow and look for Fleury to be lights out. He is after all one of the top "rebound" goalies in the league, says Billy G.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pens vs. Sens Series PREVIEW...Game 1 tomorrow

Guess who's back, back again. The Sens are back, tell a friend? There's a good chance that even your friend knows the Pens/Sens will square off yet AGAIN, for the 3rd time in the past 4 years. Three years ago it was the Sens who ran over the young and inexperienced Pens in 5 games and just one year later it was Hossa and the Pens who swept the series.

But this year's gonna be different, right? The Sens are more systematic then they were a couple seasons back but they're also not as deep. No Heatley, Kovy is injured and so is Kuba (a top 4 d-men). Goalie Marty Gerber was the only bright spot a couple years back, can Elliott do the same? He has a better save percentage than our very own MAF, but he has yet to feel the nerves and intensity that come with the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Pens are 2-2 against the Sens on the season. Each game was pretty one-sided.
What will lead Pens to victory?
For one their offense and second their goaltending. Fleury has yet to hit his mojo of playing consistent hockey but the playoffs seem to be his coming out party every year. And the offense has to get going. Malkin is healthy and looked extremely scary vs. the Isles on Sunday, can he continue? And will Poni and Feds start rallying behind him, because they sure as hell need to.

Crosby will be seeing some familiar d-men in his grill, Phillips and the "Russian Tank" Volchenkov. Both are extremely tough to play against, but the next thing closest to God or Neo from The Matrix seems to be Crosby. It looks as though Sutton/Campoli will matchup against the 2nd unit (Geno's line) and that won't be easy either. The Sens WILL take stupid penalties because the Pens like to control the puck and the Sens have several edgy players: Neil, Ruutu, Carkner, Fisher, and Winchester. Neil/Ruutu are known for dumb penalties.

The Pens PP has to capitalize, and that means Gonchar time. One bright spot on the backend the past couple weeks has been Leopold. He has 4 goals and does an excellent job of jumping into plays and getting pucks on net. Gogo on the other hand has been atrocious. The 3rd line is also starting to play with some poise as it did during last year's cup run. With an injury ridden backend and a lack of secondary scoring for the Sens, the Pens have the edge in the series. Not to mention in goal. Elliott has played better than Fleury, but he also doesn't have a Cup.

Sens players to watch: Michalek, Fisher, and Spezza. Michalek is very strong on his skates and is fast as hell. And the other two guys can wake up and be machines if they want to as well.

Pens players to watch: Malkin, Dupuis, and Fedotenko. Dupuis has had an excellent season and he'll need to keep his offensive prowess in tact during the playoffs. Will the legend of Ruslan Fedotenko wake up and start scoring? God I hope so. Orpik and Poni will play tomorrow, but Kunitz is still questionable. Rupp will play if Kunitz can't, and Talbot will be scratched if Kunitz can.

Pens win series in 6. Too much offense and better goaltending will help them prevail. I give the defense edge to the Sens but we'll see how long they can keep either Sid/Geno off the board. Two is better than one, just ask Taylor Swift.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pens clinch playoff spot with win over Flyers...Face Leafs today

-What started out very badly for the Pens, ended up being a decisive 4-1 victory over the cross-state rival Flyers. After a bad angle goal just minutes into the game by Asham, the Flyers gained some clear momentum. All four lines were rolling and dictating play in the Pens zone. A couple stupid penalties later by the Flyers and the Pens decided to take control of the off. zone. And with under a minute left, Leopold's shot hit the right pad of goalie Backlund and came right to Kunitz for the easy goal, 1-1 after one period.

-After what looked to be a 2-1 Flyers lead off a Simon Gagne goal, became a 2-1 Pens lead off a Dupuis goal, his 18th of the year. Leino clearly ran into Fleury as the goal was scored and a ref from the otherside of the ice saw the play and after a group of refs got together to discuss, it was clear the goal should be disallowed. Nice. The Flyers continued to take stupid penalties, mostly by Scotty Hartnell. And the Pens entered the 3rd up 2-1 with a ton of momentum.

-Hartnell proceeded to take a couple more penalties, one resulting in a Fedotenko goal and another by Cooke. The Pens went on to win 4-1 after getting outplayed the first half of the 1st period. What happened? All 4 lines were creating some type of offense. Adams was banging, Talbot was getting his nose dirty, and same goes for Rupp. Staal has been playing some spirited hockey the last couple games, he was paired with Kunitz and Guerin.

-Low and behold, Ruslan Fedotenko might be starting his springtime ritual of heating up. He made a nifty assist on the Cooke goal and went hard to the net on his own goal.
Poni had a very strong game. Was hitting and creating space for the two speedsters on his line, Dupuis and Crosby. Fleury didn't need to make too many big saves, but he was there when he needed to be. The Flyers are in big trouble with Leighton and Carter out, and with Richards playing heartless hockey it'll be even tougher.

-The Pens face the Leafs at 5pm today. Luca Caputi returns and Poni will play his first game against his former team. The Leafs played spoiler to the Rangers and won last night. They have been red hot since the trade deadline. With Gigure in net, Phaneuf on the backend, and some talented youngsters named Bozak, Stahlberg, and Kulemin upfront the Pens better watch out.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Can the Pens Ride Poni' to A Cup Repeat?...Deadline Winners and Losers

-For the 4th straight trade deadline, Pens GM Ray Shero found a way to improve his team. The 1st deadline it was enforcer Laraque and veteran Gary Roberts who came to town poised to give the Pens the veteran depth they needed for the playoffs. Then came Marian Hossa, and yes he was damn good. Then last year it was Kunitz and Guerin, who aren't close to the player Hossa is but they filled in pretty nicely and gave the Pens that Stanley Cup.

-This time around, Shero addressed their needs once again: acquiring a steady "shutdown" type defenseman and a top-6 winger. Everyone on TSN thinks Ponikorovsky will be put with Crosby, nice try. For the first time in years the first line is actually playing well. Sid's having a career year and 39-yr old Guerin has 17 goals, what more can you ask for? Poni will be put on the 2nd line with Geno and either Feds/Dupuis. Dupuis has had a terrific season thus far and his speed/defensive prowess would make him a great complement to Geno/Poni.

-Poni was one of the best forwards available at the deadline and if Burke's asking price was Luca Caputi, by all means please take him. At 21 Caputi is still a youngster and could potentially be an effective 3rd/2nd line winger one day, but the Pens are poised to repeat and Caputi wasn't a significant part of the future. Not dealing Gogo, Letang, Tangradi, or Lovejoy made this deal all so sweet. At 6'4 220 lbs, Poni is an empowering figure on the ice. Goes to the net hard, has soft hands, likes to hit, and has 19 goals on the year to show for it.

-The other deal was for veteran D-men Jordan Leopold. The Pens only gave up a 2nd rd pick for a guy who's made it to the Cup finals with Calgary in '04 and been on some good Colorado teams under asst. coach Granato. Shero also mentioned the fact that Leopold was matched up against Ovechkin the past couple times the Panthers played the Caps. Hmm, interesting. At 6'1 200 lbs, Leopold isn't necessarily a Hal Gill or Andrew Alberts but he gets the job done. He's good on the PK and has an excellent first pass out of the zone, something Gill didn't have.

-So, are the Pens poised for another Cup run? Hellz yes. If the Pens could be the 4th best team in East Conf. without Geno performing at his best and with Fleury playing so-so, then they will clearly be better with the additions of Leopold and Poni. With Kunitz and Talbot getting close to 100% and there's still a lot left in Geno's tank, the Pens can only look ahead for another deep run.

-What did the Pens competition do? Well the Caps made several moves today in adding Belanger, Walker, Corvo, and they re-acquired Jurcina. Belanger is nothing special, solid PK guy but that's it. Corvo has slick hands and good off. skills but he's not Kaberle or Sutton if you're significantly looking to improve your defense. Walker is way past his prime and was on Carolina's 4th line or a healthy scratch for much of this season. I still think goaltending in the playoffs is a concern for the Caps, will Theodore or Neuwirth cut it? Will Huet or Niemi cut it for Chicago? And LOL at Leighton leading the Flyers to victory. Emery is out for the season and they made no effort to improve their goaltending.

-Trade deadline winners: Pens, Ducks, and Coyotes. The Ducks added Visnovsky on D in a trade for former Pen Ryan Whitney. And they added the physical veteran Aaron Ward from Carolina. The Coyotes meanwhile, in buying mode for the first time in centuries, added Stempniak from Toronto, Wolski from Colorado, Schneider from Vancouver, and Morris from Boston. Not superstar players, but Stempniak and Wolski are legit top 6 forwards and Schneider is a nice veteran presence to have on the backend.

-Trade deadline losers: Flyers, Bruins, and Hawks. Both the Flyers and Hawks failed to address their goaltending situation and the Bruins failed to add a top 6 forward. They were looking at Tkachuk but nothing came about.

-Poni is having Visa issues so he likely won't be in the lineup tomorrow at the Rangers game but will play Saturday against the Stars.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kunitz Wakes up, Malkin Continues His Hot Play, Pens Win 3-1 Over Isles

-The Isles NEVER ever ever go away, we know that. They almost came back tonight, but Mr. Chris Kunitz decided to wake up. Kunitz was a pestering fore-checker and had his old swagger from the latter part of last year in his game tonight. He scored the 1st goal of the game off a Geno feed and Roloson shoulda had it but he was doin' some kinda dance in net.

-Kunitz's 2nd goal came off a nice saucer pass from Guerin, Kunitz gave the old shoulder and head fake and wristed it 5 hole on Roloson. 3-1 Pens. Oh yeah, you know who else played one heck of a game? Geno. He pulled a couple Cirque Du Soleil moves on Sutton and Streit and he also scored a nice goal off a Gonchar slapper to make it 2-0 Pens. Slowly but surely ladies and gents, Mr. Malkin is creeping into the top 10 in scoring, watch out.

-The Isles outshot the Pens 38-28 but this fact was NOT evident from the flow of the game. Tavares, Okposo, and Weight had numerous golden opportunities in the 2nd period to give the Isles a lead but nothing could get done. The 5 on 3 penalty kill midway in that period turned the game around. Fleury who was scrambling all over the crease tonight, stood on his head when he needed to. Shortly after the Pens killed off a 5 on 3, Kunitz wristed a softie past Roloson and the Pens were in control.

-Although I'd like to see the Pens outshoot their opponents, because that's when they're REALLY at their best, a win is a win. It was great to see the Pens dishing the body. Rupp, Adams, Kunitz, even Fedotenko and Geno were all throwing their weight around. This created turnovers and lead to some Pens goals.

-Roloson played very well. He straight up robbed Billy G at least three times and made a couple other timely saves. Frans Nielsen is a dangerous little guy isn't he? And Mark Streit is the best thing that happened to Switzerland since ummm...Roger Federer? Oh yeah, that guy. Streit's hands are comparable to Roger but nothing else. Okposo and Tavares also had good games for the Isles.

-Are the Pens back on track after a couple tough losses over the weekend? Yes and no. I mean they beat the Isles, who aren't a threat by any means. But they allowed just one goal, Fleury played well and the defense (for the most part) did a good job of taking away time and space. Fedotenko is being shopped (thank god) and he's as useless as any Pen right now. Simply does not know what do with the puck, neither does Dupuis a good portion of the time, but Dupuis is excellent without the puck.

-A day of rest and then Sean Avery and his Sloppy Seconds visit the Mellon


Monday, February 1, 2010

Stanley Cup Rematch Rd. 1 Goes to Pens, 2-1 in SO

It's somethin' about playin the same team in the Finals 2 years in a row that creates a certain animosity and energy unlike any other. The Pens had a solid 60 min effort (on the most part) yesterday afternoon at the Igloo and it was a really spirited and hard-fought victory. The Wings played without 2 key components of their team: Franzen and Holmstrom.

But that didn't stop them from getting hot performances from Datsyuk/Zetterberg/Bertuzzi and company. Helm was flying like the little sparkplug that he is and their defense helped them tie the game at 1 on a goal by Brad Stuart. The Pens dominated this game and spent the majority of it in the off. zone. Generating 47 shots on net is evidence of that.

Howard was phenomenal for Detroit. He looked as sharp as Elliot for the Sens the other night. Great rebound control and some flashy saves as well. One on Staal and a couple on Guerin. The addition of Staal to the 2nd line really payed dividends because Letestu was flying with TK and Cooke on the 3rd line. Those three had a couple terrific scoring chances and Geno's play seemed to give Staalsy confidence.

The shootout moves by both Sid and Geno were the icing on the cake. The ultimate climax to an already thrilling playoff type game. The refs were terrible and seemed to put the whistles away on the Wings players but not the Pens. Geno got called for hooking when he was skating away from Rafalski and Cooke got called for goaltender interference when he didn't even touch Howard.

The Sabres visit town tonight and the game will be on VERSUS. Miller will start vs. Johnson for the Pens. Talbot is expected to be out again, as is Kunitz.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sens Cruise to 4-1 Victory Over Pens, Win 8th Straight

Oh hot damn, this is my jam? Spezza, Kovy, Fisher, and Karlsson were all putting a puck handling clinic tonight at the Igloo. Michalek too might I add. The man is powerful and can skate as fast as anybody. Alfy was invisible but Spezza showed signs of the Olympian he coulda been had he played that good all da time.

Geno scored the 1st goal of the game off a nice little pass from Johnson and it looked like the Pens were in control. But the exact opposite took place. The Sens PK was very solid, the Pens had limited legit off. scoring opps. as the game progressed. Letang had a number of great chances but Elliot was right there to make a couple hard shots look ordinary.

The 3rd goal by Spezza was a real softy by Fleury, who wasn't all that bad in this game. But both goals happened around the net where the Pens d-men failed to clear space. Fisher on the 1st and Kelly on the 2nd, they have to be knocked down. Alberts? Exelby? This is where these guys are useful. Look at the Sens D, they take no prisoners. Volchenkov and Phillips knock down any man they see as do Carkner and Kuba (a primarily offensive d-men).

The Pens played well in the 1st and 3rd periods but guys like Guerin, Fedotenko (hit a post), and Dupuis were fairly unproductive. Guerin is still nursing an injury, Feds continues to do everything but hit the net, and Dupuis didn't do much offensively at all. The ups and downs continue for the boys in black and gold and I'm not too happy with the personnel on the roster.

The games we've been winning have been thanks to Geno/Sid and/or Fleury. How long before these stars start to slowly burn out? After all they've been to the Cup finals for 2 straight years, that's a lotta mileage. Last year near the deadline Kunitz was added, and what a spark he was. Guerin a couple weeks later and the Pens were off and running. It's time for the Pens to start getting hot come playoff time but Mr. Shero HAS to tweak the roster in order for them to succeed.

Great game by the Sens, who played very solid 2-way hockey and gave the Pens nothing in the offensive zone. There were several penalties that weren't called against the Sens in that 3rd period and I have no idea why. Several obvious penalties.

Pens vs. Wings Sunday on NBC, should be a good one.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pens End Road Trip With 2 Big Wins...So What Next?

-The Pens defeated the rival Flyers on Sunday 4-2. As expected the game was quite chippy. Asham accused Cooke of biting him in a scrum after the game and Letang stood up for Gogo and fought the pestering Powe.

-Didn't Philly learn from their last win against the Pens that you can't start engaging in post-whistle scrums? Philly won that game 7-4 and guys like Carcillo and Hartnell were as dead silent as the Honus Wagner statue outside PNC Park. Sunday even Gagne got involved with Geno and cost the Flyers a big goal and probably the game.

-The Pens PP is beginning to get in full form. Geno is shooting it rather than passing it, Cooke is causing havoc around the net, and Gonch is finding ways to get the puck on net rather than having his shots blocked. Both goals were off Gonch. shots (Cooke deflected the 2nd) and the Pens won 2-1. Johnson played well and Cooke was a presence the whole game.

-Last night in New York, Chris Conner (the hottest Baby Pen of late) was called up and he notched 2 huge goals en route to a 4-2 Pens victory. King Henrik looked very weak last night. The first Conner goal was off a really weird angle and the 2nd one was a soft wrist shot. I'll take it.

-Geno was the strongest player on the ice, he had a breakaway chance, a 2 on 1, and he eventually rocked a PP goal past Henrik. Fleury sat out the previous 3 contests but had a very strong game. Anisimov's one goal was lucky and the other was a nice little move where Letang was diving out like Nomar instead of playing his position.

-Yes the Pens ended on a good note, but their defense and secondary scoring is still average at best. Guys like Gogo/Mckee are having a hard time clearing space in front of Fleury on the PK and every other time. Gill/Scuderi are equally missed. Now i see where all this Andrew Alberts (Carolina d-men) talk is coming from. I wanted him in the off-season and looks like we might snag him near March 1st.

-Alberts plays a mean, in your face game, think Orpik but with more regularity and sometimes stupidity. He's a
+1 on a Carolina team that ranks worst in the league overall. Another scary stat mentioned, the last 14 goals the Pens have scored, Sid and Geno have accounted for all of them in some way. Feds is still invisible. He's playing harder but producing jack squat.

-There is Ray Whitney talk out of Carolina and boy is that guy fun to watch. But the asking price is a bit high. Guys like Kariya, Selanne, Richards, Ponikorovsky, and Hagman may be more likely. I wouldn't mind Jussi Jokinen either. Geno needs wingers!!! I've been saying that for over a month and it still holds true.

-The Pens play Ottawa on Thursday night and they will be well rested so look out for another W. BTW, only 2 pts behind NJ in the division, wow.


Monday, January 11, 2010

From Russia With Love...Pens Defeat Leafs 4-1

The Pens badly needed a spark tonight in Toronto, thankfully that came in the form of defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Gonch had 2 goals and his presence really set the tone for the game. The Pens didn't play perfectly and midway thru the 2nd period the game looked pretty even and you couldn't tell who was dominating.

But off a nasty Geno feed, Gonch ripped a slapper home and made it 2-1, or did he? Play didn't stop as the puck went through the net so fast it came out and Ponikorovsky was hauled down on a breakaway attempt. Penalty shot pointed the ref, but wait didn't Gonch just score? The refs made the call upstairs and it was easily seen that Gonch's shot did indeed go in and therefore no penalty shot. The crowd went wild, as did Steigy and Bob.

The Leafs got a power play from that crazy set of events but they couldn't score. Kessel was all over the ice tonight and he'll be a welcome addition to team USA in the Olympics. He was flying, as was Pens killer Jason Blake, and Lee Stempniak. The "Monster" or Gustavsson was strong in net but the Crosby goal was awful. Sid had one stick on the puck and the Monster went for a poke check, oops! It went 5 hole and the Pens were then up 4-1.

Gonch's calming presence and the way he carries the puck up into the Off. zone on the PP is immeasurable and no one on the Pens can do it like him. Letang is getting there and Gogo has good speed, but no one has the shot that Gonch does. His slapper is a rocket, and he had 2 of them today where the Monster had no chance to save either.

Fleury had yet another terrific comeback game in stopping 42 of 43 shots. The Toronto shots are mostly terrible attempts and are easily stopped yet their in top 5 in the league for shots per game. Brian Burke will surely be unloading his flood filled roster of UFAs in the next coming months. Poni, Blake, Hagman, White, and Stajan will be the first to go if any.

The Pens needed a win badly and Gonch's return surely lit a spark in the hearts of the Pens. When will Feds and Dupuis stop being complete mishaps on the ice? Pretty ridiculous to watch those two just fail to capitalize on legit scoring chances every game. Even Mike Milbury on the Hockey Night preview made fun of Geno's wingers he's like there's Rupp and who's the other guy? Capalli?

Tomorrow's game will be on VERSUS as the Pens visit Minnesota, FU direcTV


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Discipline and Offense Lead The Flyers Past Pens, 7-4

Let's face the facts ladies and gents, the Pens are a struggling bunch right now. They've lost 7 out of the last 9 games and their hurting from many different facets of their game. Goaltending, defense, and secondary scoring are the immediate things that come to mind. Fleury is 1-6 in his last 7 games and has a 4.48 gaa. Ok it's a slump, these things can happen, but it's still a problem. The defense is having a tough time staying physical, making the first pass out of the zone, and limiting their mistakes. Mckee, Eaton, and Gogo have all been sloppy.

Gogo was flying today and had some good rushes, but his slapper and wrister are the softest things in the world. His shots either get blocked or are easily stopped by the goalie. Even Leighton who let up 4 could stop Gogo's shots. Gonch's presence on the backend with both his slapper and wrister are critical for the success of this team. I love the way Tanger has been playing last couple weeks amidst the slump. He's been physical, likes joining the rushes, and is shooting the puck on net.

Secondary scoring came tonight in the form of Cooke and Rupp but what abo
ut Dupuis and Caputi? Both had some quality chances and weren't able to capatilize. Dupuis shines offensively once every 7 or 8 games, just like Fedotenko and Kunitz. Is that the consistency you want heading into the playoffs? Yes Feds is a playoff performer and blah blah blah, but how long can Shero wait until he pulls the trigger for a sniper?

Geno had a couple chances to shoot on the PP but didn't and was forced to give it to Gogo who's shots are as ineffective as they come. Geno HAS to shoot it more often, his speed, stick-handling and passing skills are phenomenal but he should not have only 14 goals at this point in the season. He is far too talented to be passing up slappers from inside the circle or the point.

There have been some positive signs believe it or not. The all-important 3rd line of Staal/TK/Cooke has been doing it's deed. Hitting, speed, grinding, and scoring. Talbot was thrown on there with TK and Staal, and he helped assist Rupp on the Pens 4th goal. Max looked very sharp for the first time in several weeks tonight, good to see.

The struggles of the defense have been downright ridiculous. If we're to play effectively in the Off. zone the D has to make a good first pass and help the forwards. And defensively the D has been terrible. There were 3 or 4 two on one's in this game and Van Riemsdyk had two carbon copy goals where the D just fell asleep and collapsed. Skoula hardly played at all in the 3rd period, he was awful.

Give the new look Flyers credit. They were much more prepared to play this game and played smart and disciplined hockey. Carcillo didn't take any stupid penalties and neither did Hartnell. Wow, really? Yes really. Carter had 2 big goals on a couple nasty wristers. Richards was effective and the D did an excellent job of keeping the Pens forwards to the outside. Pronger and Carle did a good job on the Geno unit.

The Pens PP was 0-3 and the PK allowed 2 PP goals. The PP continues to struggle mightily.
The opposition always knows who's gonna shoot and from where. Easy to read. Guerin/Kunitz/Cooke don't do a good job of screening the goalie at all. They move away and look away for tips the majority of the time.

Let's hope this road trip gets the Pens rolling again...