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...