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.