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).