Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pens win fifth in a row

The Penguins extended their winning streak to five games in a row, and Crosby extended his scoring streak to 6 games as the Pens explode in the second period to beat the Capitals handily for the second time this week 5-2.  The win is significant for Pittsburgh as the Caps came into tonight's game 9-0-1 in their last ten regular season games in Pittsburgh.  Wow.  After falling behind 1-0 on an early goal by Mike Ribeiro, who has a goal in both games against Pittsburgh this season, the Penguins exploded for five goals in the second period to take a 5-1 lead into the third period.  Ovechkin got his third of the season to make it 5-2, nearly halfway through the period, but the Pens shut the door after that behind stellar netminding by Fleury.  The goal scorers tonight were Malkin (3), PPG, Dupuis (4), Neal (7), PPG, Cooke (2), and Crosby (5) PPG.  Local kid Dylan Reese made his Penguins debut tonight for Pittsburgh and played a typically solid game for the kid.  He replaced Kris Letang who has the dreaded unspecified lower body injury.  On a side note, I worked for Dylan's father Barry as a teenager, and he was as advertised, a very nice guy!  The Penguins top players tonight were Crosby and Malkin who each had one goal and two assists, while James Neal had a goal and an assist, and Chris Kunitz kept his hot hand adding two assists as well.  Bortuzzo and Despres also had solid games again, along with Reese which is extremely promising for the young defense.  Bortuzzo was physical with Ovechkin all night and was very solid in his own end again.  Orpik and Martin each played great games again as well, with Martin logging over 28 minutes of ice time to lead the Penguins.  The power play had 3 goals tonight despite the absence of Kris Letang.

The Penguins top five scorers at this point in the season are as follows:

Crosby with 5 goals, 12 assists, 17 points and +7
Malkin with 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points and even
Kunitz with 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points and +7
Neal with 7 goals, 2 assists, 9 points, and -2
Kris Letang with 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points and +4

Also of note, Brooks Orpik was second in the NHL in blocked shots, while Crosby has slid into a second place tie in points with he and Stamkos having 17 points  behind Vanek with 21.  Malkin and Crosby are tied for second in the league in assists with 12 each behind Martin St. Louis with 13 assists.  The Penguins are showing the kind of firepower that has to be scary to some, particularly given the way the defense has thus far been a pleasant surprise.  It is a long season full of ups and downs so it is early to get too excited, but it has been a fun stretch to watch!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pens make it four in a row beating the Isles

Not too much positive to say about anything related to the Islanders or their fans.   They actually cheered the puck to the face Crosby took, though it should not have been surprising given the way they still LOVE the classless acts that took place on their ice two winters ago.  Add to the fact that these idiots have beaten the Pens in their past three meetings, and this win was SWEET.  I am not going to do the goal calls, but I would rather do more in relation to game observations.  First,  I was utterly unimpressed with Malkin again, his lack of focus is getting more than mildly annoying.  He is a turnover machine and leads the team in penalties, miles ahead of all but Despres.  The penalty kill was so impressive tonight it was amazing to watch.  They killed seven penalties without giving up a goal, and at times they made it look EASY.  They won the battles to the loose pucks, they collapsed to the net and they blocked shots.  Orpik and Martin were particularly impressive in these situations, as was the entire unit.  James Neal continued his power play mastery netting his sixth goal of the season to open the scoring for the Pens, and Crosby notched his 10th assist of the season and has quietly moved into a third place tie in scoring in the NHL.  Tanner Glass stepped up to defend the captain and avenge the Lovejoy play of last week,  by challenging Colin McDonald, who deftly allowed Martin to take some solid shots in the face from Glass.  I really like the addition of Glass to this team, as he adds true grit and sandpaper to the team outside of the fighting so many people think of.   He is a smart, versatile player.   Simon Despres had a game in which he took two more bad penalties, but he also showed why he is so highly regarded.  On one shift in the second period, he made a bone rattling check at one end of the ice and joined the rush late to drill a lazer past Nabokov to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.  Robert Bortuzzo had yet another solid game on the blue line, and I continue to love the physicality he brings to the team as well.  Brandon Sutter was a beast all over the ice and netted his second goal as a Penguin to give them what seemed like an insurmountable 3-0 lead.  The Pens had a close call in the third giving up 2 goals in 35 seconds to get back to within a goal with lots of time left in the game. Fleury had some rebound control issues on those plays, and the defense was caught looking around for a bit.   They stood tall after that, and Dupuis netted his third goal to seal the deal.  Fleury had a great game in the net tonight, and Paul Martin had another great game for the Pens in his comeback campaign.  The Flyers helped the Pens out in the conference standings by knocking off the Lightning, and as of tonight the Pens sit atop the Eastern Conference.  Thursday the Captards are in town.  A big heartfelt FOAD to all of Long Island!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pens are streaking!

Relax ladies, it was meant in terms of a 3 game winning streak, not naked Penguins running around the streets!  That said, it was a satisfying win for the Penguins as it was their third in a row, it came against a hated rival that is obnoxious from the top to their bottom feeding fans,( despite never winning anything of substantial value) on their home ice.  All while Edzo was slobbering all over Ovechkin's privates despite Ovie not doing much of anything but running around like an asshole trying to line up his daddy for a big hit.  The victory was a respite in what has become recent REGULAR season dominance by the Caps.  The victory gives the Penguins 12 points and solidifies their spot atop the Atlantic Division, and pulls them into a second place tie with Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference.

Paul Martin openeed the scoring for Pittsburgh at 3:37 of the first period, netting his second of the season, assisted by Crosby (7).  1-0 Pens.  Mike, "Vespa Boy" Green tied it 1-1 at 5:05 before a hat trick of firsts for Pittsburgh.  Matt Cooke scored his first goal of the year assisted by Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo, first assists for each of them to reclaim a 2-1 lead for the Pens.  The period ended that way with Pittsburgh leading 2-1.

The Craps tied it 2-2 when Carlson scored at 4:03 of the second.  The Pens answered quickly when Kris Letang showed great patience before beating Holtby for his third goal of the season from Suter (2) and Cooke (1), making it 3-2 Pittsburgh!  Then Chris Kunitz began his rampage at 7:33 netting a  goal,  his third of the season from Crosby (8) and Malkin (9) to make it 4-2 Pittsburgh.  Then  Koon struck again on the power play at 13:59, his 4th of the year from Malkin (10) and Neal (1) to give Pittsburgh a 3 goal lead at 5-2!  The second period ended that way.

Early Mike Ribeiro gave the Caps life making it 5-3 at the 3:33 mark of the period, and the Caps took advantage of being the fresher team for a bit, but Kunitz ended the scoring with his 5th goal at 19:52, another power play market and a hat trick, assisted by Crosby (9) and Letang (5) to close the scoring at 6-3 Pittsburgh!

Some notes from the game:

Though Vokoun may not have had his best game as a Penguin, he was victimized by one fluke goal, and despite giving up three goals, he made some big saves in the third after Ribeiro's goal closed the gap to two goals, and had 24 saves. His record is now 3-1-0 with a .927% save percentage and 2.08 GAA;

Big game today, and a big couple of games for Chris Kunitz.  He had a hat trick today, and is now tied with James Neal for the team lead in goals.  Koon has 4 goals, 2 assists and a plus 5 rating in his past two games;

Sidney Crosby is on fire, collecting 3 assists today to bring his point total to 13 points on the season, leading the Penguins, and getting him closer and closer to the league leaders.  Equally important, he has been his willingness to go to all of the dirty areas, and play strong in all three zones;

How abour Robert Bortuzzo, who has one goal and one assist in his past two games and a plus 5 rating.  Add to that his ability to take the body, and you will take that from a rookie third pairing defenseman;

Pascal Dupuis has been on fire offensively the past several games, and today he blocked three shots on the penalty kill today after getting 1 goal and 3 assists in the prior three games;

Geno quietly got 2 assists and is only one point behind Crosby for the team lead with 12 points;

Kris Letang had 2 points with a beautiful goal and an assist, though he did over commit on the play that led to Mike Green's goal.  On the season Letang also has 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points making him third among NHL defensemen in point scoring;

Paul Martin continued his strong season adding a goal to open the game and shutdown defense all day, making smart plays to clear the zone and start the rush for Pittsburgh;

For those who still question the additon of Tanner Glass, he leads all Penguins with 26 hits on the season;

All in all, a very good win for the Penguins, their third victory in a row, coming on game 2 of their second back to back of the season.  I like the contributions coming from the youngs guys and the fire starting to come from that top line in particular.  The third line is also starting to come around,  with Cooke and Sutter finding some offense, and Sutter is the only Penguins player to be a plus player in every game of this season.  I love the lunch pail work being done by Vitale, Glass, and Adams. Nice little stretch here for the Pens, keep it coming boys!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Since the last time I posted......yeah it was days ago because I have normalized my love affair with hockey, the Penguins have played one horrendous game, a 4-1 loss Tuesday night on home ice, a game which they failed to even show up, and two impressive wins.  Thursday night in New York, the Penguins continued their recent superiority over the Rags with an impressive 3-0 road shutout, and today they hammered the New Jersey Devils 5-1 in a day of firsts for the Pens. Thursday's game featured a stellar  effort   between the  pipes by Tomas Vokoun, a two point night (goal and an assist) for Geno, and the first goal of the season by Simon Despres, on a  nifty semi-breakaway set up Pascal Dupuis.  Despres took the pass like a sniper then turned Lunqvist inside out to give the Pens the back breaker.  More important to me is the fact that he looked pretty comfortable paired up with Kris Letang, giving the Pens their own French Connection.  In addition, despite a couple of shaky moments Robert Bortuzzo played a pretty solid game in his season debut, paired with Deryk Engelland he gives the Penguins a big, rugged third pairing that can take the body on a regular basis.  It was good to see the Penguins rebound against a red hot Rangers team to take a valuable two points on the road.  They followed that up with a game of firsts as noted above.  The 5-1 victory featured Brandon Sutter's first goal as a Penguin, a nice dirty goal scored from the blue paint.  It also featured Robert Bortuzzo's first NHL goal, a nice blast from the point that beat Brodeur.  The victory was also the first one on home ice this season for your flightless birds!  The victory leaves the Penguins temporarily atop the Atlantic Division with ten points and third in the Eastern Conference. Some items of note for me today include the following:

The Penguins defense was solid for the second straight game and all three pairings have been comfortable as a unit.  Orpik/Martin, Letang/Despres, and Engelland/Bortuzzo have been very effective in the last two divisonal scrapes.  That is a good sign, as Matt Niskanen is out for a few weeks, and it is time to see what these young guns can do at the NHL level.  If all are healthy the Penguins will have a good problem when Nisky gets healthy;

Crosby, despite one sloppy play that led to a Devils goal, seemed to have found his game in a big way today.  Crosby was everywhere, adding a goal and two assists;

Sutter played a great two way game today, and hopefully getting his first goal will lead to more offensive production for him;

The Penguins generally played a very sound game defensively, outshooting New Jersey 30-16, and taking the body all night long;

Chris Kunitz despite being ill looked like the Kunitz we all grown to love, playing a rugged game, and also notching a goal and two assists;

James Neal notched his 5th goal, a power play goal Thursday night, and though he was not on the score sheet today, he was a physical presence all over the ice;

Duper picked up 3 points, all assists in the past two games;

Boychuk showed more grit than expected, and flashed some impressive speed.  It will be interesting to see if that can translate into goals at the NHL level;

A big matinee tilt against the hated Capitals tomorrow!