Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aces Wild: Pens Win

Big 4-2 win on the road tonight against a Minnesota team that's been one of the NHL's strongest over the first month of the season (7-3-2 record good for 2nd in the West). Even better though, this was the first time of the season that the Penguins really put in a solid 60 minutes of effort and played well at both ends of the ice. Game notes

  • Obviously this game was all about Sidney Crosby (1g, 3a, +3, 4 SOG, 3 hits, 68% faceoffs (15-7), 21:30 TOI) and Evgeni Malkin (2g, 1a, +3, 3 SOG, 4 PIM, 19:40 TOI). I was against using them on the same line long-term, but on a night like this why not? They were dominant and it showed.

  • Ryan Malone deserves a lot of credit too. He's played really well this year and opened up room on the top line. If he gives this type of effort every night this team is going places...Malone's knock has always been consistency and periods of no production over long stretches but he's answered the bell so far this year...It's almost like he's a UFA at the end of the year or something...

  • The defense played very solid as well. As usual, Sergei Gonchar led all skaters on the Penguins with 24:38 in icetime. But the defensemen with the least amount of icetime was Darryl Sydor and he had 16:25. Most fell into the 19-20 minute range. Good balance. And, if I'm going to go on forever with Sid and Geno's statline it's worth mentioning these unsung heroes: Mark Eaton (20:28 TOI, 8 blocked shots), Brooks Orpik (3 hits, 4 blocked shots). That's not a typo, Eaton really did block 8 shots.

  • Petr Sykora showed why he's a slick goal scorer with his powerplay goal. Dude has a heck of a release on that shot. Hopefully he keeps getting a lot of PP time, he's notorious for scoring slumps so it's good to see him producing.

  • Michel Therrien must have gotten the message loud and clear: Old Man Recchi had but 13:30 icetime. He's good in that role. His line with Adam Hall and rook Tyler Kennedy play well as a lower line unit. And that's basically the same role Recchi played for Carolina when they won the cup.

  • Is there a goalie controversy? Sabourin was great. He made the saves he need to make, the Wild were frantic but Sabs was strong. Really, if you took the numbers off both goalies backs (and, I suppose the identifying yellow pads away), you'd probably have to say Sabourin deserves the next start. But this team is not going to go places with Sabs, it's going to have to be Marc-Andre Fleury taking them places....Stay tuned.

Now it's off to Colorado for a game against a team with a pretty fair home record so far (5-0-0).

Oh yeah, don't forget Sidney Crosby is now up to 5th place in the NHL in scoring with 17 points. He is on a 10 game point scoring streak. Malkin is tied for 7th in the league, right behind him with 16 points.

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