So the Pens will have to take the one point, getting just 3 points this past week in three home games against the Rags (win), Toronto (embarrassing collapse) and Montreal (shootout loss).
Some final game notes before the Pens head west to play some mighty strong looking teams (Minnesota and Colorado):
- Old Man Recchi was finally demoted, all the way to the 4th line....Still he actually played well with a kid in his first NHL game, Tyler Kennedy.
- It's hard to state how awesome Evgeni Malkin has been...Both in Saturday night's game (3 assists) and really all year. Malkin played very well in his rookie year in 06-07, but has looked on a different plane this season. If he continues to get settled to the NHL version of the game---which he will, given his age (21), his size (6'3) and his amazing skillset, things will be scary in the years to come.
- Sidney Crosby's goal extended his point scoring streak to 9 games now.....
- A tough night for Marc-Andre Fleury, he gave up 3 goals early and got the hook....But it definitely fired up the team, and as mentioned, Sabs came in and did a stellar job in relief.
- Bobby Scuds (officially nickname for Robert Scuderi) played 22+ minutes and nobody noticed. He's easily the most improved player on the team, if not the entire league. He's been very steady as a defensive defenseman, and even though he was a target of Pens fans critcism last year (along with discarded native son Josef Melichar), Bobby Scuds has been awesome. Good for him.
- Old friend Alexei Kovalev's scrum with Crosby turned the tide of the game. Anyone who still holds the ignorant belief that Crosby is a soft or non-physical player needs only to check the way he stood up for Malkin, and in return see how his team responded. That is solid leadership from a 20 year old captain that's already the most skilled player in the game. Wow.
So that's it of the home-streak, and the first 10 games are done. There have been some bright spots (Malkin, Crosby, Scuds, Max Talbot), some inconsistent play (Fleury) and some guys you know will contribute more some point (Jordan Staal, Ryan Malone, etc).
The Pens have 11 points in the standings (5-4-1)....That translates to roughly 88 points for the season, which won't be enough. But they haven't played the way they're capable to at all, wining a couple games despite getting heavily outshot and outchanced, but also letting games slip away that the carried the play in.....If they can right the ship and play a little more consistently, things should turn around even further.
It's not good enough to be barely above .500; but it's not like the team is happy with just what the record says. There's still room for improvement and that improvement will carry them to a playoff spot. So let's get it together and head west, young men.