Tuesday, November 20, 2007

At the Quarter Pole

With the first quarter of the 2007-08 season done, let's look at how it's gone.

``The Penguins are 12th in the Eastern Conference with 18 points (8-10-2) after the first 20 games. Not good. But the logjam of the conference right now is the Philly Flyers in 5th place (with 23 points) down to New Jersey in 13th place (who also has 18 points). So there's not a lot of room for failure but the pack hasn't broken away from the Pens.

``The big stories have been well told: After getting 0 points in the season opener, Sidney Crosby has atleast one point in all 19 games since (11 goals, 19 assists). Crosby is 4 points behind league leader Vincent Lecavalier.

``Not to be left far behind, Evgeni Malkin currently on a 13 game scoring streak and has basically held serve with Crosby. Malkin has 27 points (7g, 20a) in the first 20 games and has been a cerfitifiable game changer.

``Jordan Staal's production has gone icy cold; 1 goal and 1 assist in 20 games. But he's led all forwards in shorthanded time, so he is contributing. Hopefully that will change.

``Petr Sykora has been pretty solid 9 goals (5 on the powerplay). Hopefully his consistency, something that's plagued him before.

``Sergei Gonchar has put up 19 points in 20 games and has matched up admirably against the opponent's top players.

``On the strength of the big guns (Crosby, Malkin, Sykora, Gonchar and Ryan Whitney), the powerplay is 7th in the league, clicking along at 21%.

``The penalty kill has quietly climbed to 82.5%, 13th in the league. Surely the unsung trio (Robert Scuderi, Brooks Orpik and Mark Eaton) has been a huge part of that.

``The 5 on 5 ratio (Goals For / Goals Against) is brutal. 26th in the league brutal.

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