Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pens young players coming up big

Sorry for the infrequent posts of late....Things have picked up considerably for me (new job) and my time has been stretched. For game recaps and more regular updates to my dozen readers, you know to check out the Pensblog. Heck, you come from there anyways.

Regardless, good win tonight for the Marc-Andre Fleury-less Penguins in Long Island. Some of my thoughts:
``Kris Letang led all Penguins with 25:50 ice time. It's hard to develop as a young defenseman in the NHL. Letang, relatively unhearlded as a 3rd round draft pick, is doing it in front of our eyes. Surprisingly for someone so adept at moving the puck, tonight's assist was just his 2nd of the season. Best stat for this offensive minded dman? 4 hits and 1 blocked shot. If Letang can be competant in his own end against NHL caliber players, I really think he could develop into a Dan Boyle-esque player. Which would be a very good thing.
``Enough of Letang, how about Tyler Kennedy? Mr. Kennedy is rocking faces the NHL and his speed, hustle and energy is making differences. Coming into this year, personally I was more sold on Ryan Stone or Jonathan Filewich. I overlooked the new TK's overall skill that goes along with his effort. And with 6 goals and 4 assists in 19 games (while playing just over 11 minutes a night) Kennedy is making a HUGE difference. Kennedy's goal and 2 assists tonight meant he had a hand in every score. Tremendous.
``The Islanders have been on a streak of something like 20 games not scoring more than 3 goals in a game, so jumping out to an early 2-0 lead (even though it was neutralized) was huge for not only the Penguins but to damage the pysche of the Isles.
``Seriously, is every goal Richard Park scores against the Penguins? I'll try to look it up when I have the time, but it really seems like Park scores almost every time he plays his old team. Yet he only has 5 on the year.
``Sidney Crosby had his 15th goal of the season, but he and Evgeni Malkin had a hideous go at it in the faceoff circle (thanks mostly to faceoff wizard Mike Sillinger). The two Big Boys went a combined 11 for 36 (30.5%) on faceoffs.
``One area the Penguins did not have problems was the shot department. 40 shots on net tonight (led by Petr Sykora's 6) and missed the net 11 more times. Tell me this going into a game and I like their chances....Also Crosby had 5 shots on goal, I believe he's had about 13 shots in the past two games; it seems like he's making a conscious effort to shoot more. That is a very bad thing to hear for the opposition.
``Are people going to start hitting Georges Laraque so they don't have to feel Gary Roberts' wrath? Roberts took exception to Andy Sutton's treatment of Jordan Staal and had no qualms in dropping the gloves with a significantly younger (and bigger) kid. Arguably no one in the NHL is as tough, strong or forceful as Gary Roberts is at 41 years old....And if you don't believe it, he'll probably kick your ass too for good measure.
``Crosby is #1 in the league at drawing penalties: 37 so far this year. The outside observers will wrongly decry that they are mostly sympathetic or trumped up calls by biased referees "Michael Jordan calls" if you will. Watch 5 consecutive Pens games as just a neutral observer and you'd have a different perspective. I belive right now Alex Ovechkin is #2 in this category, also for a reason. The opposition knows the elite players that they must hook, hold, slash, grab, trip, interfere, etc.
``Dany Sabourin was good. But can he be good for the next 6-8 weeks? Tough question. But considering Sabs was the goalie of the year in the ECHL once, and he was the goalie of the year in the AHL once, he has the skill and knows it. Surely his confidence could all fall apart and we could see repeats of the 8-2 debacle in Philly.....But I honestly believe Sabourin could be the stopgap for the next month and a half and do his part to keep the Penguins in playoff contention. IF he can (and I realize that's a hefty if) that's all you can ask for.....For tonight at least, he did his part.
``One of the unsung trio, Rob Scuderi, left early with what appeared to be an ankle injury. That's 3 current ankle injuries (Fleury, Maxime Talbot), if you're keeping track at home. Maybe we should try wrapping these things or something??
``Connor James made his NHL debut. The Pens chose him over a more flashy guy like Stone, Filewich or Jeff Taffe because he fills the Talbot role of speed, energy and PK ability better. James looked decent in his limited action. He definitely is a very fast and quick skater. The Penguins sure do have a great crop of all-around skaters in their organization, it's something that's been emphasized by at first Craig Patrick and now Mr. Shero. I can't believe I paid a compliment to post 2000 Craig Patrick, but apparantely I just did.
``Sports Illustrated did a huge article on Chris Simon a couple of weeks ago where they basically tried to state that he really is a good person that just does bad things. I bought this, after all hockey is a rough and tumble sport and it's emotions run high so it's easy to cross the line occasionally....But Simon's latest line crossing; where he attempted to stomp Jarrko Ruutu's ankle off was inexcusable. Too much adds to his shoddy reputation. There's no place in the NHL for that kind of recklessness. I'm sure Colin Campbell will be giving the Isles a call soon to let him know how long he's suspended. It should be a lengthy one, no one deserves to be stomped on with an ice skate. Total classless and bush-league by Simon.

It's a great thing to get 2 points from a division rival on the road....Even moreso when your #1 goalie and #1 defenseman (Sergei Gonchar) are out of the lineup, and when the two big guns combine for just 1 assist.

Around here, we'll take it....These two points are worth just as much at the end of the season as the Flyers earned for winning 8-2 the other night. It all counts the same.

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