Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Don't call it a comeback

When Sidney Crosby went down with a high ankle sprain, most thought the same thoughts when Marc-Andre Fleury suffered the same injury. Hopefully the Penguins could keep their head just above water until their #1 center and #1 goalie could return, went the hypothesis. Luckily Evgeni Malkin (27 points in 14 games of flying solo) and Ty Conklin (16-4-3!) did not harbor such thoughts. They have risen to the top in league categories--Malkin in points, Conklin in save percentage and have not just held the Pens heads above water, why they're powering the team towards the playoffs injuries be damned!

  • Ryan Malone has been playing some inspired hockey as well. Maybe it's the recent birth of his first son, maybe it's realizing he could be cashing in on a pretty good payday this summer, whatever it is we don't care. Malone's been a force and has finally shown that he will be consistent in driving to the net, playing physical, getting pucks on goal and generally living up to his hype.
  • How 'bout this stat line for the Sarge: 27:00 TOI, 1 assist, +2, 5 shots, 3 blocked shots and 2 hits. We'll take that kind of effort anyday.
  • Colby Armstrong (who scored the ice-breaking first goal) threw 4 shots on net and really seemed to be making an effort to get off more shots. His empty net goal (the first in 16 games for him) seemed to have made a big difference in his confidence with the puck and tonight he really played well. Weird how something as simple as flippng a puck into an unmanned crease from behind the blueline can so postively effect a player, but it worked for Army.
  • What else can you say about Ty Conklin. He's been terrific. Better than that. Early in the game, somehow, the Penguins gave up 3 clean breakaways. He Conkblocked the first 2 of them and probably let the third one in just to teach his team a lesson.
  • For the opposition: David Booth has 18 goals this year, which is about 13 more than we here at TST would have guessed before this game began. Good for him for quietly having a good year. Also, Kamil Kreps also was good too when he had the puck, a lot of burst out of him. One gets the feeling that the Panthers have the makings of a good team, they just need a couple more pieces and some more experience and maybe they don't blow leads like their last game and this one.

The Rangers were up 5-0 on the Canadiens tonight, so them losing in a shootout must be something of a best case scenario for the rest of the Atlantic Division. Speaking of shootout losses, the Flyers decided to get in on that party too. New Jersey and the Islanders were idle, so a good night for the Pens who claw back up into a tie of first with the Devils (NJ holds the tiebrake based on better head to head record).

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