Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Can't Win 'em All....Pens lose

In our pregame post we said that based on the results of tonights Pens/Bruins and Devils/Senators game that Pittsburgh could potentially be either 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 point up on the Devs, the closest chaser (for now) in the ever shuffling mix of the Atlantic Division...Well, it ended up in the worst case scenario as the Pens lost in regulation and NJ won. But, it's better to have a "worst case scenario" night in February rather than in April.

  • The Bruins really set the tone in the first period, outshooting the Pens 13-4, out-working, out-skating, out-hustling and generally out-everything-ing the hometeam.
  • Rough first period for the Sarge...First he misplayed the puck and PJ Axelsson sped away from him on a breakaway forcing a penalty. Then Gonchar turned the puck over behind his own net which led to the first goal against.
  • Credit Jeremy Reich for the second goal, he got great position and knocked BGL over and then chipped a centering pass between Kris Letang's skates. Conkblock was caught trying to pokecheck and it was in the net by Vlad Sobotka. The Bruins lower liners made that play look fairly simple.
  • Usually we'd feel pretty good going into a game knowing the Pens would spend 12:07 with the man advantage. But they only produced 1 goal on 7 shots. Which isn't going to get it done tonight or most any night.
  • Other than Evgeni Malkin (the goal scorer) and Petr Sykora, no other forward really even looked like their head was in the game. Those two combined for 10 shots on net, the rest of the team only put 11 pucks on target.
  • In particular, it seemed like Erik Christensen (who's been great of late) had a pretty brutal game. Penalties, bad puck decisions, missing nets--you name it and if it's frustrating he probably did it. Hopefully he puts this one behind him and can come out with a better outing tomorrow.
  • Alex Goligoski had his NHL debut, and even though he only played just over 8 minutes (the Pens dressed 7 defensemen) he showed the wheels and potential that has the brass salivating. A couple of minor mistakes--as to be expected from a 21 year old professional rookie in his first game in the show--but overall he was as advertised. Dude is going to be a player in the NHL sooner than later.
  • Conklin settled down. One really couldn't blame him for either goal, but it's worth noting:
  • Marc-Andre Fleury made his first rehab start for Wilkes-Barre tonight and stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 3-1 win. That and a report that his ankle is feeling pretty good tomorrow morning is probably the best news the Penguins could hear right now.

A loss is a loss is a loss, there's no way around it. Give 100% credit to Boston; they had been in a slump recently but came out very strong early and definitely earned the win. One shouldn't take too much (positive or negative) out of just 1 game in a season of 82, but the Bruins definitely look like a team that should make the playoffs based off of the effort and performance they had tonight.

For the Pens part it seems like one of their uptempo, energy guys (Gary Roberts, Tyler Kennedy who scored a goal again tonight in his rehab with the Baby Pens) could have made a difference. Adding a player like that Crosby guy, especially on all those powerplays could have tipped the scales too..

But for now there's only if's and what could have been's. The Penguins lost and the Atlantic Division, once again, tightens a little more. Tomorrow nights game in Carolina, likely with Dany Sabs in net, becomes all the more important. An immediate chance for the Pens to regain their composure and wash the disappointing taste of a loss out of their collective mouths.

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