Thursday, February 14, 2008

Goin to Carolina

It's a hockey night in Raleigh!

  • Season series: 2-1 Penguins (including the last two). This is the last match up of the regular season between Pittsburgh and Carolina.
  • The Hurricanes, uh, made waves (sorry) with their big trade of sending two impending vets that were UFAs (Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore) for two younger players not as established (the injured Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo). Consider though, the four games before that trade the ‘Canes only scored a total of 4 goals. In their only contest since they scored 3 goals and won. Sometimes a GM needs to shake things up to get the message through.
  • Dany Sabs is expected to be in net. We have no idea what that means. At times Sabourin has showed he can be an effective NHL backup and give a good performance. But at other times he shown quite clearly that he can give the goal judge's red-light finger a workout. With Fleury's return coming very soon this might be one of the last times this year Sabourin gets the chance to start an NHL game. Surely he must know this. Hopefully that pressure brings the best, and not the worst, out of him.
  • The tightness of the Southleastern Division--Carolina is tied with Washington and Atlanta with 60 points at the top, Florida has 58 points and don’t sleep on Tampa who’s only 6 points out of 1st with at least a game in hand on everyone else. Point being, all of these teams are going to be fighting and clawing in what’s best described as the measured and nothing against mentality of “playoff hockey”. Which is ironic since no team in the Southleast is in the top 8 in the conference right now on their own merit.
  • Ray Whitney has a +/- rating of -11 in the past month. We know this because he was on our fantasy team. As in the past tense.
  • Coach Michel Therrien called out the secondary scoring and it’s easy to see why. Since Crosby’s injury the top line has been ridiculous and the 2nd line of Christensen-Staal-Talbot has created too. Look at these droughts:

--The last time Colby Armstrong scored a goal; there wasn’t a roof over his head. Since the Winter Classic he’s played 16 games and only has 2 assists in that timeframe.
--Max Talbot only has 1 goal in his last 17 games (though he is piling up assists at a decent rate)
--BGL isn’t here to score, but he’s had 0g, 1a in the past 15 games.
--Jarkko Ruutu is 0 for the season (46 games for him).
--Kris Beech, naturally, is scoreless in 3 games too
--Jeff Taffe is on a 10 game goal-less streak.
--Young players Ryan Stone, Jonathan Filewich and Nathan Smith, in limited minutes, also produced nothing offensively in 18 combined games.

On the heels of all this, the Pens are happy to welcome back a guy in Tyler Kennedy who was on pace to be a 20 goal scorer in his rookie year (8 goals in 31 NHL games this season) and plays with a lot of energy and determination. You can count on Geno and the powerplay, but expecting them to produce 3-4 goals a night is not going to cut it; it caught up with the Penguins last night.

If the Penguins want to win this game, someone else is going to have to step up and somehow get one by an opponent that's sure to be clinging for dear life. That could be the spark the Pens need to carry them to victory.

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