Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pens choke out the Ducks

Last night was sort of a look if the Penguins hadn't had won the 2005 draft lottery...And while it wasn't pretty, they got just enough to win...And hey, they got through the game with only one player getting knocked out with injury, so that's a plus.

  • Obviously with Sidney Crosby's injury it all starts with Evgeni Malkin. Geno stepped it up, he did uncharacteristically well in the faceoff circle (8 of 14), was credited with the Pens only two takeaways, three shots on net and two assists. He also played 24:25 and only one other forward played more than 20 minutes.
  • Matt Cooke really ate his Wheaties. The Penguins were playing a gritty, nasty, "not pretty" type of game, fitting right into Cooke's philosphy as well. And his goals (whipping shots on net, spinning bodies around) were a good reflection of a job well done.
  • In our recap we predicted a lot of minutes for Ryan Whitney and Brooks Orpik. After Orpik left the game early with an injury, Whitney must have taken a deep breath and said "here we go". Whits got a game high 29:39 as he picked up most of the slack and did well.
  • From the things you don't see everyday file: Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer combined for a -4.
  • Chris Minard registered a team high five shots on goal and looked the most comfortable he ever has in the NHL. One gets the feeling if he keeps chipping at it he's going to breakthrough. The question is, can he make the most of the opportunity before forwards return from injury and time runs out.
  • And how about Hal Gill with his first goal since March 16, 2008? That's a 60 drought (including the playoff run). It was a perfect example of the Penguins mentality: just get the puck to the net whenever you can. Credit Jordan Staal for the faceoff win and Gill for unleashing the rocket.

So an important two points in the Penguins pocket but also the confidence to know that when they play well and buckle down defensively they are good enough to compete and beat any team in the league.

We noted that the five game stretch before the All-Star game could be pivotal in the season. The Penguins are now 2-1 in the highlighted segment. Now if they could just show up for an afternon game...

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