Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Put the Pens in the Southeast..

Is it too late to petition realignment to the Southeastern Division? Pittsburgh, geographically, is more "eastern" than Atlanta and Tampa is, and techincally is closer to the Mason-Dixon line then it is to the Atlantic Ocean. You think Bettman would buy it? Yeah probably not, but the Pens feasted on Atlanta anyways (they're 3-0 against the T-bombs this year) to snap out of so many nasty streaks. Ok, that aside

--One of the more interesting developments is how short the Penguins fuses have become. Sidney Crosby famously jumped a guy over the weekend, but Colby Armstrong takes down Ruslan Fedotenko on a relatively normal play and Rusty challenges him to fisticuffs? Fedotenko's had three fights in his career with two of them coming in the past three weeks....And maybe he should think of not fighting again, as he appeared to hurt his hand after one-punching the prominent proboscis on Army's face.

--When you're in a slump (to say nothing of a slump of epic proportions), everyone preaches just getting the puck to the net to score an ugly one. And while the Penguins did look to get traffic to the net and get some point shots through, it's still amusing that the slump buster—a hard cross-ice pass in the zone from Ryan Whitney to Petr Sykora who redirected it-- was about the furthest thing from being ugly goal as you could get.

--A lot of people wondered if Sidney Crosby fired up his teammates, we’ll leave it to you to answer that, but we think he’s certainly gotten himself fired up. El Sid averaged 3.08 shots on goal over the first 39 games of the season. In the two games following Fight-Night 2009 he’s got 6.50 shots a night. It’s admittedly a small sample size but it is reflective of how he has cranked his intensity up a notch. And the work he’s doing in his own zone (winning faceoffs, taking pucks away, intercepting passes, starting breakouts) is just as good as the crisp passes and shots he’s getting at the offensive end.

--It obviously helps to play with guys like Crosby, Whitney and Evgeni Malkin, but where would the Penguins be without Sykora? Not just tonight but generally he’s been a monster, leading the team with 10 powerplay goals and 6 game winners on top of that.

--Marc-Andre Fleury deserves a lot of credit too. We've all been a little frustrated with him when he's been giving up early goals or somewhat weak goals, but he closed the door 27 out of 28 times, especially in the 3rd period when the Penguins were sitting on the lead and allowed too many good chances, as the 14-7 shot advantage for the T-bombs would suggest.

--We bet the only person who looks forward to playing against the Penguins more than Ilya Kovalchuk is Dany Heatley. The other "Kovy" has 18 goals and 15 assists in 26 career games against the Pens...Also at age 24 (25 in a couple months), doesn't it seem like Kovalchuk is already old? He's been in the NHL since our senior year of high school. And with young Russians like Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin in the league, as hard as it is to imagine but Kovalchuk is fading off of conciousness, it seems. Of course, if he played somewhere like Montreal or Detroit this probably wouldn't be the case.

--As nice as it was to get the win, the second game scratch in a row of Hal Gill and Alex Goligoski didn't make our house happy. However perhaps it should be noted one of the TST whipping boys, Phillipe Boucher, was on the ice for both power play goals. Then again, you could probably put Paris Hilton on skates and tell her not to hump anyone and the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Whitney and Sykora could work the puck around and score a goal or two.

--Hit machine Brooks Orpik was credited with 10 more deserving crunches last night. And the stick he caught in the face Monday night makes his face look even more creepy/intense.

--From the "Everything Can't Go Right Department" two "top-six" wingers didn't finish the game due to injury as Pascal Dupuis joined Fedotenko in the sick bay. Could this be a chance for the Penguins to give Chris Minard (26 goals in 30 AHL games) a chance to play on a top line in the NHL? True Minard only has 1 goal in 22 career NHL games, but when you're playing 7-8 minutes a night with the likes of Eric Godard, well that's what you get.

Now is as good a time as any to hit the road on what will be (according to the mileage) the second most taxing roadie left on the schedule this year. Nashville on Thursday, a matinee with Colorado Saturday and then back east to take on those dastardly Flyers on Tuesday.

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