Monday, October 30, 2006

Staal stays...Letang goes...

Jordan Staal has past the first deadline in his rookie season with the Pens. It was announced today that he will remain on the Penguins roster for his 10th game on Wed. The next decision comes at the 40 game make when his 7 year clock for unrestricted free agency will start but that is a few months down the road and will be easier for the Pens depending on the season and his play.

Kristopher Letang on the other hand was sent back to his Junior club today. It wasn't a surprising move as he was scratched for the Pens last two games and after seeing his ice time cut back in the games before. While it was an impress preseason and first 2 game for Letang, it isn't really a set back for him as Defenseman take awhile to adapt to the NHL as Whitney and Welch are examples of this. He is still apart of the Pens future I am sure.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thoughts so far this season...

After watching the Penguins run there winning streak to four games with a pounding of the Flyers. I few things popped into my head.
  • On the day the Pens lost the Draft Lottery for Ovechkin I was pretty bummed. After watching the Pens be the worst team for the previous 2 years in hopes of drafting him, they lost again. Now looking at it, they actually won by losing. The Pens because of that then had a better chance the next year of winning the Crosby lottery, which they did, and probably wouldn't have had they won the Ovechkin Lottery. Also by losing they were awarded the consolation prize of a kid named Evgeni Malkin. So which is better Ovechkin or Malkin/Crosby? Pretty easy answer so far.

  • How many people would be happy with someone on the 1st line who has yet to score a goal? Well I have yet to hear anyone complain about the job Armstrong is doing along side of Crosby and Malkin and I for one am going to say at this rate I don't care if he scores all season. Armstong does all the stuff that Malkin and Crosby shouldn't be doing and allows them to make the plays they need to. Armstrong will stick up for his line mates by dealing with anybody who wants to take a cheap shot at Crosby or Malkin. Opponents also have to watch for him anytime he is on the ice because if they don't, he will make them pay with the big hit. Armstrong will score on that line but in no way should his job be in jeopardy.

  • If the Pens return from the first West Coast trip in a few years with 3 points out of a possible 6, I would consider that a win for them. They should beat the Kings but the Sharks and Ducks are a different animal. Good showings against the latter two would do wonders for the confidence of the young Penguins and help them tremendously the rest of the season. It will also validate the their record so far this season.

  • How is this for a Penguins turnaround this year? The Pens have already won 5 of 6 games against the Atlantic Division after on winning 12 of 32 last year. The Pens have score 27 goals of far this year against them. Their only lose this year coming against the Devils. The have also outscored the Flyers 12 - 2 in their first two games.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pens 8, Flyers 2

The Penguins proved tonight that they don't discriminate between goalies. They put up 4 goals on both Esche and Niittymaki to give the Pens there biggest offensive showing of the young season. Crosby propelled the Penguins offense by recording this first of many Hat-Tricks in the NHL and Malkin was able to keep his goal scoring streak going. Recchi and Moore were also able to get their first goals of the season.

Not to be forgotten was the game that Talbot played. Talbot was the one to really get the Pens on track with two goals and always seem to be in the right spot at the right time. He was able break the game open with the Pens first shorthanded goal that wasn't by Staal. In a play that reminded you of the Pens the last few season, Forsberg and Gagne collided at the blue line trying to get the puck in the zone on the power play which sprung Talbot all alone in on Niittymaki. Talbot made a nice move and put the puck in the open net. He then started the scoring in the second period by scoring on a nice backhand to forehand move to put it high over Niittymaki.

If Crosby could play all 82 games against the Flyers he would be shattering all of Gretzky single season scoring records. Crosby goals showed why it doesn't matter doesn't matter what is happening you can't take your eye off of him. Crobsy got his first goal on a nice feed from Whitney on a give and go play which he pretty much fanned on and deflect off his skate. Crosby was then able to find a puck in traffic in front of the net and slipped the puck under Niittymaki, which cause him to be pulled in favor of Esche. Unfazed by the change in goal, Crosby deftly picked his nemesis Hatcher's pocket and threw a backhander past a surprised Esche.

Malkin scored the Pens only Power Play goal to make the score 6 - 1 on another play that brings back memories of Mario. Malkin was able to use Esche cheating on a play with a sharp angle shot that went off the pad of Esche and into the goal. The Flyer then made it 6 - 2 on the Power Play to start the 3rd which just made the Pens finish off the Flyers on goals from Recchi and Moore.

Fluery was solid in net yet again stopping 31 of 33 shots with none more spectacular then the poke check he made on a breaking Carter when the game was still relatively close. Staal played well in what might be his final game this year for the Pens but it isn't looking likely because Pens fans might tear down the Igloo a few years early. The decision is going to be made, if it hasn't been already, by Wed before his 10th game.

The Pens start their West Coast trip on Wed with a game in LA against the Kings...


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pens 4, Devils 2

The coming of age Penguins may just have taken that big step forward. The First place Pittsburgh Penguins (hey, it has been a long time) were able to beat arguably one of the best goaltenders of all time for 4 goals on a night when the nation was watching. The Pens got a balanced effort from their top 2 lines and some key saves from hopefully the next great goaltender. Malkin was also able to show why the future of the Penguins is not only bright but blinding. His highlight reel goal was able seal away the win.

The Pens went down 1 - 0 when Fleury left a big rebound on a deflected shot that Gomez was able to put in an open net. This usually spells doom for the Penguins who had yet to win after giving up the first goal and the Devils usually then put 5 people across the net in an attempt to let time run out. Ekman however was able to catch the Devils in a line change which gave the Pens some life when he wristed the puck past Brodeur. The Pens were then able to take control in the second when Malkin set up Crosby with a nice feed as Crosby trailed the play. Staal then got his first even strength goal on nice passes from Ekman and Recchi that left Staal with a wide open net to make it 3 - 1. The Devils got back to 3 - 2 on a goal that I still can't figure out how Brylin got it behind Fleury from behind the net. Malkin then used all his tools to make the Devils D and Brodeur look like rookies to put the Pens back up two. If you haven't seen the goal yet find it at ESPN or TSN.

Letang was scratched from the lineup as Welch was called up which makes it look like he is going to be going back to his Junior team which really isn't a major set back as all Defenseman take awhile to develop. Staal on the other hand is pretty much making it impossible to send him back because if they do it is strictly a financial move and a fear of losing him in two years.

Next up the last place Flyers in Philly...


Monday, October 23, 2006

Welch recalled

Noah Welch has been recalled from the Baby Pens. While this was going to happen at some point this year, it is a little strange that they would recall Welch after Malone went down. This most likely means that Letang is going to be sent back to his Junior team in the coming days. Sending Letang down will leave the Pens without a single Right handed Defenseman in the system. The question is how long this stay will last for Welch with Orpik and Cairns to return from the injury list before too long.

I think the most likely move for the Pens to replace Malone will be to move Ouellet up to the top line and either insert two of Stewart, Roy, or Thorburn on to the 4th line. Ouellet seems to have good chemistry with Crosby on the Power Play and it would be easier for him to move into that role then anyone else outside of the second line. They could also call up Talbot until Petrovicky returns from injury.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Malone out 4 - 6 weeks...

It was confirmed today that Malone will be out 4 - 6 weeks with a broken right forearm. It was broken in the 2nd period of the Blue Jackets game during a fight. It could be seen when Malone was going into the Penalty Box, he said to Crosby while looking at his arm that it was broken.

I don't think that this is going to make an impact on the Staal decision because it is unlikely that he will fill in for Malone.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pens 5, Blue Jackets 3

Jordan Staal may or may not be a Penguin in a couple weeks but he seems to be making as much of an impact as he can before he goes. Staal has scored 3 goals, all of them shorthanded, with 2 of them coming in this one. He came close to getting the hat-trick by just missing on an empty net chance also shorthanded. He got the first one following up a Recchi shot and got the second one of a Penalty Shot. The Penalty Shot went off the post, off the goalie, and then just over the line. The Ref first waved off the goal but after review the goal counted. It is going to be a difficult decision in the coming couple of weeks for GM Ray Shero.

While Staal was shining on the Penalty Kill it was the rest of the Pens that were shining on the Power Play. The Pens went 3 for 9 on the Power Play. They got off to a quick 2 - 0 start on goals by Ouellet and Gonchar. The first was a slight deflection goal off a Gonchar point shot which was first given to Gonchar and then switched to Ouellet. Gonchar was able to get one of his own later when he found a rebound in the high slot and put it into the mostly open net. Malkin was then able to get his 3rd goal in 3 games on a nice feed from Crosby again on the Power play.

The Pens were also able to break one bad string with this win. They were able to win for the first time on a night other then Thursday after going 0-2 on Sat and 0-1 on Wed. They are still 3-0 on Thurs.

Next up the Devils again on Tue


Friday, October 20, 2006

Pens 4, Islanders 3 OT

This was a game that should not have been as close as the score says. The Pens gave up 3 goals in a matter of 3 mins to turn a 2 - 0 domination into a 3-2 deficit. However Crosby and Malkin were able to get together to tie it up at 3 which allowed Gonchar to finally find the back of the net on the Power play to give the Pens a OT win.

Gonchar was able to remove himself from the list of "Pens who have yet to score", along with Ekman, when he finally got a slap shot on goal during an OT Power Play that was set up Crosby. Crosby was hooked by Yashin which caused the Islander to complain after the game that Crosby get unfair treatment. This really couldn't be more wrong on the Islander part as they got away with numerous infractions on Crosby that went uncalled. There was at least twice that Crosby was high sticked or elbowed in the face where a penalty wasn't called until someone stepped in to defend Crosby. Crosby showed his growing maturity on the ice by skating back to the bench and not saying a word to the Refs when he had every right to. Granted this is all pretty bias but still crying to the media that they weren't given a fair shake is crazy.

Next up the Blue Jackets on Sat...


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Devils 2, Penguins 1

Lets see what is there to say about last nights game?

Oh yeah...

Evgeni Malkin scored a goal in his first NHL game. He also showed why once he gets his timing back he is going to be a force. He regularly put on some highlight reel stick handling just to lose it or have no one around to help him out. He also deftly deflected a point shot he setup only to have it go off the goal post. Lastly, he displayed a wicked slapshot the would have put a dent in any goalie but instead only broke a pane of glass. You could also see that he was nervous and really trying hard to impress rather then just playing his game. There was also some good news that LeClair was allowed on the ice with Malkin and didn't fall into him.

The New Jersey Devils however play usual Devil hockey. Boring. Their "system" while effective basically sucks all the life out of the game of hockey until you want to pull your hair out and then pounce after you have passed out. They got two garbage goals when the Pens defense men decided to stand in watch the Devils fire shots from in close.

The Pens seem to have hit an early season scoring slump as some of the Pens needing to step up have not. Malone, Recchi, LeClair, Gonchar, and Ekman have yet to really do anything other then eat up ice time. While they have not been defensive liabilities and have worked pretty hard they have not found away to put the puck in the back of the net.

Next up the Islanders tonight...


Monday, October 16, 2006

Malkin to return Wed...

TSN is reporting on their homepage (gotta love TSN for Hockey) that Therrien said during practice today that Malkin will return for the game on Wed vs the Devils. This could come at a better time. Hopefully this will give the Pens the much needed 2nd line scoring that they have missed in the first 4 games after getting nothing from Malone, LeClair, and a group of other that were on the line from time to time. It will also take some of the defensive pressure and allow Crosby to find some room to make plays because either one of them is going to do something. It could also give the Pens their third straight win against division foes. Also since it is not a Saturday game the Pens should come out with some energy and play well.

The countdown begins...


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Good Article...

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a great article on the new Penguins owner Jim Balsillie. While he answered all the questions they way you would expect it seems that there is quite a bit of truth to his answers. He seems very sincere and forward in his answer the night he was introduced as the new owner on opening night. While there is still a lot to figure out in funding the new arena (Slot license and Plan B) here is hoping what he says is true.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hurricanes 5, Pens 1

There is not really much to say about this game as it seems the Pens do not now how to show up for that second game of the week. The play with passion and grit against the Flyers and Rangers but do not show up until late against the Red Wings and Hurricanes.

The only thing in this game other the Letang's second goal off of a Canes Defenseman was Armstrong's hit on Letowski. Colby's hit knock him out cold before he even hit the ground. It was a scary site to see him not moving. He left on a strecher and was reported to be moving his limbs and talking before being taken to the hospital. Armstrong seems a little out of it afterward and the hit was by no means cheap or done with the intent to injury someone that severly.

Hopfully a couple days off will allow Therrien to make sure the Pens know to show up for every game because that is the only way the Pens can win because they certainly don't have the ability to win when they only play half speed.

Next up the Devils on Wed...


Friday, October 13, 2006

Malkin a week away?

A story from the AP today says that Malkin practiced in some limited contact drills today and Therrien said today that he is looking for Malkin to be ready sometime next week. Here is to hoping that the Pens are taking everything slowly with him so that he isn't out for the year with the next big hit.


Teenage Pens 6, Former Pens 5

If ever there was a night that gave Penguins fans a glimpse of the future it was this game. The Penguins became the first team in 24 years to have 3 teenagers score in a single game. Staal and Letang both recorded their first NHL goals help spark the Penguins to a 6-5 win. This came on the heels of the other teenager Crosby scoring a PP goal off the a Rangers D with 3 ticks left on the clock to steal at least one point from the Rangers.

Those were not the only firsts that happened last night. The Pens scored their first PP goal of the season (Letang) and SH goal of the season (Staal). They also allowed the first PP goal of the year to Adam Hall of the Ranger (along with 2 others to Shanahan and Nylander). Whitney also had the first two goal game of his young career.

This game looked on the outset to be pretty boring after a 0 - 0 first but then the team combined for 6 goals in the 2nd and 5 more in the 3rd.

Next up is the Hurricanes on Sat...


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Do you have questions or comments?

Since there is a few days in between games this week and most of October for that matter, feel free to send any questions to Penguins Blog and I will be happy to answer them anytime. Any type of question is fine with me be it Fantasy Hockey questions or just about the team in general. If I start to get a lot of them I could do a weekly Q&A and post them.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Red Wings 2, Penguins 0

Well the Pens good start comes crashing down...

No it wasn't as bad as the score or the stats say but the Pens did come out pretty lackluster to start the game and couldn't hit the net with a puck to save there lives. They did however play some good D and the PK was still effective against a good Red Wings Power Play.

Fleury played another good game but the Red Wings were able to get the first pucks past him his year. The first one came early, just six minutes in, when Fluery could not hold on to a floating puck. Franzen was able to find the puck and slide it into an empty net. Draper then finished of the game with 1:21 left in the game when he was able to pick the far corner of the net.

The Pens were able to stay out the penalty box in this game only giving up 2 Power Play to the Red Wings. The Pens Power Play still has not been able to generate much in their first two game after being pretty good last year.

There was still really nothing in this game to prove that the Pens aren't going to content for a playoff spot this year and still everything to show that they will be pretty potent when Malkin returns to give them that 2nd line scoring option.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Season Opener...WOW...Pens 4, Flyers 0

I think the score says it all.

No really it was a great start for the Pens and by no means was it as perfect as the scores says. Fleury was finally the goalie that everyone thought he could be and wanted him to be. He made 40 saves for his 3rd career shutout. The Penalty Killing unit was unreal holding the Flyer to an 0 for 10 on the Power Play as well as 0 for 2 with a 2 man advantage. While it was nice to get the goose egg and the PK was really that good, it was still way to many penalties for one game.

The Defense was a little ragged at points in the game but showed up when they needed to be there. The also chipped in on Offense when Melichar put a puck behind Esche. Also getting on the board were Crosby with his first of the season. Ruutu and Ouellet got the Pens off to the 2-0 leading in the first with their first's of the season.

The game was really physical on the Penguins end, hitting the Flyers any chance that they got. This was best highlighted by the hit Armstrong put on Kapanen after Ouellet was taken hard into the boards. After the big hit former (briefly) Pen Nolan Baumgartner picked a fight with Armstrong which he lost handily. Armstrong was give a big hand while he was skating to the box.

Malkin didn't not play in the opener while still healing from the dislocated shoulder. The Pens were also with out Orpik who broke his hand at some point in the preseason but should be back by Nov while only means about 9 games missed. Rookies Staal and Letang played and played well. Staal played on the PK and does not look out of place in the NHL at all. While he didn't score it was because of the lack of chances and that timing and touch will come. Letang was solid on D. He get beat a few times but was able to recover nicely.

Finally, while the Pen still have somethings to work on as any team would have this early in the season. They did get a good jump start on the season and if they work this hard every night they will be playing meaningful game in April.

Another test comes Sat when the Red Wings come to town.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Roster set for Opening Night...

The Pens announced today that they have made there final cuts for the beginning of the season. There were couple of surprises in the roster most notably was that Staal and Letang both made the roster at 18 and 19 respectively. Also it was a surprise that the Pens kept all three goaltenders to start the season. Not making the opening day roster were Welch and Talbot.

The Pens keeping Staal and Letang means that they both will likely be here for at least 9 games at which point the real decision has to be made if they will stay the whole season or be sent back to Juniors. Staal will most likely have to tear it up in the first nine game because Pens will probably not want to have to try to sign both Malkin and Staal in the same year assuming that they both become the players that they are expected to. While this is a long time down the road it is still going to play a part in the decision. Staal making the team also probably means that Malkin will be out for most of the 4-6 weeks and Staal might be able to fill that void for awhile.

Letang is a different story. While there is nothing keeping him from playing the whole year, chances are that he faces the same fate as Staal because the Pens do have Cairns injured and Welch waiting in the wings. So if Letang starts to lose ice time early he would be sent back. Another factor in putting him on the opening day roster puts the carrot in front of him to sign his contract and by doing so relieves the Pens of the fear of him wanting to reenter the draft in '07 if he remained unsigned until then.

While these are tough decisions that need to be made by November, it is still a good thing because just a few years ago the Pens had to just sign enough people to fill a roster let alone worry about who was better.