Thursday, November 30, 2006

LeClair waived...

The Pens placed LeClair on waivers today. I am hoping someone takes him because while it would relieve the Pens from paying his $1.5 million salary it would also allow him to play. Last year when he complained that he wasn't traded I could have cared less what happen to him on the ice but he came back and played well and didn't complain. This year he has kept up the same work ethic and help the Pens off the ice if not on it and I am glad he has been a Penguin. It just now that there is no ice time for him and when Malone comes back he might be scratched even more.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All-Star Voting...

The latest results in the All-Star balloting shows that the number 1 and 2 vote getters in the Eastern Conference are Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the forwards. The top vote getter in the Eastern Conference for goaltenders is Marc-Andre Fleury.

Keep voting for the Pens players here.


Pens 3, Islanders 2

When Crosby is in the lineup good things usually happen. I could but this at the beginning of every post and it would be correct just about every time. Crosby returned from a sore groin to assist on Armstrong's first two goals of the season. It was such a great site to see Armstrong finally get that monkey of his back. Armstrong had to do a double take to make sure that it actually made it in the net and there was no one happier for him then Crosby, who basically lifted him up for about 30 secs.

Crosby put his first shift of the game to good use when he was able to find Armstrong in the high slot coming late. Armstrong then put the puck in the net over DiPietro glove and into the corner of the net. The Pens however then seemed to pack it in for awhile as the Islanders were able to get the next two goal and pretty much seemed to control the game. It took Crosby and Armstrong to connect again to liven them back up. Crosby took a nice pass from Recchi and fired the puck on DiPietro. The puck bounced up in the air and as Crosby was being pushed away from the net he batted the puck back toward the front of the net. Armstrong was gliding into that area and tomahawked the puck in the net. Thorburn was then able to use a little more luck and score the game winning goal. Thorburn was able to put a puck in off of the back skate of DiPietro from behind the net.

Fleury played really well in net for the Pens stopping 32 of 34 shots the Islanders put on him. He has had a little luck on his birthday with a couple of shots clanking off the post and Ekman helping him keep a puck from completely going over the line.

Next up are the Devils on Friday...


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crosby To Play...

Good News today was the Crosby announced himself fit to play which mean he is very close to 100%. This coupled with the news that Yashin is out for 2-4 weeks mean that the game with the Islander will be much different then the last one in which the Pens lost 3-1.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rangers 2, Pens 1 OT

The Penguins have really looked like a different team without Crosby. They just don't have the scoring touch without him. Malkin has done a wonderful job in Crosby's absence but the other players just seem lost without him. This game however was the Pens for most of the game. They took a 1 - 0 lead on a goal by Malkin on a just expired 5 on 3 by take a puck on the goal line and lifting it over Lundqvist.

The Rangers then finally got on the board late in the 3rd period on a lucky bounce for Jagr. Jagr got the puck off a great bounce of Gonchar's skates and buried it into an open net. The game was pretty up and down from then on out with neither team able to get that winning goal.

Overtime was all Penguins. They had many chances to win the game with the best two coming by their two young stars. Malkin was entering the zone when he lost the puck and got tangled up with a Ranger. He was able to free himself just in time to beat Lundqvist to the puck and Malkin poked it past him and off the goal post. With about a minute to go Staal blocked a Shanahan shot from the point and broke in on Lundqvist. Shanahan hooked him from behind and Staal was given a Penalty Shot. The bad ice didn't allow Staal to get the shot off he wanted and the game continued. With under 10 seconds to play Straka made some nice stick handling moves to gain the line. He was then able to get behind the Pens D to direct home a Jagr pass.

The Pens are now 0 - 1 - 2 when Crosby is not in the lineup. While the 2 points are OK without him they really need him back with 2 Islander games and a game with the Devils this week.

Next up is the first of the Islanders games this week on Tue...


Friday, November 24, 2006

Islanders 3, Pens 1

The basic stories out of this game were the Pen in ability to score a Power Play goal again, Crosby sat out his second consecutive game, and the very bad Refereeing this game got. First things first, if the Pens want to win another game this year they need to convert when they are given Power Play after Power Play especially if 2 of them are 5 on 3s. While some of this had to do with Crosby not being on the ice the other is they would either settle for the point shot or try to over pass to set up a goal. They never seem to react to what is happening on the ice. It seem that they go out there with a predetermined thing they want to do and will not change it for the entire 2 mins. It seems like simple hockey to me that if the other team is taking away the point shot the passing down low should be open and vice versa. The simple answer would be just to play hockey and not over complicate it because with raw talent alone they should go 2 for 8 on the Power Play.

Secondly, I think the Refs were still having some Thanksgiving dinner in between period because the tryptophan was kicking in during play. The game pretty much changed on a missed call then the worst thing in sports, a make-up call. DiPietro was playing a puck behind the net when Malkin ran into him, I think it was a little
over the top on DiPietro part on the fall but it was a penalty none the less. DiPietro not getting the call got frustrated and slashed someone which was called. The Refs feeling like that made a mistake on the play were just waiting for a Penguin to go near a Islander to even them up. Well turns out that Malkin was the one that wondered too close and was called for a phantom holding call. The 4 on 4 after that resulted in the Thibault not getting a puck past Satan and he was able to feed Yashin for the goal. After that point it seemed as if the Refs knew it wasn't going to get any better and allowed anything to go on or called a penalty for what ever rule popped into their head at that time.

The game finally fell apart after two lucky pucks that were tip and found the back of the net. Malkin was however able to ruin the shutout bid of DiPietro with a nice wrister from the high slot. It was a better goal the the one he tried to score earlier if just for the fact that they could not take it away. Malkin tried to score a goal by throwing the puck in while he was laying in the crease. It was called a goal but later reviewed and waived off. Malkin later left the ice after being hit by Witt. It was being called a shoulder injury by the Pens announcer team. It was later deemed that he had his bell wrung and not a shoulder injury. I don't think the Pens can handle being without both of their superstars for more then a game.

The Pens do have a chance for revenge with 2 more game with them in a short period of time starting Tue in Pittsburgh but first up are the Rangers tomorrow...


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bruins 4, Pens 3 SO

The Pens got their first taste of the shootout this season and were lucky to get it to that point. Playing their first game this year without Sidney Crosby, their Power Play really suffered which cost them an easier game and a point. The Power Play was 1 for 9 on the night and the only one they got was the one to tie the game at 3 with 30 secs left. The other reason they were lucky to get a point was the play of Fleury. He made some brilliant saves to keep the game close and finally received a good bounce.

The Pens got the first goal again on a ridiculous shot by Recchi. Recchi skating down the right wing had 3 Bruins with him and fool them and the Bruins goalie with a quick wrister to the far top corner. The Penguins controlled the play for most of the first half of the game but could not capitalize on their many chances. The Bruins however did in the second scoring 2 Power play goals and an empty netter off a bad give away for a 3 - 1 lead at the end of two. The Pens just looked dead in the water and it really show on their second period Power Plays when the only person moving was the person with the puck and that is only because some one was after them.

The game however changed when Fleury and the Pens finally got a bounce. Fleury was trying to make a diving stop on Murry when Murry hit both post and skate. Fleury also was able to keep from kicking the puck in when Talbot got the puck. Talbot held the puck just enough to get the puck to the penalty box as Malkin was coming out and was able to break in on Thomas. Malkin buried the puck and the Pens were back in the game at 3 - 2 but were unable to get another one past Thomas until the last Power Play goal.

The shootout order and result went as follows:

Ouellet shot just missed high left...Sturm score through the 5-hole
Malkin got stopped by the glove...Bergeron poke checked by Fleury
Gonchar hit the post after a blocker save

The Pens need to pretend that everyone they play is in their division because with the team that aren't they just seem to think the game is not worth it. If they play 60 mins like they do against the Atlantic against everyone else they would be close to the same 8 - 1 record they have against the Atlantic.

Hopefully Sid is healthy enough for their next game against the Islanders "Black" Friday afternoon...


Crosby Out...

Sidney Crosby was ruled out of the game tonight with the Boston Bruins. This hurts the team in the short term but it is probably better that he doesn't play with a lot of the games coming up against the Atlantic Division. He will need to be healthy against the Atlantic because those game are much more important.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Pens 5, Flyers 3

Another game against the Flyers and another win. The Pens jumped out to a 3 - 0 lead after 1 and then were able to match the Flyers every time they tried to get back in the game. Crosby was able to put one home, 49 seconds after the Flyers got their first goal of the game on the Power Play, on some nice pass from Whitney. Gonchar then got his first goal in 11 games on the Power Play 2:28 after the Flyers got their second PP goal.

LeClair got the scoring started off with a Power Play goal 1:24 into the game, a game after being a healthy scratch. Crosby the made a highlight reel play while the Pens were finishing off a a Penalty Kill with a 360 spin then passed to Moore, who was able backhand the puck into a mostly empty net. It was then Hatcher turn to make his best play of the season to rob Malkin of a goal. The very nimble Hatcher stumbled over the net with no one around him enough to knock the net off as Malkin bounced a puck off of Niittymaki and into the net. The goal was reviewed and waived off marking the only goal that Hatcher has had a hand in stopping. Whitney however did not let that stop the Pens from getting that 3rd goal when put one of the Flyers defense and into the net with 9 secs to play in the 1st.

While this was a good game for the Pens some possible bad news did come out of it. Crosby only played a min the last half of the game and none in the 3rd period after leaving with an injury. He seemed to be in pain either with a hip or something in the lower back. The Pens did not update his condition during the game and were suppose to after the game.

Next up are the Bruins on Wed...

UPDATE: Crosby talking after the game said that he injured his groin during the game. He didn't seem in a lot of pain when he took questions after the game and hopefully it was just a precaution and with some treatment he will be back on Wed if not at least this weekend with games against the Islander and Rangers.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pens 3, Rangers 1

Well one thing that can be said about the young Penguins is they are a quick study. One night after allowing the Power Play to cost them a game, they used the Power Play to get them a much needed win. The Pens were an ok 2 for 11 on the Power Play and were able to convert on two 5 on 3s the Rangers gave for the difference in the game. The Penalty Kill was also able to keep the Rangers off the board by killing of 6 Ranger Power Plays. The Pens were able to have the 2 goal difference in Special Teams which they were down by against the Sabers.

Staal started off the scoring on the first 5 on 3 midway through the first period. The goal also ended a long string for the Pens in giving up the first goal of the game and allowed them to move to 5 - 0 when they scored first. The game was pretty much back and forth for the next 20 mins with very few whistles. The Pens were then able to use another 5 on 3 to get their insurance goal. Recchi was able to get his own rebound off a pass from Gonchar and put the puck through the 5 hole. The goal proved to be huge a little later when Whitney made a bad clearing attempt that allow Shanahan to skate in on Fleury and slip one barely under him. Recchi then restored the 2 goal lead for the Penguins when Armstrong was able to get one up the boards to Crosby, who then feed it to Recchi on a nice saucer pass and Recchi put it home. The Rangers then never really threatened the rest of the way.

This game was the first in a long line of games against the Atlantic division. This should hopefully do wonders for the Pens if they show up every game as they are now 7 - 1 against them. If that continues the Pens could be back on top of the division before too long.

Next up are the hopefully tired Flyers on Monday...


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sabers 4, Pens 2

The name of the game in the NHL today is special teams. The game can be won or lost on merely the Power Play or the Penalty Kill and this was so evident against the Sabers. The Sabers were able to go 2 for 4 while the Penguins were 0 for 6 and that was the difference in the game.

The Pens also allow themselves to get behind by not showing up for the first period. They were however only down 1 at the first break. The Pens then came out and controlled the first half of the second period but gave up the only goal when Vanek just threw a loose puck that went by Orpik and Thibault to give the Sabers a 2 - 0 lead. The goals that the Sabers scored just seemed to find their way through even though none of them were all that impressive. After a Drury PP goal Crosby took a break out and fired one past Biron. Crosby the got his second with 1 min left in the game when he knocked a rebound out of the air. The Pens then were able to get an offensive faceoff only to lose it and the Sabers then got the empty netter.

Next up are the Rangers tonight and it will be interesting to see what happens if Jagr get number 600...


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Malkin 1, Russia 0

US courts ruled yesterday that the Russian Hockey Federation was unable to stop Malkin and the other Russian players, who gave their 2 week notice, from playing in the NHL. This means that Malkin will be here for the whole year and that this legal problem will most likely be done with. The fact that the motion was flatly rejected means that Russia really has no chance of winning a court case.

The next question is will this cause Russia to quit seeing green and sign the transfer agreement. It is probably likely as they have been close many time to signing only to have Malkin's Russian team stop it because they wanted a big pay day but now probably won't get anything from him. They took a gamble and lost now it is back to the drawing board.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Pens 3, Flyers 2

Crosby. Staal. Malkin.

When those three names are the goal scorers for your team something good is going to come from it. The Pens were able break their losing streak against the rivals from across the state. The Pens were also able to get back to what was working for them earlier in the season. They played well defensively and made the Flyers pay when they made mistakes. They were getting pucks on net and were not allowing any. They out shot the Flyers 39-25 and held the Flyers shot less for their last 4 Power Plays.

Crosby started the scoring off for the Pens on a 2 on 1 break by thinking shot all the way which is something he really needs to start doing because then that opens up the passing lanes. Staal then scored on a nice one-timer to put the Pens in front 2 - 1. However the Flyers tied it up early in the third. Malkin then crushed the Flyers hope of at least getting a point of the game with just about 2 mins left when he one-timed a Recchi pass over Niittymaki. The Flyers did get a few chances on a shorthanded attempt when they pulled the goaltender but were unable to get it past Fleury.

The Pens next travel to Buffalo to try to slow down the red hot Sabers...


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hurricanes 6, Penguins 2

The Penguins slump as stretched to 5 games with another loss this time to the Hurricanes. It what was being billed as Orpik's first game in Carolina since he hit Erik Cole into the boards was largely uneventful of that front but don't tell the refs that. The Refs must have been fearing the worst and been waiting to blow the whistle during warm-ups. The Refs were able to get their whistle's replaced in between period while they were handing out 19 Power Plays in which 13 of them were for the Hurricanes. They were then able to use 2 of those to take a 3 - 0 lead. The Pens were then able to use the "old" guys to get back in the game when LeClair was able to shoot a puck so slow that Ward got board and let it between his legs for LeClair's first of the season. Recchi was then able to hit the top left corner over Ward after a Power Play had just expired for his second this season.

Then the people in Toronto took back control from the Penguins after it clearly looked like Ekman was able to get a puck just over the goal line on the Power Play. All the Pens cheered and Ward hung his head as he also believed that the puck was in but the Ref waived it off and the people in Toronto didn't have the guts to call it and said there was anything to overturn it so the score stayed 3 - 2. Belanger was then able to beat a cheating Thibault to basically seal the game. The Pens then gave up the first 2 shorthanded goals this season on an empty net goal and another that they didn't even really try on. Thibault played a pretty good game over all and was the only reason that the score didn't hit triple figures.

Next up is Philly on Monday so the Pens should be able to get back on track...


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Senators 6, Pens 3

The score pretty much says it all in this one. It seemed like the Pens believed that the Senators were done with the 5 game losing streak that they were on but realized to late that they still have a ton of skill left. It was however the same story as the last couple of games with the Pens but a different outcome this time.

The Pens are continuing to have problems with teams that use all 5 players on Offense. Those teams consistently are able to pin the Pens in the defensive zone for long periods of time. When the Pens are able to get control of the puck they either have it roll off their stick or try to make a pass that isn't there. They seem to be picking the wrong time to do everything. They dump when they should skate it in and they try to skate it in when they should dump it. They also try to pass when they should shoot and shoot when they should pass. The Defenseman also have to find a way to not hit the Forward standing right in front of them and get it on net.

All is not lost however they did score 2 PP goals on the night and Malkin was able to get back on the board with a goal and an assist. Crosby also had an assist and still just seems a little off. Talbot was able to get another shorthanded goal for the Pens and Ouellet scored a PP goal of his own.

FSN interviewed Eaton and he said that the surgery he had on his wrist is of the 10 - 12 week variety which is going to be a big loss for the Pens.

Next up is the Hurricanes tomorrow and Orpik's first visit to Carolina...


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lightning 4, Ekman (Pens) 3 OT

Well this game was quite similar to the Ducks game in that the Pens really only played about 4:10 of the second period and were able to get a point. The lost their second straight OT game after winning the first two. The story of the game was Ekman's natural hat-trick in a quick 4 minutes and 10 seconds. His last goal game the Pens the 3 - 2 with 13 seconds left in the second period. The Pens however wouldn't be able to hold on to the lead in the third period on goal by Perrin. Lecavalier cherry picked a breakaway on a pass from St. Louis and was able to put a backhand in the net for the winner.

The Pens really haven't be able to get a consistent offensive effort since the Philly game. They seem to either not have the same confidence they had a few games ago or are getting to cute with the puck when they should be shooting. They have played well in spurts but were very flat for the rest of it. This is the one bad thing about a young team, inconsistency. On the other hand when the Pens were flat the last few years they lost games like this 5-1 or 6-0 not getting any points. This yeah they are either losing by a single goal or in OT and getting one point out of it which will help them come the end of the season when they are fighting for a Playoff spot.

The games don't get any easier as the Senators come to town on Friday...


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ducks 3, Pens 2 OT

All three of the Penguins overtime games have been decided by a Power Play goal with the Penguins getting the first 2 but the Ducks got the last one. The Pens finished the 4 game, longest of the year, road trip 2-1-1 for 5 points. This should be considered a success this early in the season as the Pens were never really out of any game. Something else to be happy about in this road trip was that when the Pens would give up a goal they came right back with the next shift and either got it back or help swing the momentum back.

This game for the most part was controlled by the Ducks as they had 40 to the Penguins 17 but it was the Penguins who had a 2 - 1 lead for the first half of the game until the Ducks finally cashed in on their 7th Power Play to tie the score at 2. Thibault, making his first start of the year, made some nice saves down the stretch to get the Pens into OT. Selanne, however, finished the game in OT on a backdoor feed from Scott Niedermayer.

Moore and Thorburn scored the Penguins goals in the first period. Malkin and Crosby each had an assist but were mostly held in check by a really good defensive team.

The Pens did also receive some bad news when it was announced that Mark Eaton will have surgery on his wrist and will be out for awhile. Orpik played his first game of the year in place of the injured Eaton.

Next up the Lightning on Wed...


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sharks 3, Penguins 2

This was as hard hitting a game as there is in hockey. It pretty much all started when Cheechoo boarded Eaton only 1:03 in to the game. Cheechoo was ejected from the game for the hit and the tempers that flared from that never seemed to die down. The Pens were never able to get their first two line on track as both goals came from their third line. While normally it would be good news that the 3rd line had some scoring, it doesn't help when it is their only scoring. Malkin's goal scoring streak came to an end as he was unable to get off a clean shot or get his shot on net when he did. The Pens as a team were unable to get anything going as they either passed when they should have shot or when they did shot they hit a Shark.

The Pens also had a couple of team streaks snapped. The Pens 5 game overall winning streak and 4 game road winning steaks were snapped. The Pens are now 2 - 1 on their longest road trip of the season and the only one in the Pacific Time Zone. They finish with the game against the Ducks and while a 2 - 2 road trip would be respectable a 3 - 1 would do wonders for this young team.

Monday they have the no longer "Mighty" but still very good Ducks...


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pens 4, Kings 3 OT

Just when you think that one person can not make that much of a difference in a team game you just need to watch the Pens before Malkin and then after Malkin this year. The Pens were 2 - 2 without Malkin while he was recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Since he returned the Pens are an impressive 5 - 1 with the only loss coming in his first game.

Malkin left little time to worry about whether he would score a goal in his 6th straight game but netting one about 8 mins in to give the Pens an early 2 - 1 lead. He did however pick the perfect time to break the string of single goal games when he netted the OT winner on a rebound from a Gonchar shot. After scoring the game winner he jumped into Armstrong's arms but it was Armstrong's legs that couldn't hold up.

Other then Malkin's heroics, Crosby had 3 assists and Staal score another goal centering the 2nd line. That was pretty much it for Pens highlights as they were outplayed for long periods of time and pretty much the whole second period. The good news is that last year these are the games they would find a way to lose but this year they seem to find a way to win. They were able to rebound from giving up a goal less then 1 min in to each of the first 2 periods.

Next up an even harder test with the Sharks on Sat...