Well, there’s only one way to describe this swing through western Canada: bi-polar. The Pens entered the three games coming off a ‘taking care of business’ win in Toronto and an awful game in Minnesota. Fleury continued his up and down play by following up one of his worst games against the Wild with one of his best against Calgary. He played well enough to win in Edmonton, and was out in Vancouver (until it got out of hand). But I just don’t understand where these lapses are coming from. Some people seem to think it may be because he’s thinking too much about the next time he’ll be in Vancouver. Others seem to think that he’s lost motivation after winning a cup. I have no idea, but something is going on between his ears that’s taking away his consistency, and I’d love to know what it is.
Calgary was a classic game where Fleury stole it for us. He faced 38 shots and stopped 37 of them. The ice was heavily slanted in the Flames favor all night (we only got 27 shots ourselves). We just continued the bad play from St. Paul. I have no idea why. The good news from this game is that the power play woke up a bit. We actually went 1 for 5 in this game as opposed to 0 for 6 in Minnesota. I know, I know. Baby steps. The only other notable thing in this game was how Sid continued his hot streak, putting in yet another goal. Maybe he was just trying to impress the young lady in the crowd seen above. Can we put her on the payroll?
We started out the game in Edmonton the same flat way as Calgary and Minnesota. I think with the late night (stupid west coast games starting at 9:30) and the Pens down 2-0, a lot of Pittsburgh fans turned the game off. It could have been much worse if Edmonton wasn’t such a bad team themselves. You know how pitiful this game was? There was 7 total shots by both teams in the first period (4 for Edmonton and 3 for the Pens). I didn’t realize that that was possible. I mean, with all the talent on our roster we should have one guy with 7 shots in a period. Wow. It wasn’t until Tyler Kennedy scored a few minutes into the 3rd period that we woke up. The Pens scored 3 times in 7 minutes and came back to win, shoving it in the face of all those whose bedtime is 11:30 or so.
I was kind of hopeful that the momentum from the Oilers game would carry over into the Vancouver game, but unfortunately we ran into a brick wall. That brick wall being our backup goaltender, John Curry. Now, to be fair, Curry is a recent call up from the Baby Pens, and he’s only played in 3 career NHL games. But, he just played awful. Really really awful. He let in 5 goals in 14 shots, and some of them were such bunnies that he would have benched even if he were still in Wilkes Barre. It was so bad that it didn’t really matter how well the position players played, we just weren’t going to win that game. Period. The one bright spot is that Evgeni Malkin broke his streak without a goal. He didn’t try to. The puck just kind of bounced off his skate after a bad pass. But I’m sure he’ll take it. It goes to show what happens when you go to the net. I’m just a little disappointed that he has to wait until Tuesday to try to build on that.
Overall, it was a miserable trip. We were out-played for most of it. We got some good and some bad goaltending. The power play is still a mess, though we did try some new line combinations. But there were some bright spots: Malkin broke his scoreless streak…..kinda. Sid found some new people to give restraining orders to. Fleury did have a good game in Calgary. So, when all is said and done, getting 4 of 6 points out of this swing is not too bad. It could have been much worse. The Islanders are in town on Tuesday. We’re not in bad shape in the conference standings, but it would be nice to get some things back working again against a bad team if we could.