Tag Archives: Hurricanes

Pens 4 Canes 1

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Well, the Pens outplayed the Canes for the first three games, why not make it four, right?  Carolina came out with a much different game plan tonight.  They were wildly aggressive defensively, and it created some chances at the other end.  For us, that is.  It was a desperate tactic by a desperate team and it backfired.

Cam Ward and Eric Staal both finally showed up today.  It helped, but not enough.  Staal opened the scoring and played like a wild man all day.  It looked like he really wanted to make up for his lack of scoring in the first three games.  I have never seen someone play with that kind of intensity and effort before.  Even though he plays for the other guys, you’ve got to admire that.  Ward made some absolutely brilliant saves.  The Fedotenko goal was his defense not picking up a man.  The Talbot goal was a fluke that wouldn’t happen again in a million years.  And the Guerin goal was the Hurricanes playing desperate and risky and getting bit.  None of them were totally his fault, and you have to feel for him.  That’s 20 goals in 4 games for the Pens.  He has to be shouldering a lot of the blame right now.

So I guess its now ok to look across to the Western Conference to see the match-up in the finals.  And well, well, well, if it isn’t our old buddies the Red Wings.  Now, I’m going to assume Detroit finishes the Blackhawks off, but if they don’t I can’t see Chicago posing much of a problem.  They’re us from last year.  A good young nucleus with a solid goalie and little to no playoff experience.  They’ll be a formidable foe soon enough, but right now they’re getting their ears wet.  So Detroit it is.  They’re almost exactly the same squad that beat us last year.  They play the same style.  They have mostly the same roster (with one exception that will be pounded to no end).  We’re the ones that have changed.  We have a new coach, new system, new role players, new everything.  I’d like to think that the new way to play is better, but there’s no way to tell.  We’ve faced Detroit twice this year, but Bylsma wasn’t behind the bench for either.  I think we’ll have better luck for two reasons: one is the faster pace we now play at, and the other is the experience we gained last year.  There is a big step up in intensity from the regular season to the playoffs.  We learned that two years ago against Ottawa and haven’t made the same mistake again.  Last year we learned that there’s another step up in intensity in the Finals.  Detroit was ready and crushed us in the first two games.  We got our sea legs back and took 2 of the next 4 games, but the damage had already been done.  We know what to expect this time, and the chances of us getting shut out for games 1 and 2 again are slim and none.  I also think that our style matches up better against the Red Wings this year.  Detroit is a skilled team that plays a puck possession game and is tremendous in transition.  Sounds awfully familiar, right?  Last year we played into their hands.  We were patient and slow on offense and focused on defense.  What happened last year was that we didn’t get set up enough on offense to score, and before we could get the clamps on defensively, they had already run down the ice and scored.   This year we’re going to match their style of play almost exactly.  It’ll be a lot more fun to watch, and will open up a lot more chances for us.  I still don’t think Chris Osgood is as good as his reputation.  He lets in some softies.  We just didn’t get enough pucks on net last year to test him.  It should be a fun series.  Assuming it happens, that is.  For now, I’m going to put my feet up and hope the Western teams go 7 and beat the tar out of each other.

Oh, and by the way: the lucky jersey/hat combo has now worked for 11 straight games.  I’m getting frightened.

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Long Overdue Post

image from idiomsbykids.com

image from idiomsbykids.com

So, a big apology to all yinz guys aht there n’at.  Due to some technical problems over here, I haven’t been able to update in quite a few days.  So I’m just going to put all the Pirates and Pens stuff I missed in one big gigantic post to catch up again.

The Buccos won 3 out of 4 down in Washington.  Our starting pitching looked really good.  Our bullpen…..not so much.  Fortunately, the Nats bullpen was worse.  They currently have the highest combined ERA in the history of major league baseball.  Not the highest ERA so far this year.  Not the highest ERA in the past 10 years.  The highest ERA in the HISTORY of the game.  Ouch.  So that got us the 5-2 record that I was looking for in the Colorado/Washington series.  It also put us 2 games under .500.  Not too shabby.  We then proceeded to go to Chicago and loose all that momentum.  We were shut out for two straight games.  We almost got swept, but a rare 2-run inning against Bobby Jenks in the top of the 9th gave us a win in game 3.  We’re sticking around in the windy city for another series against the Cubs.  Lets hope that momentum carries over.

The Pens have been playing out of their minds lately.  And by Pens, I mean Geno Malkin.  The guy has 5 goals in the past 2 days.  It’s incredible.  This is why the Pens are so dangerous.  We always have someone stepping up.  Be it Sid, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, or someone else.  One superstar does not have to shoulder the burden.  Plus, we get some random scoring from the role players to put us over the top.  Another developing trend is 3rd period scoring.  We’ve put 6 3rd period goals in against Carolina in the past two games.  I know two of them are empty netters, but that’s definitely showing that the Pens depth is becoming an issue for Carolina.  They’re getting worn down at the end of games.  They play a good style to neutralize us.  They forecheck extremely well, they’re physical on the boards, and they’re extremely quick.  We’re not getting quite the puck possession advantage we did in the first two series (though we still definitely have an advantage).  However, that’s a high bar to keep up with.  As I said before the series: Carolina will go as Cam Ward goes.  And he’s not going very well right now.

So that about raps it up for now.  I guess the next post will be Tuesday night after the Pens game.  See yinz then.

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Pens 3 Canes 2

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Wow.  That was fun.  After some intense fast paced games against Washington, we get…..an intense fast paced game against Carolina.  Anyone else feel like more stressful games could constitute as cruel and unusual punishment?  Wow.  Fleury came up huge today.  23 saves with a few highlight reel ones thrown in.  Cam Ward was his usual self.  Satan undressed him on a breakaway which would have happened to anyone with the wicked fake Miro put out.  Malkin snuck in a goal in the perfect spot.  He couldn’t do that again if you gave him 10 chances.  Boucher got the only real soft goal.  But Ward came up huge a few times.  I’m telling you, he’s the key to this series.

Carolina was very good at winning the battles along the boards.  It really did a number on the time of possession.  We’ve been getting used to hogging the puck against Washington and Philly for over half the game.  This one was different.  Carolina doesn’t have the finishers, though.  They’re smart, they set each other up well, and they score dirty goals on the rebound.  But you won’t see them break down a defender one on one too much.  I’m convinced that their play in the scrums is also why they’re so good on the penalty kill.  You’ll notice that they don’t get in passing lanes too much: they just physically take the puck away from you.  We’ve got to use the man advantage better because we can out-man them in the battles.

I like the way we played.  It was fast and entertaining and that kind of game favors us every time.  There’s a long break before the next game on Thursday (thank you Bruce Springsteen).  That’s bad news for the Pens.  Carolina had a pair of really bad injuries to Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole that now have an extra day to rest.  Those are two key players for the Canes, and if they’re without them, they don’t have much depth.  That could spell trouble.

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Carolina On My Mind

image from photobucket.com

image from photobucket.com

So if you haven’t heard, the Pens have a series coming up against Carolina starting this evening at 7:30.  Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t do a little stat research to get you prepared.  So here’s a real lame attempt at a preview.

The Hurricanes will be coming in tired.  They’ve had two straight series go to seven.  They narrowly escaped Jersey by scoring twice in the final minutes of game 7 in round one, then got an overtime goal to win game 7 against Boston.  There are two ways to look at this.  The first is to say that they’ve gotten to this point on luck, and they’re due for the hockey gods to frown on them a bit.  The second way to look at this is that they’re not taking anything for granted and they’re a tough out.  Personally, I don’t think it matters.  They’re here.  They’re ready to play.  It’s all about matchups, and this is a pretty good one.

Now when I think Carolina hockey, the first thing I think of is: why?   Who cares about hockey in Raleigh?  Then  I think Cam Ward.  The guy’s for real, and he always steps up his game in the playoffs.  That’s bad news because he seems to have our number in the regular season as well.  The Pens and Hurricanes played four times this year.  Each team won twice.  The two games the Pens won, Cam Ward was not in the net.  The two games we lost, he WAS in net.  Coincidence?  I think not.  He had a 91.6% save percentage during the regular season.  That’s sick.  In the two games against the Pens, he had a 95.6% save percentage.  That’s brick wall status.  He has a 92.7% save percentage in the post season so far.  So things are not looking good.

Carolina can play physical but not nearly as much as Philly.  So it’s not like we can’t handle it.  They’re big and they’re not afraid to hit, though.  Generally, they win grinders.  They have 33 goals this post-season which is last of the four teams left by far, even though they’ve played more games than anyone else.  Detroit has 40.  Chicago has 44.  Pittsburgh has 45.  They’re also very top heavy when it comes to scoring.  Eric Staal has 9 goals, Jussi Jokinen has 6 and Sergei Samsonov has 4.  That’s almost 2/3 of their scoring right there.

Carolina is fairly conservative and won’t cheat their defensemen to keep possession quite as much as us.  However, they’re very good at winning the battles in the corners to get possession if you make any kind of mistake.  We’re going to have to really try to out-man them in the scrums.  In general, they’re physical while being clean.  Well, mostly clean:

The Pens average 10 penalty minutes per game and the Hurricanes average 11.92.  So it should be another really fast moving series like the last one.  That would be nice.

So, overall, I think we out-class them in the skill positions.  We’re going to get our chances, that’s for sure.  It all comes down to Cam Ward.  If he torments us like he usually does, the Canes have a shot.  Otherwise, I like our chances.  I can’t wait for tonight.

stats from espn.com

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Pens 2 Hurricanes 3 (OT)

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

The refs were letting a lot of things go in this game, which is fine, but they blew their whistle on a couple of key calls that were very questionable.   I heard a lot of Pens fans calling shenanigans on that game, and I think they may have a point.  The tripping call that negated a goal in the second period hurts a lot (even more so when you’re playing a red hot goalie like Cam Ward).  That was definitely a trip, but with the way the refs were swallowing the whistles, I’m not sure you can call that.  Likewise, the trip at the end of the game, while definitely a penalty, makes no sense when in the context of the game.  In fact, Carolina got away with similar moves off the face-off on multiple occasions.  But I’m of the opinion that you can never blame the refs for a game.  We had a few key calls go against us, but those are the breaks.  At least we still got a point out of this.  I will say this, however: the Hurricanes deserved that win just because of Cam Ward.  The Pens thoroughly outplayed them in the second and third periods, and Ward just stood on his head and made some terrific saves.  Also, it’s hard to place too much blame on a couple of key calls when we get a penalty shot in the third period of a tie game.  I just wish Malkin would get some creativity on his penalty shots.  All he does is skate up and throw a wrister at the five hole hoping to catch the goalie napping.  Seriously, he has the athletic talent to be a nightmare on these penalty shots.  He just needs to talk with someone and get some ideas.  Or at least make the goalie move laterally and open up some holes.  Frustrating game to be sure.  But there’s another one on the table this evening, and they can clinch a playoff spot with a win.

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