Tag Archives: Pens hockey

Massive Catch Up

image from woot.com

So I once again apologize for the complete lack of posts lately.  I’ve had a number of things on the ‘ole plate lately.  I’m just going to go through a massive recap with some random thoughts that have been swirling around in my head about Pitt, the Pens and whatever else creeps in.

  • So since we last left them, Pitt dropped a game in South Bend (which they’ll get a rematch of tomorrow), then finished off the year with a pair of wins against Providence and Rutgers.  Not very unexpected if you ask me (excluding some big shot by Ashton Gibbs I’ve heard a lot about).  Definitely a result I can live with.
  • Luke Harangody was back in today’s Irish win over Seton Hall.  He looked really good.  Especially in the first half.  I’m not going to lie: I’m a bit nervous about how Pitt will handle him.  Not necessarily the points he may put up.  It’s more the rebounding and the passing out of the post that he’s really good at that scare me.
  • Pitt’s really good when they get a lot of bench points.  It just doesn’t happen consistently.  This has been brought up before about Gil Brown (which is true), but it’s also true to a lesser extent with Travon Woodall and Dante Taylor.  When they can chip in a few points and add a few quality minutes, it makes a world of difference.
  • The Pens have been really en fuego (that’s spanish for ‘on fire’ for the monolingual people out there) since the Olympic break.  Anyone still think the Olympics were too much of a distraction?  They’ve got a long road trip coming up that will decide a lot about the playoff seeding.  But I like the team right about now.
  • Both Ponikarovsky (2 points in 2 games) and Leopold (some solid puck possession on defense) are making solid contributions so far.  It’s nice to have a GM that you can just trust to make the right moves unconditionally.  Life is so much easier that way.
  • Matt Cooke wasn’t suspended at all for his blow to the head on Marc Savard.  It’s completely obvious that he was skating directly in front of Savard for the sole reason of knocking him while his head was down.  It was a cheap shot.  If you don’t believe me, watch the tape: There’s no place for that in hockey.  It makes me sick to watch.  It makes me sicker to think I’m supporting the team he plays for.  I guess there’s a compromise here.  I’m going to continue to root for him to score goals and play well, but he’s definitely not a guy I’d buy a jersey of.
  • NCAA tournament starts next week.  This is seriously my favorite week of the year.  Just as a treat, here’s my list of dangerous mid-major teams who could steal a game in the first round (not including the teams like New Mexico and Butler that are already ranked): Old Dominion (good defense and one of the best rebounding margins in the country are a good way to build a team.  Just ask Jamie Dixon), Oakland (Keith Benson and an experienced cast of characters play a really solid game), Murray State (they can run the floor with anyone) and Woffard (another solid team that plays defense and rebounds).
  • I’m seeing a lot of upsets in the tournament this year.
  • I’m already looking forward to the World Cup.  I’m not a huge soccer fan, but the passion of some of these fan bases and the heart and soul that goes into these games draws me in.
  • The Olympics came and went.  The countries that invest money in their Olympic programs won a bunch of medals.  The ones that didn’t sent athletes that gave efforts you have to admire.  The coverage was put together by a 4th grader with no attention span, and included way way way way way too many fluffy stories about the personal lives of the athletes.  I love the Olympics (both summer and winter) because the athletes train their entire lives for this one moment and they all care a whole lot.  I’ll watch pretty much any event where the participants are really giving it their all.  But I have to admit I’m getting a little disenfranchised with the presentation of the Olympics.
  • The Pirates started spring training and I’d have to think for a while to remember half their lineup.  That makes me better than most of the city, I’m afraid.  I’d love to tell you how they’re doing, but I just don’t care.  That’s sad.  I’m also beginning to lose interest in baseball in general.  That’s worse.  I’ve found that I really need to be keeping a scorecard just to pay attention to a full game anymore.  And I mostly go to PNC Park to spend a nice few hours outside on a beautiful day with a good view and lots of people to peoplewatch.  I keep a scorecard and follow the strategies as best I can to stay awake, but I’m barely rooting for anything.  I suspect I’m not alone in that thought.

That’s pretty much all I have for now.  Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up from now on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Couple of Toughies

image from espn.com

Pens 2 Rangers 3 (OT)

Pens 3 Predators 4 (SO)

The Pens had a kind of blah weekend to say the least, losing a pair of games, but managing a point out of each.  It’s not the best way to go into the long Olympic break, but, hey, it could be worse.  Also on the bright side, New Jersey is skidding like nobody’s business.  They’re only a point up with one game in hand.  That’s by no means an insurmountable total.  But it would have been nice to get that lead before the break.

The Rangers game was kind of mixed.  The Pens didn’t play very well at all, but thanks to a Crosby power play goal in the third period, the game went into overtime.  I had a good feeling at that point because I thought the Pens had dodged a bullet there.  It’s not often you can manage even a point out of the kind of game we played, and with the Rangers struggles on offense I thought a second point was a good possibility.  Well, it wasn’t because I forgot to factor in one thing: Olie Jokinen.  Olie’s been tormenting the Pens since his days in Florida (14 goals and 16 assists in 24 games against the Pens).  After a brief stint in the Western Conference, he was dealt to the Rangers a couple of weeks ago.  I guess he’s going to pick up right where he left off.  He torture the Pens by scoring a goal a minute into the overtime period.  I have no idea what Pittsburgh did to you, Olie, but we’re sorry.  I promise.

The pain continued on Sunday with a shootout loss to Nashville.  This was exactly the opposite of the New York game two days before.  The Pens played very well, but Danny Ellis had just a good enough day for the Preds.  Pittsburgh came out and dominated the first period, but then was handcuffed for most of the rest of the game due to penalties.  Thank goodness the penalty kill for the Pens came up big and kept Nashville to a 1 for 7 night.  I really thought that when Brooks Orpik scored around the 15 minute mark in the 3rd to give the Pens a 3-2 advantage, the game was in the bag.  Fleury hadn’t been playing poorly and I thought we’d stop taking chances which would dry up the penalties a bit.  But that’s not what happened.  With less than 10 minutes left, Shea Weber tickled the twine, and we were off to overtime.  Now, I mentioned that Ellis had a big day in net for the Predators, but the OT was when he really shined.  He came up with a huge save with about a minute left in the OT period, and absolutely stoned the Pens in the shootout.  So, hats off to him.  At least we got a point out of the deal.

I really wish the Pens had gone to the break on a high note, but I guess you have to look at the glass half full.  The Pens get a long break that they badly need, and Jersey seems to be coming back to them faster than they can catch up.  Both are good news.  Next game isn’t until March 2nd against the Sabres.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pens 3 Islanders 1

image from espn.com

Game Recap

This seemed like a fairly straightforward win for the Pens.  You improve your playoff position by taking care of the teams you’re supposed to beat.  Especially at home, and that’s exactly what the Pens did here.  I have a few thoughts, though:

  • Kunitz put in a pair of goals.  He hasn’t been as productive this year as most people had hoped.  Maybe this will be a turning point for him.
  • Fleury had a huge game with 37 saves on the day.  He’s not very consistent this year, but when he’s on he’s almost a guaranteed win for the Pens.
  • Tyler Kennedy had a fight about 10 minutes into the game.  I’m not one for fighting in hockey, but this one really seemed to set the tempo for the game.  TK’s always been the spark for the Pens, and he did it again tonight.
  • The Islanders out-shot the Pens by 10, but I think the Pens definitely out-played them.  It was one of those games where the Islanders were racking up the shots, but not getting too many quality looks.
  • At the moment, the only race that really matters is the race between the Pens and the Devils for the Atlantic Division title.  Jersey has a 1 point advantage with two games in hand.  It’s a decent lead, but not insurmountable if the Pens start playing well after the Olympic break.

The Rangers are up next on Friday night.  They got out to a decent start, but have struggled a lot as of late.  I don’t see any reason the Pens can’t get a couple of more points out of that one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Catch-Up

image from bensbreakfastblog.wordpress.com

Sorry for the absence of posts lately, but I’ve been a little preoccupied with the snow the past few days.  If you aren’t in town and don’t have access to a news source, Pittsburgh looks roughly like the image above right now.  It sucks.  But, enough with the snow.  I’m sick of talking about it already.  Lets get into the nice diversion from real life that is the sports world.

The Pens went on a two game skid over the past few days losing back-to-back games to Montreal and Washington.  The 5-3 loss to the Canadiens looks really easy to diagnose when you look at the stat sheet.  We were in the penalty box for literally half the game (29 penalty minutes for the Pens).  The reality, however, is a little different.  The Habs only scored 1 goal on the power play, going 1 for 7.  The real reason the Pens lost this game was because Fleury had a bad night.  It happens.  He let in some softies and was even lifted from the game after giving up 4 goals.  It’s not something to be overly concerned about, though.  The second game was just weird.  The Pens jumped out to a 4-1 lead halfway through the game, and still led 4-2 at the second intermission.  It was at that point that they just died.  The Caps got a slew of chances in the third period, cashed in on a couple of them, and won in overtime.  It really makes you shake your head.  I’ve got two theories on why this happened.  The first is that the Caps are a very good team offensively, and they got a fire lit under them for the third period.  That’s a combo that would be hard for anyone to stop.  The second theory is that the Pens were tired.  The Montreal game was the night before (the Caps game was at noon).  To get to Washington in the snow, they had to fly to Trenton, NJ and bus it.  They arrived very late after mostly sleeping on the bus.  I think dying at the end of an emotional game like that given their situation is totally understandable.  I may be in the minority, but I’m willing to brush this one off a little bit.  Plus, if you want to look at the glass half full, it was a tremendously entertaining hockey game that was nationally televised and hopefully brought in some new fans.

As poorly as the Pens have played over the past few days, the Panthers have been going in completely the opposite direction.  Against Seton Hall, the Pitt regained its shot, shooting 51.7% from the field.  After disappearing in Morgantown, Gil Brown dropped 23 points and Brad Wannamaker had 13.  Ashton Gibbs broke out of his slump a little bit and saw the ball go through the net at least while going 3 for 7 on the day.  Best of all, Pitt out-rebounded the Pirates 36-27 and only allowed 8 offensive boards.  I’m drawing a line in the sand and saying that Pitt’s goal should be to limit opponents to less than 10 offensive boards per game.  It’s good that they met it for this game.  Overall, the 83-58 drubbing exorcised a lot of demons even though it was against a less than stellar defense.  That trend continued against Robert Morris on Monday where the Panthers notched a 77-53 win.  It was very close for the first half as the Colonials shot 48% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.  They were challenged shots as well, which is why I wasn’t really worried.  Sure enough, RMU cooled off a lot in the second half, and Pitt was able to win going away.  The Panthers had a 39-26 advantage on the boards (with only 9 offensive boards for RMU, so they still pass the test), but they only held a 16-14 edge at the half.  That was a bit troubling.  RMU really shot themselves in the foot in this one with their style of play.  They were very aggressive defensively, and very physical with the rebounds, and that led to a lot of fouls.  Two of their starters were in foul trouble by halftime.  It really handcuffed what they could do.  So, in general, it looks like the Panthers are starting to heat up again with a rematch against WVU coming up on Friday.  I guess all it took was half empty gyms because of a snow storm.  STAGE FRIGHT!  That’s their problem!  But, seriously, it’s good to see the shots start to fall again.  I’m still just a little nervous for the long term health of the program that it relies so much on streaky shooting this year.

So that’s pretty much what you missed (besides that silly ‘Super Bowl’ thing.  How bout’ that Saint defense, by the way?).  I hope everyone out there made it through the storm in good shape (you’ve at least got power if you’re reading this.  That’s a start).  I’ll be back tomorrow night for a Pens recap.  I promise.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pens Sweep Back To Back

image from espn.com

Pens 2 Red Wings 1 (SO)

Pens 5 Sabres 4

In contrast with the ugly game by Pitt over the weekend, the Pens have been playing fantastic.  They started out the weekend with a perfect game for national TV on Sunday, and then came back against a very good Sabres team tonight.  Overall, it was a very impressive pair of games.  The Pens were skating, they were keeping dumb penalties to a minimum, and they were getting pucks on net.  You’re going to get a lot of good results if you do those three things.

The first game against Detroit was fantastic television.  The Red Wings aren’t the team that we saw the last time they were in Pittsburgh.  They’re in a very tough Western Conference, but they’re struggling pretty hard right now.  The Pens took advantage and completely tilted the ice on the Wings.  They led the shooting battle 47-24.  You usually deserve 2 points if you do that, but there was a problem.  Jimmy Howard, in his first real stint with the big boy club in Detroit, was standing on his head in net.  He came up with 46 saves on the night in a fantastic performance.  It was really special to watch, even from an opposing fan’s perspective.  Beyond that, it was an extremely clean game.  Not a lot of penalties or turnovers.  Just good hockey the way it was meant to be played.  With Howard kepping them in the game with key saves, the Wings were able to draw overtime and eventually a shootout.  Fleury came up big as he’s been doing in shootouts for a while now, and the Pens come out with the extra point (that they probably deserved anyway due to their play).  Just a fantastic hockey game.  I’m sure the NHL is thanking its lucky stars that that was on national TV.  That’s the kind of game that will bring in new fans.

The second game had a lot more offense to say the least.  The Pens jumped out with a real quick goal (as in first minute quick).  The Sabres answered with a pair of quick goals 5 minutes later and a third striaght to start the second period.  The Pens rounded out the second period with their own run of 4 straight goals, and then hung on for dear life in the third.  I’ll tell you the truth.  When we went down 3-1 I thought we were cooked.  Ryan Miller is a fantastic goalie, and even thought we’ve had good luck with him in the past I thought it just wasn’t meant to be.  That’s the Sabres game.  Jump out to a lead and choke you with their defense.  But, lo and behold, the Pens pulled it out.  This was a fairly physical back and forth game, but very entertaining to watch overall.  Sid had a hat trick, but I mostly liked that the Pens hustled throughout the entire game.  I have to admit that I was a bit worried about that coming off Sunday’s game.  You can’t ask for much more out of a team than what the Pens showed these past two days.  I’d love another quick game here to keep up the momentum, but the next game isn’t until Saturday against Montreal.  We’ll see how it goes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pens Catch-Up

image from espn.com

Pens 2 Flyers 1

Pens 4 Rangers 2

Pens 1 Senators 4

Big set of games here for the Pens with respect to their playoff position, and they get 4 out of a possible 6 points.  Not in the prettiest fashion ever, but it works.  Wins against Philly and the Rangers are great because they’re in the division.  A loss against Ottawa is excusable because they’re a buzz saw right now.  So, this is about as good as you could hope for.  With the Olympics right around the corner, the Pens are still in a really nice position.

Sunday was the first game against the Flyers, and it was a typical Flyers/Penguins game: 52 total penalty minutes and 3 goals.  In a game that relies on the special teams, Pens fans would be understandably nervous.  After all, our power play isn’t the best to ever roam the ice.  But, alas, the Pens scored 2 goals on 6 chances, and that proved to be the difference maker.  Philadelphia converted on 1 of 9 power plays.  The Pens have a very good penalty kill unit (one that doesn’t receive nearly the credit it deserves), but I think that has more to do with the Flyers awful power play than the Pens great penalty kill.  That was pretty much the game.  It was a constant stream of penalties, with every goal scored on the power play.  I have no idea how Philly fans watch that garbage every game.

The second game was a weird one.  The Pens went into Madison Square Garden to face a struggling Rangers team, and played well.  However, they just couldn’t get anything to go their way.  Going into the third period, the stats were equal and the score was tied at 1.  The break finally came for the Rangers when Artem Anisimov shoved a shot at Fleury that somehow squeaked between his skate and the post and rested right on the goal line.  The odds of that happening are slim, and the odds of the referee seeing it instead of losing sight and blowing the whistle are even greater, but that’s what happened.  The ref saw the whole thing, waited for Fleury to move which kicked the puck over the line, and called the goal.  It figured that when the refs finally got a call right, it would screw us.  Grrrrrr…  But, hey, that’s hockey.  I was about ready to say that luck was just on the Rangers side and it wasn’t our day when the Pens took luck into their own hands.  Malkin scored on a power play 30 seconds later, followed by Baby Pens call up Chris Conner putting his second goal of the game in a minute after that.  It was incredible.  Both were just quick sniper goals that showed just how much offensive power this team has when they’re on.  An empty netter later, and the Pens pulled 2 points out of an embarrassing loss.

The game on Thursday was to be expected.  Ottawa is red hot right now, and charging up the playoff seeding after a slow start.  The ice was kind of slanted when you watched the game, but the stat sheet was very even overall.  There were some stupid turnovers by the Penguins, but nothing too serious.  Malkin continued his resurgence with another goal, which was nice to see.  It was just a very well played hockey game overall, and the Sens just got lucky a couple of more times than the Pens.  It happens.  We’ve already being them earlier in the year, so it’s not a huge loss.  I didn’t really see anything to be overly concerned with here.  Just a bad day at the office.  We weren’t skating real well, and the Sens goalie, Brian Elliott, didn’t allow many rebounds at all.  He’s playing fantastic right now.  A chance for redemption is on Sunday against…..wait for it…..Detroit.  Mmmmmm…..I can’t wait.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Pens 6 Islanders 4

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Man, what a weird hockey game.  I mean, this had a little bit of everything in it.  A penalty shot (seen above), a hit that will most likely get a suspension, a hat trick, a rare goalie penalty, and a blown lead and recovery just to name a few.  I mean, what more could you ask for?  Geez.

First and foremost, this was a game to get some monkeys off of the Penguins back.  Malkin broke his scoreless streak with a freak goal in Vancouver.  I was kind of hoping that seeing the puck go into the net would maybe start something for him, and boy did it.  He came out and scored a hat trick tonight.  More than that, he scored his usual type of goals: sniping on the power play.  It was a great sign.  Speaking of the power play, that also kicked itself out of a funk tonight going 4 for 7 on the night.  That was probably the best sight.

We did give up a big lead, however.  We stockpiled a 4-1 lead in the second period, and somehow let it slip back to a tie game in the third.  I’m not sure exactly what happened.  The Islanders definitely turned up the intensity, and we couldn’t match it.  But we did eventually hit our stride with Malkin’s second goal and the game was over from there.  That’s a little bit worrisome, but with the backup in net (Fleury has a broken finger), it’s understandable.

The big news after the game is the hit on Pascal Dupuis.  I haven’t been able to find a video of it, but the basic gist of it is this: Dupuis was behind the net protecting the puck and waiting to make a pass.  Andy Sutton winds up and hits him as hard as he can.  Dupuis’ face slams into the corner of the boards and he’s bleeding pretty hard and seeing birdies for a while.  It’s a boarding penalty that was especially bad because it was unnecessarily hard.  It’s happened before, and the standard punishment has been 2 games.  However, I thought for sure Gonchar would be suspended for his hit against the Wild and was not, so you just never know with the NHL.  You can see a replay of the hit in the game recap I link to up top and make your own decision.

That’s about it.  Crazy game, but maybe it can be a springboard towards getting things on the right track.  If we can get the power play and Malkin working again, we’ll be a very dangerous team with or without Fleury.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized