Saturday, February 21, 2015

Let's stop singing the Blues!

By: MF, 

Will the Pittsburgh Penguins’ woes continue? Will they snap out of this inconsistent funk, they are currently in? The Penguins are 0-2-1 in their last three games and haven’t had any consistency in their game play. It has been disheartening to watch them loss like this. They have dropped to fourth in the Metropolitan Division and seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. This is not the same team who dominated earlier in the season. The last month for them has been lackluster at best. To top it off, they lose 2-1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Thursday night. This was after an outstanding performance by Marc-Andre Fleury. He put all his energy into that game and was let down in the end. It was frustrating to watch and still sticks with me after two days.

Evgeni Malkin commented on the current situation, “When you lose a couple of games and aren’t playing right everyone gets nervous, coaches, players, the organization…(The situation is) not bad, but it’s not good. We know we can come back. I believe this team has good guys and good players. We need to support each other, relax and we’ll be back.”

The Penguins can still redeem themselves tonight. They are only one point from second in the Metropolitan Division and six behind the top spot, held by the New York Islanders. They have plenty of time to bounce back, but they need to get started sooner rather than later. That starts tonight in St. Louis against the Blues. This weekend of back-to-back games will be big for the Penguins and a chance to get things turned around.

Let’s look over the numbers going into this game. At least the positive ones, so everyone can get in a happier mood. The Penguins are going into this contest with an 11-4-2 record versus the Western Conference, this season. Their 11 wins tie them for first among Eastern Conference teams. They also only have seven regulation losses on the road, which is the fewest in the National Hockey League (NHL).

As for their special teams, they have killed 39 consecutive St. Louis power plays since February 14, 2004. The Penguins’ penalty kill has stepped up in recent games, but the problem lies in their power play. Their power play has been lacking in several areas. It seems more likely for the other team to score than the Penguins on their own power play. That has to change fast if they want to put some wins together. Be on the lookout tonight for some change ups and hopefully they work. Personally, I would use Sidney Crosby, Malkin, David Perron, Chris Kunitz, and Kris Letang as my top unit. Then put Patric Hornqvist on the second unit. That is just my opinion.

Onto offense, which will be another key factor to putting up some wins. The Capitan, Mr. Crosby has a team leading 16 points (six goals and 10 assists) against Western Conference teams. While the Penguins’ second line of Blake Comeau, Malkin, and Hornqvist has accounted for 36.7% of the team’s goals. That means four out of 11 of the Penguins’ goals, since being paired back together. A big reason for that is Malkin’s beast mode talent. He has points in 64.3% (nine out of 14) of games versus the West, which stacks up to two goals and nine assists. The Penguins have the talent, they just have to get on the scoreboard more often and stick to their game.

As for defense, I could talk all day about Fleury. However he won’t be in the goal tonight. That privilege will belong to Thomas Greiss. The defenders will be the same though. Like Simon Despres has two goals, 14 assists, and 16 points, which are all career highs. He has been doing big things this season. The defense still has to step up and support the offense. If all else fails, they can’t. They have been on it and then not, so they have to be consistent also.

On a side note, Christian Ehrhoff traveled with the team and participated in the morning skate. Sadly, Mike Johnston said he won’t be playing tonight.  

This game could be a season changer for the Penguins and a chance for them to get things back into gear! Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Perron, Crosby, Hornqvist
Kunitz, Geno, Comeau
Spaling, Sutter, Bennett
Sill, Lapierre, Adams

Martin, Letang
Pouliot, Bortuzzo
Scuderi, Despres

Greiss in the net!

Play By Play
PENS 4 Blues 2

3rd Period

1:04- Blues with empty net.

1:22- Cole Scores. Jackman goes to Cole at the half boards, who is all alone. He rifles one past a screened Greiss. 4-2 Pens!

2:13- Blues are making a push and really taking it to the Pens. So far, the Pens are weathering the storm.

5:27- Jaskin Scores. The Pens and Blues battle in the corner, but the Jaskin comes up with the puck. He goes to the front and slides one through the five-hole of Greiss. 4-1 Pens!

7:38- SUTTER SCORES! Comeau goes to Sutter, who drags the puck into the slot and backhands one up high past Elliot! 4-0 Pens! 

7:39- The power play comes to an end for the Pens.

8:01- Crosby and Malkin flying on the power play!

9:39- The Pens will get another power play as Tarasenko goes to the box.

11:28- Both teams are back to full strength.

11:38- Backes and Bortuzzo have a chat. They both get misconduct penalties and head to the locker rooms.

13:28- Letang lays out Backes! Pietrangelo doesn't like it and goes for Letang. They exchange words and blows. Both end up in the box and some 4 on 4 hockey.

13:58- The Pens power play is killed off by the Blues.

15:14- Crosby snipes one in the corner. He celebrates like it went in, but the ref says no goal. They review for eight whole minutes...yes that long...just to say it was a no goal.

15:58- Cole will go to the box for boarding and that will give the Pens their second power play of the game.

18:25- Greiss makes a snow angle save!

20:00- Everyone is back for the third period! The Pens need to keep up the pressure and getting shots/traffic to the net! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00- Second period horn sounds and the Pens have extended their lead to 3-0 over the Blues!

2:21- The Pens need to keep the pressure up on the Blues. I would like to see a goal by the 3rd or 4th line of the Pens, but they are doing fine the way they are.

4:22- COMEAU SCORES! The defense signals for a switch and Despres fires from the point! Comeau redirects in the slot, while Kunitz battles/screens in front! Make that 3-0 Pens!

5:28- Letang and Scuderi team up to take away the puck from Oshie.

9:35- Some back and forth hockey going on right now.

13:32- HORNQVIST SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY! Letang carries to the back of the net and passes to Crosby in the corner! Crosby snaps one to Hornqvist to the slot! Hornqvist rifles one past Elliot! 2-0 Pens!

14:44- Lapierre gets a breakaway chance on his old team, but can't get a shot off. He draws a holding penalty from Tarasenko.

14:56- The Pens successful kill the Blues power play!

16:56- Blues go to the power play as Pouliot is called for tripping. This is a chance for the Pens to squash the swinging momentum towards the Blues.

17:12- The Blues start to tick up their play. Tarasenko is robbed by the lightning quick pad of Greiss!

17:46- What a way to start the second period! Crosby's line crashes the net and almost stuffs one home.

20:00- The Pens are back to start the second period! Just need to keep working and put shots on net every chance they get! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00- First period ends and the Pens have the lead 1-0!

0:03- Crosby rushes to the cage and rings one off the goal post! He goes flying into the air and Elliott saves the rebound chance. What a move by the Captain!

1:13- This looks like it will be a low scoring, tight game. The Pens have to stay focused.

2:20- The Pens are 25-5-5 in they score first. Now that is what I call a great stat.

3:29- COMEAU SCORES! The Pens get an offensive zone faceoff and Comeau gets the puck and takes it to the front! He puts it through the five hole of Elliott! 1-0 Pens!

5:01- Not many whistles this period. Quickly moving game.

6:59- A lackluster first period for the Penguins. I am not feeling any energy in their play.

11:14- Wide open feel to this game.

15:39- Steen just gets behind Scuderi, but Greiss gets a piece of the puck to steer it wide.

18:35- Crosby with a solid start, but Elliott denies him with the glove.

20:00- Puck drop in St. Louis! Time for the Pens to get things turned around against the Blues! Lets Go Pens!

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