Monday, February 28, 2011
Recap: Games 62-64
Games: vs. SJ (L 3-2 OT), @ CAR (L 4-1), @ TOR (W 6-5 SO)
-3 of 6 possible points. Despite the fact that the punchless Penguins could be considered to be slumping, they continue to scratch out points here and there. Give credit to Coach Dan Bylsma. There are a lot of "moving parts" right now, so to speak. Keeping everyone on the same page and with the appropriate level of focus is not an easy task. Currently there are 18 games left, with 36 points on the line. If you accept the assumption that they can win half of these games, they would finish with 98 points. If they play below .500 the rest of the way, there is still a chance of missing the playoffs. I don't think it's likely given that injured players will keep returning to the lineup, but it is something to consider.
-GM Ray Shero pulled the trigger on the a deal to bring RW Alexei Kovalev back. He was acquired from the Senators for a conditional draft pick (either a 6th or a 7th round). Despite his flaws, it is good to add an NHL caliber player to the lineup. We saw both the good and the bad of his game already. He had a goal against Toronto (good), scored the shootout winner in the same game (good), and managed to rack up 8 PIMs in his 2 games (bad). He is wearing #72.
At the time this was written, the trade deadline had officially passed. The Penguins did not make any more moves, appearing to be happy to stay put with the additions of D Matt Niskanen, LW James Neal, and RW Kovalev. Overall, the trade deadline was relatively calm around the league. The main deadline day deals went to Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Washington. Despite the Penguins and Capitals recent moves, they still appear to be chasing Philadelphia and Boston in the conference. As of this moment, I would consider Philadelphia and Vancouver to be the favorites, with Boston and Detroit just behind them. Other teams that I believe could make an impact would be Washington, San Jose, and Los Angeles (as a sleeper pick).
-RW Craig Adams played a particularly inspired game against San Jose. He finished the game with 4 blocked shots and was doing the little things you need done in a tight game.
-LW Tyler Kennedy continued his excellent play with 2 goals against the Sharks, his 13th and 14th. His 2nd goal of the game tied the score at 2 with 50 seconds left while the goalie was pulled.
-PK was 10 of 14 during this stretch. First time in a long time where the Penalty Killing Unit could be considered a lowlight.
-C Sidney Crosby has now missed 23 games due to recurring concussion symptoms. At the advice of medical experts and several former afflicted players (including Eric Lindros), the team and Sid are not proceeding with workouts until he is symptom free. Unfortunately, the current rumor is that he has not been able to remain without headaches for more than a few days. Even though it will mean the team has no real shot at a lengthy playoff run, as a fan and season ticket holder I support the team if Crosby is unable to return this season.
-The team was not very focused in the defensive end during the Toronto game. If G Marc-Andre Fleury has cooled off, they are going to have to be all about defense down the stretch to keep the point a game pace they should need to comfortable qualify for the playoffs.
-Nice to see an awakening of some forgotten forwards in the past 2 games. Pascal Dupuis scored his 11th against the Hurricanes, and against the Toronto we were treated to goals by Maxime Talbot (7th, SHG) and Mike Rupp (6th)
-C Dustin Jeffrey returned to the lineup against Carolina and scored his 5th goal against Toronto. GM Ray Shero also indicated that we can expect Jeffery to remain with the team for the duration of the season. He had previously been shuttling between the AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton and Pittsburgh to save space under the salary cap.
-C Mark Letestu returned to the lineup against Toronto. He scored his 11th goal of the season and chipped in an assist.
-Brooks Orpik suffered a break to his finger/hand while blocking a shot against the Sharks. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, but is also expected to return this season.
-Paul Martin was able to complete a full practice with the team. He is expected to return to the lineup soon.
-Ben Lovejoy had an assist against Toronto.
-Marc-Andre Fleury did not have a strong stretch. He played very well against the Sharks, with 35 saves. He was pulled about halfway through the game against Carolina, and gave up 5 goals against Toronto. If MAF is coming back to earth after his strong play in the past month, the team will continue to find it difficult to gain points.
-Brent Johnson stopped 9 of the 10 shots he faced in relief of Fleury against Carolina.
-LW Patrick Marleau scored 2 goals, including the GWG with 4 seconds left in OT. These goals were his 23rd and 24th of the season.
-G Antti Niemi had 24 saves in the win. Niemi is in his first season with the Sharks after leading Chicago to the Stanley Cup Championship last season.
-Captain and C Eric Staal left the game after a check by D Matt Niskanen.
-LW Erik Cole scored a goal (18) and added an assist.
-G Cam Ward had 33 saves in the win.
-RW and former Penguin Colby Armstrong scored his 8th game of the season.
-RW Phil Kessel had 2 assists.
-Rookie G James Reimer had 35 saves in the loss. He has the Toronto media and fans abuzz over the possibility that he was become the team's #1 goalie. Since the Leafs are carrying 3 goalies, he appears to be getting his chance to stake a clain to that top spot.