Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recap: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Vancouver Canucks (W 4-3 SO) ; @ Calgary Flames (W 5-3); @ Edmonton Oilers (L 2-1 SO)

photo: Kris Letang (AP)


-For all the fury directed at Matt Cooke at the end of last season and in this offseason (by myself too), he avoided any incidents and was a positive contributor to the team. Against the Canucks he lead the way with a PPG and a SHG.

-Evgeni Malkin looked very strong in the legs against Vancouver, even if he was "trying too hard" as everyone seems to say. In that game, he scored the shootout winning goal.  Bad penalties seems to be an early theme for him, including a really bad elbowing penalty against Calgary. He also got a bit fiesty with Curtis Glencross, dropping the gloves, landing a few shots, and having his untied jersey pulled over his head. Al this happened with a linesman jumping in between them very quickly so instead of him being kicked out for the failure to tie his jersey down, he was only assessed a roughing minor. He did not play the third period of that game or against Edmonton, seeming to having some type of leg injury. Coach Bylsma said that this is not realted to the surgery he had (that doesn't mean it isn't a knee though), and the general opinion is that it will not be a long term injury. The Tribune Review's Dejan Kovacevic indicated that he was told the injury could be traced to a slew-foot incident with Curtis Glencross. In between all of that, Malkin also had a PPG.

-James Neal looked great against the Canucks, though there was one instance where he had the puck at the back of the slot and chose to pass it.

-Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis have been playing well, but so far do not have a goal to show for it.

-Mark Letestu has not looked particularly inspired. I am not really feeling his game, but the coaches seem to love him. I thought Richard Park could get in at his expense, but it did not really play out that way since Malkin and Arron Asham were scratched against Edmonton.

-New brawler Steve MacIntyre suited up against his old team, the Oilers.


-Cannot say enough positive things about the play of fan favorite/dreamboat Kris Letang. Against the Oilers he logged nearly 30 minutes on ice! He is currently leading the team in points and has been everything you hope he can consistently be. The challenge for Tang will be lasting in to the 2nd half of the season at such a high level.

-Let's give credit to the end of last season's frequent whipping-boy, Matt Niskanen. He played  a really good game against the Flames and knocked in a PPG. There was also a goal scored with him and Ben Lovejoy taking the guys without the puck in that game. It was the right move. They left the guy with the puck (Alex Tanguay) for Marc-Andre Fleury. He made a great shot-pass that Rene Borque directed in to the net. While Niskanen and Lovejoy did not execute, the choice was right.

-Ben Lovejoy looked pretty good when he was matched up against Taylor Hall one on one. He had a really nice hit on him as well.

-Brooks Orpik has not played yet this season since he is still recovering from off-season abdominal surgery.


-Hate to start it before the team has lost in regulation, but Marc-Andre Fleury gave up two flub goals against Vancouver and Calgary. In the end, it didn't cost the team so this is not a call for him to be benched or traded or anything crazy like that. But the fact remains that the team probably would have had a lot less to worry about if these two softies were not let in.

-Brent Johnson played 55 superb minutes against Edmonton. The youthful Oilers managed to knock one by Johnnie to take it to OT. BJ probably deserved a better fate in this game, but them's the breaks as they say.


-You have to be excited about getting the Western Canada trip out of the way early, but especially when it produces 5 points.

-The team looks like it did not miss a beat with their forecheck and forward activity. Great pressue on the puck and excellent cycling from multiple guys.


-Overall, an area of concern going forward will be the team's play with leads. They lead in each of these 3 games. Getting 5 out of 6 points shows that they were able to pull 2 of the 3 games out, but each of these games  were closer than they needed to be. Each game saw the opponent mount some type of comeback spurred by 3rd period goal.

-I really would like to spend less time this season harping on the Power Play. Really. After two great games though, the PP failed big time when it counted against the Oilers. They had a 5 minute major to work with under 5 minutes left in the third. Even if the PP is clicking at a 75% rate, if they can't score a goal when it's really needed then the Penguins will be a worse team because of it. Situational hockey is what's important, not the overall numbers. With any luck, the team will be closer to the first two games.

-There were definitely some defensive lapses here and there, especially noticable during the Canuck game (Keith Ballard goal especially).  Don't take that to mean that its on the defensemen, depending on who is responsible for certain players it could also be forwards. That kind of thing should get worked out as the season moves along though.

Vancouver Canucks

Photo: Roberto Luongo (AP)

-Roberto Luongo did not have a particularly good game, letting in some shaky goals That certainly is not what he or the Canucks fans wanted. You almost have to feel bad for him at this point...almost.

-Daniel Sedin scored his 1st goal of the season, a pretty nice one too.

-Henrik Sedin had 2 assists.

Calgary Flames

Photo: Jarome Iginla (AP)

-Curtis Glencross had a goal and an altercation with Evgeni Malkin.

-Olli Jokinen scored a goal courtesy of a Marc-Andre Fleury whiff on a puck behind the net.

-Miikka Kiprusoff had 32 saves for the Flames.

Edmonton Oilers

Photo: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (AP)

-Ladislav Smid seemed to be everywhere for the Oilers in the defensive zone. He took a beating to the lower legs and knees on his blocks. Credit to him for having the deciation to do that in October.

-2011 #1 Overall Draft Pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 1st NHL goal.

-Taylor Hall had an assist on the Nugent-Hopkins goal. He also looked great in his first game since missing

-Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 of the Penguins shots in the win.

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