Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recap: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers (W 4-2) ; vs. Washington Capitals (L 3-2 OT) ; vs. Buffalo Sabres (L 3-2)

Arron Asham fights Jay Beagle (AP)


-James Neal scored 4 goals during this stretch. While they all were not highlight reel goals, he is doing a great job of getting the puck at the net and not overthinking it. His "garbage" goals seem to come with Malkin out of the lineup, but that is exactly what the Penguins need when he is out of the lineup.
-Evgeni Malkin played against the Washington Capitals, adding two assists. From what has been described, he is experiencing some pain from scar tissue in his surgically repaired knee. Some were amazed that he was able to play through that, but his heartfelt concern and sympathy for the victims of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash carried him through it. He was not going to miss the night where the focus was on that tragedy's victims and families.

-Arron Asham brought the early part of the season to life with his devastating knockout of Jay Beagle in the Capitals game. As he skated away he made a few gestures which he later described as "classless". The opponents of fighting in hockey have used this a chance to whine about children watching the game having to see such a thing, the fact that it was a "headshot", and anything else possible to compare hockey to Roman gladiators.

Respectfully, I tell these people to watch another sport. Please leave our sport alone. Seriously. If you are concerned about someone getting knocked out by a non-cheap shot then go watch a safe, civil sport like football where there is not any violence and the players are all upstanding citizens.

Fighting has a place in hockey, and hopefully it always will. Asham did not sucker punch Beagle. Until he was knocked out, Asham did not do anything wrong. He was standing up for his teammate, Kris Letang. The offer was put out for a fight and both parties willingly particpated. Beagle does not deserve any ridicule for his part in it, anyone can get tagged with a shot like that. Asham was sincere in his regret over mocking a fallen combatant. That is where it should end. Sometimes people make mistakes in judgment. Most of the people that are critical of Asham fail to mention how when he saw that Beagle was dropping to the ice he stopped from throwing a third right that undoubtedly would have done more damage.

The "holier than thou" attitude of commentators and members of the Capitals, especially Alexander Ovechkin, is what is uncalled for. Hockey has an always been a sport of honor. There have been countless acts that give the sport a bad image when it goes outside of that honor, but this incident was not one of them. Perhaps the WNBA is more your style if you can't handle some good old fashioned agression.
-Richard Park scored his 1st goal in the home opener against the Panthers, a shorthnaded goal. Oddly enough, in his first home opener for the Pens (Park played here to start his career) he had a shorthanded goal.
-Pascal Dupuis scored his 1st goal of the season against the Panthers. While not showing up in the goal column, he was played well.
-Same thing for Chris Kunitz, who still does not have a goal but has added a 2 year contract extension. His cap hit does not change, so you have to like this deal for both the player and team.

-Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek looked uncharacteristically bad against the Panthers. Too much flopping and allowing the puck by or behind them.
-Still no word on when Brooks Orpik will return to the lineup. While there's no reason to rush him, you do worry that he may struggle to return to his usual self.

-Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves against the Panters and 25 against the Sabres. He missed the Capitals game because of the flu and most likely was still bothered by it on some level against the Sabres. He did not have any noticable gaffes in goal. There was a save he made prior to the Gerbe goal that was very nice, but his momentum took him out of position for the follow up. Nothing he could do about that. At the end of the Florida game, with a 2 goal lead, he resumed his quest for a goal with the Panthers net vactated. Deryk Engelland got in the way so the puck was quickly turned over, but MAF made a nice save on the shot.
-Brent Johnson did not look particularly sharp against the Caps. He made 16 saves

-Matt Cooke continues to keep himself out of trouble on the ice. He also knocked in his 3rd goal of the season. Cooke appears to be well aware of keeping his elbows down and when to let up on a guy (as he's turning near the boards or too close to the boards). Hopefully he is able to continue this.
-Penguins achieved 3 of a possible 6 points during this stretch. If you checked in on this blog at all last year, you know that I will always tout that as a success. Getting 1 point a game in your tough stretches is much better than getting none.

-The PP failed at the end of the Sabres game in situational hockey. I beleive in winning situations much more than straight percentages. The Pens had a chance to tie with a PP and a faceoff in the Sabres zone with 21 seconds left. Jordan Staal lost the faceoff, then the puck was cleared and that was that for their chance to salvage a point.
-Many outlets are critical of the play of Mark Letestu, pointing out there when Malkin has been out, he starts on the top line. By the end of the game he is playing with the 4th liners, which is an indication that Dan Bylsma and Tony Granato are not seeing what they want from the 2nd year player.

Jose Theodore (AP)
-Marcel Goc and Tomas Fleischmann both scored their 1st goals of the season.
-Jose Theodore made 25 saves.

Alexander Ovechkin (AP)
-Alexander Ovechkin scored his 1st goal of the season. Recently he was called out by Coach Bruce Boudreau for his slow start to the season.
-Dennis Wideman scored the GWG on the PP in OT for the Caps. It was his 2nd of the season.
-Tomas Vokoun had a tough to start to the season, but this game settled him in to a groove it seems. He stopped 39 shots.
-Mike Knuble scored his 1st goal of the season. Without checking I blelieve this is at least the 7th straight game against the Penguins that he has scored a goal. Luckily, the 39 year old won't have too many more years left in the league to haunt us.

Jhonas Enroth (AP)

-Drew Stafford had a very nice shot for his 3rd goal of the season.

-Nathan Gerbe had a goal (1) and a very nice assist on the Stafford goal.

-Jhonas Enroth got the start in place of Ryan Miller, who usually has a tough go in Pittsburgh. Enroth made 29 saves.

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