Saturday, October 4, 2008

How Swede it is:

Ok, I know it's cheesy, and overused and I'm not apologizing for the title! I'm not a play-by-play guy, or really a reporter, but in the spirit and excitement of the new season, I just can't keep my mouth shut.

Pens take the first game right out of the gate 4-3 with a pair of bookend goals by Tyler Kennedy, 40 seconds in to the game, and 25 seconds left in overtime. Kennedy was everywhere filling in for Syko who's out with a 'groin'. TK appears to be on track to a 164 goal season if he keeps up this pace. Yeah, and the Pens are on pace for an 82 game win streak.

Stats at this time of the season are kind of amusing as they're only a small percentage of the whole, but a small percentage is all we have at the moment, so I'll trot some out. Fleury stopped 32 of 35 shots, at times his puck handling looked a bit shaky, but a couple of saves were vintage, full split-flash the glove Flower that's a beautiful thing to see. He seemed to see the puck well with only one of the three goals actually beating him. Let's face it, Heatley at 15 feet alone in the slot will lower anyone's save percentage. The other two, a redirect by Donovan and a smart position by Ruuutuuu (I know he's gone to the enemy, but I just can't help it), pulled MAF too deep in the crease to have a good chance to stop Spezza's over-the-shoulder flip, were just due to good offense.

Speaking of lowering save percentage, Malkin on a break-away for his first short handed goal is an effective method as well. Malk picked up a busted pass at his own blue line, streaked down the ice and slid it under Gerber's leg, skating him in the chest for good measure. The idea of using some offensive threat on the penalty kill is a good one, if used sparingly, and definitely brought some dividends here. Crosby crawled one point closer to three hundred (295 now) with a sweet cross-ice pass to FPL member Scuderi who, with a heavy wrist shot, has already equalled his highest NHL goal total for a year. Crosby swiped the puck for Scuds since it's been 120 games since the last one, and who knows how many until the next. TK's first goal was just his favorite skate away from the goal spin-around sniper shot (gotta find a shorter name for that), and Gerber bit and moved off the post to show a bit of daylight. The game winner was all Kennedy when he swiped the puck from a red-shirt and whipped a shot through a defenseman's legs and Gerber's arm to win the game.

Humble, yet all knowing opinion: Diamond in the rough, the whole team at times looked a bit lost but showed some definite promise, at times jelling into an unstoppable unit. Crosby's line started well, but had some bone-head moments that seemed to frustrate El Sid at times. The power-play gets pretty much the same report. Kennedy? Like a terrier, too quick to kick him, but every time you turn around, there he is. The penalty kill looked more than solid, with Malkin's goal being the highlight, allowing one PP goal, but killing off a 5 on 3 to start the third period.

Flower Protection League Report: Still a bit lost, and groping for the handle a bit. Seems as though no one is secure enough in his partner's role to relax and play his own game. Gill, the big sequoia, looked solid and stepped up to challenge Chris Niel, when Niel gave Cookie a bit of a cheap shot at the end of a period. Letang played a pretty solid game, jumping on the rush and pinching with his usual good timing. LeTank took quite a bit of ice time, and looked pretty sharp but took a penalty that had me wanting to hand the white cane and glasses to the ref. Orpik was handing out the (not going to say it) hits and had a solid performance. Eaton still looked a bit off his game but had flashes. And Scuds? A bit out of position at times, but not enough that the goal didn't wipe any complaint out of my head.

All in all, a decent outing for a team and a goalie that are notorious for slow starts. We'll see what tomorrow will bring. Literally.... see ya tomorrow.

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