Gameday Recap: #1 @ Philadelphia

Yesterday served as the beginning to a bunch of different things but chief among them was the season opener for the Pens. The Pens took on cross-state rival Philly. A few different things stood out and are worth mentioning. More on those after the jump.

First Period

Pens get off to a good start. Immediately Giroux and Hartnell are jamming every Pens audience across the world up. The good thing is that Pens seem to be sustaining some pressure early. First thing to note is that last year’s top line of 18-71-???(this game, Big Dawg) looked hungry on the puck. Tangradi still looked a little lost. It seemed to me that he was a bit starstruck with his wondering at times. Neal and Malkin were flying. Crosby came out with a head of steam and at different points throughout the game, was seen to be on the forecheck. I think that this is an indicator, at least somewhat, as to how much this dude wants to win.

Coburn takes a penalty in interfering with Crosby (questionable call…) and gets 2. With like negative 10 seconds on the clock, Paul Martin rips a shot from the point and Tyler Kennedy deflects the puck behind Bryzgalov. 1-0 Pens.

1-0 Pens. Kennedy from a Martin shot.

Three minutes later, Malkin wins a faceoff in the offensive zone back to Neal. Snapshot™. 2-0 Pens.

Pens really seem to be controlling the action through the first period. But we were all there during the playoffs. We all remember Game 1. No one is too excited yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Period

You knew it was coming. 23 seconds in, Orpik pinches. Kunitz drops back to cover. For some reason, he decides that he might want to double team Scott Hartnell and leaves Giroux open. Hartnell saucers one to Giroux (which, to his credit, was actually a wonderfully handsy pass)

this guy…

You could just feel the crowd trying to will the Flyers back into this game. That was the goal to put a smirk on anyone’s face, and you just put it on the face of one of the 3rd leading scorer of the NHL last year. Sucks.

Back and forth for the rest of the period. Philly mounting chances every 10 seconds. Pens try to counter. Nope.

I will take a second here to address something that I’d noticed today: the Pen’s boardplay was exceptionally sloppy, especially for a team that practices that type of thing. Passing at the beginning of a rush was pretty bad as well. It seems like the shortened camp really affected the black and vegas gold because they’ve been tighter. In fact, they seemed downright sluggish today at points. I don’t like that.

MAF made a couple of huge saves to keep the Pens ahead. It’s good to see that he’s back to form after the debacle of the Round 1 last year. Aside from a few scurries after defensive breakdowns (which I will say I saw far more than I would have liked…) MAF looked really sharp. He was athletic and, for the most part, seemed to be seeing the puck really well.

Third Period

2-1 Pens lead, but you can feel that something’s gonna happen. Surprisingly enough, both teams didn’t get too scrappy. It was a relatively clean game. They traded chances.

Malkin gave a high stick: two. A minute later, Giroux takes a penalty or something. Bizarre.

Kunitz ends up geting the EN, PPG. Game. 3-1.

Thoughts

  • PK looked good. Too many penalties, but they were solid. They let up a few good chances but MAF showed up. 
  • 18 and 71 are ready to ride. Once they shake a few more cobwebs off, they go back to dominating.
  • 16 looked really good. Won lots of draws, couple of big plays on the PK. I like it.
  • Martin’s confidence seems up from last year. Skating with his head fully in the air. Good on him.
  • Big Dawg and Despres, while talented, are not NHL ready. Too many mistakes.
  • Niskanen continues to play well quietly. Joined a few rushes, very responsible with the puck tonight.
  • 48-16-24 line was churning. lots of energy coming out of them which led to some extended offensive zone possession. like it.
  • Crosby is determined, but is still a little clunky. He’ll get there.

 

Game in 4 seconds @ MSG vs. the Rangers. Rick Nash in your face.

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