Gameday #3 Recap: v. TOR, Pens Lose: Suck it Phil Kessel

The Penguins were never going to go 48-0 this year, and you could just feel that a letdown was possible following the big time wins against the Rangers and the Flyers over the weekend. Unfortunately it had to happen in the home opener. The Penguins were listless, but not nearly as bad as the crowd. If either would have shown up this would have been a totally different game. The Pens travel to Winnipeg on Friday, hopefully CEC season ticket holders will learn a thing or two from that crowd. Get the full recap after the jump…

First Period

First play of the game and Paul-Mart made a mistake. It looks like he’s mortal after all. Nothing came of the chance but Kessel showed something: if you’re quick you can frustrate the Pens D pretty easily.

Gratuitous Eric Tangradi comment: I’m not hallucinating or lying when I say he’s honestly getting stronger and more skilled each game. On his first shift he had a solid hit. A couple shifts later he had a 2 on 1 with Geno, he tried to delay to fool Reimer into thinking he would shoot. It didn’t work but it showed heads up thinking.

Engo with one of the all-time great heavyweight battles against Colton Orr. These two have gone toe to toe several times and they never disappoint. This was at best a draw and Engo bore the brunt of it. I wouldn’t be mad if Engo never fought again, he was able to come back, but the Pens defense is based on rolling all three pairings, having Simon Despres interrupting the other pairings isn’t going to work.

Pens PK is absolutely stellar, they’re just so in control right now. They don’t even allow a lot of pressure.

A couple of borderline boarding calls: refs definitely calling some tighter games so far this year.

The Pens benefitted on one of those bad calls: Geno picking up change. 1-0 Pens. At this point Pens are 5 for 10 with the man advantage. Neal with a huge hold on the point to keep the play alive.

Second Period

Tangradi: two little steps forward, one bigger step back. He looked strong coming up the ice but then made a bad, easily intercepted pass. Toronto comes back the other way. Tied ball game 1-1.

Toronto is definitely getting better. Big, fast forwards, hustling all over the ice, JVR with a hustle goal. Ice is tilting, Pens look a little perplexed, first time they’ve trailed all year.

Just when you start to doubt, Crosby comes through with a huge goal. He got behind Phaneuf (not that hard to do) and corralled a bouncing, uncontrollable puck (very hard to do) and put it past Primer. Tied ball game 2-2. I feel like this goal is characteristic of the power of Crosby, it was an unimpressive shot on an unimpressive breakaway but knowing who was bearing in on him Reimer was helpless, Crosby had a very nice game.

Just as the momentum was turning back to the Pens, the Pens literally took all the penalties. They took 5 straight including 2 5 on 3’s. But guess what they were all killed , easy.

game3penalties

 

EASY.

EASY.

Just as all the PK’s had ended Geno made an I’ll conceived pass across the D-zone. JVR with the interception and goal. 3-2 Leafs. As the period ended, Leafs with all momentum.

Third Period

Pens didn’t want to let it get away. Controlling plays in the offensive zone. They earned the PP, but for the first time the PP just looked ineffective, Leafs were clamping down around Reimer, no shots getting all the way through.

After the PP, the Leafs got a chance in the Pens zone, Bylsma started shuffling around the second line trying out TK, Cooke, and Sutter at different points. I believe TK was out when the bad bounce happened, 4-2 Leafs. This was an insane bounce but the second line turned to even more mud when Bylsma started changing things. Are there any teams falling out of competition yet? If they can’t trust Tangradi for even three games, then the Pens need to find someone ASAP to play full time on that line, not to pick and choose and destroy the third line.

Late in the game the Pens took a too much man penalty. Sid and Geno got tweaked about it, Sid got an unsportsmanlike and Geno got a game misconduct. The Pens may have lost but its really exciting to see the leaders stand up against what was really bad officiating last night.

During the 5 on 3 the Leafs got one more. Game.

Thoughts/Notes

  • Crowd sucked. People were too busy slamming hot dogs in their pie holes. Really a let down for everyone.
  • The “Hey” song is back, thank the maker.
  • PK looks incredible: Toronto has some shooters and only in the last seconds did they get a single PP goal. Further the Pens are just making it look easy, like they’re fully in command on the PK.
  • Another quietly excellent game for Niskanen.
  • Couldn’t sustain the forecheck on the corner boards, that’s why they lost.
  • Here’s a BOLD prediction: the Leafs are going to the playoffs this year, although apparently Joffrey Lupul broke his forearm yesterday and will be out for weeks.
  • The refs sucked: apparently it’s a boarding penalty when you hit someone and they happen to hit the boards, regardless of how your positioning is.
  • Sometime during the offseason MAF learned to handle the puck. He let in 5 on 24 shots (not good) but he had some really nice poke checks and outlet passes.
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