Gameday #4 Recap: @ WPG, Pens Lose

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The Penguins lost 4-2. Virtually the same thing happened during the Pens first game in Winnipeg last year. They got off to a good start, but then the Winnipeg fans (who are nuts) just took over and willed the team to victory. You hate to lose games like this because the Pens were way better than the Jets in two of the three periods but the Jets were really good at packing it in late in the third and as such the sensationalists will be asking “what’s wrong with the Penguins?”

I admit I missed the first half of the first period (shoveling snow) and didn’t feel up to taking detailed notes throughout the game son what follows is what will likely be the first of several abbreviated recaps. Get it after the jump.

First Period.

You can feel that Crosby is just heating up. That’s he’s just getting his reflexes and his vision back to true game shape. He scored both of the goals in this game and like the goal he scored on Wednesday against James Reimer they were all subtle misdirection shots. Crosby has provided the last three goals the Pens have scored, just can’t wait to see what happens next.

Tyler Kennedy seems to provide the jump, board play, and puck possession attributes that Geno and Nealer have needed. With that said, TK looks like a hot mess playing left wing, lost in space and clueless in the d-zone. Kennedy-Malkin-Neal all finished -2 for the game, and although I’m pretty sure one of those minuses was the Jet’s ENG, that shows that they need time to play together.

Second Period.

The Pens have lost 2 straight second periods and as a result they’ve lost two straight games. In both cases errant long breakout passes have been the cause. There must be something with the long line changes that accompany the second period. This is a fundamental element of playing hockey and its simultaneously frustrating and encouraging. Its frustrating because this is one of the most supremely talented franchises in the highest form of hockey in the world, they shouldn’t be making such mundane mental mistakes. Its encouraging because the Pens should correct it right away. If they fix those passes the Pens would be 4-0 right now.

The Pens allowed their first 5-on-4 penalty killing goal in this period. Not bad to go three and a half games without allowing one.
Ben Lovejoy looks like a significantly better hockey player than Simon Despres right now. His heads up ability to join the rush created 3 or 4 opportunities that the Pens didn’t get from Despres. Lovejoy and Engelland ended up playing just under 14 minutes, a significant increase over the Engelland-Despres combo. I suspect that Despres will be returned to the AHL sooner rather than later.

The Pens failed to do what they needed to do, they let Evander Kane beat them. His highlight reel goal and assist really put the Pens behind the eight-ball in the second period. I don’t know why he doesn’t get more press coverage but he’s becoming one of my favorite players.

kanegoal

At some point Phil Borque referred to Dustin Byfuglien as a “riverboat gambler” nobody has any clue what that was supposed to mean but that was about the high point of the Penguins second period.

Third Period.

Pens forecheck was very impressive. Unfortunately, their net-front presence lacked. Pavelec left fat rebounds lying around but the Pens couldn’t finish.
The Jets did what they’ve never done before (even when they were the Thrashers), stop Evegeni Malkin. He was absolutely robbed three times in the third period. Pavelec played well and the Jets showed some good team d, packing it in well.

Brandon Sutter is beginning to look a little snake bitten in the offensive zone. Since his faceoff win assist in the Flyers game he’s put up a goose egg on the scoresheet. He also had a surprisingly bad game in the faceoff circle. Hopefully this is the worst we’ll see of Brandon Sutter.

Notes/Thoughts.

  • After every little ticky-tack call being a penalty in the Leafs game there were only three in this game, only one for the Penguins.
  • What is the availability of Mark Stuart? He played fierce against Malkin-Neal all night.
  • Tomas Vokoun is incredibly poised in the net. All of the goals he allowed were next to impossible to solve and he stopped all the rest.
  • Paul Martin was the Pens best defender by a mile yesterday.
  • Winnipeg media didn’t vote Crosby one of the three stars of the game, that’ll be doing a lot to just make him more angry.
  • Bizarre 5:00 start tomorrow.
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