Gameday #47: @ New Jersey Devils




Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey, 7:30 PM, Root Sports

This looked like it was going to be another stupid pointless, meaningless regular season game, but as it turns out there is at least a lot of news. The biggest has to deal with Sidney Crosby, Dave Molinari broke the news earlier today that Sid would seek medical clearance to resume playing. The rationale is that he wouldn’t play again in the regular season but that he could try to make his return when the playoffs start, which seem very likely to be Wednesday May 1. Justin Bourne wrote something about it and it really puts the whole process into a lot of perspective. Obviously you’re going to feel a lot of highs when word comes down that the world’s best player is gearing up to get back into the game at it’s most important part, but I think we do need to temper the excitement and Bourne’s piece is pretty epic in that regard.

Molinari’s piece also informs us on all the other injuries the Pens are dealing with: James Neal and Paul Martin traveled with the team to New Jersey, they skated this morning, but neither will be in the lineup tonight. It seems doubtful that either will play Saturday either, but it definitely sounds like they could be ready when the second season starts. Unfortunately it looks like Brooks Orpik is going to be missing some time as he did not travel with the team, and no statement has been given on what happened to him aside from a “lower-body injury.” Joe Vitale also did not travel with the team as he’s been nursing some sort of injury off and on for a few weeks.

The playoff picture is crystallizing a little bit: technically there are still five teams that could finish in the 8th seed but the odds are good to meet either the Senators or the Rangers. We’ll write a detailed synopsis on this later.

Check out this monster read from Mike Colligan. What a human.

Who knows what’s happening with New Jersey. Go Pens.


Gameday #13 Recap: v. New Jersey Devils, the Walking Dead Resumed Yesterday

The Pens ran up against a really good team that is playing really good hockey. It’s not any different than last Saturday when the Pens, a really good team playing really good hockey, destroyed the Devils 5-1.

You don’t like it because all of a sudden the Pens are a large 3 points behind the Devils for the Division and Conference lead, but honestly, the Pens really played a fairly solid game. Get the breakdown after the jump.

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Gameday #13: v. New Jersey Devils



Consol Energy Center, 7:30PM, NBC Sports Network

Most importantly the Pens have placed Kris Letang on IR. Apparently he’s having groin problems which makes me think of the movie Goon.

Since there is a spot open the Pens recalled Joe Morrow. No idea if he’s playing today or not, Dylan Reese, a Pittsburgh native, looked very impressive yesterday despite the loss.

A few thoughts:

  • Obviously Tanger’s injury is more serious than we thought, that hurts.
  • Nisky’s been skating, but maybe he’s taken a step back in his rehab. Ankle sprains are brutal.
  • Simon Despres has impressed so much that they won’t look to trade him, rather they’ll look to set up a few showcase games for Morrow and try to make him the centerpiece of a deadline deal.

There has been an incredible Yinzer reaction to this news: most were disappointed when the Pens didn’t bring Morrow to camp this year. Now that he’s been called up everyone is mad claiming he’s not ready. Sounds about right.

As we said, don’t know if the Pens will run with Dylan Reese, a Pittsburgh native, or give Morrow the nod. Outside of that Vokoun will be in the cage, and the forwards will be unchanged.

So far this year the Pens have been playing less penalized hockey at home. The Pens need to get back to that game if they don’t want to end up on the wrong side of an 8 point swing.

Dig deep. Go Pens.

Gameday #12 Recap: @ New Jersey Devils, What Goes Around

The Pens took 10 penalties in yesterday’s game. Most of them were bad calls, but ultimately the Devils won the game in the 3rd period after the Pens took some legitimate, poorly tempered penalties (mostly because they were pissed because of all the crap they were charged with early in the game).

The only problem is that it snapped the Pens’ winning streak and all of a sudden the Devils have moved ahead of the Pens in the standings. The rubber match is literally hours away.

Gameday #12: @ New Jersey Devils




Prudential Center, 1:00PM, Root Sports, NHL Network (local blackout)

Today marks the quarter point of the season. Hard to believe isn’t it?

Since getting dropped 5-1 by the Pens one week ago today, the Devils have very quietly gone on their own 3-game winning streak. At 6-1-3 they are still only one point behind the Pens for the division lead.

What this all means is that the Devils are (1) seriously overachieving, and (2) seriously still pretty good. The most impressive fact is that the Devils best players haven’t been at their best yet. Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique have yet to fully find their scoring touch. Instead, so far this year the Devils are led by the fossil Patrick Elias and the undrafted Dave Clarkson. Don’t get us wrong, good defense and goaltending have played a huge role in the Devils early success.

The Pens will play their second in a row without Kris Letang, we still haven’t seen a comprehensive story written about Tanger’s “lower-body injury” so we’re still assuming it’s nothing overly serious. Dylan Reese will be in the Pens’ lineup again today. Although we don’t have reason to view the injury as overly serious, Letang missing a pointless game against a horrible Caps team didn’t seem like a big deal, playing against the Devils with the Division and Conference lead on the line sounds much more serious.

MAF, who loves playing against the Devils, will be in net for his 3rd straight start today. The most that either Pens’ goalie has played in a row. Speaking of goalies, Martin Brodeur is expected to start for the Devils today, it will be his 1,200th career start for the Devils, that’s pretty impressive.

Spoil the celebration. Go Pens.

Gameday #8 Recap: v. New Jersey Devils

Super brief recap because we already need to start getting on the gameday for today. This was a huge game for the Pens, a win put them in control of the division, a loss put them two games behind the Devils and Islanders. Not only did the Pens win, but they came out with an emphatic statement, netting a 5-1 win over last year’s beast in the East, the New Jersey Devils. What follows is a brief analysis of why the Pens found so much success yesterday.
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Gameday #8: v. New Jersey Devils



Consol Energy Center, 1:00PM, Root Sports, NHL Network (local blackout)

The Pens are coming off a huge win against the Rangers. The Devils started 3-0, since then they have lost their last three, all of which came in overtime. As such the Devils sit one point ahead of the Penguins going into play today. As such this is another crucial affair for the Penguins. Here’s where everything stands heading in to play today.

Overall Pens sit in 8th place

Overall Pens sit in 8th place

You may say it’s too early for this kind of chart but at the end of the day the Pens will have actually played 1/6 of their schedule today. There’s a lot of hockey to be played, but the Pens need wins. If they get on a roll now, the season can take care of itself.

Yohe is reporting that Fleury will play today. Dustin Jeffrey is expected to play with Crosby and Dupuis, or at least that’s how it was in practice yesterday (Kunitz has been sick). And the newly acquired Zach Boychuk will debut with Geno and Epic Neal Time.

Speaking of Boychuk his BFF is apparently Brandon Sutter, hopefully being reunited will be good for both of them.

The Pens and Devils will meet three times in the next 8 days. They only play each other 4 times all year. Despite being based in New Jersey and featuring only seven Americans, none of whom are from Baltimore or San Francisco, the lead story on the Devils website is “Devils make Super Bowl XLVII picks.”

Brodeur has played all but one game for the Devils so far, and he’ll probably play today. Remember when he really seriously considered retiring after last year? Yeah, me either.

Pens/Devils are always hard fought battles. The Pens are back at home and the crowd will definitely suck, given that it’s a day game. Bylsma felt the need to address the Pens’ early failures at home yesterday. It’s time for the Pens to make a statement.

Shabutie. Go Pens.