Gameday #35: v. Winnipeg Jets

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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS v. Winnipeg Jets

Consol Energy Center, 7:00 PM, Root Sports

The Winnipeg Jets are in third place in the conference by the very nature of leading the atrocious Southeast Division. Admittedly, the Jets, with 38 points, are a legitimate playoff caliber team, at least according to James Mirtle and his rule of 52.

The Penguins now have Jarome Iginla. If you didn’t know, he hasn’t come close to leaving Calgary, he held a long press conference in which he reiterated that it was the star factor of Said and Geno that made the choice easy. Never forget who made the selfless pass to Sid on the “Golden Goal” in Vancouver in 2010.

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Unsurprisingly, Iginla will not be in the lineup tonight. As a native Canadian playing in Canada Iggy never needed a true work visa, he’ll need one now and apparently that will take a while, he may not arrive until after this weekend. Whatever, there are other big things going on tonight. Douglas Murray will be making his debut and he’s expected to play with Matt Niskanen, that sounds fantastic. Evgeni Malkin will be a game time decision and it seems likely that Beau Bennett will be returned to the AHL. Marc Andre Fleury has tested clear for any concussion symptoms, but safely, will back up Tomas Vokoun.

There’s so much we could say about what Ray Shero has done. There’s so much we could say about what Dan Bylsma has done to get this winning streak to 13 games, the third longest in NHL history. But why should we, you can feel it in your bones, you don’t need us to tell you what it is to be a Penguins fan right now.

Some words from Ken Campbell calling Ray Shero the greatest GM in the league. I don’ think we’ve yet realized how big these moves have been, with so many GMs scaring away from a big commitment, Shero has made three.

The most bizarre mind melt you will ever experience, keep watching til you see who was supposed to be defending Iginla…

14 is better than 13. Go Pens.

 


Gameday #15 Recap: @ Winnipeg Jets, The Beau’s are Back in Town

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The Pens really wanted a win and so did the Jets. At times the Pens struggled in their own zone, but they proved themselves the better team and walked away with the win. Lt. Col. Craig F. Adams was the Penguins’ best skater (only missed the assist on the Gordie Howe Hat Trick) and MAF had his best game of the year.

Beau Bennett made his NHL debut, he didn’t log big minutes, and he didn’t score but he showed a lot, especially when he went down to block a Jets point shot attempt. The only critique I have is that the Pens really ought to move him to the Malkin Neal line full-time ASAP. He’s good in the offensive zone but he didn’t look like a natural fit with Sutter and Kennedy, and I don’t think that helped the Pens with their in-zone defense.

Joe Vitale was flying and apparently he’s won nearly 2/3 of his face offs this year.

All in all this game felt good if you’re a Penguins fan. Pens are in Buffalo for a Hockey Day in America matinee on Sunday.


Gameday #15: @ Winnipeg Jets

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The Pens are back in Winnipeg, and as you’ve probably heard, it’s still cold in the ‘Peg.

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Today marks the first time that Eric Tangradi will play against the Penguins. Before we go any further its important to accept, in advance, that he’s going to score tonight. He might even score two. But if you have any doubts if the Pens made the right choice, read this master’s thesis by Mike Colligan. It’s going to be okay, although Big Dawg didn’t exactly praise the Penguins organization in his first interview with the Winnipeg Free Press.

Here’s a couple of Winnipeg’s finest, Arctic Ice and Puck Prospectus breaking down the Tangradi acquisition. These are two of the best advanced stats hockey blogs out there and they seem to believe that Big Dawg can turn it around.

Evander Kane made headlines for criticizing his critics criticizing him for being black. Hey if Winnipeg doesn’t want him…

Beau Bennett will be in the lineup for the Pens, according to Seth Rorabaugh and Empty Netters he’ll take Zach Boychuk’s place. The Pens are expected to role with Cooke on the second line and not throw Bennett to the wolves right away. Fleury should be in net for the Pens.

Time to silence the home crowd. Go Pens.


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. Read the rest of this entry »


Gameday #4: @ Winnipeg Jets

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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ Winnipeg Jets

MTS Centre, 8:00PM, Root Sports

You may have heard this at some point in the last two years, but it gets cold in Winnipeg in the winter.

The Pens have made two significant changes to the lineup. Tyler Kennedy will be skating with Malkin-Neal (with Tanner Glass moving to the third line and Eric Tangradi moving down to the fourth line), and Ben Lovejoy is in the lineup in place of Simon Despres. Further, Tomas Vokoun will be in the net for the Pens. Get more info here. 

Last year the Penguins went 3-1-0 against the newly constituted Jets, and in two of those games the Pens posted 8 goals. Generally speaking this is a team that the Pens have had good success against and see no reason why that should change this year.

Winnipeg’s fans still seem to be just as ravenous as they were last year.

My bold prediction is that this (and the one other time the Pens come to Winnipeg) will be the farthest west the Pens will travel all year, or in other words, if the Pens make it to the SCF, I think they’re going to play someone from the Central Division (personally I think it will be Chicago). In some ways I hope this becomes a reality and in some ways I hope not (as in the Penguins never play anyone from the Western Conference this year).

The Jets have had an uninspired season so far but they did pick up their first win on Wednesday against the much maligned Capitals. The future of the Jets revolves around Evander Kane he’s pretty good so the Pens defense will need to show up and keep him off the scoresheet.

Time to get back on track. Go Pens.