Six Straight and Now This

 

After a very energetic and physically daunting win on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins advanced their record to 39-21-5.  The game marked their 6th straight victory, making the Penguins 8-2-0 in their last ten, and 18-4-1 since their six game losing streak in early January. 

Letang has been out for two games now and yet the Pens have been able to average 3.5 goals per game, while just surrendering 1 goal per game.  To make things even better, the Pens are 9-2-0 since Jordan Staal returned from injury.  They are averaging a fantastic  4.18 goals per game in this stretch while only allowing 2.45 goals per game. 

In the game on Monday, Pittsburgh saw the return of Tyler Kennedy, but unfortunately lost Deryk Engelend to injury and Dustin Jeffery to illness.  Call up Brian Straight was paired with 7th defensemen Ben Lovejoy.  Lovejoy played 15 minutes, while Straight played 12 and helped the Pens greatly against a gritty and desperate Phoenix Coyotes club.  Zbynek Michalek scored just his second goal of the season and Kunitz scored his 19th.  Fleury was able to stop 36 of 37 shots, including multiple acrobatic saves and one challenging save in which he charged a shorthanded breakaway and stacked the pads for a save 20 feet in front of the net.

As if things could not seem just a little brighter, the news today put a smile on the faces of everyone in Pittsburgh and NHL fans everywhere.  After months of worry, Sidney Crosby was finally cleared for contact.  Crosby has been symptom free for a few days now and his medical staff agreed that practicing fully was acceptable.  While his own optimism shows in an interview, it is not likely that Crosby returns for a few weeks, if he does return before the playoffs. The Penguins have had a terrible string of luck since the spring of 2010, but for the first time in a long time, things are looking bright. 

-          In other news, the Penguins will unveil the statue of team owner Mario Lemieux tomorrow morning.  Mario Lemieux will become the second ever living athlete in Pittsburgh history to have a statue raised in his honor.  Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski are the only other athletes with the honor of a statue, Mazeroski the only other living athlete.

-          The Penguins take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow in a nationally televised game.  With the Maple Leafs playing for new head coach Randy Carlyle, the pens should expect a fast paced game against a desperate, playoff hungry team.