Joe Vitale

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Game Three Observations; When Will The Sleeping Giants Wake

When teams have a two goal lead, the announcers like to bring up the old adage that this is the hardest lead in hockey to hang on to.

They might have a point.

In three games between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team with the two goal lead in the game has gone on to lose said game by a score of 4-3. Pittsburgh was victorious in games one and three, Columbus won game two.

For the first time in this series the special teams were not special. There was not a single power play or shorthanded goal scored in this game despite ten combined power play chances.

Here are a few observations so far from this series.

Standouts (average ice tim...

Depth and Resiliency Key Big Comeback Win for Penguins

I have said on multiple occasions that this Pittsburgh team is not deep enough to beat a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference Finals or in the Stanley Cup finals.

Now, as is the usual case, I might be wrong.

The Pittsburgh Penguins turned the tide in game one by using the following combinations.

Kunitz – Crosby – Gibbons

Bennett – Sutter – Stempniak

Jokinen – Malkin – Neal

Glass – Vitale – Adams

The result was three lines that could not only skate well, but that could pressure enough to score goals.

The game started out as a physical battle that heavily leaned toward the Columbus Blue...

What You Need to Know, Penguins Versus Jackets Team Breakdown

Breakdown: Team Analysis

Penguins – The Penguins are the more talented team in this match up and it isn’t all that close. Pittsburgh is a very lucky team in terms of talent.

They will have a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, something questioned last season with Crosby coming off a broken jaw. Pittsburgh has a legitimate top six on the back end this season. It currently looks like the only player that will miss significant time in the playoffs is Marcel Goc and his return can be as early as next week.

(Disclaimer, this is not including Pascal Dupuis who is out from ACL surgery in February, there is no possible way he can return this season)

The q...

Kesler Report Becomes Official; The Penguins Are Foolish To View This As A Fix

When the rumor came out of the woodwork just a few days back, I was taken by surprise. I figured the Penguins were more interested in acquiring winger depth than trying to reestablish the dominant three center model that won them a Stanley Cup.

But what do I know about building a competitive hockey team.

Pittsburgh is reported by just about every major outlet to be heavily interested in acquiring Kesler’s services. He would be an instant upgrade at the third line center position and has the ability to play wing when needed; however, there is a big problem with this.

For one, Kesler would join the Penguins at a time of depletion. With Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett ...

Home Record Streak Snapped at 13, Alarming Trends Come to Light in Loss

On January 20th, 2014 the Pittsburgh Penguins suffered their first home loss in over two months.

The complaints start with a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. With the healthiest lineup of the season, a full four days off, and home ice advantage, Pittsburgh managed to play one of the worst games they have played all season.

Allowing five goals is always unacceptable. When a team allows five goals to a bottom percentile scoring threat, then you have an issue.

Since the Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten back a healthy Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, their GAA has risen considerably.

Since the return of Malkin and Letang the Penguins have given up 22 goals in just six ga...

Two Week Recap; Forwards Edition

In part two of the opening season review we will examine the forwards and their contributions thus far to the season. While some players are keeping to the status quo, a few forwards have started to make their mark on the early season.

Start with the Obvious – The Pittsburgh Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Pascal Dupuis is arguably the strongest line in all of hockey. They have a combined nine goals through six games, seven of which have come while playing five on five hockey.

Here are a few other stats to show how good this line has been. *All statistics are a combined total.

+ 10, 56 shots on net, 24 total points, 8 Takeawas, 28 Hits, 87 Fac...

The Islanders Restore Pride Despite Being Eliminated By Pens In Game Six

The New York Islanders lost 4-3 in overtime last night to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, thus ending their run in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins took the series in six games, winning the last battle on Coliseum ice in front of a sold out crowd of Islanders fans that continued to give their home team a standing ovation despite being eliminated.

"It's exciting to play in a building like this. It's a lot of fun. In my opinion, we're probably the loudest arena in the league now," said Matt Martin after the game.

"The fans were unbelievable through the end of the season there in the last five home games and all through the playoffs. They were a big factor in the way we played at home down the stretch. It makes a huge difference for us. People don't realize it but it gives you a little extra boost, a little extra energy when the crowd goes nuts like that. You definitely want to do something exciting."

GAME RE-CAP Penguins 4-Isles 2 at The Coliseum

NY Islanders Lose To Pittsburgh Penguins, in Another Frustrating Home Game

Game 82, A Playoff Preview

The stage has been set, and the opponents have been decided: the Philadelphia Flyers (47-29-9) will be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins (50-29-6) in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Based on games played by both teams on Thursday night, Pittsburgh will end the season in 4th place and the Flyers in 5th in the Eastern Conference.

The New York Rangers clinched the East with a win over the Flyers on Tuesday night.

On Saturday, the Flyers and Penguins will meet in Pittsburgh for the last game of the regular season. It will be a preview of the playoff series to come, and will likely be an interesting game, based on the last matchup between the teams.

Pennsylvania Wrestlemania: Flyers, Pens Heating Up For Possible ECQ Matchup

Hard hitting, desperation saves and a little bit of extra-curricular activities sprinkled in.

Perhaps, it was a look at what the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals has in store for the Flyers and Penguins. 60 minutes of full throttle hockey with the addition of the playoffs, and the hockey world will be in store for another classic Flyers/Penguins series.

Sunday afternoon's battle - as well as one more game next Saturday afternoon to finish the season - was a preview of the almost inevitable 4/5-seed match up between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.