On Tuesday, January 29th, the Pittsburgh Penguins played host to the New York Islanders. With five minutes remaining in the second period, the Islanders John Tavares and Matt Moulson would both score, respectively, on consecutive power plays. At the end of the period the Pittsburgh Penguins players were booed off of the ice. The real kicker, when the Penguins returned to the ice, the arena had been half full.
Just ten days ago the Penguins record would have indicated an average team considering they were only 3-3-0. People questioned their toughness, their skill, and whether or not they could ever be considered a true Stanley Cup contender. That was just six games ...
Looking to rebound from two consecutive road losses to the Bruins and the Jets, the Islanders came into Pittsburgh on Tuesday night to break the streak. The Isles, who haven't had much luck in the Steel City, had been defeated in 13 of their last 14 games in Pittsburgh. (Photo Credit: AxsDeny/Flickr)
Early in the first period, the Penguins went to the power play twice where they were incredibly ineffective. The Islanders penalty killers held the Pens out of their zone and off the scoreboard.
With under five minutes left in the opening period, the Isles put up their first of the night.
Opening the season with back to back games in consecutive days is a difficult task. The kicker would be taking on two division rivals poised at humiliating you in their respective home openers.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, were poised in their own right.
The Penguins would beat the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and then follow up their performance with another victory against the New York Rangers on Sunday. Despite sloppy play and some new faces, Pittsburgh appears to be one of the more congealed teams early on.
With a 3-1 victory on Saturday against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh exercised some early demons. Establishing the lead early on, Pittsburgh scored off o...
On the same sheet of ice their season ended last April, the Penguins beat the Flyers 3-1 in the opening game of the NHL’s 2012-2013 season.
Fans tuning in to see the same post-whistle fireworks were in for a surprise, though – both teams shied away from the scrums and all out brawls that filled their first round playoff series 9 months ago.
And all the offense? Also almost non-existent.
Though, at the beginning, the Pens looked like they were about to pick up right where that playoff series left off. On their first powerplay opportunity of the season, the 2nd unit cashed in when a Paul Martin slapper found its way past a helpless Ilya...
The 23 man roster has been set as the Penguins head into the 2013 season. The interesting aspect of the current roster was Coach Dan Bylsma’s selection of eight defensemen.
With the roster of defensemen set at eight, the Penguins had to place Brian Straight on waivers. It is surfacing now that Strait was claimed off of waivers by the New York Islanders. While a good pick up for the Isles, it is a difficult loss of depth for the Penguins.
It is expected that both Robert Bortuzzo and Ben Lovejoy will be the 7th and 8th defensemen in the rotation, giving highly touted prospect Simon Despres a spot among the Penguins top 4 pairing. It is expect as well that...
The 2013 NHL season is no longer an 82 game marathon, but instead is a 48 game dash to the finish line.
Will teams that had multiple players skating in Europe fair better? Will veteran squads win because they will have fresh legs all season long? Only the next few months will tell.
Here are my Eastern Conference power rankings.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – A healthyEvgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will lead Pittsburgh deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. The addition of veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun gives Coach Dan Bylsma a solid option if Marc-Andre Fleury falters.
As hockey fans gear up for the Western and Eastern Conference Finals, a few common themes among the remaining teams resonates: trap style play, tight checking, and a reliance on elite goaltending. Every year after the Stanley Cup is lifted, the champs are analyzed as to why they won, and other teams then spend time scouting youngsters and spend cap space on UFAs that resemble the Cup winning roster. The NHL is definitely a copy cat league. For the past five years, teams have been trying to mimic the style of play of the Red Wings, Penguins, and Blackhawks. After all, why wouldn't want you to copy what wins? But take a look at the puck possession-like teams that are eliminated: Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver, Pittsburgh. Both Conference Finals will send shock waves through the NHL, and the Red Wings better be paying attention.
After Mike Babcock's puck possession team lost to the Oilers in '06, their style of play didn't change at the root, however; they were told me be more physical and work harder in the dirty areas. That paid off the next three years by making to the Conference Finals in '07, Winning it all in '08, and coming within 1 goal at a chance to win it all again in '09. Now, it sure seems Red Wing hockey needs to be re-evaluated. Ken Holland and Mike Babcock should be watching every game of the playoffs from here on out. The Western Finals have been settled, and it will feature the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings. These two teams skate hard, trap, are defensively responsible, and heavily rely on their goaltenders to steal games. (By the way, is it not a coincidence that the year Phoenix lets Bryzgalov go they make it this far? He's never been a proven playoff goalie, and probably never will be.) The same goes in the East; The Devils (who are the definition of the trap) are waiting to face either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals. The Rangers have consistently been a defensively disciplined team with a couple of decent scoring lines, but overall block tons of shots and make things easy for their world class goalie Henrik Lundquist. The Capitals on the other hand, were born a puck possession team when they inherited forwards Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin. Since Dale Hunter took over as head coach, he has somehow got them to play a style of hockey whereby no all-stars are praised, but an entire team can reap rewards from teamwork. Players like Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, and Joel Ward are laying their bodies on the line for their coach, and Ovechkin is learning a valuable lesson.
Heading into the third game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Philadelphia Flyers have momentum on their side. Despite trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by two goals or more in the first two games, the resilient group battled back in both and have taken a 2-0 series lead.
On Sunday, the two teams will meet for Game 3. The Flyers have already established their dominance over the Penguins, and have done so in dramatic fashion. They will be looking to make it three wins in a row, while the Penguins will hope to find their footing and earn their first victory of the series.
The Flyers had a 2-1 record against the Penguins at home and a 22-13-6 record overall in the Wells Fargo Center during the regular season, while Pittsburgh had a 22-15-4 road record.
Pittsburgh was the 2nd highest-scoring team on the road this season with 127 goals, while the Flyers were the 3rd highest-scoring home team with 139.
It has been a wild start to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. After two games, the series is heading to Philadelphia, with the Flyers up 2-0.
The Flyers’ offense has undoubtedly been a huge factor in the first two games of the series. Another big factor, one that has been overlooked, is the play of netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov has given up eight goals in just two games, but those numbers don’t speak to his full performance and contributions.
He gave up three goals in the first period of Game 1, but shut the Penguins down for the next two periods. In Game 2, Bryzgalov gave up three goals in the first period, but held the Penguins to just two more during the rest of the game.
( 4 ) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS vs. ( 5 ) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Bloodbath. That's the word that Flyers forward Scott Hartnell used to describe the mindset of these two teams heading into this series. Some of us here at The Checking Line may be proponents of pacifism and the reduction of violence in hockey, but even we get a kick about what's probably going to happen between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in this first round match-up. The two teams set up their series in a game in the final week of the season, and if that was any indication, this one shouldn't disappoint. Expect a lot of violence, lots of scoring, contr...