What’s wrong with the Penguins? They lost 3 games since my last report and are now 0-4-0-0. Let’s see what happens game by game.
Saturday, October 6th, Anaheim Mighty Ducks VS Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens played well against Kariya and the Ducks. The difference in this game was simply in front of the net. Shields played like a #1 goalie and Hedberg showed why he stayed in the minors for a long time. Matt Cullen scored twice in the first period and Jason York completes the score for the “Mad” Ducks. Then, Kraft scored his first of the season with a good wrist shot, and in the third period Lacouture showed his impressive speed when he scored on a breakaway. After that, The Penguins were inspired and really cracked the Duck’s defense. But guess what happens, Johan Hedberg ruins all the hopes of the Pens with a really really bad move on a 2 on 1. Ducks 4-Penguins 2.
Wednesday, October 10, New-York Islanders VS Pittsburgh Penguins : The new Islanders were in town to play the Penguins to achieve a 3 game winning-streak. After 2 losses, “The Moose” was benched and “Seabass” got a chance to show what he can do. Hard to believe but Pittsburgh was out shot a 3rd consecutive time on a 3rd consecutive loss. The “Arbitration line” scored three times in the second period and the Pens looked that they found the way of the victory. But the Islanders were not down yet and applied more and more pressure against the young defense. First, Mike Wilson put himself out of position in the second period and Jason Blake scored on a 2 on 1. After, Peca scored a powerplay goal with a reduced angle shot. After that, Parrish scored his 4th and 5th goals of the season to clear the game. Aubin didn’t allow soft goals, but if you want to stay in this league your’e gonna have to make key saves for your team. J-S simply didn’t do that. Islanders 6-Penguins 3.
Sunday, October 14, Pittsburgh Penguins VS Buffalo Sabres: I really enjoyed what I saw from the Sabres play this night. They have a young and speedy team who can surprise many this year. Pittsburgh started the game by taking penalties over penalties which finally resulted in a goal, 27 seconds before the end of the first period. In the third period Kozlov scored from behind the net but the Pens stayed in the game when Straka scored his third of the season. Right after, James Patrick lit the red light in a confusing play and Buffalo led 2-1. For the close of the game, Kozlov scored on a nice play of Afinogenov. For Pittsburgh Hedberg was back in goal and for Buffalo, Martin Biron was the man. The French Canadian won the duel for his third victory of the present season. Penguins 1-Sabres 4.
Young guns’ performance:
Anaheim Mighty Ducks:
Timo Parssinen: The young Finn impressed me. He played with a lot of intensity during the game and really disturbed the Pens defense by his great forchecking.
This post-season really destroyed the future of the Isles. Maybe Yashin and Peca are both really useful this year but don’t forget the huge potential of the players included in these trade. Tim Connoly potential is far as the sky and don’t forget Taylor Pyatt and Jason Spezza.
Radek Martinek: The “old rookie” finally gets the confidence of his team. The 26-years-old defenseman was matched with Roman Hamrlik against Pittsburgh. He played a good all-around game, reported 1 assist, 6 hits and 3 blocked shots.
Jason Blake: The small #55 really flew this last Wednesday. His speed really surprised and amazed me. He showed why the Islanders trade for him last year by a strong performance of 1 goal and 1 assist. Notice : he’s no more a prospect at 28 years old.
Maxim Afinogenov: Afinogenov was outstanding against the Pens! He used his speed so effectively and has a good amount of natural skill. He took an impressive number of shots (7) and was always a factor in the offensive zone. The way that Afi skates you can confound him with players like Pavel Bure or Alexander Mogilny. Maybe he doesn’t have the scoring touch of these guys but he definitely gonna be a star for the Sabres soon.
Tim Connolly: Because of the numbers of good forwards in Buffalo, Connolly is used often by his new coach. Lindy Ruff liked the play of the young American on both sides of the ice and used him more than 19 minutes against the Black-And-Gold. Connolly showed some good stickhandling and good passes, especially on the power play. Tim Connolly, a name to retain for the future!
Martin Biron: Biron seemed to be ready for the after-Hasek era. He played a really solid game against Pittsburgh stopping more than 25 shots. He made 2 KEY saves against Kraft and Lang for keep his team in the game. Notice : his impressive goal-against average of 1.81.
Pittsburgh Penguins :
Milan Kraft: Kraft is the more hidden player of the Pens. He played some really good hockey at this time, especially against Buffalo. Kraft created scoring chances and had a lot of them himself. In 3 games Kraft gets at least 7 good scoring chances but only capitalized on one at Anaheim. Against the Sabres he was awesome, he made really useful hits which often gave a good scoring chance. If Kraft can capitalize more often he is gonna be a big part of the team this year.
Mike Wilson: After a really strong game against Colorado, Wilson seemed to go a little bit down after. Against the Islanders he was too often out of position, the second of the Isles was his fault and he committed himself on the first shift of the game too. He looked more like an enforcer during this game with his impressive fight who amaze the Pittsburgh crowd and with his big hit which caused a concussion to Peca. Wilson has to hit people like in the opening night and be more concentrated.
Michal Roszival: Rozsival is not the favorite of the crowd but he does his job more well than you can imagine. Rozsival definitely showed that he can be a good 2-way defensemen in a not so far future. Rozsival took 8 shots in his two last games and really supported the offense against buffalo. Rozsival kept the puck in the zone without taking so much chances.
Kris Beech: Beech! Beech! Beech! This young gun has to produce to stay with the Pens. He played a “correct” all-around game but the Penguins expect him more offensive support. Right, Lemieux didn’t recorded a point since the beginning of the season and the Pens don’t scored that much these days but anyway, Beech has to produce or he will be needing more experience at Wilkes-Barre.
That it for today, don’t miss my next report about the Sens-Penguins game.