Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pens Find Their Groove; KO the Flyers

Well we had at least one night where we could forget the woes of the 2008/09 Penguins, and what better opponent to do it against than the hated Filth-adelphia Cryers. As it always against Philly, this one was a physical war that at times resembled more of the forth-coming Steelers-Eagles Super Bowl (whoops I'm not supposed to make that prediction until Friday!) than a hockey game.

Eric Godard and Riley Cote got things going early with a very short, one-sided fight that Godard won, and was probably a little lucky to have the officials step quickly in, because Cote is known far and wide as a comeback kid in these fights. This set the tone, and while there was only one more fight the rest of the game, the hitting was fierce the whole way through.

As for the portion of the game that involved actual hockey playing, the Pens newly formed top line of Sidney Crosby centering Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cooke was clicking on all cylinders for 60 straight minutes. Geno and Cooke both put tallies on the board and Sid assisted both times, and the unit as a whole was wreaking havoc all game long on Marty Biron. It was incredibly encouraging to see that kind of pressure being generated by our top unit, and J-Staal also continued his excellent work since the contract extension, chipping in a goal and playing his usual solid work on the defensive end.

Believe it or not, the Pens are actually still 2 games over .500 right now at 21-19-4, and while those 4 OT losses, technically would push their total losses past their wins, having 46 points in 44 games is over .500 in my book. What this means is that, despite the gloom and doom in town, this team is still very much alive, and very capable of getting right back into the playoff mix if they can bottle some of the excellent they demonstrated tonight. The 8th place Canes have just 1 more point then the Pens in the same amount of games, and we are still just 10 points out of first with a game in hand on those first place Rangers. All very encouraging figures when you think about how bad this tailspin has been.

Now, I'm not saying the Pens are out of this slump, because I've said that previously on this site, and was quickly proven wrong, but a win like this one is the sort that gives a serious glimmer of hope to the players on the roster. We should get a good idea about any possible carryover momentum pretty quickly, as the Pens taken on their sudden rivals, the Washington Capitals, tomorrow for the start of a critical 5 game home stand.

Go Pens.

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