Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pens 3 Flames 1

Big win for the 'Guins. MAF really stepped up and delivered when we needed one. It wasn't picture perfect, but it didn't have to be, especially considering it was on the road against a tough opponent.

As I mentioned, MAF was huge, stopping 37 shots while letting only one get by him, which you can peg on the penalty kill, who were completely dominated for about a minute and a half, before the Flames finally buried a shot set up by a cross-rink pass. But the biggest play of the game was the Flower's save on Nigel Dawes' breakaway right out of the box in the third period. If Dawes scores there, the game would be tied and that arena would have blown up. Just a huge save.

Sid continued his spectacular play, scoring the opening goal on another powerful move to the goal. He also set the screen for the game winning second goal (give credit to Bill Geurin's presence in front of the net as well... actually credit was given as he must have tipped the puck because he was given credit for the goal).

On the power play, the Pens have reluctantly returned Malkin to the right side and moved Sid closer to the net, positions that benefit both of them. It did Malkin no good to put him on the left side, where his position completely neutralized his powerful slapper, while Sid, whose shot is much improved from previous seasons, is still much more suited to be near the net, where he can use his fantastic eye-hand coordination and quick hands to redirect shots and find rebounds. Let's hope they stick to this configuration in the upcoming games.

Geno still didn't play as well as we should expect, but he drew a few penalties and wasn't quite the turn over machine he has been the last few weeks. As simple as it sounds, one goal could do wonders to his confidence and really lift him out of this funk he's been in.

The third line continues to be the picture of stability they've always been. It's nice to know that every shift they come out for, you're guaranteed a solid minute of checking, defense, and puck cycling. They put the game out of reach late in the third with a nifty take away by Jordan Staal and feed to TK out front, who showed patience with the puck by waiting for the goalie to overreact and then burying the puck far-side.

All in all, a very solid effort from the Pens, although one would hope they limit the opponents opportunities a little more scarcely this evening, when they face the Oilers at 9:30.

The Pirates signed D.J. Carrasco to a one year deal, but since it's a minor league contract, he won't count to the 40-man roster... yet. It will be interesting to see who they remove from that 40-man when the time comes (my guess would Anthony Claggett, Brian Bixler, or John Raynor/Brandon Moss/Delwyn Young- whoever doesn't make the team). Either way, Carrasco is a good sign; he generates ground balls, prevents HR, and has a decent k/bb rate- a good combination for a reliever.

In the meantime, ESPN's Rob Neyer has some good things to say (on top of the good things FanGraphs had to say) about the Ryan Church signing.

The Steelers hired a new offensive line coach, one Sean Kugler. I wonder if he can teach Ben how to get rid of the ball earlier, or would that be the the QB coach's job? Or... throw the damn ball, Ben!


  1. 2 things.. the pens have actually not been playing that bad .. they have been a victim of bad bounces -- same with the pp.. they've had great chances. That's just my opinion though -- although Gene needs to get his head out of the way.. don't know what his deal is..

    And second, to all those people who say "Ben doesn't get rid of the ball." If Ben were Peyton Manning, he would have double the amount of sacks, and all those amazing 3rd down pickups would be for not and we would not have won the super bowl. Yes, he gets sacked and in trouble sometimes for not getting rid of the ball, but if he didn't do what he does to avoid the sack, like 99% of the QBs in the league cannot to, he would get sacked at least double the amount he currently does (which is double the amount of the next most sacked QB since '03). So, like every pittsburgh fan who complains about that, remember that he has a special talent that cannot be taught.. and it should be celebrated not crushed. J aeSh.

  2. I'll buy the bad bounces, but only to a certain extent. The only game in which they have thoroughly outplayed an opponent since Christmas was against Atlanta, the other two wins have been mostly due to MAF (including last night). Part of having a good PP is burying good chances, which the Pens have not been doing consistently at all, so playing the luck card there does not work. Meanwhile, on defense it's the complete opposite, they're letting up too many chances and an equal amount of garbage goals.You can chalk it up to luck, but I have a feeling its just another mid-season funk from the pens.

    As for Ben, that will always be the big question. Do the plays he makes by holding onto the ball outweigh the sacks he takes? I say no, as extending those plays does not always lead to good plays (Ravens game sans penalty). And I'm glad you brought up Peyton, the best QB in the league at getting rid of the ball (his line has never been that great except for Saturday), and "gasp!" throwing the ball away.

    Listen, I don't have a problem with Ben holding onto the ball on third downs, when they are leading by a lot, or in the last two minutes of the game (the risk outweighs the reward). But when he holds onto the ball and takes a sack on a first and ten from our 40, causing a 2nd and 18 and eventually killing the drive... I can't stand it. And maybe it's selective memory, but I feel like that happened two dozen times this season.

    It would be an interesting study to see how long Ben holds onto the ball (every play and plays that result in a sack), the average result on broken plays, on what down his sacks happened, etc. I just don't care that much.

    This link is kind of interesting:

    Ben has a godd Win Probability Added, but his Expected Points Added is unimpressive when compared, and I think part of that is because of the sacks he takes, including when and where they happen. Look at Peyton Manning's EPA.

    Here's another link:

  3. This is an interesting study (that goes against my argument):

    But it's an extremely small sample size, and was done only three weeks into the season. It would be nice to see a study of the whole season.

  4. "And I'm glad you brought up Peyton, the best QB in the league at getting rid of the ball (his line has never been that great except for Saturday), and "gasp!" throwing the ball away."

    ...... that makes him the biggest pussy......

    And Ben's sack numbers despite his great ability to stick and move shows just how bad our line is. Peyton has more time, ergo he gets sacked less despite being a fragile wimp who goes down if he gets breathed on heavily. It's not just a function of getting rid of the ball...

  5. Again, I never remember the Colts ever having a great line other than Jeff Saturday. Peyton's never had a Jon Ogden to protect his blind side.

    I would love to see a good solid study about this, but I repeat, I just don't care enough to do it myself.

  6. But, logically, unless if Ben truly is stupid and can't make quick decisions / read the field well to throw the ball fast, then it would make sense to say that if Peyton were in the Steelers offense he would get sacked 3 times more (since Ben already gets sacked two times more and he is able to get away from many a linebacker). Just saying...

    Maybe I'm beating a dead horse, statistics on this would be interesting, but there's no doubt that the Colts line has to be better than ours in the last 4 years, simply due to the above stated facts..