Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pens 5 Thrashers 2

Went to the game last night, something I've been doing a lot since I got back to Pittsburgh- it's nice to have friends with season tickets. Of course, due to the terrible weather I was late to the game (it was also due to my terrible timing). But I missed half of the first period, which was probably a good thing because the Pens sounded- via Mike Lange on the Radio- like they were getting dominated (when I got in, the shots were 12-4 Thrashers). But the Pens played really well in the second ten minutes and almosty evened up the shots by the time the period ended.

We seemed lucky to escape the first period at just 0-0, but part of that was due to Brent Johnson's spectacular play. He stopped 16 shots in the first period and was solid in all facets, although the one fun thing to watch that Johnny supplies and Fleury lacks is his stick skills, and it would be nice for the Flower to learn something from him (on one of the PP, BJ sent a DiPietro-esque pass from just near his net to Sid standing near the other blue line). I feel like after playing with Ty Conklin, Fleury improved his rebound control- something Conklin really excelled at during his stay with the Guins. But that might have had more to do with Fleury's natural progression as a Goaltender. But stick handling is still one of the Fleury's weaknesses that I hope gets better as he gets older- I may not be right, but that seems like a skill one improves with age.

Anyway, the next two periods of hockey were fantastic, even though the two goals the Pens let in were due to mental mistakes, the first being the defensive pairing's mistake in playing too far up in the zone with the puck and not being deep enough in the neutral zone, which allowed the Thrasher's player to just split between them and score. Their second goal was all Sid's fault as he just gifted them a goal by trying one of those backhanded outlet passes from the corner. When it works, its a thing of beauty, but when it doesn't, it leads to great chances for the other team. On a side note, Jim Slater, the Thrasher who scored both goals, looked really fast on the first goal and displayed some good hands on the second, but what a name this guy has. I don't want to be too stereotypical, but when you're last name is Slater, you're destined to become a hockey or lacrosse player, a windsurfer, drug-dealer, or a BSD (most likely all of the above).

A few more thoughts on the Pens; not Sid's best game, but he will bounce back. It was more important that Geno had a good game. He seemed a little hesitant in the first two periods, trying to play a little too simple, but then he let loose in the third. The move he made to set up Caputi's goal was classic Geno. Hopefully, he can build on this performance.

Lastly, with the Kunikaze out for a while, Luca Caputi will get an extended audition, and he will get it where he needs to, on one of the top two lines. I hate to make assessments based on a live viewing (I watch almost all the games on TV, so I think I make my best calls based watching from my couch), but Caputi looks pretty solid. He's not afraid to dump, retrieve, and lay a hit as well (there was actually one play in the third period where it would have been better for him to carry the puck in, but I understand his hesitancy). I don't want to be too boring here, but he is that guy that won't wow you with any one great skill, but he's good along the boards, and good in front of the net, kind of the perfect compliment to either Sid or Geno. But there will be plenty of time for us to make a more stable assessment over the next month or so. Also, if anyone has a suggestion for his nickname, I'm all ears. Pooty is already taken by Letang though.

Big game coming up on Thursday against the dreaded Flyers. If you're planning on going to a bar to watch the National Championship Game, try and go to one that gets the Pens' game as well, because you never want to miss a Pens/Flyers game.


Picture courtesy of Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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