NHL

Penguins Hope To Avenge Playoff Loss to Montreal…

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Though it isn’t the first game in the CONSOL Energy Center, getting an early crack at exorcising the demons of last year will do the Penguins good. They closed the Mellon Arena on a bitter note in losing a second round series to the upstart Montreal Canadiens and can create their first positive one in the new barn by beating those same Canadiens tonight.

The vibe surrounding the team throughout training camp and during the early moments of this season has largely been a positive one. However there is still a bit of a bitter taste in the collective mouths of the team following last season’s unceremonious playoff exit. To a man they realize that they allowed a sparkling opportunity to make a run at a third straight Stanley Cup Finals appearance and would like to start avenging that defeat now.

“All summer I thought about it,” Penguins winger Evgeni Malkin told Shelly Anderson of the Post Gazette. “It was a good season, and we lost, but I know we have a great chance to win again.”

Malkin and his Penguins mates are even hungrier to notch a victory tonight after dropping their inaugural game in the new building. They dropped a 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers, who were sparked by a strong a strong performance by their young goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Canadiens will need that same type of performance from their goaltender, Carey Price if they hope to contain the Penguins offensive attack. Though the Birds weren’t able to get more than two pucks in the net on Thursday evening, they had countless scoring opportunities, especially early in the game.

Price is trying to carve out a niche as the starting goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens, something he has been working on for several years. He got a big boost this season in the form of a trade that sent playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues, but still managed to drop his first decision of the season to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The youngster, like the Penguins, is looking for his first win of the season, which should make for an interesting battle.

The Penguins will parade out the same line-up that was utilized on Thursday evening against the Flyers. Captain Sidney Crosby will again be flanked by Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, while Evgeni Malkin will skate with Mike Comrie and Eric Tangradi.

Mark Letestu will center Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy on an effective third line and Max Talbot will pivot for Craig Adams and Mike Rupp.

Those forward units hope to avoid the disappointment that they felt last season as they couldn’t consistently control the middle of the ice against the Canadiens defense and it was huge reason why they lost the series.

The defense, which didn’t necessarily shine in game one, will also look the same tonight. Keep an eye on Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, who each are still adjusting to the new system.

That defense will have their hands full with the likes of Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, both of which were instrumental in knocking the Penguins off last season.

It should be an exciting evening at the CONSOL Energy Center, as the Canadiens fans travel very well. Mixing a bunch of crazy Canadiens faithful into an arena in Pittsburgh usually gives the building a bit of a college football feel, with each side having its own “student section.” That vibe is a great one with each side starting chants and cheering wildly.

I will be live at Mellon Arena (old habits die hard!) the CONSOL Energy Center providing thoughts and analysis on an ongoing basis, hope to see you all in the comments section. More later…

* * * * *

Arron Asham will again be held out of the line-up and there is no definitive date for his return. He is listed as out indefinitely/day-to-day.

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About Brian Metzer

Profile photo of Brian Metzer

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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14 Comments

  1. Francine Boudreau

    October 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Can’t wait! Will be watching. I am a Canadian but for me, the Pens rule. You said you will be live from Mellon Arena. Did you mean the Consol or will you really be at the Mellon?

  2. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    Brian Metzer

    October 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Ah… OLD HABITS DIE HARD! I will be live at the Consol Energy Center! lol

  3. Walshy

    October 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Is it a shoulder for Asham Metz or is the injury still disclosed?

  4. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    Brian Metzer

    October 9, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    There hasn’t been a definitive answer to that question Walshy…

  5. Evilpens

    October 9, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I KNOW !!! It’s only 2 Games right OSP?? MAF is STILL A HEADCASE, their Wingers SUCK, & the coaching staff is cLUELESS

  6. Profile photo of OneSmugPug

    OneSmugPug

    October 10, 2010 at 5:35 am

    ..not only does MAF need to go, but Crosby as well. I mean only 1 assist and -2 in 2 games. Time to fold the franchise….

  7. Walshy

    October 10, 2010 at 6:04 am

    Oh Pug, you’re great. 😉

  8. Evilpens

    October 10, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Yep he so Funny! Tpo bad he’s not as funny as the team, Lets see now, that’s 2 games 7 all the same problems that plagued them last season & the Playoffs especially are ther again, Putrid wingers CHECK, Putrid PP CHECK, Putrid beyond charman soft goals CHECK , Coaches Clueless CHECK, Players making excuses for MAF CHECK & Ummm OSP You tried this belittling BS in the Playoffs & umm it’s getting old & tiresome OK

  9. Walshy

    October 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    2 games in and its the death of the team EP? Honestly?

    We had a great pre-season and everyone was praising the way the team was playing. There are some great signs out there.

    Martin looks great, he looks like he is stoked to be on a team where he can roam and have fun playing hockey. Z (I am not even going to bother trying to spell his name) looks great too.

    Why on earth do you look in the negatives every time I dont know. That was definitely a loss that shouldn’t have happened but this is a team that will compete for the Stanley cup. It has been proven of late that you can compete for the cup from the 7th seed.

    Right now Im not particularly worried with 2 games that we have lost that we were in that could have been 2 wins and no one would have been jumping off a bridge.

  10. Evilpens

    October 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Pre season Doesn’t mean Shit in any sport & Nowhere did I say the Death of the team Did I, The same Problems that plagued them last season & in the Playoffs are still there, Incredibly soft goals at the Most inopportune time, Wingers who can’t score goals consistently, PP

  11. Walshy

    October 10, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    No you didn’t have to say it with the specific word…

    Your constant negativity does.

    Positives.
    1. Letestu belongs
    2. Tangradi has shown he is not out of his depth AND understands his role on the team.
    3. Both new additions to the D corps are great and going to get better.
    4. Comrie has proven he will be extremely valuable being able to play all 3 forward positions.
    5. Letestu’s play will allow the team to take their time with Staal and you have no idea how important that is to his recovery and to being 100% on the ice when he gets back.

  12. Evilpens

    October 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Lifted.com from a Poster Dr. Know on pittsburghsportstavern

    The Tribune Review needs a Quality Penguins beat writer
    Lets do a quick review of the facts first

    Post-Olympic break DEFENSIVE SHOTS ALLOWED stats for last season. These stats account for the work performed after the Olympic tournament ended through the end of regular season. The Penguins allowed the 2nd fewest shots per game (26.1). This easy to find stat is the best indicator to how well or not so well a defense is playing. They had a very good defense last year.

    26.1 Shots allowed (2nd ranked in fewest shots allowed)

    So now that we have concluded that the defense was allowing a comparatively low amount of shots, we need to take a look at how the goalie was performing. The following teams are ranked by their SAVE PERCENTAGE from the Post-Olympic break through the end of the regular season.

    Pittsburgh .900 save percentage (28th worst ranking)

    The Pens finished the 2nd half of the season with a 28th worst save percentage. The Hawks finished with a poor SV % ranking of 29th. Now please think back to what were considered to be the strengths and question marks for the Hawks last year that was cited by most experts?
    Most would tell you that while the Hawks had a top notch defense, they were shaky at best in goal.
    Well, that should have applied to the Penguins as well.

    The Pens would also go on to finish the post season with allowing just 26 shots. Once again, they were 2nd to only Jersey in fewest shots allowed in both the 2nd half of the regular season as well as the entire post-season. The Hawks would finish with a solid ranking of 6th out of 16 playoff teams in fewest shots allowed. But Niemi raised his level of play and would finish the playoffs with a .910 SV Pct. Fleury would finish with a .891 SV pct.

    How big of a difference are .891 and .910 save percentages?

    Consider that when Fleury averages .910 or higher in a game, his team was 29-5 at one point last year. But when Fleury fell below .900, the Pens were 9-23 in those games near the end of the season.

    So far, Marc Andre Fleury has been below .900 in his first two games this season. His save pct is poor because he allows too many soft goals for which the defense isn’t really responsible for anyway.

    The Penguins have become a team that is losing its ability to win a low scoring game.
    Here is the important part of all of this. Last Season the Penguins went 0-14 against the Top level regular season teams.

    When is the last time the defending champion lost all 14 games against the top 6 regular season teams? That just might be a record that is never broken again.

    While Fleury did not get the start in every one of those games, the following stats should explain how great of a problem they may have going forward.

    The Following teams are the top level teams (record wise) from last season. Listed next to each team are their goals allowed per game average against the top level teams. So for example, if you total up all the Goals allowed by the Canucks in games versus Jersey, Phoenix, Chicago, San Jose, Caps, and Pens, you will find that they allowed an average of 2.4 goals per game against those awesome teams.

    Vancouver 2.4 Goals Allowed

    New Jersey 2.2 Goals Allowed

    Phoenix 2.2 Goals Allowed
    Chicago 2.4 Goals Allowed

    San Jose 2.5 Goals Allowed

    Caps 2.7 Goals Allowed

    Pens 4.1 Goals Allowed

    The Penguins meanwhile allowed 4.1 Goals on Average against those 6 teams. That is about 1.5 goals on average more than what the other top teams allowed against the same set of top level teams.

    Inexcusable!

    It is absolutely hilarious listening to Rob Rossi break down every goal allowed and try to blame the defense as if no other goalie in the league has the same defensive breakdowns in front of him. Furthermore, he can’t seem to comprehend that Fleury’s weak save percentage involves a season long sample size.

    Rob Rossi is the same guy last January that said Fleury would play great once March arrived. When Fleury didn’t play well in March, Rossi said Fleury will play great in the playoffs. When Fleury’s struggles continued in the playoffs, Rossi told us not to worry because he plays his best in the biggest games. At which point Fleury gave up about 7 goals in 2 periods of play against Ottawa (game 6) and Montreal (game 7). Throughout this entire run, the most bizarre comment made by Rossi was that Fleury is a CLUTCH goalie as he related it to his game 6 performance against Ottawa.

    Clutch? Excuse me?

    The only thing that makes Fleury clutch is that his offense over the past few years has given him many more opportunities to be clutch! If Vokoun would give up 3 goals in the 1st period to Ottawa, he would be COOKED! His team isn’t coming back from that. The Penguins on the other hand have shown to be capable of storming back to the lead after being down in games, thus giving Fleury yet another chance at being CLUTCH.

    Finally, if none of this is bad enough, Rossi would deliver yet another load of BS on the showdown Sunday Night where he said Fleury would be the first to tell you that he allowed a soft goal against the Habs on Saturday. But he fails to mention that Fleury DECLINED comment after Saturday’s game. Ha!

    I have absolutely no idea how certain people get paid in Pittsburgh to cover sports. The less you know is apparently the better . In the meantime thousands of fans are following him in the papers and on TV to get their team information.

    If you want to know why thousands of sports fans find themselves scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong after an upset loss to their favorite team, blame guys like Rossi who can’t provide the correct information which eventually leads fans down the wrong path.

  13. Walshy

    October 11, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Dude,

    No one can ever have a dig at you for not putting in your work or research for your point of view.

    Your points on Fleury are valid especially for the point on him being inconsistent. We all know his best is brilliant and his worst, well it can be very very frustrating.

    But the term clutch isnt about how many you stop it is about getting the W and the TIMING of the save to help get the stop.

    Luongo is considered one of the best goalies of this era but the knock on him at the moment is he cannot win the big game, and it is not because of the team in front of him.

    Hell Fleury has managed to get the Pens to 2 Cup finals series and won 1 of them. I would take 2 Cup series out of 3 runs than what Luongo has done with better stats.

    That is what clutch is, getting wins and big saves when you are fighting the puck, ie game 6 against OTT when you are not playing well but still keeping the puck out of the net at times of the game when a team is pressing against you and you are getting shelled. I.E. Carey Price Vs us on Sat, he is the reason the Habs were close enough for Fleury to lose that game.

  14. Evilpens

    October 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks Walshy, But I lifted from a poster on pittsburghsportstavern.com a Pgh. sports message board, It has separate Areas for Pens, Piratse & Steelers & all kinds of other stuff!! Give it a try