First off, just a reminder that I will again be hosting a chat for Versus this evening live from Mellon Arena. We will be discussing all of the action live as it happens, as well as pumping in the pertinent twitter feeds, running polls, pics and videos for your in game entertainment! Hope to see you all there…
Here is today’s around the net… be sure to read below the links for a game blog!
Today I am starting with Shawn Roarke of NHL.com. He is maintaining a great blog about his 8 cities in 8 days tour for the NHL’s official site. Yesterday’s installment talks about the his trip from the Penguins game here in Pittsburgh up to Buffalo and how the death of Type O Negative front man Peter Steele affected him. You all know I can relate to that, as I was just as stunned by Pete’s untimely passing… here is his blog… be sure to monitor it for the next week or so as he will moving freely about the country, sharing tales, game stories, music, food and more…
Here is Shelly Anderson’s PG Notebook… she discusses the lack of hatred between the two teams, the fact that Ottawa has lost another top six winger in Milan Michalek, Brent Johnson’s illness, Chris Kunitz, Mike Rupp, Ruslan Fedotenko and the fact that tonight could be the final game in Mellon Arena.
Penguins and City to hold a Penguins rally today for fans at the County Courthouse Yard… There will be refreshments. All the organizers ask is that you bring a non-perishable food item if you are attending…
Ruslan Fedotenko has been “Mr. April” over his career… this is supposed to be his time to shine, as he is well known as a guy that is capable of getting it done in the playoffs. Well, a poor game one, combined with the fact that he had a largely underwhelming season had him on the verge of being a healthy scratch this evening. Which would signal the return of Mike Rupp.
We have all been discussing what has plagued the Penguins over the past few weeks and especially in game one of their first round match-up with Ottawa… here the Tribune Review’s Kevin Gorman gives his take.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun talks about the healthy dislike that is being rekindled between these two teams during this playoff series. It seems that they might have lost the dislike a bit prior to game one, but it is back with a vengeance.
Craig Rivet notched only the fourth playoff goal of his 15 year career last night against the Bruins and it went down as the game winner!
The Sabres will be without the service of Jochen Hecht as he was forced to have surgery on his finger…
The Montreal Canadiens held Alex Ovechkin without a shot on goal and knocked off the Capitals in overtime. Hal Gill deserves most of the credit for limited AO, as he blocked 9 shots in the game and frustrated Ovechkin throughout.
Jonathan Quick played an outstanding game, but his Kings still fell in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks. Though they lost, the team is thrilled to see the performance of their goaltender.
Edmonton prospect Jordan Eberle is being compared to Jonathan Toews…a high compliment in itself. The youngster is expected to be named to the Canadian roster for the upcoming World Championships, though no official announcement has been made.
Here is another piece from Shawn Roarke… I am mainly posting this for my Pittsburgh cronies, as it plays into the Gene Collier talk of yesterday. Roarke takes his headline directly from Collier in this “Rask is Unflappable” piece.
Great blog from John Farrell at the US News and World Report about the failings of the Capitals over the years and the fact that the region is already bracing for its yearly heartbreak.
Fleury Key to Penguins Success
Marc Andre Fleury’s 30 playoff victories over the past two seasons are the most in the league over that span; however his quest for 31 came to a screeching halt on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. You could say that his team didn’t offer much support in the losing effort, but when that team scores four goals in a playoff game, it should be enough to earn the victory.
The Fleury of a few years ago might be wallowing in the defeat and over-thinking each goal that eluded him during the Penguins 5-4 loss to Ottawa, but not the current incarnation. “The Flower,” as he is called by his teammates, has used the pressure of the past few playoff runs to really blossom into a mentally tough specimen who possesses the ability to allow such outings to roll off of his shoulders.
“I felt better this morning than I did (post game), that’s for sure,” Fleury said. “My experience helps a lot just by playing games. I think at a young age I had to deal with that. I don’t try to trick myself thinking about stuff.”
Though he wasn’t happy following Wednesday evening’s game, the Penguins goaltender was back to his usual ways Thursday morning — flashing the biggest smile in the organization.
It is even easier for him to keep that upbeat demeanor when he realizes that he has the support of his teammates and coaches. All of which fully expect him to bounce back in tonight’s game, as his history shows that he tends to come back strong after a mediocre performance.
“He has always rebounded and played a lot better after games where he hasn’t been as strong,” Brooks Orpik said. “I don’t think (Wednesday) was his best, but I don’t think we were strong in front of him either. I don’t think the finger is being pointed anywhere in this room.”
Though there aren’t any fingers being pointed, there certainly could be, as the team’s performance as a whole left much to be desired. Eliminating the mistakes of Wednesday night and refocusing on the fundamentals of Dan Bylsma’s system will be tantamount to the Penguins success moving forward.
There is still a lot of belief in the Penguins’ dressing room and the team seemed to realize that they allowed a major opportunity to slip by on Wednesday night. Something that they will not do moving forward…
What to look for in game two from the Penguins:
More puck possession – Dan Bylsma has stressed that puck possession is key to good defense. If the opposition doesn’t have the puck, they can’t beat you.
Staal tactics – with the Senators incurring another injury to a top six forward (Milan Michalek); look for Dan Bylsma to utilize Jordan Staal’s line whenever possible against the Jason Spezza line, thus putting pressure on the Sens’ second unit to create offense.
The Flower Blooms – For the Penguins to win tonight’s game, Marc Andre Fleury will have to outplay Ottawa’s Brian Elliott. It is worth noting that Elliott and Fleury had posted two of the least impressive statistical lines through the first two evenings of the post season tournament.
What to look for from the Senators:
Shut-down trifecta – Chris Kelly, Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips did a masterful job of limiting Sidney Crosby on Wednesday night. Though he picked up three assists, two were secondary helpers on the power play and the look of frustration on Crosby’s face spoke to the work of this group. They will have to get it done again if they are to win tonight’s game.
Elliott factor – Rookie Brian Elliott wasn’t great in game one, but he did what was necessary to post the victory, including a huge stop on Alexei Ponikarovsky that could have tied the game. Has he shaken the butterflies and nervousness that might have plagued him in game one? He will have to be sharp to push the Sens ahead in this one.
Calling Mr. Alfredsson – Though the Senators didn’t need much of contribution from their top line after seeing Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Neil, and Chris Kelly all get on the scoreboard, they won’t be able to live by the grinder all series long. Daniel Alfredsson has got to be a bigger factor if they are going to consistently win in this series.