Ladies and Gentlemen: ELVIS. Has just. Left. The building.
And FINALLY, the Penguins found their first win of the season.
They topped a pretty good Ottawa Senators team 2-0, but it felt like it could have been 6-0 Penguins. The Pens came out and played desperately and it showed on the ice. They were finishing their checks and pouncing on every loose puck. They looked the best they have looked this season by far.
However, Ottawa did play last night, so they were probably slightly fatigued. But then again, Phoenix also played the night before they played the Penguins, but the Coyotes looked like the far better team. Take that in for what it’s worth…
Unfortunately, the Penguins announced this morning that forward Beau Bennett is out with an injury. Multiple sources reported Bennett not seeming like he was in pain after the game against Montreal, so it may be an unrelated hockey injury. Either way, Bennett was injured, so Mayhem himself Booby Farnham got a chance to play.
In addition to Bennett getting injured, the Penguins recalled forward Bryan Rust and sent down Tim Erixon to the Penguins’ AHL affiliate team, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
The most surprising news of the day for me were the players and line combinations that Johnston went with today. First of all, he made the decision to scratch Rob Scuderi and play Adam Clendening, who looked fantastic during camp. Scuderi has looked like nothing more than a traffic cone in the first 3 games.
Sorry Scuds, you were important to the team in 2009, and I thank you for your contributions, but you’re just not an NHL caliber player right now.
The Penguins kept Letang with Cole, paired Maatta with Clendening, which left Dumoulin and Lovejoy as the bottom pair. I think these are the Penguins best 6 defensemen right now. That being said, I’m sure Scuderi will get his share of games, but after tonight, it should be less.
Also, one of the Penguins top prospects projected to make the team Derrick Pouliot is still in the minors, and I would imagine he gets a chance at some point to step in and make an impression on the coaches.
Besides the scratch of Scuderi, Johnston also made the decision to scratch newcomer Sergei Plotnikov, which I found very interesting. I would imagine Johnston was more of just giving him a day off since he is currently dealing with adjusting to the life of the NHL and life in the US. He will be back as soon as next game, but I was surprised by the scratch.
The Penguins top 2 lines looked the same as it did the last game, Daniel Sprong and Kevin Porter got a chance to hop up onto the 3rd line with Bonino, and Cullen centered Farham and newly called-up forward Bryan Rust.
Since I had to talk a lot in the early parts, I’ll simply recap the goals (which were only Penguins goals) and give a few quick impressions. Here we go:
Just 23 seconds into the period, Evgeni Malkin put the Penguins on the board, and gave them their first lead of the season. The play actually began in Ottawa’s offensive zone. Some Penguins and Senators players were battling for the puck. Just as none other than Patric Hornqvist came out of the scrum with it, Evgeni Malkin bolted up the ice. Honqvist fed the puck to Malkin who went down the ice on a 2 on 1, and made no mistake as he ripped a shot past the blocker side of goalie Craig Anderson. Pens 1 Sens 0.
Later in the period, Kevin Porter came up the ice with the puck. At about center ice, he gave the puck to Matt Cullen who was flying down the middle of the ice. Cullen carried the puck into the zone, and dropped a pass into the slot for who? Daniel Sprong. Sprong took advantage of the great pass by Cullen and went thin mints (where mamma keeps the cookies: top shelf!). Congratulations to Sprong on his first NHL goal. Pens 2 Sens 0.
Final: Pens 2 Sens 0
The Senators had some decent chances throughout the game but Fleury came through large. In addition, the Penguins really did play the better game here. They deserved to win, and came out with just that.
Please Rutherford. Keep this guy in the NHL. I’ve said so much about this kid, and it’s because I really believe he can do great things. I understand the Penguins have Dupuis and Fehr out, but now they have Bennett out, and I imagine the Penguins would scratch Farnham and Rust before they would scratch Sprong (and this is nothing against either of these guys, who also had excellent games).
Daniel Sprong deserves to be here, and the Penguins need him here. Plus, what if other injuries plague the Penguins this year (which we all know is going to happen). Why send down Sprong when he is clearly capable to play at an NHL level?
I have no clue what management thinks, but Sprong is making it a tough decision for management. I hope he stays, and it’s because he SHOULD stay.
No Scuderi? No Problem
Although I do not know exactly what Rob Scuderi said, during the offseason, Scuderi said he would make the roster because he was the only defensive minded guy they have, and teams don’t play 6 offensive defensemen.
Well guess what, Scuds. The Penguins went with 6 offensive defensemen tonight, and they not only won, but they didn’t even let up a goal!
How about them apples?
Crosby Needs a Point
Crosby is STILL without a point. Malkin finally scored tonight (he is now at 1G 1A – 2P), which marks his first goal in about 20 games or so. Crosby on the other hand needs some help.
I don’t think he’s washed up or anything like that. He is still the best player in hockey.
I honestly think they guy is trying too hard. Ease up on your stick a bit Sid, you’ll be just fine.
I’m noticing that Crosby is forcing passes into traffic…A LOT. I think this comes mainly because of Kessel, but also because Crosby thinks of himself as a playmaker, so that’s what he needs to do. However, Crosby has a Rocket Richard (which is the trophy for most goals scored in a season). Crosby has proven he can score, he just has to execute.
I still think they should swap Hornqvist and Kessel, but I’ll try to stop beating a dead horse.
Here’s to hoping Johnston does something about it…
Well, let’s hope the Penguins stay in the win column after Saturday night’s showdown with Kessel’s former team the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs are just straight up bad this year, and this should be a win for the Penguins, but you never know…
Thanks to all who keep up with me! As usual, I will be posting a blog late Saturday night talking about the Penguins and Maple Leafs. And keep those heads held high tomorrow, Pens fans: your team finally won!