Kukla's Korner

The Confluence

Category: Opinion

Capitals Win Winter Classic over Penguins, 3-1

Well, it’s over.  (And I’m sure many say, Thank Goodness)

Kudos to the Capitals for the win.  To me, it became apparent as the game went on that the Caps did a much better job of adjusting to the ice and weather conditions than the Penguins.  Specifically, give the Caps’ coaching staff credit, they soon realized that conditions made it near impossible that anyone was going to dangle threw the entire defense, and they simply set up a pseudo-trap that the Penguins never really countered.

Looked like a great atmosphere at Heinz Field for fans of both teams.

Some other observations:

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“24/7” Episode 3:  Now That’s Hockey

Naturally the third installment of HBO’s “24/7” focused much of the hour on the pre-Winter Classic showdown between the Penguins and Capitals at the Phone Booth, won by the Pens 3-2 in a shootout.

Of course, that wasn’t all that was shown.  Plenty of other fascinating insight into both teams.

Some observations:

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Penguins Flat in 3-1 Loss to Senators

Tryptophan must’ve kicked the Penguins’ collective butts on Christmas Day.

Of course, I’m exaggerating.  Mostly.  Because the Pens came out in the first period at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Sunday night like they still had a gut filled with Christmas turkey.

Combine that with a goalie standing on his head, fortunate deflections and “other variables”, and that translates to a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Sens.

Notes:

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Round One Goes to the Penguins

Capitals fans spouted “We Want Pittsburgh” during their recent home win over the Devils.

Well, you got ‘em.  Anything else we can help you with?

Helluva hockey game at the Phone Booth last night.  Pascal Dupuis’ goal in the bottom of the 7th shootout frame gave the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Caps.  The win was the third straight for the Penguins, who have now gone 17-2-1 in their last 20 games.

Notes:

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“24/7” Episode 2:  Less Pizzazz, But Plenty of Action

Last night’s Episode #2 of HBO’s “24/7” series featuring the Penguins and Capitals definitely didn’t have the flair of the initial show, in fact I’ve read some Tweets this morning describing it as boring.

Yeah, it didn’t have the inspirational pre-game pep talk of Penguins’ Head Coach Dan Bylsma nor the F-bomb laden chew-out session of Caps’ coach Bruce Boudreau, but there were still plenty of fascinating shots in Episode #2 that we as fans simply rarely get to see.

Had HBO not included the 6-1 drubbing of Phoenix this past Monday, it would have made for a pretty ho-hum Penguins’ portion of the show, with the only games being the losses in Philly and at home to the Rangers, followed by four days off.  On the other side of the tracks, we witnessed the Capitals wildly celebrating after

winning the Stanley Cup

finally breaking their losing streak with a win in Ottawa.

Other observations:

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Penguins Punish Coyotes in More Ways Than One

As Penguins’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange exclaimed last night, “Holy Cheese and Crackers!”

For when you combine a tired Phoenix Coyotes team, completing a four-game East Coast road trip, with a very rested Penguins squad that despite the losses to Philly and the Rangers are still playing damn good hockey, well it has the potential to get ugly.

Boy, did it ever.  Evgeni Malkin had five points in the game’s first 27 minutes.  He and Sidney Crosby rotated for three goals to put the game away in the second period, while Marc-Andre Fleury only allowed a twice-deflected puck off his mask into the net to give the Penguins an easy 6-1 win over Phoenix.

Other stuff:

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One of These Years, Mother Nature Won’t Cooperate with Winter Classic

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In my opinion, this is something that most hockey fans have thought to themselves, but not a lot want to admit it.

The previous three episodes of the Winter Classic have pretty much gone off without a hitch, a tad bit too much snow in Buffalo not withstanding.  The weather conditions in Buffalo, Chicago and Boston couldn’t have been much better for outdoor hockey, creating fantastic atmospheres for the NHL.

But as we all know, Mother Nature can sometimes be a testy dame.

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Comrie Latest Victim of Bylsma’s System

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Mike Comrie, now in his 10th NHL season, has scored 167 goals and 364 points in his career.  That includes two seasons of over 30 goals, in 2001-2002 and 2005-2006.

So when the Penguins signed him back on September 3rd for a paltry $500K, there was a feeling in Penguinland that it could turn out to be quite the bargain, as well as much needed help in the scoring winger department.

Well, um, not so much.  Comrie has only dressed in 16 of the Penguins’ 31 games to date, and barring not only one but a couple of significant injuries, that trend doesn’t appear will be changing anytime soon.

 

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Penguins’ Penalty Kill Key Component to Their Success

There are several things one could point to when listing reasons for the Penguins’ recent winning streak:  Sidney Crosby’s continued brilliance, Marc-Andre Fleury’s goaltending rebound or the emergence of new defensive additions Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, to name a few.

But one aspect of the Penguins’ game that is a pleasant surprise, to put it quite mildly, is their league-leading penalty kill.  They’ve killed 90.5% of their penalties to date this season overall.  Even more impressive is their PK on the road, where they’ve only given up three PP goals in 55 chances, good for 94.6%.  The Pens have not allowed a power play goal since Steven Stamkos scored on Nov. 12th against Tampa Bay.  Since that time, they’ve killed 32 straight penalties.

Oh by the way, this is all without their #1 penalty killer, Jordan Staal, who is due back in a couple of weeks.

I’m firmly convinced that I will jinx them simply by talking about it.  But let’s take a closer look:

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Letang’s Emergence has Eased Loss of Gonchar for Penguins

At 12:15pm on July 1st, when Sergei Gonchar inked his 3-year deal with Ottawa for $5.5 million per season, what Pens fans had been speculating and/or dreading for months had suddenly become a reality.  Sarge is gone, what’s going to happen to the Penguins’ defense?  What’s going to happen to the power play?

It seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

That’s because Kris Letang (not to mention the free agent signings of Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek) has quickly emerged as an outstanding all-around defenseman as the Penguins move forward in the post-Gonchar era.

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About The Confluence

Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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