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The Confluence

I Know, I Know:  It’s Early

Couldn't ask for a better start to this abbreviated season for the Penguins.

Not only did they defeat two divisional rivals, both of whom are considered Stanley Cup contenders, both of those teams went 0-2, giving the Pens a 4-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

So yeah, it's way too early.  I get that.

But you might want to remember these four points come playoff seeding time.

After a solid 3-1 matinee win over the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday, the Penguins took the Amtrak to New York and dominated the Rangers Sunday night, 6-3.

Easily the most pleasant surprises over the weekend was the play of fan scapegoats (yours truly included) Paul Martin and Tyler Kennedy.  Martin finally started showing signs of why Penguins' GM Ray Shero signed him to a $25 million contract two years ago with two very solid defensive performances.  Kennedy capitalized on scoring chances both games (although his goal in the Flyers game was almost assuredly should not have been awarded to him, deflecting off the Flyers' defender's stick).  UPDATE:  The NHL has now changed the scoring on this goal to Paul Martin.

But the kudos certainly don't end there:

  • James Neal is quickly showing everyone that last year's 40 goals was no fluke, tallying 3 goals total in both games.
  • Evgeni Malkin continued his dominating play from the KHL.  It's cliche, but it applies in this case:  Malkin is already in mid-season form.
  • The goaltending duo of Marc-Andre Fleury and new Penguin Tomas Vokoun both turned in very solid performances.  I thought the Penguins let their foot off the gas in the 3rd period in the Garden last night, but Vokoun more than held his own against a Rangers team that was crashing the net at every opportunity.
  • Again, it's early, but Brandon Sutter is quickly showing Penguins fans that while they may not be saying "Jordan Who?" (as I joked on Twitter), this kid is a two-way stud.
  • Tanner Glass was brought in by GMRS for some extra grit on the 4th line.  He certainly did that at the opening faceoff, going toe-to-toe against former Penguin Arron Asham and performing quite well.
  • Special teams were outstanding, with the powerplay going 4-for-8 and the penalty kill going 8-for-9.

As for Sidney Crosby, while he did nothing that would prompt anyone to state he performed poorly, I think he'd tell you that he'll need a couple more games to get his game legs.

So now it's onto Wednesday for the Penguins' home opener versus Toronto before the Pens go back on the road for games against Winnipeg and Ottawa.  Honestly, even with it being the home opener with all of the pregame festivities, I'm a little concerned about a letdown against the Leafs, who won their opening game in Montreal.

It's early, but so far, so good.

Penguins/Flyers highights:

Penguins/Rangers highlights:

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It’s been good so far Tony.  You can definitely tell the Pens have been more prepared than the Flyers and Rangers early in games.  The only big negative in my mind has been Tangradi.  I just haven’t liked what he has brought to the 2nd line so far.  I am willing to see how it goes for a couple more games, but you gotta make the change eventually.  Martin has been good so far.  Hopefully it continues.  Depres has been hot and cold, but hasn’t looked out of place.  It’s early, but better than the alternative.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 01/21/13 at 08:06 PM ET

Tony's avatar

I would agree on Tangradi.  I see him as a liability on that line, and unless he turns it around quick, it’s just a matter of time before he’s either thrown to the 4th line (where he really doesn’t have a spot either), to the press box, or traded….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/21/13 at 09:34 PM ET

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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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