by Tony on 11/09/08 at 02:25 PM ET
And let the hype machine begin.
Tuesday night at the Joe, the Penguins will return to Detroit for the first time since June’s Stanley Cup Finals, which of course the Red Wings won in six games.
A lot will be made of the matchup by the MSHM, it’s the en vogue story, especially with The Marian Hossa Story thrown in there for good measure.
But the Penguins should do themselves a favor; Forget about comparisons to the Wings, you’ve got more important things to worry about.
Now, naturally, there will be some glass half-full Penguins fans’ opining that things are not as gloomy as I’m portraying them to be; “They’re 8-4-2, whatcha want, an undefeated season !!!” That’s OK, I’m used to it.
Yes, if you’re looking at it in strictly a won-loss perspective, then things could be a lot worse, I concur with that. They’re also keeping their head above water without their best two defensemen (offensively, anyway) in Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney, I concur with that as well.
But you can’t attribute everything to being without Gonchar and Whitney. If you follow this team on a daily basis, and you’re looking at it in an objective point of view, you’d be hard pressed not to give this opinion: This team is not playing very well, and any comparisons to the Wings, at this point anyway, are simply foolish.
Marian Hossa’s decision not to sign with the Penguins and sign with the Wings has made them an even stronger team. And because their player turnover was very little, everyone is already familiar with their system. So let’s just forget about them, m’kay ??
Back to the Penguins. Their lack of intensity has resulted in lackluster performances (last night included, for the first two periods anyway) and several blown leads. Their quote-unquote vaunted powerplay, earlier in the season in the top handful in the NHL, after another goose egg last night on Long Island is down to 13th. I’m gonna keeping bitching about the powerplay coaching and assignments until I’m blue in the face, I’m not the only one to see it.
Thank goodness for their much improved penalty kill, which is now rated #5 in the NHL. If their PK units were even down to the middle of the pack in the NHL, they’d probably down to a .500 record.
In addition, chemistry amongst the Pens’ scoring lines has been spotty at best. We’re only 14 games into the season, and conventional wisdom suggests that with their high turnover, you have to give them time to learn their tendencies. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but with HCMT, that’s not easy to do, since he changes his lines about as much as he changes his boxers.
All that said, there will be two significant items that will change the complexion of this team. First is the return of Gonchar and Whitney. There are defensemen like Mark Eaton and Darryl Sydor who may be on their way out by that time. The second item will be the NHL trade deadline of March 4th. One thing that is clearly apparent is that GM Ray Shero is not bashful at all to pull the trigger on a major deal in order to make the team better, last year’s Hossa deal of course being the biggest example.
So, Tuesday night’s game should be some exciting hockey. Both teams naturally have fond memories of that series not so long ago, it should be quite intense. The Penguins feel that by the time they were eliminated in Game Six, they were playing at the Wings’ level. I’m sure that the emotions will be running high.
But that’s where the comparisons should end, for now at least. We’ll see how they match up when they get back together in Pittsburgh in February.
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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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