Friday, October 20, 2006

Pens' start is encouraging, but let's not fool ourselves

I mentally had to tell myself tonight that I can't start doing daily blog entries on how great Malkin and Crosby look.

Not that it would be libelous, mind you.

First of all, the subject matter would quickly become boring.

Secondly, I'm just not that damn articulate enough to keep thinking up more adjectives to describe these guys !!

And most importantly, it's because the Pens would be fooling themselves, as would Pens' fans, if they thought for one minute that the wizardry of Sid and Geno all of a sudden is curing all of the Pens' problems on the ice.

The Pens offense, obviously, immediately went up a couple of notches when Malkin took the ice. Even someone who doesn't watch the Pens on a regular basis could easily see that. Not only have the shots on goals increased dramatically the last two games, but as a result many more scoring opportunities, and that has to be attributed to the addition of Malkin as the 2nd line center, to compliment Sid on the 1st line.

But the so-called "scoring" wingers are quickly starting to be a cause for concern. Here are the scoring stats for those in question;

Malone - 0 points
Leclair - 0 points
Armstrong - 0 goals, 3 assists
Recchi - 0 goals, 3 assists

I have to say in defense of Recchi, that little guy gives 110% every night, and he's getting some decent shots on net. I'd say it's just of matter of time with him.

Malone, even with reports that he lost some weight and gained some speed in the offseason, is not even remotely pulling his weight, no matter what line you put him on. There is no way, in this guy's opinion, that he should be anywhere near the 1st line. Some Pens' bloggers out there are even claiming that Malone could be part of a trade for former Pen Glen Murray with the Bruins.

Armstrong, to me anyway, just doesn't seem to be finishing his plays as well as he did with Sid last year. Some Pens' pundits on the blogosphere are questioning early this year why Sid hasn't lit the lamp too many times in the Pens' first 5 games. Well, I believe that one reason is that Armstrong for some reason is not on top of his game just yet.

And Leclair, well, I'll give him the respect he deserves as a long-time NHL star. I will say that he also has done an admirable job of forechecking and mucking along the boards, something that some of his teammates should take note of. But Leclair no longer has the legs to keep up with these youngsters in today's NHL.

But overall, yes most definitely, the offense is a much more formidable unit after the addition of young Mr. Malkin.

But just like you can't blame Big Ben when the pass defense gives 15 yards of cushion all night long, the combination of Crosby/Malkin does relatively nothing to diminish the Pens' achilles heel the past several years, and that's their defense.

I don't know how many tap-ins the Pens need to see with the D-men just standing there.

Special teams (both of them) will most likely be the make-or-break aspect of this Penguins team.

The power play, quickly becoming one of the best in the league, so far through 6 games is ranked 6th in the league with a nearly 23% success rate.

The penalty killing has been much better thus far. The PK overall is 18th in the league at 84%, and at home so far is 4th in the league at 95.4%.

So the signs are there, Pens fans, but let's all recognize that there are several aspects of this team that need to improve before we can realstically start making more lofty goals.

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