Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pens season hits cruising altitude; a long flight ahead. Some links and thoughts

If the NHL season were a long international flight, we'd have just hit cruising altitude and you're sitting there staring at the screen in front of you debating whether to start watching 17 Again or wait until after beverage service so that the stewardess flight attendant doesn't interrupt the scene where Chandler Bing turns into Zac Efron.  The Pens have played 2 games in the last 10 days and they lost both.  They play something like 15 games in the next 8 days.  It's a long season.

A few links we've been looking at...

- Mark Madden echoes a lot of what we've been saying about the Pens' bottom two lines, though the term "grit" is not our favorite.  You can be gritty and still suck.  

When we say that the Pens need to be harder to play against, we don't mean that the Pens need to hit more.  We mean that the Pens bottom 6 forwards needs to have the puck more in the offensive zone and regularly contribute on the scoreboard.  Being gritty only matters if it helps you get the puck more.  If you're just hitting people for the sake of hitting them, it still means they have the puck.

- The Pensblog goes buck wild on the game logs and outlines the various goalless streaks that Crosby and Malkin have suffered over the course of their careers, as Malkin hasn't scored in 10 games and Crosby hasn't scored in 7.  Them not scoring in the regular season is not really cause for concern because they've proven themselves.  And Crosby still leads the league in scoring, something he usually doesn't do until he makes his December push.  He's way ahead of schedule.  The only reason it's a concern this year is, again, because the bottom 6 is not as strong as it has been in years past.  

- Bummer to see Stamkos go down with what conceivably could be a season-ending injury.  He's a unique player in that he's one of the three best players in the league, but no one we know really has any visceral reaction to him, either positively or negatively.  Crosby, Ovechkin, LeBron, Manning, Brady ... almost everyone has a very strong opinion about those guys.  With Stamkos, everyone acknowledges that he's a great player and then quickly moves on to talk about something more interesting.  

- Don't let anyone tell you that his injury isn't a huge loss for Team Canada.  Of course they're stacked in the middle, but in a tournament against the best defensemen and goalies in the world (particularly when Canada plays the U.S.), you need guys like Stamkos that have such a good shot that even perfect defense and goaltending can't stop them.  He would be replaced with someone like Giroux, Nash, or Jeff Carter.  That's a big drop off.  

- Oh, forgot to mention ... sucks for Tampa, too.

"I'm available to carry the puck into the offensive zone and then fall over."

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