Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pens Lose 1-0

Sitting here listening to Rammstein's "Das Alte Leid" (from '95's "Herzeleid" album, a much better album than the more popular "Sehnsucht") seems appropriate for tonight's game. The song's title translates to "The Old Sorrow", which accurately describes the Penguins these days. Tonight's loss wasn't caused by apathy, as was the case against Ottawa and New Jersey, or a combination of apathy and a vastly superior opponent, like in New York against the Rangers. Tonight can be chalked up to a simple breakdown in the offensive zone, created on a turnover by Evgeni Malkin. Flower got hung out to dry, and was torched by Jason Chimera,  for Chimera's 14th goal of the season, just three less than attention fiend and captain of the Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin. Speaking of the Russian former superstar, Ovechkin registered four shots, and a handful of hits, at least one of which exhibited him leaving his feet. It would be interesting to watch Detroit's Nick Kronwall and Ovechkin collide, to see which one catapults himself higher into the air in order to make a reckless highlight reel hit. 
For the most part, the Penguins played an energetic and enthusiastic game, outshooting the Capitals 30-21, though the Capitals will be showing some black and blue marks after this one, from blocking at least a dozen from the point. There weren't many penalties in this game, despite the quick pace. The Penguins didn't get a single powerplay, despite some questionable non-calls by referees Marc Joannette and Brian Pochmara. The Capitals went 0-2 on the powerplay after a slash from Pascal Dupuis and a very iffy goaltender interference call on Tyler Kennedy. Good work by the Penguins' 4th ranked PK, which is ticking at 87%. Washington's PP is at 19%, good enough for 8th in the NHL. The Penguins held the Capitals without a shot on the second Caps powerplay, which is no small feat. Overall, despite my complaints, the referees did what I feel they should do, and allowed the teams on the ice take center stage, rather than themselves. 

Marc Andre Fleury played his usual excellent game, making 20 saves (recall the goal he let in was on a breakaway), despite a few scares here or there. Tomas Vokoun lived up to his hype in this game, making 30 saves, some of which seemed destined for the back of the net. 

In the end, this is the effort the Penguins need to be putting in. The usual complaint about inconsistent effort did not apply tonight, and without the turnover from Malkin, who impressed me early on with his play in the defensive zone, this is a different game. Play like this will be rewarded in the future. 

A few notes:
-Paul Martin finished -1, being on the ice for the only goal of the game. Can't blame him for it. The fault there lies solely with Malkin. However, Martin looked invisible through most of the game and dreadful when he could be located.

-Tyler Kennedy fooled everyone except me last season, when he set a new career high in goals (21) and points (45). Perhaps this is due to his ice time in the absence of Crosby, yet Crosby is injured again, and Kennedy's numbers are back to their usual underwhelming levels. I am not a Tyler Kennedy fan.

-One would have to think a move is coming soon, especially if the Penguins put in this type of effort again, but are unable to score. James Neal's skating around on one foot, Staal and Crosby are out, Letang is also out, and Evgeni Malkin is only one man. GM Ray Shero wouldn't be terribly wrong to trade for some grit with a bit of scoring touch. Eric Tangradi, who the Penguins got in the Kunitz/Whitney trade in '09 wouldn't be bad trade bait. Tangradi is heralded as a top prospect within the Penguins organization, and seems to be hyped throughout the league, but appears to not fit in with the Penguins style (because he is slow and provides little presence in front of the net, unlike the player he is advertised as being. His work ethic consists of getting off Twitter in the offseason to focus on hockey. He is a joke). He could fetch a 2nd line center in the short term, or winger in the long term, assuming the return of Crosby. 

-It won't happen, but I can't imagine how many points Teemu Selanne (Anaheim) or Jarome Iginla (Calgary) would put up on a line with Malkin and Neal. Both are natural right wingers, and would be a perfect compliment to the Penguins' high speed, high offense style. Iginla is a born leader, and drops the gloves when necessary, bringing a physical presence to a team that could accurately be described as "soft". Selanne, at 41, leads the Anaheim Ducks in points, no small feat considering he plays on a team with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan.