Today I have time to do a 'live' blog of the Panthers game at home against the Penguins.

A couple of pre-game notes:

  • I am a Penguins fan in case you didn't know so this may have a Penguins slant in observations, I am sorry for that, I will try and pay attention to the Panthers, they have some great talent coming through, it shouldn't be too difficult.
  • I do have issues with some players on the Penguins roster, so take that with a grain of salt, Craig Adams, Rob Scuderi, and Steve Downie may get a raw deal from my observations.
  • I also have an issue with the league allowing the less skilled players to take liberties on the star players, I have mentioned it a few times on our podcast, this is the only league that doesn't protect it's stars.
  • Yet more Penguins have been quarantined for the mumps, Downie, Sutter, and Greiss, this 'best medical staff in hockey' are really getting that reputation tested.

This is the first time I have done this so lets see how it goes, cheers!

 Pre Game

Watching the Root Sports coverage, a question asked to Bob Errey, 'why was the game so chippy?', a simple answer, Bobby Farnham. Why would this team with superstars want it's team to make a game chippy? If the league was calling penalties or the Penguins PP was firing, I have no issues with this. However neither of these things are happening right now. Play to your strengths.

Ekblad, Barkov, Bjugstad, and Huberdeau, are reasons on their own to watch the Panthers, and don't forget Bobby Lou, this Panthers team is a real chance to make the playoffs, make no mistake.

Due to Sutter missing, Goc has the opportunity to show he can fill the 3rd line role that may allow other roster assets to be moved out for the Penguins.

Period One

19.01 Nick Spalling shows why he doesn't belong on the team, in the opening shift, misses the net, and then cant help cover letang on the point and the puck leaves the zone. 

17.20 Both teams are keeping with the previous game, shooting from anywhere, with the way Fleury and Luongo are playing I don't think its going to matter where either team shoots from. Comeau hits Kopecky hard into the boards, clean but dangerous hit.

16.51 Penguins get locked into their own zone due to Scuderi's inability to make a break out pass to his forward. Scuderi does what he is good at, blocks a shot, no need if he hits that breakout pass. The Panthers do a great job of working hard to keep the puck in and pressure, just cant get a shot on net

15.21 Hornqvist scores on a tip, Despres showing why Penguins fans are so happy with his play over the past 10 games. Tips and deflections may be the only way to beat these two 'tenders tonight.

14.46 Good pressure by Jimmy Hayes to force a puck handing error by Spalling, to generate a great scoring chance in front that Fleury saves.

11.50 Anyone that criticizes Letang and his errors need to look at the shift here, this is why you put up with his errors.

10.24 You can see that the Panthers forwards are strong and 'older' than the Penguins young d-men, they can push in on Fleury and get good position in front.

10.07 Olson gets called for the first penalty of the game, interference. Klinkhammer doing a great job of generating speed in the neutral zone and forcing Olsen to slow him down.

9.22 The Penguins yet again having trouble with their zone entries, Florida doing a great job of pressuring at the blue line.

9.02 Luongo makes a great save on a Comeau shot through traffic. Lou is one of the big reasons this Panthers team is a chance for the playoffs.

8.15 Luongo with his best save of the game with a post to post move to keep the puck out off Letang's stick.

8.07 The end of the Penguins first PP finishes with Luongo having to make a good save, Despres and Puliot showing the Penguins are set on the PP for a couple of years.

7.37 Florida with a great rush up the ice and a good scoring chance in front again, Scuderi on the ice, sorry for pointing it out.

5.29 Prime example of Scuderi putting his d man in trouble, making the rookie look bad. 

2.05 This is why Letang is valuable, shows it on this shift, look back 2 minutes, see why Scuderi needs to sit. Zone entry was a dump in, loss of possession, and puck ends up back in the defensive zone.

1.27 Lou great save on Crosby, look how Letang gets out of the zone to create the chance. It is why you accept the errors he makes, he creates so much more for you than against you.

End of the Period

Shots on goal

Pit: 8

Fla: 9

Intermission

Taylor Chorney getting to play both forward and defense, Mike Johnson giving the debutant a chance to get up to speed in a comfortable position, he is a natural D man.

You can see the 'new' NHL coach in this game, both Johnson and Gallant play a great style of fast and aggressive hockey, it is great to watch. Gallant is also a big reason this Florida team looking good. 

I didn't really notice Aaron Ekblad that period, and as a rookie defense man, if that is his floor you are looking great. For me I am hoping to see more of his talent as the game moves along. But you have to be impressed.

Huberdeau looks good also.

Period Two

19.34 Malkin with a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, trying to get the puck back, if you are going to take a penalty in the offensive zone, it is usually a trip trying to get the puck back. This is probably Malkin's biggest issue, bad penalties.

19.05 Hayes with a great scoring chance, Fleury with a great save. Hayes just parted Scuderi and Despres, quality chance and better save.

17.37 Great puck retrieval ends up with a shot off the post for the Panthers, PP looks great when it gets set up.

16.47 Comeau gets called for interference, kinda gotta remember you need to at least look at the puck, or at least let the guy touch it first.

15.42 Great zone pressure by the Panthers ends up with a little scramble around the net. Fleury covers up.

14.37 Watch the whole sequence, why the Panthers can pressure in the Penguins zone and who couldn't clear the puck and then who does create the short pass to clear the zone.

13.29 Poor pass by Despres gives the Panthers a chance to put good forecheck pressure on, causes an icing.

12.33 Rust, Farnham, and Chorney do a great job of carrying through the neutral zone and holding possession deep in the zone. 4th line doing what you ask of it.

11.25 POST, Kunitz hits one off the iron, good pass from Crosby to create the chance.

10.33 the 3rd line works hard and gets a PP chance, Ekblad for a high stick.

9.46 great save by Luongo, however the zone pressure comes from Sid playing soccer with no stick about 20 seconds earlier. The PP is looking better as the top end players start getting back on the ice together.

8.27 the Panthers kill the PP, as good as the Penguins PP looks the Panthers PK has been up to the challenge.

7.34 Great pressure by the Panthers, forcing the puck to the net and Fleury has to cover up. Not much the Penguins 4th line can do there. Panthers just had better talent on the ice, it happens. 

6.12 Great battle below the goal line between Mitchell and Crosby, great hockey.

5.39 Rust is showing he may belong on the Penguins 4th line as the roster fills out with health. Great carry out of the defensive zone, carries through the neutral zone and helps get a shot on net.

3.13 Farmham in trouble, Bergenhiem with a great hit.

2.40 Despres slash, broken stick, basic automatic 2 mins, another PP for the Panthers.

1.22 great play by Scuderi on the PK, took the ice away and allowed his teammate to come in and clear the puck. The PP was forcing the Penguins PK to scramble, Scuderi stopped it.

.36 Panthers SCORE, with Fleury stick-less, Jokinen goes top shelf over Fleury's glove hand and we are tied. Great work by the Panthers to move the puck through the zone as the PP had ended with short quick passes.

End of the Period

Shots on goal

Pit: 6 total: 14

Fla: 13 total: 22

Intermission

Penguins looked like a team that was holding on. The end of the period just seemed like the result of the Panthers wearing down the Penguins. The score being tied 1-1 seems about right. A couple of posts and good/great positional play by both goalies really has set up an interesting 3rd period coming up. 

The Panthers chance on their goal really came from a puck handling error from Fleury, this is the one part of his game that has not improved over the course of his career. It really sticks out this year as every other part of his game has improved so much.

Period Three

19.38 Bad goal by Fleury, first in a few, Panthers in front, lets see how this Penguins team reacts to trailing, and if the Panthers change how they play in front. Hayes scores it from Bergenheim.

16.21 Well a lot happened, Fleury, puts his bad goal behind him and makes a great save. At the other end Crosby fans on a shot with Luongo having to go post to post. Then Fleury makes a good save to freeze the puck for a face off.

15.03 Shot volume by the Panthers and the Panthers score again. Hayes gets his second with hard work around the net, Puliot just couldn't tie Hayes up, a good learning moment. 

12.55 Ekblad out muscles Malkin, great work by the 18 year old.

12.26 Pirri will send the Penguins on the PP again, Slashing on Comeau, if there was a time for the Penguins PP to get going, now would be good.

11.52 Panthers doing a great job of clearing the zone and forcing the Penguins to work in their dzone on the PP.

9.52 To go and the Penguins need 2 to tie it. The Panthers are playing a great game with the lead now. They have not sat back to protect it, they are still pushing and forcing the Penguins to defend their zone not just retrieve the puck.

7.50 Penguins re starting to look like what they are, a couple of superstars playing with a bunch of AHL players. This is not a criticism, just reality. The Panthers are sticking with their 'process' and starting to get rewarded.

6.47 Malkin has his stick slashed out of his hand by MacKenzie, Penguins back on the PP. A PP that looks like it is starting to press as they are 2 for 30ish.

5.17 The Panthers do a great job 1.30 into the PK, pressuring the Penguins and only allowing 1 scoring chance.

4.52 Spalling deflects Puliot's point shot. Luongo had no chance, the game is back on. PP goal. Despres does a great job of getting the puck across to Puliot to set it all up.

4.16 Jimmy Hayes almost scores his hatty, shoots at Fleury, puck deflects off Scuderi, and Fleury makes a good save on a change of direction. 

3.10 Malkin shows why he is a superstar. After Malkin and Campbell fight for the puck and end up on the ice. He gets up and drives to the net from behind the redline and stuffs the puck in past Luongo. Great stuff.

2.50 Huberdeau was stopped by Fleury, as good as Malkin has been tonight, Fleury has been their best player.

1.15 After a broken stick on Harrington, Huberdeau just shoots wide, game still tied.

.24 That is why you cannot have Scuderi out on the ice if you want to push to create offense coming out of the zone.

End of Period

Shots on goal

Pit: 8 Total: 23

Fla: 12 Total: 34

Well Pittsburgh get a point in a game they probably shouldnt, Panthers still have a chance to get that all important 2nd point to keep them in the hunt for that playoff spot.

Overtime

If the Penguins can get this to the Shootout, I would back the Penguins, no matter how well the Panthers held out in their record breaking win last week. 

3.45 Great start to the OT. However the Officials need to call a penalty when they see one. Both goalies making great saves to keep their teams in the game. 

2.58 Pouliot out on the ice with 3 mins left, lots of trust in a young d man. Penguins call a time out.

.30 Letang looked great for 90 seconds, tried to do it all, almost did.

End of OT.

Great OT session, exactly what you want to see in hockey, fast skilled and physical. Letang was dynamic out there on the ice.

Shootout

Malkin: no goal, pad save Luongo

Pirri: no goal, Five hole

Crosby: No goal, five hole

Trocheck: losed the puck off his stick

Letang: no goal, Luongo glove save

Bjugstad: no goal, missed

Kunitz: Luongo with an incredible glove save, best save of the shootout

Huberdeau: Fleury uses that pokecheck to stop a shot

Hornqvist: Luongo stops a backhand shot

Jokinen: miss, puck on edge didn't help

Pouliot: save by Luongo

Bolland: Save by Fleury, he did look behind himself though

Despres: Luongo pokechecks, no shot

Barkov: Wins it, great backhand goal

Post Game Observations

Looks like I will be having to have a look at the Bergenheim hit on Farnham, a few people have let me know it was suspendable, so I will have a look after the game. 

Sid has mishandled the puck a lot in this game, wrist issues again?

This Florida team is close to being a playoff team, there may need to be a couple of additions to the roster if the ownership is willing to spend (who knows?).

Both goalies looked good, we were lucky enough to watch high end talent and players moving into that category.

The Penguins are showing how deep the roster is by keeping pace with a team currently in a playoff spot. It does help that their superstars and their 2nd PP unit came through for them in the 3rd period.

 

Thanks for reading!

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