-First things first, don't expect the NHL to announce a decision regarding Bruins forward Shawn Thornton today:
-We don't know what to expect in terms of how heavy Thornton's suspension will be. There are so many factors to consider. One thing to consider is the current lawsuit by ex-NHL players against the league. Will the league come down heavy on Thornton in an effort to display how serious it is regarding head injuries in the court of law?
-If you missed it, check out our chat with Devils forward Cam Janssen regarding Thornton and Orpik. He's extremely frank regarding both players.
-We hesitate to editorialize about interviews we've conducted. We don't feel it's fair to the subject when the questions were asked in an objective manner. We've never made it a secret about how this blog feels about fighting and head injuries. Clearly, we have a very different opinion from Janssen. That said, we are certainly willing to listen to opposite points of view. To put it mildly, Janssen provided that.
-Another thing we'll say for Janssen, we've never talked to anyone with more conviction or passion on this subject. When retired fighters P.J. Stock or Kelly Chase say these things similiar to this on television, part of their motivation is to attract viewers to their broadcast. Today, Janssen offered his comments in a one-on-one setting with no audience beyond the interviewer. Janssen's feelings on this were very genuine.
-The Penguins unveiled their their jerseys for their outdoor game this afternoon. If you didn't see them, here a very enthusiastic Chris Kunitz modeling one:
-These jersey could be better but they definitely could be worse. Just ask Ducks fans. It's pretty underwhelming though. This is a bland, generic look for what has become a bland generic event.
-The jersey isn't all that original either. It's basically a jazzed up version of the Bruins' current road jersey:
-Oh, by the way, there's a game tonight too. We would expect a more intense effort from the Penguins tonight. They were pretty flat against the Blue Jackets Monday which is understandable given the events of their game Saturday against the Bruins. We would fully expect a game against a traditional rival in the Devils and a few days rest will bring out a more spirit effort by the Penguins.
-Somewhere along the line, the Penguins' special teams got really good. Their power play is the best in the NHL at 26.1 percent They have the second best penalty kill rate at 86.8 percent. Despite some massive issues with injuries and inconsistent play from individual players in five on five play, the Penguins' special teams have been a huge part in terms of this team's success this season.
-We're not sure what to expect out of the Devils who enter this game having lost four out of their past five games. This has been a very up and down team which, like the Penguins, has dealt with significant injuries. This is a tough team to figure out.
-What isn't a mystery is Jaromir Jagr. He still produces. He's a marvel to watch.
-Quite a bit has been made about this potentially being Jagr's final game in Pittsburgh. This is approximately his 592nd "final" game in Pittsburgh. We're willing to bet he'll have a few more "final" games here.
-Keep an eye on Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas. He has been pressed into service this season due to the Devils' injuries on the blue line and he has been fantastic. He's a classic Paul Martin/Andy Greene-type of Devils defenseman. He just fits this team's scheme very well and seems to do the right thing nearly every time. He has 12 points in 23 games which is Paul Coffey-esque for a Devils defenseman. With apologies to Olli Maatta, he might be the best rookie defenseman in the NHL right now.
-Speaking of young defensemen, the Penguins are using quite a few inexperienced players on the blue line. Take a look at the career games played by the Penguins injured and healthy defensemen:
Player (Career Games)
Player (Career Games)
|Matt Niskanen (442)
||Brooks Orpik (662)
|Kris Letang (408)
||Paul Martin (607)
|Deryk Engelland (212)
||Rob Scuderi (596)
|Simon Despres (58)
|Robert Bortuzzo (37)
|Olli Maatta (32)
|Brian Dumoulin (0)
-We talked to assistant coach Todd Reirden yesterday about what he has to differently as the overseer of the blue line. We'll post that chat next week.
-It's a good night for double digits. Sergei Gonchar:
-There are a few Devils fans on hand. Ken Danyeko:
-A complicated relationship:
-Martin Brodeur Team Canada:
-Jiri Slegr Team Czech Republic:
-Jagr still has plenty of fans on hand:
-Another former Penguins/Devils forward, Mike Rupp:
-Jerseys of the Night: Not one but two Martin Strakas, the true hero of the Penguins' 1999 Eastern Conference quarterfinal upset of the Devils:
-The Penguins' starters are The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang Olli Maatta and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Brian Dumoulin and James Neal.
-The Devils' starters are Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus, Mark Fayne, Andy Greene and Cory Schneider.
-Their scratches are Andrei Loktionov and Mattias Tedenby.
-No Jimerson. No photo.
19:19: It ain't pretty, but Pascal Dupuis will take it. Racing through the neutral zone, Kunitz chips a puck in on net from the blue line. Schneider tries to stop it but bobbles the puck. Kunitz races in and jabs at the puck but misses. Dupuis follows up and taps it in with a backhander into the cage. Kunitz and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" gets an early shift. Penguins 1-0.
18:47: The Penguins nearly make it a 2-0 game. Malkin races up from his zone to the offesnive zone. He undresses Gelinas in the right circle and attacks the net on his forehand. Schneider holds out his shot. What an effort by Malkin.
17:15: Gelinas whacks a one-timer from the right point. Chuck Kobasew blocks it.
15:46: A wriste by Malkin in the right circle is blocked by Damien Brunner.
15:25: Taking a pass at the left point. Despres moves into the left circle and rips a wrister which Schneider fights off despite a screen by Jayson Megna.
14:38: The great Joe Vitale tries to pus the uck up the left wing but is upended on a nice hip check by Marek Zidlicky.
13:39: Tim Sestito and Matt Niskanen race for a puck dumped into the Penguins' left wing corner. Niskanen drops him with a check into the boards.
13:30: Malkin dances in over the Devils blue line by Jagr and whips a heavy wrister from the left wing wide to the far side.
12:05: The third line strikes. Sutter pushes the puck past the blue line and into the Devils zone up the right wing. As he's slammed into the boards by Gelinas, Sutter deals a pass to Conner all alone in the slot. Conner moves in and rips a wrister under the blocker of Schneider. What a play by Sutter. Sutter and the great Joe Vitale get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-0.
11:04: Falling in the slot, Josefson flings a backhander on net. Fleury kicks it out.
10:15: Jussi Jokinen snaps off a pass from the left wing to the slot. Megna taps it. The puck hits a Devils player and deflects out of play.
9:56: A loose puck slide to Letang above the left circle. Letang grips and rips it wide to the far side.
6:19: Dupuis ties pull up with a puck on the right wing but trips and falls backwards. Greene helped him take a tumble.
5:30: Off a loose puck above the right circle, Jokinen cranks a one-timer which Schneider fights off.
5:20: The second line gets a goal. Off some strong puck movement on the perimeter, Despres booms a slapper from the right point. Schneider kicks it out but Megna is there to clean up the garbage. He banks it off the near post and into the net. Schneider appears to protest that Megna interferes with him but officials aren't having it. What a determined effort by Megna. Despres and Bortuzzo get assists. The "Hey Song" is always determined. Penguins 3-0.
3:34: Anton Volchenkov whips a wrister from the left point on net. Fleury fights it off despite traffic.
3:27: Steve Bernier hustles up the slot and flings a bachkander on net. Fleury boots it out.
2:38: Despres whips a wrister from above the left circle which Schneider fights off.
1:59: A wrister by Ryder from the right circle trickles wide on the near side.
1:18: Volchenkov lifts a wrister from the left point. Zajac is in the slot and re-directs it wide to the far side.
0:03: With a scramble in the Devils' blue line, Letang collects a puck int he slot and whips a wrister which hits a body front.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Devils 0.
-That was one-side right from the get-go. Schneider mishandled that chip-in by Kunitz and his team was doomed from there on out.
-How bad has the Devils' defense been? We're not just talking about the blue line. From a team-wide perspective the Devils defense has been horrendous. The Penguins are operating with ample amounts of time and space any time they have the puck.
-Schneider hasn't much better either. He's fighting the puck something awful.
-Evgeni Malkin is skating with some extra jam tonight. He's dancing around white jerseys tonight.
-The Penguins have a 12-7 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 20-16 lead in attempted shots.
-Craig Adams and Dupuis each lead the game with two shots.
-Greene leads the game with 8:27 of ice time.
-Engelland leads the game with 7:31 of ice time.
-Faceoffs are tied, 8-8 (50 percent).
-Zajac is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-Engelland and Brunner each lead the game with two blocked shots.
-Adams graces the cover of ice time:
19:39: A one-timer by Jagr from the left circle is wide on the near side.
19:28: The Devils will get the first power play as Maatta high sticked Zajac behind the Penguins' net. That's two minutes. Sutter, Letang, Despres and Adams take the ice.
19:19: Zajac has a chance in tight but can't beat Fleury down low.
17:46: Gelinas pops a heavy slapper from the right circle. Fleury bodies it away.
17:27: As Maatta's minor expires, Gelinas puts a heavy wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
16:52: Jon Merrill cranks a slapper from the right point which hits a stick and deflects away.
16:36: The Devils establish puck possession and cash in. Collecting a wraparound on the left wing boards, Volchecnk of snaps off a wrister from a bad angle towards the blue paint. Patrik Elias has position above the crease and redirects the puck by Fleury's glove hand on the far side. What a play by Elias. Volchenkov and Bernier get assists. Penguins 3-1.
15:40: The Devils make it one-goal game. Collecting a loose puck in the left wing corner, Zajac deals a pass to Jagr in the left circle Jagr whips a wrister which hits off a leg or two and deflects behind Fleury. The puck slowly slides over the goal line. This game had completely changed course. Zubrus gets credit for the goal. Jagr and Zajac get assists. The Penguins call a time out to get organized. Penguins 3-2.
14:34: Forechecking on the left wing, Zach Sill smokes Volchenkov with a hit into the left corner boards.
13:10: Racing up the left wing, Brunner gets a step on Despres and fling s backhander on net. Fleury fights it off.
11:58: As Sutter tries to split Merrill and Zubrus down the slot, Kunitz is sent off for cross checking Volchenkov. Adams, Vitale, Letang and Maatta take the ice.
10:47: Taking a pass low to the right of the cage, Elias spins and treis to tuck in a forehand shot which Fleury smothers. Despres shoves Eliats to the ice.
10:10: Jagr flings a wrister from a bad angle on the left wing. Fleury eats it up.
10:09: Off a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Gelinas rockets a one-timer from the high slot. Fleury eats it up.
9:47: As the Kunitz minor expires, Dupuis gets a chance on the right wing and lifts a wrister from the right circle which Schneider fights off.
8:47: Stealing a puck off Zajc in the Penguins' zone, Despres snaps off a pass up ice for Megna who races into the offensive zone. Megna tries to outrace Green but Green knocks him off the puck and skates it out of danger. What a play by Greene.
6:51: A wrister by Volchenkov from the left point is blocked out of play by Dupuis.
6:47: Off an offensive zone faceoff wing, Volchekov chops a heavy slapper from the left half wall wide to the far side.
6:41: Crosby releases a heavy wrister from above the right circle. Schneider punches it away with his blocker.
3:55: Tim Sestito controls a puck down low in the Penguins' right wing corner. Letang goes high with an attempted hit but Sestito ducks and Letang catches nothing but boards. Letang looked a bit shaken up afterwards but seems fine.
3:01: from the left circle, Megna pulls up and feeds a pass attempt to the slot. Jokinen is there and tries to re-direct it but the timing is off and he misses the puck.
2:18: Attendance is announced as 18,582. It is the team's 303rd consecutive sellout.
1:50: Jagr flings a wrister from the right half wall towards the cage. It hits a body in front.
1:20: A one-timer by Volchenkov from the left point is blocked in front.
0:56: A one-timer by Brunner in the right circle is blocked.
0:22: From center point, Brunner lofts a wrister which Fleury fights off.
0:02: Henrique airmails a slapper from the neutral zone which Fleury fights off.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Devils 2.
-What a reversal. That period, at least the first handful of minutes of it, was completely different than the first period. The Devils controlled the puck deep in the Penguins zone, paid a price and got some dirty goals to make this a one-goal game.
-How big was the timeout by Dan Bylsma? That seemed to stunt the Devils' momentum for a bit.
-The Penguins barely had the puck whatsoever in that period. They had a few shots but little in the way of offensive zone pressure.
-Having to kill two power plays for the Devils and not getting one man advantage of their own didn't help matters.
-Schneider was better but it would be an absolute fallacy to suggest he was tested.
-The Devils have a 26-17 lead in shots on net.
-In the second period alone, they outshot the Penguins 19-5.
-The Devils lead in attempted shots, 51-26.
-Greene leads the game in time on ice, 18:02.
-Letang lead the Penguins with 14:39.
-The Devils have an 18-16 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Zajac is 8 for 13 (62 percent).
-Crosby is 7 for 13 (54 percent).
-Dupuis leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Brunner leads the Devils with two blocked shots.
19:51: Off the opening faceoff, Jagr flings a wrister from the right point on net. Fleury eats it up.
18:46: A slapper by Elias from above the left circle is deflected wide by Elias' stick.
18:19: Off a feed by Megna, Bortuzzo launches a wrister from the right point which rattles around after hitting a body or two. Malkin ash a chance on the rebound but can't a clean handle on it.
17:34: Fayne strokes a wrister from the right point which hops up and bounces off the near post.
17:19: Fayne pumps a one-timer from the right point which Fleury kicks otu whit his left pad.
16:09: Zidlicky tries to deke by Sill at the Penguins' left point but Sill smashes him into the boards and separates him from the puck.
16:03: Adams pushes the puck up the left wing but is washed out just inside the Devils' blue line on a nice hit by Sestito.
15:25: After some strong work in the left wing corner by Crosby, Kunitz whacks a one-timer from the left circle wide to the far side.
15:12: Niskanen swipes a one-timer from the right point. Schneider challenges and gloves it.
14:39: The Penguins get a bit luck. Bernier pushes a pass to the crease for Brunner. The puck hits off a leg and kicks off the right foot of Fleury. Bernier tries to shuffle in the rebound to the open cage with Fleury out of place but Fleury's paddle holds it out. Malkin skates the rebound out of danger. Bernier appeared to hurry the shot and shot it into Fleury's stick.
12:05: Robbery. Simply robbery. Engeland and Niskanen each try to defend Bernier on the right wing wall of the neutral zone. That leaves Brunner all alone in the slot. Bernier sneaks a pass to Brunner and he races in on net with the puck on his forehand. He veers to the right trying to wait out Fleury. Fleury sticks with Brunner and forces him to shoot a wrister into the cuff of his glove hand. What patience by Fleury. Engelland and Niskanen each owe him a beer.
11:28: Crosby sneaks in off the right wing, flips the puck from his backhand to this forehand and lifts a wrister over the cage.
11:19: This is end to end action. After a neutral zone turnover by Bortuzzo. Ryder pushes the puck up the right right wing on a two-on-one against Despres. He feeds a pass to Reid Boucher in the slot. Boucher pushes the puck on net but appears to tap it wide.
10:09: A wrister by Zubrus on the left wing is blocked by a kneeling Despres.
7:55: A wrister by Greene from the left point is wide to the far side.
7:10: The Penguins have some weird pairings and lines out right now. Dupuis is skating with Jokinen and Malkin while Bortuzzo is out with Letang.
6:18: Coasting up the left wing, Malkin gains the offensive zone an deals a pass to Jokine on the right wing. Jokinen whacks a weak one-timer which Schneider punches away.
6:26: Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the left point wide on the near side.
3:37: Gelinas floats a wrister from the right point towards the cage. it hits a stick and hop over the cage.
3:21: Adams chips a wrister from the right point on net. Schneider fight it off.
2:56: Engelland lofts a wrister from the right point which hits a stick and deflects juuuust wide to the far side.
2:25: A late error costs the Devils. Henrique attempted to play a puck with a broken stick. That's two minutes. With a late lead, the Penguins send out two defensemen. Niskanen, Letang, Malkin, Crosby and Kunitz take the ice.
1:59: Off some hot potato passing between Letang and Malkin, Letang whips a one-time from the center point wide of the cage.
1:34: Zajac pounds a slapper from the left point. Fleury knocks it dead.
0:51: Schneider is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:19: Racing out of the box, Henrique take s pass int he left circle and flings a backhander wide to the far side.
0:09: A wrister from a bad angle on the right wing is eaten up by Fleury. The Devils call a time-out to get organized.
0:03: Spinning off a check from the right wing, Jagr whips a wrister wide to the far side.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Devils 2.
-First things first:
-What an odd game. The Penguins were tremendous in the first period while the Devils stunk. The Devils were tremendous in the second period while the Penguins stunk. In the third period, each team when at it tooth and nail. The result was a strange but entertaining 60 minutes of hockey.
-The goaltending was the difference. Cory Schneider had a rough first period and that sunk his team. If he makes a save on even one of the goals he allowed, particularly the weak score he allowed to Pascal Dupuis within the first minute of regulation, this is a different game. Fleury stole some goals in the third period down the stretch and preserve this win.
-No save was bigger than Fleury's stoning of Damien Brunner on a breakaway with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation. After the game, Brunner admitted wanted to go five hole but it never opened up. He then went glove side. Brunner said, "I thought the move was alright but he just made a good save. That’s the game right there.”
-Devils goaltender Corey Schneider said: “We were clearly the better team for the last 40 minutes. Fleury made some real big saves and was definitely the better goalie tonight. Right now, in one-goal games, that’s the difference. “
-Devils coach Peter DeBoer put it best when describing the start of the game: "We started the game at 7:45 p.m. instead of seven o’clock tonight."
-How key was the timeout Dan Bylsma following the Devils second goal in the third period? If he doesn't burn that time out there, what says the Devils don't maintain their momentum and tie the game or even take a lead? Peter Laviolette would be proud of that time out.
-We're not quite sure what the tipping point was, but from the start of the second period on, the Devils played a much different (i.e. better) game. In the first period, the Penguins skated through the New Jersey defense at will and possessed the puck most of the time. In the final 40 minutes, the puck was on the blades of New Jersey players primarily.
-Special teams were strong for the Penguins one against. They blanked both Devils power plays. The Penguins only had one power play and didn't convert it, but they were in a situation where they had a lead late and they primarily tried to eat the clock.
If there was on area of concern, it was how the Penguins played around their net. Both New Jersey goals were scored by Devils players simply gaining position around the crease. The Penguins' defensemen seemed to be a tad more aggressive around the blue paint after Bylsma's time out.
-Zach Sill played one of his better games at this level. He was very physical.
-The Devils led in shots on net, 39-23.
-In the final two periods alone, the Devils led in shots on net, 32-11.
-The Devils led in attempted shots, 83-41. Egads.
-The Penguins blocked 27 shots.
-Brunner led the game with six shots.
-Dupuis and Craig Adams each led the Penguins with three shots.
-Andy Greene led in ice time, 24:18.
-Kris Letang led the Penguins with 23:28.
-The Devils led in faceoffs, 26-20 (57 percent).
-Travis Zajac was 12 for 18 (67 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale was 6 for 6 (100 percent).
-Deryk Engelland led the game with four blocked shots.
-Brunner led the Devils with two blocked shots.
-Dupuis' goal 41 seconds into the game was the Penguins' fastest goal this season. It's also the fastest goal the Devils have allowed this season.
-Malkin now has 599 career points.
-Megna scored his fourth goal of the season and his second game-winner.