-When you're a sports reporter, you've got to be professional. And by that, we mean you can't be a fan when you're around players or coaches. You can be friendly and banter with them, but you can't do "fan stuff." In other words, you can't wear a team jersey. You can ask for autographs or take a photo with a player. It's grounds for dismissal. And you can't really afford to be awestruck when you're talking to a player. If you're a 14-year-old kid meeting Sidney Crosby, that stuff is okay. When you're a 34-year-old blogger/writer, you have to just treat Crosby in a professional manner.
-We adhere to those rules 100 percent of the time. But yesterday, it was tough. Talking to Patrick Roy was pretty special for us yesterday. We didn't ask for an autograph and we asked questions about Nate Guenin and the Avalanche's success in a completely professional manner. But still... Patrick Roy. It was pretty cool to interview someone who we had a poster of as a kid.
-The Penguins have had a pretty easy run of things thus far this season. Most of their opponents have been struggling this season. Their first real test came on Saturday against the Canucks but they were near the end of a road trip. The Penguins get a relatively fresh team in the Avalanche tonight which has been surprisingly dominant. This will not be an easy test for the Penguins.
-It's always fashionable to suggest a young team with a lot of young skilled forwards are similar to the Penguins of six or seven years ago when they had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Those comparison have been extended to the current Oilers and the Blackhawks of a few years ago. Those comparisons might best fit this Avalanche team. Heck, it has a Cole Harbour, N.S. native who was drafted No. 1 overall. With Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and others, this team is pretty stacked.
-MacKinnon might not be a carbon copy of Crosby in terms of style. He seems to be more of a playmaker than goal scorer. But that tag was applied to Crosby early in his career until he started working on his shot and became a Rocket Richard Trophy. Additionally, his dimensions are different. MacKinnon is taller at 6-foot-0 and lighter at 182 pounds. Crosby is 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds.
-One thing MacKinnon does exactly like Crosby is his hat. Crosby ALWAYS wears a hat during interviews, whether is a big media scrum or a one-on-one situation. We talked to MacKinnon individually at Consol Energy Center yesterday and he made sure he was wearing his hat. He did the same thing today with a full blown media scrum:
-One thing that really kind of blew us away with MacKinnon is how young he really is. When we asked what it was like playing for an icon as Roy, he said he didn't really remember him as a player and was only familiar with him as a coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Keep in mind, when Patrick Roy retired in 2003, MacKinnon was seven. Yeesh.
-We chatted with Avalanche defenseman Nate Guenin yesterday as well. He is a native of Hopewell who is the definitely of journeyman having bounced around the NHL for over half a decade. He seems to have finally found full-time work with the Avalanche as a shot-blocking penalty killer. Ever a Pittsburgh, he took advantage of a few days in town and hit up Primanti's in the Strip District when he got into town late Saturday night.
-If you speed on Washington Place, Brook Orpik sees it:
-Hopewell's favorite son has a fan on hand:
-Dave "The Hammer" Schultz:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There are more than a few Avalanche fans here. Ray Bourque:
-Just the typical Dan Quinn-Jock Callander combo:
-It's a good night for Russian power-play specialists from the point. Sergei Gonchar:
-And Sergei Zubov:
-Jersey of the Night: Jean-Sebastien Giguere Mighty Ducks:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett, Deryk Engelland and Dustin Jeffrey.
-The Avalanche's starters are Matt Duchene, Steve Downie, Ryan O'Reilly, Jan Hejda, Erik Johnson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
-It's starters are Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden and Cody McLeod. McLeod is suspended.
-No Jimerson. No anthem photo.
19:19: Wilson chucks a wrister from the right point which Dupuis blocks.
19:13: Off a feed by Crosby, Dupuis re-directs a puck on net from the right circle. Giguere fights it off.
19:03: The Penguins get an early power play as Guenin is called for high sticking Dupuis. Crosby, Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin take the ice.
17:45: Racing up the right wing, Jussi Jokinen lifts a backhander at the cage but puts the puck wide of the net.
17:03: The Guenin minor expires with little threat from the Penguins. They did a nice job of maintaining possession in the offensive zone but didn't really have any quality scoring chances.
16:09: MacKinnon wheels into the offenive zone on-on-four and snaps off a wrister which Rob Scuderi blocks out of play with a stick on puck.
15:38: Jamie McGinn challenges Robert Bortuzzo one-on-one on the left wing of the Penguins' zone. Bortuzzo lays the body into him but McGinn braces and knocks Bortuzzo down. Bortuzzo is still able to steal the puck off McGinn with his long stick and skates it out of danger.
15:17: The Penguins get another power play as P.A. Parenteau is called for tripping Bortuzzo at the Penguins'
14:59: Off some perimeter passing, Crosby kneels down and whacks a one-timer from a bad angle on the right wing. Giguere holds it out.
14:43: Off a cross-ice pass by Crosby, Malkin cranks a one-timer from the right circle. Giguere eats it up.
14:31: A wrister by Crosby on the left half wall is blocked.
14:15: Malkin plays a pass from the right circle ot the slot. Crosby is there to re-direct it on net but Giguere kicks it out.
13:17: The Parenteau minor expires. The Penguins were a little better with that chance in regards to putting shots on net.
12:47: Tanner Glass whacks a loose puck int he slot wide of the cage.
10:55: Taking a pass from Dupuis, Crosby gets a little space on the left wing and lifts a wrister on net. Giguere kicks it away.
10:29: Landeskog chops a slapper from the left point. Niskanen blocks it out of play.
10:03: Another Penguins power play. Sarich is called for delay of game for throwing the puck out of play. Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin, Jokine and Martin take the ice.
9:33: Crosby cranks a one-timer from the right circle. It hit something. There's a scramble for the rebound with Jokinen and Kunitz digging like miners for the puck. Colorado eventually clears it.
8:06: Off a feed by Sutter, Niskanen booms a one-timer from the right point as the Sarich minor expires. Giguere kicks it out with a thud.
6:22: MacKinnon takes a drop pass from the right point and rips a wrister on net. Fleury fights it off for his first save of the game.
5:33: Taking a pass at the left point. Scuderi moves in slightly and rips a wrister wide on the near side.
4:21: Landeskog controls a loose puck on the right half wall, looks up and snaps off a pass to Wilson racing up the left wing. Wilson has a mile of ice to work with and snaps off a wrister which Fleury punches out of play.
3:59: BOrtuzzo controls the puck behind his own net but loses it on a nice forecheck by Patrick Bordeleau. Bordeleau deals a pass to Guenin at the right point. Guenin puts a slapper wide of the cage on the near side.
2:58: Yet another power play for the Penguins. This one from long-time nemesis Steve Downie who elbowed Paul Martin at the red line. Martin, Niskanen, Crosby, Malkin and Kunitz take the ice.
2:32: Crosby take a pass at the right half wall and cranks a one-timer. It hits off Jan Hedja's skate then deflects off Guenin back towards the cage. Giguere smothers it to freeze play.
2:13: Niskanen chops a one-timer from above the left circle. Giguere eats it up.
0:58: The Downie minor expires. The Penguins put a few pucks on net but just didn't look all that threatening.
0:45: Off a little feed by Malkin, Crosby lifts a wrister from the right circle. Giguere eats it up. He is tune in right now.
0:00: End of period. Avalanche 0, Penguins 0.
-That was a pretty dominant period for the Penguins. They had the bulk of scoring chances. That said, they did get four power plays in a single period and didn't cash in on one of them.
-It's hard to see them getting many more power plays short of blood being involved. Expect a few make-up calls in favor of the Avalanche.
-Keep in mind, the Avalanche entered the game with the fourth-best power play in the game.
-Giguere was fantastic during that period. He was the biggest reason this game is tied.
-The Penguins primarily used two defensemen on their first power play that period. When asked about it recently, Dan Byslma said the two defenseman look is used when an opposing penalty kill is aggressive.
-The Penguins have an 11-4 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins lead in attempted shots, 30-10.
-Crosby leads the game with five shots.
-Wilson leads the Avalanche with two shots.
-Hejda leads the game with 9:41 of ice time.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with 9:11.
-The Penguins have a 10-5 lead in faceoffs (67 percent).
-Crosby is 6 for 8 (75 percent).
-Duchene is 1 for 3 (33 percent).
-Hedja leads the game with four blocked shots.
-None of the Penguins has more than one blocked shot.
-Former Avalanche forward Chuck Kobasew is on the cover of IceTime:
19:34: Off a feed by Crosby, Dupuis whacks a slapper from the right half wall. Giguere eats it up despite traffic.
18:48: Wilson lifts a wrister from the right circle hwiMalkin breaks.
18:24: Malkin forces a turnover by Paul Stastny deep in the right corner of the Colorado zone. The puck slides to Jokinen in the slot. Jokinen shows shot but slides a pass to malkin to the right of the cage. He re-directs it wide of the cage then falls onto Giguere. He is nabbed for goaltender interference. xxx take the ice for Colorado's first power play.
17:33: Taking a pass from O'Reilly, Alex Tanguay enters the offensive zone, makes Orpik whiff badly on a shoulder check and attacks the net on his forehand. He pushes forehand shot on net which Fleury eats up.
16:42: Battling for a puck in the right wing corner, Landeskog hooks up Bortuzzo and sends him crashing into th eright corner boards. We'll have four-on-four for 18 seconds.
16:24: The Malkin minor expires. The Penguins will have a power play for 1:42.
16:03: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Kunitz jabs a little one-timer from the right circle. Giguere reads the play all the way and eats up the shot.
15:39: Crosby chops a slapper from the right half wall which is blocked.
15:20: Malkin rips a little wrister from the right circle which Giguere steers away.
15:05: Crosby sneaks a pass off the left wing to Malkin all alone on the right wing.Malkin tries to cut by the stick of Giguere but sort of runs out of space and loses the puck.
14:34: Landeskog comes out of the box and cashes in. Taking a pass in the neutral zone, he races up the right wing, cuts towards the slot slightly, uses Orpik as a screen and rips a wrister which appears to glance off the stick of Orpik. The puck flutters by the glove hand of Fleury on the near side and hits twice. What an effort by Landeskog. Wilson and Sarich get assists. Avalanche 1-0.
12:04: Attendance is announced as 18,606. It is the team's 292nd consecutive sell-out.
11:05: Dupuis drops Hejda with a solid check in the right wing corner of the Colorado zone.
9:56: Poking a puck up ice to the neutral zone, Harry Zolnierczyk pushes the puck up the left wing to the Colorado zone. He fire a pedestrian wrister which Wilson blocks wide.
9:28: Adams is called for interference against Wilson in the Penguins' left circle. The great Joe Vitale, Dupuis, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
9:07: After Dupuis is able to knock Duchene off the puck at the Penguins' blue line, Orpik is able to recover the loose puck and whip it out of the Penguins' zone.
8:01: Off some solid perimeter passing, Andre Benoit chops a one-timer from the left circle. Fleury kicks it out and Brandon Sutter clears the rebound.
7:28: The Adams minor expires with little threat from the Avalanche.
6:40: After Crosby circles the offensive zone, he deals a pass to Maatta at the left point. Maatt winds up and cranks a slapper which John Mitchell blocks.
4:40: Hedja has a chance in the left circle bu his wrister is blocked by Chris Conner.
4:05: Matta strokes a slapper from the right point. Giguere kicks it out.
3:21: Off a fed from Crosby, Scuderi drives a slapper from center point. Giguere kicks it out.
2:59: After some strong puck possession by his team, Niskanen strikes a one-timer from the right point. It hits off the end boards and deflects to the blue paint where Giguere smothers it to give his team a breather.
2:49: After Martin fumbles a puck at the right point of the Colorado zone, Duchene ends up with a chance in the right circle. He lifts a tricky wrister which Fleury fights off.
1:47: The Avalanche gets another penalty as Kunitz is called for high sticking McGinn in the neutral zone. He pretty much tried to behead him. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Mart take the ice
0:51: Things are evened up as the Avalanche is nabbed for having too many men on the ice. Downie will serve the minor. We'll have four-on-four for 51 seconds.
0:08: Crosby leaves a nice drop pass for Niskanen in the right circle but Niskanen is stripped of the puck by Duchene before he can shoot.
0:00: End of period. Avalanche 1, Penguins 0.
-More of the same that period. Lots of puck possession by the Penguins and little to show for it. They're getting shots on net but Giguere has been outstanding.
-That was not a strong period for Orpik. He missed badly on a hit which led to a scoring chance and he allowed Landeskog to use him as as screen.
-The Penguins are starting to get "toomuchpassingitis." They're making one or two extra passes on their chances.
-The power play has not looked good. Period.
-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 18-9.
-The Penguins lead in attempted shots, 49-21.
-Martin leads the game with 18:27 of ice time.
-Hejda leads the Avalanche with 17:07.
-The Penguins have a 23-13 lead in faceoffs (64 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 16 (63 percent).
-Stastny is 4 for 8 (50 percent).
-Hejda leads the game with five blocked shots.
-Martin leads the Penguins with three blocked shots.
20:00: We'll start the period with 13 seconds of four-on-four play for 13 seconds.
19:47: Kunitz turns to play. The Penguins will have 56 seconds of power play time on fresh ice.
18:50: As the Avalanche minor expires, Malkin chops a one-timer from the slot over the net.
18:08: Niskanen jabs a quick shots from the left point wide of the cage.
17:06: Off a little give an go with Sutter, Jokinen has chance right in the blue paint but can't punch it under Giguere.
16:20: Conner controls a puck in the left wing corner of the Colorado zone. Erik Johnson just kind of grabs him by the shoulder and slams him into the boards head first. That's two minutes for boarding. Conner heads back to the dressing room. Crosby, Malkin, Martin, Kuntiz and Jokine take the ice.
16:04: Malkin leans down and swipes a one-timer from the center point. It hits off the end boards and deflects above the blue paint. Jokinen and Kunitz each have a chance but can't get a clean handle on the rebound. Play is halted. Kunitz is instructed to leave the ice ice as his chinstrap is broken.
15:22: Crosby snaps off a wrister from a bad angle on the right wing. Giguere punches it out with his blocker.
14:37: Malkin leans down and strikes a one-timer from the right circle wide on the near side.
14:20: The Johnson minor is killed. The Penguins once again put several shots on net but couldn't figure out Giguere.
13:35: Dupuis winds up and puts a wild slapper on net from the right half wall. Giguere knocks it dead and covers as Kunitz snoops around for a rebound.
13:27: Bortuzzo chops a slapper from the right point. It hits a stick. The great Joe Vitale is able to corral the puck, spin and whip a wrister on net. Giguere fights it off.
12:27: Crosby has a point' blank chance in the right circle and whips a low wrister on net. Giguere kicks it out.
10:00: Maatta is working with Niskanen.
8:45: Malkin wheels around the back of the net, spins off a check and snaps off a wrister which is locked wide.
7:42: Downie puts a shot off the Penguins' end boards from the slot. it deflects out. Fleury tries to poke check it away but misses. Downie swats the rebound on net and Fleury boots it out.
7:34: Wow! Crosby races up the right wing, draws in Johnson and chips a little pass to Kunitz barging up the slot. Kunitz whacks the bouncing puck at the cage. It flutters up on him a bit and Giguere is able to snag it with a nice glove save. This guy just isn't going to give up a goal.
5:16: Tanguay whips a backhander on net from the slot. Fleury kicks it out.
3:06: Off a backhanded pass by Stastny down low, Tanguay rips a little one-timer from the slot. Fleury fights it off.
2:52: Off a give and goe pass, Crosby snaps off a wrister from above the right circle. Giguere eats it up.
1:50: Martin sneaks a shot/pass from the left point. Malkin is position to right of the the cage but can't get a clean shot off.
1:29: Malkin has a chance in the right circle but has it blocked by Guenin. Fire Ray Shero.
1:00: Fleury is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:55: Jokinen tries to hold the puck behind Colorado cage but is held up by Guenin. Jokinen sort of jumps in the air and kicks out his feet. Play is halted. Guenin is called for holding while Jokinen gets nabbed for embellishment. We'll have a five on-four situation with the empty net the rest of the game. The Penguins call time out to get organized. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
0:35: A one-timer by Martin in the right circle is blocked by Hejda.
0:28: Malkin whacks a one-timer from above the right circle. Giguere is above the blue paint and gloves it.
0:01: A last second wrister by Malkin from the right circle is snagged by Giguere.
0:00: End of game. Avalanche 1, Penguins 0.
-In a game billed as a meeting of Cole Harbour superstars, it was someone who spent one season in that maritime community who was the story of the game.
-Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who revealed after the game that he lived with a billet family in Cole Harbour while playing junior hockey, looked like the player who was a franchise goaltender in the mid-2000s. He made himself large in net. He took up a lot of space and really didn't give the Penguins many spaces to shoot at. He kicked out a lot of safe rebounds and simply stole a few goals. He earned this win in a big way.
-He did get a lot of help from his teammates who collapsed around their own net quite a bit. The Penguins fired a lot of shots but they didn't get many clean looks at the net.
-Regardless of the opponent's tactics, the Penguins should have done a lot better than going 0-for-7 on the power play. That was almost reminiscent of the Penguins' futility against the Lightning in the 2011 postseason. Colorado just clogged up a lot of passing lanes and forced the Penguins to try and create things from the perimeter.
-To put it mildly, this style of game was surprising. Considering the firepower each roster possesses, a fun 4-3 game could have been expected. Both teams played well but this was not what anyone, short of the coaching staffs, would have predicted.
-The Penguins top line generated a lot of scoring chances. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis combined for 20 shots.
-The second line was held in check most of the night. Chuck Kobasew just hasn't generated much chemistry with Evgeni Malkin or Jussi Jokinen.
-The Penguins' bottom-two lines were a non-factor once again. After a fast start, their bottom six forwards have leveled of significantly.
-This was actually a prototypical Dan Bylsma game in a lot of ways. The Penguins possessed the puck a bunch, kept things in the opposition end and kept the puck away from their net. The score was just about the only thing that didn't go their way.
-Colorado looks like a really disciplined team. They are buying into head coach Patrick Roy's gameplan completely. No one is freelancing on a shift. It's impressive to watch.
-If the Avalanche is going to do anything this season, it needs to upgrade the blue line. Jan Hejda is a fine player who was outstanding tonight, but he can't be a No 1 defenseman.
-The fact that Nate Guenin, who is playing well, has a regular job after years of being a journeyman is an indicator of how weak Colorado's blue line is.
-Nate MacKinnon had a few nice plays but he was held in check most of the night. He had 10:54 of ice time on 14 shifts, two goals and two blocked shots.
-The sheer among of special teams really made this a choppy game. There was little flow due to the combined 10 power plays.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 34-14.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 72-29.
-Paul Martin led the game with 28:09 of ice time.
-Hejda led the Avalanche with 27:32.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 32-19.
-Crosby was 17 for 28 (61 percent).
-Paul Stastny was 5 for 11 (45 percent).
-Hejda led the game with six blocked shots.
-Martin led the Penguins with three blocked shot.
-This was the 174th regular shutout of the Penguins all time. The last one was a 1-0 road loss to Toronto goaltender James Reimer, Feb. 1, 2012.
-This was Giguere's second shutout of the Penguins. The first came as a member of the Mighty Ducks in a 5-0 home win, Dec. 15, 2002.
-This was only the second shutout of the Penguins by the Avalanche/Nordiques. The first was by future Penguins goaltender Michel Dion in a 2-0 home win, Feb. 24, 1980.