The Penguins found away to do it again...they have fallen into quite a habit of taking a lead, watching it fizzle and then clawing back to take the victory. That was the scene again last night, as they watched a 3-0 advantage turn into a 4-3 deficit late in the game.
The Flyers roared back, scoring 4 goals in roughly 10 minutes. The outburst prompted Mike Therrien to swap his goaltenders, a move I initially disagreed with. Looking back, it was the right move. Marc Andre Fleury is no longer the emotionally fragile young man he was a few seasons back. In fact, he no longer lets "bad games" linger...each day is a new one. For whatever reason, his past two game days have not been particularly good ones and Therrien chose to make the move to stop the bleeding in an imminently winnable game. Sabourin, who sat on the bench and watched his team allow 10 goals in two games, entered and stoned the Flyers the rest of the way. Sabourin was also perfect in the shoot out, stopping all 6 Philadelphia shooters. Sabu has now stopped 16 of his last 17 shoot out attempts.
How about the save Sabourin made on Mike Richards during the shoot out? It was an amazing display of a goaltender just sticking with a play with a never say die attitude. Scott Hartnell personified the feelings of disbelief better than anyone in the building...notice his reaction in the video.
Don't get any ideas though...there is no goaltending controversy here. Therrien let us know at the end of his presser last night that he would come back with Marc Andre Fleury tomorrow night against Buffalo. Sabourin has performed admirably this season in spot duty and has definitely earned the confidence of his teammates and coaches. He will do fine if he has to step up, but he is this team's back-up.
Sidney Crosby went out of his way to prove Darren Dreger wrong. Dreger questioned Sidney's choice of lumber in a recent blog and cited the stick as the culprit for his goal scoring woes this season. Here is an excerpt from the blog...
But his shot remains a weakness and although some have suggested he switch to the more popular one piece stick, Crosby continues to reject the notion of change and won't abandon a two-piece stick with a straight blade that many believe hampers his ability to get the most out of his shot.
Crosby, who now has three goals in his last two games, went out last night and demonstrated just how "weak" his shot actually is. He unleashed a wicked backhander that picked the corner over Marty Biron and then buried an ill fated Max Talbot shot for the equalizer late in regulation. Crosby finished the night with 7 shots and all of them looked pretty strong. He easily could have had a couple more goals on the night.
We all need to be patient and realize that Sidney Crosby hasn't necessarily been the fastest starter during his career. Through 16 games this season, he has notched 6 goals. Here is a look at the first 16 games of each of Sidney's three prior season, and what he went on to score that year.
05-06 - 5 goals - Finished with - 39
06-07 - 7 goals - Finished with - 36
07-08 - (played only 53 games) 9 goals - Finished with - 24
Overall, Crosby is averaging close to his career average for shots. He is only .07 off of his career average for points per game and baring injuries will finish as a top five scorer. No worries...
Just a quick note off Penguins topic... Nope, no problems in Tampa at all!
Evgeni Malkin was once again galloping around the ice and he is one guy that is going to be absolutely lethal as the years go on. He is settling into the NHL game even more so and is now comfortable enough to attempt any stick handling maneuver that occurs to him, take any shot, and to play an all around dynamic game. He has had moments where he looked this comfortable over his first two seasons, but he has gotten to the point where it is happening on a game to game basis. He looks a lot like the player who was comfortably tearing up the Russian Super League during his last season there. In case anyone forgot what that looked like, he is a taste....METZER FINDS CREATES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR THE MALKIN MONTAGE!!
Jordan Staal had another great game. It is amazing what a little confidence can do for your team. He was around the puck a ton. He used his big frame to create space for himself and he produced offensive opportunities for himself and his line-mates.
Simon Gagne is back! I have to admit, I had a bad feeling that one of my favorite NHL players was never going to be the same because of injuries, well he showed me first hand last night that he is ready, willing and able to become even better than he was before. His two short handed goals last night were almost single handedly enough to win this game for the Flyers. Welcome back to one of the league's best two way players!
Marty Biron does not seem like the answer in goal for the Flyers. I know that he has been slumping, but every time I watch him he allows at least one bad goal up high. He is a much better goaltender when he stays upright. When he makes that first move, the top of his cage is exposed...both Malkin and Crosby scored there last night. The same could be said for Marc Andre Fleury, who once again had his glove hand exposed by Gagne's second shorty. Let's not take anything away from a great shot though...
The Penguins are very quietly sitting at 6 games over .500. I sort of found myself surprised when I looked at the standings this morning. It just didn't seem feasible...but I guess that happens when you win 5 in a row and 8 of 11.
The Penguins, who unveiled their third jerseys just over a week ago, will officially wear them in a game tomorrow night. I guess it is fitting that they parade them out against the team that they last wore the blue and white against, the Buffalo Sabres.
“The blue jersey and blue uniform became immensely popular among our fans during and after the Winter Classic,” said Penguins president David Morehouse. “The uniform looks tremendous, and it also is a great tribute to our heritage. It was an easy decision to settle on this as our new ‘third jersey.’ ”
The team also announced the schedule of when they would wear their thirds...here it is for your information.