MORNING PENS BUZZ
The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered their first home loss of the season at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, as the Avs posted a 1-0 shutout win behind the outstanding play of goaltender J.S. Giguere, who stopped all 34 shots for his second shutout of the season.
“He was rock solid,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said of Giguere.
The Penguins went 0-7 on the power play in loss and managed just 13 power play shots which were all turned aside from Giguere. Players afterwards felt the power play created good chances. “I think the power play was pretty good,” Sidney Crosby said. “I thought we generated good chances and had a number opportunities, especially in the first period.”
The reality is this is not the game to over analyze anything. Pittsburgh just ran into a hot goaltender for the most part. The Penguins attempted 72 SHOTS, outshooting Colorado 34-14. Colorado attempted just 29 SHOTS in the win. The ice was extremely tilted in the Penguins favor.
The only knock on the Penguins was that they weren’t causing enough traffic in front of Giguere in the first two periods, an issue we saw against Boston last spring as the Penguins were settling for low percentage shots too often but in the third period I thought they were more aggressive in getting to the net, outshooting Colorado 16-5 in the third period. Lack of grit upfront showing a bit in games when Pens run into a hot goaltender? Something to obviously keep an eye moving forward but this group is also not at full strength with Kris Letang, Beau Bennett and James Neal injured.
The only other negative that stood out to me is the fourth line had terrible puck management through the neutral zone.
“We did a lot of good things and probably deserved better,” Crosby said. “That’s how the game works sometimes.”
Crosby the NHL’s points leader with 17 points, saw his points streak come to an end. Crosby had 7 shots on goal and Evgeni Malkin had 8 shots on goal in the loss. Crosby attempted 13 shots. five were blocked and Malkin attempted 15 shots and also had five shots blocked.
Av’s defenseman Jan Hejda, a very underrated defensive minded d-man, had a strong game, logging 27:32 of ice time and had 6 blocks and 4 hits.
LATEST ON OLLI MAATTA
Olli Maatta appeared in his ninth game last night but the Penguins have their eye more on the 40 game mark. I’m told it’s a fluid situation right now but the Penguins for now plan to keep Maatta around and see how things play out when everyone is healthy on the blueline, most notably Kris Letang.
The NHL doesn’t have baseball’s system where the Pirates for example won’t be able to afford Gerrit Cole in six years. That’s the reason Pittsburgh isn’t that concerned with the nine game mark and burning a year of his entry level contract.
Expectations are the Penguins giving a long look at Rob Scuderi – Kris Letang, Paul Martin – Brooks Orpik, Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen as the primary pairings on the blueline.
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