Great turnout from Penguins fans last night in Columbus. The place was electric when the Penguins tied the game at 3-3 late in the third period. Thanks to the traveling Penguins fans, the BlueJackets set a record for attendance with over 19,000 fans in attendance.
The Penguins have 10 come from behind wins this season when trailing in the third period and after being down 3-0 to Columbus, the Penguins were fortunate to get a point out of last night‚Äôs game. If overtime in the regular season was longer than 5 minutes, the Penguins win last night’s game. They controlled the play for the final 15 minutes of the game including overtime.
BlueJackets goaltender Steve Mason is the real deal. The Blue Jackets lack the offensive firepower to be a serious threat in the Western Conference but because of their tight defensive system and the ability of Mason¬†to steal games,¬†Columbus could cause some problems for a higher seed in the first round of the playoffs.
If Rick Nash played in a bigger hockey market like
Calgary for example, he would be regarded as high as Jarome Iginla is around the NHL. Nash may be one of the most complete players in the National Hockey League. Exceptional skating ability for a player his size. Nash can play wing or center, is a great two way player and is one of the Blue Jackets top penalty killers. Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock did a good job of matching Nash up against Crosby‚Äôs line in the first two periods. The Jackets main goal this off-season has to be to add a top tier player alongside Nash. They need a Jason Speeza type of player.
As it has been widely believed this week, goaltender Mathieu Garon will start in one of the two games this weekend. Head coach Dan Bylsma indicated yesterday that Garon would start against the Senators but there was some buzz going around at practice today that Garon will start on¬†Sunday against Boston which¬† makes no sense.
¬†Marc Andre Fleury has started 18 consecutive games. I have also been told that Petr Sykora will return to the lineup tomorrow which will be good news for the Penguins.
A source close to Satan told me on Wednesday that the Penguins informed Satan that he will be brought back up to the Penguins roster in the near future which was the reason Satan agreed to report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Right now all of that talk is coming from Satan’s representatives
There‚Äôs a rumor going around (hasn‚Äôt been confirmed) that the Penguins and Blackhawks had a waiver deal in place that would have sent Craig Adams to Pittsburgh (which happened) and Miroslav Satan to Chicago (which didn‚Äôt happen). According to the source, Allan Walsh was in contact with Blackhawks GM Dave Tallon and Satan‚Äôs camp was very surprised when he wasn‚Äôt picked up by the Blackhawks. There‚Äôs talk that the Dominic Moore – Chicago trade talks played a factor in Satan being passed up by Chicago at the last minute.
Evgeni Malkin was back on the left point in yesterday‚Äôs game on the power play. I have not been able to get a reason why as it was believed Bylsma was going with Guerin ‚Äì Crosby ‚Äì Malkin down low against Columbus.
The Penguins run-n-gun style would be more explosive if they added another puck-moving defensemen to their lineup. Ray Shero has always wanted three puck moving defensemen in his lineup and look for Alex Goligoski and Philippe Boucher to get a strong look in the playoffs for some playing time. Some in the organization believe Boucher will be an asset in the Penguins new style. I have my doubts.
What to watch for the rest of the regular season is the play of Jordan Staal. Staal is playing at a level right now that makes the Penguins a nightmare to matchup against down the middle. He has gone through stretches in his young career where he is a force for three or four games, and then is invisible for a stretch of games. The Penguins up-tempo style is benefiting Staal and it’s going to be very interesting to see if he can bring some consistency to his game. If he can, the Penguins are to have a long playoff run.
Pascal Dupuis scored his first goal in 25 games Thursday night