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Insider Only ONE OF 82

By Mark Madden
It definitely sucks losing to Philadelphia in the first game at Consol Energy Center. But it’s merely one of 82, and the Penguins played well enough to win. They just couldn’t score, especially not early when they could have blown the game wide open.
Who figured Sid and Geno would go pointless? Who figured Letang and Martin would morph into Laurel and Hardy? Who figured Sergei Bobrovsky would be the new Tretiak, at least for a night?
Don’t anoint Bobrovsky just yet. Great going pad to post, but he left a lot of net open up top. Bobrovsky will need to win 6-5 next time. If Martin hits the empty net early, it’s a different game.
The Flyers were typically opportunistic: 2 PPGs, one shortie. They’re not bad, but the Pens shouldn’t be worried. If any Flyers fans are wallowing in triumph, well…when you only get small victories, I guess you have to con yourself into thinking they’re significant.
The Penguins’ power play was 1/5, but I like what I saw. With Coach Disco being hands-on in practice, things have changed. Lots more player movement, lots of switching positions. That’s very smart. What guys like Sid and Geno do best is MOVE. This power play plays to their strengths. You can do it because you’re not beholden to just whipping the puck back to Gonchar all the time.

In the long run, this power play should work.
Eric Tangradi should be on it.
The Big Dog only got a couple minutes on the PP last night. He did the right thing, namely planting himself in Bobrovsky’s vision. We saw a lot more of that from the Penguins in general.
Eric Godard got scratched. That begs the question: If he’s not going to dress against the Flyers, when will Godard dress? No disasters occurred, but Jody Shelley, the Flyers’ goon, took a run at Fleury. What if Fleury gets hurt there? Does that happen if Godard gets a sweater? That noted, I never sensed the Pens were intimidated.
Deryk Engelland had a rough game on D. I’ve been a supporter of Engelland making the team, and it’s only one game, but he handled the puck like he was trying to beat a snake to death with a stick. He hung his partners out to dry a few times, too, and played behind Sid far too much. A guy who can’t pass can’t play behind Sid.
Mark Letestu wasn’t that impressive. Letestu played 15 minutes. Talbot and Rupp each played 10. Are you telling me Letestu is a better player than Talbot or Rupp? The coaches think so. They’re obviously in love with Letestu, and Coach Disco isn’t a Talbot guy. Letestu earned his job. But he’s a 25-year-old rookie for a reason.
Just like Mike Comrie is a 500K player for a reason. Lots of misses. But he got chances. Comrie will come good.
Arron Asham can’t return fast enough. The Pens’ third line was too generic. Nothing distinguishes Letestu and Kennedy. The Penguins have had the best third line in hockey for 2-3 years. Now, it’s GENERIC. Only Cooke stirs the pot. When Asham is healthy, the third line should be him, Talbot and Cooke. None of those guys is Staal. But that line would be anything but generic. Give me mayhem over generic any day.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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Mark Madden

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