Hey all. My name's Ryan and I (and possibly our friend Nick) will be doing the posts for the next two games while Keith is in Philly, presumably celebrating the Phillies' World Series title....or just visiting friends, whatever. (Props to Philly by the way. This win only leaves them 7 major sports titles behind our fair city. Then again, who needs championships when you have murders)
Pens vs. Coyotes
The game will be in HD tonight on FSN. Both teams are going with their starters, so Fleury will be in net against Ilya Bryzgalov. The Pens juggled their lines today and will roll with these tonight:
Talbot is still out with an undisclosed injury. Dupuis was hit by a shot in practice and his status is up in the air. The Pens have recalled Chris Minard from the Baby Pens, so maybe not a great sign for Dupuis. Minard, by the way, has 7 goals and 6 assists in 7 games to lead Wilkes-Barre and is a plus 9.
Some numbers for the game tonight:
Malkin is second in the NHL in points with 15
Crosby is fifth with 13
Fleury is fourth in save percentage at .933 and sixth in goals against at 2.17
Olli Jokinen leads the Coyotes with 7 points (1 goal)
Shane Doan leads the Coyotes with 4 goals; Mikkel Boedker and Peter Mueller are the only other Coyotes with more than 1, with 3 each
The Pens are 5th on the PK and 7th on the PP
The Coyotes are 22nd on the PK and 26th on the PP (Phoenix is also worst in the league on the PK on home ice at just 63.6%)
Phoenix is worst in the league at faceoffs as a team winning only 41.6% of the time
The Pens are, shockingly, 10th at 50.8%
This game seems like a solid matchup for the Pens. Phoenix has struggled offensively recently, as well. The new lines appear to give substantially more balance to the lineup. After struggling to put up 11 shots against San Jose (did that game remind anyone else of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals last year?), the Pens will be in a shooting mindset (i hope). The Coyotoes D took a shot when they dealt Ballard and Boynton to Florida in the Olli Jokinen deal. The Pens should be able to put pucks on net and score some goals tonight. The Coyotes, offensively, are very young with four players being 20 or younger. The talented group of young guns includes 18 year old Mikkel Boedker, 19 year old Kyle Turris, 20 year old Peter Mueller and 20 year old Viktor Tikhonov. That last name should ring a bell with long time hockey fans (or anyone who's seen the movie "Miracle"); Viktor is the namesake of his grandfather, the legendary Soviet Red Army coach who was the victim of Herb Brooks and the Miracle on Ice 1980 US Olympic team. The Pens are in a good position to end their losing ways tonight. Oh yeah, and I guarantee Daniel Carcillo fights Paul Bissonnette, Eric Godard, or both tonight. Also watch out for Kurt Sauer and Brian McGrattan in the combat arena.