The Pens take on the Leafs for the second time this season tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. If the last time these two met up was any indication for the rest of the season's meetings, then I'd say we're in for another scoring frenzy.
Ten goals were scored between the two last game, as the Penguins rallied to win by the final of 6-4 after an empty netter from Maxime Talbot sealed the deal. Yet there is a lot both teams can take from the last meeting and hopefully improve and apply to tomorrow's game.
The Pens took far too many penalties last game, giving the Leafs six chances to capitalize on the powerplay. Thankfully it was either a stellar performance by the Pens' PK or a weak performance by the PP unit from the Leafs that put Toronto at 0-6 on the night. Again, what would a Penguins' game be like without a too many men on the ice penalty?
The Leafs on the other hand took even more penalties than the Penguins and yet Pittsburgh converted only once on eight attempts. It wasn't so much even the number of penalty minutes that really hurt the Leafs, but instead the guys who served time. Nikolai Antropov, who'd made his size and presence known throughout the game accrued for 14 minutes on his own, 10 of which came in the last 50 seconds on a game misconduct. Either way, if you're pulling your goalie and using that extra attacker, you want a guy like Antropov up front instead of in the box to clear some space and go for the junk up front.
Both teams have quality powerplay units, and yet in their last meeting we only saw one powerplay goal out of the total 14 attempts. I guess it really says a lot when only 1 of the 10 goals scored was on the powerplay, with the rest coming on even strength and all, but the special teams are there for a reason and neither team used them effectively. In the Penguins' last game against the Rangers, it was the sole reason they came out 1-0 in the shutout. The Leafs' Antropov on the other hand, added a powerplay goal to help bring Toronto to a 4-4 shootout against the Thrashers, one they ultimately lost. The Leafs however did not allow a PP goal last game on Atlanta's five attempts. Clearly, both the Pens and Leafs bring a fantastic penalty kill unit to the ice, which justifies the lack of powerplay goals in their last meeting.
Despite walking away with the win, Marc-Andre Fleury was outplayed by Vesa Toskala. If you needed any further proof, look at the shots counter on the night. The Leafs put 27 shots on net, hitting the mark four times. On the other end the Penguins left Toskala working his pads off, tallying 52 shots on the night and scoring five times (plus the empty netter). Toskala was basically at a 2 to 1 shot ratio. Had it been the other way around, I'm sure the Leafs would have walked away victorious somewhere along the lines of 10-4. Especially since Dany Sabourin was knocked out earlier in the game after giving up two goals on six shots and noone would have been able to step in and relieve Fleury of his embarassment. I'd also like to think it's be the same sort of outcome had Raycroft been in net instead of Tosk, but here's to hoping that's the case tomorrow night. I'm also keeping my eyes on Brooks Orpik and Simon Gamache to see if the gloves drop following that hit that sent Orpik to the dressing room last game.
Overall, I'd say it's safe to say Fleury has warmed up a bit, coming off a shutout performance against the Rangers and a one goal night against the Caps three days before. In the two games combined, Fleury's stopped 66 of the 67 shots faced. Let's see how he holds up against the Leafs tomorrow night - he may just make me a believer afterall.
The Pens are off tonight, so I'm picking the Minnesota vs Calgary match as my game of the night. The Wild are off to an amazing start and it's great hockey to watch.
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