Two week roundup is a season long look at the Penguins performance over the previous two week period. It will highlight what the team is doing right and what they are doing wrong. It will track individual and team performance for that period and for the season to that point.
The Penguins continued their winning ways over the last two weeks earning four wins in the five games, all at home. They started the stretch with convincing wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1) and the St. Louis Blues (5-1). The Pens followed that up with two fairly poor performances. They were able to squeak out a victory against the Florida Panthers (3-2) in a shootout thanks to backup goalie Brent Johnson, but then the winning streak came to an end at the hands of the New Jersey Devils (1-4). But like they have throughout this young season, the Pens managed to bounce back and finish the home stand with a dominating victory over the Montreal Canadiens (6-1).
The power play was able to improve during the home stand. The Penguins PP was at 23.1% during the five games and is now 16th in the league at 20.4% for the season. Naturally, the penalty kill has gone the opposite way. The Pens PK was at 76.5% in the last two weeks and is now down to 12th in the league at 81.1% for the season,
The Penguins continue to out shoot their opponents by a large margin. During this five game stretch, they had 189 shots to just 125 for the opposing teams. In fact, they out shot their opponents in each of the games and, except for the Devils game, the margin was at least 10 shots.
One of the keys to the Pens defense has been blocking shots and did that 82 times over the last two weeks.
* Marc-Andre Fleury – Flower continues to be, arguably, the best goaltender in the league by going 3-1 with a 1.75 GAA and a .927 save % during the four games he played. He is currently second in the NHL in wins and fourth in both save % and GAA.
* Blocking Shots – The Penguins had an amazing 82 blocked shots over the five games in this two week span. That includes 18 against the Blues, 19 against the Lightning, and an astounding 24 against the Panthers. What makes that last number so impressive is the Brent Johnson had 27 saves in that game and the rest of the team have 24.
* Sidney Crosby – Sid got back to his superstar form tallying 5 goals and 4 assists on the home stand including that hat trick against the Canadiens. He seems to be shooting more which has lead to more goals. Just sayin’.
* Alex Goligoski – 3 goal and 3 assists and a +3 for another solid two weeks for the rookie. I think some early season Calder talk is warranted.
* Face-offs – The Penguins lost the majority of the face-offs in three of the five games on this stretch, and a fourth game they were an even 50-50. This has not hurt them too bad yet, but they desperately need to improve this as the season progresses
* FLA & NJ games – These two games were, hands down, the worst they played in the last two weeks. Even though the Pens won against the Panthers, they looked awful for two periods, and only because of the stellar play of Brent Johnson were they able to hold on for the shoot out victory. In both games their passing was weak, the puck handling was poor, and they always seemed to be out of position. Luckily, it looked like Dan Bylsma noticed, too, before the Montreal game.
* Sesame Street Line – I know they can’t always play like they did over the first two weeks of the season, but Staal, Cooke, and Kennedy combined for only 2 goals and 2 assists over the five games. In fact, all of those stats game from the Blues game, so they were all scoreless for the other four games. Granted, TK was a scratch for the Canadiens game, but they set the bar for themselves and we expect them to continue to live up to it, which there is no doubt they will.
* The Neutral Zone Trap – The Penguins have still not found a way to defeat this defensive style. This was most prevalent in the Florida and New Jersey games. Against Florida, the Pens were dumbfounded for two periods before wearing down the Panther defense in the third. And against the Devils, the Pens just never figured anything out. They looked lost and confused the whole game. #1 on Dan Bylsma’s list should be creating an offense to break the trap.
#3 – Marc-Andre Fleury – 3-1 and still the best goalie in the league.
#2 – Alex Gologoski – He is quickly becoming the best defensemen on the team and one of the best in the NHL. Currently leads the team with a +11.
#1 – Sidney Crosby– There has been some rumbling about who is the best player on the team, and I think Sid made his statement over the last two weeks. 5G, 4A, and +7.
Evgeni Malkin - Out 2-3 weeks with a strained shoulder.
* Sidney Crosby is still on fire at the face-off dot winning 58.6% of his draws over this two week stretch.
* “Kevlar” McKee continues to be the first line of defense out there with 17 more blocked shots.
* Brent Johnson continues to play superb when asked to stand between the pipes. One of the keys to making a run for the cup is a solid #2 goalie, and Johnson has proved that he is up to the task.
* As a team, the Penguins currently lead the NHL in +/- and Shots-on-Goal.
The Penguins play five of their next six games on the road. They open @ Columbus on 10/30 and the come home for a Halloween game vs. Minnesota. Then they have a three game west coast swing @ Anaheim on 11/3, @ Los Angeles on 11/5, and @ San Jose on 11/7 before heading back east for a game @ Boston on 11/10.