What a start for the Boys of Winter. Kicking off the 2011-2012 season with three games in four nights in Western Canada, the Pens are bringing home 5 points out of a possible 6, and sit on top of the Eastern Conference.
Kris Letang has picked up where he left off last season, already leading the team with 5 points (1G, 4A). Tanger is tied in the shot department with James Neal, who has also come out swinging this season. Although Neal has tallied 2 points with one goal, his first goal matched his season total for last season. He also scored a shootout goal Sunday night in Edmonton.
It's easy to say late in the year, "man if we only got a few more points earlier in the year..." when looking at the standings. The Pens are off to one of the better starts in the NHL this year, and picking up five points in three games is a great start. Especially having to start 3,000 miles away from Pittsburgh.
This was the start the Penguins needed. Set a tone. They accomplished that with outstanding special teams, net minding from Fleury and Johnson, and physical play. The Pens scored 5 goals on 16 power play opportunities (31.2%) and the PK units have not given up a shorthanded goal (0-11). Fleury has shown his quick pads multiple times so far this year, and Johnson was a machine last night. Pens are winning doing work in the faceoff circle too.
A big question mark however moving forward is the health of Evgeni Malkin. He was taken out of the game late at Calgary and was a scratch last night. Bylsma calls Malkin's injury lower body but unrelated to his off-season knee surgery. Bylsma said he could return Tuesday for the home opener. My take is Malkin skated before the game Sunday in warm ups. If it was serious, we wouldn't have seen him at all last night. I'm not concerned.
The Pens return to action tomorrow night and take the ice for the first time at home hosting Florida. Some nice home cookin' for a change as the next three games are at CONSOL Energy Center. Go Pens.