Key Observations Heading Into Game 7 Between the Penguins and Stars

By: Gemma Fagan (@gcfagan86)

The Penguins season opener didn’t go according to plan when they ran into the Dallas Stars red hot goaltender Antti Niemi, the Finn had an absolute blinder and despite the Pens best efforts of peppering his net with 37 shots on goal they weren’t able to crack the Finn and lost 3-0.

The boys will get a chance at redemption only 15 days after the Stars sent them packing licking wounds but they might be in a better position to pay the favour back this time around. Since they have returned home to CONSOL they have managed to turn their fortunes around by winning 3 straight games after losing their home opener 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Those Home Game Feels
Since the Pens have been back in the comfort of their home arena they have won 3 out of 4 games and if you are willing to throw out the stats from their road games the Pens are looking pretty good. In their four homestand games Fleury has faced 112 shots but has only allowed the puck get passed him six times and their PK has been running at a solid 90.9%.

Lacking Power in their Play
At the same time last season, the Pens Power Play was running at complete polar opposite to what is this season, Their Power Play unit was the strongest in the league converting on 41.30% of their opportunities and it was so impressive that they were sitting 12% higher than their nearest rivals the Washington Capitals but this season they’ve only been able to convert on a dismal 10 % which has then ranked 26th in the league.

Where has the PP unit that was able keep their feet moving and displayed good puck movement gone? Where has team that was able to open up shooting lanes because they seemed to have a good read of each other and covert on 41.30% of their opportunities gone? Maybe it’s time for the team to revisit few old game tapes to see what they were doing right and how it has all gone so wrong.

Leading the March of the Penguins
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have always set the bench mark for this Pens team, however they were lacking any fire when the season kicked off.

Malkin was kept of the score board until the team made its way back to Pittsburgh but since then has made up for it by snag himself points in all 4 games (3G-2A = 5 Points) and Geno has even managed to get 2 game winning goals in the process which has him tied for 1st in the league.

The Captain on the other hand has found the going a little bit tougher than his Russian counterpart, he was unable to register a shot until the teams 4 game homestand and it took Crosby another 3 games before he was to register any points but he did so in style by not only bagging 3 points for the team in their 2-3 overtime win against the Florida Panthers (1G – 2A), he tied his own career high of 9 shots in a game.

No Fault in the Stars
The Stars are running hot winning 3 straight games on the road and will be arriving in Pittsburgh with some lethal fire power in their arsenal they have managed an average of 3.50 goals a game (compared to Pittsburgh’s 1.7) and will force the Pens to have another go at figure out the rubiks cube that is Antti Niemi.

…and this time last season this was our reality… Crosby was on pace to have a mind blowing 252 points season and the PK team was on track to give up 205 goals… what simpler times they were.