The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

January 22, 2013

Pens off to flying start

PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored yet. Evgeni Malkin either. The way the superstar duo’s teammates are playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the moment, it hardly matters.

Not with forward James Neal picking up where he left off during his career season a year ago.

Not with No. 2 goaltender Tomas Vokoun looking very much like the reliable backup Pittsburgh envisioned when it traded for him in the spring.

Sure, it was just a 30-hour stretch in a season that even at 48 games will include some ups and downs. And while coach Dan Bylsma is quick to warn about the dangers of reading too much into emphatic road victories over Philadelphia and the New York Rangers, the fact is the Penguins appear to be very much as good as advertised heading into tonight’s home opener against Toronto.

“To be able to get back to back wins (and be) four points up on the Rangers with that win, that’s two good road wins for our team,” Bylsma said.

A victory over the Maple Leafs would give Pittsburgh its first

3-0 start since the 1994-95 season, when the Penguins won

12 of their first 13 games.

Though it’s still early, the Penguins are playing with a cohesion Bylsma wasn’t sure would surface so soon following an all-too-brief training camp. Given a week to get ready for the regular season, Bylsma didn’t have time to get a real feel for things, and instead focused on situational hockey such as power play and penalty killing while hoping everything else would take care of itself.

Consider it done.

Even the new guys – the few that have stuck on one of the NHL’s most stable rosters – have found a way to fit in quickly.

Forward Tanner Glass dropped the gloves with Arron Asham following the opening faceoff on Sunday. Glass acquitted himself quite nicely against one of the league’s tougher fighters and the jolt it sent through the Pittsburgh bench helped the Penguins take a quick lead on Neal’s first goal less than two minutes later.

“We wanted to get Tanner Glass for a reason,” Bylsma said.

“He’s a physical guy. He can skate well for what he does but he’s also a grit and sandpaper guy for our lineup. The first two games, he had a number of physical plays. He had hits in the Philly game and then he steps up at the beginning of the game in New York and sets us up right off the hop.”

Third-line center Brandon Sutter – save for a delay-of-game penalty when he used his hand to help win a faceoff – has looked exactly like the kind of steady two-way player the Penguins needed when they acquired him in a trade for popular Jordan Staal in May.

Even beleaguered defenseman Paul Martin is off to a quick start. The veteran was a focal point of the team’s defensive issues at the end of last season, more due to his $5 million salary than his actual play. He keyed a handful of critical penalty kills in the third period against the Flyers and added a goal against the Rangers.

“That’s the way Paul Martin can play for our team,” Bylsma said.

The special teams haven’t been too bad either. Pittsburgh converted four of eight power plays over the weekend and killed eight of nine penalties. The only rough spot came in the third period against the Rangers, when things got a little loose after the Penguins took a 5-1 lead. New York drew within 5-3 before the Penguins settled down, the kind of hiccups Pittsburgh knows it needs to avoid.

“There are some details we need to get better at, especially when we’re up and have a lead like that against New York in the third,” defenseman Kris Letang said.

“We can’t let them get any life ... we didn’t really manage it that well.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0414 Pressure on Penguins to capture Cup

    The statistics are gaudy.
    And if the Pittsburgh Penguins can’t find a way to extend their season into the final days of spring, ultimately forgettable.
    The same team that led the NHL in man games lost due to injury (more than 500) also earned 109 points, led the Metropolitan Division from mid-October on and received another peerless effort from star Sidney Crosby, who topped the league with 104 points and is a near lock for the second MVP award of his career.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads