Big Lead Sports Bar


Koz: Atlantic Division, Here We Come



The Penguins stayed in the hunt for first place in the division and conference with a 4-2 win over the lowly Lightning. Tampa goalie Mike Smith made some excellent saves – unfortunately for Tampa they all came after he allowed two goals in the first minute of the third period. But seriously, this game could have been another seven-goal outburst. The Pens missed another two goals by a combined one second: Pascal Dupuis deflected a puck behind Smith fractions of a second after the first period buzzer and Marian Hossa failed to convert an empty netter in time to give Evgeni Malkin his 100th point of the season.

If you didn’t see Jarkko Ruutu’s soccer-style breakout and pass that almost led to a Maxime Talbot goal, you missed one of the most memorable plays of the season.

All eight of the Penguins remaining games are against division opponents. Let’s do this.

Malkin nears century mark: Geno enters tomorrow’s game against New Jersey with 99 points. Be ready for a playoff atmosphere. The game has a huge impact on the race for first, and the Pens fans owe Geno a huge ovation when he gets point 100. If you’re in attendance, you better plan to represent. I’ll be wearing my Malkin jersey in section B15. Ovechkin has a three-point lead on Malkin for the scoring race.

Trade deadline update: The Pascal Dupuis trade is working out nicely. Dupuis has seven assists in the last four games. He’s easily filled the on-ice role of Armstrong or Christensen alone. Hossa is still getting back in the swing of things, but we all know what he can do. Hal Gill is providing solid defensive depth and pairs nicely with Letang. In case you hadn’t heard, Christensen is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

“Shoot the puck!” I heard this frequently at last night’s game, as I do at most of the Penguins games I attend. If you noticed Tampa’s two powerplay goals, they were shot into mostly open nets, because of intentional passing. If you noticed Tampa’s defense, they were crashing the slot and into the net, giving no shooting lanes in those areas. The Pens best chance for goals was working the puck to the outside or to the point to create some space. This is exactly what happened on Ruutu’s goal (a rebound from Orpik’s point shot) and Malkin’s (a rebound from the outside created by constant puck movement and Ryan Whitney keeping the puck in the zone). Most of the time I hear “shoot it!” there are two players between the puckhandler and the goalie. Maybe we’d be more productive to chant, “CYCLE! CYCLE! CYCLE!!!”

Hockey YouTube of the Week: When you’re not in the playoff hunt, this is what you get excited about. The Leafs are a joke.

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