Various thoughts bouncing between the ears on the off-day...
- It's elementary and obvious, not to mention looking far ahead (hey, we're fans, we're allowed) but there's only three games left, if necessary, at Mellon Arena. So the Penguins will have to take at least one game in Ottawa. Not the biggest of deals, but still important nonetheless.
- Marc-Andre Fleury's been pulled from 8 games this season, which unfortunately gives us a pretty good sample size to look at how he bounces back. And it's encouraging: the game after his roughest outing Fleury is 5-1-1, 2.84 GAA and a pretty stellar .918 save percentage. Fleury's next bounce back start will be the most important, to this point in the season anyways.
- Too early to think about lineup changes? Jay McKee's skating and puck moving abilities haven't been quite up to par, but when Mark Eaton misplays a 2-on-1 involving Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu one would have to wonder if that's enough to get a seat in the pressbox.
- Something touched on in last night's recap: any time the 3rd line of Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy only combines for 4 shots on goal, generates no points and ends up on the ice for two goals against, chances are the Pens won't be successful.
- Guess who's ice-time went from 4:22 in the first period to 3:32 in the second to finally 2:56 in the third. If you said Ruslan Fedotenko, give yourself a star. The "All European" line of Fedotenko, Evgeni Malkin and Alexei Ponikarovsky may be at it's end.
- Which is good news for Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis was mainly relegated to a 4th line role with Craig Adams and Maxime Talbot, after playing and playing well as a Top 6 forward for much of the season. He deserves a chance to skate regular shifts with Malkin or Sidney Crosby.
- 2 for 5 on the power play, great! 1 for 3 on the PK, not so great! Must tighten that up, and keep earning the PP's.
While there's no reason to hit that panic button yet, there's no way to be happy or sugar coat things either. Fleury needs to be better, the defense needs to pick up better coverage and stop more passes and the offense still needs to get on track and work the forecheck better. Improvement's needed everywhere, in all three zones. Let's see it.
What other thoughts are going through your head on this off-day? Get 'em out, or they'll just drive you crazy.