All of these come in with the caveat that it is early in the year, but a lot of signs are pointing to good things for the defending champs. Here's some nuggets that seemed interesting.
--The Penguins are the only team (so far) to start the season 3-0-0 on the road.
--Of the Penguins four wins, they've handed two teams (NY Rangers, Phildelphia) their only regulation losses.
--A snapshot of the first five games of the season in Sidney Crosby's career:
- 2 goals, 5 assists, 13 shots on goal (2005-06)
- 2 goals, 4 assists, 12 shots on goal (2006-07)
- 2 goals, 4 assists, 15 shots on goal (2007-08)
- 0 goals, 4 assists, 19 shots on goal (2008-09)
- 4 goals, 1 assist, 16 shots on goal (2008-09)
--Dating back to last February 19th, Marc-Andre Fleury is 20-3-3 in his last 26 regular season games.
--Along those same lines, only Washington, Florida and Philadelphia have beaten the Penguins in regular season in regular play under Dan Bylsma. In addition to the playoff eliminations, Pittsburgh has bounced back to beat Washington and Philly in their next meeting (haven't yet played Florida).
--Last year Evgeni Malkin took 39 minor penalties in 82 games (.475 penalties per game), this year he's got 7 in the first five games (1.4 penalties a game).
--12 of Tyler Kennedy's 32 career NHL goals (counting playoffs) have gone as game winners, including both of his tallies this season.
--It's been a team effort in picking up the penalty kill minutes from the departures of Rob Scuderi (3:47 per game) and Hal Gill (3:10). Here's how it's been broken out:
- Jay McKee - 2:58/game (3:18 last season in St. Louis...This is a little skewed as McKee received a misconduct against the Isles and will average more as the season goes on)
- Alex Goligoski - up 2:05 (2:10 SH per game in 2009-10, only played a negligible 0:05 of short-handed time in his 45 game NHL cameo last season )
- Sergei Gonchar - up 1:09 (3:46/game in 09-10)
- Brooks Orpik - up 0:58 (3:24/game)
- Mark Eaton - up 0:39 (3:24/game)
- Kris Letang - up 0:25 (1:41/game)
--Fueled by Crosby's 65% win rate, the Penguins are 8th in the league so far in this young season in faceoffs with 53.6%. In 2008-09 they were tied for 18th (49.1%), in 2007-08 Pittsburgh was dead last with just 46.1%.
--The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are off to a rough 1-2-0 start (5 goals for, 7 against) and 117 Penalty minutes (!!!). Three of their 5 goals were scored by guys 32 years old (2 - Wyatt Smith) and 25 years old (1 - Chris Conner). The Baby Pens need more production from some of their more junior members to get back to their typically winning ways.
--Also in the "Encouraging, but good" file, Pittsburgh is 5th in the league with 26.8 shots allowed per game. In 2008-09 the Pens were tied for 18th with 30.3 shots allowed, the year before they were 24th with 30.8 shots against.
Again, most team's seasons are only about 6% over, so you have to take some with a grain of salt. A lot of the indicators look good with the initial results
On tap this week: Monday in Ottawa (3 wins 1 loss), down to Carolina (2-3) on Wednesday and back home for a few days of rest and practice before Tampa Bay (1-1-2) at the Igloo on Saturday night. The Penguins will have been on a bit of an extended road trip by the Carolina game, hopefully they have enough in tank to maintain their energy and effort level.