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All my hexes live in Texas. Pens can't solve Niemi, lose 3-0

The Pittsburgh Penguins get sloppy play and can't get their offense in gear, losing the season opener 3-0 to the Dallas Stars.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Opening night for the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't exactly start with a bang.

Early in the game, Beau Bennett took a wrist shot, missed the net wide and the Stars went the other way.

David Perron couldn't catch up to his man - Mattias Janmark and Brian Dumoulin got schooled by Ales Hemsky.

Poor Marc-Andre Fleury never had a chance.

(How many times will we read that in recaps this year?)

That was all the scoring until the second period. After Nick Bonino took a lazy hooking penalty, Ales Hemsky ripped a shot on the rush past Scuderi, who screened Fleury. Like seriously what is Scuderi doing here?

Later in the 3rd it was more of the same. Ian Cole takes a fairly needless penalty, Rob Scuderi fails to clear a puck on a pathetically weak "effort", and whaddya know, Jamie Benn tips a goal past a helpless Fleury.

That was it for the scoring, the Pens put a strong push on in the game's closing minutes, but to no avail. Niemi was really good and Pittsburgh seemed hexed.

  • Tough night for Dumoulin. Didn't look good  on the first goal against, in the second period Patrick Eaves bumps him and he tumbles in Fleury. Yikes. The narrative "Dumoulin is 6'4 but plays like he's 5'4" held water again tonight. And, that's not fair because most short guys (Ennis, Zuccarello, Gerbe, etc) would never last in the NHL if *they* played like they were 5'4. Easy to tell the coaches didn't like Dumoulin either, his ice-time per period went: 5:59 in the 1st, 4:35 in the 2nd and just 3:08 in the 3rd.
  • If you're keeping track that's 3 Penguins goals against and 3 times old #4 was on the ice. Scuderi had the game that his worst critics would fear that he would all summer long. Bad, bad, bad. Do the Pens coaches still keep playing him, thinking he has something to add?
  • Midway through the game the line changes started. Perron got shuffled up to the Malkin line, and for good reason - not a very smooth debut for Sergei Plotnikov. Plots wasn't moving his feet very well and didn't make much of anything happen.
  • The Penguins kept Malkin and Crosby on separate power play units, and on the surface it seemingly makes sense. With all the talent they have, they can ice 2 about equally solid groups. However, it lacked results and the goal of a power play is to score and score quickly. Having Malkin sitting on the bench for the first minute of the power play, isn't the quickest way to score on the power play.
  • Not a great penalty for Bonino to take. Bennett either in the 3rd. Malkin and Cole took avoidable high-sticks as well. Wasn't team discipline supposed to improve?
  • 7 shots on goal and 12 total attempts for Kris Letang. Nice to see him back out there and healthy. And after all the talk that they wanted to limit his minutes, Letang (as usual) led everyone in the game with a whopping 28:18 played. Granted, it's not a deep or good defense, so he's going to have to play a lot, but this is on the coaches. Playing Letang 28 minutes a night is not a sustainable idea.
  • A couple of great 3rd period shots for Phil Kessel but no dice. Great game by Antti Niemi, gotta tip your cap to him. 11 total shot attempts by Phil, including 4 missed shots. Several of them were picked corners where he juussst missed scoring a goal. Gotta re-align those sites.
  • Speaking of a lot of shot attempts, Daniel Sprong managed 5 shot attempts in just 8:43 of play. Didn't stand out or have many dangerous efforts, but hey, he gets the puck, he was putting it towards the net.
  • It's one thing to be short-handed. To play Scuderi AND Bobby Farnham at the same time when short-handed? Talk about a man power disadvantage.
  • The Penguins looked bad in the neutral zone when they don't have the puck. We'll see how they adjust, if they can, but they're giving up a lot of time-space. Doesn't help when half the defense is Scuds/Dumoulin/Ben Lovejoy and in total fall-back mode.
  • Crosby was good on faceoffs early (15 wins, 8 losses at one point) but regressed to 16-30. And zippy shots on goal. A couple nice passes to Kessel but a mostly quiet night for Sid.
  • Pens on pace to score 0 goals this season. Don't worry gang, it's just 1 game in an 82 game season.

With that in mind, we'll move on to the next one. The Pens got a rude awakening tonight. Welcome to the 2015-16 season.