Pens-Ducks Recap: Pens win 6-4, Dupuis, Maatta Crosby shine



Hockey is finally back. The Pittsburgh Penguins are finally back. Life is good. We know all about the change that took place. New head coach, new general manager, Hornqvist and Spaling acquired for James Neal. A complete overhaul of the bottom-six and a completely new system installed. Everyone was ready to see all of this displayed in the regular season. 


We had seen a preview and heard about how the Penguins were going to be a more exciting team to watch. Focus points on puck possession and getting shots on net. If the outcome of Thursday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks is a preview of what's to come, then my goodness we are all in for a roller-coaster type of year. 


Pens win six-four. 


The good: 


Crosby, Hornqvist, Kunitz

There are some Pens' fans that did not want to break up the Crosby-Dupuis-Kunitz were dominant in their first game together, and that line could be lethal as the season goes on. Hornqvist will soon become just as big as a fan-favorite as Neal was once Pens' fans see how he plays. Crosby had two goals and an assist, and Hornqvist had one goal and one assist. The great thing about Hornqvist is he will score a lot of goals for this team without taking any dumb penalties for kneeing people in the head. 

The line of Crosby-Malkin-Kunitz dominated the puck and developed a ton of scoring chances. Crosby's wrists looked pretty healthy as he sniped two goals and made a bunch of other impressive scoring chances. 




 





Crosby looks 110% healthy right now. Maybe, just maybe, Crosby was actually injured in the postseason. His wrists sure as Hell looked healthy Thursday night. Our thoughts are that this line combination should stay together for the time being. 

Olli Maatta: 

Trying to avoid a sophomore slump was going to be a challenge for Olli Maatta, especially considering that he had to have shoulder surgery in the offseason. Hell, some thought that he wouldn't even be ready for the start of the regular season. If you watched Thursday night's game, you would have never known that Maatta was only 21 years-old, and coming off of surgery. He was excellent. He looked like a world-class defenseman. Maatta had three assists and led the  Pens' top-four defenseman (Letang, Maatta, Ehrhoff, Martin) in Corsi %. Some of the passes that Maatta made were. This just in, the hockey gods have canceled Maatta's sophomore slump. 





Pascal Dupuis 

Fact, the Pittsburgh Penguins missed Pascal Dupuis in the postseason last year. Coming off of a season-ending knee-injury, Dupuis looked aboslutely incredible Thursday night. One goal and three assists, Dupuis was a waived-off goal for interference away from having a five-point night. 



Dupuis, who is playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter, did a great job of using his speed to generate offense. It was-and-still is obvious that the Pens are a much better and different team when Dupuis is in the lineup, mostly because of his skating ability. On top of that, Dupuis has a reputation for being a great guy and a great teammate. We are certainly happy that he is back. 



THE BAD

Marc-Andre Fleury 

Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals and a save percentage under .900%. Not exactly the result that you're looking for from a goalie that is playing for a new contract. If anything, Fleury is going to be the hardest on himself, because his play this year will dictate his next contract. Sure, the Pens won the game, and Fleury did make a few big saves, particularly towards the end of the game. But four goals on under 30 shots just isn't going to cut it. The Pens are not going to be able to score more than four goals every single net that he is in net. 

You cannot blame Fleury for all four goals, especially since three of them were while the Pens were short-handed. However, Fleury once again made a crucial mistake while OUT OF HIS NET, that directly led to a goal against. 





Discipline and the Penalty-Kill

As fun as the Penguins were too watch, they were also frustrating at times because of their inability to not take penalties. 19 total penalty minutes on the night for the Pens, they handed Anaheim six power-plays. Six! Anaheim cashed in on three of those power-plays to score three goals. Corey Perry is actually still open in the slot. Dupuis admitted that the Pens need to do a better job on the penalty-kill and staying out of the box. 

Paul Steigerwald 

Paul Steigerwald often drives Pens' fans nuts with his commentary, but he might have went overboard when he tried to be funny at the cost of Bruce Boudreau 




Other notes: 

Really liked what we saw from Johnston's system in terms of both puck support, and the fact the reigns have been lifted from the defensemen. We noticed the defensemen pinching in a lot more, generating a lot more offense in terms of shots and puck possession. 

For the crowd that loves grit and toughness, as well as teammates sticking up for one another, you probably loved the games by Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, and Zach Sill. Sill had a epic fight, and Downie and Comeau both got in Kesler's face after he had an unnecessary big-hit on Kris Letang towards the end of the game. Comeau played a strong game and scored the game-winning goal as well. 

First career win for Mike Johnston as a NHL head coach. Also first career win for Jim Rutherford as Pens' general manager. 

One more shoutout for Dupuis who was the star of the show. You have to feel for good for him to comeback from a major injury and have a career-night. You might never see this again: 





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About Chad Nolan

Steelers, Pens, Pirates....Yup
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