Jordan Staal A little luck
If anyone could use some, it's Jordan Staal. After being injury-free for his first 4 seasons, Staal has been banged up since last year's playoffs. Now, the excellent two-way center is a gametime decision and could see time with Malkin right away. Let's all hope #11 skates onto the ice tomorrow.
Talbot and Fleury Another chance
Both of these guys missed the original WC game in Buffalo in 2008 due to injuries. Today, they get a chance to skate on the outdoor rink and take part in something that they may not have the chance to experience again.
Whether it's at the Winter Classic or not, Jordan Staal will soon be centering Evgeni Malkin. And it can't happen soon enough. Malkin is struggling to be consistent and needs a linemate that can bring some consistent offense or at least generate chances on his own. Staal will do that for Geno.
NHL Weather help
After all of the records this WC has broken regarding promotions, jersey sales, advertising time, etc., the NHL really needs the game to go off without much more than a hitch. Constant stops to repair the ice and make it playable will lose many fans in the shuffle of a very busy day in sports. Playing through bad weather may lead to injuring one of the league's premiere young stars, but they may have no other choice.
Staal is expected to start the game on the fourth line, but Bylsma said that he will see some action with Evgeni Malkin on his wing.
Now that (my return) is finally here, it doesn’t even really seem real yet. I know as soon as I get out on that ice and play a couple shifts, it’ll really sink in. It gives me chills now, and I’m really excited for it.-Staal
Winger Andrew Gordon and center Keith Aucoin were sent down to Hershey (dec 29).
Defenseman Tom Poti's availability for Saturday's contest is unknown, but he has been skating and did so again Thursday (head).
Winger Boyd Gordon (foot infection) was seen wearing a walking boot Monday after missing the past six contests. He will have stitches removed Tuesday, but then cannot skate for over a week.
Forward Matt Bradley (broken finger) had surgery recently to mend a broken finger suffered last week.
Both are out.
We keep waiting for news on Jordan Staal.
Team Leaders Capitals@Penguins
Alexander Semin (18)
(32) Sidney Crosby
Alex Ovechkin (28)
(33) Sidney Crosby
Alex Ovechkin (42)
(65) Sidney Crosby
Alexander Semin (6)
POWER PLAY GOALS
(10) Sidney Crosby
Backstrom, Semin, Laich, Knuble, Steckel (1)
(2) Matt Cooke, Craig Adams
Alex Ovechkin (4)
(4) Alex Goligoski
Alex Ovechkin (174)
(154) Sidney Crosby
Alex Ovechkin (80)
(56) Sidney Crosby
Alexander Semin (15.3)
SHOOTING % (Min: 40)
(20.8) Sidney Crosby
Nicklas Backstrom (382)
(520) Sidney Crosby
Nicklas Backstrom (337)
(414) Sidney Crosby
Nicklas Backstrom (719)
(934) Sidney Crosby
Nicklas Backstrom (30.3)
% OF TEAM FACEOFFS TAKEN
(40.5) Sidney Crosby
David Steckel (64.1)
FACEOFF WINNING % (Min: 150)
(55.7) Sidney Crosby
Brooks Laich (12)
+ / -
(20) Sidney Crosby
Matt Hendricks (63)
(76) Deryk Engelland
Alex Ovechkin (126)
(111) Matt Cooke
John Carlson (81)
(67) Zbynek Michalek
John Carlson (40)
(35) Evgeni Malkin
Nicklas Backstrom (42)
(24) Evgeni Malkin
Alex Ovechkin (21:36)
TIME ON ICE/GAME (FW's)
(21:54) Sidney Crosby
Mike Green (26:28)
TIME ON ICE/GAME (DM's)
(23:24) Kris Letang
Nicklas Backstrom (23.9)
(22.6) Sidney Crosby
John Carlson (25.9)
(27.0) Paul Martin
Michal Neuvirth (14)
WINS FOR GOALIES
(17) Marc-Andre Fleury
Semyon Varlamov (2.28)
GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE (Overall)
(2.14) Brent Johnson
Semyon Varlamov (91.9)
SAVE % (Overall)
(92.5) Brent Johnson
The Winter Classic is finally here and I've been saving this topic for the occasion. Today's x's and o's will spotlight the difference between playing right/left wing or right/left defense. **Disclaimer: I played defense my entire life so my sympathy for wingers may be lacking.
For Defenders: Playing the right or left side simply doesn't make a difference unless it's an offensive zone faceoff. In the defensive zone, it doesn't matter what side you are on because you have a responsibility that could go anywhere. You also can't stay on one side because quick reverse passes can be made to open up space for the breakout.
As for preference, some defenders don't like trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone on their backhands. At the NHL level, I don't think that makes a difference. Pretty much every player should be able to do that. Hell, when I played juniors my buddy and I never lined up on the same side for faceoffs. It's all about the communication during the play that makes a pairing in position. I can not stress enough importance of communicating because one let down can lead to a goal against.
Realistically, the only time a defender will pick a side on the ice is if they are lining up against a star player or there is a set offensive zone faceoff. Both of these situational parts of the game speak for themselves.
For Offense: I'll make this short and sweet - I believe there are only 2 major factors that play into a player's mind when choosing which side of the ice he prefers. One is how they want to accept the breakout pass. Two is if they prefer shooting from a one-time position or if they can accept a pass across their body and shoot. It really all comes down to preference. Let's take a look at both factors and how they play into the decision of which side to play:
1) Breakout Pass: This will be the only sympathy given to forwards. It's very difficult to take a crisp breakout pass on your backhand consistently. You need soft hands to catch the puck and quick hands to turn it over to your forehand w/o losing any speed. That is the major problem when playing your "off-wing". The off-wing means playing the opposite side of your strong side. If you are right-handed, it would mean playing the left wing. Vice versa for left-handed players. I'll probably over use the word "preference" in this segment, but it really comes down to what the player feels more comfortable with.
2) Offensive zone transition: This would be the reason why some player's like playing the off-wing. If you are coming into the zone, your stick is closer to the middle of the ice and prepared for a one-timer. That offers a quick release point. With a defender trying to knock you off the puck, it's easier to bare down and shoot a puck when your strength is in the middle closer to the goalie. The only negative is having the puck exposed to the defender. A quick poke-check can have the puck going back towards your net quickly.
On the contrary, some players who protect the puck well hate having their stick open to the defenders. They'd prefer to protect the puck and have their forehand closer to the boards. This could be another pro found in playing a strong-side wing. An obvious con for this would be going all the way across your body to shoot. It gives the goaltender more time to square up to the puck. What might only be a second or two can be the difference on whether the goalie is in position or not.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to preference. I don't really believe it's difficult to play either side, but players do have their strong preferences because of their past experience. I've only met a few players who refused to play the opposite wing in my life. I've never met a defender who was reluctant to change sides.
MiB's Did You Know #1:
Did You Know That- This game will be played outside.
There is no truth to the gossip that the winning team has to go to Mystery, Alaska and play an upstart local team after the All Star Game.
MiB's Did You Know #2:
Did You Know That- This game features the long awaited match up of two of the best at their positions in a once-in-a-lifetime format.
That's right, DJ King and Eric Godard may just face off in the second ever Winter Classic Fight. Oh, and some guys named Crosby and Ovechkin...
MiB's Did You Know #3:
Did You Know That- Owner Mario Lemieux played in yesterday's Alumni Game, skating in a Penguin uniform for the first time since December 16th, 2005.
Rumor has it that Mario couldn't stand the thought of Crosby doing something awesome that he hasn't done.
MiB's Did You Know #4:
Did You Know That- the Penguins have done this before.
Back in 2008 the Penguins played the Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, winning 2-1 in a shoot out. It remains the best thing to happen at Ralph Wilson stadium in the past decade.
MiB's Did You Know #5:
Did You Know That- MiB himself is at this game.
by Kinguin and Uncle Martin
Last edited by Ugene Malkin: 01-01-2011 at 05:34 PM.
Thanks and congrats to everyone that contributed for this GDT, ColePens, Doc Crane, MiB, Sideline, Metalhead, Stratovarius and especially to Uncle Martin for not only putting all this together in great style, but also including great stuff of his own.
He's been working a lot on this GDT - I'm witness - and deserves all kudos.
I have never been so excited to be going to a sporting event. Even the few Cup games, there's been that element of nervousness that made it a little less fun. With this one, it's just one of 82 so there it's not the end of the world if they lose, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. I'll never get to do this again. Can't wait.