Preview: Blues vs. Penguins
Battle of Youth
Riding their 5-0 victory over Anaheim on Saturday, the Blues face one of their toughest individual games of the year on Tuesday against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blues showed in their most recent game that they can not only compete against the better/best teams, but be a dominating force when all cylinders are firing.
This game boils down to a battle of youth. Pittsburgh, the defending Stanley Cup champions, created the model for success which teams around the NHL now are trying to follow – one which is centered around a young core. The Blues remind me of any early Pittsburgh, a young team that has looked amazing at times, but can be inconsistent and has yet to bring all the pieces together.
Odds are, victory will come to the team who’s youngsters performed better on that given night, whether it is Perron, Oshie, Johnsons and Berglund or Crosby, Malkin, Kennedy and Fleury.
Below are some thoughts on what the Blues need to do to not only have a shot at grabbing two points on the road, but staying in the game against the Penguins.
- Cut out turnovers in your own end. Carlo, I’m afraid to say it but I’m looking at you. Losing the puck in your own end is disasterous against a side that sports the likes of Crosby/Malkin.
- Strong goaltending. So this one is a gimme, but the Penguins have an extremely talented Marc-Andre Fleury in net who through seven games is 7-0-0 with a 2.10 GAA and a save percentage of .920. My money is on Mason starting and he will have to bring his “A” game to keep the Blues afloat.
- Manage the puck. The Penguins can’t beat you if they don’t have the puck. Manage possession and don’t force plays. Pittsburgh is loaded with weapons from front to back that can light the lamp at any given time, except when they are chasing back into their own end.
- Speed. Copy the model used against Anaheim this past weekend. The play of Perron and McDonald will be imperative as their speed disrupts the Pittsburgh plan of attack.
- Be aware of the secondary weapons. Everyone knows you can’t let Crosby or Malkin beat you, but guys like Tyler Kennedy and veteran blueliner Sergei Gonchar should not go forgotten. Gonchar has as many points as Crosby (7) in the team’s first seven contests.
- Stay out of the box. Obviously, with the roster Pittsburgh has, you can not afford to give them too many power-plays.
- Draw penalties. The Penguins have seven men on their roster with 10+ PIMs as compared to the Blues having just one (Crombeen). Special teams work could be a huge factor in this matchup.
Overall the Blues need to be more consistent and bring their best Tuesday. A slow start could prove extremely costly and tough to overcome against the talented Penguins squad. Sorry for those of you with DirecTV who will miss out on this one, but Blues fans with Dish rejoice – you can watch this broadcast.