Friday, November 11, 2011

Pens 0 - Dallas 1: 1st Intermission Quick Hits

The Pens came out flying, pressuring Dallas right away and generating chances. James Neal came out with something to prove, getting a number of good opportunities and playing aggressively from the second his skate hit the ice on the first shift. His line, along with Malkin and Sullivan, has looked very strong through one.

Only one defensive lapse allowed Dallas to pull ahead on this one. Dvorak got behind the Pens D and into the corner. He threw a pass cross-crease from the corner and hit a streaking Nystrom for a redirect up and over Fleury. Fleury clearly wasn't expecting Nystrom, he was deep in his net and the pass surprised him. Clearly a broken play and bad communication by the Pens, but it was enough for the Stars to jump out ahead.

Despite being down on the scoreboard, the Pens looked exceptional in the first. The Pens are imposing their will physically against the Stars, beating their opponents to every loose puck, forcing turnovers, and completely controlling the tempo of the game. The Stars, on the other hand, just don't seem willing to pay the price against the Pens. Although the Stars are using a four-man defensive front, their lack of physical engagement against the Pens forwards is effectively nullifying their advantage in man-power defensively. As a result, Keri Lehtonen has had to be exceptionally sharp for the Stars, especially at controlling his rebounds.

If the Pens can continue their strong physical presence and avoid any further defensive lapses, I like their chances to come back and end the Stars' streak at four wins...

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