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[Open Thread] Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins

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The Leafs travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins. The small news is that Anton Stralman will be in the lineup in place of Bryan McCabe who was nursing an injury that has now become too painful. Where have we heard this story before? Jiri Tlusty will be making his NHL debut tonight as well. Somehow Andy Wozniewski is back in the lineup. The Penguins are on a 3 game winning streak and won the first game of this series 6-4 in Toronto on the strength of some atrocious defending by McCabe who is out of the lineup. Suckers!

5 Questions With...

The Pensblog Staff was kind enough to answer some questions prior to the game tonight.  

1. The first round last year against the senators was a little discouraging after a fairly successful regular season. What were the main problems with the team and what changes did the team make to address those issues?

It's a broken record to say that the Pens lacked playoff experience, but they did seem shell-shocked. They somehow managed to pull a victory in game 2, and when the series came back to Pittsburgh, they lost a couple tight games. The Sens simply locked down the Pens and waited for their chances.

As far as the changes they've made, the glaring change is that they have grown one year older. They brought in Sydor to solidify the blue line and brought in Sykora to try and be Crosby's Kurri.

2. What's your impression of the Pens' season thus far?

The Pens look like the same team from last season. They've had to come back from 2 goals a few times this season but the glaring joke of the season was the opener against Carolina.

3. The Pens are giving up 31.5 shots per game, the fifth highest total in the league, any worries that the defence is still not on par with the offence or that MAF can't cope with the workload?

We think they are up there in terms of shots allowed because of the style they play. The Pens have Malkin, Staal, Crosby, Whitney -- all offensive threats. They aren't going to sit back and play a defensive system and win games 2-1 when they can go for the throat and win some games 4-1, 5-2. They're playing to their strengths (offense), which is what you do when you have Crosby. [Editor's Note: sigh]

4. Do you have any special memories of a particular Leafs-Pens matchup (aside from the recent domination by the pens)?

What's great about the Leafs coming to Pittsburgh is the fans. It's a great sight to see 30-foot Leafs flags waving every time Mats Sundin scores a goal at Mellon Arena.

With this season, and last season, Maple Leaf/Pens games are the best in the business. Our favorite memory is either Staal's OT winner last season or when Roberts owned someone into the boards and the Pens scored late to tie. -- I think that's the heart attack game. [Editor's Note: Yeah, that was the one. I know it's wrong but I wish Gary was still around]

5. Predictions for the game?

Pens 14-1.

And people say that Leaf fans are hated everywhere. That's a hell of a prediction. While I agree that the Penguins could put up 14 I don't think that they'll be able to stop the Leafs high-powered offence.

As per your votes, Mats Sundin's 1 goal, 2 assist performance was enough to win the player of the game. I'll keep a running tally of the results in the right sidebar. Also, in the pre-game comments, I want to get a prediction game going so put in your guesses for who will score take the first shot, get the first penalty, and score the first goal. I'll keep a running tally of the results in the right sidebar. Last game's winners were: Shot - Sundin, Penalty - Steen, and Goal - Sundin.

As always, your thoughts throughout the game are much appreciated in the comments. Each period and overtime/shootout gets their own section so just reply to the relevant section's main post. You need to set up an account to comment so register and share your thoughts.