PENGUINS 4, LIGHTNING 1
The Trib’s Terrific Trio:
1 – D Jay McKee, Penguins
Key stats: 1 hit, 7 blocked shots
Rossi: A call now for Pens fans to form a fan club for McKee called the “McBlockheads.”
2 – C Sidney Crosby
Key stats: 4 attempted shots, 2 assists
Rossi: Rumors of his disappearing playmaking-ways were greatly exaggerated.
3 – D Sergei Gonchar, Penguins
Key stats: 5 attempted shots, 1 goal, 2 points
Rossi: One of Sarge’s favorite songs is “London Calling.” I have no clue why this is important. I just thought you should know.
SAY IT, SIR
“No controversy yet, huh? Somebody’s got to do something stupid.” — Penguins D Brooks Orpik after I attempted to argue the team’s 7-1-0 start was boring.
Rossi: You know, looking at the remaining opponents on this home stand, it’s hard not to figure on the Penguins owning at least 20 points after 12 games. How’s that for a hangover?
— BY ROB ROSSI (10/17/09)
THE NEW GUY
Occasionally I’ll turn parts of the blog over to Josh Yohe, the Trib’s No. 2 Penguins beat writer. So, take it, Josh…
You won’t often hear C Evgeni Malkin and McKee’s names uttered in the same sentence. C Mike Rupp, however, found a way.
Rupp, like the rest of the team, was blown away by McKee’s seven blocked shots against Tampa Bay.
“It’s like Geno in a way,” Rupp said. “Watching Geno skate with the puck is kind of like watching Jay block shots. They’re both extremely skilled at what they do and they look different than anyone else.”
McKee now leads the NHL with 28 blocked shots. He is a plus-6 on the young season while his defense partner, Alex Goligoski, is a plus-8.
The two have immediately displayed loads of chemistry.
“They are completely different hockey players,” coach Dan Bylsma said, “but they’re making a nice pairing right now.”
Goligoski has taken note of McKee’s unique shot blocking ability.
“He was ridiculous tonight,” Goligoski said. “He was making kick saves out there.”
Rupp, having played five of his seven NHL seasons in New Jersey, knows a thing or two about good defense. He said players like McKee are rare and more valuable than many realize.
“The guy is an amazing shot blocker,” Rupp said. “It’s not just about getting in lanes. There is a lot more to it than that. He is able to move his body and block shots that other people can’t.”
So, after blocking seven shots, is McKee ready for some hut tub treatment? No, he is fine. There are a few bumps and bruises, but nothing out of the ordinary for a player who specializes in blocking pucks for a living.
“Only one got me pretty bad tonight,” McKee said. “I’ll put some ice on it. No big deal.”
Through eight games with the Penguins, though, McKee has been a very big deal. The departures of Ds Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi left the Penguins without their best defensive pairing from last year’s Stanley Cup run.
So far, McKee and Goligoski look capable of filling their shows. McKee, in particular, has been outstanding killing penalties, the area where many feared Gill and Scuderi would most be missed.
“Everything has been great so far,” McKee said. “Working with Alex has really gone well. The kid has a ton of talent and you can see it coming out. I’m really happy to be here.”
— BY JOSH YOHE
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