TribLIVE
Blogs | Sports | News
Chipped Ice

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

Pens Push: This game’s turning point, Stars talking ‘Goose,’ and where Tangradi must improve.

Some thoughts and observations after the Penguins’ 3-1 win over Dallas at Consol Energy Center:

= This game turned on the approximately six-minute stretch late in the second period that Dallas played with only four defensemen because of injuries to Alex Goligoski and Mark Fistric. It was during those minutes the Penguins cracked the 1-4 neutral-zone trap the Stars were using with much success, and the solution was to simply wear down the remaining Dallas defensemen with a barrage of hits in the neutral and defensive zones. Fistric returned for the third period, but by then momentum felt as though it had swung completely to the Penguins, who were fresh because they hadn’t played since last Saturday. The Stars, conversely, were playing the third of four straight road games – and what a brutal close these final three are with trips to Washington, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

 

= Goligoski’s Stars teammates couldn’t pay him enough compliments before this game. LW Brenden Morrow said that “Goose,” in some areas of his game, reminded of former Stars great D Sergei Zubov – specifically with the way Goligoski can slow down the pace of a game and run a power play. Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan was even more effusive of Goligoski.

“(His leadership) even translates with me,” Gulutzan said. “I’ve had conversations with ‘Goose,’ and obviously he comes from a winning background… about how they’ve had success in Pittsburgh. He’s been a help for me, and I know in the locker room, whether he’s talking or not, just the way he approaches things daily in practice has been a benefit for the group.”

Goligoski, who played fewer than seven minutes in his return to Consol Energy center, was in great spirits after a morning practice. He joked with the reporters who once covered him daily, and seemed completely at ease with his new surroundings in the Dallas room.

As I’ve said many times in this forum over the years: Reporters end up rooting for two things – a great story and the health of the good guys they get to know on the beat. So, this reporter is wishing for a speedy recovery by Goligoski, and some playoff games this spring for his (cough, cough) star to shine.

 

= LW Eric Tangradi finished without a point, a shot and a hit in his season debut for the Penguins. Recalled Thursday, he certainly did not stand out against Dallas. He possesses a lot of talent, but the speed just isn’t there, and I wonder if he has fully committed to the instructions of the Penguins’ skating coordinator, because his form does not look all that different from years past, at least to these admittedly untrained eyes. A forward cannot play for a Bylsma team if he doesn’t blend tenacity and speed, and unfortunately teaching a player either of those attributes at this level is not likely for any coach. Something Bylsma did not say before the Dallas game struck me.

“It actually was quite a difficult choice,” Bylsma said of the recall. “There are a handful of guys (at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) who are playing well right now.”

Granted, Bylsma did add that Tangradi’s “game has really come on strong the last eight games or so… he’s playing strong down low, been protecting the puck and a physical presence, and really has improved his puck management in the neutral zone.”

Bylsma never mentioned an improvement in Tangradi’s skating. It had to get better if he is going to stick in the NHL, at least with the Penguins.

 

= LW Chris Kunitz played a really strong game against Dallas, and that is saying something considering he had two plays that kept the Penguins from scoring goals. I address this in the final game story in Saturday’s Tribune-Review, but allow me this observation: The Penguins should be thrilled with Kunitz’s efficiency in getting to the slot/crease areas over the past three weeks. I suspect they are, and that Bylsma will tell him to change nothing about the way he played against Dallas. That type of net-front ferociousness is what the Penguins’ need from Kunitz, who is best on the team at that very trying job.

 

= LW Matt Cooke on his penalty-shot move, a successful one at that:

“Not many goalies have seen me (on a penalty shot) other than our two because it’s my first one ever,” Cooke said. “I’m just fortunate that we get to practice (shootouts) because without that I probably would have been pretty nervous out there standing at the blue line.”

Cooke has scored five goals in 16 games, or one more than penalty minutes earned. If that isn’t the most stunning statistic at this point of the season, I would like to know what trumps it.

By the way, it isn’t like he did not call this change: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_753051.html#ixzz1VvJQqHMe

 

Cheers, and look for Josh Yohe’s updates from Carolina on Saturday.

Rossi

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

Comments

  1. Good observations. I think the Pens aggressive forecheck and willingness to engage the Stars physically (and continually) in all three zones is what ultimately led to the victory. The Pens simply outworked and out-willed their opponent.

    I agree, Tangradi didn’t do nearly enough to impress. He had a few good plays where he took the body and showed willingness to pay the price in the slot, but he was far from a standout. From what I’ve seen and heard, the biggest knock against Tangradi is he is insistent on playing the finesse game rather than use his size and play the power game. He would do well to study and emulate James Neal, but that of course would require him to improve his skating by a good margin.

    Kunitz is a beast. As much as I do like Staal, Kunitz is hamstrung without a good playmaking pivot. Dupuis has really stepped up with some great passing plays, but I can’t imagine there will be anyone who will be more excited for Sid’s return than Chris Kunitz. His performance on the PP is proof of what he is capable of when he’s surrounded with the right kind of talent. Tremendous.

  2. Ron says:

    For all of the young talent we always say we have, I have been consistently amazed at how sharp the drop-off in talent is from our standard roster guys and the W-B guys. You keep waiting for one of them to break through but all of them just lack that pro differentiator. The worst part is, I just don’t see any of them getting better with age. That is why Letestu is gone.

Other Blogs
Sports: Dejan Kovacevic | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | Sitting Ringside | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports | H.S. Sports Insiders
News: This Just In | Trib List
» Top TribLIVE.com Sports
» Top TribLIVE.com News
» Top TribLIVE.com Breaking News