Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 47th game of the season on Jan. 13, 2010.
Given my secret enjoyment of the brand of hockey the Penguins play, I’ve caught a good number of their games this season and while yes, they have a number of very good players (one of them is named something like Stan Cosby?), and they score the seventh-most goals per game in the league, they have one gigantic problem that no one seems capable of figuring out.
Their power play is awful. Like, it’s really, really awful. Last year, it ran at a whopping 17.22 percent, which was well below league-average. And this year, it’s even worse. Just 14.3 percent efficiency. That’s 29th in the league.
Granted, they’ve had a few injuries to key personnel this year and all that, but a group that talented almost has to try to only score on 14.3 percent of its power plays. The whole thing doesn’t make a lick of sense. (Not that Calgary’s power play is much better.)
But the difference is the combination of that and the Flames seventh-best penalty kill says to me that unless the Flames get demolished playing 5-on-5, which seems unlikely, then the Pens’ scoring is going to be held to a dull roar and Calgary might just have a chance to win this game. Maybe.
The Calgary Flames (26-14-6 for 58 points. Tied for fourth in the West, tied for first in the Northwest) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (28-18-1 for 57 points. Fourth in the East, second in the Atlantic).
7:30 p.m. Mountain time and 9:30 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should tie a record for giant fish-catching.
Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta.
Calgary is 12-8-3 at home this year, and is 5-0-1 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Pens are 14-10 on the road but is 4-5-1 against Western Conference teams.
What (to hate about the Penguins)
Everyone’s down on Evgeni Malkin — The guy has 43 points this season and everyone’s acting like he’s a gigantic disappointment. Sure, 43 points has him tied for just 21st in the league, and that’s not exactly great for a player of his caliber or a player making the kind of money he makes, but he’s still Evgeni freaking Malkina and, if my memory is correct, he’s been a second-half player his entire career. Oh boo hoo, our second-best player has 43 points life is so hard in Pittsburgh.
Matt Cooke — No explanation necessary.
Not Sidney Crosby — People are obsessed with what a baby he is and all that. Sorry losers, Sid Crosby rules. One of my favorite hockey players. Super-nice guy too.
Because Sidney Crosby is playing. Enjoy the game and talk about how awesome Sidney Crosby is in the comments section.