Some thoughts this morning as my youngest son heads off to take the SAT's for the second time:
Can't say enough about the defensive effort displayed by the Penguins Thursday night at the Phone Booth, given how short-handed they were. Washington is obviously seriously struggling, with a new coach and no doubt a new system to install, but the Penguins' defense virtually eliminated any of new Caps' coach Dale HeadHunter objectives reach fruition. Especially must give a stick-tap to rookies Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres. Those kids most definitely held their own. That said, let's hope that the time out of the lineup for both Zbynek Michalek and Kris Letang is shorter rather than later.
Speaking of the defensemen, and I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but I'm really looking forward to what kind of defensive pairings GMRS and HCDB put together in 2 or 3 years when youngsters like Despres, Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington possibly join the current group in Pittsburgh. Where would that leave promising D-men like Bortuzzo, Brian Strait, Alex Grant, or Philip Samuelsson, not to mention Nick D'Agostino and Alex Velischek? It's a nice problem to have, certainly. Lots of things could and probably will happen by that time that will affect the Penguins' defensive makeup, especially considering the Pens' salary cap situation. Trades will happen, free agents will come and go.
Hoping to see a nice effort by Brent Johnson tonight (presumably) in Raleigh tonight. Johnny isn't having the greatest start to his season at 1-3-2, although there are certainly much worse backup goaltenders around the NHL today. Speaking of Raleigh, for those of you who've contemplated making a little road trip down there, I highly recommend it. I've seen I believe 9 games there, and each time the experience has been enjoyable. Not a bunch of dickheads in the crowd, very friendly (albeit not the most knowledge) hockey fans, and a nice arena to boot. I give the Pens a good shot to win, mainly 'cause I'm not going, you see, the Penguins are 1-6-2 when I go.
Gonna be a good test for the Penguins in their schedule coming up, with games to include Cup champs Boston, Philly and Detroit. One of things I've believed in for a long time, and I've been saying it in my blogs for five years now, is the effect of the psychological and emotional aspects in team sports. Meaning, teams getting ready to play the Penguins basically since the Crosby era began (and before that in the Jagr and Lemieux eras as well) get extremely pumped up to play the Pens. It's a benchmark game for them, it's clear as day. They come out flying and hitting everything in sight. And frankly, that intensity is one area that the Penguins sometimes don't match, and it often results in the Pens giving up the first goal in the game. Perhaps it isn't as apparent when the Pens play the big dogs, like in most of their upcoming games. But in games such as tonight vs. Caroina, or vs. the Islanders, watch for that.
Stat-wise, not really too much to complain about, is there? Even the Penguins' usual culprit, their power play, is ranked 10th in the league at 18.4%. There are a couple facets of their game that could use some improvement, though. One of the usually strong points in the Pens' game, faceoffs, is down so far this year, ranked only 18th in the league at 49.5% win pct. Of course, with Sidney Crosby just coming back, one would think that percentage would improve. Also, one of my Pens' pet peeves, missed shots, is way up there again this year. The Penguins rank 2nd in the league with 349 missed shots. Now, some would say at least they're taking the shots, rather than continually passing it. OK, I can see that, but it sure would be nice if more of those got on net, creating at least more rebound chances and hopefully more goals.
Fucking disgusted by the lack of action by the NHL, once again, against the Capitals John Carlson on the blatant headshot on Matt Cooke Thursday night. This is the 2nd obvious headshot on Cooke that is going unpunished, the first coming early in the year by Cal-Gary's Cory Sarich. This is nothing more than a witchhunt against Cooke. It's obvious, it's blatant, and it's fucking disgraceful. Yes, Cooke has made some really dangerous hits in his NHL career. We don't need to list them all here, everyone knows who I'm referring to. And he's paid dearly for them, not to mention hurting his team in the playoffs. He's done his fucking time. And the sad part? If and when Cooke makes a similar type hit, his ass will be suspended probably 30 games.
Finally, our musical interlude. There have been so many incredible guitarists that have come and gone in my 47 years, from the wizardy of Edward Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, to the blues of Eric Clapton, to the effects of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. And I'm only scratching the surface. But today, by special request from C-Blog, we're gonna showcase the late and great blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. I always appreciated the sheer musicianship and the raw emotion that SRV gave. Tragically, SRV was killed in a helicopter accident in 1990 after a show in Wisconsin. But here's SRV playing one of Hendrix's best songs, Little Wing: