Saturday, 16 January 2010

Some Notes From Tonight

It's not a normal sight to see parched land on a hockey blog like you do to the left. The arena and ice are cold, and there is usually a fair amount of humidity in the air. There were a couple of droughts in the NHL tonight that came to an end. Once was a personal scoring drought while the other affected everyone on one team. We got to see one player make his NHL debut in an emergency situation, and we got to see another player continue his all-around excellent play as he helped his team win. Let's take a quick look at these small stories.

The New York Rangers ended a scoreless drought that nearly reached three games. For 172 minutes, the Rangers were held off the scoresheet by Martin Brodeur, Mike Brodeur, and Chris Mason. However, Brian Boyle did net a third period goal for the Rangers tonight against the Blues, but the lack of scoring led to another loss as St. Louis won 4-1.

For a team that relies far too heavily on Henrik Lundqvist, the lack of scoring they have shown over their last three games is downright frightening. I'm not saying that the Rangers won't make the playoffs, but one goal in their last three games that featured two struggling teams? Wow.

Another drought that came to an end tonight was the 11-game scoreless drought that Penguins' superstar Evgeni Malkin found himself in. 7:32 into the first period, and Malkin put a puck past Roberto Luongo for his 14th goal of the season. While 14 goals seems low for a star like Malkin, the 11 games in which he hadn't scored was a far bigger concern for the Penguins.

Now that Malkin seems to be rediscovering his scoring mojo, perhaps the Penguins should look into what may have been affecting Sergei Gonchar tonight. Gonchar had himself a horrible game in which he was producing more turnovers than a bakery. With two rookie goaltenders behind him, Gonchar has to be more effective with the puck.

Speaking of one of those rookie goaltenders, Alexander Pechurskiy got into a game after being signed in an emergency situation. The Penguins saw both Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson go down with injuries this week, so they recalled John Curry. However, they can't pilfer all the goalies from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, so they signed 19 year-old Russian goaltender Pechurskiy from the Tri-City Americans in the WHL on an amateur tryout contract.

Pechurskiy's first game saw him play a total of 35:31, stopping 12 of 13 shots. The one that got by him was a Ryan Kesler powerplay goal in the second period for Vancouver's sixth goal. Fundamentally, the youngster looked fairly good. It's also interesting to not that Pechurskiy doesn't speak a word of English, so he had Sergei Gonchar translate for him at practice. Pechurskiy was a fifth-round pick in 2008 for the Penguins, so it was straight into the fire for him. And I'd say he did quite well.

Another youngster who is doing extremely well in the blue paint is Ottawa's Mike Brodeur. Brodeur is an impressive 3-0 this season, including that shutout win over the New York Rangers a couple nights ago, and looks like the most reliable goaltender in Ottawa's system right now. His first win was on December 19 in a 4-1 Ottawa win over the Minnesota Wild.

Brodeur's stats in the AHL aren't as great as his stats in the NHL. He's 6-6-1 with a 3.03 GAA in the minor circuit while his 3-0 record in the NHL seems to say that he's better than what his AHL stats indicate. If he continues to play this way, it might be a good idea for the Senators to look at cutting Pascal Leclaire loose. But that's just me talking off the cuff.

Anyway, there are your Saturday notes. More coming up tomorrow, including an announcement about later this week. I'll be taking in an NHL game before next Sunday, and we'll have lots of pictures!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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