The Big Blue Train chugs into the Steel City tonight to face the Penguins. Before the season started, this would have been billed as two powerhouses clashing, with the re-armed Pens team representing the proverbial irresistible force and the defense of the Blues being the immovable object.
Instead, the Blues are limping along - picking up points, but not looking very strong in doing so. In a similar fashion, The Penguins have not been the scoring juggernaut that was expected this year either. While they were plenty dangerous already with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they then traded for Phil Kessel to become even more lethal. Surely, he left the "905" with Richard Trophies in his eyes, but the team has not fulfilled that potential. To date, the Pens have only scored 45 goals and allowed 46, for a -1 goal differential. Those three have combined for just 17 of those goals: 7 each for Kessel and Malkin to lead the team, and just 3 for Crosby.
Something you will hear about sixty times tonight: Sidney Crosby has never scored a goal on the Blues. That is the only team that he's played against that he hasn't scored on. For the Pens, one of the big stories of the year has been "Where has Sid's scoring gone?" Here's hoping that story goes on a little further.
As for the Blues, the fans have had enough of the same old song. The tune has been slow starts and fatigue, but the fans are ready for a new song. One positive note: the time on ice for the Buffalo game was a lot more evenly distributed than usual. Perhaps Coach Hitch is starting to spread out the minutes - one could hope, anyway. We have seen Alex Pietrangelo's minutes climb higher and higher - he now leads the league in total ice time (603:03) and is second in a per-game measurement (27:24). If Hitch can rein that in, maybe there will be enough of Petro left over for the postseason.
So far, no lineup changes are expected for the Blues, so no Joel Edmundson again and we'll see Robert Bortuzzo and Jake Allen again. So much for expectations of Brian Elliott getting one of these starts. For the Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury has started all but 3 of the Pittsburgh games, so he's a safe bet for tonight. He's put up a record of 10-7-0 with a 2.19 GAA and .925 Save Percentage.
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Final Verse: Last stop in the Eastern Conference, so one more 6:00 PM start. The GDT should drop shortly before the puck does. The TV broadcast will be on Fox SportsMW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120. Come join us in the GDT - guaranteed it'll be more fun than stuffing a turkey. I suppose it depends on how you stuff the turkey.
In the meantime, here's our song for tonight: