After a long off-season a good part of me is just happy to see the Penguins playing again. But even through the opening night euphoria I must say, I really expect more. They were flat most of the preseason, but I was still holding out hope that the opener would flip a switch in them, and they'd come out and play with more passion and intensity. This was not the case Friday night. I know it's only one game, but after watching the MLB pennant race for the past few weeks, I'm fully aware of importance one game can play when the seasons over.
Marc-Andre Fleury gave up 2 in the first and 2 in the second, and was replaced by Danny Sabourin to start the third. He can only shoulder so much of the blame, though, with an uninspired team playing in front of him. I was disappointed with his rebound control, which was directly responsible for one of the goals. His play wasn't anywhere in the vicinity of warranting being pulled, so I imagine Therrien was only resting him so he can start tonight in the home opener against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.
Sabourin did play well replacing Fleury. He blanked the hurricanes in the 3rd frame, making 7 saves.
Mark Recchi picked up the Penguins lone goal, with 3:23 left in the 3rd, tipping an Evgeni Malkin behind the net pass through Hurricanes tender Cam ward. It was Recchi's 1334 career point, putting him only 2 away from passing Hall of Famer Mike Gartner for 25th on the all-time scoring list.
Malkin still has major steps to take in the offensive zone. theres no doubt he can score the puck, but these no look passes continue to be a problem, often ending in an odd man rush the other way. He is in the nasty habit of the throwing the puck where he thinks a teammate should be, instead of taking in his options and moving the puck. I beginning to wonder if he deserves the 2nd line center position. For the time being Jordan Staal was been upgraded from the 3rd line center to the 1st line winger, but if Therrien doesn't feel like its a good fit, I wouldn't be surprised to see Malkin moved out of his position, and Staal centering the 2nd line.
The Penguins take on the Ducks tonight at 7:30 in their home opener.