NHL

Maple Leafs-Penguins Preview

Share This Story

   
 

PITTSBURGH (AP)

Sidney Crosby hasn't scored yet. Evgeni Malkin either. The way the superstar duo's teammates are playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the moment, it hardly matters.

Not with forward James Neal picking up right where he left off during his career season a year ago. Not with No. 2 goaltender Tomas Vokoun looking very much like the reliable backup Pittsburgh envisioned when it traded for him last spring.

Sure, it was just a 30-hour stretch in a season that even at 48 games will include some ups and downs. And while coach Dan Bylsma is quick to warn about the dangers of reading too much into emphatic road victories over Philadelphia and the New York Rangers, the fact is the Penguins appear to be very much as good as advertised heading into Wednesday night's home opener against Toronto.

"To be able to get back-to-back wins (and be) four points up on the Rangers with that win, that's two good road wins for our team," Bylsma said.

A victory over the Maple Leafs (1-1-0) would give Pittsburgh its first 3-0-0 start since the 1994-95 season, when the Penguins won 12 of their first 13 games.

Though it's still early, the Penguins are playing with a cohesion Bylsma wasn't sure would surface so soon following an all-too-brief training camp. Given a week to get ready for the regular season, Bylsma didn't have time to get a real feel for things, and instead focused on situational hockey like power play and penalty kill while hoping everything else would take care of itself.

Consider it done.

Even the new guys - the few that have stuck on one of the NHL's most stable rosters - have found a way to fit in quickly.

Forward Tanner Glass dropped the gloves with Arron Asham following the opening faceoff in Sunday's 6-3 win over New York. Glass acquitted himself quite nicely against one of the league's tougher fighters and the jolt it sent through the Pittsburgh bench helped the Penguins take a quick lead on Neal's first goal less than two minutes later.

"We wanted to get Tanner Glass for a reason," Bylsma said. "He's a physical guy. He can skate well for what he does but he's also a grit and sandpaper guy for our lineup. The first two games, he had a number of physical plays. He had hits in the Philly game and then he steps up at the beginning of the game in New York and sets us up right off the hop."

Third-line center Brandon Sutter has looked exactly like the kind of steady two-way player the Penguins needed when they acquired him in a trade for popular Jordan Staal last May.

Even beleaguered defenseman Paul Martin is off to a quick start. The veteran was a focal point of the team's defensive issues at the end of last season, but he keyed a handful of critical penalty kills in the third period against the Flyers and added a goal against the Rangers.

The special teams haven't been too bad either. Pittsburgh converted 4 of 8 power plays over the weekend and killed eight of nine penalties. The only rough spot came in the third period against the Rangers, when things got a little loose after the Penguins took a 5-1 lead. New York drew within 5-3 before the Penguins settled down, the kind of hiccups Pittsburgh knows it needs to avoid.

Still, figuring out how to nurse a big lead over a rival on the road is a pretty good problem to have. So is wondering when Crosby and Malkin will find the back of the net. Not that they haven't been busy. Malkin already has four assists in two games while Crosby collected his first helper Sunday.

Crosby has 17 goals in 22 career games against Toronto and Malkin has scored nine times in 20 matchups, but they may find it difficult to score with the Leafs being stingy so far this season.

Toronto opened with a 2-1 win at Montreal on Saturday before falling 2-1 to Buffalo in its first home game Monday.

The Leafs finished with one power-play goal in seven attempts and were 0 for 2 with a two-man advantage against the Sabres.

"I didn't think there was any lack of effort with our group," coach Randy Carlyle said. "I thought we were out of sorts in the first period and it showed in the execution of our power play."

These teams split four matchups last season, and Pittsburgh has won three straight and eight of 12 at home in the series.

Tagged: Rangers, Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tanner Glass

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt