Defending Champs Sitting Pretty
October 15, 2009 by Big Tony
The Pittsburgh Penguins could not have asked for a much better start to their championship defense as they are 6-1-0, undefeated on the road, have a starting netminder who has yet to lose, and are seeing Jordan Staal ride last year’s playoff wave by becoming a major force in the middle. Crosby and Malkin are of course still leading the team, (and Sergei Gonchar continues to play extremely well) but they are also getting strong play from the likes of Tyler Kennedy who has four goals and an assist which equals Crosby’s total to date. Defenseman Alex Goligoski is very much taking advantage at his first chance to play a full season at the top level for he has been brilliant. Not only does Goligoski have five points but he has been working extremely hard to get to loose pucks and to make other teams pay for every inch of ice they gain against him; Goligoski is also in the top twelve in the league in terms of blocked shots (see: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/statistics?stat=nhlscoring&league=nhl&sort=bs&order=true&qual=true&season=2009&seasontype=2&pos=r for more blocked shot numbers among other stats). The season is still young and as the Ottawa Senators (of two years ago) and New York Rangers (of last year) will tell you a fast start does not carry you throughout the season. It never hurts to get off to a great start and few would doubt that the Penguins have the team that can sustain their early success but their energy level has to remain high. The Stanley Cup hangover certainly has not been an issue thus far but they must also hold off the complacency bug as the season rolls on.