Penguins look to keep home record alive against the Avalanche

March 3 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny (26) attempts to score against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of the game at the Pepsi Center. The Penguins defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So far this season Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been able to keep their home ice record perfect; however, it won’t stay that way for long if Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche have anything to say about it. The Pens will open the doors to the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh tonight to take on the road-tested Avalanche.

Should the Penguins be able to overcome the Avalanche tonight, this will be their fifth straight win. Right now, they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. That’s really not much of a shocker considering their captain, center Sidney Crosby sits atop the National Hockey League in goals, assists, and points.

However, the Pens have yet to come up against a team that is quite as hot as Patrick Roy’s Colorado Avalanche.

In his first season behind the bench for the Avalanche, his team got off to a 6-0 start before suffering their first loss at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings last Thursday night. In the four games that the Avs have played on the road, they have been victorious in them all.

As far as the top players go, Sidney Crosby is across the board for the Pens with 7 goals and 10 assists for a total of 17 points with a plus-4 rating.

On the other side of the ice, Avalanche center Matt Duchene leads the team in goals with 6. Add in his 3 assists and that gives him a total of 9 points. Number one overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon currently leads the Avalanche in assists with 6.

The tale of the tape between these two teams is pretty even.

Penguins Avalanche
Goals Per Game 3.75 3.38
Goals Against Per Game 2.38 1.5
Shots on Goal Per Game 31.13 31
Penalty Minutes Per Game 9.63 15.13
Power Play Goals 7 7
Power Play Percentage 28% 24.1
Penalty Kill Percentage 78.3% 87.5%

 

Both teams have a strong and effective Power Play. Honestly, anything around or above 25% is a pretty solid PP. Both teams are strong on the PK as well, with the slight advantage to Colorado.

The Avalanche will be without left wing Cody McLeod who is still suspended  pending his hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety regarding his hit on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. The hearing is expected to take place sometime today.

The Penguins and the Avalanche both have pretty solid goaltending.

Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has taken up the reins since goaltender Tomas Vokoun was sidelined by surgery to dissolve a blood clot, has gone 7-0 in his 7 performances so far this season with a GAA of 1.84 and a Save Percentage of .930. He currently leads the NHL in both wins and shutouts.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Pens backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Zatkoff lost his only appearance so far this season allowing 6 goals against the Florida Panthers on October 11th. He currently holds a GAA of 6.05 and a Save Pecentage of .800.

On the other side of the ice, Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov is currently 5-1 this season with a GAA of 1.68 and a Save Percentage of .950. Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 2-0 in his 2 appearances this season with a GAA of 1.00 and a Save Percentage of .971.

On Saturday, Giguere was able to stop 28 of 30 shots against the ailing Buffalo Sabres who have only found 1 win so far this season.

I could be wrong here, but with quality goaltending like these two teams have, I don’t think we will be seeing a very high scoring game here; however, when you have forwards like Crosby and Duchene on the ice, there is always the possibility of a firestorm.

Time: 7:30 p.m. EST

Network: NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2, ROOT

Topics: Colorado Avalanche, Nhl, Pittsburgh Penguins

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