A quick anecdote, if you’ll allow, before we get to the game.
During my freshman year at Syracuse, I tried out to be a sports talk host for the student radio station. I would go into the booth once a week at 5 a.m. to write and record a practice sports report, which a senior host would then analyze and critique. He/she was the one who decided when you were clear to hit the airwaves.
Well, about four months into my tenure, my “mentor” — or whatever word you’d like to use — walked into our meeting and began with, “We need to talk.”
He proceeded to tell me that my voice was simply not suitable for radio, and I had two options: Take voice lessons over the summer and try again next year, or take my copywriting skills to the student newspaper where I could excel. I obviously chose the latter, and the rest is history.
But I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t a personal thrill to resurrect my radio dreams with Nick and Obie on the second period intermission report — even if for only four minutes. So a big thanks to them for having me aboard Wednesday. I think that little experience I had in college was the only reason I didn’t freeze on air.
OK, so about the game … a really great performance by the Penguins. They started off slow, giving up an early goal and five shots in the first two minutes. But after that, they pretty much controlled the action.
Andrey Pedan was flying all over the ice and had his best game of the season with a goal and helper. Ryan Haggerty again seemed to have an extra gear compared to other skaters, and his snap shot to take the lead was a thing of beauty. Thomas Di Pauli did Thomas Di Pauli things — buzzing around the net and using his speed to his advantage. And the penalty kill was excellent; I never got the sense that Toronto was on the verge of a goal, even during its 5-on-3 chance.
I think the latter is best encapsulated by Chris Summers, who was on the kill when he was hit in the breadbasket with a slap shot. He immediately went to the ice in pain, but slowly climbed back to his feet and ended up staying out for the next 90 seconds. The Pens wound up killing the penalty.
They wanted it more. They wanted this game more.
So, it’s definitely a nice confidence boost in the meantime beating the other top team in the East. Here’s how Haggerty put it after the game:
I think we took care of the D-zone. Our neutral zone and transition game was truly fast; we got pucks in. We were moving fast, playing fast. It makes a big difference. A good 60-minute game where he had three complete zones, and it showed.
We’ll see how that translates Saturday against the Bruins.
And ICYMI, Dylan Zink, Jeff Taylor and Freddie Tiffels were all assigned to Wheeling on Wednesday. I think it’s good for all parties involved; Taylor can ease his way back from the injury, and Zink and Tiffels can get the playing time they need to really keep developing. It just speaks to the team’s depth.
Back at practice tomorrow – catch you later.