Pittsburgh Penguins look to rebound against Montreal

Pittsburgh looks to rebound after their embarrassing loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday, Jan. 20.

Pittsburgh looks to rebound after their embarrassing loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday, Jan. 20.

After a sloppy performance at home against the Florida Panthers.  Pittsburgh will look to rebound tonight, Jan. 22, against Montreal (27-17-5) on home ice.  Pittsburgh’s franchise-record 13-game home winning streak was snapped in the 5-1 loss on Monday, Jan. 20.

Tonight, Pittsburgh will look to rebound against Montreal who is 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and is currently six points behind Boston in the Atlantic Division.

Despite being 7-2-1 in their last 10, Pittsburgh players don’t seem to be happy with the production level.

In a recent post game article from TribLive.com, who locally cover the Penguins post game, posted this:

“In first of 10 games before the NHL’s three-week Olympic break, the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins looked “terrible,” said center Brandon Sutter.  Generally, Sutter said, the Penguins “are not doing what we’re supposed to be doing” — and coach Dan Bylsma agreed, insisting that has been the case since returning from the Christmas break.

The Penguins are 7-2-1 over that stretch and have surrendered 32 goals.”

Despite them winning, it is pretty sad to give up that many goals in that stretch.

I personally believe that the Pittsburgh’s defense will step up their game.  They just got back defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin. It will take time to get on the same page with each other.  It is a good sign though for Pittsburgh to have all of these players keep returning to the line up.

Beau Bennett and Brian Gibbons were seen skating Wednesday morning before tonight’s game against Montreal.  Bennett has been recovering and is still working on coming back from injury.  Hopefully the Olympic break will give him time to hone in on working on his game since he’s been out for so long.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, skated this morning for the first time since September

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, skated this morning for the first time since September

There is some more good news for Pittsburgh goaltender Tomas Vokoun was back on the ice, skating for the first time since having surgery for a blood clot Sept. 21. In all, Vokoun was on the ice for roughly 45 minutes.  Vokoun has been off blood thinners for a week. When his blood levels return to normal he will be able to start taking shots. There has been no timetable set for the next step.  This is excellent news for both Vokoun and the Penguins.  Earlier in the season Vokoun made mention that the blood clot in his leg and ‘nearly died’ because of it.  It’s good to see Vokoun on the ice.  Marc-Andre Fleury has stepped up to his own starting role and had an impressive season thus far.  Back up goaltender Jeff Zatkoff has also had a decent season backing up Fleury and stepping up for Vokoun.  There is no word yet if Vokoun will play this season. If that is the case, then Pittsburgh fans will hope for Fleury to play as well as he has been playing this season in the postseason.

Pittsburgh has nine more games left before their two week Olympic break (including tonight’s game against Montreal).  In that time, head coach Dan Bylsma will be working with Team USA and those chosen to represent their own countries will be traveling to Sochi.  Pittsburgh’s players who were not chosen will have a break but should take the time to work on skills and develop them more.

Pittsburgh doesn’t have to hit the panic button quiet yet.  They still are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.  However, they might they will have to work harder on defense and offense to keep up with some of the hot teams in the Western Conference.

March 1st will be circled on every fan’s calender because that will be the first time that Pittsburgh faces one of the top teams in the NHL and in the Western Conference.  Pittsburgh faces the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stadium Series at Soldier Field.