All posts by mariodafonte

Die hard Penguins fan. Pretty much the hero this city needs.

The Penguins Are Better Than You

“I hate to say I told you so.” Words clearly spoken by someone who was not a hockey fan, so I would like to formally extend an I told you so to each and every early season doubter of the Penguins. Naturally I am referring to one of my previous articles when the Penguins were playing absolutely heinous hockey earlier in the season. I mean at that point I would’ve rather had 4 single pieces of linguini on the ice with a lone ravioli in goal. But now, after a simple coach switch, these linguinis have become the top tier team that they should be. And after Zatkoff’s performance in last night’s tilt, he is certainly no ravioli. I mean the kid absolutely stood on his head, not to mention the fact that it was his first career playoff start and first start in general since February. He absolutely held down the fort especially when at one point in the period the shots were 12-3 favoring New York. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous at first, but after the first period I had complete faith in the ravioli. And the .945 save percentage for a playoff debut against the Rangers really speaks for itself.

Hornqvist had a hat trick. Need I say more? Absolutely unreal. The chemistry on the team has been unbelievable in the past couple months, even with the injuries throughout the team. This brings me to my next point. The guys they bring up from Wilkes-Barre consistently fit the system and they’re not just placeholders. They come up and give the team some serious depth. Tom Kuhnhackl has really stepped it up recently though. Especially last night with a goal, a couple hits, and he drew a few much needed penalties.

The team went into the playoffs winning 14 of their last 16, which I attribute a lot to Crosby stepping it up. He was a bit nonexistent towards the beginning of the season, but he finished up with 85 points. 3 Points and plus-3 on the first game, oh sure. I’m not going to go into detail about how the penguins absolutely have cleaned house in the last month, I’m sure you all know. Basically, I feel extremely confident in the playoff outlook for the Penguins based on last night.

-Rico

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Starstruck: Hockey’s Most Dangerous Team

I’m just going to get right into it. The Dallas Stars are the team to watch this year. After quite a few seasons of simply unimpressive hockey, the 2015-16 Stars are more than up to the challenge; and they have the numbers to speak for it. A 19-5-0 start to the season for the Stars? Are you kidding me? Not only have they broken the franchise record as the Stars, but also they have broken the record of the previous Minnesota North Stars.

In my opinion, is this a playoff team? Absolutely. Are the Stars a serious candidate for the Stanley cup? Without a doubt. But don’t take it from me, let the numbers speak for themselves. Jamie Benn alone has 34 points in 24 games. You take that and add it to Tyler Seguin, one of the league’s most systematic goal scorers, that is pretty much a playoff team in and of itself. I mean the guy also is only one point behind Jamie Benn. When your two top offensive players are putting up about 70 points in under 30 games, you know you’ve got a good team.

Now, Benn and Seguin are tallying incredible numbers this year and are contributing a ridiculous amount to their team, but two players do not singlehandedly get a team to first in their conference and second in the NHL. Especially seeing how the Canadiens have been absolutely unparalleled this season. If you disagree with me on my opinions of the Stars this season, look at the roster.

It is a complete given that deep teams win the Stanley Cup, the Stars are hands down the deepest team in the NHL this season. Besides the fact that they have two superstars performing well beyond Stanley Cup levels, the Dallas Stars have gathered a team this season that is not to be trifled with. First of all, they acquired Jason Spezza who is without question the best second line center in hockey today, and I will die by that. Now add Sharp, Eaves, Fiddler, Hemsky, and Nichushkin to that and that is a playoff offense.

The Stars Defense is no joke either. Every team has at least one or two star defensemen. This team has, on a bad day, four solid defensemen. Jordie Benn, Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, and Johnny Oduya. Put some very solid goaltending behind that such as, say I don’t know, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen and you’ve got yourself a team to work with.

I think this is the team to watch this year and a team with a very serious chance of winning the Stanley Cup. I’d love to see the Pens with a cup this year and there is a lot of hockey left to play, but if I had to make a pick right now, I’d have to go with the Stars.

-Rico

 

Crosby Comeback: Breakout or Bust?

It goes without saying that there is an enormous amount of discussion around the league about the extreme lack of point production from Sidney Crosby. Going into the season with all the off-season roster moves made, as a Penguins fan, I was looking forward to a red hot start. Now don’t get me wrong, third in the division at this point in the season is by no means terrible. However, I expect a lot more out of this team.

The 28 year old superstar, Crosby, has the stage set for a banner year entering what should be his prime as a player. With the addition of some heavy offensive firepower, Phil Kessel, and some solid additions to the defensive lineup, Crosby should be producing some serious points.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that for once in his career, Crosby is completely healthy coming off one of his only full seasons in his career and 14 points in 22 games is something myself and Penguins fans everywhere are extremely disappointed by. Again, these numbers are not horrible, but by no means are they what Sid could be producing with his team and his skill. I mean, Crosby is minus-10 right now. This is a statistic where he normally thrives.

Now, as much as this article seems like me just sitting here bagging on my team, I do have a positive outlook. Reading over this I seem extremely frustrated and that is exactly the case. I do think there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Wednesday’s game against the Blues is the Sidney Crosby I love to see. Two great goals and nine shots on net? I’ll absolutely take that. In addition to the fact that he had never previously scored on the Blues, that is a game I enjoyed thoroughly.

His next game against the Blue Jackets was nothing stellar, but Sid did record another point in that tilt, which is another step in the right direction. Every player has slumps. By no means am I saying that I have lost any faith in Crosby or the Penguins. In my opinion, I think that Crosby is soon to break out of this rut and the team will with him. Go Pens.

-Rico