The Pittsburgh Penguins headed out on a 4 day/3 game West Coast road trip with the intention of shaking off a few cob webs and reestablishing their presence in the NHL. Instead, they discovered the California clubs had a different game plan in mind. If there was any way they could take advantage of the Penguins stagnant start, the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks would do so…and that’s exactly what they did.
First stop Anaheim. On Wednesday, October 27th, the Penguins skated away with a decent performance against the Mighty Ducks despite the lack of key players: Barasso, Slegr, Kasparaitis and Hrdina, and a 2-1 loss in overtime. The highlight came when Teemu Selanne challenged Jean-Sebastian Aubin to a penalty shot. The young netminder did however stand his ground, made the save, and had an overall impressive evening.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, proved itself to be an even greater foe than it’s inner state rivals, the Ducks. What seemed to be Pittsburgh’s night, soon turned into a nightmare. With a mere 26 seconds left of the first period, Aubin was forced out by a hamstring injury. By the third period the Penguins had totally lost control of the game, facing a barrage of Kings goals in a span of less than 3 minutes. Sean O’Donnell, Luc Robitaille and Glen Murray scored to lead their squad to a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
San Jose was slightly kinder to the boys from Pittsburgh. The Sharks started off the scoring with a goal by Vincent Damphousse in the first, but Pittsburgh rallied back with a power play goal by Robert Lang five minutes into the second period. Jagr, assisted on the play with Kovalev, extending his scoring streak to nine games. In the end both teams settled for a 1-1 tie.
The Penguins went 0-1-2 in California, not exactly the record they had hoped for.
October hasn’t exactly been kind to Pittsburgh. Besides being plagued by injuries, the team was forced to deal with an unusually light schedule. The majority of their games fell on weekends, leaving the players to feel as though they were trapped in an endless training camp.
California was supposed to help the Penguins recompose themselves, but perhaps they’ll have to wait until Tuesday, November 2nd, when they face LA at home. It should be an interesting game filled with energy and enthusiasm. There’s no better to motivate a team than to give them a chance to get even.
Hot Prospect Takes Charge of the Ice
Milan Kraft, the Pittsburgh Penguins 1st pick, 23rd over all, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, is proving himself to be one of the hottest prospects in the Penguins organization. Just 13 games into the season, the young center has tallied 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) for the WHL Prince Albert Raiders. His efforts have not gone unnoticed as Milan was granted honorable mention in the Western Hockey League Player of the Week awards.
It will be interesting to see just how far this 6’4″, 194 pound Czech Republic native carries his team. True, winning is a group effort, but when you have a player like Kraft on your side the odds seem to improve. At the moment, the Raiders are 8-7-0, second in the East Division behind the Swift Current Broncos.