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The Game(s) of the Week and the Show of the Moment

Posted By Ian Altenbaugh On Apr 6 2009 @ 6:30 pm In Pittsburgh Penguins | No Comments

Today we will review the Penguins relatively lackluster road trip, discuss the Panthers propensity for allowing too many shots, and I will tell you why you need to start watching Breaking Bad right now.


In an effort to appease the all-powerful Kevin Lee, and his desire for post-game write-ups, Game of the Week will be receiving some tweaks. For the future, Around the Atlantic will be split into separate, smaller parts, with several games of the week.  The next installment will come Thursday after the Penguins bout with the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Doesn’t that make the lightning kind of sound like an illness or ailment. I suppose at this point in the season all they have to play for is to be an ailment for other teams)


Games of the Week: Devils @ Penguins, April 1st, 2009.

- It was a long game for both Marty Brodeur and Danius Zubrus. It could not have been particularly pleasant for Brent Sutter either. (Link to video of Brent Sutter freaking out).

- Over the game Zubrus was knocked over by Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy, and absolutely devastated on a hip check by Brooks Orpik. Then again in the second period from Rob Scuderi. And once more by Orpik in the third. Malkin knocked Zubrus over with just two minutes to go as well.


Penguins @ Panthers, April, 5th, 2009

- The Panthers played as though their season depended on it – which it did. If they played with half this sense of urgency during the month of March this would of course be a non-issue. Over the previous ten games, the Panthers have posted a 4-4-2 record over their past ten games.

- Malkin worries me. This is the third year in a row where he has started to tail off. In his rookie season, Malkin posted only 4 goals, 12 assists in his final twenty games. While those are considerable stats, nonetheless, Geno was posting over a point-per-game for the first 58 games of the season. At the end of the 2007-08 season, he posted 24 points in his last 20 games. Again, good numbers but Geno posted 82 points in his first 62 games that season. This season, Geno has posted 8 goals, 16 assists in his last 20 games. Again, good numbers on the surface. But on the decline if you consider he posted 84 points in his first 59 games – a dip from 1.42 points-per-game to 1.20. One could attribute the tighter style of play leading up to the playoffs but that is baloney to anyone who has watched the slick Russian disappear for shifts at a time leading up to the playoffs. Worse yet, Geno tends to tail off further in the playoffs. During last season’s run to the finals, he posted only 2 goals, 3 assists in his last 10 games after posting 8 goals, 9 assists in his first 10 playoff games. This is something that the talented center needs to address. Whether it is fatigue, or injury is of no regard, his ice-time needs to be better managed.

- Speaking of Geno Malkin, he needs to stop skating across the ice with his head down.

- I know Sid models his game after Steve Yzerman but it is distressing to see a player with such talented hands to be using them for pugilism.

- I am very impressed with how Florida has assembled their team. They are positioned to be successful for a very long time, especially if you consider they have promising goalkeeping prospect Jacob Markstrom [1] who bears a striking resemblance to a certain former Florida goaltender that was sent to Vancouver in what has to be considered one of the worst trades ever made. He’s big (6’3), plays more of a stand-up style of game, has incredible reflexes, but his ability to cover the net is what makes him look like a Swedish relative of Roberto Luongo. With Frolik and Booth already on the fast track to becoming the first homegrown, elite level talent the Panthers have ever had, along with the continued development of Horton, Olesz, and Weiss, the Florida Panthers for the first time in the franchise’s history, appear to be a perennial threat to make the playoffs. Take a long breath beforehand if you plan on reading that aloud.

- Jordan Staal has quietly gone along as the Penguins iron man, playing 242 games for the Penguins over the past three seasons. That is more than any other Penguin player over the past three years. He has also quietly developed into a dominant third-line center. With all of the hype surrounding fellow draftmates Toews, Backstrom, Little, Kessel, and Brassard, one forgets that only Staal has played injury free in the NHL for the past three seasons, a claim none of them can level. Not only that but he is the only of the three who has played almost exclusively on the third-line and second-line powerplay duties. Still, Staal has managed his second 20 goal, 40 point season in three years. While Malkin and Crosby are wallowing in relative cold streaks, Staal has played strong on a consistent basis. If the Penguins expect to go far in the playoffs, they will need the big centers ability to over power opposing defensemen. Having said all of that, he is still 20 and needs to work on different facets of his game. For example, he went 7 and 6 against the Panthers but 4 and 12 against the Canes the night before.

- One has to wonder how well Vokoun will hold up in the playoffs (assuming the Panthers make it). He gets absolutely shelled on a nightly basis and if it was not for a series of starts for Craig Anderson, Vokoun would be looking to take out a bigger insurance policy on his body. Unlike the Penguins who have tightened up their shots-against despite encouraging their defensemen to jump into the play, the Panthers have been loosening up, allowing 32 shots or more over their last 5 games. 35 or more in 6 of the last 10 games.


Review of the Week: Breaking Bad

For those not familiar with the Brian Cranston show Breaking Bad, it is not too late. Recently renewed for a third season [2] and fresh off of a Peabody Award, the second season of this Emmy awarding winning show has continued to pickup viewership as the season has gone along.

To explain the show without ruining any of the details, as it is the details that make the show so fantastic, is fairly simple: Cranston plays Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. He is fifty-years-old and his wife is unexpectedly pregnant. He has a teenage son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) who has mild cerebral palsy. His health insurance does not cover his cancer treatment. Inspired by a story told by his fast talking DEA brother-in-law named Hank (Dean Norris) Walt decides to cook meth. The only problem is, he has no idea how to distribute or sell the drugs, and because of his health and family issues, has no desire to put himself at the risk of selling the drugs. So he recruits a former student named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to be the sales part of the equation. The two then learn the ins and outs of the drug cartel on the fly with explosive, disturbing, and hilarious results.


The best way of describing Breaking Bad is as a combination of Twin Peaks, The Sopranos, and another work by David Lynch, Blue Velvet. The show is all shot single camera but is cinematic in scope. The setting of New Mexico, with the vast deserts, harsh urban landscapes, and tranquil stretches of suburbia is jarring and creates a moodiness to the show that is unparalleled on television today.


ing Bad is not for the faint of heart however. I find the film’s dark, ironic, and often times inappropriate humor to be Cohn Brotheresque and therefore very hip. There are many scenes in the show that also remind me of the wood chipper scene in Fargo. If you thought Stephen King’s Misery was fairly humorous and Kathy Bates rants were hilarious, then you should thoroughly enjoy Breaking Bad. Even if you did not, I highly recommend visiting iTunes or wherever you get your video clips and check out the hottest scripted show on television.


Breaking Bad premieres a new episode every Sunday night at 10pm EST on AMC. 


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[1] Jacob Markstrom: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/jacob_markstrom

[2] Recently renewed for a third season: http://www.hitfix.com/articles/2009-4-2-amc-renews-breaking-bad

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