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Penguins vs. Blues Scouting Report

Tuesday, 11.22.2011 / 9:00 PM ET / Features
By Justin Criado
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Penguins vs. Blues Scouting Report
Pittsburgh Penguins
Home: 7-1-1-15
Road: 5-5-2-12

WHEN: Nov. 23, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins 24/7 Radio, 105.9 FM
St. Louis Blues
Home: 7-2-1-15

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. St. Louis Blues 






David Backes
C  -  #42
  7 Goals
  5 Assists
  12 Points
• Blues captain set a career-high with 62 points last year while also tied career-highs with 31 goals and 31 assists, numbers good enough to earn him his first NHL All-Star selection.

• Only player in Blues’ history to finish a season with over 30 goals, assists and plus/minus rating (32) as he did so last season.

• A gritty forward who isn’t afraid to throw his body around, as he finished last year with over 200 hits to go along with his stat line.
Alexander Steen
C -  #20
  8 Goals
  6 Assists
  14 Points
• The 6-foot-1, 206-pound center has two goals, three assists and five points in his last five games.

• The 27-year-old Swede has posted two 20-plus goal campaigns each of the last two seasons, recording a career-high 51 points in 2010-11 (which ranked third on the team) and led the Blues with 218 shots.

• Potted his team-leading third game-winning goal last on Nov. 15 vs. Detroit, trailing only Vincent Levavalier and Johan Franzen for tops in the NHL in that category.
Alex Pietrangelo
D  -  #27
  2 Goals
  5 Assists
  7 Points
• Last season marked his first full NHL campaign after being drafted fourth overall in the 2008 NHL Draft by St. Louis, where he finished with 43 points (11G-32A) and a plus-18 rating in 79 games.

• Has performed well internationally – represented Canada at the 2011 World Championships (with James Neal) and was named the tournament’s Best Defenseman, the year after he earned that same distinction at the 2010 World Junior Championships.

Hockey bloodlines run in his family as his dad’s cousin Frank Pietrangelo – who made “The Save” in in the 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs – played five seasons in net for the Penguins (1987-92).
Under new head coach Ken Hitchcock, November has proved to be the St. Louis Blues’ best month thus far as they are 6-1-2 overall and 4-1-2 under Hitchcock (who set a franchise record for the best five-game start for a new Blues coach) after a sluggish 6-7 start.

The Blues currently have the league’s fourth-best defense with a stingy 2.20 goals-against average. With talented youngsters Kevin Shattenkirk – acquired in February in exchange for former No. 1-overall pick Erik Johnson – and Alex Pietrangelo manning the blue line, the Blues have bought into Hitchcock’s tight defensive system.

A 2007 first-round pick for Colorado, Shattenkirk has 12 points (2G-10A) in 19 games in his first full season in St. Louis entering the Blues’ Tuesday night contest with Los Angeles, coming into his own as part of St. Louis’ No.1 defensive pairing alongside Pietrangelo.

Providing the scoring down the middle have been T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen. The two former first-round draft picks have been heating up as of late, as they lead the team with 14 points apiece, Steen posting eight goals to Oshie’s six. All-Star winger David Backes has contributed seven goals and five assists to round out St. Louis’ top line.

The Blues added some veteran presence up front when they acquired Jason Arnott from Washington and Jamie Langenbrunner from Dallas before the start of the year. The two played together in New Jersey, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2001. Arnott’s nine points (4G-5A) and Langenbrunner’s seven (1G-6A) provide a solid, experienced third line with Chris Porter, as well as scoring ability on the power play.

Overall, netminder Jaroslav Halak owns a 2.57 GAA and .895 save percentage and 3-7-2 record in 11 starts this season, but numbers can be deceiving as Halak has been playing well as of late – and has been a thorn in the Penguins’ side dating back to his days in Montreal.

In the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, eighth-seeded Montreal defeated Atlantic Division champion Pittsburgh in seven games due in large part to Halak’s spectacular play in net – and he went on to backstop the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Finals, which helped him earn him a big payday with St. Louis.

While Halak hasn’t quite returned to that level of play since joining the Blues, he and backup netminder Brian Elliott have produced some great hockey as of late. Entering Tuesday night's loss, each netminder had recorded a shutout and held their opponents to 11 total goals through the previous eight games. Halak got five of those starts with Elliott getting the remaining three, and they teamed to led the team to a 5-1-2 mark on the strength of a collective 1.37 GAA and .945 save percentage. Overall, Elliott boasts an impressive 7-1-1 record, leading the league with a 1.43 GAA and a .947 save percentage.
  • Sidney Crosby wasted little time picking up where he left off last season in his return from a 61-game absence due to a concussion on Monday vs. NY Islanders. Crosby scored just 5:24 into the contest (on his first shot of the game) and finished the night with four points (2G-2A), eight shots on goal (one off his career high), a plus-3 rating and a 14-7 (67%) mark on faceoffs.
  • Crosby’s four-point night was the 21st such performance of his career (4-point games –17; 5-point games –2; 6-point games –2). It was his first four-point game since tallying two goals and two assists in a 6-3 win against the Atlanta Thrashers on Dec. 28 of last season.
  • Dating back to last season, Crosby has recorded 17 multiple-point games in his last 29 contests. During that stretch the Penguins are 14-3 when he has two or more points in a game.
  • Sidney Crosby wasn’t the only Penguin to return from injury against the Islanders as defenseman Zbynek Michalek rejoined the lineup after missing 10 games from Oct. 25-Nov. 19 with a broken finger. Michalek skated 19:51 minutes, collecting an assist on Crosby’s second goal of the game in the third period and finishing plus-1. Michalek’s assist gives him points in four of his last five games played (1G-3A). Wednesday, Michalek will appear in his 500th NHL contest.
  • The Penguins have won six straight home games entering Wednesday. Pittsburgh has earned 15 home points this season, tying them for the third-most home points in the NHL.
  • During their six-game home winning streak the Penguins have outscored teams, 23-8. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the winning netminder in all six wins, stopping 139 of 147 shots for a .946 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.32.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 29 shots vs. NY Islanders Nov. 21 to pick up his second shutout of the season (T-5th in NHL) and the 21st of his career. With his next shutout, Fleury will tie Tom Barrasso for the franchise record with 22.
  • Fleury, who has an 8-1-1 record in his last 10 starts, places among the league leaders in several individual categories including wins (11, 2nd), goals-against average (1.90, 7th) and save percentage (.930, 11th). This season Fleury has been especially good at home, going 7-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in eight starts. Dating back to Nov. 12 of last season, Fleury owns a 46-17-6 record over his last 69 starts.




2010-11 STAT CHART

D Ben Lovejoy, broken wrist
D Brian Strait, hyper-extended elbow
Neal (12) Steen (8)
Letang (15) Shattenkirk (10)
Neal (21)
Steen/Oshie (14)
Asham (21) Stewart (42)
Dupuis (10) Steen/D'Agostini (11)
Neal (6) Arnott/D'Agostini (2)
Four with (1)
Oshie (1)
Fleury (11-3-1)
Elliott (7-1-0)
Fleury (1.90) Elliott (1.43)
Fleury (.930) Elliott (.947)

F David Perron, concussion
F B.J. Crombeen, shoulder 
F Andy McDonald, concussion
D Kent Huskins, ankle





Game Notes: PIT vs. STL
Penguins Report: 11/22/11
Crosby Wows Team in Return
Crosby's Return a Blessing
Triumphant Return
Endgame: Penguins 5, Islanders 0
Pens-Isles In-Game Blog (Crosby Returns Edition)
Teammates Excited for Crosby's Return
Crosby, Kunitz, Dupuis Reunited 
Crosby Is Back 
Penguins Report: Game Day vs. NY Islanders (Crosby Returns Edition)
Bylsma Transcript on Crosby's Return
Crosby Cleared to Return; Skate with Kunitz, Dupuis 
The Long Road Back
Pens and Dads Enjoy Camaraderie of Trip

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Author: Justin Criado
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