By: Casey Shea
Another day, another win for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That might be overstating things, but with their 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night, their winning streak stands at five.
Furthermore, the Penguins (8-4-0) are just two points behind the New York Rangers for the lead in the Metropolitan Division.
Not bad for a team that started 0-3, I suppose.
This week, we saw the return of Jeff Zatkoff to the pipes and welcomed a Fehr-ly new face into the lineup.
Plus, Halloween was Saturday, which prompted plenty of great costume pictures on Twitter.
Here was my personal favorite:
End of 2 in Toronto: Pens 3 Leafs 0 pic.twitter.com/vBGS3wdAQR
— Penguins Nation (@EngellandsEye) November 1, 2015
With that, here are this week's five observations:
Pens Starting To Score
In their first eight games this season, the Penguins scored more than two goals on one occasion.
In their last four games, they have goal totals of 3, 4, 4 and 3 respectively. Not exactly lighting the world on fire, but all resulted in wins.
On the other hand, the Penguins have only allowed three or more goals four times in 12 games.
The point here is that the Penguins are winning low-scoring games. Is low-scoring hockey appealing to the casual fans? Probably not, but do you know the best way to build confidence within a team? Win and win often.
You don't get extra points in the standings for burning out the goal lamps every night. Furthermore, come playoff time, goals are few and far between and solid defense tends to rule the day.
Some could argue this team was built to score goals and there are some individuals who could stand to start scoring more - looking at you, Sidney Crosby.
History suggests Crosby will figure it out and he's more than capable of exploding at any moment.
For Crosby and the Penguins, the goals will come and "Party Hard" will ring out at Consol Energy Center many, many times.
For now, the most important thing is the Penguins are winning and that's nothing to complain about.
Toronto Fans Boo Kessel
First, let me get this out of the way.
There isn't anything I don't like about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans.
A little about me:
The best man in my wedding is a Leafs fan. For Valentine's Day in 2009, he and I dragged our brides-to-be to Toronto for a romantic, hockey-filled weekend.
After perusing the Hockey Hall of Fame, we all went to the Penguins-Maple Leafs game.
The game would prove to be Michel Therrien's final game as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Things looked good for the Penguins early on, taking a 2-0 lead in the first 8:34 of the game.
Then, the Penguins fell apart in the third period, surrendered five goals and lost 6-2.
As a fan, I was angry, disheartened, etc.
However, the Toronto fans were world class. Many came up to me after the game offering genuine condolences.
"I'm so sorry. You really shouldn't be losing to us."
Again, this wasn't sarcastic. They meant it.
I'm used to attending road games in Boston and New Jersey, where having beer cups and profanity thrown at you is practically expected.
Since then, I've had a bit of a soft spot for the Leafs.
Naturally, I was excited for Saturday's matchup. Then, the fans started booing Phil Kessel every time he touched the puck.
Look, I get it. The Leafs paid a lot to get him, gave him a big contract and they only made the playoffs once during his tenure.
But, it's not like that was entirely his fault. Even the most die-hard fans can look at the utter lack of talent around him to see that.
It's like Pens fans booing Jagr whenever he comes back to town. I'm not the biggest Jagr fan, but I'm not going to boo him. I at least respect his talent and what he did for the Penguins.
I'm never a fan of booing former players for no reason. If there's a legit reason for it, go for it.
As for Kessel, he was sandbagged by the media plenty of times - just do a quick search on YouTube. Some of the questions he was asked, especially at the end of his time there were asinine.
While his responses were certainly entertaining, it's hard to blame the guy for being standoff-ish.
He still has a lot to do with the Penguins, but four goals in 12 games and a growing chemistry with Evgeni Malkin is a good start.
Classy Guy Steals Puck From Kid
So, how about that infamous incident last Thursday at Consol Energy Center?
If you missed it, or the fallout, a man stole a puck from a young Penguins fan.
Dan Bylsma returned to Pittsburgh as the coach of the Buffalo Sabres and tried to make the kid's day.
A puck popped into the Sabres' bench and Bylsma saw the kid making his way down the stairs to hopefully get a souvenir.
Bylsma flipped the puck over the glass and the Hallmark moment was ruined by this guy:
If you'll notice, the guy leaned over another person sitting next to him to get the puck. Even worse, he stuffs the puck in his pocket, smiles at the kid and sits down.
Who does that?
The only excuse I could come up with is that the guy has a child or grandchild of his own. That might be the only partially acceptable reasoning for his actions.
That, of if the puck had been shot into the stands and he caught it.
If you catch a puck screaming into the stands with your bare hands, go ahead and keep the puck. It'll make the broken bones worth the effort. You'll probably even get more swag from the team for your injury!
"Your hand shattered into a million pieces, but here's a jersey!"
For the record, the team doesn't owe you anything if you get drilled with a puck. The back of the ticket says something to the effect of, "Pucks can fly into the stands at any time, watch at your own risk."
The reason teams give fans free stuff is because it's good PR.
So, by all means take advantage of that built-in guilt trip if you're checking your phone during the action and get hit by a puck.
Anyway, Bylsma literally soft-tossed the puck over the glass. It was clearly intended for the kid, it's his puck.
Regardless, the man was relentlessly booed until he vacated his seat and did not return.
However, the story has a happy ending. Bylsma saw the incident and was sure to get the boy the puck he rightfully deserved.
The Penguins took note of the incident, which went viral on Twitter as well, and hooked up 8-year-old Trey Dopson.
Iceburgh hand-delivered a Sidney Crosby jersey and Dopson got a big cheer from the crowd. He also walked out that night with two pucks and a stick from one of the Sabres.
Well done, Penguins. Well done, Dan Bylsma.
First Looks At Zatkoff and Fehr
As I mentioned earlier, we got our first look at Jeff Zatkoff (again) and Eric Fehr this week.
Zatkoff turned aside 50(!) shots against the Sabres in his first start of the season. He was a little rusty to start the game, but settled in nicely as it went along.
In the third period, he was tremendous – stopping 23 of 24 shots he faced. A glove save in the final seconds preserved the two points for the Penguins.
I don't know if you can ask much more of your backup goaltender who hadn't played since the preseason.
If he can put up similar numbers to when he backed up Fleury two years ago (12-6-2, 2.61 GAA, .912 save percentage), I'll be happy. Not to mention, he got shelled in his first two NHL starts that year.
All in all, good start for Zatkoff this time around.
Meanwhile, Eric Fehr made his Penguins debut on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. Fehr underwent elbow surgery this summer, but didn't look like he missed a beat.
In two games, he's already racked up two goals and an assist. Oh, and both of those goals came while shorthanded.
Check out this coast-to-coast beauty from last night's win over Vancouver:
Doesn't get much prettier than that.
He's exactly the kind of player the Penguins needed, especially for the bottom six. I, for one, am excited to see him playing for the Penguins as opposed to against them.
Perron On The Board (Finally)
Dating back to last year, David Perron hadn't scored a goal in 23 regular season games. That drought finally came to an end last night against Vancouver.
Early in the first period, Perron deflected a Brian Dumoulin shot by Ryan Miller to open the scoring.
His reaction was everything you would expect. It was like the weight of the world had finally been lifted off his shoulders.
But, you had to think a goal was coming for him. He'd looked especially dangerous in the past few games, but just could not buy a goal.
David Perron's 2015 summed up in one clip https://t.co/WMdHeZgT2M
— Chad....... (@MadChad412) November 1, 2015
The look on his face says it all, which is why it was great to see him get on the board last night.
Perhaps it's a sign of things to come and he'll start scoring more frequently, like when he was first acquired by the Pens last year.
He'll get his next chance Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers, when the Penguins will look to extend their streak to six games.
That's it for this week, check back every Thursday for more observations on the Penguins. You can follow me on Twitter here!
for more features.