The Pittsburgh Penguins tallied eight of 10 possible point in the first week of the NHL season. One loss came in overtime to the Washington Capitals and one came in a shootout on the road in a game Evgni Malkin didn't play in. That's a great start to the season.
In the long seasons of the NBA, NHL and MLB, you tend to hear people say the first few months don't matter that much. I understand that line of thought. Winning games late in the season and getting hot at the right time is better than starting great and fading down the stretch when the playoffs come.
But stockpiling points in the beginning of the season can ease the pressure and can make the difference between a playoff team and one that just misses. Just ask the Boston Red Sox. They started 2-10. If they had won one of those games, they probably would have avoided the biggest collapse in MLB history.
The same goes for hockey. Points early in the season on the road, like the five the Pens got in the first three games of the season in Western Canada, can make all the difference come playoff time. While I think the team would easily make the playoffs even if they lost those games, it those five points could get them home ice when they get there.
I get that I'm looking way too far ahead and too into this, but hot starts are important in any sport. Every win counts the same, so it's kind of silly to me when I hear people saying the early going doesn;t matter.
What's also encouraging from the first week is the return of James Neal. In more than 20 games with the Pens last year, Neal had two goals. In five games this season, he has four. The man is the goal-scoring winger the team has needed for a few years now.
To complement Neal is Steve Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin. When they are on a line together good things happen. Malkin's knee was a little sore, but the man is definitely back. Just watch him bust his ass up and down the ice. There's some rust, as expected, but it's fading and I'm just waiting for the game where he takes over. It's going to happen soon.
The power play seems to be doing pretty well. I don't want to jinx it, but it's certainly better than it was in the postseason last year.
Oh, and Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact. Pens fans have a lot to be excited about.
Karmin - Super Bass