Pittsburgh Penguins: Huge Showdown with the Resurgent Toronto Maple Leafs

Eron NoreContributor IIIOctober 29, 2011

Pittsburgh Penguins: Huge Showdown with the Resurgent Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Islanders twice in the past week. Now they move on to a team that has gotten off to a great start, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Entering this game, the Maple Leafs stand in first place of the Northeast Division with a 6-2-1 record. The Penguins are 8-2-2, setting up an early season matchup of first-place teams.

    It figures to be an entertaining game after the puck drops. The Penguins wind down a hectic month in which they seemingly played every day. For Toronto, they likely want to get as many games in as they can while they are hot.

    The slides will show you some key aspects to the game from the Penguins' perspective. Check them out, and enjoy tonight's game!

Marc-Andre Fleury

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    Assuming that Marc-Andre Fleury is in the cage for the Pens, he will be a key factor in this game. Recently, he has returned to the form that even the biggest Fleury hater would praise.

    His numbers may not always be spectacular, but in the past two weeks you could argue that he has helped carry this team. It seems that he is making a habit of the big saves when needed and has all but eliminated the fluky goals that sometimes turn comfortable games into close ones.

    With Flower at the top of his game, the Penguins have a chance no matter who else is in or out of the lineup.

Phil Kessel

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    Phil Kessel is tied for the league lead in goals with nine. The Penguins will want to keep him off the board or at least minimize the damage he does.

James Neal

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    James Neal is tied with Kessel for the league lead in goals, which sets up a fun "game within the game" tonight. Neal is making a case that he is a top-flight wing in the NHL with his performance so far.

    He has done that with Evgeni Malkin in and out of the lineup to rest his knee. Oh, and he still has yet to take a shift with Sidney Crosby, which was what he was acquired to do.

    As I've been saying on Twitter, James Neal just scores goals. #signhim

Steve Sullivan

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    I will not pretend like I have watched every game and player this season, but I will go out on a limb and say that Steve Sullivan has to be playing the best of any player that does not have a goal yet. To Penguins fans' credit, they do not seem to have turned on him... yet.

    Sullivan needs to produce—this is not negotiable. But he has not played badly this season.

    The puck seems to follow him, he clicks very well with Neal and Malkin and he has been the victim of some bad bounces. Yes, I guess you can call me a Steve Sullivan apologist.

    I still believe in him, and I will keep talking about him until he scores a goal. Good luck, Steve!