Well, at some point the Penguins were going to lose a game and at some point they were going to have a game like tonight. Does that make it any easier as a fan watching the game? No, it doesn’t but things like this happen and you have to move on as the Penguins dropped a 4-3 contest against the Leafs in Canada.
Actually it feels like the Penguins have played more games in Canada in the past month than they have in the good ole US of A. A crazy schedule finally comes to a halt as the Penguins will not play another game until Thursday and if tonight was any indication then they need the time off.
This was a pretty sloppy game all the way around. The first period was terrible for the Penguins and the Leafs and there was very little flow to the game and outside of a Mikhail Grabovski power play goal it was about even overall for performance. Yes, I said that a team scored a power play goal against the Penguins. The first 5-on-4 goal that the Penguins have given up all season. It was bound to happen but it sucks. To be honest the goal was pretty sick as Grabovski redirected a Dion Phaneuf shot on his backhand.
The Penguins started off the second period playing just as bad as they did in the first. It was turnover city all over the ice but they finally got their legs under them about halfway through the period and tied it up when Matt Cooke scored his fourth of the year on a rebound from an Arron Asham shot. Really nice job from Asham had an unreal shift getting the puck and getting a shot on net and Cooke was just doing what he does and picking up the garbage.
The lead was short lived as Tim Connolly scored a power play goal. That is kind of how the night way for the Penguins in a nutshell. The penalty kill that was near perfect coming in was scored on twice. Granted, there was no Jordan Staal on the ice but they didn’t look very good.
Chris Kunitz answered with a power play goal with about five minutes left in the period and tied the score again going into the break. To be honest with the way the game was going I was feeling pretty fortunate that the Penguins were tied after two periods.
The third period was the best period of hockey overall but the trend continued of the Penguins just not being able to get over the hump. The Leafs scored just three minutes into the period to take a one goal lead. Evgeni Malkin made the most of a 5-on-3 with an absolute laser to tie the game. The Penguins, however, couldn’t make it stand and the eventual game winning goal came off the stick of Phil Kessel when the Penguins basically forgot that he was on the ice and left him wide open for a one-time goal. Balls.
Like I said this was a pretty bad game the whole way around for the Penguins. That being said this is a much improved Leafs team. They are playing some good hockey right now and they are scoring a lot of goals. I don’t really like the Leafs but I think it would be good for hockey if they were strong this season. They got after the Penguins and forced them into a lot of turnovers and it just wasn’t good. If you are the Penguins you just realize that games like this are going to happen and you move onto the next one. The five game winning streak was awesome but it would be foolish to think that they were going to win the rest of their hockey games.
The Pens were playing without Jordan Staal tonight and they are still without Bing and Big Z is out of the lineup and they were still in a one goal game with a pretty good chance to tie it up at the end. The Penguins were flying at the end and just came up on the short end.
The power play was really hard to gauge. I think for the most part this season the power play has been so much better than last year and with two power play goals tonight they showed that they can make it successful even with some of the top offensive weapons out of the game. They were a little helter skelter tonight and gave up a few really good shorthanded chances to the Leafs but whatever, they scored two goals. I will take it.
There seems to be a good bit of people that are wondering by Brent Johnson started tonight. Was he the best in net tonight? No, but his defense did him no favors. That coupled with him sitting pretty deep in the net was a receipt for disaster and he did a nice job to keep disaster away and give the Penguins a chance to win. With the Penguins on a five game winning streak and Marc Andre Fleury playing so well there are a lot of people who wanted him to play. I get that, I really do, but I think this was a good chance to get Beej into the game and keep him fresh before the Penguins go into a stretch where they play two games in the next 12 days. This is the 13th game of the season and the last time Johnson got any action was October 18. If he doesn’t play tonight then he probably doesn’t get into action until November 12th. Almost a month of not playing hockey. I know there is practice but that is nothing like a game. MAF is going to play a lot of hockey this year, especially down the stretch so there is no need to play him in every game. MAF doesn’t need to play in 75 games for this to be a great team. Beej needs to get some work every now and then and with the schedule setting up for some off days and spaced out games he probably wouldn’t play for a while. I know MAF is on a roll but what if he goes down? Do you want your backup to only play in three games in three months and then have to play every night? I don’t, even if it is just for a week where you might play four games. Get him the work now and keep him sharp just in case. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that but if you don’t think that Beej can get you a win then he shouldn’t be on the team. Sure, he is the backup and he is there for a reason but he still needs to get 18-20 starts over the season to keep MAF fresh and not overwork him. Tonight was a great opportunity for him to play. Just my two cents though.
Pens finally get some days off. Should be nice for a few players to get healthy. Enjoy it.