Well guys, I am back. It was a long week of work and I didn’t get to follow much of the Penguins during that time but now that I am back home and finally starting to get a little deeper into the past couple of games and things are good. Today was no different. The Penguins dominated today against the Lightning but had to hang on. I know it’s tough to say a team had to “hang on” when they win 6-3 but it was a weird game.
Not too bad when you have a guy like Evgeni Malkin that can take over a game after letting a substantial lead slip away. After the Lightning tied the game at three, after being down 3-0, Malkin went on to score a natural hat trick (which included an empty net goal) and just took over the game and put the team on his back. You gotta love watching stuff like that.
During the Penguins six game losing streak they scored six goals. In the last two games, both wins, they have scored 10 goals. It’s nice to score more than one goal a game.
This game was really all Penguins all the time through two periods. They scored two first period goals, by James Neal and Richard Park, and the Lightning went into the intermission with only five shots. Just dominating play. The second period was much of the same with the Penguins outshooting Tampa Bay 15-8 and they held on to a 2-0 lead.
After James Neal got on the board again with a power play goal things got interesting. In just under a five minute span the Lighting tied the game and with about 13 minutes left in the game things did not feel so well. Then it happened. Right after the Tampa third goal Dominic Moore starts to chirp Malkin. Hard. So bad that James Neal had to skate over and take over Malkin’s spot on the left and Malkin moved over to the right. Bad move by Moore. Malkin scored a goal in less than a minute and then almost two more minutes after that. Ballgame.
Malkin has been outstanding all year and is now only one point off the league lead in points after the five point game. This was just another dominating game but the difference here was that he really just took it upon himself to win the game. He told the team to get on his back and he would carry them to a win. So much fun to watch when Malkin gets like that. With as much as the Penguins have struggled to score goals and get a flow going these past two games have been so important. They are back on the right track and hopefully this can propel them as they get more players back from injury.
James Neal has been so good this year. He scored a couple of power play goals and this year is almost the complete opposite of how things went for him last season. The bad angle goal he scored in the first was shot from the goal line and when things are going well they are going well. He now has 24 goals on the season which is only three goals off his career high, for a season. I would assume he is going to surpass that since this is only game 44. He stays healthy he probably hits 40.
Today it was the big guns scoring the goals for the Penguins but what has changed recently is that the secondary players are starting to find their groove and contribute in a big way. This Penguins team is much different when you have to worry about Tyler Kennedy and Richard Park scoring. It opens up a lot more offensively.
Brooks Orpik has been playing some really good hockey lately and really leading this team from the blue line. I think he gets out of position when he tries to go for the body and the big hit (as he did today) but overall he has played some good hockey over the recent past.
Interesting to note that of the six Penguins goals today three of them were unassisted and only six players recorded points. Not very often do you see that few players record a point in a game where the team scores six times.
Lost in all the good today was the Penguins getting dominated in the faceoff circle. They only won 33-of-70 face offs and two of the worst today were Malkin who was 9-of-29 (31%) and Dustin Jeffrey who was 6-of-18 (33%). Craig Adams was the only player who won more face offs than he lost (8-of-11).