Friday, January 25, 2013

Penguins Game 4 Recap - Jets 4, Penguins 2

Before getting into anything about this game it has to be said that regardless of result that was an outstanding game of hockey to watch. These are the types of games you can get into no matter if you are cheering for a team or not. This is what hockey is supposed to be about. The game flew by with few penalties and great pace and while the Penguins didn't come out on the winning side I can say that this was an extremely enjoyable game to watch.

Now, onto the game. For the first period it looked like the Penguins were going to roll this game. They were fast and all over the place and took a two goal lead thanks solely to a pair of Sidney Crosby goals. Bing was all over the place, creating turnovers and while his shots looked harmless they found the back of the net. This were good, real good. Then came the second period.

The second period was all Jets all the time. They scored three goals and really tightened down on the defense and made it incredibly tough for the Penguins to get anything going offensively. They forced the Penguins into being careless with the puck and then in the third period they built a wall in front of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Pavelec was the number one star in my book after the game. While the defense was good and the Jets offense got the job done it was only due to the fact that it wasn't a bigger deficit. Pavelec absolutely robbed Evgeni Malkin at least twice when the Penguins were up and was able to stand tall after looking generally ordinary at best in the first period.

The biggest problem with the Penguins play tonight was just the general carelessness of the puck carriers. The stat sheet is only going to show nine giveaways but if that would have said 15 or 17 I wouldn't have even thought about it. I actually think nine is a little low for how nonchalant they were with the puck and it absolutely cost them the game.

The Penguins had 35 shots but had another 17 blocked by a wide variety of players. I talked about the Jets overall team defense above and shot blocking is a huge part of that. The Penguins defense combined for four shots and while I don't have specific numbers in front of me they had a lot of their chances blocked. That is huge if you are Pavelec and another big reason the Penguins were unable to get things done in teh second or third.

Tomas Vokoun was good again for the Penguins. Sure he is going to take the loss but the defense really didn't do him any good on a few of those goals, none were worse than the last one which was a game winner. After Malkin turned the puck over at his own blue line the Penguins were OK defensively but a cross ice pass to Andrew Ladd from Bryan Little found the back of the net due to the fact that Ben Lovejoy completely ignored Ladd who was his responsibility leaving him wide open for what turned out to basically be a tap in. On the game tying goal it was a turnover by Chris Kunitz that led to a goal where Kris Letang was flat footed, not that it really mattered, I don't think.

Dustin Byfuglien might get made fun of for his large stature but dude played a big time game today. He was up in Malkin's grill all night. He wasn't perfect against Malkin but his ability to get physical against him down low was key and while his defensive game was pretty good it was hit bomb of a shot that tied the game on the power play. Dude just crushes the puck when he shoots it.

Joe Vitale was a welcome bright spot for the Penguins. He is getting fourth line minutes which is around ten or 11 a night but he is a huge spark plug and every time he was on the ice he was doing something to get me to pay attention to him. While you can't expect you use your fourth line 15 minutes a night it would be nice to see a little more of Vitale because he has brought something the past few nights.

This was Tyler Kennedy's first night on the second line and it was a little hit or miss for me. He did some good things, including drawing a penalty for the Penguins only power play, and he seemed to be out of his league at other points. He did a much better job than Eric Tangradi in that roll so it will be to see how he meshing going forward. I am still not convinced that this is a permanent solution because as it improves the second line a little bit it hurts the third line which was doing WORK the first three games of the season.

Speaking of the third line, Brandon Sutter is getting chances, but he just hasn't been able to find the back of the net. He has a point blank chance in the middle of the game and the puck just rolled off his stick. It happens though. What was more worrisome was that Sutter was only 3-of-13 in the faceoff dot which isn't good when you are going to be relied on to win big time faceoffs. Not overly worried about it though.

That sucked. It was a great game to watch but the Penguins losing sucks. They are now 2-2 after four games of a 48 game season. It is funny because after the two wins last weekend I actually thought that there are going to be games this season where the Penguins were just going to get worked and then there were going to be one goal games that the Penguins were going to fall short. Those games happen to every team every year but it just sucks that both of these scenarios happened back-to-back.

Penguins take on Ottawa Sunday afternoon. Winning then would be fun.

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