It is all good at MSG. Honestly if the Penguins could play like, every game at MSG then I think the Penguins might never lose again. All jokes aside (was that really a joke though?) the Penguins didn't play a great game overall but they did what they had to do to get the two points in regulation and did so against a big time division rival. The power play wasn't great (but it was better) the Penguins passed up a lot of shots (probably not as many as people will tell you though) the secondary scoring really didn't come through (again) but it was enough and I am more than OK with that.
I would be willing to bet if you asked every coach in the league when the worst time to give up a goal is all of them would start by saying 'anytime.' After the laughter would subside they would probably tell you either in the first two minutes or last two minutes of the period. It can really make you feel terrible to just be getting your legs under you for the period and be down a goal or have bad mojo going into the intermission break by giving up a late one. Well the Penguins first two goals of the game were scored in the first two minutes of a period and while MSG was dead to begin with it never really got a chance to get going. Evgeni Malkin scored a goal that beat Henrik Lundqvist short side, where only God knows how he fit the puck in the small space, just 1:24 into the game and then James Neal redirected a Sidney Crosby pass for a power play goal just 28 seconds into the third. Just brutal goals to give up so early in the period. It was awesome.
The Penguins third goal came via Simon Depres who took a pass from Pascal Dupuis after he came out of the penalty box and beat Lundqvist with a backhand that was sick nasty. Really this goal goes to Dupuis as he worked his ass off to fight for the puck and find Despres open in the middle of the ice. The goal essentially was game over with just under half the third period remaining.
The Penguins defense was pretty up and down over the last couple of games but it really looked like it was focused on not giving up anything to the Rangers and they were outstanding at it. They got 28 shots on net but as I was watching the game I can only really think of maybe a couple of really solid scoring chances but everyone from Paul Martin to Robert Bortuzzo were pretty much outstanding. Martin has been just so solid this season which is a complete 180 from what he was like last year. He looks confident and is making pretty much all the right plays. For me it was good to not hear Bortuzzo's name. As I talked about in the preview when you don't hear the name of the bottom defensive pair that is usually good. Make the plays you need to and don't make any glaring mistakes. Even if Lovejoy is healthy I would much rather see Bortuzzo on the ice. Brooks Orpik was a guy that I thought was done after last year but it seems as if the offseason (including lockout) has really given him a chance to get healthy and he is playing some outstanding shutdown hockey being paired with Martin.
Another positive is Dustin Jeffrey. He only had just over ten minutes of ice time but of anyone on the roster that has been trotted out there with Malkin and Neal is he the one who has shown the most upside and was pretty good the past couple of games. He looked pretty comfortable with Malkin and seemed to be finding the open spots in the zone and at least create scoring opportunities. I know he isn't a favorite of Disco's but I would love to continue seeing him on the ice.
Tomas Vokoun earned his 49th career shutout tonight as he stopped all 28 shots and really looked good doing it. There is just something about Vokoun in net that makes everyone clam. He doesn't seem to ever get rattled and to be honest after facing like 73 shots a night in Florida I am not really sure what it feels like to face less than 30 a night on a team with competent defense. While the Rangers didn't have a lot of great chances Vokoun was rock solid when he needed to be. He did get beat twice but the post saved him on both occasions and I am OK with that. I am sure that a lot of people are going to be saying that Vokoun should be getting the majority of the stars but I kinda like what the Penguins have going with the one-two combination of Mark Andre Fleury. People are going to clammer one way or the other but it has been seven games. Vokoun is playing some good hockey and to be honest Fleury has been playing some pretty good hockey himself. This is a very good thing going forward.
The power play was pretty up and down tonight. Coming in it was pretty horrid but the Penguins went back to the setup they used last season with Malkin on the point and used an umbrella to create chances and for the first two power plays they did that. The other few power plays weren't good but they scored on one of those bad power plays so who really knows. Kris Letang really doesn't look all that good at the point. He was pretty good there last year but has regressed so far this season and is passing up on a ton of good looks and missing the net when he is taking a rare shot. I am not sure what it is with him but it really seems to be a confidence thing with him. I am the last person that is yelling "shoot" but Letang passed up on a ton of shots. Sidney Crosby and Malkin passed up their fair share of shots today too. No idea what is going on.
Not sure if Brad Richards is still on the Rangers or if he was just a healthy scratch tonight. Nowhere to be found. The Rangers just looked like total mud. Lundqvist has to be so pissed right now.