Thursday, March 14, 2013

Penguins Game 28 Recap - Penguins 3, Maple Leafs 1

 

 -Well, nobody said it had to be pretty (and it wasn't) but the Penguins were able to keep their win streak rolling with a 3-1 win over the Leafs tonight. It wasn't an ugly game in the sense that the Penguins played a bad hockey game but just because this game could have put you to sleep. While the game last Saturday was intense and up and down with goals being put in the back of the net this one was a more methodical with only three non empty net goals scored. It was kind of like the game the Penguins played (and won) against the Bruins a few days back only the Penguins didn't play as well for a lot of the game as they did that time. The Leafs did a nice job of blocking shots and not giving the Penguins a lot of space but in the end the talent won out and more importantly Sidney Crosby decided that the Penguins weren't going to lose.

-While the game had a few easy choices for number one stars the real number one star of the game was Marc-Andre Fleury and it really wasn't even close. MAF was on his 'A' game the entire night and even though the Leafs got the first goal of the game literally one second after the halfway point he didn't let them sniff the back of the net after that. It took an extremely pretty passing display to beat him the first time and despite breakaways and a few bad penalties he was there to pick up his teammates as they have picked him up for much of the month. At points in the game he was literally standing on his head and while he only earned the number three star but he was the number one star and it wasn't even close.

-Crosby is disgustingly good at hockey. Just watch the pass he made to Pascal Dupuis on the Penguins first goal of the night:

  

I mean if you blur out the players in that scenario and show it to someone and ask who made that pass the only logical answer can be Crosby. Not only did he set up the first goal but he directly led to the second, and game winning, goal to be scored. The Penguins were pinned in their defensive end and Crosby was playing on the backside as the Leafs tried to set up a one-timer. Crosby went down on a knee, blocked the pass, started the rush, and pulled two Leaf defenders with him to the far post which left the slot wide open for Dupuis. I believe that Crosby might get an assist on that play (wasn't originally given one) but even if he doesn't he still made that play happen from start to finish.

 -Dupuis was pretty good too. He scored a pair of goals and now has 13 goals on the season. He isn't the most talented player on the ice but when he gets the puck in a good position to shoot he always makes something happen. Playing with the top two point getters in the NHL doesn't hurt but you still have to put yourself in good spots and know where to go and doing that earned him a pair of huge goals tonight.

 -With a pair of assists tonight Chris Kunitz is now second in the league in scoring. All by himself. 39 points and only trails Crosby. Not too bad Mr. Kunitz, not too bad.

 -With all the good there still is some bad. Namely the bottom six forwards for the Penguins. While a lot of people are talking about headline guys that the Penguins can bring in to play with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but what the team really needs are a few guys to fill out the bottom lines. Tanner Glass and Tyler Kennedy have been brutally bad and while I like Joe Vitale he needs to be better. The Penguins are winning a lot of games by just grinding it out but any time the fourth line is on the ice it seems as if the Penguins are getting taken behind the woodshed and at some point it is really going to come back and kill them.

 -Brooks Orpik had a pretty forgettable night. He hasn't been playing very well recently and while he had a really nice start to the season he really has struggled. Orpik is a guy that can lay the lumber and while that may be good in certain situations he is really going out of his way to make a hit and leaving his defensive partner and goaltender out to dry. He did it again tonight and gave Nazem Kadri a near breakaway that MAF was able to snuff and then he took two penalties in the last seven minutes and luckily his teammates bailed him out with some good PK work. Brooks needs to figure it out. He won't be taken out of the lineup but as a top pairing defenseman he can't be making these many mistakes.

-I don't know how the Penguins are doing it but they are rolling right now. That is seven straight wins and they are really starting to put a ton of pressure on the Devils and Rangers to win every single night just to keep pace. The Rangers lost tonight so they now have only 28 points after 26 games played while the Penguins are sitting at 40 points with 28 games played. The Devils are a bit closer with 31 points in 27 game but the Penguins are really starting to pull away, especially in a shortened season. They aren't playing great hockey but they are getting wins and that is all that matters. I don't even care.

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