-Ho Hum. Another win for the Penguins and that makes it nine straight. It wasn't the best game that the Penguins played and they really sat back for much of the second and third period but took some chances without giving a lot of room to the Bruins. The Penguins were down one (big time) defenseman but the other five guys along with Tomas Vokoun put in a gutty performance to really earn the win. The offense got the ball rolling early and the defense took care of it late. Full team effort today.
-Vokoun really stepped up and is starting to get back to the form we saw him earlier in the season when people were begging him to be the number one goaltender. The Bruins got a lot of shots on him today (32) and the only one that found the back of the net came off a bad bounce on a blocked shot that turned into a Tyler Seguin goal. Other than that Vokoun was all business. The difference it makes when the Penguins have both Fleury and Vokoun playing well is night and day. The past four games the Penguins have surrendered only four goals and I don't care who you play that is an impressive number.
-Outside of the win the biggest new of the day comes with the Kris Letang injury. It is being deemed a "lower body" injury but it really isn't something that anyone can pick up on. Adam from over at The Pensblog had a gif of the injury play:
No idea really what it could be. After the game there was some talk it could be his groin/right leg.
Nothing official on Letang, but teammates say he apparently tweaked a leg problem that has been nagging him for a while. — Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) March 17, 2013
I have no idea how bad it might be or how long he might be out but if he is out for any extended period of time then the Penguins are going to struggle defensively. They were able to piece things together today but they rely heavily on Letang on the ice for big minutes and playing in big time situations.
-I am not sure there is any line in the NHL that can stop the Penguins top line. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis combined to score the first Penguins goal through some gritty hard work behind the net that turned into a Crosby goal and they were on point all game long. It didn't matter if Zdeno Chara was on the ice or not when the Penguins first line was on the ice they were in the offensive zone. I really don't think that the first line had to skate in the defensive zone all day. I mean, I know they probably did but it really didn't seem like it. Their puck possession was just unreal and when they had the puck taken away from them they were able to quickly get it back and continue the cycle.
-I talked about the struggles of the bottom lines the other night and they really showed up to play today. Joe Vitale earned the game winning goal off a rebound and outside of that they did a really nice job grinding out the puck behind the net and hitting the Bruins defenders all day. For much of the season the fourth line has really been a liability but that wasn't the case today against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
-The Bruins are known for being a very physical team and that is how they win hockey games but the Penguins pretty much matched the Bruins today. I am not a really big believer that throwing a bunch of hits makes all that much difference in a single standalone game but overall the Penguins aren't a team that is going to get overly physical. Today they were going out of their way to finish checks on the forecheck and to actively engage the Bruins every chance they got to. Not sure if that directly resulted in the win but it was definitely a point of emphasis in the game plan today and it was executed well.
-The penalty kill has been pretty bad for much of the season but they were absolutely outstanding. Last meeting with the Bruins they were allowing them to get away with a lot of one time opportunities but today they were very "in your face" on the penalty kill and it led the Bruins to have very few chances on their power play. It was a nice adjustment that was made and really helped out Vokoun in a big way.
-Not sure if this had something to do with Letang being out but the Penguins were really tentative in the second and third period. They ended the game with only 18 shots which was a low point of the season. The previous low number of shots was 22 and it was only the fourth time that the Penguins had less than 25 shots in a game. They were very systematic in when they would take their chances and they continued to pound the dump and chase. It worked so I can't say too much about it but I am not sure I would expect this to happen many more times the rest of the season.
-Paul Martin with 30:02 of ice time today. Dude has just been unreal this year.
-After back-to-back games the Penguins get a day off before coming back to play the struggling Capitals on Tuesday.