Saturday, April 20, 2013

Penguins Game 44 Recap - Penguins 3, Bruins 2

 -While it was pretty much something that was going to happen regardless the Penguins officially clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 regulation win in Boston today. Things didn't start out so well for the Penguins as they were badly outplayed in the first period and went into the intermission down 1-0 but Tomas Vokoun held the fort and the power play came through in a big way to outplay the Bruins in the final two periods.

 -This obviously was a very emotional game. At the beginning I said that I wondered how the Bruins were gonna handle all the emotion and stress that they have endured throughout the week. On Wednesday against the Sabres the Bruins really didn't play well and while both teams have a lot on their minds from the incident that went down yesterday I think the Bruins had a tougher time dealing with this and I think it wore them down. They really came out and played really good hockey in the first but after that the Penguins really go their legs and took over. If you were looking for thoughts on the game then read my game preview [here]. Just one more time I think I need to say thank you to all the authorities, especially the ones in Boston, you guys are true hero's.

 -The difference in the game was the Penguins power play. They entered the game with the leagues second best power play and while they didn't score in their first four attempts if the Bruins were going to keep giving them chances they were going to cash in. And cash in they did. Brad Marchand took a brutal (and stupid) penalty with 16 minutes left in the game and Jarome Iginla found the back of the net and then the Penguins scored another power play goal less than four minutes later when Kris Letang scored in the first ten seconds of another power play. It was the third straight game that the Bruins have given up multiple power play goals which isn't something the leagues top penalty kill unit is used to doing. Needless to say it won the game today for the Penguins.

 -A week before the Penguins picked up Jussi Jokinen he was placed on waivers and every team took a pass on him. His cap hit was high and he was signed through next year but that wasn't something that teams wanted to get themselves into. All Ray Shero did was get the Hurricanes to kick in some money and Jokinen was a Penguin. All he has done since has maybe been the teams best pickup at the deadline. In his six games with the Penguins he has six goals and four assists for a guy that is going to maybe be on the fourth line when the playoffs come. He drew the call on Marchand that led to the Penguins second goal and was all over the ice. Overall he is going to be a role player but so far he has brought a lot more to the table than people might have expected.

 -Vokoun has been really good all year. Sure he had that tough stretch where he was absolutely garbage but for the most part he is doing exactly what the Penguins needed him to do. I fully expected Marc-Andre Fleury to get the start tonight but was somewhat surprised when Bylsma said that Vokoun was going to be in net. He said that MAF was going to play three of the last four games and this was a good time to give him a little extra rest before the grind of hopefully a long playoff run. It is nice when you can play your backup against the second or third best team in the conference and not even think twice about it. He faced 40 shots and stopped 38 of them and only gave up his second goal with 2.5 seconds left and it was the definition of meaningless. Just really solid. MAF is the number one goaltender on this team and there should be no discussion about that but to know that you have someone behind him that is more than capable of winning a few games if needed is huge for your team.

 -The new guys continue to score goals. Jokinen and Iginla had two of the three goals today. Just so nice.

 -Douglas Murray is exactly what this penalty kill unit needs. The PK is only ranked 25th in the league and they have gone through swoons but today showed exactly what Murray can do. In case you forgot (even if you were watching the game) Jaromir Jagr plays for the Bruins and while he is still an extremely talented player he is lethal on the power play. Murray was exceptional on the penalty kill in basically eliminating Jagr. He was physical with him and when Jagr was on the same side of the ice as him it was as if he wasn't on the ice. That is exactly what the Penguins needed and Murray gives that to him.

 -Today the Penguins played like they had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Paul Martin on the ice. They didn't. They beat the second or third best team in the conference with their top three guns out of the lineup while the Bruins were at full strength. Nice.

 -What does wrapping up the East mean? I have no idea. I really don't think it is a good idea to take their foot off the gas and completely pack it in for the last week or so but in the same breath they don't have anything to play for. Sure, they still have a remote outside shot at winning the Presidents Trophy but they would need Chicago to lose three games and the way they are playing that just isn't going to happen. I don't think you want to pack it in because you can get into some bad habits and not have your guys ready for the start of the postseason and the last thing this team wants to do is to get down in the first series against the eight seed 2-0 or 2-1. Giving teams that are below you any hope is a bad thing to do and if they play someone like the Rangers if they get down in the series and Henrik Lundqvist gets hot they this is another one and done year. Go into games like they mean something and get the job done.

 -Every team's announcers are homers. I think as Penguins fans we have come to understand that the booth that ROOT Sports puts together is one of the worst homer pairs in the league but as far as other teams go this isn't against the norm. Actually I have no problem with this, even with the Penguins duo (who some REALLY don't like. You can be both good at your job and a homer at the same time but you can also swing the other way. That is when you get into Jack Edwards territory. Edwards is noted as one of the worst in the league in this aspect and it really doesn't bother me that much but today he went over the line and off the deep end with some comments on Matt Cooke:

If you don't believe that he really said that stuff then here is the audio:


Just embarrassing for Edwards. Not only does he accuse Cooke of basically assassinating Marc Savard but he does so a day after the death of one bombing suspect and the near death of another, both of whom killed numerous innocent people. To take it another step farther he compares Cooke to a person that assassinated Robert Kennedy. Yea, that seems like a great idea.

It must be stated that Edwards did apologize for the comments both on Twitter then on TV but this isn't the first time that Edwards has gone off the cuff. While it is good that he did apologize that still doesn't make what he says any less logical or tolerable. Just dumb.

-Anyways, this was a great game for the Penguins and they did what they needed to do to pick up two points and clinch the top seed in the East. Now lets let them finish the regular season off and get ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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