It was a wildly busy weekend for me. Over Friday and Saturday I was unable to watch any of the Penguins. I worked about 26 hours between the two days and my only reprieve was that I got to listen to much of the game on Friday night and then catch most of the third period on the radio for last night's game. That being said I don't really have too much to say but after reading a little bit about it and going off what Mike Lange said during the broadcasts I thought I would throw up a few thoughts.
The first thing is that holy man is the Metro Division bad. Not only is the name a little strange but things are just really bad right now for that division. I mean, look at this:
I mean, yikes. The Penguins have 10 wins in regulation or overtime and the next closest team has six with most others having four, at most. Granted the Penguins have played one or two games more than every other team but this is a dumpster fire. The Penguins are pulling away early and with all the home games they have had this early in the season they are probably doing exactly what they wanted to do. The rest of the division is a mess.
Playing a home-and-home against a team isn't an easy thing to do. In baseball it is really hard to sweep a series no matter how bad the team is you are playing and I think that somewhat translates here but this was huge. The Blu Jackets aren't as bad as they used to be and they are a lot deeper of a team this season and the Penguins took two games in regulation. Huge. The wins in regulation and overtime is the tiebreaker later in the season and when we look back this is going to be a weekend that could win the Penguins a tiebreaker over another team come playoff time.
The Penguins goaltending was just cash money. When I was listening to the game on Friday night Lange was just gushing over Marc-Andre Fleury and what he was doing and it seemed like he won that game. The Penguins might not have been overly good on Friday night as they let the Blue Jackets attempt like 60 some odd shots and MAF was all over it. Love it. Jeff Zatkoff got the start the next night and all he did was play his best game of the season and earn the shutout. Zatkoff didn't face the volume that MAF did but still great to see.
The Penguins got the power play to work in the game Friday night with a couple of goals with the man advantage and they were a perfect 6-for-6 on the PK which was huge for them. They got out-chanced badly in the first game and the special teams really gave them the momentum they needed to win.
The defense really stepped up on Saturday. The Blue Jackets had only 19 shots on Zatkoff and the chances were few and far between. So far this season the Penguins have done a really nice job of limiting the shots so I am thinking that Friday night was just an anomaly and they showed as much by really choking the Jackets on Saturday. Great to see.
I must admit that I wasn't a huge fan of playing Deryk Engelland on the wing when this started. He is a defenseman by trade and when you have to pull a dman to play on a wing then you aren't really putting your best out there offensively. Actually Engelland has been playing some pretty decent hockey. He isn't the greatest skater by any imagination but he has found the back of the net a few times including scoring first last night on a night little one-time shot. It seems to be working and you know what I am alright with that.
A guy that doesn't really get his due is Chris Kunitz. He was a monster on Friday night and is the kind of guy that you need on your team if you want to be successful. He is really good with Sidney Crosby and he can do just about everything. He goes into the corner, he can play in front of the net, he can finish, and he can play defense. He scored the first goal on Friday night and scored the second goal on Saturday night. When he is on a roll then the Penguins are in good shape and right now he is on that roll.
Evgeni Malkin is starting to get into a flow. He hasn't been able to find the back of the net but that isn't because he is playing bad hockey, that is just what happens sometimes. He had three points on the weekend and while he didn't score a goal the assists are just as important. When things start falling the offense is going to be scary good with how Crosby is playing.
All-in-all a great weekend. Two wins in the division and that is all that matters.