Thursday, April 10, 2014

Penguins Game 80 Recap - Penguins 4, Red Wings 3 (SO)

Really not a whole lot for the Penguins to play for here in the last week of the season but that doesn't mean that the remaining games will give you a lot to want. Any time the Penguins and the Wings get together it is going to be a good game and when the Wings were fighting for a playoff spot and everyone had a chance to look at a possible first round matchup then you had a game that was must see. It lived up to the billing as the Penguins and Wings played a good back-and-forth game that resulted in a shootout where the Penguins won thanks to a Jussi Jokinen shootout goal.

Marc-Andre Fleury has just been cash money the last couple of weeks. There were times in this game where the Wings just took it to the Penguins but Fleury was there nearly each and every time to shut the door. This game wouldn't have went to overtime if it weren't for Fleury and that is a good thing going into the playoffs. His save in the shootout was something you have to see:

Before the game last night I was thinking that I really hadn't heard much of James Neal. That isn't necessarily all his fault as he has been playing with different line mates every night but tonight he had his mojo back on the power play. Throw in a ridiculous Sidney Crosby backhand saucer pass and it was almost too easy. That being said Neal looked really good. It can be easy to get frustrated with him as he plays on the dirty side but when he is scoring goals he makes it look so easy and so effortless. When Evgeni Malkin finally gets back and gets that second line back together, watch out.

Sick stuff.

Last night was also the return of Kris Letang. He has missed the last 10 or so weeks after having a stroke and while it was up to him to return there was no guarantee that he was going to be able to come back. Well, last night he came back and it was really nice to see him skating again. He played 22:30 which is a little more than I thought he might get but his skill set is like nothing the Penguins have right now. On Jokinen's goal in the third period Letang took the puck nearly from coast-to-cost and just skated by Wings defenders to get a shot on net. Just something the Penguins didn't really have and I have a feeling he's going to be a huge asset going forward. Well, his legs should be fresh.

If this does turn out to be a playoff matchup then there will not be a shootout. The Wings were able to really dominate the Penguins bottom six so either they are going to have to play a lot better (which hopefully will happen) or the top six for the Penguins are going to have to greatly outplay the Wings counterparts. The latter part of that is possible but not really something I would bank on. If they play the Wings in the playoffs in a week it is going to be a really fun series to watch.

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