They won against the Rangers…again. If they could work out the kinks against less talented teams (or at home even?), the Pens would be sitting really pretty right now.
But in all seriousness, tonight’s game wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement from the previous two losses. Some of the same problems exist with unnecessary passes, throwing away perfect scoring opportunities, turnovers, and some defensive coverage. There also, as usual, is never someone covering the net to collect rebounds. However, goaltending tonight was spectacular. Tomas Vokoun seems unshakable. The past two games, Simon Despres has been on a mission to prove himself worthy of a roster spot, and with Matt Niskanen out for a few weeks, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Despres is playing a solid, physical game and making great saves. Robbed Rick Nash as he wrapped around the net and carried the puck back on the attack. He redeemed a penalty tonight with a Crosby-esque goal right out of the penalty box. Pascal Dupuis shot the puck across the ice from the far side and Despres nabbed it coming down center ice fresh out of the box. Great play by Duper and Despres. Robert Bortuzzo played a nice game. He flies under the radar, but I love watching him playing the puck and then retreating back to the blue line. He sticks to his game.
(Sorry the gif is small. WordPress and Photobucket hate my existence tonight, making writing this blog take 45 minutes longer than it should have.)
Dustin Jeffrey is also playing excellent hockey, even when his teammates aren’t. Malkin made a poor decision with a beautiful drop pass from DJ tonight. You couldn’t ask for a better set up for a goal but Geno hesitated and passed it back to Jeffrey but Dan Girardi broke up the play. I don’t know if Geno is still having issues adjusting to the ice size or what, but his game isn’t there yet.
Crosby also gave up a few opportunities to shoot on the net and shot a breakaway chance right over the net.
Malkin, Neal, and Despres scored the goals of the night. Neal’s was his second PPG of the season.
The debate already tonight is who is the starter for the Pens: Fleury or Vokoun?
Honestly, this isn’t even a debate. With a shortened season and playing 4 games a week, when you have two capable goalies, split the games. They’ll both be well rested for the playoffs. Fleury cannot take all of the blame for the losses. His team gave him little to no support and with the way the Pens are turning the puck over and allowing so many odd man rushes, you simply cannot claim this early that Fleury shouldn’t get more or at least a near even amount of starts. He is 2-2 on the season and in his two wins, he only allowed 1 goal each game. The other two games, the whole team looked a flat out mess. He is the LAST line of defense. Not the only line.
There is simply no reason to make Fleury sit as of yet, especially when he isn’t the main problem, or even at the top of the list of issues this team is having.
The Pens are still looking for a win at home. I honestly don’t care where the wins happen, as long as they are happening. But another win on Saturday at CEC against the Devs would be great. We may see newcomer Zach Boychuk on line with Malkin and Neal if he plays. I’d honestly like to see the lines stick at all and keep Jeffrey with the top pairing.
The game was relatively uneventful, with the exception of the league still not having a consistent definition of boarding. Michael Del Zotto slammed Crosby into the boards, numbers facing and chased his numbers all the way in. No call. But a win, however slow the game may be is better than another chalk line in the loss column.