Of the major story lines coming out of last night's 5-1 win over the Flyers - and there are a few - let's start with one we didn't see coming: Mark Letestu is Stepping Up 3D. Tie game, late second period, it's looking like it would be a fluke if the Pens get out of Philly with anything more than one point, Letestu is surrounded in the slot by three Flyers, and somehow he puts the puck in the net as his head is being driven into the ice by Chris Pronger. He just leapfrogged Jock Callander on the Penguins' list of "Guys Who Came Out of Nowhere To Make You Think They Might be Good." I say he's going to graduate to actually being good. That play convinced me. Also last night:
- As rumors continued to circulate that he's playing hurt, Sidney Crosby did what he always does against the Flyers, scoring two third-period power play goals to seal the victory. Two things about this: 1) he's definitely hurt. If you watch Crosby regularly, this is becoming increasingly obvious. He has very little push, and nowhere near his customary acceleration right now. Hall of Fame Dave was off target this morning asserting there is no reason to doubt that Crosby is injury-free. There is every reason to doubt that. He would never admit to being hurt. It's not in his nature, and it would put him at a competitive disadvantage; and 2) I think it's fair to say Sid has never scored an NHL goal on a slapshot from just inside the blueline like he did last night. Crosby at the top of the umbrella on the powerplay is something we've never seen, and the Flyers had no answer for it. Might not be a bad idea to try that again.
- The hope here is that those Crosby goals inject some confidence into the powerplay, which for the better part of the game was unspeakably bad. The Pens must get at least one or two PPG per game to play with the better teams in the league right now, because they won't often be holding those teams to two goals a game with all the injuries and Marc-Andre Fleury's spotty play of late.
- Speaking of the goalie, there he was at the buzzer last night, greeting last night's starter Brent Johnson with his trademark grin. Maybe Fleury knows something we don't, but I think Johnson's performance means Dan Bylsma has to come back with him again tomorrow night, right? Let's not over-think this. You have to ride the hot hand at this point. Forget about Fleury's confidence. The guy's a grown man, and now like a 6th year veteran, making $5 million a year. He needs to perform. There is no reason you sit Johnson down right now. As Paul Steigerwald put it late in the third, Johnson has "great legs." Fleury isn't losing his job. Call it a sabbatical to the bench.
- Is it too early to say that Mike Comrie has earned GTOG's early tag as nothing more than a recreational hockey player? I think not.
- Heavyweight Jody Shelley, you probably just didn't notice that Eric Godard was in uniform last night. Or giant-killer Derek Engelland. I'm sure that's why you chose to drop the gloves with the Penguins' third toughest guy, Mike Rupp.
- And finally, you stay classy Mike Richards.
- The only thing I like more than beating these guys is my family and maybe a few friends. LGP.