Great win for the Pens last night, as they handled the Ottawa Senators by a score of 5-2. Sergei Gonchar's return was unspectacular, BJ played another "so solid" game, and the Pens finally got a clean regular season win at CEC. Some thoughts:
- Paul Steigerwald had one of his best nights as a play-by-play guy. He was all over the action, made a Mike Lange-esque prediction that Chris Campoli would score, and made an astute observation during the Derek Engelland fight that is worth discussing. It was Steiggy's contention that one of the best things about the Pens is that there are a lot of young guys on the roster who feel like they have to play to earn/keep their roster spot every night - Tangradi, Letestu, Lovejoy, Engelland. That has provided the team with a new energy that can really help the Pens keep up the pressure on the nights when Sid and Geno just don't have it. When Asham and Staal return, I think it is important that the young guys continue to have the opportunity to earn their playing time. When Asham returns, for example, there is no way that Letestu or Tangradi should sit - they have earned their spots. Keep a rotation between Talbot, Asham, Dupuis, Godard, Rupp and make those guys feel like young guys who have to earn their spot in the lineup every night. [Artistry follow-up: At the same time, I feel like it was one of Bob Errey's worst nights as an "analyst." Do you ever find yourself thinking, "What the hell is Bob Errey talking about?" This happens to me roughly once a shift.]
- I've been a little tough on Talbot this year, but I thought he was very good last night. He was skating better than I've seen him all year, and that's a great sign.
- Speaking of skating, Kris Letang has to be one of the 5 best skaters in the NHL. Say what you want about his decision making, and we do, he has the ability to recover on some of his less-egregious turnovers that probably allows him to take more risks than other players. [Artistry follow-up: Agreed. Letang and Goligoski both have elite speed that allows them to freelance on the power play with minimal risk, and we saw that finally pay off last night in the first period. The Sens defense could not keep up with those guys in the moments leading up to Crosby's goal. They were also probably still dazzled by the brilliance of The Letestu.]
- Obviously we could spend more time praising Letestu, but let's give some props to Eric Tangradi as well. On Letang's goal, the Pens fifth of the game, Tangradi was parked right in front of a shell-shocked Brian Elliot. Letang's shot was deflected and Elliot probably would have been able to re-adjust were it not for Tangradi being in Holmstrom-City right on the edge of the crease. Elliot couldn't see the puck and didn't adjust and the goal put the game officially out of reach. Elliot whined for goaltender interference, which is exactly what you want to see out of opposing goalies when Tangradi is on the ice (just not when Matt Cooke is on the ice).
- If you're like me, then you were happy that Dupuis' goal went in without hitting Kunitz because it gave Crosby the second assist. For any player to compete for a scoring title, they have to get good luck on plays like that and get credit for these "cheap" second assists. Wayne Gretzky probably has a 100-foot yacht named "Second Assist."
|1,276 second assists|
- Later tonight (hopefully) we are going to break down the two most recent Ron Cook columns. If you are new to the site, then you may not know that when we started this thing, we drafted the "Rules to Writing a Ron Cook Column." If you ever read the PG, and particularly if you read Ron Cook, then you must compare his columns to our rules. Trust us. Also, take a look at some of the other greatest hits on the right sidebar. Thanks for reading. GTOG.