Sunday, November 7, 2010

GTOPG: Pens Win; One Small Problem

By Artistry

On a number of levels, the Penguins finally found their game last night in a 4-3 overtime win in Phoenix.  They outshot and outhit the Coyotes by a wide margin.  Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were the best players on the ice.  The wingers did what the Penguins' wingers are supposed to do - and all this particular set of wingers can be expected to do - by creating havoc on the forecheck and firing pucks at the net.  Paul Martin was a presence in every zone.  And Mark Letestu continued to make the case that it should be his life-sized poster that Little Artistry uses to chart his growth.  All of this was done on the road, in the second of back-to-back games, against a playoff team with a very good goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov.  A big early-season moment for this team.  Just one problem...
  • Once again, Marc Andre-Fleury looked completely lost in goal.  His confidence is shot.  The first goal came on a point blank shot, and it was a great finish by Eric Belanger, but combine that with the missed pokecheck on Radim Vrbata's goal, and you're looking at a terrible 7-minute showing for the Pens' franchise netminder.  But you have to hand it to Fleury.  There he was after the game,  that big silly grin on his face, congratulating everybody and playfully jabbing his glove into Max Talbot's face.  Who can say what's going on in his head right now.  Dan Bylsma sounded after the game like he'll be as patient as he needs to be with Fleury, but this is really getting ugly. 
  • Brent Johnson was again generally pretty terrific.
  • Geno finally buried a shot, and you could see the weight fly off his shoulders.  If he starts to play the way it looked like he would this season in training camp, this is an entirely different team than we've seen through the first 14 games.  
  • As bad as Fleury was tonight, it's possible the officials were worse.  There is no way Vrbata's goal was called a goal on the ice.  You could see video of the ref blowing the whistle before the puck went in.  They didn't call anything; they just blew the play dead.  But that was nothing compared to the decision to waive off Crosby's goal in the second because of an alleged cross-check by Pascal Dupuis.  Maybe FSN had video of the infraction (I was watching the Phoenix broadcast).  I didn't see it.  And to be fair, there was no way they should have put the Pens on the power play in overtime.  Just a bad display.
  • Every tough guy wants to try Deryk Engelland these days.  That's very flattering to Engelland, and entertaining to watch, but Engelland is starting to get exposed on defense.  He was beaten pretty soundly on each of the first two Phoenix goals.  Query whether he should ever be in the lineup against a team that emphasizes skill and skating.
  • We've got a few days to revel in the effectiveness of the Talbot-Rupp-Adams line.  Enjoy it.  Boston on Wednesday.  LGP


  1. Terrific recap. A badly needed 2 points.

    Another point on the officials - the "boarding" call on Matt Cooke was awful. He hit the guy in the shoulder and he went down like he was assassinated to buy the call. That was a penalty for being Matt Cooke.

  2. Everyone, including Mark Letestu, will probably forget his first shootout goal in a few days. Everyone except me. The universe somehow aligned last night to create one of the most magical moments of my entire life. Literally.

    Words cannot describe the absolute delirium that set in when Letestu appeared on-screen as the third shooter in the bar I was at last night. "LETESTU! IT'S LETESTU!" I've never seen (and in this case, participated with) people cheering so wildly as if the game were won at the mere sight of a player. When the puck went in the net, the place exploded. I watched game seven of the '09 SCF in the same place, and it was way louder last night.

  3. I'm thankful for Pensblog for linking to this site. This is high quality hockey analysis in an entertaining package. You guys are on my daily read list now.

    Anyway, just wanted to make two quick comments:
    1. by now you probably know Sid's disallowed "goal" was not really a goal since the puck did not go in the net.

    2. What's troubling about Engelland is that he is a defenseman playing a goon 4th liner game. 5 PIM to 6:23 TOI is something that can be tolerated from the likes of Goddard, not from a d-man. This forced the rest of the defensive corps to share a heavy load (24-25 mins by Michalek and Letang, and Martin who played almost 30 minutes). That's not something you can sustain for a whole season, especially with 3 of the top 5 on D already sustaining injuries this month.

  4. P.Co, thanks for reading. Spread the word. As to your comments, yes, we quickly learned that Sid's shot hit the crossbar. Sometimes we just get lazy on Sundays. Couldn't agree more about Engelland. Lovejoy needs to play.

  5. Randy! that's great stuff. Unfortunately, that's probably a symptom of the frustration that everyone has been feeling with a general lack of ability among the Pens (Sid aside) to bury the puck with any consistency or authority. But hearing about the enthusiasm for the Pens is tremendous - let's hope that it builds and builds and eventually rubs off on the team (and Fleury, especially).

  6. I recently called for Max Talbot to be a healthy scratch so I feel it's fair to say that he's been getting to his game recently. A solid effort in Phoenix. Glad that he not only reads GTOG, but it also motivates him.