It started with maybe the best shift of the season. Evgeni Malkin, Aron Asham, and Matt Cooke took the ice about 30 seconds into last night's 7-4 debacle against the Bruins, and they were all over the puck. When Asham punched a rebound past Tim Thomas for the first goal of the game, the Pens were just warming up. They had 18 shots in the first period. Tyler Kennedy had 8 shots on the night. Pascal Dupuis had 7. Rebounds were juicy and plentiful. And when he wasn't experiencing discomfort, Malkin was torturing the Boston defense. After two periods, Pittsburgh had a 4-2 lead. No other team scored four goals against Thomas in an entire game this season. He had a 1.05 GAA coming in. The Pens were on the way to reasserting themselves as a top team in the East. Then they did jello shots in the locker room before coming out for the third period. Or whatever it was that led to the subsequent five unanswered Boston goals.
- Here's Finesse: "You know, it's tough when you completely dominate a game for the first 8 minutes and then have two needless fights grind your momentum to a halt. What you saw in the first eight minutes was a beautiful collective harmony of movement. What you saw with the Godard and Talbot fights was the 2008 Philadelphia Flyers. The Pens lead the league in fighting majors. Unacceptable."
- The Pens also lead the league in power play chances (Steiggy was bringing the knowledge last night), and it's equally unacceptable that those chances are detrimental to the team. Boston actually benefited from most of its penalties last night. Could the team with the most PP chances end up having the league's worst power play? Has this ever happened?
- Before the game, I applauded Dan Bylsma's choice to reconfigure the defensive pairings. Putting Letang and Orpik together made perfect sense to me. They know each other. They're compatible. Z-Mickle and Paul Martin seem like an equally logical fit. And sitting Deryk Engelland for Lovejoy after Engelland's poor showing in Phoenix was the right move. But after that third period, it was clear none of it made any difference. Boston's first goal came off of a bad play by Martin - a no-look drop pass next to his own net on the penalty kill. Michalek made some terrible decisions in his own right. And what of a certain third pairing defenseman with big potential and maddening inconsistency? Finesse points out that "The Confounding Case of Alex Goligoski" may have to be solved in the AHL.
- Is Brett Johnson the new starting goalie? Well, BJ, with great power comes great responsibility, and now you're being held to the same standard as Marc Andre-Fleury. I don't care what happened to the defense in the third, five goals allowed in that period is inexcusable. Get out from inside your net. Actually, never mind, because it says here you just lost the starting job back to Fleury.
- Malkin took a lot of abuse last night, but one thing is now abundantly clear. He needs to play center. Geno standing along the boards waiting for a pass is Geno wasted. Let the man run free like a gazelle. That's what he is.
- Aron Asham's game had everything last night: a goal, a fight, a check of Milan Lucic into the Pittsburgh bench, a bad penalty in the offensive zone, and terrible hair.
- Steiggy reported last night that Consol now has an entirely new sheet of ice. Good that the organization recognized the problem. Not so good that the ice was still poor.
- Do you think the Penguins could use a guy like Nathan Horton? Here's what we wrote about Horton in June, after Boston got him from Florida: "Isn't Nathan Horton the type of player you build around when you're a bad team? A 25-year-old power forward who pots 25 goals a year and still has upside? His $4 million cap hit is certainly reasonable in a world where Chris Kunitz lives. So I'm a bit confused as to why Dale Tallon came to town and shipped Horton and Colin Campbell's son to Boston for Dennis Wideman and two picks." Well, we were wrong. Horton should score 30 goals, easy.
Pens host Tampa Bay on Friday. MAF, come back to us.