Thursday, December 23, 2010

GTOPG: More 24/7; It Still Only Takes 20 Minutes to Beat Florida; Pens Win, 5-2

By Artistry

Back in November, we noted that, fortunately, the Penguins only had to show up for one period to get out of Florida with a 3-2 win.  And despite the fact that the Panthers have been relatively hot lately, nothing changed Wednesday when the clubs met in Pittsburgh.  The Pens came out flying in the first, then sat back, started giving pucks away to get BJ and MAF some work, and looked forward to watching a late night airing of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals, Part 2 in the Washington, DC Ritz.  If they actually sustain their level of play for three periods tonight, I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that their may be some profanity emanating from the Capitals' locker room between periods. 

- From the first shift, Sid and Geno looked like they were shot out of a cannon.  Crosby's goal - his speed up the wing after taking a buttery chip pass from Chris Kunitz - looked otherworldy.  22 goals in 22 games. 

- The Buzz Line of Letestu, Connor and Kennedy continued to impress.  Great patience by Testy on his goal in the face of tremendous adversity.  He's had to overcome a lot since Dan Bylsma revealed to the world via HBO that "Testy" is, in fact, his nickname.  Fortunately, he does not have a hockey-playing twin.  If there's anything good that's come from Jordan Staal's extended absence, it's the confirmation that upon his return Bylsma can just stick him on the second line without thinking twice about it.

- Kris Letang was the most consistently dominant player on the ice last night.  He was flying, as usual, but that wasn't the most notable thing about his game.  How can such a tiny human be so strong?  He was crushing people into the boards all night, and in the first period, he went toe to toe with Bryan Allen in front of the Panthers' net, and he didn't back up one inch.  Allen is 6'5" and 230 pounds.  Letang is listed at 6'0" and 200 pounds.  Try 5'9" and 180.

- Good for Ben Lovejoy that he managed to dodge the wild right hands being thrown by the scrub who challenged him to fight for the first leg of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (he later got a goal, but lacked the requisite assist).  We continue to question, however, the Penguins' willingness to drop the gloves regardless of the circumstances.  Steiggy hit it on the nose after Mike Rupp responded to a challenge in the second period from Darcy Hordichuk:  "He didn't need to do that."  No, he didn't need to do that, and he shouldn't have done that.  It's axiomatic in hockey - or at least it should be - don't indulge guys like Hordichuk when you have a big lead and the other team is starting to build some momentum.  It's just dumb. 

- Even though they slept through much of the latter part of the game, the Penguins just look like a well-coached, highly efficient team right now.  The puck support, the backchecking, the breakouts, it's all clicking.  They'll need to to be sharp tonight to combat the highly emotional Capitals, who reacted like they took Game 7 of a first round playoff series after beating Ottawa the other night (Editor's note: the Capitals would not know how to react if they won Game 7 of a second round playoff series).  With that, a few more notes about last night's edition of 24/7:

1.  Mario Lemieux is going to be sliding feathery backhand shots behind goalies when he's 83-years-old.

2.  Dan Bylsma always gets to his game.

3.  If you grew up going to Penguins' games and humming the team's theme song as you shot pucks in your driveway, as I did, you can appreciate how cool it was to watch the Phoenix game highlights to that soundtrack.  I am not a fan, however, of all of the HBO camera work.  The game highlights don't seem to capture as comprehensively as I would like the true beauty of some of the plays we see when watching replays of a regular old local broadcast.  It certainly looks artsy, but can't we take a minute and appreciate something like Crosby's roof job shot against the Coyotes?  How about slowing that kind of thing down AGH camera-style?

4.  It might have been worth deviating from the Pens/Caps theme to capture Paul Bissonette's reaction to Matt Cooke's prank.

5.  No need to belabor the fact that the Capitals are coming off poorly in this deal.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it's shining all over Bruce Boudreau's bald pate.  But somebody needs to tell Alex Ovechkin to put a shirt on, hide his face, hide Mike Green's whole life, hide his parents, and keep Alex Semin off camera, where he belongs. 

There.  Now I think I'm ready to go tonight.  Poise and I will be at the game, and on Friday we'll be all over an explosive Penguins/Steelers Holiday Special Get to Our Postgame Spectacular.  LGP.  LGS.  GTOG.

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