Sunday, December 5, 2010

GTOPG: We Go to 11; Pens Demolish Blue Jackets, 7-2

By Artistry

I made the common DVR mistake of taping the wrong NHL Center Ice broadcast on Saturday, but as it turned out, being stuck late at night with a recording of the FSN Columbus broadcast provided some crucial insight regarding how the Penguins' matchup with the Blue Jackets would play out.  Early in the first period, Columbus broadcasters Jeff Rimer and Bill Davidge focused on one player from each team.  For the Penguins, it was Sidney Crosby.  For the Blue Jackets?  Mark Methot.

"Who the hell is Mark Methot?" I wondered, aloud.

"Be quiet," Mrs. Artistry replied.

But I had already answered my own question.  After a Rick Nash hit on Brooks Orpik that made me think we might be in for a real battle, it was like the Jackets left the building to make way for replacement players.  The guy wearing Steve Mason's jersey had a leaky five-hole.  Coach Scott Arniel, his shoulders slumped, looked stunningly meek.  And Mark Methot was not a match for the absolutely scorching Crosby.  The Columbus crowd was more vocal in its support of the Penguins than any Consol Energy Center audience I've seen so far, Pittsburgh outshot Columbus 16-2 in the first period, and the Pens raised their record to a lofty 11-0-1 in the last 12 games.

- If you needed to see anything more to bring you around to GTOG's long held position that Paul Martin belongs at the point on the number one power play, the Prime Minister certainly served notice last night. He was the best player on the ice, and the Pens scored three times in their first three PP opportunities.  Martin has the ability to walk right around wingers defending him at the blue line, and he's starting to do it every game.  Shaking off the New Jersey.

- Dan Bylsma's most impressive bit of coaching may be yet to come.  Can he convince Geno Malkin that  keeping Mark Letestu on the number one power play and moving Geno to the number two unit would be better for the team?  It's not necessarily a demotion, even though it's hard to believe Malkin isn't aware that, while Sid makes scoring hat tricks seem like taking a shower in the morning, Geno himself has one assist in his last five games.  This is simply about having at least one of the best players in the league on the man advantage for a full two minutes instead of 1:15.  Time to give this a shot, right?

- For Crosby's next trick, he will score on a deflection from the stands.

- Marc-Andre Fleury could have slept through this one, but he still looked sharp.  He made a great save on that Voracek character late in the second, flashing the left pad to deny a tap-in goal.

- Very seldom do I ever say to myself, "Great timeout right there" during a hockey game.  You only get one of them and, let's face it, unless you're in the last minute of a one goal game, it's pretty arbitrary if a coach decides to use it.  But I said it last night, when the Pens were up 4-0 in the second and Bylsma called timeout to give guys a rest after an icing call.  If he doesn't take it there, he's probably not taking it at all, at least unless the Jackets cut the lead to 4-3.

- Do we need to change Chris Kunitz's nickname?  I need some guidance here.

Finesse's Division Crown Jinx Countdown: 14 out of a possible 14 points.

1. at Florida: W 3-2
2. at Buffalo: W 1-0
3. vs. Ottawa: W 2-1
4. vs. Calgary: W 4-1
5. at New York Rangers: W 3-1
6. vs. Atlanta: W 3-2
7. at Columbus: W 7-2
8. vs. New Jersey
9. vs. Toronto
10. at Buffalo


  1. How about some love for Deryk Engelland? Finally getting some big boy minutes and ripping one from the blue line? His other goal this season, if I'm not mistaken, was also on a slap shot and it's great to know you have a number 6 defenseman who can also shoot (I'm not putting him on the number 1 PP unit just yet, but this is one thing he has over Scuderi).

    One of the most noticeable things in the first period, beside the Pens' dominance, was the horrible play of Steve Mason. He made Fleury's Game 7 vs. Montreal look like a Vezina trophy tribute clip. The second goal was simply embarrassing. Poor Mathieu Garon was desperately trying to get some rest after his rough start the previous night at Buffalo, but 16 minutes in, and 2 goals too late, Scott Arniel had to sub a fatigued goalie for a totally incompetent one.

  2. P.Co., two great points on Engelland and Mason. Sometimes you can tell in the first two minutes that a goalie is going to have a terrible night (as we've learned from Fleury's first 10 games this season) and Mason made it very clear early on that this was going to be a laugher.

    Engelland was great last night. The thing I like about him is that he plays decisively and with confidence. One of the toughest things about watching young defensemen is that most of their mistakes come because of indecisiveness. Engelland has been pretty solid in just getting the puck up the boards and not over thinking things. That's all we can hope for at this stage of his career. That, and beating the crap out of people.

  3. Most of the time the first game listed on Center Ice is the home team's broadcast and the second game listed is the away team's broadcast.

  4. This is another example of why GTOG readers are the most knowledgeable hockey fans around. Thanks, George.

  5. Finesse, I agree with you on Engelland's style of late. I guess that's the difference between a 28 year-old rookie and a 20 year-old rookie.