Wednesday, February 2, 2011

GTOPG: When You Have No Centers And Are Forced To Play Eric Godard When He Can't Even Fight, You Have No Business Winning; Pens Win 4-3

By GTOG Staff

You know that feeling you had in November 2008 when Jordan Staal had a third period hat trick and then committed the robbery on Pavel Datsyuk in overtime as the Pens defeated the Red Wings 7-6?  You were fist pumping, f-bombing, and generally couldn't go to sleep for at least an hour after the game.  And while you realized it was just a regular season game and the two points were no different than any other two points you'd earn all season, you still felt fantastic.

Last night wasn't quite at that level, but it was close.

The Pens played without Crosby, Malkin, and Letestu, and then lost Jordan Staal to one of the most inexplicable calls in modern history. They played nearly 7 consecutive minutes short handed. They overcame having Tyler Kennedy on the team. TK looked distinterested at best and simply awful at worst.  They overcame Brandon Pacino. They overcame having to give Eric Godard over 7 minutes of ice time. What a win.

- Aside from our hero Dustin Jeffrey, three guys should be singled out, although the entire team deserves praise with the sad exception of Kennedy.  First, Craig Adams was a monster and may be the biggest bargain in the NHL despite having only 9 points this season (or is it because he has nine points this season?).  Second, Chris Kunitz scored another goal on a pretty deflection, giving him 17 on the year, and set up the first goal of the game with a great look to Jeffrey. Whatever he is doing, he should keep doing it. And third, Marc-Andre Fleury was impenetrable in the shootout. The Rangers could have gone through their entire lineup without anyone scoring, which would have been a mixed blessing because our DVRs would have run out. To be fair, it looked like Lundqvist wasn't going to allow any of the Pens to score either.  Great goalie. We are losing interest in shootouts generally, but last night was an example of a fantastic one.

Scoring Winger for Sid
 - If the Penguins' were shut out last night, no one would have batted an eyelash. They wouldn't let it happen. Down 2-0 to a solid team on the road, guys started playing like their lives were at stake. Chris Conner was setting people up on the doorstep. Max Talbot was consistently battling for position in front of Lundqvist. Deryk Engelland destroyed Marian Gaborik as he tried to drive to the net. And Jeffrey just kept making good things happen. When the Rupp-Talbot-Adams line scored off a perfect center drive by Rupp, you knew this might all play out differently than the movie you were seeing in your head.

- All of that said, with Pascal Dupuis and Rupp on the second power play unit trying to throw around cross-ice passes, we found ourselves searching for antonyms for "touch."

- GTOG has never been a place where we put officiating under the microscope, as we are big believers that over the course of a season, the breaks go both ways - you win some, you lose some.  We also feel that if you can't overcome a bad call against you, then you aren't that good anyway.  But let us relax our policy for a moment to comment on the Jordan Staal match penalty.


We will leave it to The Pensblog to do the photoshopping and gif'ing of Staal's punch on Brandon Prust, but would like to make two comments.  1) Either Jordan Staal has Ivan Drago-level strength, or Brandon Prust executed one of the greatest sell jobs in NHL history; and 2) has the NHL simply abolished the penalty of charging from the rulebook?

When Kennedy was standing still battling for the puck and Prust took 5 strides and tried to decapitate him, that was textbook charging.  We're actually somewhat glad that penalty wasn't called, simply because the refs NEVER make that call, despite it being an obvious violation.  But when Jordan Staal responds with a love tap to Prust's chin, and Prust goes down like McLovin in Superbad, something is awry. What Staal did was 100% a penalty, but did the refs really have to go more than a double minor for roughing?

The match penalty is an automatic suspension for Staal, unless the commissioner steps in and waives the extra punishment.  Here's hoping Crosby is working the phones with Bettman this morning.


- Finally, we hate to be negative on the morning after such an emotional and fun win, let drive a final stake into the heart of Tyler Kennedy's game last night.  He was dreadful.  Chris Bourque-level bad.  We're not sure whether he is disinterested or just being exposed as not a good player, but whatever "that" was last night needs to not be seen again.


  1. That was probably the most calm, rational and to the point officiating rant I have ever seen on the internet. I guess Colin Campbell is part of GTOG nation, since he rescinded Staal's automatic one-game suspension.

    Correction - the incredible OT victory at the Joe was in November of 2008.

    In other news:
    1. Tangradi has been called up. Good. Playing Godard was gutsy, now we need some skill to win.

    2. Per the Pens' website, both Crosby and Malkin are on injured reserve. This means that both are out for at least another week. I wonder if they shouldn't put Crosby on the long-term injury list. If he is still not working out, it wouldn't be a stretch to predict that he will stay out at least until the end of the month. By putting him on LTIR the Pens can exceed the salary cap by the amount his salary for the time that he is out. In Crosby's case, that's big money - might even be big enough to get a 5-6 mil./season player at the deadline without taking anyone else off the roster.

  2. P.Co - thanks for pointing out the date error.

    According to everything I'm reading, it looks like Geno is going to come back tonight, or is at least strongly considering. I'm not sure how that fits in with the injured reserve designation, but I assume the Pens wouldn't be speculating on him playing tonight if he weren't eligible.

    As for Sid, we should all be knocking on wood that it doesn't come to that.

    Definitely agree on calling up Tangradi. He just brings a lot more to the table than Godard, which means that he actually brings something to the table.