In April 1962, more than a year before the Rebecca Black-led conspiracy to assassinate him, President John F. Kennedy invited every living American Nobel Prize winner to the White House for a dinner in their honor. At the event, he delivered one of his most famous quotes:
"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."What a speaker. But it turns out that upon closer inspection, he might as well have been talking about the Pens' 4th line. Craig Adams, Mike Rupp, and Arron Asham are the most extraordinary collection of heart, of skill, and of grit that has ever been assembled together on the Pens' fourth line, with the possible exception of some game in 1989 when Mario triple-shifted himself and skated with Richard Zemlak for 30 seconds.
James Neal may have gotten the game-winner and TK may have gotten the PP marker, but make no mistake about it -- the Pens are up 3 games to 1 in this series because when given the opportunity to roll 4 lines, the Adams-Rupp-Asham combination is hoisting a Penguins' flag in the offensive zone, tormenting the Lightning D, and generally just grinding bitches down. It doesn't matter who they are on the ice against -- they are #Winning.
|Craig Adams' Mom with the Umbrella|
- All the talk today is about how James Neal is fighting through a significant injury - possibly to the wrist he jammed into the boards a couple of weeks ago. Put that out of your mind, because lots of people are playing with broken bodies out there. The important thing is where Neal's mind is right now: it's in a good place.
- It was a bizarre start Wednesday night. The Lightning had no jump, the crowd was dead, and it was like 98 degrees outside. The Pens finally got a power play goal from Kennedy in the first, Asham buried his third goal of the series, and we had an opportunity to put Tampa in a sleeper hold, which, if you know this team, you knew wasn't going to happen. We thought hockey players were supposed to be superstitious, but there was Bob Errey in the third, making comments like, "The Tampa Bay Lightning look like they're saying goodbye to their season." Errey deserves at least 75% of the blame for this game going to overtime.
- The pace slowed as the game went on. There was a whistle every 30 seconds. It was like an NBA game. That allowed Guy Boucher to get the matchups he wanted, and Vinnie Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis exploited Matt Niskanen and Ben Lovejoy on the St. Louis goal. We don't think Lovejoy and Niskanen are playing badly - on the contrary, they've had a number of noticeably solid shifts - but look at the even strength goals Tampa has scored in this series. Hasn't the Pens third pairing been on the ice for most of them? Let us answer that. Yes.
- The Big 4 of Orpik, Letang, Michalek, and Martin was nothing short of sensational. They all played more than 30 minutes last night - Orpik logged 40:32 replete with crushing body checks - and gave the Lightning nothing. Letang was the best player on the ice.
- The penalty killers were back in regular season form. Craig Adams may have thrown himself on a live grenade in the third period.
- Overall, it was a decent showing for Eric Tangradi. He set a terrific screen on the Kennedy goal and made at least a couple of deft passes. Seems a little shaky at times with the puck on his stick though, and need to ratchet up the intensity along the boards. He's not Wally Pipping Chris Kunitz, who watched the game last night while bathing his hands in white light.
Time to sit back, relax, look forward to Saturday, and watch the Capitals get way too excited about going up 3-1 on a No. 8 seed in the first round. GTOG.