The Lightning pulled out all the stops last night in an attempt to win Game 3 at home and box the Pens into a corner. They handed out plastic drums. Actually, that's about it. Through three games, the Lightning's performance in this series has been steady. Steadily mediocre. They have some great players who can really scare you, in St. Louis, Lecavailer, and Stamkos [NOTE: Stamkos included solely on the basis of trying to avoid bad karma]. And then they have a bunch of guys who are ok, including Ryan Malone, who is lovingly dubbed a "warrior" but in reality is just an overpaid, injury-prone, minor-penalty machine. And then after you get through naming all of their OK players, you finally get to Victor Hedman.
|Nick Cannon: Huge Lightning Fan|
- Game 3 brought everything we've been saying about this series into stark relief. If the the Penguins can get any lead, let alone an early two-goal lead, they can and should beat the Lightning. But they have little margin for error, and, unfortunately, that includes referree errors. We're not going to dwell on a couple of bad calls - and the penalties on Kovalev and Martin were pretty atrocious - because bad calls wouldn't mean much if the Pens' vaunted number-one penalty killing unit didn't look helpless at times against the Lightning. That's a power play that makes you clench your buttox even when they don't get off a shot.
- Here's an exercise that never gets old. Take Max Talbot, Arron Asham, Mike Rupp, and Craig Adams. Add up their salaries. What do you get? The number itself isn't particularly important, but put it this way: you get about 500% more playoff production than Marion Gaborik for far less than half the price. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin make the Penguins dangerous, but it's these guys that make them champions. Really, look at Max Talbot. Having Talbot on your team in the playoffs is not unlike living with 2-year-old Little Artisty. It's so rewarding that it makes you forget the sleepless nights and soiled diapers you endured during the regular season. You forget this so completely that you're willing to do it all over again.
- For a guy who does so much vision training, we have no idea what Roloson was doing on Talbot's goal. Max Talbot has made a career of scoring on relatively weak shots against average goalies.
- Chris Conner was a little monster last night. He always brings it after he gets scratched, or, in this case, after we suggest he should be.
- We love that Ben Lovejoy had a big smile on his face talking about how he had no problem with Steve Downie's big first period hit, a play that led to Talbot's huge early goal. But the league may have a problem with it. Or it may not. We have no idea. Consider a similar play by Downie a few years ago.
Downie got 20 games for that. He used his body as a missile against Dean McAmmond, but really, how dissimilar is it to what he did to Lovejoy? We're not even saying he should be suspended. We're just saying the NHL has no clue what it's doing on any given day.
- Having said that, if any team in the NHL is prepared to handle the loss of a key contributor, it's the Pens. The Pens have won games this season with a lot less. At one point, Joe Vitale was the Pens' third best player. And we're only mildly exaggerating.
- And finally, Sid is practicing with the Pens this morning. We'll surely hear that there is "no change in his status." But still. Huge.