Thursday, September 22, 2011

GTOPG: Geno Wins Preseason Conn Smythe; Pens Clip Wings, 3-2

By Artistry

Watching preseason hockey is usually a lot like watching The Bachelorette. It's painful, but we can't help it. Last night was different. It was as if after blacking out for two years since winning the Stanley Cup and playoff MVP, Evgeni Malkin suddenly regained consciousness. And of course it's never not gratifying to beat Detroit.

- Everyone is buzzing this morning about Geno's dazzling performance with the puck - and the 360 degree spin and blind dish to a streaking Kris Letang was ridiculous - but don't ignore the clearest indication that he's back to his old self: it's what he did defensively. Malkin is back in "You can't have the puck because it's mine" mode, forcing turnovers and outright stripping guys naked out there. That's what makes him a holy terror. This may be the year he surpasses Pavel Datsyuk and leads the league in takeaways. It's not fair that we haven't had more time to enjoy Crosby, Malkin, and Staal together and at their best. But it would be really unfair to the rest of the league if we did.

Pondering just how unfair things should be.
- If and when Sid returns, it's time to split up Crosby and Malkin on the power pay. Geno is much more effective when everything flows through him. Don't buy the notion that either center would feel slighted by being stuck on the second unit. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Does Geno feel sligted because he centers the second line at even strength? This is worth a shot. I tink we can all agree the power play can't get worse.

- Joe Morrow completely outclassed every defenseman not named Letang or Martin last night. Very fluid and confident. Geno really put his finger on it when he said, "Great defenseman. Great skater." We really couldn't be more excited to follow Geno on Twitter.

- Don't be fooled by the fact that Matt Niskanen showed up on the scoresheet. He gives the puck away in his own zone about 17 times each game. Give us Lovejoy and Engelland with Picard as a 7th defenseman.

- We're looking at quite a logjam on the 3rd and 4th lines. Malkin, Kunitz, Neal, Staal, Kennedy, Sullivan, Dupuis, Cooke, and Adams are playing every night. That leaves 3 slots and 6 candidates - Letestu, Jeffrey (when healthy, he may be a lock), Asham, Park, Tangradi, and MacIntyre - to fill them. And that's before Sid comes back. Anyone still want to argue Max Talbot wouldn't be healthy scratch material on this team? Richard Park is not going away.

- Bob Errey weighed in last night on the idea of two lions eating a hippo: "Why am I laughing? Poor hippopatomus!"  It's good to be back.

- Follow us on Twitter.

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