Stop me if this sounds familiar. The Penguins played Sunday night without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Mark Letestu centered the top line, James Neal took about a dozen shots, was credited with 4, and failed to score, and Kris Letang played like half the game. Are you banging your head against your smart phone yet? Take it easy! It's Columbus Day. There is so much to celebrate. First and foremost, these are not your spring 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins. These are your spring 2011 Pittsburgh Penguins and Steve Sullivan.
|So short, yet so threatening|
- Before Geno got hurt against Calgary, the Penguins had that look about them. The look that says, "We know we're good, we're not satisfied just winning this game, let's score 4 more goals." We can expect more of that when Malkin comes back, and we can expect a lot more of that if something else happens that I won't discuss here because we all know what we're talking about. Meanwhile, we revert back to "clog the passing lanes - score dirty goal (singular) - squeeze 14 good minutes out of Joe Vitale" mode. The Pens have proven that they can pile up regular season points in this fashion even as they encourage us to channel surf to keep from falling asleep, but here are a few things to avoid:
1) Overplaying Kris Letang. We know he's in the best shape of his life. So was Ben Roethlisberger at the start of his season. Now he's limping towards the locker room, pausing to let the cameras catch up, then continuing to limp towards the locker room. No matter how dominant Letang is on a given night - and he was nothing short of brilliant on Sunday - he can and will burn out. We saw him try to do too much last spring, and his play rapidly deteriorated. The same things goes for Martin and Michalek. For a team that's supposed to have the deepest defense in the East, Bylsma is not coaching like we have the deepest defense in the East. Play everybody. We'll likely complain about that, too, but do it anyway.
|"I do not need dis much of de Onus."|
3) Playing without either Malkin or Crosby. Can we move on from this please?
- Brent Johnson is all we could hope for in a backup goaltender, but if last night didn't make you appreciate what Marc-Andre Fleury does in a shootout, nothing will. Johnson was lost out there. In fairness, if the NHL was just a big shootout competition, Edmonton would probably win. Those kids can dangle.
Check back later for Steelers GTOPG and to see if you can guess today's real Ben Roethlisberger quote.