Friday, January 20, 2012

GTOPG: Malkin puts MSG on notice; Pens Win 4-1

By Finesse

Over the past six years, opposing teams have taken several approaches to trying to stop Evgeni Malkin.  None of them work on any sort of consistent basis, but one of the most common tactics is to try to get physical with him to "get him off his game."  The problem with that approach is twofold: first, Geno can be off his game and he is still the best player on the ice.  Second, it activates him emotionally, and an activated Evgeni Malkin is an Evgeni Malkin that's about to humiliate a whole lot of people.

Malkin's patented "I did that in Russia all the time growing up" smirk
So the Rangers took the get physical approach with Malkin early and it backfired.  He was sublime the entire game.  You can't really blame the Rangers for putting all their eggs in the Stop-Geno basket, because somewhat lost in the 4-game win streak for the Pens is the fact that we are basically a one line team.  Unfortunately for everyone else, that one line is destroying everything in its path.

More thoughts after the jump...

- After Malkin scored his empty netter to put the Pens up 4-1, Brandon Prust took a little run at Fleury and the Pens had a power play for the last 35 seconds of the game.  Bylsma, perhaps responding to the run at Fleury, went with the top PP unit.  It's admirable that he coaches until the final horn, but I don't like it.  It's one thing to have Geno out there to go for empty net goals with a two-goal lead -- you do that because you are rewarding him for carrying the team all season.  But the final 30 seconds after you've already scored an empty-net goal is the definition of garbage time.  It's tempting to try to get Malkin the F-you Hat Trick, but it's irresponsible.  Malkin is not Mario Lemieux -- he doesn't know how to glide around away from all contact, swoop in at the last second and bury it.  Malkin is always in the mix.  He grinds on the boards.  He gets in people's faces.  So it's not a good sight to see him getting worked over by two Rangers in the corner with 15 seconds left in a 4-1 game.  That kind of coaching has a familiar smell to it...

- John Tortorella is an excellent coach, but one of the most easy to despise passionately when you're playing against his teams.  But because we hate him so much, we also love reading his quotes after the game when the Pens win.  Our favorite from last night: "[T]hey fed it to us in the third.”

- Letang was back and played over 24 minutes.  Ben Lovejoy is a nice guy and all, but the upgrade in the defense when Letang is slotted in there is astonishing.  It elevated everyone's game. Paul Martin looked like James Norris out there.

- There is a lot of anti Steigerwald/Errey sentiment in cyber-space these days based on the thinking that they suck, they're annoying, or that they're homers.  For what it's worth, I think they do a good job.  Of course they are "homers" -- they basically work for the Penguins, travel with the Penguins, make friends with the Penguins, like the Penguins, and try to portray the Penguins as a likable and successful team so that people will watch the game.  They aren't perfect, but I watch a lot of games on the Center Ice package with opposing announcers, and the Steigerwald-Errey tandem is no worse than anyone else.  (ROOT Sports camera work does suck, though).  If you root for another team, I got news for you -- your announcers are homers, too.  And you like it.

Go Pens.

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