Saturday, February 4, 2012

Get to Our Postgame: "He's not human. He's like a piece of iron"; Pens Win, 2-1

By GTOG Staff

Not many people are aware of this, but let us fill you in on Chris Kunitz's little secret. Before every game the Penguins play against Boston, he grows a beard, flies to Moscow, saws some lumber, and scales the tallest mountain in the Russian Alps. There's no sign of life. No sound but the howling wintery wind. And he screams.


Come on, when Kunitz chopped down Zdeno Chara like he was a piece of wood Satiuday during the Pens' 2-1 win in Boston, we were all thinking the same thing: You cut him! He's not a machine. He's a man! Chara is Drago - bigger, stronger, faster, and the worst nightmare imaginable for a team relying heavily on one line for offense.

"I must break you."

"I defeat all man. And I'm not wearing any pants."
But here's the thing.  Chara doesn't like to be hit.  And that makes Kunitz and the equally fearless James Neal his worst nightmare.

The spectacular MAF, the elephant in the room, and other notes, after the jump...

- This was easily one of the most gratifying wins of the season, for many reasons.  The Bruins are bullies.  They interfere like the Detroit Red Wings if the Detroit Red Wings were bigger and hairier.  Brad Marchand plays for them.  Tim Thomas is an asshole.  And the Penguins, with a lineup that emphasizes speed and grit over brawn, hit them in the mouth all day long.

- The growing concern over the past 12 months - outside of the injury plague - was that Pittsburgh couldn't beat the elite teams in the East.  Check that.  It wasn't a concern, it was a fact.  That changed over the past several weeks, as the Pens took out the Caps, Rangers, and Bruins while winning 9 of 10.  As we told you when this streak started, any team with Geno Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and a solid supporting cast is making the playoffs if they bring it every game.

- Flower has elevated his game to a point where you could legitimately argue that he, not the otherworldly Malkin, is the team's MVP.  And this has to be the new normal for him if this team is going to contend without Sidney Crosby.

- Deryk Engelland is afraid of no man.  That's why he gets the nod over Lovejoy.

- This had to be disappointing to the people of Boston.

- Despite their insistence that the Paul Martin/Zbynek Michalek pairing has much more to offer, the Pens' now have to be concerned that these two, who when they were signed theoretically gave the team the best top 4 in the East, are together somehow less than the sum of their parts.  We've been staunch defenders of Martin, but this week we gave up and wrote a Paul Martin Powerball song.  He gets beat wide every game, and now we kind of hope he never scores.

- Joe Vitale is unscratchable at this point. When Staal comes back, we might have to shift the great Dustin Jeffrey to the wing. If you're thinking about scratching DJ, don't mention it in Artistry's presence.

- Kris Letang looked off on Saturday.  Nothing to be alarmed about yet, but recall that we had the same sense about Sid 5 games into his comeback.  Watch Letang carefully Sunday in New Jersey, where he should take pains to avoid Ilya Kovalchuk.

- Huge 4-point game Sunday. NJ is 3 back of the Pens, and the Pens are 2 back of Philly.  LGP.  GTOG.


  1. What a rewarding feeling after that win! I have never felt so much like that silly picture Seth puts at the end of the recap on EN of that guy with the beer and sandwich as at the end of this game. It wasn't just Geno's dominance (he wasn't that dominant in this game) or Fleury's brilliance (he was brilliant, but you can't say he stole a win for us). The Pens went into the home arena of the most feared, most physical team in the League and beat them at their own game - a physical, F-you hockey, winning battles in the corner, getting secondary scoring and having the franchise goalie shut the door when it matters.

    After the game I switched to Colorado-Vancouver. It was so similar to the Pens' game. Colorado was winning puck battles, playing with confidence, had the advantage in a close game, but coughed it up with 30 seconds to go and then lost in the shootout. The Colorado analysts were so frustrated. They kept saying how well the Avs were playing but still found a way to lose. This is the difference between an elite team and a bubble team, I guess. That, and that Stastny is not Geno, and Giguere is not Fleury.

    Other things that stood out:
    1. I never thought of Chara as immature or a whiner, but his behavior accurately portrayed his team's current slump. Last night he was a follower, not a leader.
    2. In the first period, when Lucic ran into Fleury, NESN's call was that Lucic got tripped by Fleury (Fleury stuck out his head, I guess). Jack Edwards even suggested it could be an open season on forwards now. Yes, he truly said that.
    3. Other than that incident, the only time I noticed Lucic was with about 3:30 to go in the game.
    4. I am not looking forward to today's game at all. The Pens must be exhausted after yesterday's game 7-like grind, while the Devils can't feel at all positive about their awful third period in Philly despite the win, and will do all they can (and oh can they ever) to focus on defense.