Wednesday, February 1, 2012

GTOPG: It's Fun to do Bad Things; Pens Win 5-4

By GTOG Staff

Yes, the Penguins were sloppy Tuesday night. Yes, the Leafs had like 30 breakaways. And yes, for two periods the Geno-Neal-Kunitz line was kind of like the slugger who can't find his swing after a trip to the all-star home run derby. None of that matters. That's about as bad as the Penguins can play, and they won.

This was the showcase game in Marc-Andre Fleury's "Grant Fuhr Tour": It doesn't matter how many goals he allows; he's making a half dozen saves every night that make you open your mouth and then close it again, because you don't even know what to say. And Malkin, always looking for a new challenge, seems intent on showing he can win the Hart and Art Ross trophies solely on the basis of his work in the third period and shootouts. Not many players in history could consistently flip a switch during the second intermission and suddenly take over the game like Geno.

"Come to me, my children!"
We could look at this game and say the Pens were lucky because they were.  But as we've said for a long time, good teams win games that they shouldn't.  Last year the Pens had ZERO third period comebacks.  Last night, you absolutely knew the Pens could get to 4 goals before the buzzer (the only question was whether the Leafs would have 8 by then).  It's a totally different feeling.  There's belief everywhere.

Much more, including thoughts on the Fleury-Johnson question from Finesse's Dad after the jump...

 - With this lineup, the concern has to be that if Malkin gets shut down or at least contained for a single playoff series, the Penguins are toast. Fortunately, his line is about as close to unstoppable as you can get. The way that trio cycles in space - they have no use for the boards - and gets the puck to the net at such a high volume and with authority, it's reminiscent of 1993's Lemieux-Stevens-Tocchet juggernaut. Two bulldozers with velvety hands as bookends to the league's greatest talent.  One-minute mark:


- Steve Sullivan has really answered the bell that Artistry rang. After starting the season on the top line and seeming like a great complement to Neal and Malkin, he started getting pushed around and was rightly banished to Richard Park's left flank. But right around the start of this 8 game win streak, he started to assert himself again. And he came all the way back last night against the Leafs, sparking the comeback with a beautiful shot to make it 4-2, and generally looking like Marty St. Louis for the rest of regulation and overtime. There was fear in the eyes of Toronto's defensemen when Sullivan set up behind the net in the third. It was unmistakable.

- The defense was terrible. That's largely because Toronto has blazing speed up and down the lineup and Phil Kessel is a super-unathletic looking scud missile. But it's also because the defense was terrible.

Sure, go right ahead.
- Finesse's Dad weighs in with his thoughts from being inside Consol last night:
No offensive flow at all last night. Terrible in the offensive zone and shaky in between the blue lines. They turned it over like Pitt usually does. But we have Malkin and they don't. All the third period scoring was right in front of us. We were almost square behind the net, 10-12 rows up. Crowd was quiet except for the manufactured noise with the decibel meter, the film clips, and the old couple they always spot for the kiss. 
Tonight has got to be filled with angst for Bylsma. You know he wants to start 29 and keep the streak going and you know after a week off that 29 is ready to go. But... If Johnson slips again they will have to do something soon to find a more capable back-up. Johnson under serious pressure tonight and I'm sure he knows it without anyone else telling him. The Leafs are strong at home and they'll be fired up tonight after their fall from grace last night. Who will be the first period pugilists, or should I say, who will go with Phaneuf tonight? 
But we've got Malkin.
- We've also got Soft Tissue.


  1. 9 is better than 8 but Beej absolutely HAS to start tonight and one of the games in the next few double booked weekends. Trade deadline is too close to wait and see if Johnny can be relied on. I'd rather not have to worry about it but Flower's gotta be able to take a night off sometimes. I'd rather have a loss or two in February and have the backup questions answered.