Thursday, February 2, 2012

GTOPG: One Line Team?; Pens Lose 1-0

By GTOG Staff

We knew this game was coming.  Not just because all win streaks must come to an end, but because the Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line was carrying too much of the burden, and the rest of the forwards were doing very little.  That's a formula for the occasional 8-game win streak, but it's not sustainable long-term.  One loss isn't going to ruin our optimism about this team, but it does afford us the opportunity to voice the concern we have been openly suppressing during the win-streak: the Pens rely WAY too heavily on one line.

This may have been his 11th consecutive minute on the ice
If you go to the Pens website and view the roster, we swear there are three great lines on there.  Unfortunately, the centerpieces for two of those lines are injured.  With Sid, no one knows what is going to happen.  But what we do know is that Jordan Staal will be coming back in a couple weeks and when he does he will carry, you guessed it, The Onus.  Before he got hurt, he accepted The Onus.  But when he gets back, he's going to have to live with The Onus, embrace The Onus, maybe make love to The Onus.  He must become The Onus, and The Onus must become him.  Because right now, Evgeni Malkin is orgying with multiple Onuses and it's going to wear him out.

Thoughts on the actual game after the jump...

- Brent Johnson is getting a lot of praise for his performance. It's deserved, because he did exactly what a back-up goalie is supposed to do: Keep us in it. He's not expected to steal games like MAF did the night before. Beej saved his job by stopping 23 of 24 shots, but the goal he allowed was a perfect illustration of why he doesn't start in this league. Notice how he overcompensates and slides about 5 feet out of the net anticipating a quick shot from a streaking Clarke MacArthur. 

- We've always liked Beej. He competes out there, and he's capable of big moments and big games. But he's also has plenty of moments like this. Brent Johnson is a back up goalie because Brent Johnson likes to go swimming.

Swimming, swimming, in the swimming pool...
"Sometime I like to do da swim too"
- One thing you have to give the Pens credit for is their camaraderie.  On the MacArthur goal, it's obvious that Letang and Orpik like each other soooo much that they just have to be on the same side of the ice.  How sweet.

- Matt Cooke has been plenty noticeable this week, scoring a goal and generally infuriating the Maple Leafs, their friends, and their families. If he's finally found that elusive middle ground between Lady Byng and Billy Tibbetts, that's great news for the Penguins.

Lady Byngly Tibbets
- What's less great news is the disappearance of Pascal Dupuis.  For the first few months of the season, he was the best bargain in the league.  We heaped praise on him.  Then we remember he got sort-of hurt in some game a while back and since then he's been a non-factor.  Here's the lesson:  When you say Pascal Dupuis is good, he sucks.  When you say he sucks, he's good.  Pascal Dupuis, you suck.

- Very encouraging to see the defense bounce back after an abysmal performance on Tuesday.  We have the horses to hold the other team to 2 goals or less on most nights.  We don't know why it doesn't happen more often.

- Big time showdown in Boston on Saturday.  Get out the measuring sticks.  Go Pens.


  1. Agreed, one line has been carrying the burden, but that's their job.

    In the first game against Toronto, we got goals from Cooke, Sullivan, and Vitale. They delivered and Pens win a game we shouldn't have won.

    Any chance you're overplaying this narrative?

  2. It's true that we got great contributions from those secondary scorers on one night when it looked like we were watching odd-man rush drills in 1989, but sadly, no, we are not overplaying this narrative. The playoffs are all about matchups; you really should have three lines that give the other team a problem, and you damn well better have two. Boston, Philly, and New York have that right now. The Penguins don't.

  3. Have to second Artistry on this one, especially since I wrote that part. The truth is that lines 2-4 haven't consistently produced, either during the losing streak or the winning streak. This is largely the fault of injuries to Staal and Sid, but no matter how dominant one line is, it's not a sustainable model in the playoffs when a team like NY or Boston can match lines for 7 games.

    Staal coming back should -- SHOULD -- help cure this. And that's why he has The Onus.

  4. Right, in the playoffs you need 3 lines that can deliver. But it's not the playoffs. And as Finesse noted, we got some decent players injured right now.

    I think this is a small issue until team is healthy. The best players are supposed to dominate. The more average players are less consistent -- that's why they are average and you pay them $3mil/year. Just because Sid is hurt doesn't mean Dupuis becomes a point per game player. He's playing with less talent on his line and going against better defensemen.

    If it continues when we have a healthy squad, then you should keep talking about it.

    BTW, do the two of you ever disagree on anything? Do you kiss on the kiss cam?

  5. Don't misunderstand, Relax. We're not saying Dupuis should do more, we're saying he probably can't. That's what worries us. Your premise is that the team will be healthy for the playoffs, and therefore we'll have plenty of depth when it counts. We're just not sure we can afford to accept that premise. We certainly hope your right.

    As for whether we disagree, not usually. Great minds.