If you've watched the Fleury-era Pens long enough, then you had to be convinced at various points last night that either of the following two things were going to happen:
1) After the Pens dominated for several consecutive shifts in the first period, the Rangers were going to come back on a 2-on-1 and score because a Pens' defenseman slid himself totally out of position. Ryan Callahan would be prominently involved in this play.
2) With about 11 minutes left in the third period, the Rangers were going to score on a bad angle shot, not based on luck or skill, but based solely on the historically-proven theory that when the Pens have a 2-0 lead in the third period, Fleury almost never gets the shutout. See Seven, 2009 Game.
But thankfully neither of those things happened, as the Pens got the two clean points they earned. You can thank the penalty-kill and you can thank Fleury, but send your first-born to Evgeni Malkin. What an incredible player.
More after the jump, including thoughts on Paul Martin...
- Maybe the Penguins took the wrong approach with Paul Martin. If we begin with the premise that he will not be traded during the season - and that's our view - the question becomes, how do we get the most out of him? Demoting a guy with already shaky confidence to the third pairing made things worse, as Martin had some of his poorest showings of the year this past week, and that's saying something. But when he found himself lining up Tuesday night next to a pissed off Kris Letang? Magic. Letang and Martin have played together before, and maybe it's worth sticking with this formula for at least a bit longer, if only to build up the Prime Minister's confidence for the stretch run. If you subscribe to the theory that this would mean some sort of demotion for Brooks Orpik, and the Penguins can't possibly do that, two responses: 1) It's not a demotion, it's a reallocation of resources; and 2) you must have missed the Buffalo game. Brooks Orpik is a valuable player, who is 80% bull, but about 20% matador.
- Time to put the Henrik Lundqvist for MVP talk to rest. If he played anywhere but New York, no one would have mentioned it in the first place. Two criteria need to be met for a goalie to even be in the Hart Trophy conversation: 1) They need exhibit Sandy Koufax-type dominance; and 2) there can't be any forwards or defensemen enjoying stellar seasons. Lundqvist has stunning numbers: a .940 save percentage and a 1.78 GAA. Congratulations, you should be the Vezina Trophy winner. But he shouldn't even be a Hart nominee. Malkin, Giroux, Stamkos, maybe Datsyuk. That's your list. No room for the guy who got beat by Marc-Andre Fleury twice in the last month.
|Lundqvist for Vezina!|