What we're really looking at right now with the Pittsburgh Penguins is a Super Friends-type scenario. You've got your Superman (Geno), your Batman (Sid), your Green Lantern (Neal), your Flash (Letang), your Aquaman (Staal), you've got your various other supporting heroes, and you've got your Wonder Twins.
|"Wonder Twin powers, activate."|
Listen, no analogy is perfect. But the game against Nashville on Thursday was touted as a potential Stanley Cup Finals preview, and the Penguins were never, even for a millisecond, in danger of losing. That's a lot of power packed into one team's locker room.
More on the game, Geno's roll, and Sid's off-night, after the jump...
- Malkin won't, but really should, win the Hart Trophy vote in a landslide. He's opened up a 10 point gap in the scoring "race" as the Penguins have enjoyed what is probably the best 31-game stretch in their history. He has 48 points, and Pittsburgh is 25-4-2 in those games. Last night he had 10 shots on goal in 19:33, and a team with Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Hal Gill on the back end and a Top-5 goalie in net had absolutely no answer for him. He led one 3-on-2 rush in the first period where he made a move we couldn't have conjured up playing ball hockey in slow motion. Geno is not a point machine in the style of Mario Lemieux or even Crosby, who could tally 2 assists per game from the bench. He's a breathtaking, unyielding force of nature. Nobody owns the puck for 20 minutes a night like Geno.
- Speaking of Sid, aside from a dazzling little backhand pass to Steve Sullivan, he was quiet. This resulted in a series of matter of fact "He's off," "Let's hope he's OK" text messages between Artistry and Finesse. This was inevitable: both the eventual quiet night and the ensuing hand-wringing. Nothing to be done about it.
- Why, exactly, does Marc-Andre Fleury get no Vezina love? He now leads the league in wins, has stellar all-around numbers, and, by the way, check out how he's done the last few months against the reputed "best" goaltenders in hockey. We're looking at you Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne, and Tim Thomas. The most frightening thing about this Pens team may be Fleury.
- Alex Radulov, we hardly paid attention to ye.
- No matter how good the Penguins are right now, keep your head on straight. This team is going to need what every Stanley Cup winner needs: enormous luck. They had some last night when Kris Letang looked like he escaped serious injury after a knee-on-knee collision. We're not counting on uninterrupted good fortune, but we know one thing: we're due.