Thursday, March 15, 2012

GTOPG: Penguins Dismantle Rangers in Crosby's Return

By Finesse

What the Penguins accomplished tonight during an efficient dismantling of an overmatched Rangers team can be interpreted in different ways.  You could say that this was a powerful message sent by the Pens to the top team in the East that, "Uh, hey, excuse us, but uh, you aren't the top team in the East anymore."  Or you could take the overly-cautious jinx-avoidance route and say that this was just another game, a solid road win against a divisional opponent.  But like most things, the truth is somewhere in between.

Consider us knocking on wood until June.
This was absolutely a statement game by the Penguins, but what statement did it make?  That the Pens are really good?  We knew that already.  But what we don't know yet, and what the rest of the league may be loathe to find out, is just how good the Pens can be.  Bylsma was mixing and matching lines to see what worked.  And everything worked.  Now the question shifts to what works best, and that's the scary part.

Stay grounded with us after the jump...

But the grounding part, and something we can't lose sight of, is that this was just one game.  The Rangers, much like the Islanders in November, were no shows.  I had a friend sitting at center-ice in MSG and he said the crowd was dead and was indiscriminately shouting at the Rangers, "Do something!"  What it is about Sid's comeback games that make the opponent disappear, we have no idea.  But disappear the Rangers did, although you can be sure that you won't see that next time these two teams play.

Visual evidence that someone other than Marian Gaborik played for the Rangers
(On the point about Crosby's comeback games, it's fascinating to follow people complaining about the attention that his comeback is getting, particularly when the complaining comes out of New York.  There is no equal-time rule in sports.  It's the ultimate merit-based industry, and the same goes for sports media -- if you're interesting, you will get the most attention.  If you aren't interesting, you won't, unless you're the WNBA and ESPN signed a bad contract that forces them to broadcast your games.  And for any New Yorkers who are complaining, I'd just direct them to ESPN's coverage of Major League Baseball.  I know 9 times more players on the Yankees than I do on the Pirates.  Because the Yankees are interesting and good, and the Pirates aren't.  Such is life.)

So ultimately we take away a few things from this game.  First, the Pens seem determined to bring Sid along slowly, and that's smart.  He played 16 minutes and had 1 assist (though it should be changed to 2 -- he deflected the shot from the point on Dupuis' goal).  Second, Molinari should give Kris Letang a courtesy Norris trophy vote for that performance.

"I wear many of da different chapeaus for dis team."
Third, the Malkin-Kunitz-Neal line is an unprecedented combination of brawn and finesse.  They will club you in the head to get the puck, then dangle with it like ballerinas.  And fourth, Marc-Andre Fleury got bored in the 3rd period and started trying to make difficult saves on purpose.

Again, this is just one game.  Our two feet are firmly planted on the ground.  There's a long, long way to go.  But we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's very bright.

Go Pens.

1 comment:

  1. The light is bright indeed. Not that I thought the Pens were crap before this game, but afterwards it dawned on me that the Pens really are legit contenders. This will be a fun next couple of months.

    --Trying to stay grounded.