Saturday, January 19, 2013

GTOPG: And We're Off; Pens Win, 3-1

By Artistry

If we were hoping for one thing out of Saturday's opener in Philly, it wasn't a Malkin hat trick, a Crosby game-winner in OT, or a Scott Hartnell trip, fall, and face-plant. Although any of those things would have been nice. No, our greatest wish was this: that the Penguins would recapture the relentless, self-possessed style they display when they're at their best.  That they would be tough to play against.  And that wish came true.  This game was as sloppy as you would expect the first post-lockout game to be, but you can't overstate the importance of getting these two points and starting to rebuild the confidence and team game that eroded in last spring's playoffs.  Quick thoughts:

- Paul Martin killed it. He really killed it.


- For one day at least, some of the concerns about other defensemen were muted. Letang stayed under control while generally dominating 5 on 5 play and playing half the game. If he stays healthy, he might lead the league in time on ice.  Matt Niskanen looked more than comfortable in a Top 4 role. And Simon Despres showed some astonishing confidence with the puck while playing just the right amount of minutes (10:26).

- Evgeni Malkin was in that holy terror forecheck mode where he undresses puck carriers at will. 2009 ECF level stuff.

- James Neal looks possessed. I think he's getting better.

- Really liked what I saw from Brandon Sutter and Tanner Glass. Not so much from Dustin Jeffrey and He Who Shall Soon Be Displaced From Geno's Line.

- That's the Fleury who used to love playing in Philadelphia. If he's back - and we won't really know until the playoffs - then maybe the Penguins are the favorites. 

3 comments:

  1. I don't have many complaints about this game. I thought that both teams looked a bit sloppy in the second period, but that wasn't totally unexpected. Fleury had a few moments when he appeared to have no idea where the puck was, and I found that really concerning. Hopefully he waits a while before going into his inconsistent/meltdown mode.

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  2. I was impressed with the defensive execution yesterday. And as irritating as it was to watch guys make passes into skates, it's to be expected with no camp on Game 1. When Sid gets going (why does he always seems to start seasons slow?), and they get their timing back - this team will not be seeing too many 2 goal games. Really looking forward to seeing how things look against the Rangers. These division games are going to be SO important.

    I was really impressed with Flower, given that he hadn't seen game action since April. I was also impressed with Despres, especially as the game went on. He has a wonderful ability to use his body to protect the puck, to give him the time to make good decisions. I still don't want him with Tanger, but he could really help to anchor the 3rd pairing as his confidence grows. And PM looks determined to vindicate those of us to defended the decision to keep him.

    Less positive - Vitale should play tonight. Jeffrey is not a 4th line center. Unfortunately his play is not going to make the coaches inclined to replace Tangradi (who was invisible) with him.

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