Saturday, February 16, 2013

GTOPG: Beau Knows Hockey; Pens pound Jets, 3-1

By Artistry

When the lockout ended in January, we took a blueprint from the 94-95 Penguins and gave you three keys to success in this shortened season: 1) a strong start; 2) MVP-level output from elite players; and 3) goaltending depth.  We're now 15 games in and the Pens are 10-5, with the league's top goal-scorer (James Neal) and leading overall scorer any minute now (Sidney Crosby, 2 points behind the plateauing Tomas Vanek); and two goalies capable of shutting out the opposition for at least 58 minutes on any given night.

Shutouts bore me. I am...the most interesting goalie in the world.
- MAF played his best game of the season in Winnipeg, and if it weren't for Kris Letang icing the puck late in the third period, he would have just passed Tom Barrasso to become the franchise's all-time leader in shutouts. I would say that play by Letang was inexplicable, except it was Letang, and that explains everything.

- Letang easily eluding a forechecking Evander Kane - who is like a neutron bomb out there - shows why he may be worth top-tier money when Ray Shero tries to sign him to an extension this summer. Getting burned on another sequence by Burmistrov (which happens - Burmistrov has world class hands, actually) and the brain freeze on the icing call shows some of the downside when you're dealing with a still untamed but exceptional talent. You hope Letang refines his game, but whatever, you probably just need to live with it.

- Navy Seal Craig Adams scored two goals, stood up for a teammate by taking down a guy twice his size, and commented after the game that Zero Dark Thirty took some liberties with its portrayal of the raid in Pakistan, which he should know because he was there.

- There is a lot of buzz about Beau Bennett giving up the body to block a shot and thus winning his teammates' respect. Great stuff. But that's not what mattered most to us. Instead, it was the sequence where he darted out from behind the Winnipeg net while flashing the silkiest mitts we've seen on a homegrown Penguins winger since...Markus Naslund? Really, I'm not even sure. But it only takes a split-second display to see if somebody can play in the offensive zone at an elite level or not. I'm pretty sure I saw all I needed to see there.

Sabres on Sunday. We'll see if Vanek can hold off Sid for even another day. LGP.

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