Monday, March 25, 2013

Penguins forced to settle for 22-point lead over Flyers; win, 2-1

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The positive for Philly: Claude Giroux and the Flyers are congratulating themselves for playing a game "they could have won" against a team with 2 of the best players in the league wearing street clothes, while the Pens have to settle for only taking a 22-point lead on the Flyers in the standings.  It could have been 23-points.  Oh, what could have been.

Nice try, Bryz.
The Flyers' forecheck gave the Pens problems as it always does, but they failed to finish, thanks in large part to the continued excellence of Marc-Andre Fleury, and a defense that is working to correct its mistakes in real-time.  Giving up only one goal to the Flyers is huge, and we're now looking at an 8-game stretch where the Pens have given up a total of 9 goals.  What we considered a pleasant stretch of defense only a few games ago may be becoming the unthinkable for the Pens: an identity.  If the Pens continue to be tough to score against, while becoming tougher to play against with the addition of Brenden Morrow, then [censored for jinx purposes].

After the jump, much more analysis of the Morrow-Morrow trade (you can find our initial reaction here)...

- The thing we love best about the trade is the mentality it represents -- going for it this season.  With a healthy Crosby, Malkin, and Letang (knock on a Redwood forest), and strong goaltending, the Pens can win the Stanley Cup this season.  If the last 2 injury-riddled seasons proved anything, it's that these opportunities don't come along every year.  Take it.

- We are just as dubious about claims by reporters that the Pens consider Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta better prospects than Joe Morrow as we were about claims that Joe Morrow was the Pens' top prospect and that the team had no interest in trading him.  The same incentive that exited to pump up the perception of Joe Morrow for trade purposes exists with Pouliot and Maatta -- maybe the Pens will trade them tomorrow, maybe they will trade them in 2 years.  The conveniently-timed leak that Pouliot and Maatta are actually better than Joe Morrow should be digested with gallons of skepticism.  Unless we hear directly from Ray Shero about a prospect (and even then we take it with a grain of salt), we discount pretty much everything reporters are saying about how the team views its prospects.

- Here's a great example.  On March 15th, which was only 10 days ago, Rob Rossi tweeted that the Pens were unwilling to move Joe Morrow, as they viewed him as their top overall prospect.

In a column this morning, only 10 days after the infamous JMorrow tweet, he writes, "Derrick Pouliot (eighth overall) and Olli Maatta (22nd) were selected in the opening round at the 2012 Entry Draft and were held in higher regard than Morrow."  Then in his "Chipped Ice" blog today, he tries to subtly backtrack from his March 15th tweet, writing, "Knowing that information, it is no wonder Shero felt necessary to make D Joe Morrow – a prized prospect ranked tops in the organization as of last summer – part of this deal."  All of these things cannot be true.

Leaks about prospects are self-serving.

- While fully aware of the possibility that the Pens could lose to a #7 or #8 seed in the playoffs, the reality as of today is that the Pens and Bruins are the heavyweights and the Canadiens are lurking.  The Pens trade for BMorrow is the first shipment in an arms race with Boston.  Had the Bruins gotten BMorrow instead of Pittsburgh, it would have almost forced the Pens to make a move and to do it with less leverage.  Whether the Pens were willing to pay an even steeper price for Iginla is unknown, but I'm glad we don't have to find out.  By acting first, the Pens have put a ton of pressure on Boston to do something to keep up.  The Pens have set the price for Iginla -- a "top" prospect plus more -- without having to actually pay that price.

- Brenden Morrow's arrival puts the Pens' fringe guys like Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Dustin Jeffrey, Beau Bennett, and maybe even Tyler Kennedy on notice that they could be in the owner's box at a moment's notice.  Without any further roster moves, at least two of those guys would have to sit:


They seemed to notice this last night, as at least Jeffrey and TK played really strong games.  Of those 5 guys, I don't see TK or Vitale being scratched in the playoffs -- TK because he is fairly clutch and can actually score, and Vitale because he's right handed and wins over 60% of his faceoffs.  DJ was very good last night, but he isn't finishing.  Beau Bennett has been strong since he's arrived, but is untested.  Tanner Glass just stinks.

- Joe Nieuwendyk continues to get roasted for the Goligoski for Neal/Niskanen trade and some of that is definitely deserved.  But somewhat in his defense, it's unlikely Dallas was ever going to get out of James Neal what the Pens have gotten out of James Neal for one simple reason: Dallas doesn't have Evgeni Malkin.  Neal is still good with Geno sidelined, but he's not the 40+ goal stud power forward he was last year.  He's much more like the 25-goal guy Nieuwendyk saw in Dallas. Neal is more valuable to the Pens than he would be to Dallas because he maximizes the Pens' substantial investment in Crosby and Malkin.

1 comment:

  1. People also forget that Dallas was going through ownership issues that season. Their owner at the time, Tom Hicks, was losing money and they were trying to find money to re-sign Brad Richards. It wasn't purely a "hockey trade" for Dallas the way it was for the Pens