Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pens beat Caps, 2-1; Our recap, and a podcast with the DC Sports Bog

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

[Listen to our podcast with Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post's DC Sports Bog. We talk about the state of the Pens-Caps rivalry, Ted Leonsis, internet trolls, and much more.]

If ever the Pens were ripe to lose a game, last night was it.  Thankfully they were playing a team incapable of winning it.

This isn't meant to be critical of the Pens; every team has an off night, especially when you're playing your 5th game in 7 days and are missing Malkin and Letang, both of whom welcomingly take on more responsibility than almost anyone else on the team.  When both the crowd and the team were uninspired throughout much of the first period, we had already forgiven, forgotten, and got mentally prepared to withstand a loss to the Capitals.  We were even fully prepared for an Ovechkin hat trick as a result of our post on Monday.  A 9-game winning streak in a 48-game season, equivalent to a 15-game win streak in an 82-game season, seemed like enough.

But that's why you pay a goalie $5 million.

More after the jump...

Fleury continued his streak of marvelous play, allowing only 4 goals in his last 4 starts.  He kept the Pens in the game long enough to let the power-play (an oasis for a tired team) get the players back in the game and the penalty-kill get the crowd back in it.  Consol was as ready and willing to be defeated as the Pens were last night, but they showed up big time on the 4-minute penalty kill in the third period.  Matt Niskanen did the rest.

Pictures of sad Capitals are the happiest pictures.
- The Caps' playoff chances are down to 6%, which means they are about 1 loss away from becoming sellers at the deadline.  If that happens, our eyes are on two players: Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr.  Chimera is signed through next season at $1.75 million.  He's a super-fast skater and would likely thrive under Bylsma playing on the third line with Sutter and Cooke.  Eric Fehr is a UFA at the end of the season.  Perfect 4th liner to take the place of Tanner Glass in the playoffs.  The only downside is that neither Fehr nor Chimera kill penalties.

- Great stat by Chris Adamski (@buzzsawpgh) during the game last night: James Neal has only 2 goals in the 10 games Malkin has missed this season.

- Tanner Glass had one great hit last night and participated in the game-swinging 4-minute penalty kill in the third.  So far, that makes this game his Mona Lisa in Pittsburgh.

- What started as sort of a nice coincidence is now becoming historic: The Pens are undefeated since they re-signed Mark Eaton. Sean Conboy of Pittsburgh Magazine suggested that the "Mark Eaton hat trick" is "when you do something so bland and so incredibly super-solid three times in a game."  That's close to being the most perfect idea in history, but we have one tweak.  The Mark Eaton hat trick is when you do something So Smart, something So Steady, and something So Serviceable in the same game.

- Braden Holtby insists that he should have stopped Niskanen's game-winner last night. Whatever went wrong for him on that play, hopefully he gets it corrected by the time the playoffs roll around.  For Hershey's sake.

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