Friday, March 29, 2013

Pretty damn good Friday: Pens stomp the Jets, 4-0

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

Two months ago, the Penguins looked stale, disinterested, and mediocre. They were coming off a brutal 4-1 loss to the Islanders, Eric Tangradi was on the second line, and Dan Bylsma realized his job was in jeopardy unless he shaved a really unfortunate goatee. Now? Now they look fresh, engaged, and dominant, among other things. They are coming off a 4-0 win over the Jets that probably shot their team Corsi rating into the stratosphere (read: they had the puck, like, the whole time). We need to figure out if it'll be Captain Morrow or Captain Iginla on the second line. Eric Tangradi is now missing the net for Winnipeg. The Penguins have won 14 games in a row, and they are powering right along without Kris Letang. Things have changed.

"We are, once again, enormous beasts"
Before you read on, make sure to listen to our two podcasts recapping the Pens' recent moves.  If you're listening on your smartphone, the best ways to make sure that you have an uninterrupted experience are: 1) download the podcast from iTunes OR 2) download the Spreaker app by going to the App store and searching for "Spreaker." Then search for "Get To Our Game."

1) Our stats-free, emotion-filled reaction to the stunning Iginla deal:

2) Our analytical discussion with Neil Greenberg of ESPN Insider and The Washington Post about why the advanced statistics still don't have the Pens as Stanley Cup favorites.

More thoughts on the game and what's ahead, after the jump...

- If the clinic the Pens put on last night illustrated anything, it's that too much is being made of potential line combinations when Iginla finally penetrates America's border. It should be a given that Crosby, Kunitz, and Dupuis see time together 5-on-5, because they absolutely torture teams both in transition and on the forecheck. They're like human pinballs relentlessly bouncing off the boards and toward your net. You can't even keep track of them.

Sure, Iginla will share the ice with Crosby at times, but here is the underrated aspect of the recent trades: it will be much easier now for Bylsma to pair Crosby and Malkin at even strength to exploit a good matchup. Put the two big guns with Kunitz as he likes to do at times, and now for the next two shifts the Pens can still roll out some combination of Sutter-Neal-Iginla-Morrow-Dupuis-Sid/Geno again.  As much as we talk about seeing our new prize wingers with 87 and 71, we should expect to see 87 and 71 together more often.  Because those two together presents the scariest matchup for any team, by far.

- If the Pens were looking to open up space for Geno and Neal with the Morrow acquisition, mission accomplished. Looks like we found our Tomas Holmstrom.

- The Winnipeg Jets appear to be the best the Southeast Division has to offer. Let that sink in.

- Crankshaft.

"Look at me.  Look at my neck. Look at the size of my head."
- Pascal Dupuis averaged .19 goals per game before the age of 27. Between the ages of 27 and 33, Dupuis' average has climbed to .23 goals per game. And since Dupuis turned the magical age of 32? He's up to a rate of .36 goals per game, or basically double the goal scoring production that he had before the age of 27. Just an FYI, Alex Ovechkin.

- Not that we care about the consecutive wins records of the 92-93 Penguins (again, that team crashed and burned in the second round of the playoffs), but it's certainly there for the taking, is it not? Two home games against the Isles and Sabres, followed by a home-and-home with the Rangers are on tap for this week. Run the table, and this Pens team has 18 in a row. That's WINS in a row, Stephen A. Smith.

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