We have officially begun the "Let's not get crazy out there because we've wrapped up the #1 seed, but also don't develop any bad habits" portion of the season. Welcome, everybody. Last night was a good example of how awkward it can be when you're trying to work guys back into the lineup and gear up for a playoff run while inevitably clicking into psychological cruise control.
|Make yourselves comfortable.|
More on the game after the jump...
- Yes, Evgeni Malkin was flying last night, and he'll need to have his trademark jump if the Pens are to win 16 games this spring. But he's still not shooting the puck the way he does when he's really on his game. Until we see him wind up and fire from beyond the faceoff circle, I'm concerned.
- Raise your hand if it still hasn't hit you that Jarome Iginla is on the Penguins and looks much more dangerous from long range than North Korea. He has 5 goals in 11 games and it looks like he has yet to break a sweat.
- Good to see Chris Kunitz get on the board for only the 4th time in 19 games. Not sure if it's suggestive of playoff lines that it was Dupuis that played with Malkin and Iginla last night, but Bylsma clearly hasn't made up his mind.
- It's also an open question as to whether Bylsma has seen enough to sit Tyler Kennedy in favor of Beau Bennett going forward. This may seem like an easy call in the moment, but Tyler Kennedy has scored his share of big playoff goals. See games 4 and 6 against the Wings in 2009 and game 5 against the Flyers last spring. That has to be a consideration. Complicating matters further: Tanner Glass looks kind of good all of a sudden.
- Winnipeg is still a possibility for the 8-seed after the Jets' loss in D.C. last night, and that would be the best possible first round matchup for the Pens. Finesse was at the game last night and points out: "Winnipeg really isn't very good. All of their best players are big slow guys -- Ladd, Wheeler, Antropov, Bufyglien. All nice players, but on a good team they're 2nd/3rd liners." Not likely that the Rangers choke - despite losing to Florida last night - as they are at Carolina and then home to the Devils. But if they do lose at Carolina, we can expect New Jersey to go balls out to spoil things for New York.