Friday, April 12, 2013

Pens beat Lighting, 6-3; The ducks are neatly organizing into rows

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Before you get to the recap, make sure to check out our podcast with Sean Gentille of The Sporting News discussing the win over Tampa, bad announcing, and all things Penguins.  Listen below or click here for download information

Eleven goals and a 74-47 shot advantage over the last two games against the free-falling Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning is nothing to celebrate on its own.  It's exactly what this Pens team should be doing to bad teams at this time of year.  But what is cause for great optimism is the resurgence of Ray Shero's deadline acquisitions.

Jussi Jokinen. 3 goals, 2 assists, +4 in 3 games, plus a shootout winner over the Rangers.  He obviously will not continue scoring at a goal-per-game pace, but Juicy J's versatility and offensive potential may dramatically impact the upside of this team.  To reiterate from our post on Wednesday: whether Jokinen takes some 3rd-line minutes from Brandon Sutter or not, the mere fact that one of those guys will essentially be on the Pens "4th line" makes the Pens as bottom heavy going into the playoffs as they were top-heavy at the beginning of the year.

Brenden Morrow. He's the type of guy who will break into your house the night before Thanksgiving, open your refrigerator, take a giant bite out of the carrot cake you're saving for dessert, throw the rest on the floor, and then tell you that you're a p***y for calling the police.  He was in Tampa's kitchen all night and he made his impact in only 14 minutes of ice time and without taking a penalty.  The word on him coming out of Dallas was that he wasn't the player he used to be, when his skill on the ice used to equal his intangibles as captain.  But with the Pens, he's freed from the burden of captaining a team that's perpetually battling for the #8 seed.  Now all he has to do is go to the net.

Jarome Iginla.  Have you ever started boiling a pot of water, come back to check on it 10 minutes later and thought, "this thing is barely starting to get hot, I thought it'd be ready by now," then walked away and forgot about it for a half hour, only to suddenly remember the stove is on and come running into the kitchen to see what looks like a volcano of water spewing all over the granite countertops?  Welcome to Jarome Iginla's 2013 playoffs.

Douglas Murray. He finally played a game with Kris Letang in the lineup, which helped bump Murray's minutes down to a much more desirable 16:20.  Prior to last night, the fewest minutes Murray had played was 18:20.  Our estimate is that 15:30 is the sweetspot for Crankshaft, which is completey realistic when Paul Martin returns.  There was a little bit of a PK meltdown last night, but the Tampa PP does that to people.  Won't be seeing them in the playoffs, so who really cares. Finally, he had zero hesitation about dancing with B.J. Crombeen last night.  Here's the fight video of Murray's overhand punching style.

More after the jump...

- Tanner Glass' quest to go 48 games without a point ended last night because he was force-fed a 5-on-3 goal in a blowout, as predicted in the comments section of this blog on Wednesday:
"I think you'll see Glass for at least the rest of the regular season. Pens are in a pretty great spot, standings-wise and -- this is the saddest thing in the world, but still -- will try to get him a point before the season is over. If (maybe when?) the Pens clinch the #1 seed, Glass will see PP time. As annoying as that will be for us, it's also probably part of the reason the Pens and Bylsma are seen as a destination team."
Took a real goal-scorers touch to finish this one off.
- Don't look now: Evgeni Malkin has scored in back-to-back games.

- Watch closely.  Chris Kunitz doesn't have the heart to tell Jarome Iginla he deflected this in.

- The final game of the Pens' "Washington Capitals Tour of the Southeast United States" concludes in Florida on Saturday night.  Then the Pens have three days off before hosting the Canadiens in what could be the final meaningful game of the regular season.  There's still no report on a timetable for Crosby's return, but the fact that he flew down to join the team might -- if we were in the wild speculation business, which we are sometimes -- mean that he's planning on skating some laps today or tomorrow on the soft ice in the Sunshine state.  That would be, as we like to say, huge.


  1. The big Sid news for the week is that he was cleared to fly and eat mashed potatoes (not even kidding). He told the guys at the Trib that he's hoping he can get back on the ice next week. I doubt they let him work out until he can eat actual food of some kind. You just hope that things move really quickly once the most uncertain, initial part of the healing process is over.

    And how about Tanger! He deserves a mention: the Pens look like a different team offensively with him playing. I thought for a second that was 55 dancing along the blue line on the PP last night. :)

    Seriously, though: if anyone doubts that the Pens MUST keep Kris Letang, whatever the cost, they should be forced to watch the last two games on repeat.

    1. Saw that Trib story after I posted this. This whole eating thing confuses me. Can't he put meat in a food processor or something and force it down? Put a cheeseburger and 3 oz of milk in a blender and get going, Sid.

      You're totally right about the difference Letang made last night. As much as I love Malkin, I'm getting closer by the day to admitting that if the Pens could only extend one of their contracts, it should be Letang. As we discussed on the podcast, we still don't even know his ceiling yet.

    2. i refuse to entertain the thought of losing either of them. to me it will signal the beginning of the end of this great era, even if it's a long, slow decline. very sad.

    3. I completely disagree with keeping Letang over Malkin. Malkin is having a down year which is clouding fans thinking. Geno won the Art Ross last year for god sakes. Give me a great offensive player over a great defensive player any day of the week. Not to mention the fact that the Pens have a ton of offensive, puck moving d-men in our system.

      I am not saying I think Pouliot, Matta, or Depres will be as good as Letang, but at least these are guys that could soften the blow of losing Letang. Malkin has had his share of injuries, but I think Letang has proven to be way more injury prone.

    4. I'm pretty sure the assertion that Letang is more injury prone than Malkin won't stand up to the most cursory examination.

      In any event, I think what we're encouraging people to consider is not present value, but value 5-8 years down the road. Do you want to be paying a 33 year old Malkin $10 million a year or a 32 year old Letang $8 m? Tough decision if you have to choose.