Friday, October 18, 2013

Beating the Flyers is never not satisfying; Pens beat Flyers, 4-1

By GTOG Staff (follow Artistry and Finesse on Twitter)

Feeling a little detached from the proceedings lately? Tough to get worked up about the Penguins' clinically dispatching lottery hopefuls like Buffalo and New Jersey? Well, nothing like a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia to get your blood flowing.

Feel that?
The Flyers are in such disarray, it brings into sharp focus why Dan Bylsma is such an effective regular season coach. (The playoffs are a different discussion.) Many bench bosses can instill discipline and structure. Many others can get their players to like them. But how many can do both of those things over the long term? Short list. Bylsma's on it. Having Crosby and Malkin in the lineup doesn't guarantee anything, particularly when you're rolling out a bottom 6 of Vitale, Glass, Adams, Engelland, Sutter, and Harry Z. The Flyers arguably had more forward talent in the lineup Thursday night. But Crosby, Malkin, solid goaltending and a pedestrian supporting cast playing with purpose and structure is pretty much all you need to get 100 points and a high playoff seed in the modern NHL. This is part of what makes today's game frustrating. In the early 90's, if you had Lemieux and Jagr, you let the horses run and implemented a defensive system only if you got down 3-1 in a playoff series, if then. Times have changed, and the point is, be glad this isn't your brain trust.

4,833 combined penalty minutes.
Thoughts on the game, after the jump...

- We spent the last two weeks asking, "What about Bob?" If you're looking to argue that fighting should not be eliminated from the game, Bortuzzo's second-period throw-down with Kris Newberry should be your Exhibit A. Heat of the moment, raw emotion, the men standing up on the bench to watch. No coincidence that Pens completely dominated the Flyers for the rest of the period.

- Is Deryk Engelland the answer to help improve the Pens' 4th line? It depends on the question. If the question is does playing Derek Engelland at winger give the Pens a good 4th line, the answer is probably no. If the question is does playing Derek Engelland at winger give the Pens a better 4th line than it currently has, the answer is possibly. You can't judge a guy on his first game at a new position, so despite falling over at least 8 times last night, Engelland has a few things going for him: 1) you have to assume Engelland will get better; 2) even falling over that often, he still had some good, strong plays along the boards; 3) it's not a terrible thing to dress 7 defensemen (Bylsma did it often in 2009); 4) it's not like anyone is really pining for the guys he would be replacing -- Dustin Jeffrey,and maybe Vitale/Kobasew when Bennett and Neal are back; and 5) if you accept the fact that Bylsma is infatuated with Derek Engelland, it's better that he indulges himself at the expense of Dustin Jeffrey rather than Big Bad Bobby B.

- Remember those jokes about how Chuck Kobasew was on pace for 82 goals?

- There's no denying that Matt Niskanen is playing the best hockey since he's come to the Penguins. Whether makes it more likely that he stays or that he gets traded is to be determined, but having a marketable asset that is appreciating in value and that you probably don't need to win the Cup gives Shero a lot of options, including standing pat. Whatever he does, Niskanen belongs on the top PP unit while Letang is out. Crosby and Malkin absolutely need a right handed shot to feed the puck to.

- The PP configuration with Geno running the show from the half-boards and Crosby playing rover and cheating towards the goal line is clearly the best option for when both those guys are on the ice.

- What is the one thing that would give us real confidence going into the playoffs with Marc-Andre Fleury in net? Well, he could go 50-8 with a 1.66 GAA in the regular season, and that probably still wouldn't do it. There would still be a sense that he might crumble under playoff pressure, that he lacks the confidence to play his best on the biggest stage. But what if - and bear with us for a minute - what if he goes to Russia and wins gold? Is that so far-fetched? Here are the guys invited to the Canadian Olympic team orientation: Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Roberto Luongo, Mike Smith, Carey Price. Please note that none of these guys is Marty Brodeur or Patrick Roy in their prime. Just saying, it's a big leap, but if Fleury keeps up this level of play through the new year, all bets are off.

"I hate Carey Price."


  1. 1) Matt D'Agostini will take over that 4th line spot when everyone is healthy. Or Kobasew will drop. I have to remind myself that we have a bottom-sixer we've never seen play (for us). The Pens may want to trade a forward - or perhaps hope DJ can clear waivers (he might).

    12-16-19 (or 19-16-22)
    15-27-22 (or 15-27-12)
    with 46, 17, and 39 sitting?

    2) Sid does work as "rover." But then where does Neal go when he's finally back? Who's moving back to the point with Tanger? Honestly, it's easier to figure out the PP when everyone isn't healthy.

    3) The difference between the US and Canadian goaltending depth is staggering. Braden Holtby - really? My gut, though, says they'll take Luongo, Price, and either Crawford or Smith.

  2. The Bortuzzo - Newberry fight ridiculous. Bort laid a gorgeous, legal body check on ceaseless pest and permanent shit stain Zac Rinaldo, and upon seeing this Newberry lost his mind and challenged Bort. If a guy can't throw a clean check on Zac freaking Rinaldo of all people without having to "answer" for it (or whatever the logic is) then I'm lost.

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