Like we said after the first Boston game (which the Pens won, 3-2), there's no point in getting too worked up about the final score of these games against Boston. Whether the Pens go 4-0 or 0-4 against Boston in the regular season is less important than whether the Pens are making strides in their ability to beat Boston in a 7-game playoff series. There is some evidence that they are. And some evidence that they're not.
|In the playoffs, we'd like to be as far away from Loui Eriksson as possible.|
Some other thoughts after the jump...
- That Deryk Engelland regularly plays over Robert Bortuzzo is laughable on a tactical level, but sad from an organizational development perspective. Bortuzzo is 24. Deryk Engelland is 31. If the Pens aren't fully satisfied with Bortuzzo's development, maybe they could, you know, try to develop him. All things being equal between Engelland and Bob -- and that's a generous way of framing the discussion for Engelland -- there is no reason not to play the younger guy who might actually improve. How is Bortuzzo supposed to get better? By having awkward conversations during the game with Tie Domi in Mario's suite?
Here's a quick challenge: name one young player Dan Bylsma has developed into a reliable, every day NHL player.
|"Can I answer?"|
BUT THE PENS JUST RE-SIGNED HIM FOR 8 YEARS AT $7.25M PER SEASON AND HE CAN'T CRACK THE TOP POWER PLAY!!!
He's been replaced by Paul Martin, whose slapshot tops out at about 70mph. It's smart coaching because it works better, but is this not at least a little embarrassing for everyone involved?
If you're going to pay a guy $7.25M and not play him on the top power play, he better be good everywhere else on the ice. And Letang hasn't been. If ever there was a play emblematic of why he's so frustrating, it's this from last night:
Yeah we know, we could make video of every player making bad plays, but not every player makes the money Letang makes and does this on a semi-regular basis. We'd love to know what happens when the Pens watch film of this play. Does Letang cut it off after the nice stutter move out of the corner, pat himself on the back, and then go film a workout video? Does Bylsma even show the turnover to Letang? Does whoever Letang is attempting to pass it to ever ask himself why he's so far away from his defensemen on the breakout? Does anyone think about whether it's a good idea to attempt 60 foot cross ice breakout passes through people's legs against Boston? Does Bylsma find a way to use this play as a reason to bench Bob Bortuzzo?
- Crosby played 17 minutes at 5 on 5 against Chara last night. His game tying goal was a great moment that salvaged what was otherwise not one of his better games.
- On the positive side, the Pens were pretty good once inside the Boston zone. There was traffic, and when there wasn't, there was James Neal's shot.
- Beau Bennett's hands appear to be made out of Aaron Smith's triceps. He's out 8-10 weeks. There's a realistic chance this leads to the first ever on-ice homicide, as Sidney Crosby is all but certain within the next month to remove his skate during play and actually kill Matt D'Agostini.
- The bottom 6 -- emphasis on the word "bottom" -- was predictably unimpressive last night, though to give credit where it's due, Joe Vitale has played some pretty decent hockey the last few weeks. He's at least noticeable. His career goal scoring pace averages out to 4 goals every 82 games ... but at least he's noticeable during the other 78!