When the going gets tough, we wish the Pens got a little tougher. But when the going gets going, the Pens get going better than anyone. The ability of this team to go from a 0-0 chess match to a 4-0 steamrolling faster than you can Google all those tweets from 2 months ago about Chuck Kobasew being on an 82-goal pace is unparalleled, and it all starts with
The Pens are 5-0 with him in the lineup this year. They were 27-6 with him in the lineup last year and 3-0 in the playoffs. It's possible that these numbers are misleading because everyone's record on the Pens is good. But it may just be that after years and years of hearing about how stacked the Pens are with young defensemen, we're finally starting to see it bear fruit with Maatta and Despres playing nearly 40 combined minutes. (That is, of course, until Scuderi and PMPM come back and the coaching staff still refuses to sit Deryk Engelland).
Perhaps the best part of the win was the distribution of minutes. After a game that saw 5 forwards play fewer than 10 minutes and Sid, Geno, Neal, and Letang each play over 25 minutes, it was nice to sit back and watch Joe Vitale, Jayson Megna, Chris Conner, Andrew Ebbett, and Chuck Kobasew grind for 15 minutes each, if only because we don't get to see a lot of Wilkes-Barre games. In all seriousness though, if just one of those 5 guys can establish himself as a legit bottom-6 guy -- and not in a "Dan Bylsma has a man crush on me so I will never be scratched" kind of way -- it makes the Pens significantly more formidable. We know it's probably not Conner (29), Kobasew (31), or Ebbett (30). We know what we're getting with Joe Vitale, which is considerable hustle and about 4 goals every 82 games.
Megna is the wild card because he's only 23 years old, doesn't have a track record of being mediocre, and is actually over 6 feet tall. Five points in ten games is too small of a sample size to get excited about and we could really do without the Y in Jayson (are you listening, Deryk?), but there is some room for blossoming.
Other quick thoughts ... Fleury was great, and is doing everything we could possibly want him to do so far ... saw a tweet last night that the Pens are 17-2 in their last 19 games without Malkin ... Pens have scored the most goals in the Eastern Conference and given up the 3rd fewest ... Letang hit the net ... our thoughts and prayers are with Pascal Dupuis' lower body this morning.