Capitals/Penguins post-game discussion
Despite grossly outplaying and outshooting the Capitals last night, the Pittsburgh Penguins succumbed to a 4 on 3 power-play in overtime to fall 3-2 to the Washington Capitals.
The Penguins remain undefeated in regulation, and there are a few points we’d like to touch on this morning.
Matt Niskanen played another extremely solid game last night. Upon being traded last year, many fans in Dallas were quietly rejoicing that Niskanen had been unloaded, deeming it an “addition by subraction” type move. His start in Pittsburgh was less than stellar as well.
Niskanen sprung the first goal for the Penguins last night with an extremely creative pass in his own zone. He didn’t receive an assist on the play, but without that pass, Evgeni Malkin never receives the puck to set-up Steve Sullivan, who eventually fed the puck to James Neal.
Niskanen could have simply played the puck off the glass in the face of pressure, but he had his head up, recognized Evgeni Malkin in the middle of the ice, and made a crisp backhand pass to Geno, who burst up ice to create the goal.
The Real Deal
These goals to start the year for James Neal might be related to karma.
Neal is a kid that does everything the right way, he consistently skates hard, puts his body on the line, and plays the game the right way. That can’t be reiterated enough. Even if he isn’t scoring, he’s contributing at some level.
Anyone who has followed Neal’s career in Dallas knew that we were going to begin seeing these goals come with regularity. Kudos to Ray Shero for again trading a movable defensive asset for an offensive need.
The Penguins have struggled early this year with taking good care of the puck in all zones. Poor puck management gave teams opportunities to get back into games that the Penguins had control of.
The first period of last nights game was a textbook account of how Dan Bylsma wants the Penguins to play hockey. The elements for success are there, but better care needs to be taken when moving the puck up ice or throwing passes cross-rink.
The Penguins may be undefeated in regulation, but poor puck management can change that in the blink of an eye.
Kris Letang logged another 28 minutes of ice time last night after a 29 minute performance on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers. With Brooks Orpik on the shelf, Letang is going to have to be an early season workhorse for the Penguins on the defensive end.
Take a moment to ponder how good the Penguins have looked so far this year. Now factor in the return of Brooks Orpik and Sidney Crosby into this lineup.
It’s almost difficult to fathom that this team is unbeaten in regulation without it’s top defenseman and the best player in the world.
The Penguins have the opportunity to really make a statement in the early part of this year before these key elements return from their respective injuries.