Pens at Devils Grades
Thatâ€™s a point they should have had
The Pens played a very solid offensive game. They didnâ€™t turn the puck over much against the Devil trap. They generated a number of chances off the rush. And they got a good forecheck going at times. There was only one problemâ€”they couldnâ€™t get much past Uncle Daddy at even strength. He just stoned them time after time. Jordan Staal was especially snakebitten, as Uncle Daddy robbed him several times. Sykora was also robbed once, but he got some payback by firing a long wrister that went off of Vitaly Vishnevski and past a stunned Uncle Daddy. It seemed that was the only way they could get anything past the guy last night.
The Pens were absolutely dominant for the first two periods. They gave the Devils basically nothing at all, holding them to just 14 shots through two periods. They totally shut the Devils down, and even had their home â€œcrowdâ€ booing them. But the third period was an entirely different story. The Devils awakened in the locker room, and the Pens were unable to respond to that. The Devils were just all over them in the third, and the Pens really started running around in their own end. Then, out of nowhere, the Devils popped in two quick ones to tie it. On the first, Orpik went for a swim in the corner, trying to check Patrik Elias. He missed, and Elias put it in off of Letang. Had Orpik contained Elias, this play doesnâ€™t happen. Then, just 1:44 later, Lil Dab fires one from the point, and it bounces right to David Clarkson. Ryan Whitney stares at him as he buries it. Then in OT, again, Zach Parise is left unchecked in front to deflect home an Elias shot. Gonchar just let him go for some odd reason. These three goals are the type they have really cut down on this year, but they reappeared in a big way last night.
Power play: A
The power play was tremendous most of the night, generating 18 shots in 5 chances. They were moving the puck very well, and not hesitating to shoot. The second unit in particular looked very strong, and both units ended up putting one in. The top unit got the first one when Malone banged home a rebound of a Malkin shot. Another great effort by him, diving out to poke it past Uncle Daddy. Another dirty power play goal! Then Jordan Staal finally got rewarded for his great work on a nice pass from Talbot. The play was made by Letang, though, who broke down the box by skating the puck right into it. That opened things up, and Staal one-timed a shot past Uncle Daddy.
Penalty kill: C
They looked very good on the first kill, not so good after that. They had almost killed off the second one, but gave the Devils an opening right at the end of the second period. They left Jamie Langenbrunner all alone in front to backhand home a rebound, and suddenly the Devils had life. The great work of that kill had been erased, and momentum suddenly went the Devilsâ€™ way. Who knows what happens if they kill this one off instead of allowing the goal?
Ty Conklin did not play well. He was shaky playing the puck, and was allowing lots of juicy rebounds. He just didnâ€™t look as under control as he usually does, especially in the third period. He had played pretty well the first two periods, but just seemed totally out of synch after that. True, a couple bounces didnâ€™t go his way. But he was also just a tad slow reacting on the David Clarkson and Langenbrunner goals. He wasnâ€™t horrible, but he wasnâ€™t the Conklin we are used to seeing, either. In fact, in the third period, I had to do a double-take to make sure it was 35 and not 29 in there.
Pens goaltending since Fleury went down: 16-7-3, 2.42 GAA, .922 save percentage (Conklin is 12-3-3, 2.04, .935).
Well, they got a point, meaning they got 3 out of 4 in the two games in New Jersey. That is the glass-is-half-full side. They also gave New Jersey two points in a game they had well in hand. Glass is half empty. In fairness, were it not for Uncle Daddy, they probably win this one going away. He was THAT good last night. Unfortunately, Conklin didnâ€™t match him, and the Pens took a tough loss.
And now, the rest of the story…
Ryan Malone: A
Remember two and a half years ago, when they signed Johnny Vermont, he was supposed to teach Malone how to be a power forward? It didnâ€™t happen at the time. But look at him now. Maybe heâ€™s just a slow learner? He is doing a great job in front on the power play right now.
Jordan Staal: A
Wow, was he good last night! He had countless great chances against Uncle Daddy before finally putting one in. Why he wasnâ€™t one of the three stars is rather baffling. Itâ€™s games like this that hark back to last year and make you realize how good he can be.
Petr Sykora: A
Congrats to him on his 600th point. Odd symmetry there, too, as he scored his first point for the Devils against the Pens.
Ryan Whitney: F
Useless in front of his own net.
Brooks Orpik: F
Lou the Devil: F
Because I will not let a Devil game go by without mentioning how much I despise this guy for ruining hockey.
Striped Buffoon Huh? Call of the Game
Good job, Fat Pig. In your desire to â€œlet the players decide the game,â€ you basically handed the Devils the game. In overtime, Jordan Staal splits the defense and is blatantly hooked by a Devil d-man as he tries to get a shot off. No call, because the whistles were away for overtime, this being a â€œveteranâ€ crew. So what happens? The Pens, who were robbed of a scoring chance at one end, get scored on at the other. Calling Stephen Walkom, calling Stephen Walkom. Yo, whatever happened to, â€œif itâ€™s a penalty in the first minute, itâ€™s a penalty in the last minute?â€ It was a blatant non-call that not only altered the outcome, it altered the whole divisional race.
Icehole of the game
David Clarkson, for not wanting to get destroyed by Laraque.
I give it to Uncle Daddy for his incredible sliding save on Petr Sykora. It was so good, it had Sykora laughing.
A guide to the grades can be found here