My Prediction

Pens 5, Hurricanes 2. Record in predicting winner: 8-6

Even Strength Offense: A-

For two periods, the Pens made another stiff look like Patrick Roy Brodeur. They fired shot after shot at Peters, but were only able to dent him once. And that came on a lucky bounce off Neal. Their persistence paid off in another dominant third period. Dupuis and Staal netted goals off the rush to turn a close game into somewhat of a rout. The dominance of the first two periods finally paid them some dividends. They were cycling extremely well, but they weren’t getting a,lot of high quality chances. So they decided to score off the rush to win the game.

Even Strength Defense: B

The defense allowed only 17 ES shots on goal. Very few of those were of high quality, and both came off puckhandling misadventures by Fleury. On the first, there seemed to be some miscommunication on a puck exchange behind the net. They ended up leaving Brent uncovered in front for an easy deflection. On the second they were all out of sorts when Fleury gave it away.

Power Play: A

They had some excellent chances on their three power plays, but peters stoned them until Sullivan finally found a crack in the armor and put one in. Overall, the PP was dominant, despite only getting the one goal.

Penalty Kill: A

They killed the only penalty they took.

Goaltending: D

I think Fleury was just sleeping back there looking for something to do. Unfortunately, that “something” was trying to play the puck. He gave them both the goals with bad plays behind the net. And he really wasn’t forced to make more than a couple good saves all night.

Overall: A-

Aside from the goaltending and them not being able to dent Peters for the longest time, it was a near-perfect effort. They were dominant from start to finish. They persevered until Peters finally wilted. They never gave Carolina a chance to breathe. Just a tremendous way to come off the Christmas break and prepare for the spectacle tomorrow night.

And now, the rest of the story…

Geno: B

He was not good the first two periods, but came alive in the third. Maybe the Wodka wore off?

James Neal: A

He finds a new way to score every night.

Chris Kunitz: A

What a great effort on the Neal goal to just split the defense and get in on goal.

Steve Sullivan: A

See, Steve, good things happen when you actually shoot the puck.

Tyler Kennedy: A

Something very strange is going on. Since the concussion that must have scrambled his brain, he’s seeing the ice better and actually passing the puck. He picked up two more assists last night, giving him 11 in 19 games since his return. He had only 24 assists in 80 games all of last year.

Eric Staal: F

His -2 last night dropped him to -22 for the year. He’s been a plus in only 6 games all year. Ugh!

Rain: A

Forecasts still call for a chance of rain in Philly Monday. I’ll be doing a rain dance. How about you? If it does rain, it’s God’s way of saying these two despicable franchises have no business being in a showcase game.

Root Sports: F

They somehow managed not to bleep the F word from Bylsma’s pregame speech, DESPITE THE FACT IT WAS PRERECORDED.

Loathsome Homerism

Our favorite loathsome homer kept calling Dupuis “Duperstar.” That might be even more annoying than him trying to anoint Kennedy “the little tiger” a couple years ago.

Monk Moment

Bryan Allen having the puck go in off his own backside.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.