My Prediction

Pens 5, Leafs 3. Record in predicting winner: 18-9.

Even Strength Offense: C

For about 50 minutes, this would have been an absolute F. They generated little forecheck and few quality chances. They just weren’t into the game at all. They were just aimlessly firing shots from the outside. But Sullivan’s goal seemed to wake them up. Keyed by the lower lines, they kept the pressure on the rest of the game. They bottled the Leafs up and popped two more past the Monster to tie it up.

Even Strength Defense: F

What a putrid defensive effort! I cannot remember the last time they gave up so many odd-man breaks and wide-open chances. It looked like the whole team (yes, that includes forwards) was skating in quicksand. Yeah, the Leafs are fast, but not THAT fast. The Pens were just standing around for 2 ½ periods. Every Leafs goal was scored by a wide-open shooter. And the Leafs probably had about a dozen other grade A chances that Fleury stopped or hit the post. Just an abominable performance.

Power Play: F

The “truculent” Leafs were only called for one penalty, and the resulting power play stunk. They allowed a two-on-one that gave the Leafs two shots while garnering none of their own.

Penalty Kill: F

They allowed a power play goal off the rush, as well as several other great chances.

Goaltending: A+

Marc again gets the rare A+ for his superb effort. For him to get this grade while giving up 4 goals tells you just how spectacular he was. None of the goals was remotely his fault. he made so many 10-bell saves that I lost count. From the start, he appeared to be the only Penguin interested in winning this game. The comeback never would have happened had he been only ordinary.

Overall: C+

I guess they disproved the axiom that you need to play 60 minutes to win. They played about 15 at most at a high level. The rest was simply awful. They stood around like pylons watching the Leafs skate circles around them. By the time they started the comeback, this game could easily have been about 10-1. But it wasn’t. it took awhile, but Marc’s energy finally rubbed off on them. They buzzed the net the final 10 minutes and finally got it tied.. Then their shootout prowess took over.

And now, the rest of the story…

Geno: D

He was basically invisible until the tying goal went in off him.

James Neal: D

Ditto, except he shot it.

Kris Letang: D-

He was absolutely awful, like his mind was still in Ottawa. But he did make the great save that gave them a chance to tie it.

Steve Sullivan: A

His goal got them going, and he was an absolute monster in the third period.

Brooks Orpik: F

He wins the pylon award for the night.

Joe Vitale: A

He had a great game. he was hitting anything that moved, and he was rewarded with the goal that brought them within 1.

The 4M Pairing: F

The Leafs skated circles, squares, figure eights, and every other geometric shape around the supposed shutdown pair.

Striped Buffoonery

You knew how the evening would go when they totally butchered the supposed goalie interference on the first Toronto goal. Lupul never touched Fleury, nor did he knock Michalek into Fleury. But somehow, that’s how the buffoons saw it. They proceeded to spend the rest of the night making up for that call. The Leafs were allowed to get away with blatant hooks and trips all game long. It was as if the sniveling, whining little refs spent the night saying, “we’re sorry Mr. Burke. We’re sorry Mr. Wilson. We didn’t mean to do that to you wonderful gentlemen.”

EFGT

Fleury had so many that none stood out. So I’ll give it to 58 for his sliding save after Fleury had stopped the first shot and left the net wide open.

Icehole of the Game

Mike Brown, for his dirty trip on Neal that led to Neal taking a penalty.

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A guide to the game grades can be found here.