My Prediction

Rangers 4, Pens 1.
Actual: Pens 2, Rangers 0.
Record in predicting winner: 22-14, in a bad slump.

Even Strength Offense: A

While they only netted one even strength goal, they certainly did lots of great things. They had several forechecking shifts where they totally bottled up the Rangers in their own end and put pucks on the net. They could easily have had several more goals if it wasn’t for Luckqvist getting numerous breaks on bouncing pucks. They did get one past him on the Geno breakaway, but the rest of the night was spent seeing pucks just barely elude their sticks.

Even Strength Defense: A

Hey, the new defensive pairings worked very well. Martin and Letang seemed to gel. Maybe when Orpik comes back, you pair him with Michalek for awhile and see how it goes. But last night, they really didn’t allow the Rangers to establish their forecheck at all. It was one and done most shifts. The Pens had few turnovers in their own end. They prevented rebound opportunities. They did everything right.

Power Play: A

Did my eyes deceive me? Did I actually see Steve Sullivan shoot the puck? Why, yes, I did. And it actually went in. I wish he would do that more often, as it would really open up the power play. The goal was also made possible by a great Cooke screen in front. Just a perfect power play play.

Penalty Kill: A

The PK is rolling again. They killed off all three Ranger power plays rather effortlessly.

Goaltending: A

Fleury was at his finest last night. He flashed the glove a couple times to absolutely rob the Rangers. He got lucky on the McDonough goalpost, but was otherwise right there every time the Rangers had a great chance.

Overall: A

A tremendous bounce-back effort after Sunday’s disaster in Buffalo. The Pens were into this one from the opening bell. They just kind of ground the Rangers into submission with a tenacious forecheck, and kept them bottled up all night long. Even with a two-goal lead entering the third, they kept the pressure on. And they finally, finally, ended the CEC Ranger-Flyer-Bruin hex, just as they finally beat the Caps a few weeks back.

And now, the rest of the story…

Geno: A

Beautiful move on the breakaway.

James Neal: D

Didn’t do much.

Steve Sullivan: A

He had a great game. He was everywhere.

Ben Lovejoy: A

He always seems to come out flying after he’s been out awhile.

*Minus machine 4: * even to stay at -10. Overall, he was tremendous. He blocked three shots, including a couple of tough ones when Fleury might have ben in trouble.

Minus Machine 7: +1 to jump to -10

The Non Minus Machines: +1 to go to +34

Striped Buffoonery

More pure butchery. I have ti say, though, it might actually have favored the Pens. There were just so many missed calls all night long, as the Gregson Rules remained in force.

Monk Moment

It had to be Sullivan actually shooting and scoring on the power play. My wife and I actually exclaimed, “oh my God,” in perfect unison when it happened.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.