My Prediction

Pens 4, Rangers 2.
Actual: Pens 5, Rangers 2.
Record in predicting winner: 27-17.

Even Strength Offense: A

The Pens dominated early, forcing the Rags to play “rope-a-dope.” They peppered Biron with shot attempts in the first period, but only got one past him on kind of a lucky bounce of a Cooke rebound that went over Biron’s head. But they busted it open early in the second when Neal made a great forecheck and got the puck to Geno, who was alone in front. Then Kennedy shocked the entire world by not shooting from the wing, instead making a slick pass to Cooke in front. Sid got on the board with a nice pass to Kunitz, and Duperstar closed it out with a garbage goal. The Pens dominated early, lost their focus in the second, then relied on Fleury in the third.

Even Strength Defense: B

They allowed a fairly high number of quality chances. The two goals were total defensive zone breakdowns. Michalek, Orpik, and Vitale somehow left Hagelin all alone in front for a rebound. Then Staal, Michalek, and Orpik allowed Gaborik and Richards to execute a give and go that left Gaborik all alone in the slot. You pretty much know how that will end.

Power Play: C

They officially went 0/4, but the Kunitz goal was essentially a power play goal because it came only 6 seconds after a Stu Bickel penalty expired. They had 7 shots in 6 minutes of power play time, but it really was a mixed bag. They had a couple stretches in the zone where they looked good. Then they struggled once the Rangers cleared it to reestablish the offensive zone. I’m not convinced having Sid up top will work long term, but only time will tell.

Penalty Kill: A

Great discipline in only taking one penalty that resulted in a power play.

Goaltending: A

There was really nothing Fleury could do on either goal, and he made some phenomenal saves along the way. he had to have John Mitchell muttering to himself, as he must have robbed him at least three or four times. he was key in the second period, when the Rags came on after going down 3-1. He did allow the Gaborik goal, but shut the door otherwise.

Overall: A

Another spectacular performance, this time with a full lineup. It was nice to see, for once, that the opponent was missing more key guys than the Pens. They came out strong and got the first goal, which is critical against the Rangers. Then they blew it open early in the second, and the Rangers never fully recovered. They sent a message that the Atlantic race isn’t over quite yet.

And now, the rest of the story…

Sid: A

Just, welcome back.

Geno: C

He had a meh kind of game with lots of giveaways. But then he scored a beautiful goal in front.

James Neal: A

Just because that was a helluva forecheck on the Geno goal.

Kris Letang: A

He welcomed himself back into the lineup with a sweet little +5 effort.

Matt Cooke: A

He’s been laying very well lately and I was really hoping he’d get the HT.

Minus Machine Update

Player This Game Season
MM4 -2 -5
MM7 +3 -1
Non Minus Machines +4 +53

Wow, Martin is almost out of the hole. Maybe it was Michalek all along.

Jack Adams Bylsma: C

It worked out okay, but I am not a fan of the in-game line juggling once they were up 3-1. They really got out of sync in the second period.

Henrik Lundqvist: F

They said he had the flu, but I suspect that he sprained his ankle during a GQ shoot. Or something.

Striped Buffoonery

How on earth, given all we’ve seen the past couple months, was that a penalty on Orpik? Yes, he left his lane slightly to hit the Ranger going for the puck, but that happens a hundred times a game right now with no call.

Bibsy’s Creative Language

He was in fine form last night. It must have been the excitement of the moment.

In reference to a slide play by a Penguin defenseman on an odd-man break: “Takes away the lower part of the ice.” yep, I was afraid the puck might get past Fleury under the ice.

After Boyle hurt himself blocking a shot: “Kunitz took advantage of a maimed Boyle.” I guess the shot must have severed Boyle’s foot or something.

Monk Moment

How about Fleury, while lying on his side, reaching up with the glove to snag a Mitchell shot?

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.