My Prediction

First, my apologies for the lack of grades this week. I was traveling for work with no access to the games.

Sabres 8, Pens 3.
Actual: Pens 5, Sabres 3.
Record in predicting winner: 29-22.

Even Strength Offense: C

This was a track meet type of game, so the Pens never really got to their game. They did put two ES goals past Ryan Miller, who always sucks against the Pens. Sid got his usual allotment with a bad angle shot, and Sullivan made a tremendous play to deflect one past Miller. I kind of like the new line configuration. Sullivan and Sid have potential together, and it keeps the Malkin line intact.

Even Strength Defense: C

It was kind of leaky, forcing Johnson to make some key saves in the third period.

Power Play: A

I’m not convinced scoring off the rush on the power play is a formula for sustained success, but it sure worked last night. Geno batted home a rebound after a lucky bounce found him in front. Then Neal scored on an unbelievable pass from Sid on another rush. I will say that the power play, when trying to set up, was a total disaster. They continue to give up shorthanded chances by the bushel basket. This five forwards thing simply does not work. At least put Niskanen out there while Letang is out.

Penalty Kill: A

They killed off two penalties, allowing only two shots in four minutes.

Goaltending: D

Yes, BJ made some good saves in the third, but this game shouldn’t have even been close. Neither of the first two goals goes in against a real NHL goalie. On the first one, Buffalo just lobbed it toward the net and he bobbled it, allowing a scrum for the rebound. Then he flat out whiffed on a weak Ennis wrister from the circle.. The Sabres missed a couple wide open nets and Dupuis bailed out a swimming Johnson another time, or this might have been really ugly.

Overall: B+

The Pens did cut down on the number of chances against. They played a solid, though not spectacular, game. They did match Buffalo’s desperation, something that had been lacking the past week. They protected Johnson well enough that he allowed only three. And the transition game was in fine form. Add it all up, and you have a feel-good win.

And now, the rest of the story…

Sid: A

A sweet little four-point night, highlighted by the brilliant pass to Neal for the power play goal.

Geno: B

“Only” two points, and not as noticeable as Sid.

James Neal: C

Had a goal, but also missed the net four times.

Kris Letang: B

For brittle.

Steve Sullivan: A

I’m guessing he likes his new center. But he’s quietly put up a great second half. Since the All Star break, he has 6 goals, 17 assists, and is +6. And of the 23 points, 15 have been at even strength.

Minus Machine Update

Player This Game Season
MM4 +1 -3
MM7 -1 +6
Non Minus Machines 0 +69

Bibsy’s Creative Language

He said Tyler Ennis is “spearleading” the Sabres.

Loathsome Homerism

When Tyler Myers was felled by a shot, he yelled, “Timber!” Ever the classy one, Steigy.

Free Cookie

He just leveled Cory Tropp as the latter tried to get to the front of the net.

EFGT

Dupuis’ save while Johnson was out flopping around somewhere.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.