Pens At Rangers Grades
Even Strength Offense: A-
Anytime you put up 35 ES shots on the Rangers, youâ€™re doing something right. They had a few awesome shifts where they just bottled the Rangers up in their own end and got the hometown crowd booing. That is very enjoyable. Geno and Neal are picking up right where they left off last year. How about that sick pass to set up Nealâ€™s second goal! That was a thing of beauty. The only downside is that the top line isnâ€™t generating anything yet.
Even Strength Defense: B
For the most part, the defense was very solid. Engelland was caught sleeping on the Pyatt goal.
Power Play: B
They scored two power play goals for the second straight game. Nealâ€™s role as â€œroverâ€ worked to perfection on the first one as Geno found him wide open in the high slot. The second was a transition play keyed by a brilliant Neal headman pass (he didnâ€™t even get an assist on the play). Then Geno found Dupuis all alone in front. But the grade is brought down by a pathetic 5-on-3 for 1:55 in which they managed to put one shot on the net. Yeah, the Rangers were blocking them, but thatâ€™s when you fake it and get them sliding out of position. Or shoot right for their, um, â€œsensitive areas.â€ Add to that the shorty they gave up late in the game on a horrid Geno giveaway and maybe the B is actually generous.
Penalty Kill: B
They gave up an easy goal on the 5-on-3 when they left Callahan all alone in front for a tap-in rebound. But then they killed the ensuing 5-on-4, which was huge. The Rangers could have gone ahead at that point, and it would have been an entirely different game.
Is that a real, live, actual NHL quality backup goalie I saw? it sure looked like it. Vokoun made several huge high quality saves when the game was close. The level of confidence I have in him is like night and day compared to Johnson last year. He was simply rock solid, though the rebound control needs some work.
What a way to start the season! Road wins in hilly and New York in a span of about 30 hours. In both games, they got ahead and then played solid defense to keep it that way. Iâ€™m glad to hear that the stars are more aware this year of defensive responsibilities, because thatâ€™s whatâ€™s needed. Guys like Sutter will always be there defensively, but own-zone responsibility starts at the top. If the stars play that way instead of trying to score six goals a game, the rest of the team will follow.
And now, the rest of the storyâ€¦
Heâ€™s a little off right now, as is the play of the line.
Another awesome night for him with two brilliant passes for goals. The minus is for the bad giveaway late in the game that led to a goal.
Kris Letang: A
So far, so good. heâ€™s playing under control, which is a far cry from the Philly series. He has to learn to play within himself, and heâ€™s off to a good start.
James Neal: A
Sniper deluxe. Put him in a position to score, and he will bury it.
Brandon Sutter: D
For Dumberer. The Pens traded Dumber for Dumberer. I know Saturday, Regis was blathering on about how smart he was, â€œcoachâ€™s sonâ€ and all. Well, where was the â€œcoachâ€™s sonâ€ when he decided to use his glove to pull that puck back on the faceoff, giving the Rangers a two-man advantage? Huh? Huh?
Tyler Kennedy: A
Once again, early-season monster. But that will just encourage him to shoot even more.
Eric Tangradi: NI
That would be not impressed. He seems totally lost playing with the skill guys.
Simon Despres: NR
Thatâ€™s for not ready. He has been brutal the first two games. Saturday, he was made a fool of by Wayne Simmonds. Yep, that Wayne Simmonds who can barely stand on his skates. yesterday, he had a couple of horrendous giveaways in his own end. He needs to get his game straightened out in the AHL where he canâ€™t cost them games, and they need to go find a reliable sixth defenseman. I guess itâ€™s Bortuzzoâ€™s chance now?
Perhaps it was because we got the Ranger feed on NHL Network, but I had very little complaint with the refs last night.
Ice Clown of the Game
Stu Bickel; got undressed by Joe Vitale for a goal, then took out his furstration on Geno. Thatnks for playing the stiff, Torts.
I think I have to give it to Vital Joe for that move.
Brooksie absolutely plastered Chris Kreider with a devastating open-ice hit. Welcome to the NHL, Mr. Kreider.
Iâ€™m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.