They CAN actually play defense.

Even Strength Offense: C

They notched only one goal, but did generate a fair number of chances on Craig Anderson. But the penchant for overpassing crept back into their game on a few occasions. The goal was on a play they need to utilize much more often. They got the three on two and used the center drive. Tangradi did his job and went straight to the net, allowing Geno to make a great pass to Neal for the one-timer

Even Strength Defense: A

They were much more concerned with their own end than the past couple games. Both Sid and Geno were spotted coming all the way back to their own goal line to help defend. With the D corps down a man, they had to play this way, and it worked out. They also had very few bad turnovers that led to odd man rushes. That always helps the defense look good.

Power Play: F

It’s back to the momentum-sapping power play we are all familiar with. First, they had trouble gaining the zone. Once there, they passed it around before giving it away or just gave it away right away. If Bylsma spent all offseason figuring out the PP, it shows. He has no clue how to put together something that works with both Geno and Sid.

Penalty Kill: A

They rather effortlessly killed both penalties. They are back in the regular-season form from last year. They basically used three defensemen to kill after Niskanen went down.

Goaltending: A

Fleury looked strong and confident in what was his best performance of the season. He was really coming out challenging, meaning he had confidence in his defense to do its job. He was also controlling his rebounds very well, which helped the defense look better

Overall: B+

They played defense and got it to a shootout, which they dominated. The offense wasn’t there, though they did generate some chances. But that’s the way this thing needs to be built, from the defense out. They just need to keep playing the solid defense and the offense will come.

And now, the rest of the story…

Sid: B

He played solid defense, had no glaring turnovers. But his line really didn’t generate much offensively. He undressed Anderson in the shootout.

Geno: C

His line got the goal and he made a great pass to set it up. Unfortunately, for the third straight game, his turnover led directly to a goal. Why do you pass toward the bench when you know the lines are changing??? But he made a great move to score in the shootout. Good geno, Bad Geno.

James Neal: B

Of course, it’s not his fault that the coaching staff hasn’t put him in a position to succeed on the power play. But he slammed the one-timer home at even strength and scored on the shootout.

Tyler Kennedy: F

Nothing epitomizes Kennedy more than the play where Neal was passing to Geno (or vice versa?) and Kennedy intercepts it to fire a one-timer. This will not work because it also removes and hint of scoring from the third line.

Brandon Sutter: C

Once again, no offensive talent whatsoever. The reports that he would at least somewhat fill Staal’s shoes offensively were just feel-good words coming out of Carolina. He’ll pick up a few assists by accident, but that’s about it.

Kris Letang: A

Yeoman work by him, playing almost 30 minutes. I was happy to see they finally took him off the shootout. he was brutal at it last year.

Paul Martin: A

How about a little love for the whipping boy? He played a whopping 31 minutes and was barely noticeable. That has been the case all year.

Ben Lovejoy/Deryk Engelland: F

If these two guys can’t be trusted to play more than they did yesterday, why the heck are they on the team? They can’t play power play. They can’t kill penalties. They just fill space. And wouldn’t you know it? On the lone Senator goal, there was Lovejoy floating around with no clue what to do. If Niskanen is out, it’s time to throw Despres to the wolves.

Striped Buffoonery

I didn’t have any major problem with the officiating yesterday.

Genover

This one’s easy. He only had one glaring turnover. Unfortunately, it ended up in the net.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.