Pens Vs Panthers Grades
Even Strength Offense: B+
Their only real sin was failing to convert on their chances. They kept the Panthers bottled up in their own end most of the night. That led to lots of scoring chances. They failed to put any past The Alien at even strength until the third period. The problem was most of the shots were coming from the outside and they were unable to get to many rebounds. But then Niskanen blasted a long range shot past The Alien and shortly thereafter, Cooke made a brilliant pass to Dustin Who? for the clinching goal.
Even Strength Defense: C
Even though they allowed only 21 even strength shots, it seemed like at least half of them were high quality. Fleury was forced to make numerous tough saves while the game was scoreless. It was kind of like the Montreal playoff series where the Pens dominated action, but the Panthers seemed to have more quality chances. They finally got on the board when Fleury was forced to rob Huberdeau, the play got all scrambly, and the eminent MIke Weaver finally popped a long one in.
Power Play: A
The power play again looked good. They moved the puck well and generated 10 shots on goal in 7 minutes. It also produced probably the key goal of the game, right after the Panthers had scored. And it was a dirty one at that. Neal and Malkin worked it down low, and Kunitz picked up the garbage without somehow kicking it in.
Penalty Kill: A
And just like that, the discipline returns. They took only two minors and killed them both off rather easily.
This was one of those “underrated” Fleury performances. You look at the shot total (23) and figure he had a fairly easy night. But that wasn’t the case at all. He faced lots of difficult chances, especially in the first two periods. He would go lo9ng periods without seeing rubber, then be forced to make a great save. That can’t be easy on a goalie, but he was brilliant last night.
They played a solid hockey game last night. They got two points from a not-very-good, tired hockey team. The only downside was that they weren’t able to put them away.
And now, the rest of the story…
The effort was there, but once again, most of his passes went awry. I am about to start a new category call “Bad De-Sid-sion” for the most stupid pass taken when the shot was a better option. My guess is the namesake will win it 90 percent of the time.
Oh, was that scary-looking. Now, reports are that he is concussed. That’s not the least bit surprising. One can only hope it’s not a “serious” (as if there’s any other type, but you know what I mean) concussion.
James Neal: C
Power play specialist. On the ice for the only even strength goal against.
Kris Letang: C
He made a horrid breakout pass early that led to a great Florida chance.
Dustin Who?: A
Once again, he looked good and scored a goal. But he sucks, right?
Leggo and Watson were so good Wednesday night that we got them again. Watson must have dirt on the NHL. The guy who doesn’t know the rules gets to have a 3-night stay in Pittsburgh??? Go figure. Please tell me how the elbow by Weaver after Kunitz scored was not a penalty. Please tell me why Mueller wasn’t booted from the game for tripping Orpik into the boards. Just wondering.
But the worst call of the night aided the Pens. If somebody can explain to me why Kopecky got a penalty for “slashing” Fleury, I’m all ears. The whistle had not yet blown, the puck was bobbling around, and Kopecky went for it. he didn’t slash Fleury at all, he was just jabbing at the puck. We’ll take it, but it was an egregiously horrendous call.
Fleury’s save on Huberdeau, while a reaction save, was just brilliant.
Boy, The Alien played so well, then he just totally whiffed on Niskanen’s blast from the blue line.
Mike Waver. He threw a vicious elbow at Kunitz after Kuni’s goal.
He nailed Kulikov.
I’m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.