Pens At Canadiens Grades
Even Strength Offense: A
It was a Philadelphia playoff style game for the Pens. They just played pond hockey all night, which made for a very entertaining game. They ended up with 36 shots, and enough of them went in that they won. Sutter and Cooke scored two each and the top line notched the other three. They really utilized the high slots well in this one. Montreal’s defense has a strategy to collapse around the net. That left many wide open shots from the high slot and they took advantage.
Even Strength Defense: N
As in non-existent. The defensive zone coverage harks back to the good old days of 2002-03 or so. They are just unwilling or unable to cover guys in their own end. On most of the goals, they were in good shape, manpower-wise. But then they just fell asleep and let Montreal skate around at will. I don’t know how to stop this, but a coaching change seems like the best bet.
Power Play: B
The top unit was pathetic, rarely generating even a shot on goal. But the second unit came through with a Sutter rebound off a Letang point shot and generally looked better than the top unit.
Penalty Kill: B
They technically didn’t allow a PP goal, but Montreal did score before Kennedy could get back in the play after he came out of the box.
Well, so much for the move to get a Fleury a competent backup. Vokoun is simply awful, no better than Johnson last year. You know, it makes you wonder, is Marc-Andre really THAT good and these other guys are just victims on the pathetic defense in front of them? Food for thought. I mean, how does a guy like Vokoun go from being at least a competent NHL goalie to one who looks like he can’t even stop a beach ball? Well, let’s see. He played for two strong defensive teams, then for the Caps under Hunter last year. Now he’s behind this outfit. Look, I’m not trying to absolve him for his abysmal play, but there is more to it than just him, too. Personally, I would just waive or trade him and pay somebody league minimum to back up. Then spend the saved cap space on a real NHL defenseman or new coaches.
Sorry, but that’s the lowest grade I can give a win. And every time they play pond hockey, as entertaining as it might be, that will be the grade. “I really start to believe their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league. And they’re doing such a great job to be the worst defensive squad in the league.” The problem is, that pissed Therrien off at the time. The current staff couldn’t care less how bad they are defensively.
And now, the rest of the story…
Just a ho-hum three-point night, along with a +2. And how about him coming in stealth mode to score his goal?
James Neal: C
Eight shot attempts, but only an assist.
Kris Letang: C
He pulled off a rare feat. He became the first Penguin defenseman since Paul Coffey to have four assists in a game. One was on the power play, three at even strength. Yet he finished a tidy -2. Yep, he was on the ice for five Montreal goals. He’s the leader of the pack that runs around like chickens with their heads cut off in their own end.
Brandon Sutter: A
Two goals, seven shots, and some very skilled play. !
Tanner Glass: F
This guy might be one of the most worthless “hockey players” I’ve seen. He has zero offensive skill and he isn’t even good at killing penalties. Why is he in the NHL???
Simon Who?: A
Just for setting up the game winner and rubbing it Bylsma’s face. It is just stunning to think that this staff believes Deryk Engelland is a better play.
Ray Shero: F
His inability to draft and develop any forward talent whatsoever is exemplified by the likes of Tyler Kennedy and Tanner Glass taking regular shifts in the NHL.
Bob Cole: F
We were forced to watch Hockey Night in Canada, which meant we were put to sleep by play-by-play guy Bob Cole. He just drones on and on and on. Nothing about the game is exciting to him. He managed to make last night’s game sound boring.
Every time Vokoun stopped a puck. No, seriously, he made an unbelievable save on a Montreal power play where he sprawled backwards and got Pacioretty’s shot with his stick.
This new category is named in honor of former Penguin coach Pierre Creamer. I had a friend who thought he looked like Mr. Potatohead. Judge for yourself.
Anyway, he might have been the dumbest coach in Penguin history. He famously didn’t realize the Pens needed to WIN their next-to-last game against the Caps when it went to OT. Joe Starkey relates what happened. Anyway, this category will highlight Bylsma’s stupid decisions. You’re playing the top team in the East on the road, near your French Canadian goalie’s hometown. You’ve lost the first two games of the road trip. So, what do you do? You start your backup goalie. Makes perfect sense to me.
Okay, admittedly, Tyler Kennedy is a moron. But that is no reason for the refs to take advantage of him. And that’s what they did on his first penalty (his second one was indeed stupid). He barely touched his check and they called holding. That’s fine, other than the fact they had let every single one of those up until then go.
I’m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.