Pens Vs Islanders Grades
Even Strength Offense: A
The scoring blitz continues. The top line is just going crazy right now. Everything they do seems to end up in the net. Last night, they potted three. It just seems like theyâ€™re a threat every time they step on the ice. They just always get the puck in the offensive zone and go to work. The second line also contributed one. It was an impressive, totally dominant performance, even though they attempted only 54 shots. Stats can be misleading, though. They really took their foot off the gas once it got to 5-1. One got the feeling they could have gotten to double digits had they really wanted to.
Even Strength Defense: A
Unlike many games this season, they jumped ahead and never really gave the Islanders a whiff. There were a few â€œhere we go againâ€ moments after Boyes scored to make it 3-1, but that lasted about 5 minutes. They played very solid in their own end, not allowing those wide open looks in front that had been so common recently. Maybe Despres and Eaton are the best choices for sweaters.
Power Play: A
That 5-on-3 that led to a goal was a thing of beauty. They were setting up great shots all over the place and finally Kunitz scored from right in front a second after it ended. The little play from Neal to Kunitz in front worked to perfection again about three minutes later. It sure does make it tough on defenses when you have Sid and Neal handling the puck to the left of the goal, and the PK knows they can shoot at any moment. As soon as they favor that side, thereâ€™s Kunitz in front to bang it home.
Penalty Kill: A
No problem. In nearly 5 minutes of time, they gave the Isles only 4 shots, none of which felt the least bit threatening. Again, no wide open guys in front.
Vokoun was again solid as a rock. He built on his strong performance in Philly with a good effort last night. There wasnâ€™t much he could do to stop a perfect shot by Boyes. He was tracking the puck much better and seemed comfortable back there. There were few rebounds, and that had been his biggest problem.
They earn the rare A+ for this one. True, it was the Islanders, but that team has shown improvement this year. It was also Nabokov, an old Nemesis, in net. But they sent him to the shower. Things could have gone south after Boyes scored, but the Pens just kept at it after that. The Isles had momentum for all of five minutes before the Pens put the game away. Yesterday, I lamented that they couldnâ€™t seem to find the happy medium between offense and defense when they get a lead. Well, they sure did last night. That happy medium was called, â€œput the top line on the ice.â€
And now, the rest of the storyâ€¦
Four measly second assists and one primary. Just a terrible night for him. So bad they only gave him 15 minutes of ice time in which to do it.
James Neal: A
Mr. Power play with two assists while up a man, and an even-strength goal.
Kris Letang: A
Two more assists for him as he starts to make minced meat of the defenseman scoring race.
Beau Bennett: A
Boy, heâ€™s looking better and better. He is much better defensively than I had anticipated.
Chris Kunitz: A
Oh, my. This is just one incredible run heâ€™s on.
Mark Eaton: A
Maybe heâ€™s the right partner for Letang. Just hang out on the ice with Letang and the top line and end up +4.
Bibsyâ€™s Creative Language
Yes, we actually got to see the Pensâ€™ feed. â€œ...They stagnated the Islandersâ€™ attack.â€
Brad Boyes took a penalty while defending Tyler Kennedy that led to two Penguin goals. Why anyone would take a penalty against Kennedy simply defies all logic.
Iâ€™m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.