Pens At Leafs Grades
Even Strength Offense: B-
Well, I guess if I gave them an A for the Boston game, they get B- for this one. They really didn’t work quite as hard in this one. Once again, there were few, if any second chances in front. Everything was from the perimeter. Finally, in the third period they found a small crack in the Leafs net-front defense thanks to a brilliant no-look pass from Sid to Duperstar. Then a brilliant defensive play by Sid led to the winner.
Even Strength Defense: C
There were way too many quality chances for the Leafs. Most of them seemed to be on transition, like on the Leafs’ only goal. Toronto used its speed to create an odd-man rush as the Pens were changing (thanks for the telestration, Jay). The Pens ended up one man short in the defensive zone and Bozak slammed it home. They hung Fleury out to dry on a number of other occasions, too.
Power Play: F
It was ugly as they continually had passes through the box broken up and cleared. They managed only 3 shots in 6 minutes of time.
Penalty Kill: A
And that’s how many shots they had in a little over 4 minutes of PK time. As Bibsy pointed out, they were MUCH more aggressive than they have been, both up the ice and in the zone. They were jumping guys before they could make a play rather than sitting back waiting to be dissected. That’s the way they used to play, and why they ever got away from it is rather baffling. Was it a conscious decision because of the short season and no training camp? It certainly takes more short bursts of energy to play this way effectively. Maybe they wanted to make sure guys were in shape or something?
Fleury was fantastic. He had zero chance on the goal, and made numerous key saves to keep them in the game. Perhaps the biggest was on Komarov after the Pens had tied it.
The work rate just wasn’t there most of the night, yet they came out with a win. In the short term, that’s good. In the long term, I’m not quite so sure. Glass half empty. They need to rid themselves of the mindset that they can play mediocre hockey for 2 ½ periods, then turn it on and get a win. Glass half full. They stayed with their game, stayed patient, and finally broke through. Take your pick.
And now, the rest of the story…
His passing was off, but the effort was there. And in the end, the effort overcame. A brilliant pass for the first goal, a brilliant defensive play to set up the inner. For anyone that doesn’t like playing defense, that goal needs to be required watching on how great defense can lead to goals.
James Neal: C
Only four shot attempts and not very noticeable at all.
Brooks Orpik: F
He was on for the goal against (though it wasn’t his fault) and took three minors. Oh, and he broke his stick leading to a breakaway. Certainly not his best night.
Composite Sticks: F
I never have been able to figure out why defensive defensemen like Orpik use them. Shouldn’t defense be their number one priority?
Kris Letang: A
He was everywhere. Sometimes you just have to sit back and marvel at his skating ability. He is a perfect fit for the Bylsma system.
The Fourth Line: C
Hey, at least Adams scored the shorty. But they only generated three shot attempts. They are so horrid at getting the puck out of their own end that they are unable to do their job of keeping the puck deep in the other end. Yet for some reason, HCDB had them on the ice in the third period while they were behind. This makes less than zero sense.
Simon Despres: A
He’s in the lineup. They win. Simple as that. I think it’s up to 18-4?
The save on the breakaway was nice, but almost too easy. But I will give it to the back-to-back saves he made on Grabovski and Liles in the second period. A kick save on a slick move followed by him getting all the way across to stop the rebound was classic Marc-Andre Fleury.
Bibsy’s Creative Language
Sid “has eyes behind his head.” I can just picture them floating like a halo back there.
Ya just gotta love them dressing Colton Orr, then giving him 2:19 of ice time.
I’m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.