Even Strength Offense: F

Why can’t this team score anymore? And don’t say it’s because Sid’s out. They have scored a grand total of 17 even-strength goals in the last 10 games. As the playoffs approach and the power plays become fewer and fewer, this simply will not cut it. Again last night, they really struggled to create chances. It seems like they’re in the mode of always wanting to make one more pass rather than shooting. But finally the newcomer who hasn’t been fully immersed in the pass-first culture snapped a quick shot past Luckqvist

Even Strength Defense: B-

The only good thing the defense did was prevent too many rebounds. Other than that, they had extreme difficulty moving the puck out of the zone. Shot attempts for the game were 78-44. Of course, when you have only one defenseman in the lineup who’s capable of moving the puck efficiently (Niskanen), this is what happens. The Rangers dominated play most of the night.

Power Play: F

It stunk out loud.

Penalty Kill: C

They killed both power plays, but the Rags scored on the faceoff right as a horrid penalty on Dupuis was ending.

Goaltending: A+++

Fleury didn’t get the shutout, but he sure earned one. He was amazing last night, and was solely responsible for them getting any points at all out of this game. He just made one huge save after another, then finished it off by stoning them in the shootout. It was as if he alone decided there was no way they were losing twice in a row to the Rangers.

Overall: C+

Were it not for Fleury this game would have ended up just like the previous one. The Pens put forth a much more spirited effort than they did in New York, but the result wasn’t a lot different. They were on their heels all night long. They generated way too few good scoring chances and allowed way too many. Only the sterling play of Fleury kept them from getting swept.

And now, the rest of the story…

Geno: F

Another sleepwalk in a season of them. Geno apologists, prepare yourselves. I’m working on a blog that will detail just how bad he’s been this year. And last night, no shots on goal. You can’t score if you refuse to shoot the puck.

James Neal: D

He’s not even getting good chances anymore.

Jarome Iginla: I

He’s saddled with Malkin, so I really can’t judge him yet.

Jussi Jokinen: A

He’s not saddled with Malkin, so he was able to score. Then he also made a nifty move to win the shootout.

LRPP: F

Yeah, let’s sit Despres, the only one of the “rotating scratches” who can actually move a puck out of the zone. And the only one capable of playing the power play. Because lord knows, we need Stinkelland’s toughness in there. Worked real well, didn’t it?

Douglas Murray: A

Man, you gotta love this guy. I liked the one check he threw where it looked on the follow through like he just sneered at the guy for getting in his way.

Brooks Orpik: F

To quote my wife, he continued to play like stink last night, as he has for most of the year.

*Henrik Luckqvist: F

Just because I hate the smug Swedish metrosexual. And because he was in full Luckqvist mode with goalposts and pucks going through him but missing the net. And because he gets away with wearing pads so large he can barely move. He is the new J.S. Giguere Michelin Man, but gets away with it because he plays for the Rangers and is in New York so they tell him when his pads will be inspected.

Striped Buffoonery

Stephen Walkom had a shining spectacular failure of a third period last night. It was an embarrassment to anyone who ever wore the striped buffoon costume. First, he calls a legitimate cross check by Boyle. But then his listens to Tortorella whining for the next five minutes and figures he simply has to find something on the Penguins. He can’t, so he just makes something up. Dupuis goes hard on an icing and completely misses the Ranger. It was a legal play and he couldn’t figure out how to make up a legitimate call like charging. So he just goes with the old “unsportsmanlike conduct” ploy so the Pens can’t argue it. Meanwhile Rick Nash is spearing Cooke from the bench, then cowardly hiding behind two teammates. But Walkom has suddenly gone blind and doesn’t see it. This from the same ref who also blindly missed Del Zotto elbowing Neal in the head. So headshots are legal in Walkom’s NHL, but running into the boards is now unsportsmanlike conduct? Why because he made a big noise that disturbed his game-long nap?

Crank You

(My wife came up with that name). Brian Boyle fell like the big tree that he is.

EFGT

It has to be the save where Flower went post-to-post and robbed Stepan with the glove. Unbelievable quickness to get all the way across.

Icehole

We have several. First is Tortorella. For a guy who whined about the Penguins “two whining superstars,” he sure does plenty of whining himself.

Then we have Brian Boyle. He’s just a pissant.

But the title has to go to Rick Trash. After the league let him get away with a an illegal hit a couple weeks ago, he feels emboldened. He now spears guys from the bench with impunity. There is a reason Columbus sucked while he was there but is now decent. Nash need only look in the mirror to find the answer.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.