Even Strength Offense: B

The Pens weren’t dominant, but they certainly got the job done. They really didn’t generate a whole lot of quality chances, but they did score two dirty playoff-type goals. Dupuis, Adams, and Iginla combined for one when they just kept hacking at a puck that Nabokov couldn’t cover. Just plain hard work there. Then Dupuis got another in front with a nice move after “intercepting” an Eaton shot. The last goal was just pathetic goaltending by Poulin on a Glass bad angle shot. Once the Pens got up a couple, they concentrated more on defense and let the chances just come. That was a huge change from last year

Even Strength Defense: A

They severely limited the Islander offense. The Fishsticks managed only 19 even-strength shots, and few of those were high quality. Most of what the Isles did was outside the dots, and coverage in front of the net was superb.

Power Play: A

The top unit got a goal on a buzzbomb by Letang. The second unit got a goal on a snipe by Kennedy Bennett. You can’t ask for much more than that. But the PP actually looked good before it scored, too. It wasn’t just a case of a couple sick snipes. They moved the puck well.

Penalty Kill: A

The PK was also superb. They did have one kill where they had lots of trouble clearing it, but even then, the Isles never really got any good chances.

Goaltending: A

Many (-not- including myself) have questioned Marc Andre Fleury after the last three playoff debacles. What a way for him to start the postseason, though. He was tremendous. He looked relaxed and calm, and was letting the play come to him. The rebound control was excellent. Everything about his game last night was professional and topnotch. The questions about him haven’t been answered, but last night was a good first draft.

Overall: A

It’s only one game. It’s only one game. It’s only one game. You have to try not to get too excited about one game. But certainly this one was just what the doctor ordered. They got the two early goals and then just went into lockdown mode. Gone was last year’s lack of discipline. Gone was them trying to score 10 goals. Gone was porous defense. Gone was leaky goaltending. In was tough, physical play. In was great defensive zone coverage. In was taking advantage of every opportunity. In was driving a veteran goalie from the net.

And now, the rest of the story…

Jarome Iginla: A

Did he change the dynamic by dinging Nabokov? Oh, and he notched two assists too.

Evgeni Malkin: B

He was flying early last night, but he devolved into trying to do too much at times.

Kris Letang: A

A goal and some outstanding defensive play.

Brandon Sutter: A

Jordan Who? Sutter held Tavares without a shot on goal for the first time this year. His whole line really took it to the Isles’ top unit.

Pascal Dupuis: A

Duperstar.

Beau Bennett: A

On that play where beau scored, Kennedy would have either fired a slapper from 40 feet or taken the puck around the net and lost it.

Mark Eaton: A

Only eight blocked shots. Think the Isles regret dumping him?

Dan Bylsma: A

I didn’t think he’d have the guts to put Bennett in instead of Kennedy. But he did and it paid off handsomely. He also reunited the big line from last year, at least until Neal got hurt again. Of course, Stinkelland was still out there, but they got a shutout, so how critical can I be?

Striped Buffoonery

The NBC guys were full of praise for McCauley and Pollock. I beg to differ. This game should be made into a how-to video on reffing to the score. Once the Pens got up big, the Islanders were basically allowed free rein in an effort to keep it close and keep the New York audience. They missed one call after another on the Islanders, and yet anytime a Penguin dared to breathe on an Islander, off he went. That led to Reasoner thinking he could knee Jokinen at the end and get away with it. You let a cheap team like the Islanders get away with stuff, and the game will get out of hand.

Crank You

Welcome to the playoffs, Matt Martin. You think you can hit?

Icehole

It has to be Harry Reasoner for sticking his cane leg out and tripping Jokinen.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here.