Pens Vs Islanders Game 5 Grades
Even Strength Offense: B
It was solid, but one gets the sense there is more there. They played it much more conservatively, especially in the first period. Eventually, they were able to turn the tide and get some solid chances on the ever-shaky Nabokov. They were using the middle of the ice more, taking what the Islanders gave them. The first goal was the classic example. Kennedy is cherry-picking along the blue line and Letang finds him with a beautiful pass right up the middle. The second goal was just Sid being Sid. Then they got the Murray goal off a solid forecheck by the Geno line. And in the third, with the lead, they were able to prevent the Islanders from coming at them by at least keeping the puck in New Yorkâ€™s end a good bit of the time.
Even Strength Defense: B
It was much better, mainly because there were far fewer bad turnovers. The Isles had a few transition chances, but not nearly as many as in previous games. Most of those chances were not really odd man breaks, but the result of misplays by the defensemen. Martin got undressed by Tavares a couple times. The defense also did a tremendous job in front of the net in the first period. Vokoun was spitting out lots of rebounds, but they defense prevented them from turning into second chances.
Power Play: A
They managed one goal in about six minutes of time, but some of that was in garbage time. The goal they scored came right off a faceoff win to start the PP by Sid. And Letang just put his head down and shot before thinking.
Penalty Kill: A
This is one aspect that has been really solid all series. They again shut the Islanders out last night.
Vokoun gave them exactly what they needed in this one. He was far from perfect, especially in the first period. Some of that can be attributed to rust, after not playing for 17 days. He was giving out rebounds and seemed unsure on a couple of the saves he made. But he really got in the groove after that. he was just plain solid. I think an underrated aspect of his game is playing the puck.. He is just calm when doing it, like he just knows what heâ€™s doing (insert Fleury reference here). And that helps the Pensâ€™ transition game, too. Right now, heâ€™s just what the doctor ordered.
Who said this: â€œThis team is simply incapable of playing a slow, disciplined game.â€ Oh, wait, that would be me after the last game. At least for one night, they proved me wrong. I wonâ€™t say they played the full 60 minutes this way, but they sure did the final two periods. They took it to NY in the second period by grinding them down, then they just stifled everything in the third period. They were determined not to blow another lead. They had Vokoun providing the calming influence and they just went about their business and won a game. It was by far their best performance of the series. In Game 1, the Islanders really didnâ€™t compete. This time, they did, and the Pens schooled them with timely offense, fewer mistakes, and airtight goaltending.
And now, the rest of the storyâ€¦
He really gets it for the amazing goal he scored, as he was otherwise ordinary. he did win over half his draws in this one, a huge improvement.
He didnâ€™t dominate, but there were no glaring Genovers, either.
Joe Vitale: A*
He provided an energy sorely lacking in Jussi Jokinenâ€™s game and won 9 of 10 draws.
Tyler Kennedy: A
Ditto, except replace Jokinen with Glass. He was their best player early on and was rewarded with the opening goal. Guess he will stick in the lineup for a while, eh?
Mr. March: A
Who says he canâ€™t make adjustments? He slowed the game last night, and it worked to perfection. He had the stones to sit Fleury, which no matter how obvious the decision, still couldnâ€™t have been easy. He finally swapped Kunitz and Iginla late in the first, and thatâ€™s when the Pens started to take off. Breakouts used the middle of the ice more. In short, I credit him for making some smart moves to adjust to what the Islanders have been doing.
Evgeni Nabokov: F
Perhaps he should be more worried about making saves and less worried about getting a 10.0 on his next dive. I think he has as many dives as saves in the series.
Sid decided to replicate Marioâ€™s immortalized move through Jeff Norton and Rich Pilon. Will Hickey and Visnovsky be similarly enshrined?
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A guide to the game grades can be found here.