Pens Vs Habs Grades
Pens dominate Habs
Even Strength Offense: A
They kept the pressure on Montreal most of the night. I was especially impressed with the third period, where they protected the lead by bottling the Habs up in their own end for long stretches. Unless your goalie is JS Aubin, the opponent is not likely to score from their own end. Thatâ€™s how you protect a lead. But they really carried the play all game long. They got another snipe from Neal, a deflection from Vitale, and a baseball swing from Asham. A very impressive performance.
Even Strength Defense: B
Though the offensive effort kept Montreal at bay, they did have a few breakdowns that allowed quality chances, especially early.
Power Play: F
As in Fugly. In the first period alone, Letestu lost three power play draws, meaning they were always chasing the puck. It was just totally out of sync all night, registering only three shots in 10 minutes of power play time. They also gave up a shorthanded breakaway that thankfully Fleury stopped. It is quite obvious that this power play is impotent without Geno
Penalty Kill: A
Broken record. They were perfect once again and rarely even allowed a good look at the net. They are just so in sync with each other, knowing when to challenge and when to back off. Teams looking at them on film must be wondering how quickly they have to move the puck to set up a scoring chance, and how perfect they have to be. If they fumble the puck in the slightest, a Penguin jumps them. Just awesome to watch.
Flower was only beaten by a deflected high shot on which he had no chance. Plus he made several key huge saves in the first period when it was still scoreless.
A tremendous effort all around against a team that has given them fits the last couple years. Unlike the early-season game last year against the Habs when they blew a lead late, this time they just kept at it, and Fleury didnâ€™t allow them to get back in it. They played absolutely solid from start to finish.
And now, the rest of the storyâ€¦
Vital Joe Vitale: A
He was all over the place and scored a beautiful deflection goal. Try him on the power play.
James Neal: A
A scoring machine.
Deryk Engelland: A
A big night for him, with two assists. He was just a goal and a fight away from the Gordie Howe hat trick. But seriously, he was solid all around.
Kris Letang: ?
They went 2-0 without him. Trade him now lol.
Striped Buffoon Huh? Call of the Game
Itâ€™s always scary having a French Canadien ref when youâ€™re playing Montreal, but Auger behaved himself pretty well. In fact, the worst non-calls were by Sutherland. He called a penalty on Staal when it was clear the Camel had dove. Then he failed to call goalie interference on Gionta when he just clearly backed right into Fleury and then fell on him.
What a huge save Fleury made on the Darche shorthanded breakaway. That could have changed the entire complexion of the game. Iâ€™m not sure Fleury knew he had it, but he did, and thatâ€™s all that matters.
He was near Lars Eller as he fell into the goal post. He didnâ€™t really hit Eller, but that was the closest he got to giving out candy. But it was nice just to have him back.
Icehole of the Game
I was all set to give it to Gionta for his goalie interference, but Travis Moen decided to win it with about 10 seconds to go. he slew-footed Fleury from behind at the side of the net. The game was over at that point, and he just decides that being an icehole is more important than sportsmanship. Hey, Travis, I got news for you. You have to play the Pens three more times, and I have a feeling a certain Mr. Engelland might introduce himself to you.
Iâ€™m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.