Friday, October 22, 2010

Two-headed monster shines, Fleury plays solid in Pens win

By Jeff

Last night was the best Pittsburgh Penguins game I've seen since the team rallied to beat the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the first round last year. It wasn't so much the overall quality of play, it was sloppy throughout, but more the energy and effort both teams put it. Nashville Predators fans might not look so fondly of the game, as they lost 4-3 in overtime, but no one can deny it was entertaining.

The stars of the night were Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Holy crap! The two of them were everywhere. Crosby recorded two goals and an assist, while Malkin tallied a goal and an assist in what was the first game that these two legitimately took over.

Malkin was causing turnovers all over the ice, while Crosby was making Predators look silly as he skated through the zone. They combined for a gritty goal (Malkin's dirty goal), a shot few players in the NHl would even try (Crosby's bank shot) and a great all around effort (Crosby's goal that came on a rebound off  of a Malkin shot). It was the first time in a long time where you saw those two playing, and you really believed they were not going to let their team lose.
The rest of the NHL better get used to this sight.

The only negative you could take from their play is when Malkin had a guarantee goal blocked by Crosby. Malkin made a sweet move to the backhand and flipped it past Predators keeper Pekka Rinne for a what appeared to be a goal. Then it hit Crosby in the chest as he was skating behind Rinne. No big deal. The Pens won.

As well as Crosby and Malkin played, the Pens probably don't win this game without the efforts of Marc-Andre Fluery. I'm sure some people will point to his stats for the game, .875 save percentage and 3 goals against average, but that doesn't tell the story of Fleury's night. All of the Predators goals were on tough shot. Chris Kunitz was late with his backcheck on the first goal, giving Fleury no chance. The second goal came on a powerplay and hit a man before it ever got to Fleury. Finally, the third goal was a great, quick shot that few goalies would have a chance at.

Those save percentage and GAA stats that Fluery stops two breakaways and made other key saves to keep the team in the game. Back to the breakaways for a moment. You can't overestimate the importance of those stops. Saves like those are what rally your team and change the momentum of the gain. How different would Game 7 of the Caps series in 2009 have been if Fleury didn't deny Alexander Ovechkin on an early breakaway?

So haters can point to his stats and keep hating on Fleury, but anyone who watched the game knows he played a very good game. I'm not saying he's one the starter's job back with one start, but it's a big step in the right direction.

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers - Sarah


  1. I was so hooked on the Lincecum - Halladay match up that I primarily watched baseball last night. However, I somehow managed to see every Penguins goal and not a single Predators goal while I was flipping back and forth. Great high energy game with a lot of animosity, especially for two clubs that never see each other. Huge win for the Flower. Go Pens.

  2. Great song choice! I am pissed I missed the game. I was watching baseball and the Ducks (future Michigan). Glad to see the Pens win when not healthy. That is a scary thought that they will only get better.