Roughly a 3rd of the way in which by way of the season, I’m nonetheless undecided if our Penguins are a playoff workforce, not to mention a Stanley Cup contender.
There are holes galore. The fourth line is just about non-existent. The “Two-Headed Monster” ain’t what it was once. Our ‘d’ touches nary a soul. The particular groups stink.
We might desperately use in no explicit order a scoring winger, a net-front presence and a few good old school muscle.
But for all of our obvious flaws, this bunch possesses an indefinable one thing. Name it resilience. Name it character. Name it coronary heart. With few exceptions, when the chips are down we reply. Simply we did final evening once we chased down the Islanders at rickety previous Nassau County Coliseum to register a 4-3 extra time triumph.
It was the Pens’ sixth victory when trailing going into the third interval. Fairly exceptional stuff from an in any other case unremarkable workforce.
Typical of our never-do-things-the-easy-way strategy, we completely squandered two early energy performs. Shortly thereafter, the Isles cashed in on their lone man-advantage of the evening. I’ll offer you three guesses as to the way it occurred. In case you stated burly Brock Nelson was granted free-and-clear entry to the entrance of the online to attain on a deflection, you’d be appropriate.
Down by a aim early within the second interval, we largely watched as Matt Barzal circumnavigated our zone and wired the puck residence off the stick of John Marino, invoking reminiscences of Jaromir Jagr’s skate-through-the-entire-Blackhawks-team effort within the ’92 Cup Closing.
Can anyone take the physique in our personal finish? Sorry, I digress…
At this stage, it appeared for all of the world as if we had been headed to a dismal defeat. In spite of everything, the Islanders had been recent off a 7-2 demolition of Boston and we didn’t look so scorching. Guess I ought to’ve know higher (oh ye of little religion).
Our rally began with a few items. Make that three, really. Oliver Wahlstrom drew a boarding name. Somebody (Sidney Crosby to be exact) really shot the puck on the facility play. And Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov fell down. That’s proper…he tripped over his personal skates and fell. Splat.
The aim had scarcely been introduced over the PA system when Kasperi Kapanen left Ryan Pulock within the mud behind the New York internet and dished a candy backhand cross to Kris Letang in the best circle. “Tanger” beat Varlamov, deep in his internet, low to the stick aspect.
Fairly play. Fairly aim. Scored tied at 2-2.
To cite Robert Pastorelli’s deranged character within the made-in-the-Burgh flick Putting Distance, “Now we bought us a sport.”
Then Islanders took over, dominating the second half of the interval. With 5 minutes to go Josh Bailey culminated an attractive collection of tape-to-tape passes by beating Tristan Jarry from the slot.
However just like the marching band in Don McLean’s traditional American Pie, the Pens refused to yield. On the opening shift of the third interval Evgeni Malkin blew previous a pinching Adam Pelech to arrange a 2-on-1. Wanting just like the Geno of previous, he deftly slipped a cross into Jared McCann’s wheelhouse and No. 19 did the remaining, ripping the puck residence. Welcome again Jared. We missed ya’.
With 26 seconds remaining in OT, Letang introduced the ultimate curtain down, splitting the Islanders’ protection following a coast-to-coast rush and beating Varlamov from the slot.
The Pens outshot the Islanders, 31-27, however misplaced the faceoff battle, successful solely 46 % of the attracts. New York outhit us, 30-23.
Talking of hits, Anthony Angello delivered a team-high 5 in a shade over 9 minutes of ice time. The massive man (6’5”, 210) impressed along with his skating and depth and even noticed second power-play obligation. He joined Sam Lafferty and Colton Sceviour on the fourth line. Drew O’Connor was returned to the taxi squad. Mark Jankowski sat out with what’s being described as a day-to-day harm.
The second line appeared revitalized with McCann becoming a member of the combo. They held a 13-7 edge in 5v5 scoring probabilities and a 20-11 benefit in 5v5 shot makes an attempt. Maybe most encouraging, Malkin is beginning to appear to be Malkin once more as a substitute of a poor excuse for a doppelganger smuggled in by the KGB.
Nonetheless, the third line of Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese and Brandon Tanev was uncharacteristically dominated for the higher a part of the sport. As soon as once more rendering us a two-line workforce.
Coach Mike Sullivan swapped out struggling Pierre Olivier-Joseph for Marcus Pettersson on the highest defensive pairing. Whereas receiving sheltered minutes subsequent to Cody Ceci, PO loved an 11-5 benefit in 5v5 shot makes an attempt. Ceci authored a sometimes strong sport (two hits, two blocked photographs and a takeaway).
Letang’s two-goal effort was his second previously 4 video games. He has seven factors over that span.
We seem to have discovered a chink in Varlamov’s armor. Almost all of our targets of late have gone in on the stick aspect. Upstairs specifically.
Yesterday the Pens employed 60-year-old Chris Pryor to function director of participant personnel. He replaces Derek Clancey, who crammed that function for elements of two seasons.
Working as GM Ron Hextall’s right-hand man in Philadelphia, Pryor had a hand in drafting such plums as Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Carter Hart.
An Eye for an Eye?
When requested about the potential of including a Tom Wilson-type bodily presence, Hextall replied with a little bit of double-speak.
“I feel each workforce within the league want to have that sort of participant,” he stated. “There’s not an entire lot of them. And also you’ve bought a brief roster measurement. It’s robust. If we might discover somebody to actually play that function and provides us a extra bodily aspect, we’d actually take a look at it. However a part of me is with Mike (Sullivan) the place in case you make them pay for these penalties, they’re going to suppose twice about taking the penalties. However briefly, sure, if we might add somebody like that, we’d prefer to.”
It needs to be famous that Hextall really defanged the Flyers throughout his tenure in Philly, specializing in including ability and pace.
*Make sure you take a look at Rick Bukers books,
accessible at TriumphBooks.com,