OFFENSE: B. But only thanks to a great third period. After two frames, it would have been a big fat F. They came out like gangbusters in the first five minutes, totally bottling the Islanders up and netting a goal. They apparently decided that their nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work was done, because they spent the rest of the first and all of the second watching the Islanders play. Apparently, Yeo had some choice words between periods, and they responded, playing a great third period. Great transition game in the third. They finally decided to start shooting more, witness SidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two goals off rebounds. Amazing that the puck can actually go in when you shoot it, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it? The first two periods were a disgusting display of overpassing on odd-man breaks. It took Mark Recchi, of all people, to finally shoot on a 2-on-1 and Sid pops in the rebound. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s done, folks.
DEFENSE: A-. Tremendous effort in the defensive zone. The Isles had some shots, but not a huge amount of quality scoring chances. They never really bottled the Pens up too much, and never seemed like a huge threat to score. There was that one glaring misplay by Orpik and Whitney on the second goal, which is mostly on Whitney. Orpik went for the hit, fine. Maybe or maybe not a good play. But Whitney, seeing this, cannot leave the front of the net. So what does he do? Chases the puck into the corner. Bam! Goal. Idiotic play by him. And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not done with him, either.
POWER PLAY: C. And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m probably being generous. Okay, make it a D. No team that gives up a goal while up two men can be graded as average. That was just a hideously bad play by Sid and Gonchar. IMO, the PP the first two periods could only be called soul-sucking. It robbed them of their own momentum. And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not talking about the aforementioned play. I refer to the first PP they got. At this point, they were totally dominating the game. The Isles couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get out of their own end. Then they get a PP. And they futz around for two minutes, never even coming close to a shot on goal. It was as if they quit working as soon as they went up a man. Sure enough, the Isles took the momentum and kept it through the end of the second period. Oh, and the two five-on-threes were just embarrassing for the overpassing and lack of scoring chances. It took them just throwing stuff on net to get their two goals. You think they will learn a lesson? Ha!
PENALTY KILL: A. Superb effort last night. Man, is Jordan Staal great at this, and he seems to get more confident every game, too. But all the PK guys get huge credit here. The Isles had 8 PPs, and I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of a single instance where Fleury had to make a highlight reel save. They were awesome all night. For the most part, when they had a chance to get the puck out, they did. They kept pressure all the way up the ice, never giving the Isles time. You simply cannot ask any more of a PK unit.
GOALTENDING: A-. Not an A only because Fleury was a little off his angle on the Park goal, not that it was his fault, was it Sid? Other than that, another great game by a guy who seems to be gaining more and more confidence with each outing. He was not spectacular last night, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because he was always in position. One key play I recall him making was on a PK when Talbot had lost his stick. The Isles shot from the point and he just absorbed it, not allowing any rebound. He is just totally under control right now. With his athleticism, if he plays like that, he will become the goalie most thought he would be. Heck, he might be already.
OVERALL: B. They pull out another third period win against the Isles. These games are so important, and to grab it in the third was very impressive. But they do get downgraded for a poor 30 minutes of hockey that started midway through the first. Malkin and Sid both led the way last night, and that was impressive to watch. I do think Malkin is gaining confidence leading his own line, and he and Sid should remain apart. And they got two goals from the third line, too. How great is that? At some point, I would like to see Crusher Christian and Malone swap spots.
RYAN MALONE: C. In general his play sucked. He just isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t doing anything at all offensively. He drags Sid down. That aspect gets an F. But he gets an A for defending Sid. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about time somebody went after Witt. Next time, they need to go for a knee. He just runs around like an idiot out there, and I was glad to see Malone take it to him. But that leads to the next grade, and many ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gonna like it.
RYAN WHITNEY: F. Of course, he had the horrendous play on the Isle goal, but that is to be expected with him. That didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t earn him the F. He gets that for his failure to defend Sid after Gollum speared him. What he did (or, better, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do) is an embarrassment to all hockey players. Sid gets speared, and gets up and goes after Gollum. Whitney the wuss just kind of saunters over to Gollum and says hello, then goes away. Any real hockey player would have had Gollum eating elbow or wood, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exactly what should have happened. For the Pens to basically leave Sid on his own against that *** clown is just pathetic. It tells me that Whitney is worthless as a teammate and needs to be traded ASAP. How the hell can he have any respect among his teammates when he does that? Cripes, the game was over, so who cares if he takes a dozen penalties to even the score? There is simply no excuse for him not defending Sid at that moment. For those who have compared him to Tom Poti, well last night proves that is an apt comparison. I want him gone. Now. And to think, until now, I have actually been a Whitney defender. But I will not have gutless hockey players on my team.
GOLLUM: F. Once a cheap piece of crap, always a cheap piece of crap. I hope he gets suspended and misses the all star game.
TED NOLAN: F. Goon coach, plain and simple. Maybe THIS is why nobody would hire him. Maybe NHL GMs have more sense than to want a coach who does this kind of crap. I hope a Penguin shoots the puck at him the next time they play. He is the epitome of a jack-ass.
OFFICIALS: F. How can The Refs That DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Know the Rules (henceforth TRTDKR) get anything but an F? They seemed to alternate between calling everything and calling nothing. I defy anyone to watch to replay of SidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s penalty at the end of the second and find the infraction. Then they totally miss the spear by Gollum that should have led to a riot had the Pens had any cojones.
SIDNEY CROSBY: A. A 2-goal game with those lead weights as linemates is miraculous. He did have the one horrible play on the SHG, but man, did he work the boards and draw penalties! And I loved how he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just tap in the one rebound. He slammed it in, to make sure.
SERGEI GONCHAR: Incomplete. Did he even play? Somewhere, there is a milk carton with his picture on it. He went missing a couple weeks ago and hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been seen since.