In a game that was likely the last of the unbeaten streakÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
OFFENSE: A. They netted three goals against a team that is at least decent defensively. They had a great cycle game going most of the night and generally kept Chicago bottled up. Once again, a fourth-line goal by Petrovicky got them going. Boy, has he been important lately! The goal Ouellet scored was weak on KhabibulinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part, but was nonetheless a twisted wrister. Then, in the third when they inexplicably fell behind, Therrien put Malkin and Crosby together and, bingo, game tied. It sure is nice to have that option. Sid looked like he had a bit more hop in this one, but was still unable to score. The only troubling part is once again they got a lead and looked like they backed off, and for the third straight game, it spelled disaster.
DEFENSE: F. Some really comical play in this one, highlighted by the Orpik-inspired 3-on-none. Good lord, what was he thinking there? Whitney was not blameless, either, as he jumped ahead way too soon. As Steigy said, how many times do you see a three on none? Just hideous. This pair was also burned on the last Chicago goal, allowing a breakaway (albeit one aided by the striped buffoons) in a tie game. Maybe these two still had the Beanpot on their brains? But, speaking of hideous, how about the incredibly lazy play by Gonchar and Whitney on the shorty? They both just stood their with their eyes glazed over watching the play as the puck came out front where it was banged in. It was a horrible night for Whitney, who was on for every goal.
POWER PLAY: D. For the most part, early on it looked lazy and uninspired. As the game progressed, they did generate some decent chances, but not a lot. ChicagoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kill was very aggressive, and the Pens didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t adjust to that. They have trouble against teams that attack them. On numerous occasions, they were guilty of overpassing trying to set up the perfect shot, and they ended up getting nothing. They rarely won battles for loose pucks in ChicagoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end on the PP, and thus they had trouble maintaining any pressure.
PENALTY KILL: C. The battle of the irresistible force (their 30th-ranked PP) versus the immovable object (the PensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ bottom-dwelling PK) was a draw. As usual, the goal came on a rebound where a guy was wide open. Not surprisingly, I think it was where Whitney should have been. But, as Steigy said the other day, the PK just keeps leaking oil. This needs to improve drastically if they hope to make the playoffs. They did end up even by scoring a shorty, however, so that was a plus.
GOALTENDING: B. The only goal Fleury could be faulted on was the first one, where he was slow to react to the carom off the back boards. Other than that, he really had no chance. Three-on-none, rebound to a wide open guy, and a breakaway caused by too many men not being called. He was rarely called upon to make the big save, but did so at the start of the OT with two unbelievable saves. Then he shut the Hawks out in the shootout. While I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say he stole this one, he played solidly while being hung out to dry by Comedy Central.
OVERALL: C. Another game, another blown 2-goal lead. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting to be a habit. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a good thing they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t playing good teams right now. But the schedule is about to change. Play the way they have the last week, and the playoffs are a pipe dream. Once you get bad teams like Philly and Chicago down by two, you have to bury them, not rally to tie it late. They have lost any confidence they had in protecting a lead. They are playing like a team that is full of themselves. This happens to many teams at the end of winning streaks. They forgot what got them where they are and start getting sloppy. It is almost inevitable. It is going to take a few losses to wake them up to what theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing wrong. Or playing good teams, which starts Friday against the Devils. They are doing what they need to by gaining two points against these bad teams, but the warning signs are there and have thus far gone unheeded.
STRIPED BUFFOONS: F. The usual. Now they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even count. The Hawks had like a hundred guys on the ice for their last goal, and these clowns couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even count to six.
EFFORT: F. It just wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there in this game. The Hawks won all the little battles. The Pens right now are a team that thinks they can get by on their skill alone. It has been working, but sooner or later, it will bite you.
MAX TALBOT: A. Great move on the shorty to recognize that Havlat was the guy back and just wheel around him. One thing they need to do more on the PK is attack like this when thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a forward back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“SHOOT THE PUCK!Ã¢â‚¬ï¿¾: A. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how many times I yelled this after they tried to make that one extra perfect pass. They need to simplify and shoot, then get rebounds. Then Malkin leads a 3-on-1 and inexplicably shoots from the circle. Go figure. Heads not in the game?
DUNCAN KEITH: A. Wow, he was everywhere. He is the best looking unproductive player (and I should know since heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on my fantasy team) I have seen since Konstantin Koltsov.
TUOMO RUUTU: A. I know heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not available, but wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it be nice to unite him with his brother and then play him with Sid. He is Ryan Malone with talent and grit. He would be a perfect left wing for Crosby.
COLBY ARMSTRONG: C. Great hit by Colby. Too bad it was on his own guy. What a horrible year heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s having. Nothing seems to go right for him.