Mad City Mike wrote:The game known as, what can you do?
OFFENSE: C. It was another blasÃƒÂ© day offensively, but what can you expect when you play this outfit, otherwise known as The Ruiners of Hockey (RoH). They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t manage to generate a whole lot of pressure, little transition, and only a couple good cycles. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about all you can expect against the RoH. Still, they did manage a decent number of opportunities, but just couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t put one by Stealer of His Sister-in-Law. Recchi alone had about four stellar chances. They hit two goalposts. This was Brodeur at his luckiest last night. Pucks were getting by him but going just wide, or stopping before the goal line. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to get Gary Roberts here, because then maybe he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually be able to see every single shot because we refuse to screen the goalie. The one shot of MalkinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that clanged the post was about a foot off target. It should have been aimed right at the dirty old manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clavicle. See how good the RoH are without him. Boy, wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it be nice to find out. All that having been said, however, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s now 3 goals in 3 games, and no 5-on-five goals in about 202 minutes of playing time. Totally unacceptable.
DEFENSE: A. Stellar game defensively. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow the RoH much at all, but then RoH arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t capable of doing anything exciting anyway. It was probably their best defensive effort since about halfway through the streak. They are getting back to basics and doing a better job of hiding the weak players on the back end. There really werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t any great second chances because the defense cleared any rebounds Fleury left. They mostly kept the RoH to the outside. If they can play anywhere near this level the rest of the year, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be fine.
POWER PLAY: B. It looked decent much of the night, generating a numerous (unscreened) chances by Gonchar as well as others by Recchi. They had good puck movement and players were rotating as well. Just couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get one by the old guy in goal. Again, I think Roberts can help here because he is so good at distracting goalies. And even (gasp!) touching them. It will be odd to see.
PENALTY KILL: F. The usual one PP goal against per game, and tonight it was the difference. We had Melichar playing a totem pole in front screening Fleury and letting Rupp do whatever he wanted with his stick. Put that one on the how-not-to reel along with most of his other play this year. And to think Shero didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go out and get a d-man. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll live to regret that one. The RoH had some other good chances on other power plays too. The penalty kill continues to stink out loud, Eaton or no Eaton. And nothing was done yesterday about that either. Cost them two points last night.
GOALTENDING: A. Have no fears, Marc Andre is back. Guess he just needed some time to clear his head. He was fantastic last night. He had zero chance on the only goal, as he was screened and it was deflected. Now, had he had BrodeurÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s luck, it would have been deflected wide. But he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Other than that, he looked very solid, much more under control. He did look like he cleared his head while sitting. There is a method to TherrienÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s madness after all. If he plays like this the rest of the year, the Pens will be fine.
OVERALL: B. For the first time this year, I break my rule that says they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get higher than a C if they lose. I thought the Pens played a very good game. It was all about Brodeur and dame fortune being against them. It was just one of those nights. You just knew they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to get anything past the guy. Watching it, there was just a sense of resignation. They did a lot of good things and actually outplayed the RoH. But the puck simply was not going to go in the net last night, no matter what. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like Lou the Devil made some kind of deal with the hockey gods or something.
LOU THE DEVIL: F. Because he is the head RoH. And because it is quite obvious he controls the refs through the mob. When you watch a RoH game, it is astounding how much they get away with that, as soon as the other team does it, they are called. You cannot tell me, just like Don Shula used to have control over NFL refs, that Lou the Devil isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pulling the strings.
STRIPED BUFFOONS: F. Okay, can somebody please explain to me how a guy can be tripped in the open on a partial breakaway and neither striped buffoon sees it? Classic. Then again, one of them was Brad Ã¢â‚¬Å“never met a rule book I readÃ¢â‚¬ï¿¾ Watson, so I guess it was to be expected.
RYAN MALONE: F. Hope you enjoyed your last game on the top line, Bozo. Last night made it obvious where Roberts will be placed.
MICHEL OUELLET: F. Hell, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tempting to try Laraque in his spot. Ouellet has entered slump time, which means heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be invisible for the next month or so. Missed the net again last night on a great chance.
GARY ROBERTS: A. Very impressed by him in the PC. Seems like a class guy. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just hope he has something left in the tank.
RAY SHERO: Incomplete. He had to be watching his supposed top-line wingers stumble around last night and wondering why he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get another one. Recchi had at least four glorious chances and couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bury one.
SIDNEY CROSBY: A. Pity the kid. He has to play with guys who simply cannot finish or, in MaloneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s case, even know where to be. This is why he canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score goals anymore. Teams are challenging him and taking away the shot, daring him to pass. They know that when he passes, they will end up with the puck after a failed scoring attempt or a whiff or a giveaway.
MCM, don't joke. Last night was different, but Malkin and Staal typically play about 12 minutes at even strength. I would try Laraque there. First of all, the guy was playing with Sopreykin all of the time and Perrault sometimes (plus with some pretty skilled guys in Edmonton). Second, I am sick and tired of watching Malkin have to spend so much time along the offensive zone boards supporting Staal because Ouellet can't cut it. Can you imagine Laraque and Staal working 2 on 2 along the boards? How many battles will they win? And, if the defense commits a third guy, that leaves Malkin in the middle of the ice 1 on 1 or a completely clean shot from the point. As a further point, this guy can forecheck and cycle. One of the clowns, before the game, noted something Doc Emerick said about going to Phoenix and the Devils giving Laraque so much room along the boards that you'd have thought the guy had a communicable disease. Third, how anxious would people be to try the cheap shots against Malkin and Staal with Laraque as a linemate? It may not be a solution, but it's definitely worth a look on Thursday.
By the way, last night was a simple lesson as to why Shero targeted Roberts. I see Malone as 3rd line LW on Thursday and EC centering Ruutu and Petro (I hope) but probably Ouellet to make us suffer.
Maybe this is why Shero didn't overpay for one defenseman. Maybe he figured that, if the Pens play their A offensive game, then they'll still need a little toughness and grit and that, if they don't, one defenseman really wouldn't make a difference.