OFFENSE: C. Despite the lopsided score, the Pens netted only one even strength goal. The forecheck was not nearly as aggressive as it had been against Atlanta, but it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to be once they got ahead. The Pens did generate some good chances, mainly against MacDonald, but couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bury them. It was a solid effort, but nothing spectacular. By virtue of the big lead, they were able to roll four lines, and all the lines looked good. So far, TherrienÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shuffle is looking a-okay.
DEFENSE: A-. Would have been an A, but they did allow a decent number of chances in the first period that Fleury had to be sharp on. But once they got ahead, they pretty much clamped down against a team that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to play anymore. The Bruins had basically no forecheck at all, and even Lange would have been hard-pressed to notice Savard out there. The Pens moved the puck quickly, had good coverage, and allowed few rebounds. It was a very impressive performance.
POWER PLAY: A. What can you say? The PP just buried the Bruins and broke their will. First goal, laser beam on a one-timer by Malkin. Why he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do that more often just baffles me. Second goal, another long shot that Crosby bunted in on a great play. His lecture to Chara on why it was a legit goal was priceless. Third goal, long blast by Roberts. Hmmm, three power play goals, three long shots. Think the coach told them to simplify and shoot from everywhere? Of course, this works much better with Roberts in front than with Recchi. Other teams donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry about the latter and can protect against the long shots. But with Roberts there causing havoc, they must put at least one body on him. That means somebody has to be open. Those somebodies were Malkin and Crosby yesterday. I like it when guys like that are open. It makes the power play click.
PENALTY KILL: A. They gave the Bruins virtually nothing. And they got a shorty, to boot. That was one beautiful play by Malone, but letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not forget the work of both Eaton and Staal that made it possible. Great clear by Eaton off the draw, winding it around the long way, and then a nice play by Staal to check the guy at the blueline and get it ahead to Malone. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t draw it up any better than that. The PK was strong all game, though, and really gave the Bruins little at all.
GOALTENDING: A. Tremendous game by Fleury. Take that and wrap it in your bandana, Kelly Hrudey. The rebound control was a bit suspect at times, but the defense cleared everything away, and the Bruins seemed to have little will to play in traffic. What tends to be forgotten in the avalanche of Penguin goals is that in the first 10 minutes, Fleury kept the BÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s off the scoreboard while it was still scoreless. During that time, Boston had the better of the chances. But they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dent Fleury, and eventually the Pens went to work on Thomas. It was nice to see him get the shutout so that he at least got some recognition for the job he did early on.
OVERALL: A. This one was pretty much a walk in the park against a demoralized team once they got up 3-0. Against non-playoff teams this time of year, you have to take away their reason to stay interested. The Pens did that. The Bruins lost any desire once they were down 3-0. I think their poor goaltending caused that, too. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficult to play hard when everything is going in your net. But the Pens did the job, too. They worked hard all game long, and really seemed to want the shutout for Fleury. It was great to have a game like this after all the close ones. For once, they could actually relax and have a bit of fun out there.
STRIPED BUFFOONS: F. If somebody can explain to me what the standards are right now, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d really appreciate it. After going several games where they called nothing, the whistles were out in this one. It was back to the early season. I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it. I mean, I know Brad Ã¢â‚¬Å“Know No RulesÃ¢â‚¬ï¿¾ Watson was one of the guys, but he was one the game before, too. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even get consistency when you have the same ref back to back? I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it. And, oh, by the way, that call on Malkin was one of the worst you will ever see. Guy goes to check him, Malkin shrugs it off, and gets called for roughing. If a ref (in this case it was Mr. Know No Rules again) canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make a simple call like this, why is he collecting a paycheck?
GARY ROBERTS: A. Of course. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even have to score to get an A, but when he pots 3 points, well, that is just off the charts.
SIDNEY CROSBY: A. Welcome back, Sid. He had some hop in this one, unlike the previous three games. I guess he decided Thornton would get no closer in the scoring race. Sid was all over the ice in this game, highlighted by a play on which he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score. Once again, he just gashed the defense at full speed, and only a lucky save by MacDonald (he had a few on them) prevented a highlight-reel goal.
NBC: B. Unlike many, I had no problem with them switching away from the Penguin game, because I understand what they were doing. Obviously, they should not have switched in Western PA, but for those of us elsewhere, fine, no problem. Hmmmmm, 5-0 game or 1-1 game. Which one would anyone except Penguin fans want to watch? Pretty easy choice when you look at it like that. And, oh, by the way, the Isle/Ranger game was a great one.
ANNOUNCING CREW: A I love these three guys together, especially with McGuire between the benches. They work well together and are comical. I especially loved when Emrick misidentified Ryan Malone as Greg, then was joking about it. Then the puck rolls in on Fleury and he says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“stopped by Les Binkley.Ã¢â‚¬ï¿¾ The best way to react to a mistake is to make fun of yourself, and he did it perfectly there.
SERGEI GONCHAR: A. He was into this game, unlike some other recent ones where he seemed to be in the stratosphere. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amazing how good the PP can look when he is weaving his magic at the blueline.
MARK RECCHI: C. At least heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still trying. But just retire, already. When you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hit an open net from a foot away, well, there is no hope whatsoever for you.