Thoughts: Game 40 – Bruins defeat Pens 3-2 in OT on questionable goal

By: Meesh Shanmugam

Here’s a link to the Postgame Thoughts archive, in case you want to catch up on what you may have missed.

Bruins 3  Pens 2 (OT)

Record: 24-10-6

Goals
Bennett (2) from Malkin, Despres
Malkin (18) from Ehrhoff

Click here to read the goal assessments

Gm 40 - Goals

Penalties
Martin (tripping) – Careless (tries to reach between Marchand’s legs to get the puck but pushes Marchand’s skate and takes him down)
Ehrhoff (holding) – Unnecessary (wraps his arm under Krejci’s arm and holds him back as they work for a loose puck in the corner)

Notable Players

Forwards

Gm 40 - Forwards

Evgeni Malkin – If you’re choosing the Penguins MVP right now, it’s probably a two-horse race between a goalie and a skater. That skater is not Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin continued with his attempts to carry the team by setting up Beau Bennett for the first goal of the game and scoring on a vicious slapshot to start off the 3rd period. It wasn’t enough for the Penguins, but there’s no question that Geno is doing his part. It wasn’t a perfect game for him either with a couple of neutral zone giveaways, three lost pucks, and a mistake on the first goal against, but he easily paced the team’s offense. The second line was dynamic all night and Malkin is easily the most trustworthy and consistent player on this team right now.

Geno for Hart? (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Geno for Hart? (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Bryan Rust – Though Rust struggles to finish what he creates, he did help Sutter and Kunitz get some chances on the third line at least. He had a couple of pass interceptions and a couple of broken-up plays to get the 3rd line moving forward when they seemed to stall at times. Sutter did not have a particularly good night in the defensive end, but Rust always seemed to be in position to support him when necessary. With more guys returning from illnesses and injuries, Rust’s time in the NHL is probably coming to an end soon for at least a little while. He’s definitely done enough to show that he has some NHL potential though.

David Perron – Perron couldn’t find the back of the net or push the first line to a goal in his second game as a Penguin, but he’s showing positive signs that will hopefully unleash the first line and Crosby soon. He had five shots on net, drew a penalty, and seamlessly shifted around the offensive zone on the powerplay to create some nice looks and chances. It’s easy to see (and understandable) that he’s not used to the quickness of Crosby’s passes or how random they may seem at times, but I was pleased with the fact that he still accepted and took control of those passes with ease. They may not have been one-timer goals this time around, but as that timing improves, expect to see more finishes like in his debut. Acquiring Perron this early in the season so he can adapt to Crosby may have been the smartest thing Rutherford has done for this roster.

Defensemen/Goalies

Gm 40 - Defense

Paul Martin – Martin had a fairly solid return and didn’t appear to miss a beat after missing several games with an injury. He had two defensive zone takeaways, a forced turnover, and a broken-up play in the defensive zone to pace the defense in terms of good plays. Meanwhile, he only lost one puck on defense. He did take a careless tripping penalty behind the Penguins net, but that still leaves him with one of the more successful injury returns we’ve seen on this team. It will be extremely beneficial to the rest of the defense to have Martin eating up big minutes again before fatigue starts taking out the others.

Robert Bortuzzo – Bortuzzo showed some improvement in this game compared to his previous two, but there’s still work to be done. He had two lost coverages, including the one on Lucic that led to Bergeron’s goal. On that play, Bortuzzo did a nice job of keeping Lucic to the outside, but then he attempted two poke checks and missed on both, which allowed Lucic to keep moving to the corner so he could get a pass to the front of the net before Bortuzzo hit him. That’s a scenario where you expect (and need) Bortuzzo to shove the guy along the boards to end the play. I liked what he showed in the offensive zone with a couple of low, deflectable shots and I thought his decision making was a little better in terms of jumping into the play, but he’s still not playing his best hockey overall yet. Improvement is good though.

Bort *should* be better than allowing a guy like Lucic past him. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Bort *should* be better than allowing a guy like Lucic past him. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Christian Ehrhoff – Though it wasn’t as bad as the Montreal game, Ehrhoff put together another shaky performance and I wonder if some of that was due to joining Bortuzzo’s pairing again. He had a defensive zone giveaway, a failed clear, two lost pucks, and two lost coverages in the defensive zone. Though Ehrhoff has certainly had a defensive issue or two at times during this season, they never showed up in bunches until recently. He was partially at fault for a goal against and he also took an unnecessary holding penalty as he was losing Krejci in the corner. With Ehrhoff performing below his usual levels, the defense suddenly looks a little shakier than expected until he snaps out of it.

Misc. Thoughts

Lines & Injury Returns – I was surprised to see Bennett and Sutter broken up based on the chemistry that they have shown, but there’s no real argument against it when the move gives Malkin a legitimate winger. Malkin and Bennett (and Spaling) worked great together throughout the night as Malkin received at least a little bit of the talent he should have on his wing. I still don’t understand Kunitz playing with Sutter, but this was a positive step at least. On to the defense, Paul Martin’s return led to Harrington getting sent to the AHL and Pouliot sitting in the press box for the 2nd game in a row. I was displeased about Pouliot not playing last game and this certainly didn’t change my thoughts. Younger defensemen need to get their minutes and the Penguins could easily sit Bortuzzo, Scuderi, or even Sill for a 7th defenseman to get Pouliot more NHL playing time. Either play him in the AHL or play him in the NHL, but don’t make him sit anywhere.

More Powerplay Thoughts – The powerplay looked livelier at times with some better shot selections, more possession, and better movement and support overall. Of course, that didn’t lead to a goal. Even without a goal though, I did feel like the powerplay was moving in the right direction and should improve even further as Perron gets used to his new teammates. Mind you, any group of 5 guys should be doing better than what the Penguins have done, but it’s a glimmer of hope at least. I would still love to see more low shots with pass-off-the-pads type intentions and men crashing the net, but I’m tired of harping on that, so let’s just hope shot accuracy skyrockets.

Allowed/Disallowed Goals – At the end of the game, two calls loomed large. The disallowed goal on Adams after Sill was basically pushed into Rask and the allowed goal on Bergeron’s curiously positioned stick. I didn’t think either call was the right one, but let’s face it – those calls are extremely difficult to figure out in real-time. Complaining about the refs being bad every night and then being shocked when they’re bad every night is just a weird cycle at this point. The Adams no-goal was a pretty self-explanatory miss; Sill was pushed towards the net and it’s not a reviewable play. We have Kunitz, so we’ve all seen it happen on more than a few occasions. As for the Bergeron goal, no matter what anyone says after the fact – that call was going to stand as it was called on the ice no matter what. We don’t get to see all of the angles that Toronto gets to see and Bergeron was swinging his stick in an area where every millisecond made a difference for his stick height (so don’t show me before and after screencaps). Logic suggests it was a high stick with the puck moving downward into the net, but logic rightly or wrongly has no place in reviews (do you trust bad refs with logic anyways?). Based purely on the rules, I was fine with the goal call because that’s how it was called on the ice. That call on the ice isn’t supposed to be made based on where Bergeron is holding his stick, it’s supposed to be made based on where the refs think Bergeron made contact. If that’s what they thought, good for them. It’s one lost point in a game that the Penguins dominated. Welcome to the perils of dominating a game but letting the opponent get to OT. Maybe they will learn to score on the powerplay so they don’t put themselves in such a position.

High stick? Inconclusive? Where's the ref with the essay explanations? (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

High stick? Inconclusive? Where’s the ref with the essay explanations? (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

Adams at Practice – With the late post, I get to talk about the fact that Adams is apparently going crazy in practice again. It was reported today that Adams crushed Malkin in a special teams drill and then hit Pouliot hard in his surgically repaired shoulder later in practice. News came out that Crosby talked to Adams after the sequence of events as well. I don’t really take a lot from this except that maybe Adams is trying to draw attention in practice since he’s unable to in games. He’s on the cusp of losing a roster spot and he has to know that, so how else is he going to get attention? That being said, I can’t imagine the Penguins will care much for this method of getting attention based on the injury history of the roster this season. Adams is acting like a desperate veteran and I don’t think he’s wrong in thinking that way. That way of thinking probably only hurts his case though, so we’ll see how long this lasts.

Articles to Read – Finally, here were a couple of really good links from today.
Three Periods: Crosby’s great goal slump; Perron trades up; NHL notes” from Nick Cotsonika
and
Family loss shows Parise and Suter made the right decision in 2012” from Josh Cooper.

Next Game: 1/10 @ Montreal, 7pm

Thanks for reading!