Thoughts: Game 30 – Penguins vs Bruins

Pens 2 Bruins 1

Crosby (13) from Kunitz, Dupuis
Vitale (1) from Adams, Orpik

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  • Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis each missed on 3 shot attempts
  • Brooks Orpik led the team with 6 blocked shots and 7 hits (Kunitz/Adams next with 4 hits each)
  • The Pens had 8 takeaways (led by Kunitz and Martin with 2 each) in comparison to Boston’s 1
  • Kris Letang only played 7:03 before leaving the game with a lower body injury
  • Paul Martin picked up the load completely, playing 30:02

The Good

Tomas Vokoun: Vokoun (who the Pens now cheer on by using Blur – Song 2) had a great game, stopping 31 of 32 shots. He looked confident again and positioned himself high on the crease for most opportunities. After I mocked him for much of the season about this, he also demonstrated a vastly improved glove hand, specifically in that he actually caught most pucks. The only goal he allowed was from an uncovered Tyler Seguin who had a puck deflected to him, so there’s no blame on Vokoun for that. It looks like the goalie tandem is at 110% right now.

Paul Martin Andrew Ference Bruins

Paul Martin pins Andrew Ference to the boards in the 1st period. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Brandon Sutter: Though Sutter lost the puck a couple of times in the defensive zone, his overall play was fantastic all over the ice. He was more aggressive on the puck than usual and showed off great skill and awareness with his between the legs pass to Kennedy in the 3rd. As the game turned into a defensive struggle, Sutter’s best attributes came out and he was among the best on the ice in the 3rd period.

Paul Martin: Martin played a fantastic game as he picked up more minutes in Letang’s absence and finished with 30:02. He was especially strong in the latter 2 periods and played good physical defense along the boards. He even had some clutch stick lifts in front of Vokoun and a couple of takeaways to get the Pens out of their own zone. He looked very worthy of his top defender status after Letang left the game.

Craig Adams: Adams has improved his play remarkably over the past week and came up big with 4 hits and an assist against Boston. He led the team with 2:36 of shorthanded time and has been a big reason the PK has improved recently. His gap control has gotten much better and it has boosted both the 4th line and the PK quite a bit.


Kris Letang: Letang only played 7:03 before leaving the game with a lower body injury (right leg?) but had an iffy game before he even left. He had 2 giveaways in his own zone on one shift, but was lucky as Sutter made the proper defensive plays to take care of them. As usual, his offensive movement and even his forecheck (what?) was solid.

Brooks Orpik: Orpik had a relatively solid game on defense as he blocked 6 shots and threw 7 hits in the process. He stood up players at the blue line successfully, but had some problems when the puck stayed in the zone for a long period of time. The other thing that kept him from being a section higher was his delay of game penalty, where he managed to clear the puck over the glass from the left side boards over the right side boards.

The Bad

Defensive Zone Shifts: The Pens got caught on quite a few shifts in the defensive end that lasted a LONG time (greater than 30ish seconds). The Bruins are incredible at passing the puck around and the Pens didn’t help any as they got caught in a penalty kill look trying to keep up with puck movement. For all of the defensive zone shifts though, only one turned into a goal against (when Eaton cleared it right back to the Bruins) and the team generally did a good job of keeping the puck to the outside. Long shifts in the defensive zone will certainly turn into a lot of goals against on an average night though.

Misc. Thoughts

Joe Vitale goal Bruins

Jo Vitale dives to put a shot over Rask's glove. (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

Letang Injury: The only notes we have right now is that he has responded well but there is no timetable yet. It sounds like he may only miss a game or two if even that though. If Letang has to miss any time, that would likely turn Despres into a regular as Bortuzzo still cruises in the press box.

Secondary Scoring: Another game, another great effort from a line that isn’t the first. The 4th line (yes, even with Tanner Glass), had a pretty solid game and produced a great goal late in the 1st period thanks to Joe Vitale’s diving effort. If the Pens can get just one random goal from the 3rd or 4th lines in big matchups like this one, the sky is really the limit for this team.

Icing: How long until there is a rule about faceoffs after an icing? As usual, after an icing call, a player on the defensive team went into the faceoff circle for the sole purpose of getting kicked out to buy more time. Both the Pens and Bruins did it frequently (and every NHL team does it). While this is a great strategy under the rules, I wonder how long it will be until that is written out somehow.

Second Line: One thing I’m noticing at an increasing rate, especially dependent on what line Sutter plays with, is that James Neal is getting less and less space to work with on the 2nd line. It isn’t as bad when Sutter is out there with him, but a line of Bennett-Jeffrey-Neal turns into a shadow for Neal. No one needs Malkin in the lineup more than him, not even for the setups, but just for the sheer space that Malkin creates for everyone else.

Get the full Goal Assessment at CrosbyFTW.