Thoughts: Game 34 – Penguins vs Canadiens

Published on March 27th, 2013

Pens 1   Habs 0

Goals
Crosby (15) from Kunitz, Orpik

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Stats

  • Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots and Tomas Vokoun stopped 12 shots to combine for a 37 save shutout
  • Sidney Crosby led the team with 6 shots (Kunitz next with 4)
  • Paul Martin had 3 blocked shots
  • Brooks Orpik had 6 hits
  • James Neal had 2 takeaways
  • Dustin Jeffrey was 4/13 in faceoffs (Crosby was 11/26, Sutter 11/19)
  • Beau Bennett had the least ice time at 7:52

The Good

Marc-Andre Fleury injury

Fleury gets his neck checked out towards the end of the 2nd period. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Marc-Andre Fleury: After an early puck-handling gaffe, Fleury was great in 2 periods of shutout hockey.  Unfortunately, it ended at that when he left the game with an injury ranging from knee to neck to head.  He faced 25 shots over 2 periods though and held the team together when Montreal got some significant offensive zone pressure.  It should be noted Fleury did benefit from 2 very quick whistles on pucks that weren’t covered too.  The last time he allowed an even strength goal was March 14th against Toronto – kinda insane.

Tomas Vokoun: Vokoun did a fantastic job in relief for Fleury to finish the combined shutout.  He stopped all 12 shots he faced.  The Pens were frequently pinned in their own zone but Vokoun was up to the task, even moving well laterally for a toe save.  Vokoun might need to stay in this column for a while if Fleury misses significant time.

Brooks Orpik: Orpik continued to elevate his play as he has over the past week with another hard-hitting game.  He finished with 6 hits and a secondary assist on the only goal of the game.  Even more impressive than his hitting though was his stick work below the circles and around the crease in the defensive zone. He had quite a few timely stick lifts and poke checks which kept Montreal to the perimeter a lot.

Noteworthy

Matt Cooke: Cooke generally had a good game and looked strong on the PK and in the defensive end.  He was an absolute idiot at the start of the 3rd period when he went after Gionta though.  It makes sense that he wanted to fight Gionta for what happened to Fleury at the end of the 2nd, but as soon as Gionta declines and skates away – that has to end.  Instead Cooke continued on to take a roughing penalty in a 1-0 game where Vokoun hadn’t even faced a shot yet.  Luckily, the PK and Vokoun took care of it.  Cooke has to be smarter than that, regardless of any message he’s trying to send.

The Bad

Dustin Jeffrey: Jeffrey is starting to get a bit frustrating on the second line.  He’s getting some GREAT chances and wasting them completely.  He continues to pass up good shooting opportunities to pass the puck (this time forcing a pass to Morrow that shockingly did not make it through 2 defensemen) and his faceoff numbers (4/13) are moving towards the liability region.  Neal has done a good job of creating space for Jeffrey the past 2 games, he better use it soon.

Misc. Thoughts

Michel Therrien Soff

Therrien looks up at the big screen with a nice reminder of his most notable press conference behind him. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Therrien’s Return: It was very nice to see Therrien get a solid round of applause and a tribute video from the Penguins last night.  For as badly as things went when he was fired, he taught a lot to a very young team and they still have those lessons today.  You can tell he’s doing the same with Montreal now as they play a smart, disciplined, simple game.

Letang’s Return: Well, Letang’s return went well briefly and then went awry.  There are rumors that he re-aggravated his undisclosed lower body injury and that he has a broken toe as well.  He was placed on the IR again which means he’s going to miss at least 3 games, probably a bunch more.  I had initially written down that he looked uncomfortable during most of the game…well, that explains it.

Fleury Injury: By most accounts, it sounds like Fleury has a sore neck and the Pens have not recalled a goalie (yet) so that *could* be a good sign.  If he is out, I would expect Thiessen to be recalled (Zatkoff is playing better as of late, but Thiessen has been here before for a stretch run before).  All hail Ray Shero for signing Tomas Vokoun.

Morrow’s Debut: Brenden Morrow played 12:55 in his debut, recording 1 hit and nothing else in the way of stats.  In his postgame interview, he said he was a bit tired after the travel day, so I’m sure you will see a little more out of him in the future.  The biggest thing I noticed about Morrow in his Penguins debut was that he uses his energy very judiciously.  There is very little in terms of wasted movement, skating, or effort.  He knows where to go, and was more sound defensively than I was expecting (or he was too slow to get ahead of the puck, who knows).  He did also draw a penalty, so it was a nice debut for Morrow.

Montreal’s Time of Possession: One thing to be concerned about is Montreal’s significant offensive zone time and the way they worked the puck around the Penguins.  That being said, the Pens did a great job of keeping shots to the outside and the puck to the perimeter in general.  Still, the long shifts that Montreal had are the ones that usually produce goals against a tired defense.  With 37 shots in total, both the defense and goalie would normally get worn down.  I even wonder if Vokoun coming in was actually a boost for the Pens in that situation.  The crease/slot defense is great, now the clears have to improve next.

Line Combinations: As Jeffrey wears out my patience, I’m ready to see Sutter move up to the second line until Malkin returns.  It would probably be a bigger boost to Neal and Morrow in the short term as well.  I really liked the idea of using Crosby as a faceoff man for offensive zone faceoffs when the 4th line was out.  With Vitale not in the lineup, Crosby and Sutter were the only “dependable” faceoff guys (and even Crosby didn’t have a good night), so that is certainly the next place to look for an acquisition.  A 4th liner who can play PK and take faceoffs would make this team complete as far as I’m concerned.

Get the full Goal Assessment at CrosbyFTW.

Also, check out the Morrow & Murray Trade Thoughts.

 

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