Thoughts: Game 45 – Penguins vs Senators

Pens 3  Senators 1

Jeffrey (3) from Morrow, Dupuis
Iginla (13) from Morrow, Jeffrey
Kennedy (6) from Cooke

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Stat Leaders

Shots: Iginla (5)
Blocks: Murray & Cooke (3)
Hits: Adams (7)
Takeaways: Dupuis (2)
Ice Time: Niskanen (23:37) … MacIntyre (4:31)
Faceoffs: Jeffrey (9/12) … Sutter (8/21)

The Good

Brenden Morrow Goal Celebration

Watching Morrow high 5 the bench has become commonplace. (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Dustin Jeffrey: Jeffrey had played in just one of the previous ten games and had absolutely no assurance that he would play again this season after Ray Shero did his magic.  Due to a rash of injuries though, Jeffrey received his chance and made good on it with an eye-opening 2 point performance.  DJ just made the healthy scratches that much more difficult as he produced a goal and an assist, went 9/12 in the faceoff circle, and was very strong in the defensive zone in the 3rd period.  He certainly didn’t look like a guy who has played sparingly this year.

Brenden Morrow: Morrow continues to produce at an unexpected rate, adding another two assists to his point total tonight.  He has developed a significant amount of chemistry with all of his new teammates, best demonstrated by his absurd pass to Jarome Iginla on the 2nd goal of the game.  He is also showing the ability to handle a decent amount of minutes as he played over 16 in this game.  The lone black mark on his game was a tripping penalty that led to the Senators’ only goal, but Morrow is still exceeding his expected value by a lot.

Tomas Vokoun: Vokoun put together another strong start and earned his 300th career win in his 700th career game.  He stopped 34 of 35 shots and is displaying unprecedented confidence in his game.  Even when he’s out of position, he’s able to make saves, but he’s generally in great position and coming way out to challenge shooters.  The only time Ottawa could beat him was on a powerplay when Vokoun was screened by Murray so he couldn’t make a decent attempt at the save.  Vokoun may not receive another start until next season, but he demonstrated he’s ready if necessary.

Deryk Engelland: Engelland played more PK than usual with Eaton, Letang, and Martin all out and he put together a very solid effort against the Senators.  He used his reach very well, was careful not to get beat to the inside, and generally played smart hockey all night.  He even showed a sliver of offensive prowess on a rush up ice that drew a tripping penalty on the Senators.  Engelland is starting to play his best hockey at the right time.


Tyler Kennedy: Kennedy didn’t do anything wrong in this game but he certainly could have done more right.  In the positive column, he scored the 3rd goal for the Pens and also drew a penalty.  In the negative column, he missed a wide open net (rolling puck, but still shootable), and frequently put his line offside.  Hopefully the goal wakes Kennedy up, but chances are that it will be enough for Bylsma to keep him in the lineup while he still underperforms.

Brandon Sutter: Sutter played an okay game but is still not playing his best hockey by any means.  I will continue to harp on the fact that he looks much worse with Kennedy and Cooke than anyone else on the team.  He was awful at faceoffs (8/21) and had a couple of defensive lapses that aren’t normal for his game.  On the plus side, he did draw a penalty and looked strong with the puck, but Sutter’s defensive game is what I care about and what needs to get back on track.

Matt Niskanen: The more Niskanen plays, the worse he looks.  I would love to see a split of his performances when he plays more than or less than 21 minutes.  Against Ottawa, he played 23:37, took a hooking penalty, and had an awful giveaway in the defensive zone on the powerplay.  Niskanen is a solid 2nd pair defenseman, but doesn’t appear to be capable of playing consistent hockey with first pairing minutes.  He will get back on track as soon as Letang or Martin returns.

The Bad

Steve MacIntyre Chris Neil

What did MacIntyre accomplish in this game exactly? (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Steve MacIntyre: Final stat line on MacIntyre: 2 hits, 12 PIM, 7 shifts, 4:31 ice time.  Was he a deterrent?  No, probably not.  Bortuzzo ended up in a fight and MacIntyre ended up with an extra 2 minutes for being the 3rd man into Orpik and Neil’s shoving match.  He served no purpose in a game with a lot of bad blood and anger.  That basically means he serves no purpose on the NHL roster ever.

Misc. Thoughts

Resting Veterans: I was very happy to see Eaton get the game off and hopefully Kunitz, Dupuis, Orpik, and maybe a couple of others can get some time off as well.  The added benefit to resting the veterans is that it gives the younger players a chance to get into game shape and perform.  Bortuzzo and Despres looked good and Engelland played very well with the extra minutes.  Meanwhile, Jeffrey looked like an all-star with his chance in the lineup.  This could be very beneficial if any of these players are needed in the playoffs.

Officiating: The officiating was garbage.  I marked down at least 5 missed calls (3 for the Pens, 2 for the Sens), including a high stick, holding, and what used to be a boarding penalty.  I will never ever believe in conspiracy theories when it comes to referees, but the overall level of officiating has been dismal this year.  There is no way the best refs in the world should be this bad/inconsistent or it’s time to start hiring from the KHL.

Despres Hit: To be completely honest, I wasn’t satisfied with the angles Root had for Neil’s hit on Despres.  While Neil undoubtedly extended his forearm/elbow into his face, I wasn’t as sure about the point of initial contact for the hit.  I certainly wouldn’t expect any supplemental discipline.  It was also absurd that Adams got 4 for roughing and Neil received 2 for charging.  It should have been 2 and 2 at worst, not a powerplay for Ottawa.

Random Notes:

  • Dan Bylsma recorded his 200th career win in 316 games, the quickest a coach has ever hit that mark.  While that is certainly impressive, I refuse to call him the greatest coach in the world.  He came into the league with a team that had just gone to the Stanley Cup Final and has had a talented roster and an amazing GM helping him the whole way.  Bylsma is a solid coach, but we still have to see what he does in the playoffs this year.
  • Douglas Murray has a very strong ability to anticipate the flow of the play.  For as slow as he is, his anticipation is his key to success.  Look for it next game, he’s a very smart guy and is well ahead of most players in reading the play.  It’s the biggest reason he can get away with subpar skating.
  • 2 too many men penalty in this game = 2 too many
  • The chemistry that all of the new guys have in this system is really something special.  That Morrow to Iginla pass was unreal.

Get the full Goal Assessment at CrosbyFTW.