Before today, the best 60 minutes of Paul Martin's Penguin career was his introductory press conference. Today, Martin and the rest of the defense set the tone with a complete 60-minute effort.
When that puck dropped, there were so many feels. If you were watching the game with someone, you couldn't help but stop and reflect to say, "We are watching a Pens game right now." Those feels began wearing off as the game progressed, and we all started to fall into the groove.
Less than 3 minutes in, the Pens got their first power play. Both Claude Giroux and Braydon Coburn interfered with Sid on some jobber dump, so one of them was going to get caught. Claude Giroux skated to the box, which was a crystal-clear admission of guilt on his part. The refs said nah, brah, it's on your boy Coburn.
The Pens' first unit swarmed but couldn't do shit. Second unit jumped on. We're all about Brandon Sutter, so we will point out every little thing he does well. But winning face-offs is no little thing. His face-off win led to a Paul Martin slapper from the point.
NHL scorekeepers are apparently adamant that Luke Schenn's stick doesn't exist. Clearly Paul Martin's goal, but it's been credited to Tyler Kennedy. Doesn't matter, but there is 20 bucks on the line.
Before you could look up, there was some fictional penalty on Dustin Jeffrey. Pens killed it, though. PK looked ready to perform.
Later, another face-off win directly led to another Pens goal. This time, it was the good ol' Neal Play™. Apparently it's unstoppable. 2-0.
In the new CBA, we apparently overlooked the new rule where you can't touch Wayne Simmonds, ever. Despres got in his way, which is a penalty, we gather. PK unit led by Sutter killed it.
Neal-Crosby-Malkin had a look late in the first. They were on a beast level. Suttertron went to the box for something, and that was killed, as well. Claude Giroux went down awful easy.
Pens looked to have a odd-man break up the ice late in the period. Only problem was that it was all reliant on Eric "Runt of the Litter" Tangradi being able to corral a loose puck. He couldn't do it and probably fell or something.
Quiet game for Crosby on the scoresheet, but he had a few really good chances. Looked laser-focus on his defensive game.
We all had a flashback early in the second when Giroux scored a goal on a rush to make it 2-1.
The play was easy to dissect. Orpik stood up at the Flyers' blue line and got caught:
Pens had numbers to protect against the Flyers. Kunitz was in prime position to break up the pass to the Giroux, but he tried to kick it. That's why he's listed on the roster with an "F" rather than a "D."
Later, Dupuis dropped his sac and beat out an icing that eventually led to a Pens PP. No dice on that.
The rest of the period was pretty much dull town. Pens had zero pressure. The Flyers had some momentum, but the Pens were in control of the situation, it felt.
The defense was night and day from last year's playoffs. Letang made ton of subtle plays avoiding contact in a good way. Despres was the surprise of the day. Absoluely solid all day.
Biggest moment of the third, other than the officials trying to fix the game, was Claud Giroux and an offsides play. Scott Hartnell attempted a home-run pass, and the puck somehow split Martin/Letang. Claude Giroux was all alone, and everyone's butthole was clenched. But hold the phone. Whistle blew. Giroux was offsides. It was the universe's payback for the missed offsides on Briere in last year's playoffs.
Pens couldn't get much going in the third, but they did finally get Brandon Sutter on Claude Giroux for a majority of the period. Matt Cooke generated a couple of scoring chances, but the Pens couldn't knock one home. Eric Tangradi had one decent shift, but for the most part, the second line looked bad with him on it.
With under five minutes to gom the officials decided to call unlimited penalties on the Penguins.
MAF rose to the occasion.
The first penalty on Engo came after James Neal was hauled down at one end of the ice. Engo simply stepped in front of Wayne Simmonds, and he was whistled.
-- A couple of trainwreck collisons in this game. The level of play was extremely high.
-- As we said, Paul Martin was fantastic in this game. Best game we've seen him play.
-- Suttertron lived up to the early hype. 8 for 14 in the faceoff circle.
-- Big-time minutes from Letang. Niskanen was all business, too.
-- Powerplay wasn't bad, either. Not too many negatives from today.
-- Tanner Glass seems okay.