It seems a bit unrealistic that the Penguins were able to win this game.
Here was the bottom six:
Tanner Glass - Nicholas Drazenovic - Craig Adams
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Zach Sill - Deryk Engelland
And the Pens won anyway. It is almost like Shero and Bylsma are seeing how terrible they can make the lineup and still keep winning. That obviously isn’t what’s happening, but it sure seems like it.
A win like this begs a lot of questions:
1. Are the Capitals that bad?
Dear God. Yes. The Caps should’ve had this game in the bag. But they made a ton of horrible mistakes and let the Pens hang around. The Penguins are now 18 points ahead of them in the standings. Jesus.
2. Is the "system" more important than the players?
Beginning to think so. It may not matter who is on the third and fourth lines anymore. Think about how many fucking players the Penguins have used on those lines. It doesn't seem to make any difference. Hell, even on the second line, once he settled in, Taylor Pyatt was starting to look like a poor man’s Ryan Malone. WHAT IS HAPPENING??
3. Speaking of the bottom six…
Did we see the last of Brandon Sutter on the third line for a while? Sutter has been stuck on the third line with trolls all season. Meanwhile, in his first game on the wing with Crosby, he was noticeable in the offensive zone for maybe the second or third time this entire season. The guys in WB/S can’t score goals, so they should probably be able to handle third-line centering duties without a problem. And Beau Bennett can’t walk out of his house without getting injured.
4. A secret lies with Jacques Martin
Jacques Martin could be the secret in all of this. Remember that his Montreal Canadiens’ upset of the Penguins four years ago started the playoff flame-outs. Maybe Martin has been able to show Bylsma a blueprint on how to beat himself.
All we know is every time we wait for the bottom to fall out, it doesn't. The Penguins just keep winning.
Word broke that James Neal wasn't in warm-ups. So an even worse lineup was in the works.
Pretty much all Crosby running around
Let's see. Crosby did several things.
- Almost scored on an impossible turn-around backhand less than a minute in.
- Set up Kunitz on a mini breakaway later than Kunitz could only get a backhand out of.
- Drew the game’s first penalty.
The Penguins had a power play. Things were looking good, then this happened:
An errant Letang breakout pass resulted in a 2-on-1, and the Caps were up 1-0 with a shorthanded goal.
Pierre McGuire was very critical of Letang after the play. Being that ROOT Sports broadcasts only involve jiggling the Penguins’ balls, this came as a shock to a lot of people. These are the kind of mistakes Letang makes all the time. The coaching staff can live with it, so everyone else probably should, too.
Caps killed the rest of that penalty then had a PP of their own. That penalty felt like it lasted 5 minutes, but the Pens killed it.
The whole period was about the Pens not being able to get ahold of any rebounds given up by Neuvirth.
The Letang Conundrum
This is what Kris Letang does.
The Caps were circling in the Pens’ zone for pretty much the entire first half of the period. MAF made some good saves. Then the Caps made a mistake, giving the Pens numbers the other way. Everybody touched the puck, Crosby made just a slight but ever so sick pass, and Letang came cruising in. Hit a couple sticks and got through Neuvirth. 1-1.
This is how it is always going to be with Letang. Giant mistake, big goal. That is acceptable to the Penguins’ management team. Again, it’s something everyone just has to get used to.
It was super happy fun time until the Caps took the lead again. Nasty passing.
Then it was super happy fun time again when Maatta came in with patience and fed Pyatt when he freed up just enough for a one-timer. 2-2.
Seems bizarre to say, but Taylor Pyatt actually played a half-decent game.
The trials and tribulations of Evgeni Malkin
Malkin has struggled with composure recently. He took some bad penalties on the road trip, and after an Ovechkin slash got him all jammed up, he took two bad penalties in the third.
The first penalty actually created a 4-on-4. For some reason, the Penguins put Letang out at wing. No clue.
Orpik knocked Ovechkin’s stick out his hand, but A.O. recovered, picked up his stick, and buried one past MAF. 3-2.
Malkin then drew a penalty, only to take a penalty 2 seconds later.
And just when it looked like the game was slipping away, Brandon Sutter undressed a Capitals player and found Jussi Jokinen in front. 3-3.
But Olli Maatta had other plans. The Finnish Pound House teamed up with Malkin after Malkin went nuts coming out of the box. He found Maatta. Shot on net. 4-3.
The Caps weren’t gonna tie it.
-- Sutter showed no signs of slowing down after 20 minutes of ice time. Looks like he's playing with a new purpose.
-- 5 points from Pens defensemen.
-- Olli Maatta.
-- That PL3 guy is a pyschopath
-- Pics: AP/Getty