If All-State named its insurance plans, everyone would be ordering the Paul Martin Plan. Martin got off to a rough start this series, but his performance in the third period and overtime of Game 3 may have saved the game and, in fact, the series.
Kris Letang has been putrid (by Letang standards) in this series. With Orpik out, it looks like Letang is trying to do way too much. You don't have to go down on every Penguins player all the time. You can admit that Kris Letang hasn't played his best in this series.
Matt Niskanen was good (and has been good all season). That scrap with Okposo seems to have spanked him up a little bit.
Deryk Engelland has been Deryk Engelland.
Simon Despres looks like a guy in a highly visible and crucial role experiencing his first playoff series.
The armor that Mark Eaton has been wearing all season got dented in Game 3.
Douglas Murray has been on his own island. We'll be discussing Murray in a separate post.
But this post belongs to Paul Martin. Here are four potentially game-saving plays Martin made in Game 3:
With a healthy line-up, Jarome Iginla would likely play alongside Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Evgeni Malkin would play with James Neal and Chris Kunitz. Those combinations have proven successful in the past. There's no doubt that Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have great chemistry with one another and Chris Kunitz played well alongside them last season. Crosby and Dupuis also have good chemistry with one another and, in the brief moments that they've played together, Crosby and Iginla seem to gel pretty well. Yes, Chris Kunitz also fits in very well in with Crosby and Dupuis, but that puts Jarome Iginla on a line with Evgeni Malkin.
Maybe that's not the best combination.
Both Jarome Iginla and Evgeni Malkin are incredibly talented players. This is not a post that is meant to knock their ability or their performance during the playoffs. They've both picked up a lot of points in this series. However, they've also received a lot of attention from the Islanders defense and checkers. In addition, they may not be the right two players for one another. With James Neal out with an injury, they've played together and it's looked off. Malkin's style and Iginla's style do not seem to mesh.
The Penguins "stunning" depth looked outmatched by the Islanders top-nine today, as they were outchanced 21-12 and recorded only eight scoring chances at even strength. I don't care how talented your lineup is, this kind of offensive production isn't going to cut it in the playoffs even if they advance out of the first round. Yet, despite having such a low offensive output, the Pens were able to beat Nabokov five times and convert on a little under half of their scoring chances. Whether you want to chalk it up to a strong power play, luck, "killer instinct," "efficiency" or brutal goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov is up to you, but the Pens seemed to have the golden touch whenever they shot the puck today for whatever reason
Interesting look from a neutral party.
After the jump, haters hating, and the Montreal/Ottawa series is out of control.
Michael Jordan had the ball. The game was on the line. He drove to the free-throw line, stepped back on Byron Russell. Iconic moment in NBA history. Even if you don't like the NBA, you remember that play.
Now imagine, directly after that, some marginal NBA player and a horrible former GM got on National TV and said, "Jordan pushed off; that is embarrassing. That is a soft no-call."
Maybe that is a little extreme. Imagine if Lebron James got himself fouled and won the game at the free-throw line. Would the NBA studio hosts go on to call Lebron James a diver? A fraud? The face of their league, the best player in the world. Would they?
On Sunday, Sidney Crosby made this play:
Game on the line, playing with a mask that makes him look like Master Shredder. Crosby got a matchup he liked, drove to the net, and drew a penalty. The Pens went on to score the game-winning goal on the ensuing powerplay. (Oh, by the way, Crosby assisted on it.)
National TV game. Broadcast over. Internet buzzing. They throw it back to the studio, and we get this:
Wow. Crosby went down a little too easy, we hear?
If that was Lebron James driving down the lane late in OT, getting fouled and winning the game at the free-throw line, the studio would love it. The brilliance of the play would be celebrated, not mocked.
The NBA celebrates that. But, no, the NHL puts two hacks on NBC, and they tell a national audience the best player in their game is a diver.
Even if Crosby dove (he didn't; he drew a penalty), why say that? Now"the "casual fan" thinks Crosby is a diver. Well done.
The NHL has four to five times a year to get to a casual fan. Now they let Jeremy Roenick and some hack former GM make their game look like a joke. How dumb is it that NBC will show unlimited commercials featuring Crosby throughout the playoffs, but you've already branded him as soft and called him a diver?
And, hey, we're not saying that people shouldn't speak their minds, but how about someone that can actually do so without undermining your entire league? The NBA studio shows do it. But, no, the NHL would rather have Mike Milbury troll Sidney Crosby and even Alex Ovechkin. They'd rather have Jeremy Roenick go to Twitter and taunt fanbases.
NBC has a small window to sell their game and players. They failed once again on Sunday.
There were three races this past weekend: the Kentucky Derby, the Pittsburgh Marathon, and this hell show on the Isle. It was bad when the Islanders went up 2-0 early. It got better when the Pens answered that by actually getting out of the first period with the lead. And then when the Islanders tied it up at 4 down the homestretch in the third, you knew the only chance the Pens had to pull this out is if they got the game to overtime.
And, shit, that hill in overtime was tough. But with the game on the line, Sidney Crosby did what he needed to do. It's like MJ bulling his way to the basket to draw a foul. Crosby got to the net and drew a penalty. It's already the most-talked-about holding call of the season, but the fact remains it was a textbook hold. Overtime or no overtime, playoffs or no playoffs, if the best player in the world gets position on you and you grab on to even the playing field, you're gonna get called.
The Pens cashed in on the ensuing PP, and just for a moment we all could enjoy the thrill of a overtime playoff winner. When that jubilation wore off, it was time to go back to justifiably worrying about what's going on with the Pens. The defense doesn't look anything like we've gotten used to seeing. The Pens' breakout plays are becoming predictable, and the Isles are preying on it. Speaking of which, the Isles' transition game is ridiculous.
There's Internet whispers of some Fleury bashing. Of course there is. The third-period goals came on a shorthanded breakaway and on a snipe from League MVP Candidate John Tavares. We're nowhere close to jumping on board the Fleury Hate Train. As we noted before the series, the Isles scored the 7th-most goals in the NHL during the regular season. They are going to score.
For now, getting out of Game 3 with the W is huge, huge, huge. Every game in this series so far has had a different feel to it. The Islanders claim they feel no pressure in this series, but they're gonna feel it Tuesday night. We're banking on the Pens righting some pieces of the ship to get this back to Pittsburgh with a chance to clinch.
It wasn't always fun, but the Pens somehow got out of that third period and regrouped for relatively quick OT. Brian Strait went off for holding Crosby, and Kunitz cashed in on the PP. dfandksfklsdfkldnkldfgnfgfgd
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders
Series Tied 1-1
NBC, TSN, RDS - 12:00 pm/et
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - Uniondale, NY
Are you awake? Hopefully the Penguins are. Today we'll get to see if they decided to learn anything from game two, or if this is the same Penguins team that believes their own hype and doesn't learn from their mistakes. They said pretty much all the right things in this story. Great leadership from Iginla here:
"I think we go over it -- and we have -- to see what the feeling is why we didn't win. What is the reason we got beat?" Iginla said. "Our execution could be better. They came out harder -- give them credit -- but we didn't make plays that we can make, simple things. We weren't as sharp.
"We regroup. We see what we didn't do. We go out for another game. It's just the next game to try make it 2-1."
That's the kind of attitude the Pens need right now. Don't dwell on the loss, but look back on it, learn from it and realize what you could have done better. Will they?