The Penguins enjoyed a fine Thanksgiving weekend picking up four points over two inferior opponents. It wasn’t long ago that they were a game under .500 and wondering when their game would come together. Crosby took the reins and the Penguins found themselves where they belong — near the top of the Eastern Conference. A twelve-game point scoring streak capped off by his sixth career hat trick, and Crosby has led his team to 8-0-1 over the last nine games.
Even as good as Crosby has been, it takes more than one player to accomplish a stretch like this. There are several others that have been contributing factors in the better play of late. At the top of the list is Fleury. He has been outstanding. There are better goalies in the league than Fleury — he is still my favorite. I don’t think there is a better pair than he and Johnson. After a 17-day layoff, Johnson had another great game on Saturday, stopping 30 of 31 shots.
The penalty killing has been incredible. Tony Granato has done a great job in preparing them. Dupuis, Kunitz, Cooke, and Talbot have been awesome up front. The defensemen, led by Michalek, have done a great job blocking shots. The defensive pairings are now set – Letang and Orpik, Martin and Michalek, and Gologoski with Lovejoy or Engelland. This has been a major plus for the team. Each has an offensive-minded guy with a more defensive-oriented partner. The top four are getting the bulk of the playing time, Gologoski a few extra minutes on the powerplay, and Lovejoy or Engelland as a solid sixth guy. The more that these pairs play together, the more effective they will become.
Even with all the good that is happening, this team is still a work in progress. They need to become more responsible in the defensive zone. Against good offensive teams, more of these breakdowns will result in goals. At times, puck management is an issue. They have to make safe decisions, especially when they are leading in a game.
Crosby is going to cool off at times. When he does, Malkin better be ready to pick up the slack. His sub-par play to date is unacceptable. He knows it and he will play better. That’s the view from 207.
Note — I think that the fans who booed Gonchar should NOT be welcome in the Consol Energy Center. These people can’t truly be knowledgeable Penguin fans. He was a great player here and a big part of their success. Shero chose to sign Martin and Michalek instead — younger players who better fit the Penguins’ needs. This decision is starting to pay off.
Note — Letang is becoming an elite defenseman. He is improving in all facets of the game. His skating abilities are extraordinary.
Note — It was hard to watch Kovalev as he closes in on the end of his career. I was a big fan when he was in Pittsburgh. He was invisible on Friday.
Note — Three weeks until Staal returns. Adding him to the lineup will be a big boost.
Note — Steigy is terrible and getting worse. Just call the game. We are not interested in your inane ‘junior high’ stories. Tell them to Errey after the game as he seems to be the only one who enjoys them. Is there any chance of going back to the simulcast????? Lange and Bourque are much more enjoyable to listen to.