Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pens 4 Leafs 1

Huge bounce back win for the Guins and a great start to a long road trip. It was nice to get Tenk and Gonchar back for this one, especially the latter as he scored two big ones from distance. But for me there were three things to remember from this game.

1. The defense getting back to their bread and butter, which is organization, toughness around the net, and giving up the body. This was especially evident in the first two periods, when the game was close. Everybody was blocking shots and there were few open men in prime shooting areas (except for on the goal, which came on the PK). It was exactly the type of play that had been lacking during their recent funk. Good job all around, in particular I can remember one play where Gogs laid down Playboy spread style, leaving his junk right out there in the open, and blocked a shot from (Penguin-killer and sickly-looking kid) Jason Blake; the puck came right back to Blake and Gogs didn't budge from his spot, which caused Blake to shoot high. It's the small stuff like that which over the course of a game, will cut out 5-10 possible shots/scoring opportunities.

2. MAF shutting down the Leafs in the third period. As I said after the Flyers game, the Flower has been struggling of late, so it was big that the defense played tough the first 40 minutes- long enough to give him a cushion of a lead. But in the third period there were a few penalties, Toronto became desperate, and they started aggressively trying to score that one goal that might change the tide of the game. But the Flower played out of his skull, making some phenomenal stops while controlling his rebounds. All in all, he stopped 22 shots in the final 20 minutes and was awarded the second star of the game. Hopefully this gives him a good deal of confidence going forward.

3. Sid's goal. It wasn't his best, hell, it may not even be in his top ten. But he does these types of moves and fails to finish so often, that it's nice to see him finally get one in. I don't want to diminish the play though, it was a great goal. To make the move but realize that it hit the defenders skate, and then use every little bit of energy to push the puck towards the net with one hand on the stick... Amazing.

A few final observations. At the beginning of the third period, the fans in attendence were openly trying to get the wave going. What a shame. In one of the great hockey cities of the world, these are the type of people getting tickets. Actually, for a high profile match up on Saturday night, the Air Canada Centre was a mausoleum.

Orpik left early in the first period and did not return. Bibsy said it was due to a shoulder on shoulder hit. Let's hope it's not for too long as he just started playing well again and I'd love to see him represent our country at the Olympics.

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