By Mark Madden
Yeah, Marc-Andre Fleury let in a terrible goal.
But you won’t win much averaging two goals per game. The guys making $8.7m apiece have a goal and assist between them. Fleury’s numbers are better than Sid’s and Geno’s.
No idea why Crosby and Malkin have struggled to produce. They’re getting shots, though they’re passing up quite a few, too (especially Malkin). Maybe they need to work down low more.
It won’t be long before the citizens start jabbering, “You gotta get these guys wings.” Do you want scoring titles, or Stanley Cups? Furthermore, if those two ever get a grip on the power play, they’ll win every scoring title. The Pens’ top wings could be Long John Silver and Stephen Hawking, and it wouldn’t matter. Production on the PP stands between Sid, Geno and Art Ross.
Anyway, Malkin IS a wing now. Jordan Staal will solve a LOT of problems.
The overreaction to Fleury’s faux pas has been silly. Fleury played well enough to win both games. Did Sid and Geno?
Sid and Geno are to Penguins fans what the defense is to Steelers fans: You don’t dare criticize. Crosby and Malkin will come around. No sense panicking about them, either. But neither did what he needs to against Philadelphia and Montreal.
Fleury is a critical piece of the Pens’ puzzle. Always has been. The idea that a top goalie isn’t important has gained traction since Niemi beat Leighton/Boucher in last year’s Stanley Cup final. Last year was the exception, not the rule. Just because a fact occasionally fits your argument doesn’t win you the argument.
I spoke to a veteran Penguin after Saturday’s loss, and he made two points: 1) Don’t panic at 0-2. There’s a lot of season left. 2) The Penguins did not play well late in the game. “You’ve got to manage a lead. Five minutes left, we’re up by a goal, but guys are making plays up high. Get the puck down low.”
It’s way too early to judge the power play. If Coach Disco has faith in his new vision, he should remain true to it. For now.
Letestu played well against Montreal. Can he handle second-line duties? Can he center Malkin? We’ll see. Cooke did a great job playing Letestu through for the Pens’ second goal. Basic play. Bread and butter. Why can’t Sid and Geno make that play?
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).