The Penguins got a big win tonight due to a dominating performance by Marc Andre Fleury (37 saves). The Penguins did compete tonight unlike Tuesday night‚Äôs debacle against the Lightning but this game could have easily been a 4-1 Devils win without Fleury being on top of his game.
The Penguins were very good on the penalty kill. Marc Andre Fleury played a factor in that but they were much more aggressive tonight than they have been the past 4 or 5 games. Recently the Penguins have struggled with their rotation down low. I saw some improvement tonight in that aspect.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi had two blocked shots and continues to be a force on the penalty kill. The Penguins are hopeful to resign Scuderi at the end of the season but the salary cap could play a factor. Scuderi is making a name for himself around the league according to sources and he will have the chance to make more elsewhere.
The Penguins were 0-5 on the power play.
1st unit: Sykora ‚Äì Crosby ‚Äì Malkin
Goligoski ‚Äì Whitney
2nd unit: Fedotenko ‚Äì Staal ‚Äì Satan
Whitney ‚Äì Boucher
When Malkin plays down low with Crosby on the power play, the Penguins need a big body who can win battles along the boards and be a presence in front to play. That lack of ability to win battles down low on the power play has been the biggest issue this season on the power play. Even though Sykora is a power play speciliast, playing him with Crosby and Malkin down low may not be the best fit. I would like to see Whitey move to the left point and Malkin play the right point.
Ryan Whitney led the Penguins in ice time (22:06). Whitney also accumulated (8:41) of ice time on the power play. He has yet to record a point but they will come.
Dustin Jeffrey had (6:39) of ice time. He was used in a few different situations playing on the fourth line and getting some shifts on the third line when Matt Cooke received a 10 minute misconduct. Jeffrey was 0-4 on face offs and while he projects to be a solid role player in the future, being one of the Penguins top five prospects shows how bleak the Penguins system is right now. Post Gazette had him rated as #3 while others have him at #4.
The Devils were the much more physical team and that remains a major concern for the Penguins. The hits were 15-9 and the Devils fourth line set the tempo. Paul Bissonnette was called up today because of his physical play but he only saw 2:39 of ice time. Circumstances played a factor (Home Ice ‚Äì NJ) in the limited ice time for the fourth line
Sources tell me Penguins GM Ray Shero and his staff are going to evaluate the teams next three games (Montreal, Boston, Boston) very closely as they layout their trade deadline blueprint.
A major need is a power forward to play on the top two lines but sources tell me tonight that the Penguins will not make a play for Keith Tkachuk who will be shopped by the Blues at the trade deadline. Locker Room issues continue to follow Tkachuk and Penguins scouts don’t see him having much left in the tank. The Penguins do have interest in Tkachuk’s former teammate Bill Guerin who will also be available.