Pittsburgh 3 – New York 0: Post-Game Thoughts (10) on the suddenly defensive sound Penguins

New+York+Rangers+v+Pittsburgh+Penguins+Ydn-vZmcpMKl POST-GAME BUZZ

Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves, breaking the franchise career shutout record with 23, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins (21-8-0, 42 pts)  to a 3-0 shutout win over the New York Rangers (13-12-2, 28 pts) on Saturday afternoon for their eighth straight victory.
Fleury who surpassed Tom Barrasso on the career shutout list, wasn’t tested early as the Rangers had just 4 shots on goal in the first period, but made the stops he needed to make as the Penguins once again played well in front of him.
“I was looking forward to getting it finally,” Fleury said of the shutout. Fleury is 13-3-0 in his last 16 games. “Thought our guys did a great job {defensively},” Fleury said. “Everybody tightening up, more conscious about our defensive zone. Guys blocking shots, coming back in zone to help.”
The Penguins improved play defensively hasn’t been just better play from those on the backend, it’s been the forwards playing a more responsible game and not running around. “In terms of eliminating other teams opportunities, not just been our defenseman,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Been team defense and how we execute with the puck. Our F3 was outstanding.”
The Rangers who now trail the Penguins by 14 points for the division lead, continue to struggle to put the puck in the net.
“When you don’t score, you’re confidence goes down,” an upbeat Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “When you don’t win, your confidence goes down. We just have to work through it.”
Beau Bennett (2), Tyler Kennedy (4) and Pascal Dupuis (14) scored for the Penguins, and Dustin Jeffrey added two assists, earning the games No. 3 star. The surging Penguins have won seven straight games against the Rangers.
Dupuis notching his 14th goal of the season at 7:17 of the third period, is now tied for the league lead with 13 even strength goals. Dupuis has 7 goals in his last 6 games.
Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, the NHL’s top-two point getters, were pointless in the win.

POST-GAME THOUGHTS (10)

1. The Penguins winning streak is at eight games and while they are looking so dangerous offensively, the biggest development over the last four games is the Penguins giving up two goals or less in four straight games. In three of those four games, the Penguins have given up 1 goal or less, and in their last four games the Penguins are 9 of 10 on the penalty kill. “We’ve buckled down lately,” winger Pascal Dupuis said of the Penguins play defensively of late.

2. What is making the Penguins scary good is their quick strike ability. They are rarely out of a game and are putting teams away. Today was no different when Tyler Kennedy scored a beautiful power play goal at 6:34 of the third period to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead and then Pascal Dupuis scores 44 seconds later to make it 3-0. Game Over….. Rangers head coach John Tortorella said he felt the Rangers “righted the ship” in the second period after playing through “mud” in the first, and were in a good place going into the third period and Tortorella was spot on about how the Penguins seize their opportunities. “They seize those opportunities and make a couple of big plays,” Tortorella said of the Penguins. “That’s why they’re where they’re at right now.”

3. The biggest mismatch in the Penguins favor vs the Rangers this season in three games has been the Penguins speed. That’s what makes this a favorable matchup for the Penguins come playoff time if the two teams meet, but I still wouldn’t write off the Rangers just yet and good defensive teams with a great goaltender and strong PK are always threats in the post-season.

4. Pascal Dupuis turns 34 in April and he wants to return to Pittsburgh in the worst way as his family loves it here, but you can’t blame him to try to go out and get one last big pay day elsewhere. I think he returns this summer and this is not how the business works, but the Penguins owe it to Dupuis to offer him a two year deal worth at least $2.5 million per season. Dupuis is making $1.5 million per season.

5. Dustin Jeffrey is a player who you can make a good argument that he’s not skilled enough to be a top-6 forward and not gritty enough to be a 3rd or 4th liner, but I really liked the way he played in all facets today. He picked up his first 2 assist game since 3/5/11 and he was actively winning puck battles and getting in on the forecheck.

6. Tyler Kennedy figures to quiet trade talk from the fan base for at least a few hours. Kennedy had his first two point game in 40 regular season games, scoring a beautiful power play goal and adding an assist. Kennedy drew an Anton Stralman tripping penalty, leading to his power play goal. Some feel the best case scenario for the Penguins in strengthening their depth on the bottom two lines would be to find a better fit on the third line with Matt Cooke, Brandon Sutter, leading to a domino effect of putting Kennedy on the fourth line. However, the Penguins have been pleased of what Kennedy’s brought to the table of late. “He’s done a good job of being effective over last four or five games,” head coach Dan Bylsma said of Kennedy. “Skating, being physical, playing his type of game. “{He} drew the penalty, gets on the power play, gets the goal. He’s an effective player for our team and plays a big role.”


7. Mark Eaton returned to the lineup and played a No. 2 pair with Kris Letang at even strength and on the penalty kill. Eaton logged 15:41 of ice time and was a +1 in the win. Eaton’s been a pleasant surprise so far and has been very sound defensively. “Mark has been real stable, defending positioning wise he has been excellent,” Bylsma said. “Been games you don’t notice what he does and that’s a compliment of how he plays. Execution has been spot on in terms of getting pucks out and making smart plays. Has added a veteran presence back there on our defense.”

8. Beau Bennett’s first period goal 90 seconds in was the type of scoring ability the Penguins feel he has when his wrist fully gets healthy. Bennett doesn’t have a wicked shot but he has an accurate one. “Kind of laid on a T for me and I was able to step into it,” Bennett said of his first period blast past Lundqvist who got caught taking a bad angle.

9. Brad Richards is sure looking like he has joined the long list of awful contracts Rangers GM Glen Sather has given out. Richards turns 33 in May and has seven years left on his contract.

10. The New York Rangers were extremely flat in the first period but Ryan Callahan shows the way your are suppose to play hockey. He lays everything on the line and watching him penalty kill is fun to watch.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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