PENGUINS SCARY GOOD PERFORMANCE
For the first time in a couple years, you can feel a championship feel inside the Penguins locker room. This is a group that appears to be coming together at the right time and the Penguins very well might not even be peaking as let’s not forget, they were without Kris Letang and Jarome Iginla last night.
“These guys are really special,” defenseman Douglas Murray said.
The Penguins thumped the Winnipeg Jets, 4-0, on Thursday night at the Consol Energy Center, extending their winning streak to 14 games. After some back and fourth play through the first 10 to 12 minutes, the Penguins were just playing with the Jets the rest of the way. Chris Kunitz (20) buried a no look pass from Sidney Crosby at 15:03 of the first period for his 20th goal of the season and the Penguins were rolling from there.
Evgeni Malkin (6) scored 3:29 later and the Penguins just kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way.
Pascal Dupuis (16, 17) added two second period goals and this game could have easily been 7 or 8-0. It was that much of a lopsided play in the final 50 minutes of the game.
“We made it tough on them,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “The fact we got to them early probably helped us a little bit but we kept our foot on the gas the entire game.”
Crosby’s key quote there was the Penguins keeping their “foot on the gas the entire game.” We’re seeing a killer instinct in this group.
Tomas Vokoun made 20 saves and the Penguins have posted back to back shutout wins. Vokoun became the 26th goaltender in NHL history with 50 shutouts. “He was strong, really solid in there,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said.
*The Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz (1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2, 2 SOG), Sidney Crosby (2 Assists, +2, 6 SOG) and Pascal Dupuis (2 Goals, +2, 7 SOG) combined for 3 Goals, 3 Assists, +6 rating and 15 shots on goal. It was just another dominanting performance from the three. The puck possession game something else again as they constantly know where each other is and are so quick on pucks. That said, I still feel that Kunitz – Crosby – Iginla is at least worth a look in a full-time role and I think Dupuis could take the Malkin line to another level.
*What I liked from Brenden Morrow last night was the net-front presence he brought to the table. On Malkin’s goal Morrow drew two defenders to him in front and while the hands and feet are fading, he already knows his role and that’s what the Penguins are going to get from him on a regular basis. His impact to this team isn’t going to be on the scoresheet.
*I was told on Wednesday from an evaluator who has seen Douglas Murray play a lot of hockey and he told me that Murray is not as bad with the puck as people say. Through one game that appeared true. Known as a turnover machine, I thought Murray moved the puck well with hard crisp passes and he can really rocket the puck from the point. Murray made a nice play at the point keeping the puck in on Malkin’s goal and he appears at first glance to be much better with the puck than Hal Gill was. Murray saw 18:20 of ice time, registering three hits, a blocked shot, two shots on goal, and a plus-1 rating.
*The Penguins are starting to remind people of the Miami Heat in basketball. There’s them and then everyone else in the Eastern Conference. If the Penguins bad habits are indeed a thing of the past, they might very well be. The Penguins have given up 9 goals in their last 10 games and the penalty kill has shown improvement during that span, killing off 19 of 21 penalties. The two big keys in this stretch.
*One thing to keep in mind for people who think Tanner Glass will be coming out of the lineup. He remains one of the Penguins better penalty killers in the coaches eyes. Saw 2:11 of ice shorthanded last night.
*Gone Streaking: As the Penguins close in on the Penguins NHL record 17 straight wins from 1993, the schedule is extremely favorable coming up. Vs New York Islanders, 3/30/13, vs Buffalo Sabres, 4/2/13, @ New York Rangers, 4/3/13, vs New York Rangers, 4/5/13.