PENGUINS – PREDATORS TAKEAWAYS
1. The Pittsburgh Penguins snapped a three game losing streak with a convincing 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night. It was really the perfect kind of team to face to get the Penguins going with the Predators an offensively challenged team and throwing out some AHL goaltenders on the ice. Not to take anything away from the Penguins performance but the Predators were really bad and I mean really bad. Not sure I’ve seen a “least skilled” team offensively than Nashville. Very few of their forwards out there could create let alone handle the puck it seemed.
That said give the Penguins credit for not playing down to them especially after a slow start when Nashville got the first goal, 2:28 in. “I thought in the second we really took over the game, shift after shift,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
2. It was a good night for a lot of Penguins who needed it. Pascal Dupuis scored for the first time in 13 games, Kris Letang scored his 4th goal of the season and played a strong two-way game, James Neal had a goal and assist, Brandon Sutter had a goal and assist, his first multi-point game of the season.
3. Evgeni Malkin has now gone a career long 12 games without a goal (Hasn’t scored since Oct 17) but Malkin ran up his points streak to six games with a two assist night vs the Predators and he has eight points during the streak. It was Malkin’s third multi-point game of the season. While Malkin isn’t scoring, he has been creating and excellent at distributing the puck. Malkin’s setup of James Neal on the power play was tremendous as it looked like a shot/pass from Malkin to Neal who deflected a shot past Marek Mazanec.
4. The emergence of Tanner Glass this season has been huge for the Penguins and the 4th line. He’s hitting everything out there, blocking shots and delivering the type of toughness the Penguins need. Glass is second in the NHL with 71 hits and he’s also showing to be a tough customer in the fighting department with a KO of Eric Nystrom in the second period. Nystrom was the one who came at Glass to drop the gloves after Glass delivered a hard hit on Nystrom on the forecheck. Meanwhile, Joe Vitale continues to also play very well, going 7 of 9 on draws and the 4th line is not the issue of this team. It’s the personnel on the third line.
5. The standings are starting to get bunched up at the top in the Metropolitan Division (1. PIT 24 pts, 2. WAS 23 pts, 3. CAR 20 pts): As expected the Washington Capitals are emerging as the biggest threat to the Penguins as we near quarter mark. Here’s something that stands outs between the superior Western Conference and the weaker Eastern Conference. The Penguins are tied for the 3rd most points in the Eastern Conference with 24 points; Nine teams in the Western Conference have more points than the Penguins.