Penguins in Complete Control with 2-1 series lead
My takeaway from the Penguins masterful 4-2 win in Game 3
Penguins – Sharks is going to be hell of a Stanley Cup Final and I can’t wait!
But, first back to the Eastern Conference Final.
For a series that saw the Lightning take Game 1 in impressive fashion, and Game 2 go to overtime, this one already feels like it’s over after three games.
Of course the series is not over but the Lightning are in a world of trouble. The Penguins have hit that peak performance level where their speed in all three zones starts to overwhelm the opposition and they get the opposition to start doubting themselves. It happened to the Rangers in Game 4 and a little to Washington in Round 2.
That’s the Lightning right now.
Pittsburgh’s speed through the neutral zone leads to the opposition panicking, case in point Braydon Coburn’s penalty on a streaking Carl Hagelin down the middle that saw the Penguins pretty much ice the game with a Sidney Crosby 4-on-3 power play goal.
The Penguins have played their A-game for significant stretches over the last two games. When they do, they’re just a better hockey club than the Lightning.
Ben Bishop potentially coming back for Game 4 isn’t going to solve Tampa Bay’s problems in slowing down the Penguins speed game. Goaltending isn’t their problem.
What they’re lacking is a go-to player they can count on to take over a game. Hello Steven Stamkos?
Tyler Johnson finally woke up in the third period and maybe the reunited Triplets line can be their saving grace for Game 4 but the Penguins put on the type of performance tonight where they just came out and delivered a message that you can’t play with us.
And the Penguins are doing it with Evgeni Malkin being arguably their sixth or seventh best forward and that might be generous.
How do the Penguins keep winning with little production from Malkin who ended a six game pointless streak tonight with a power play assist, but has no even strength points over his last seven games?
Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino & Carl Hagelin for one. Another series, another team having no answers for the HBK line.
Tonight should finally put an end to people calling the Bonino line the Penguins’ third line. It’s time they earn the respect of being called the Penguins second line at least.
As good as the Penguins were in carrying the play all night, this was still a scoreless game through the first 39 minutes of the game.
That was until Phil Kessel took the game over. Kessel continues to be a revelation and it’s came together for him at the right time.
What has brought out the best in Kessel is having the perfect linemates for him.
He has the player in Hagelin to chase pucks deep and create turnovers, opening space all over for Kessel to free lance to open spots and he has the perfect center in Nick Bonino who doesn’t need the puck and has exceptional vision and playmaking ability.
This all allows Kessel to play to his strengths in getting the puck with time and space.
Tampa Bay has no answers for the HBK line, Sidney Crosby is scoring in big moments and Game 3 was another example again that Matt Murray will shut you down at pivotal moments of a game. To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!