Shootouts suck, yes. But when you've got your wallet backing your heart, you want the 2 points any way possible. This is why I was praying for the SO on Sunday. The Pens got outplayed most of the day against Florida. So the last thing I wanted was some fluke bounce, or drop-pass-turned-turnover with more open ice leading to the big L. And at -270 odds, it would've been a big L.
As soon as the shootout started, the confidence meter went code red. No way MAF would be defeated by some jobber who was sitting on the bench throughout regulation. Kovalev sent Clemmentine's jock over the boards before scoring the first, 1-nil. Fleury poke check. Neal buries another SO goal. WINNER.
#1 Fleury. Impossible to think, but this game could've been over in the 1st period if not for Fleury. He seemed to be the only Pen awake at puck drop.
#2 Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy rewarded Coach Disco's confidence in him by getting the crucial tying goal after the Beloved went down in the 2nd. We've ripped Benny in the past, but he's playing with a ton of confidence right now. You would've thought he'd have been the odd man out when Orpik returned. Instead, Bylsma scratched Engelland. Testament to how deep this team is. This is a beautiful problem with the playoffs approaching.
#3 Kovalev. No, he's not lighting the world on fire. And anyone expecting he was going to provide 1st line #'s when we only gave up a 7th rder for him was mistaking. But he got the key assist on Lovejoy's goal, and the SO Winner was a beaut.
Kovy is 3/5 in the SO's. James Neal is 3/4. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there's no shootouts in the playoffs. We need more production from these two in regulation. I think it's coming...at least from Neal.
Welcome back Brooks!
Team awards were handed out prior to the game. Most notably, MAF got the team's MVP. We love Marc-Andre Fleury. He won't get the NHL's MVP, so people should quit begging for it. Not saying he's not deserving, just quit getting your hopes up. Who cares. We want the Cup.
Later Sunday night, Philadelphia would lose (in regulation...yay!!!!) to Boston. Mike Richards (leadership) got sent off for a high-stick on Tomas Kaberle late in the 3rd, and Boston got the GW PPG as a result. Of course Richards would cry dive, embellishment, whatever. Richards needs to seriously let go of the Ken Hitchcock mantra...everyone dives, blah, blah, blah, blah. Flyers, LOSER. Setting up...
TONIGHT. Philly at Pittsburgh
With a win, the Pens could tie Philly atop the East (Flyers would have 1 game in hand). Some are calling this the biggest game of the regular season, and I concur. Maybe not for the same reasons, but I concur...
Winning a #1 Seed in the East would be nice...don't get me wrong. But I firmly believe the Pens could do the same damage coming out of the 4 spot in the East, with Tampa Bay being the likely opponent. A win tonight is more important because of this: it would send the Flyers, a team who was flying with confidence all season long with the "experts" backing them, into a tailspin. I can hear the clenching holes now. Their goal scorers are having a tough time finding the net. If they drop this one tonight in the CEC, they'll go into full blown pucker mode, with a rookie G in Bobpoopsy who hasn't been playing well the 2nd half of the year (last Thur, excluded).
Appears Test Tube will be back tonight, centering the Kovy and Neal line. Should help, at least in the face-off department where the Pens have been getting scorched of late.
Also just heard Engo is a healthy scratch again, leaving the same D pairings from Sunday. Conventional wisdom said the tough guy would be back in the line-up against the Flyers. But as mentioned in the last Flyers post, these games don't take on the same tone they used to. I like the call. Lovejoy is playing great right now.
For the Flyers, Chris Pronger is still out. This simply means there will be less free cross checks post whistle.
If you have any trouble getting up for tonight's game, the only prescription is...
FLOWER'S IN THE CAGE!!!
possibly more bums puckering soon...
ps: who wants to bet that Colin Campbell and the NHL gets it wrong with the Bertuzzi elbow from last night?
Hearing the hypocracy of some "experts" last night already had me laughing to tears.