Friday, May 10, 2013

Pens-Islanders Game 5

Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins played the New York Islanders in game 5 of their 7-game series.  The series had been tied 2-2 going in.  The Pens won 4-0.  Some disconnected observations:
  • Marc-Andre Fleury looked distracted and slow in the Penguins 6-4 loss in game 4. Backup Tomas Vokoun was an absolute wall, by contrast. Vokoun made very few spectacular diving upside-down Spider-Man saves in Game 5, but he never got so far out of position that he was forced to do such nonsense.
  • This raises the question* of which goaltender the Penguins will start Saturday night in New York.  Either man can do the job, but I feel like Vokoun's performance last night elevates him to the starting spot for the rest of the Islanders series.
  • It's fascinating to me that when this series was 2-2, Penguins fans were in a despair spiral and Islanders fans were thrilled. 

  • MODOK-faced Penguins defenseman Doug Murray scored his third goal in 11 games last night on a fluke that bounced off of Nabokov's shoulder and into the net. Before his current torrent of offensive output, Murray hadn't scored in 146 games.

  • Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy - who I believe may be the least-attractive man in professional sports - has an unfortunate tendency: When he receives the puck he drives it straight toward the goal and shoots. No subtlety, no style, just drive-and-shoot. It works OK for the dude but isn't highlight-reel hockey.  Well, last night, Kennedy's style was precisely what was called for. With the game tied 0-0 in the 2nd period, Kennedy was hanging out on the Islanders' blue line and received a long lead pass from Kris Letang.  Kennedy drove the puck up the ice, went against Islanders' goaltender Evgeni Nabokov one-on-one, and put the puck over Nabokov's right shoulder for what turned out to be the only goal the Pens would need.

  • There's a statue in front of the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, of Mario Lemieux splitting two Islanders defensemen on his way to a goal in a meaningless December 1988 game against the Islanders.  Sidney Crosby last night replicated that goal in a far more meaningful game against the same squad.  He received a good lead pass from Jarome Iginla and beat Islanders defensemen Visnovski and Hickey, powering his way to the Pens' third goal.

Game 6 -- decisive for the Pens if they win it -- will be Saturday night on Long Island. The winner of this series will face the Ottawa Senators.

* it does not "beg" the question. "Begging the question" means something else entirely.
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