Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What We Learned From The Penguins 3-2 Victory Over The Bruins

           (1.) Brandon Sutter & Sidney Crosby celebrate as Sutter caps off Pittsburgh's late game comeback win against Boston to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Bruins

     Pittsburgh's win over Boston last night showcased an overall complete game performance by the Penguins as they continued to chip away and apply pressure, despite being down 2-0 late in the 3rd period.  As mentioned, we found out about Pittsburgh's drive and perseverance. Here are a few more things that we learned from last night's game.

     Chris Kunitz Is Pittsburgh's MVP
     Sounds crazy right? Considering he is on the same team with arguably the two best players in the world (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin). It is not hard to argue that a big part of Crosby's success has been due to the performance of Chris Kunitz's. Kunitz has the second most goals in the league with 18 (behind only Steven Stamkos) and is third in points with 37 (Crosby- 45 Stamkos 38). Despite Crosby having his eight game point streak snapped, Kunitz still provided the offensive spark the Penguins needed against Boston by scoring the 1st of 3 goals in Pittsburgh's late comeback win over the Bruins.

     Brandon Sutter Has Filled Jordan Staal's Shoes(Skates)

     When Pittsburgh failed to retain Jordan Staal's services and shipped him off to Carolina and in return received Brandon Sutter, many questioned if he(Sutter) would be able to fill the void on the 3rd line. Sutter came through last night as he scored both the game tying and winning goals to complete Pittsburgh's comeback over Boston. Since scoring the OT winner against Montreal, Sutter has played an important part of the Penguins six game win streak by compiling 4 goals(2 of which were game winners) and 1 assist and has shown the capability to perform in the clutch!

     Special Teams Need Improvement

     It is rather odd to suggest Pittsburgh is struggling on its powerplay as they have one of the highest conversions in the league. Despite this, Pittsburgh has failed to capitalize on a few numerous opportunities when on the powerplay during their six game win streak ( 4 of 20 or 20%) and a couple of times have failed to score with a 5 on 3 advantage. Pittsburgh needs to cash in on these opportunities if they plan on having any success from here on out. As for the penalty kill, it has been struggling as of late too ( 11 for 16 on the kill or 69% in the past six games). We will see if GM Ray Shero will address these issues at the trade deadline by acquiring secondary scoring and toughness to the defense for more efficiency on special teams.

     Fleury Is Struggling Once Again

     First things first, it would not be fair to assign all the blame towards Fleury with the amount of goals they have given up recently, as the defense has issues of clearing the puck out of their own zone. That said, Fleury has left quite of few softies get by him, something he has been known to do more often than not. In a previous blog of mine I noted that Fleury had gone 6-1 with a save % of .927 since Vokoun's shutout against the New York Rangers after the Penguins 6-5 loss to Philadelphia and that it was clear he was still Pittsburgh's starting goaltender. Since then, Fleury has hit a few bumps. Though he has maintained a similar average of goals allowed( 2.75) and a respectable 5-2 record in the 8 games since, Fleury's save percentage has been abysmal to say the least (0.879%). Fleury even had to be pulled after the 1st period in their game against the Flyers after giving up 4 goals on 18 shots (Pittsburgh came back to win 5-4). If Pittsburgh wants to avoid another 1st round playoff exit, Fleury will need to step up and improve his game and play like he did during their runs to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 & 2009.

Image Sources: (1.)




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