Penguins

Positive Thoughts on the Penguins 4-3 Victory Over Atlanta…

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It wasn’t pretty, but the Penguins found a way to pick up two points against a very desperate Atlanta Thrashers team.

The Thrashers very well could have won this game, especially based on the performance of their goaltender Johan Hedberg. Hedberg played an outstanding game for his team, especially the second period, in which he only made 8 saves but they were all huge. At one point it seemed as if he made 15 saves during a two shift flurry by the Penguins.

It was refreshing to see a 60 minute effort out of the Penguins today, but they have got to tighten up defensively. They allowed the Thrashers to have too much space, especially coming through the neutral zone. If that is the Washington Capitals, as it will be on Tuesday night, they will be beaten for more than the three goals they allowed tonight.

All of that aside, considering that they won the game and I already banged out 2,600 words of good and bad during the “live game” blog, I will utilize this space to share some positive thoughts on the day…

First of all, Sidney Crosby had another big day for his team. The Penguins captain picked up 3 assists and is now just 3 points from reaching the century mark. He probably could have had even more today, but there were several missed opportunities by linemates and even more great saves by Hedberg. Crosby didn’t have his best stuff in the face-off circle, but he did win some huge draws when he needed to. He was a maniac on the puck and did everything in his power to keep the puck deep in the offensive zone on each of his shifts.

Evgeni Malkin was back in the line-up this afternoon and made an immediate impact. The power play looked livelier that it has in many games and Malkin cashed in with the extra man. He was back to his old ways of galloping through the neutral zone, backing off opposing defenders and creating opportunities for himself and linemates. He finished the day with a goal, an assist and four shots on goal.

We can’t mention Malkin and his impact on the power play without talking about the return of Sergei Gonchar, who probably had just as much influence. Sarge showed a bit of rust early, but quickly settled back into his role as power play QB. He picked up a goal, an assist and played close to 23 minutes. Games like this afternoon show why Gonchar is one of the most important pieces for the Penguins.

Jordan Leopold has been great for the Penguins since arriving. He is able to play multiple roles for the team and give Dan Bylsma some options. He is very mobile, has good vision and has a nice shot from the point. He finally picked up his first goal as a Penguin and it was a huge one. He fired a quick shot from the right wing boards that beat Hedberg in overtime to give the Penguins the victory. Leopold finished the game even, with a goal and four shots on net.

Bill Guerin might not be getting it done on the scoresheet right now, but he has been doing a lot of things to lead this group. He brought a ton of emotion to the rink this afternoon and fought for the second game in a row. Guerin has been one of the most vocal players in the Penguins room, saying that the group has got to prepare better, get more focused and work a bit harder with the playoffs approaching.

As I said above, it wasn’t a perfect victory, but there were glimmers of what could happen when this team is playing the right way. Here is hoping that the positive energy that came out of this victory propels the team to a good performance against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

More later…

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About Brian Metzer

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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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2 Comments

  1. Hal Gill

    April 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Nice positives there Metz…

    Good to stay positive for a change.

    They ARE going to turn the corner….

  2. guins6668

    April 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Metz, good write up and I agree with most of it. First, I’ve been a bit critical of Crosby for having too many shifts where he is not noticeable on the ice. I thought he was much closer to where I think he needs to be as far as being noticed on the ice, much better job by Sid. Second, Malkin looked very good especially for his first game back in a while. When he is on (not saying he’s as good as Lemieux, but who is) kind of reminds me of him a little, you notice him as soon as he hits the ice. If Geno were more consistantly good and didn’t disappear for stretches of games I think he would be better than Crosby and I’m a big Sid fan, but Sid brings it more consistantly then Geno. As far as Guerin, he’s looking rather old out there and doesn’t bring a lot at least lately. The two fights recently are nice but you have to make more of an impact then that and maybe veteran status may be doing more than I realize but I’d be hard pressed to bring him back next year. Quick question for you B. I noticed on the PP sometimes Sid has the puck on the half wall and he looks like he has room to take a couple strides and shoot, why doesn’t he do that more. I remember Jagr doing that alot and scoring quite often and if not at least getting the puck to the net. It seems to me Sid has a quick burst of speed where he could do that. Just wondering your thoughts on that.