Perfection is really the only way to describe the Pittsburgh Penguins start to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They won. They scored seven goals. They gave up zero goals. It was against Philadelphia. It wasn’t just one of those everything bounced right nights either. Pittsburgh scored some great goals and Philadelphia had no idea where the front of Pittsburgh’s goal was. Most of what they generated was from the outside.
When they did get close Matt Murray did what he has done the last three playoff games, not allow a single goal. No save better than the one he made early in the first period on Scott Laughton
Bryan Rust wasted not time getting the party started. He scored only three minutes into the game after Brian Elliott punched a rebound to the slot right to Rust. It was a quick release and well placed and the Penguins took off from there. By my count 12 different Penguins had points in the game. Kessel wasn’t even one of them.
Quite the streak Murray has going.
I mentioned some highlight goals and there were some by the legends. Geno Machino showed up
I do think Brian Elliott could have made the save on the shot. I also think that Malkin’s reach and the fact he was on his backhand with speed makes that kind of thing tough to read.
We were treated to #SidDownLow x3 last night. Two of his goals were just the normal out of the air displays of talent that is just another Wednesday for Sidney Crosby
That zone entry defense though… Sidney Crosby’s awareness and ability to act within the proper millisecond to make these happen are obviously great. I didn’t think that was his best goal of the night though
This one is a better example of Sidney Crosby’s surreal eye-hand coordination. Brian Dumoulin lets a strong wrist shot go from the blue line and the puck is heading right towards Crosby almost jamming him up on the hands. There is no room for error to get the puck to go where it did. The timing, placement, and angle of his stick to make that happen with the puck heading directly at him like that is remarkable. Just watch him shift his hands. The second goal he scored was great. This one is the museum worthy one. Oh and that was a natural hat trick. No big deal.
This was only one game and everything went right, but something I think will stay true throughout the series is the Flyers struggle to match lines with the Penguins. This is the best center depth the Penguins have had since 2012 when it was Sid, Geno, Jordan, and a corpse. I don’t mean this as a slight to Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen. Although, Derick Brassard is an upgrade over Bonino and Riley Sheahan as a fourth line center is an upgrade over Cullen. Having centers like that allow the wingers to do their thing and that thing is depth scoring.
Jake Guentzel had four points, Carl Hagelin had two, while Patric Hornqvist, Conor Sheary, and Bryan Rust had one.
One thing that was perfected on the Philadelphia side was Dave Hakstol nailing the Mike Johnston staring into the abyss look. I mean he did have seven opportunities last night to showcase it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say if Hakstol lays into his team about their performance it’s not exactly going to move the needle. The Flyers are going to need something of a Charlie Work magnitude to right this ship and I don’t see Charlie’s fire burning in Dave Hakstol’s eyes.
The gang has no pulse heading into Game 2.
Thanks for reading!