Pittsburgh squeezed out two points against the Florida Panthers in overtime to maintain pace with the other Metropolitan teams. There were a plethora of three point games last night which the NHL loves because it artificially keeps the playoff races closer. Here’s a look at the number of points the teams battling for playoff spots have
Montreal has played one more game than the other three.
Every point matters and the sequence where Jake Guentzel timed his defensive attack in overtime was the difference. It was a great job by Guentzel to strike at the right moment and Sidney Crosby alley-ooped the puck to space for Guentzel to finish off the Panthers with an assertive forehand to backhand deke on a breakaway.
It was another awesome game for the Sidney Crosby Jake Guentzel duo. Sid finished with a goal and three points while Guentzel had two goals. Crosby is on a five game goal scoring streak. He is also on a five game multi-point game streak. He has 25 points in his last 12 games. He is a one man wrecking ball. In a time where the Penguins can’t afford any setbacks the captain is taking is upon himself to not allow his team to lose any ground. I really hate how the Hart Trophy has the “most valuable to his team” aspect of voting, but if that is the standard then Crosby should be getting some buzz as a finalist. The injuries to the top pairing and Phil Kessel going through a cold streak could have had much worse ramifications if not for Crosby’s brilliance.
Crosby also registered his 1,200th point last night along with 1,201 and 1,202. According to the calculations I had last year that number should be closer 1,440 considering he lost the majority of his statistical prime from the David Steckel cheap shot, lockouts, and Brooks Oprik breaking his jaw.
Phil Kessel didn’t score any goals last night. He is playing really well. The hard part is getting the looks and understanding variance. If Phil sticks to this script the Penguins are going to be in good shape
He’s shooting the puck at even-strength. He’s a great shooter. Big goals are on the way. He does have nine points in his last eleven games. It isn’t like he’s not helping the team.
Pittsburgh dodged what could have been a bad injury when Patric Hornqvist inexplicably tried to block a shot with his hand. Shot blocking gets romanticized by hockey culture, but it is almost always the better choice to let the goalies stop the shots. With Bryan Rust already out of commission the Penguins could ill afford to lose another winger for an extended period of time with the schedule they have in front of them.
Matt Cullen played in game 1,500 last night. It’s an amazing accomplishment. His last two seasons have been subpar, but the overwhelming majority of his 1,500 games have been good. He isn’t a hall of fame player and that is OK. He was a really good NHL player who had a great career.
Matt Murray had another great game. Since coming back from injury in December he has stopped 743 out of the 800 shots he has faced in all situations. That is good for an overall save percentage of .929. It’s a far cry from the beginning of the year when Murray’s play was all over the place. A .929 save percentage can cover a lot of holes and will need to given the combination of the personnel on the back end and the increase in quality of competition the Penguins will face in the playoffs.
Roberto Luongo turned in a really good performance against the Penguins last night. He is among the best goaltenders of his generation and it doesn't get a lot of notice because the lack of team success his teams have had. When you look at his individual numbers and not team data like wins and goals against average he compares very favorably to a certain goaltender who curiously always finds his name in the best of conversation.
Roberto Luongo has a career .919 save percentage while Brodeur is at .912. When you compare them to the peers they played against I think Luongo was consistently better. The team accolades always cloud the Brodeur discussion. He is a Hall of Fame player, but he isn't among the best ever to play the position. Devils fans be damned.
Coming up the Penguins have two of their biggest games of the season. They have a home and home with the Columbus Blue Jackets. High leverage points at stake.
Thanks for reading!