Round one of the home and home series has decidedly gone the Penguins way. They shut the Columbus Blue Jackets out 3-0 and as a result has drastically changed the playoff odds. Pittsburgh soars to 88% while the Blue Jackets fall to 65%. The all-in Blue Jackets are only 1-4-1 since the trade deadline. Their lone win came in the shootout. It’s been a worst case scenario for them.
Matt Murray was excellent. He turned away all 25 shots he faced. In his 25 games since returning from injury his all-situations save percentage is a sparkling .931. He’s been great and unlike the Blue Jackets the Penguins are able to play their #1 goaltender in important games.
Phil Kessel is on the board. He scored his first goal in forever and it wasn’t of the aesthetically pleasing variety. That’s how it goes. Phil has been playing well and earning looks. If he stays the course more will be on the way. Mentally it has to be a relief for him. Even the best in the world can get start to doubt their abilities and lose confidence.
Erik Gudbranson hasn’t been a complete mess with the Penguins in his four game as a Pittsburgh Penguin. Credit where credit is due. For 4M the Penguins have received play that isn’t replacement level or below. However, Gudbranson could up his deterrence ability. Jake Guentzel was buried from behind by Zach Werenski. You’d think if deterrence was a real thing the Penguins should get more out of that 4M. I mean it was the main selling point after all.
It’s comical the Werenski hit went uncalled. It wasn’t a bang bang play. It should have been the center of attention for the officials and was clear as day. No level of hockey should have that go uncalled let alone the top league in the world. Those are the types of hits if left uncalled will open the door for mayhem and injuries in Saturday’s game.
Sidney Crosby kept his goal and points streak alive with his empty net goal. He now has a goal in six straight games. He has six goals and 14 points in this sample. Sid going full Sid right now and it is great.
Nick Bjugstad has one of his strongest outings with the Penguins as a center last night. His line dominated play generating eight shot attempts and only giving up one. It was Bjugstad who provided the insurance goal when he made a really nifty move to shift his body back into a shooting positon to score the Penguins second goal.
Maybe Bob would have stopped that, but we’ll never know.
The teams will meet again on Saturday with Columbus trying to play catch up.
Thanks for reading!