And what a good morning it is. I had maybe 3 hours of sleep and am bound to crash at some point, but it was worth trekking to DC to cheer on our guys who put together arguably their most complete and convincing win of the year together with Pensburgh's very own Hooks Orpik, his better half, and thousands of boisterous Pens fans.
Offense, defense and goaltending were outstanding, and the Caps potent offense was bottled up, especially at even strength. The Caps first power-play was strong and there were a few hairy moments there that the Pens escaped unscathed, but other than that it was a tremendous all-around performance after which we can only argue which Pens goal was the best on the night: this sick, filthy Crosby PP goal after some tic-tac-toe passing (gets my vote), Beau Bennett's nifty puck-handling and great shot following "slumping" Malkin's vision, Nealer's snipe, or Martin's long-range shot that opened up the scoring. Big props, by the way, to Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik for an excellent game.
Here are some post-game thoughts and reactions:
Penguins official recap with highlights and interviews
Grades from Faceoff Factor: As across the board
From THN, Sid continues winning against Ovechkin
From Dave Molinari at PPG, it wasn't all about the offense.
Recap from HockeyBuzz with possession charts
Recap and analysis from Japer's Rink, Capitals SBN blog. The most revealing number I took away from it is that the Caps didn't have a single SOG at ES until they were down 2-0.
Here are some other articles and news from around the league:
Brian Costello from THN has an excellent piece on bullying in hockey rearing its ugly head again. Andrew Ference borrowed a page from Ray Emery's book and pounded and bloodied up an opponent unwilling to fight. Where and how does one make this stop?
From Sean Sarcu at THW, a well illustrated piece with play breakdowns on Chicago's puck possession system and why it works.
The Sabres new think-tank has already shifted course and started shipping young players back to minors and juniors for more development. Their best-laid plan came to a halt when Mikhail Grigorenko's "conditioning" assignment to the Amerks was rejected by the NHL and the player returned to Buffalo. The problem is that neither the Sabres nor his junior team have room for him. If their goal is to force the talented youngster back to Russia, the plan is working.
In THN's 5 Things to Watch, we have Jagr closing in on Mario (he scored last night again to take the Devils to OT, leaving him just 1 goal behind 66), Ottawa digging holes for themselves early in games, and more.
Also from THN here is the rumor roundup, including whispers of the Gaborik and Havlat trades.
This piece, One Devil Fan I'll Always Miss ... My Father, definitely hit it home for me, because my dad and his love of hockey and Mario Lemieux were the reasons I became a Pens fan growing up far away from Pittsburgh. Who was your biggest hockey influence?